Tuesday, March 23, 2010

So this was pretty much my farewell talk excluding some adlibbing.

Ok, I still have seventeen days left with all of you, so no one is allowed to cry. I have been asked to speak today on blessings of knowing the “Plan of Salvation”. However, to know what those blessings are, we first need to know, and understand the “Plan of Salvation”. So to begin with I am going to speak briefly on the “Plan of Salvation”.

Being members of the church, I think we sometimes take for granted all of the things that we have grown up knowing. There are many people in the world, who don’t even realize that there is a “Plan of Salvation”, and they ask themselves, the three big questions. “Where did I come from?”, “Why am I here?”, and “Where am I going?” Being members of the church we are blessed to know the answers to these questions. However, to more fully understand the “Plan of Salvation”, we must first understand who we really are. We are all literal sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father.

Think about this for a minute, just as you are children to your parents, we are all children to our heavenly parents. And because our Father in Heaven loves us he has provided a way for us to return to live with him, called the “Plan of Salvation”, “The Great Plan of Happiness”, “The Plan of Redemption”, and “The plan of Mercy”

Simply put, before we were born we lived with our father in heaven. We then came to earth to gain a body, and work at our salvation. Upon death we pass on into the spirit world to await a judgment based upon our deeds in this life, where we can receive a Telestial, Terrestrial, or Celestial reward.

Now I am going to draw from my own personal experience, that I have been able to draw a lot of gospel principles from. Most of you hear have probably heard about the weight vest story, but probably not from me, so listen up. Around four or five years ago was my first trip to Mt. Humphreys, where we rode all the way to the base of the mountain and hiked up the mountain, it was about three miles up and three miles down, and was a fairly simple hike. Other than spraining both of my ankles I had a wonderful experience.

Then almost two years ago, after my brother Shannon had already left on his mission I went to work with my grandpa for six weeks on his farm, where we would get up before the sun and haul hay off the field while there was still dew on the ground, after that we would work on various other farm related things which I won’t get into. Nonetheless after doing this for six weeks I was very confident in my physical standing and when I heard that we would be hiking Mt. Humphreys for our super activity I thought I would challenge myself by wearing a weight vest.

The morning of the hike was beautiful, the air was crisp, and there was only a slight chance of rain, before leaving my tent, I put on my weight vest and put a sweat shirt on over it. This was going to be my private challenge, I was not doing this to say “Hey look at me I am so strong la di da” I was doing this for me and no one else. As soon as we started though I knew something was different, I asked if we were going to get a ride to the starting point, and found out quickly that we were going to hike a different trail. So I thought to myself well the last time I hiked this mountain, it was fairly easy how hard could this new trial be? I was about to find out just how hard. IN the first mile I was already in the very last group with two leaders and their sons. It was a very slow going hike mainly because of the weight vest that no one knew about. I had the distinct impression several times that I should just take off the weight vest but I wasn’t going to quit. About two to three miles into the hike we reached the base of the mountain and started the steep climb up the mountain. It was long and arduous with stops every hundred yards or so, that way I could catch my breath. The leaders with me were wonderful, they kept trying to keep me motivated and gave me some of their energy cube things they use in marathons so that I could keep going. However that could only keep my going for so long. Pretty soon, the sun had risen pretty high in the sky and I was starting to overheat. Several times the leaders asked me to remove my sweatshirt, but I wouldn’t do it, partly because I didn’t want them to know about my personal weight vest challenge, and partly because I was embarrassed about wearing the weight vest in the first place. Eventually however, I heard them talking about my welfare about fifty feet in front of me, about how dangerous it was, and how I was overheating, so brother Adcox, finally turned around came up to me and forced me out of my sweat shirt. At first they didn’t know what I was wearing they thought it was just a normal vest that had granola and what not in all the pockets, but when I told them that it was a weight vest they almost burst out laughing. Brother Adcox removed the weight vest and almost dropped it. My thirty pound weight vest now drenched with sweat weighed closer to fifty pounds. We then hid the weight vest off the side of the trail, and went around the last switch back and got on the mile long straight path to the top, continued up the mountain. Immediately I felt better we traveled the farthest we had all morning in one go, and I felt lighter than air. Unfortunately my new found energy was short lived and I was unable to make it all the way to the top of the mountain, but I gave it my all.

