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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Our Soul Purpose

In a previous post, I answered one of the questions I had, before I had joined the church, which was, "Where did I come from?" Another question everybody asks themselves at least once in their lives is, "Why am I here?" or "Is there a purpose to my life?" I can assure you that you aren't the only one to ask yourself that. There have been many great minds, philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle who have asked this same thing. I assure you that their questions have been answered. Not by man, but by the Almighty, who knows ALL things.

Let's start from the very beginning. It's a very good place to start. When we read we begin with Moses' First book, which is known to us as Genesis. The first chapter first verse reads, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth..." (Genesis 1: 1) We then proceed to read the creation, and the order by which all things are created. But an interesting thing occurs on the "sixth day." God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness... So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:26-27) This is the start of the the human family. This is where the first of God's children enter into their tabernacles of clay. Adam, who was previously known as Michael, and Eve were valiant in the war in heaven and earned their privilege of being the first parents of the human family. A more detailed account of the creation of man and woman on the sixth day is further expounded in the second chapter, to which we will get to shortly. At this point, they were given only two commandments. The most important one being the first one mentioned in chapter one. God said unto them "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth." (Genesis 1: 28). The second one the Lord commanded Adam saying, "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." (Genesis 2: 16-17) I find it interesting that this commandment was given to Adam BEFORE Eve was created. I think the reason is because God wanted to express and set his pattern of communication to the human family AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, which is him using prophets to deliver His words, and commandments to us. Eve, at that point, would then had have to exercisde faith in her husband, who is a prophet of God. With that being said, little else is known about these, our first parents and their state of being, in the Bible. However, a Book of Mormon prophet, Lehi, sheds further light on this subject. He said, "if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And... have remained in the same... in a state of innocence..." (2 Nephi 2: 22-23, underline added) If we can imagine the most innocent person, we often think of a small child, like a baby or a toddler. Children do not know how to "multiply and replenish the earth". So, it was the same with Adam and Eve. Hence, they "could not act for [themselves] save it should be that [they were] enticed by the one or the other. (2 Nephi 2: 16) So, just like a toddler is gullible, and willing to act when someone entices them to do something, SO WAS ADAM AND EVE when they were created. Then after their creation, God rested on the seventh day as described in Genesis chapter one.

The importance of Adam and Eve not knowing how to act is important as we begin the reading of the third chapter in Genesis. We are introduced to the serpent who "was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made." (Genesis 3:1) Lehi described him as "an angel of God, [who] had fallen from heaven; wherefore, he became a devil, having sought that which was evil before God. And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind... even that old serpent, who is the devil, who is the father of all lies..." (2 Nephi 2: 17-18) In a previous post, We learn more about WHO this devil is.  Next, we can see the pattern, and subtlety of Satan as we continue to read the dialogue between him and Eve:

Serpent: Hath God said, "Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?"
Eve: We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, "Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die."
(Genesis 3:1-3)

Serpent: Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:4-5)

Eve "saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise (I believe strongly she desired to learn how to multiply and replenish to become a mother), she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. (Genesis 3:6) Then, we see that the serpent was right when he said they would know good and evil, because "the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons." (Genesis 3:7) After they explained their actions, God said, "Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever... So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life." Thus, the Lord "sent Adam forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken." (Genesis 3:22-24; see also 2 Nephi 2: 19) It is also interesting to note that they physically couldn't have children until they fell. This is hinted in the 16th verse, " I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception..." Now, after they were kicked out, Eve could physically conceive, "And they have brought forth children; yea, even the family of all the earth." (2 Nephi 2:20)

