Wednesday, February 10, 2010

If Thou Doest Well, Thou Shalt Be Accepted 5

Adam and Eve had many children. It was a great sadness to them that so many of their children rejected the gospel of Jesus Christ and chose evil over good. So when Cain was born they had great hopes that he would be a covenant heir. Eve said, "I have gotten a man from the Lord; wherefore he may not reject his words." (Moses 5:16) Yet Cain did not hearken to his parents or to the Lord. He asked, "Who is the Lord that I should know him?"

The Law of Sacrifice had already been instituted. This sacrifice was a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God. Jesus has always been the way, the truth, and the life, and it has always been through Him that we approach the Father. So it was important that the law be followed as a reminder that Jesus would be like the firstling of the flock that was offered, pure and without blemish.

Adam and Eve had another son, Abel. Abel was a keeper of sheep and Cain was a tiller of the ground. Abel offered a righteous offering when he presented a lamb that was the firstling of the flock. He was being faithful to the commandment of the Lord in doing so. Satan encouraged Cain to offer the fruit of the ground as a sacrifice to the Lord, and Cain hearkened unto Satan.

'The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “Abel offered to God a sacrifice that was accepted, which was the firstlings of the flock. Cain offered of the fruit of the ground, and was not accepted, because he could not do it in faith. … Shedding the blood of the Only Begotten to atone for man … was the plan of redemption; … and as the sacrifice was instituted for a type, by which man was to discern the great Sacrifice which God had prepared; to offer a sacrifice contrary to that, no faith could be exercised … ; consequently Cain could have no faith; and whatsoever is not of faith, is sin” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 58).'

When Cain's sacrifice was not accepted of the Lord, his countenance fell. Satan knew that the offering wouldn't be accepted and he was pleased. Even thou the Lord said encouranging words to Cain, he became bitter that his offering was not accepted.

"And the Lord said unto Cain: Why art thou wroth? Why is thy countenance fallen?
If thou doest well, thou shalt be accepted. And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door, and Satan desireth to have thee; and except thou shalt hearken unto my commandments, I will deliver thee up, and it shall be unto thee according to his desire. And thou shalt rule over him." (Moses 5:22,23)

Instead of listening to the word of the Lord, Cain became angry and stopped listening to the Lord or to his brother Abel or to his parents, Adam and Eve. Satan told Cain that if he were to kill his brother Abel, Abel's flocks would then be his, and Cain believed him. So Cain went to his close family members and had them enter into his plot of secrecy to kill his brother Abel. He was the first one to institute an evil secret society that was set up to get gain through murder and wickedness.

So Cain killed Abel, and Abel's blood cried from the ground which received it. The Lord knew Cain killed Abel, but in His fashion of helping us accept accountablity, he asked Cain where his brother Abel was. Cain's reply, "I know not. Am I my brother’s keeper?" (Moses 5:34)

Cain did not receive Abel's flocks. Things did not play out the way Cain had expected. Cain became an outcast from the society of believers. He and his followers were cut of from the presense of the Lord. A mark was placed upon Cain and his followers to distinguish him as one who rebelled against God and made a pact with the devil.

So there are some questions to ask ourselves?

Have you ever offered a substitute offering. Cain probably chose really good fruits and vegetables to present to the Lord, but he was enticed to do so by Satan. This was not what the Lord commanded him to do.

We are commanded to attend our Sunday meetings, both to partake of the Sacrament and to worship with the saints. But we hear some say that they can worship in their own homes or in the mountains or on the lake just as well. They do have the agency to choose how to worship, but in order to be worshiping in an acceptable way, they need to follow the commandments of the Lord.

There are those who say they won't pay tithing while "So-and-so" is Bishop, or that they choose to give their tenth to the United Way or some other worthy organization. While they have the right to choose what they will do with their tenth, unless the follow the commandment of the Lord they are choosing an alternative sacrifice even like Cain did.

I know that I have offered alternative sacrifices at different times. I am not happy about that. In fact, I feel ashamed to say so, but I think that many of us have. The thing to do is to not become angry or offended when we recognize through the Spirit that our offering is not acceptable before the Lord. We do not want to become angry like Cain did. We do not want our countenance to fall. We do not want Satan to rejoice over us. We do want to repent and do better, and we want to be accepted of the Lord.

How about being our brother's keeper? After killing Abel, Cain said, "I am free." (Moses 5:33) Truly, he wasn't free. He did not lay claim to Abel's flocks. He was an outcast. We are not free when we fall short on our assignments of being our brother's keeper. When we neglect our home teaching or our visiting teaching, we are not free. We may be haunted by those things which we know we should do, or we may not have the measure of the Spirit in our lives that we desire to have.

Cain's choices affected his eternity; they affected him immediately and throughout his mortal life; they affected his family and his friends and followers and his descendants. So, too, will our choices affect many thousands beyond ourselves.

'Bishop Robert L. Simpson said: “The world today tells you to leave your friend alone. He has the right to come and go as he pleases. The world tells you that persuasion to attend church or priesthood meeting or to discard a bad habit might lead to frustration and undue pressures; but again I repeat the word of the Lord: You are your brother’s keeper, and when you are converted, you have an obligation to strengthen your brother” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1971, 114; or Ensign, Dec. 1971, 103).' We cannot leave our friends alone. We are our brother's keeper.

Now let us turn our thoughts to Adam's righteous fourth great-grandson, Enoch.

Much of Adam's posterity were living wickedly. Enoch was called by the Lord to preach repentance until the people. Enoch was humbled and concerned and said, "Wherefor am I thy servant?" (Moses 6:31) But the Lord made Ench a promise. "Go forth and do as I have commanded thee, and no man shall pierce thee. Open thy amouth, and it shall be filled, and I will give thee utterance, for all flesh is in my hands, and I will do as seemeth me good. Say unto this people: Choose ye this day, to serve the Lord God who made you. Behold my apirit is upon you, wherefore all thy words will I justify; and the mountains shall flee before you, and the rivers shall turn from their course; and thou shalt abide in me, and I in you; therefore walk with me." (Moses 6:32-24)So Enoch was called and set apart by the Lord with special blessings given in connection with his righteous service in his calling. We have a similar experience every time we accept a calling and are set apart for that calling.

The people were all offended at what Enoch had to say, but they were curious, too, and so they kept listening. Enoch taught the gospel to the people in pure simplicity. (See Moses 6:47-63) A miracle occured. All the people of Enoch's city repented and became righteous. They became a Zion people. The were of "one heart and one mind." (Moses 7:18) Because of their righteousness, God took up the entire city of Enoch to himself. Each soul became a translated being that would not experience death, but live until the last day and then be resurrected.

We all have agency, and we understand the difference between right and wrong. We can be like Cain and choose to follow the devil, or we can be like Enoch and choose to follow the Lord. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15) I hope that all of us may feel the peace of the Spirit that comes from serving the Lord and offering an acceptable sacrifice. There is no greater gift in this life than the Gift of the Holy Ghost and the confirmation that the Lord is pleased with us.

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