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Perhaps the title was a trigger. Many Evangelicals, and perhaps others, accuse members of not reading the Bible 'in context.' Frankly, most of us are guilty from time to time. We have our pet verses and our favored passages--the ones that seem to prove our beliefs. My simple suggestion for understanding any scripture in context: Read it through quickly--even by scanning. For example, try reading the Bible for 10-chapters a day. Skim over the so-and-so beget so-and-so, go quickly over the elements including in building the tabernacle--just get the big picture of what is happening. You will finish in about 3-4 months. Afterwards, when someone comes a long and brings you a "magic-bullet" verse, supposedly proving something that seems odd, there will be a sense. They may seem to have a point. You may not have an immediate answer. However, Holy Spirit will shield you, and you will just know that this "proof" doesn't fit the big picture of scripture. Thoughts?
I have been working on my scripture study and have started to look at ways to relate the teachings in the New Testament to teachings throughout the entire scriptures as they lead to and help with the understanding of Charity. I will start by posting this weeks studying I have done. Please feel free to comment and help me on my journey. Understanding charity to be the pure love of Christ, I let any expressions of that love and the Father's love become topics of my study to further wrap my mind around the depth and scope of charity. Wednesday 4/27/16 – Reading John 3:16 it mentions that “…God so loved the world…”. When looking into the love of God from the footnotes I discovered John 15:9 “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.” Jesus continues to John 15:17 talking about our commandments to love one another and spread the Gospel. I looked to Moroni 7:47 where we read “But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; …” The footnote on charity led first to Romans 13:10 “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.” This is referring to the commandments to not commit adultery, not kill, not steal, not bear false witness, and not covet; to love they neighbour as thyself. (Romans 13:9) Thursday 4/28/16 – In John 3:17 we read “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” This led to D&C 132:59 which is hard to follow, but when substituting the pronouns and also the general “man” with Brandon, I was able to really grasp how the Lord will bless us if we are righteously following His laws even if it breaks the law of the land. This specific verse was talking about polygamy in full context, but by D&C 132:66, after the law of polygamy is laid out, the Lord makes clear that “[He] will reveal more unto [us] hereafter…”. I surmise that this “more to be revealed” was the eventual ending of the practice of polygamy after it had been restored, since all things had to be restored in this dispensation, and the need to use it for survival was over. The law did have purpose in our survival because there was much hardship for the Church to be established and I believe that was another expression of God’s love to give us a law throughout the ages that would ensure survival, but also that it be honored. In those last verses of D&C 132 the law pertaining to the women is outlined, but in D&C 132:38-45 we see how the law works for the men as well. The story of David is mentioned, who was given many wives. David, however, married women not within the bounds the Lord had set. We can find this story in 2 Samuel Chapters 11 & 12 in which we see how this led to murder as well. In 1 Kings Chapter 11 we see how Solomon didn’t follow the rules of the law as well and this led to his apostasy. We may have laws we don’t understand, but as we follow them and research them we can see how the Lord organizes them in a way that is out of love. We can still see evidence of that love and know that we are given things not to condemn us, but to give us true freedom from the adversary. We may not even have the Gospel if polygamy wasn’t restored because of the survival of the early Mormon pioneers. We could not have experienced full restoration if it was not put in place at some time in this dispensation. I feel the only appropriate time was chosen by our omnipotent Father and that it was ended when it was no longer needed. Friday 4/29/16 – In John 3:19-21 we read “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. / For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. / But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” When I looked up light, even the light of Christ I found John 9:5 “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Jesus makes it clear that He is the light in which we can substitute His name anytime we read about the light. And in John 12:35 we read “Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.” We need to hold onto the light we have been given. Having the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, means that we do have His light with us as we follow His Gospel. We know that Jesus is the light and that according to Romans 13:10 “…love is the fulfilling of the law.” Now when we look at Matthew 22:36-40 we can see a very important revelation. Jesus is asked, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? / Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. / This is the first and great commandment. / And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. / On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Through the light, even Jesus Christ, we learn that love is the great commandment. First, to love God and, second, to love everyone else. Love is the message of light, through light is love. So as we work to bring charity into the world which is the pure love of Christ, who is light, we are bringing love and the light to the world. As we remember this we can know why Jesus also commanded at the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:14-16 “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. / Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. / Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Our light is our Lord and Savior, even Jesus Christ, as we spread charity we let Him shine to the world. Saturday 4/30/16 – As we read John 4:10 after a Samarian woman asks why a Jew would even want to talk to her, a Samarian, “Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” I then looked into the gift of God, and as I found something to replace that with I came to Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Yet again we see this expression of God’s love for us as it comes through Jesus Christ. In fact, as we look back to John 3:16, and I’ll quote at full length this time, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” We see that here is another testament of Jesus Christ being a gift from God, given to us that we may experience everlasting life. Recalling the reference to “living water” in John 4:10, I wanted to see how this relates to everlasting life. I found in Nephi 11:25 as Nephi goes to the Lord to understand his father, Lehi’s, dream “And it came to pass that I beheld that the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God, which led to the fountain of living waters, or to the tree of life; which waters are a representation of the love of God; and I also beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God.” Then in Revelation 2:7 we read “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.” The tree of life is a representation of God’s love and is in the midst of His paradise. It is through His love that He has sent His son as a gift to bring us everlasting life. The living water that Jesus offers is the way to eternal life. In His continued conversation with the Samarian “The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. / Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.” (John 4:25-26) So another way to see John 4:10, with everything that we have taken in today and earlier this week, is to be able to read it as “Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest [eternal life through Jesus Christ], and [I that speak unto thee am he]; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee [the way to everlasting life through the love of God, which is the love of Jesus Christ, which is Charity].”