I want to point out the pattern by which Lucifer works. We can see these in the temptations of Jesus Christ. We read, "the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." (Matthew 4: 3) We see here that the first thing he does, is to try to make one doubt. "If thou be the Son of God..." Then, he tells you the abilities you have and persuades you to use them for selfish reasons. We know that Christ has the ability to command the molecular structure to change the stone to become anything he wants it to be, as demonstrated later in His ministry with changing water to wine. He, however fights this temptation with using scripture and truth. Then, Christ finds Himself on the pinnacle of the temple where another temptation comes. "If thou be the Son of God (there is that doubt again), cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. (Matthew 4: 6) This approach is one often overlooked, and the easiest to become a victim. Satan quotes scripture Christ knew. Satan used truth to try to get Christ to fall (literally, and figuratively). If it hadn't been for Christ's greater knowledge of the sacred word, He could have fell victim to it. Hence Satan uses lies, and half truths to bring souls to himself. This was the same way from the beginning. We just read about how he Tempted our first parents. He used all of the cunning "strategies" up his sleeve.
This takes us to now. Because of Adam, and his fall, we are now able to experience families. God, as described, is our Heavenly Father. His joy is found in us, His imperfect children. We can liken this situation to families we experience on earth. If we ask any father what brings him the most joy, he will probably say, "seeing the success of my kids." This is the same way our Heavenly Father feels about us. He has said, "this is my work and my glory--to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39) God wants to see us happy. Though, it is kind of difficult to experience joy when so many people are experiencing misery. It is difficult to experience true happiness when we have experienced so many hurtful things. One might say, to Our Father, "I hope you know, I'm having a hard time." Others might cry out with sorrow, "Why me?" But, ALL things have been done in the wisdom of God. He wants us to be happy. The reason we are given the bitter, is that we may know and appreciate the sweet. It may be easier to understand with something that we can all understand:

As a missionary, I enjoy eating. Okay, not just as a missionary. I had a unique philosophy on food. That was, "If other people can eat it, why can't I?" This philosophy has taken my taste buds (and the rest of my digestive tract) on quite a few wild adventures. One of my favorite things that I found is a fruit know as a mango. There are many varieties of this fruit, but I do not know all of them. The big green and red ones at Wal-mart suffice. While I was on my mission, I bought fourteen of them with the intent to eat two per day. I taught myself the best way to cut them (whether or not it is the right way, I do not know). I ate one at breakfast and one at lunch. Soon, I found myself growing tired of them. I didn't enjoy them with the amount of zeal as I had previously. I lost the appreciation of them. Then, I ate something far worse. I had eaten some stale saltines. Yes, they can go stale. I immediately found myself cutting into one of those mangoes. It was incredible. I grew to appreciate what I had when I had it.

There is a similar experience another missionary has shared with me and my companion.

While serving in a foreign country, an missionary with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints faced with a wide variety of cultural changes. This includes changes in cuisine. Instead of having his favorite breakfast cereal in the morning, he must settle for something less. One missionary's favorite cereal, before he left on his mission, is "Frosted Flakes." He left to serve the Lord in another country; one of lower economic standing than that of Salt Lake City, Utah. Here, in this new country, they have "Corn Flakes," but have never heard of them being frosted with sweet sugary goodness. So, he settles with plain "Corn Flakes" and puts sugar on them. After a few weeks, he grabs a bowl and does his usual routine. After his third or fourth bite, he has an epiphany. "THIS TASTES EXACTLY LIKE FROSTED FLAKES!" This cereal begins to be his favorite breakfast on his mission. After about a year and a half, he receives a package. This is not unusual. He got one every month so far. He opened it and found a note on the top:

"I just remembered how much you loved Frosted Flakes. So, I sent you a box. Also, I got you a new tie because the ones I see in your pictures seem to be a bit worn and dirty.
I love you,
Mom
P.S. I can't wait for you to come home in just a few months."

The next morning, he finished the rest of his Corn Flakes with gusto. Then he opened his box of Frosted Flakes. He poured himself a bowl, and took the first bite. The crunch was far more prominent and flavor was far more distinct than that of the Corn Flakes with mere sugar. "This tastes nothing like those Corn Flakes." He thinks to himself. "These are way better!" There is a term for this effect used by missionaries called "Corn Flakes."

Both of these stories demonstrate the importance of the Fall of Adam. God will let us experience the "mediocre" so that we will be happy for the gifts He will give to us after this life. The trials, and sorrows are blessings for the eternities. We will appreciate the wonderful gifts of the Glory of God when He gives them to us. So, be thankful for your experience. It makes you who you are, and helps you understand what you may become. Yes, the Fall of Adam is the cause of death, misery, and woe in the world. God knew this was going to happen. I know "all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy." (2 Nephi 2: 24-25)

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