The Lord teaches us through symbols. Words are symbols. The father of lies tries to distort the meaning of the most important symbols.
The context of this essay is scriptural. Herein we explore heavenly things. We define words, symbols from a heavenly perspective.
Shut the world out of your mind and please proceed.
Words are symbols.
Words by themselves are nothing but letters strung together. However, the meaning behind words are extremely powerful. Words can be used to conjure up thoughts and images in your mind. They can caress you with loving care or cut you to pieces like a sword.
The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.
Behold, I am God; give heed to my word, which is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, to the dividing asunder of both joints and marrow; therefore, give heed unto my word.
Let’s try an experiment. What do you think of when you read the word “car”? You now have an image of a car in your mind. What happens when we change the words slightly to “red car”? Your image changes, but odds are high that your “red car” doesn’t look like my “red car”. How about “red hot-wheels car”? Odds are better now that our images are similar. Lastly, “red hot-wheels Ferrari”. Now the odds are that our images very closely resemble each other.
You can see how easy it is to change the image in our minds, by slightly modifying the words.
Satan knows this as well as marketing agencies and other worldly organizations. They use symbols in television and movies to manipulate our thoughts, and consequently our actions, but that is another topic. They have and will distort the meaning behind the words they use.
For example, I remember when certain words used commonly in movies and television today, would have landed the producers and script-writers in jail in the not-so-distant past. The meanings behind some of these words has either changed or the world has allowed them as acceptable.
Meaning Behind The Symbols
Words can represent ideas, situations and circumstances. Herein we will explore the following words and their scriptural meaning:
- Agency – How does The Lord define it?
- Liberty – Is it the same thing as Freedom and Agency?
- Freedom – What does it mean? Who has it?
- Justice – What is it? How does it work?
- Mercy – How do we obtain it?
- Atonement – Do we truly understand it? How do we use it?
- Captivity – What is the scriptural meaning?
- Law – Specifically natural law; how does it work?
- Commandment – Is it the same thing as law?
The Nature of Existence
In order to understand Agency, we must first gain an understanding of the nature of existence.
And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.
The universe is made up of only two types of things:
- Things to Act
- Things to be Acted Upon
Of which type are you?
Things To Act
You are something To Act, and not to be Acted Upon.
30) All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.
31) Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light.
32) And every man whose spirit receiveth not the light is under condemnation.”
Clearly we exist and we have been granted, through God’s natural Law, Agency.
Let’s explore further…
Things to act (we) have something called Agency.
Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.
Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down;
Again, we have the gift of Agency. We can act for ourselves, but what does that mean? Let’s ask Nephi…
Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.
We can choose Liberty and eternal life, which seem to mean similar things in this scripture, or we can choose Captivity and death which are also synonymous.
That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.
Agency gives us the ability to choose how to act for ourselves. This gift of Agency pertains to morality, choosing between right and wrong. Does this mean we can choose to act like fools and go around hurting other people? Yes it does.
Now read the fine print.
That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity… and be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment
Pertaining to a time in the future (futurity), we may act for ourselves (Freedom), choosing between right and wrong (moral Agency), so that we may be accountable (responsible) for our own sins in the day of judgment.
We have Agency so that we can choose between right and wrong to our own future benefit or detriment.
If I steal a candy bar today, will I immediately pay the penalty? I may pay the temporal penalty if I get caught, but regarding The Lord’s judgment, no. That is withheld for a future time. But, make no mistake, the penalty must be paid, either by us, or by The Savior through his infinite Atonement.
Therefore, we can choose between right and wrong, evil and righteousness. However, we cannot choose how we are judged or the consequences of our actions. Because…
What, do ye suppose that mercy can rob justice? I say unto you, Nay; not one whit. If so, God would cease to be God.
Mercy can never rob Justice. We’ll explore Mercy and Justice below.
Summary of Agency
Agency is a gift from The Father of our spirits, God himself.
The scriptures tell us we can use our Agency to choose. On the one hand we can choose between two outcomes:
- Liberty and Eternal Life – Heaven
- Captivity and Death – Hell
On the other hand we can choose between two types of actions:
- Righteous Action
- Wicked Action
We cannot choose wickedness and have that lead to Liberty anymore than we can choose righteousness and have it lead to Captivity. They are mutually exclusive.
If our actions are righteous it will always lead to Liberty. If our actions are wicked it will always lead to Captivity. There are no exceptions. This is the definition of the Law of Justice, which we will examine later.
One more thing I want to make clear before we proceed. Action, in this context, includes the words we speak and our thoughts as well as physical actions.
The Difference Between Agency, Freedom and Liberty
Again, we are examining words which are merely symbols that have deep and significant meaning.
