Saturday, April 11, 2009

Blessings And The Acountability of Greater Light and Knowledge

I truly loved Elder Christofferson's talk on Saturday morning of conference and I have been waiting all week for the transcripts to be posted so I could go back and ponder it. I could feel, even as he was speaking, that there was deep value for me personally in what he was saying.

In these trying times, his words of God's blessings to us through keeping our covenants are both timely and reassuring. We have the ability to call down the powers of heaven as we keep our covenants, and in the keeping of our covenants is the mystery of godliness manifest.

D&C 84
19 And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.
20 Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.
21 And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh;
22 For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.

I have a testimony that blessings are poured out upon us, both those we specifically seek, and even more that our Heavenly Father knows we stand in need of but are too young to know we need. Those blessings may only be recognized and appreciated in retrospect, in the time of long shadows.

In the final third of Elder Christofferson's talk, he said this about receiving blessings.

Strengthened through the "Power of Godliness"

"We have considered, first, the empowering blessings and, second, the endowment of faith that God grants to those who keep their covenants with Him. A final aspect of strength through covenants that I will mention is the bestowal of divine power. Our covenant commitment to Him permits our Heavenly Father to let His divine influence, "the power of godliness" (D&C 84:20), flow into our lives. He can do that because by our participation in priesthood ordinances we exercise our agency and elect to receive it. Our participation in those ordinances also demonstrates that we are prepared to accept the additional responsibility that comes with added light and spiritual power."

When God blesses us, He rewards our faith, strengthening it and increasing our knowledge, because in this thing our faith has become perfect. (Alma 32:34)

In keeping our covenants, the mysteries of godliness are manifest, in that we are confirmed that keeping covenants reveals God's character, His love and concern, His plan for us. The mystery of godliness is that man can find favor with God and know that the course he is pursuing is accepted and pleases God.

But it is the last sentence that caught my attention this morning. Each of us is accountable for the light and knowledge we have received. And God cannot bless us, in consequence of our faithfully keeping our covenants, without increasing the light and knowledge we possess. So, with the blessing come increased accountability. Additional blessings raise the bar of our accountability.

Blessings, no matter how desperately needed, must wait until we are also ready to take on, permanently, the additional accountability. Blessings come when need and capacity are in equal proportions.

The same loving God, who desires to bless us, could never do that if the corresponding accountability would condemn us. Our need to be delivered from this temporary dilemma cannot outweigh the eternal consequences of accountability to a higher degree of faith, testimony, and knowledge of God.

And so God waits. He delays. Not because He does not love us. Not because He is not intimately aware and pained by our need and distress. But because He must allow the trial to perfect us and to sanctify us to the point to which we can live up to the additional light and knowledge. He is waiting on us.

Think of Alma and the people of Limhi. How long did they have to wait for deliverance? In the mean time, God sent "tender mercies" as He told them He would make their burdens to feel light upon their backs. He confirmed to them that He was aware and concerned, but they were not ready yet for the blessing and accountability of deliverance.

How about Joseph Smith and Liberty Jail? D&C 121. Joseph wondered where God was hiding and how long He would delay coming to the rescue of the Saints. It was not until they had passed through 6 months of additional persecution, without the Prophet in their midst, that he was released and they were able to prepare for their move to Nauvoo. In Nauvoo, they were to build a temple and receive their endowments. In Nauvoo, they would also lose their beloved prophet. The blessing delayed at Liberty prepared the Saints for both conditions.

Whenever we see desired blessings delayed, we should look to find that part of our personal discipleship that is not yet ready for the accountabilities that are an inseparable consequence of God's blessings. He is waiting for us. He is waiting for the sanctifying effects of hardship and trial to prepare us for both the blessings and the accountability. This is His work. This is His Glory. To Bring to pass the immortality and Eternal Life of man.

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