Saturday, August 26, 2017

Dispensation heads

There are a lot of ideas about what a gospel dispensation is. 

The word dispensation simply means to distribute. In a gospel sense, it means to make truth more accessible. 

All of God's truth is already accessible. His light shines throughout all creation without diminishing. 

The Light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness did not understand it or overpower it or appropriate it or absorb it [and is unreceptive to it]. (John 1:5, AMP)

God has never said that he limits his dispensation of truth to the world. We restrict ourselves from it by failing to search it out and failing to apply it. Through the first, we can willingly fail to sense it. Through the second, we actually actively recoil from it.

Initially, we all have individual access to the fullness of truth (see Alma 13, particularly verses 4 and 5). Because of our sin, and because of our lack of diligence, we cut ourselves off from truth. 

10 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.
11 And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell. (Alma 12)

Receiving truth is like a lens aperture. God starts with a full blast of truth. We cut down our aperture size over and over and over again until it is fully closed. Many are called, but few are chosen. Few are chosen because most withdraw from the light.

Apostasy is not a group event, and it is not binary. It is always individual and continuous. When there is a group of people who have closed themselves to light, God does not turn away from them or treat them differently as a group beyond the fact that they are ripe for destruction. 

Because he loves us, God both gives us a way to reset our access lost by sin through Jesus Christ, and a way to reverse the consequences of our lack of diligence through sending people to earth who have more truth than we do (see Moroni 7:29-32).

God sends people to earth all the time with varying levels of inclination to sin and diligence in seeking God. There are Celestial, Terrestrial, and Telestial people on this earth in differing ratios. Most people on earth are relatively similar in terms of both inclination to sin and diligence in seeking God. They are Telestial, quite prone to sin, and quite lazy and inconsistent when it comes to seeking God. Some have less inclination to sin, and some far less inclination to sin. Some have more diligence than most, some far more diligence than most. 

The Lord Jesus had less inclination to sin than anyone--not that he was tempted any less, but he chose to never acquiesce to that temptation. He "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." (Hebrew 4:15) He also had more diligence in seeking the Father than anyone here--not by magic or by his divine birth, but because his character had become more refined than anyone else's before this world was. Like all of us, he brought his pre-existing character (which is housed in one's spirit) to his mortal life.  Because of his sinlessness and diligence, he was able to bring forth more truth to the earth than any other mortal had or will.

To a much lesser degree, those who come to this earth with more than average diligence and less than average inclination to sin are like trees with deep roots. They bring truth to the surface so it can more easily be accessed by others. The point is not to replace the seedlings' own roots. Seedlings can choose to rely on the surface level runoff of nutrients from the bigger trees, but doing so will dwarf them. They must use the nutrients of the bigger trees to drop their own roots to the source of what makes the big trees big.

We have to come up to be like Christ is. Not how a man is, but how Christ is. This can only be done by seeking him directly, as hitching ourselves to a man can only bring us up to the stature of that man. All his weaknesses will be ours, even if we can attain all his strengths.

There is no condition in creation that causes his truth to become inaccessible. It is always broadcast to all. God never withdraws the ability of man to repent and come to him.

For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile. (2 Nephi 26:33)
In light of God's word, it is clear that all truth is accessible to all people at all times.

Truth does not depend on a man. While others can benefit from the righteousness of another through improved access to truth that they otherwise would not be able to access, the work of others can never change whether or not you accept truth. For example, it does no good to receive a covenant through a righteous man if you yourself have not become just as righteous. You cannot receive the reward of righteousness without actually becoming righteous. Much better is to become righteous yourself, and obtain your own covenant with God. Your standing with God does not rely on cycles of God giving his authority to men. It doesn't work like that.

Not everyone believes in the LDS idea of dispensation heads. Many Protestants believe in dispensations in the sense of God's way of dealing with people during different periods of history (3, 7, or something else depending). This confusion seems to stem from the lack of detail we have in Genesis, the creation of the law of Moses, and the revocation of the law of Moses. God does not change over time. The belief that God has treated his people differently through time contradicts the fact that God does not change. The law of Moses was not a new way to gain salvation. Paul clearly describes that it was a remedial set of commandments designed for a hard-hearted people to give them the best chance of coming to Christ. Salvation was, is, and always will be through Jesus and Jesus alone. The law of Moses could never save anyone, but it was just the right thing to help a particular group of people to have the best chance of coming to Christ to find salvation. From Adam to Moses and Moses to us, salvation has always been in Jesus alone.