We should now have a fairly good grasp on the meaning of Agency as our God-given ability to choose. So what is Freedom? Isn’t it the same thing as Agency?
2 Nephi 2:27, quoted above, says that
men are free according to the flesh… And they are free to choose Liberty and eternal life… or to choose Captivity and death
Freedom is not the same thing as Agency. Freedom can be taken away from us through incarceration, or physical handicap. If we are in jail, we are not free, but do we still have Agency?
The answer is yes. Though our Freedom may be severely limited or altogether taken from us, our Agency can never be removed. If you are in jail you can still act righteously according to your moral Agency. If you are missing a leg you may not be physically free to run up and down the street but you can still choose Liberty or Captivity, righteousness or wickedness. I propose that satan hates this fact more than anything. He cannot rob you of your Agency, but he will try with all his might to twist the meaning of the word so that you do not understand it. The father of lies will tell you that Agency is the same thing as Freedom and that it can be taken away. Do not believe it. Your Agency is eternal, and so are you.
OK, so Freedom is not Agency. Then what is it?
Freedom is the ability to act. We come into this world free to act.
The scriptures propose that Liberty is synonymous with Freedom.
Again, 2 Nephi 2:27, quoted above, says we can choose Liberty and Eternal Life. Which could be read “Freedom and Eternal Life”, meaning freedom to act forever, worlds without end.
A search through the Quad (Holy Bible, Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price and Doctrine and Covenants), count the world Liberty 82 times. In each of these instances we can interchange Freedom with Liberty and the meaning doesn’t change.
The Eternal Laws of Justice and Mercy
I want to challenge your definition of Justice and Mercy. When you read the word Justice what kind of meaning does it conjure? Probably something to do with a courtroom, or “an eye for an eye”.
Justice simply means that our actions determine our outcome. That is the definition of The Law of Justice.
If our actions are righteous it is Justice that our outcome or destination is Liberty. Conversely, if they are wicked it is Justice that our destination is Captivity.
What about the Law of Mercy? If we make mistakes can’t we obtain Mercy through the Atonement?
We can indeed obtain Mercy through sincere repentance, because Jesus Christ atoned for our mistakes, and for this very reason. However, we must be very clear about this. Mercy can never rob Justice, period.
What does that mean?
It means we cannot party all day, then repent at night and expect to obtain Eternal Life. It doesn’t work that way.
If we fail to choose the righteous action the eternal Law of Justice stands, and our destination will be eternal Captivity. Our choices determine our outcome, period. No discussion, no latitude, no room for variation.
However, through the Savior’s Atonement we can repent, obtain Mercy, and are allowed to choose again, or re-choose. Then as long as we make the righteous choice thereafter, we have a claim on Mercy through the power of the Atonement.
Understand that we must choose. We are placed into our physical bodies and delivered here to this physical, and fallen world so that we can choose between good and evil, Liberty or Captivity. Our choice must be made, one way or another.
Which brings us to examine the Atonement further.
I do not profess to fully understand the implications and the magnitude of the Atonement.
My Friend and Master, Jesus Christ, did not desire of Himself to drink from that bitter cup. What a terrible and painful burden it was, placed upon Him. He pleaded with our Father…
And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
He did not want to bleed from every pore in His body, and suffer more pain and horrible anguish than any mortal child of God could bear. It was abhorrent to Him, being sinless and perfect, to endure the awful punishments for the sins we would each commit, and have committed. Nevertheless He did it because it was Father’s will. And it was Father’s will because there was no other way for His children (all of us who have ever been born or will ever be born), to obtain Mercy and everlasting joy back in His presence.
The Savior did what was asked of Him. And through choosing that action, using His own Agency, we may obtain Mercy.
This is how it works.
- We make a mistake and choose an unrighteous action
- We sincerely repent and through the Atonement, we are placed back into a position where we can re-choose as if we never made the wrong choice.
- We choose righteousness
It is a wonder to me but the Atonement effectively manipulates time.
12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.
42 Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.
If the Lord remembers our sins no more, then in my understanding we have never committed them. But make the same wrong choices again, and all the sins come back upon your head.
7 And now, verily I say unto you, I, the Lord, will not lay any sin to your charge; go your ways and sin no more; but unto that soul who sinneth shall the former sins return, saith the Lord your God.
Now satan will have you believe that we can eat, drink and be merry and in the end we may be beaten with a few stripes and then saved into heaven.
And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.
This is a precept of men. Those of us who know the doctrine cannot rely on Luke 12:48. The ‘few stripes’ to which Luke is referring are more than anyone would want to bear. The scriptures are clear if our goal is the Celestial kingdom.
Again, Nephi schools us in the following verse 9:
9 Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord; and their works shall be in the dark.