On the way back down I was fortunate enough to have friends to help me carry my weight vest all of the way back down the mountain to our camp.

Now there is a lot to be learned from this story, but my topic is the plan of salvation so keep that in mind. However, I would like to take a look at the plan of salvation a bit differently today, let’s focus on “The creation”, “The Fall”, and “The Atonement”.

Before we were born on the earth, we lived in the presence of our Heavenly Father as one of His spirit children. In this pre-mortal existence, we attended a council with Heavenly Father's other spirit children. At that council Jesus Christ, covenanted to be the Savior. Lucifer, another spirit son of God, rebelled against the plan and "sought to destroy the agency of man". He became Satan, and he and his followers were cast out of heaven and denied the privileges of receiving a physical body and experiencing mortality

Then, under the direction of the father, Jesus Christ created the earth as a place for us to live and gain experience. In order for us to progress and become like our heavenly father, each of us had to obtain a body and be tested, with a time of probation on earth. Because this was a test, we passed through something called the veil that keeps us from remembering our pre-mortal life, because we don’t remember our pre-mortal existence, we are required to walk by faith rather than by sight.

Now before the hike, I found out a little bit about what It would be like from my experience before and what I had learned from our leaders.

Now after the creation God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, where they dwelt in the presence of god. While in the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve their agency. He then gave Adam and Eve contradicting commandments, first he commanded them to be fruitful and multiply and eplenish the earth, and then he commanded them not to eat of the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Satan tempted Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, and they chose to do so, because they knew that it was the only way they could follow God’s commandment to be fruitful, to multiply, and replenish the earth. However, they still broke the commandment to not eat of the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and this transgression set in motion the fall, which was a separation from God’s presence, or a spiritual death.

From that time forward Adam and Eve and all their posterity, were subject to both physical and spiritual death, disease, and all types of suffering. But we being descendents of Adam and Eve were also blessed with moral agency, the ability to choose between good and evil. This agency makes it possible for us to learn and progress, and this is the reason we are here on earth. So what is the purpose of life? Simply stated it is to prove ourselves obedient to god in all things.

However, because we are human and have agency we are going to make mistakes, we are going to occasionally stumble and fall into sin, making it impossible for us to return to live with our Heavenly Father again. However, because of the Plan of Salvation, our Heavenly Father had planned for this and had already set up a way for us to return to him, and that is through the atonement of Jesus Christ.

The bulk of my hike can be liked unto mortal life and the weight vest can be likened unto sin and the weight that we all carry through life

This mortal existence would be nothing if it weren’t for The Atonement. The Atonement is the single most important act ever preformed in time and eternity. In those hours of agony, Jesus Christ took upon himself the pain and suffering of everyone who has ever lived. He atoned for the sins of each one of us. And, if we have faith in his sacrifice, and repent, we can be made clean, and be able to dwell again with our heavenly father. The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ makes it possible for us to overcome the effects of the fall. That means we can overcome physical death through resurrection and spiritual death through repentance and forgiveness.

And I like to think of this as when my leaders found out about my vest and helped me remove it and continue on up the mountain.

Having a knowledge of the plan of salvation, can be like a map and a compass guiding you through life. The plan can let you know where you’ve been as well as point you back to our heavenly father. Having a testimony of the plan can change the way we see the world around us help us see past our temptations and remind us of our divine heritage.

A testimony of the plan of salvation can give us hope and purpose as we wrestle with the challenges of life. We can find reassurance in the knowledge that we are children of God and that we lived in His presence before being born on the earth. We can find meaning in our present life, knowing that our actions during mortality influence our eternal destiny. With this knowledge, we can base important decisions on eternal truths rather than on the changing circumstances of life. We can continually improve our relationships with family members, rejoicing in the promise that our families can be eternal. We can find joy in our testimonies of the Atonement and the Lord's commandments, ordinances, covenants, and doctrines, knowing that "he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come" (D&C 59:23).