10 And the blood of the saints shall cry from the ground against them.
14 They wear stiff necks and high heads; yea, and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and whoredoms, they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.
15 O the wise, and the learned, and the rich, that are puffed up in the pride of their hearts, and all those who preach false doctrines, and all those who commit whoredoms, and pervert the right way of the Lord, wo, wo, wo be unto them, saith the Lord God Almighty, for they shall be thrust down to hell!
16 Wo unto them that turn aside the just [righteousness] for a thing of naught and revile against that which is good, and say that it is of no worth! For the day shall come that the Lord God will speedily visit the inhabitants of the earth; and in that day that they are fully ripe in iniquity they shall perish.
17 But behold, if the inhabitants of the earth shall repent of their wickedness and abominations they shall not be destroyed, saith the Lord of Hosts.
Oddly enough, the worldy meaning of Captivity is not unlike the scriptural meaning. It means the opposite of, or loss of, Freedom. Incarceration, unable to act in one degree or another.
Understand that anything less than exaltation, Eternal Life or the Celestial Kingdom is, at one degree or another, Captivity.
Satan is granted power to hold you captive and torment you if you use your Agency to choose wickedness. See 2 Nephi 2:27
Laws and Commandments
God’s Laws or natural laws are laws which cannot be broken. They are laws which exist within the sphere in which the were decreed.
Gravity is the favorite and easiest to examine of the Telestial laws. It simply cannot be broken. Project anything which has mass into the air and it will invariably return to the ground unless another law acts upon it. For instance an airplane. It seems to defy gravity for a time because the other laws are acting upon the aircraft to delay the law of gravity.
An airplane can take off from the ground and achieve flight for a time because the laws of thrust and lift work with the law of gravity to keep it in the air until either the thrust or the lift cease.
We have examined the Law of Justice. In a similar vein it cannot be broken, but the Law of Mercy works to deflect the Law of Justice back onto The Savior through your repentance and His Atonement.
Laws do not change within their sphere.
Commandments are orders from The Lord. They can be broken or disobeyed, but not without penalty.
Commandments are subject to change.
Why was Nephi commanded to kill Laban? Isn’t there a law that says though shalt not kill?
No, it is a commandment and it changed due to Nephi’s circumstance.
10 And it came to pass that I was constrained by the Spirit that I should kill Laban; but I said in my heart: Never at any time have I shed the blood of man. And I shrunk and would that I might not slay him.
13 Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.
Laban had the plates, the history of Nephi’s people, their very scriptures. Without those plates, we would not now have The Book of Mormon. Clearly many would have dwindled in unbelief, as they would not have obtained the plain and precious truths of the Gospel, the Doctrine of Christ.
The Lord changed the commandment for this one instance, in Nephi’s case, for a righteous purpose.
Agency is our God-given ability to choose for ourselves, between righteousness and wickedness on the one hand or Liberty and Captivity on the other. It cannot be take away.
Liberty and Freedom are the ability to act for ourselves and can be taken away.
The Law of Justice is that our actions determine our outcome or destination.
The Law of Mercy is tied to the Atonement. We can obtain mercy by repenting and then making the correct choices.
Mercy cannot rob Justice.
The Atonement allows us to “re-choose” or “choose again”. It does not place us automatically into the Celestial kingdom.
Captivity, to one degree or another, is anything less than Eternal Life, or the Celestial Kingdom.
God’s Law (natural law) cannot be broken.
A Commandment may change from time to time, just follow them always.
Words are symbols. Make sure you understand the Lord’s meaning behind the symbol and don’t be deceived.
Again, don’t get caught up in worldly definitions. We are looking through our heavenly window, which is in truth reality, but we have been deceived by the world for so long that we don’t understand the true meaning of the most important symbols.
The Lord wants you to understand these things and the enemy despises it when you do.
I have no authority from The Church, or The Lord to teach these things to the general population or the body of The Church.
These are simply my thoughts and understanding as it is today. These definitions may be subject to change should I receive further enlightenment.
If you disagree with anything I’ve written, please help me understand why and if I am incorrect, please help me to learn. Any mean or unhelpful comments will be removed.
As always, do your own research. Don’t just read, but study the scriptures to find out the truth of all things.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Much of the information herein was gleaned from my own research along with a video of Brent Larsen talking to a small group of people several years ago. Since that time he has been excommunicated, but not for the video. His viewpoint, in the video, regarding symbolism and the revealed definitions of certain words are supported by the scriptures linked above.
I don’t agree with Brent’s definitions of Liberty. Liberty is not necessarily a destination, though it can be an outcome if we choose only righteous actions which bind us to such an outcome. The scriptures often interchange the symbols Liberty and Freedom.