Sunday, September 10, 2017

Thoughts on the Preexistence 

By Scott C. Pugsley

If a perfect God is the Father of our spirits,

then why are we so different and imperfect?

               Before the beginning, before time as we know it, Elohim became God over the universe we now inhabit.  Elohim progressed through another time and place, from being like we are now to what he is now.

               Elohim’s universe already contained physical matter and spirit matter, both unorganized.   The physical matter had qualities and characteristics that made it what is was.   Likewise, the spirit matter had its own qualities and characteristics that defined what it was.   The physical matter is the material from which the existing universe was organized, including our earth.   The physical universe became what it is as the result of the characteristics of the primordial matter and the organization applied to it by Elohim, acting through Jehovah and others to affect that organization.   The processes identified by modern science likely were involved.

               Likewise, with the organization of spirit matter into Elohim’s spirit children.  Elohim and Heavenly Mother, together in a parental process of organization analogous to mortal conception and birth, utilized the preexisting spirit matter to create spirit children.    Those spirit children were in the general likeness of their spirit parents, but were as distinct in their spirit personalities and other characteristics as we are from our parents.   The personalities of Elohim’s spirit children became what they are as the result of the characteristics of the spirit matter from which they were created, the parental organizing process, and other factors we do not understand.  Elohim and Heavenly Mother felt joy in this parenting process and love for their spirit children.

               That parental process of organizing spirit children from preexisting spirit matter did not create perfect, identical spirit offspring.  Rather, it resulted in the huge variety and diversity of Elohim’s spirit posterity, of which we are a part.   All Elohim’s spirit children are unique - intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and in every other way.   Each has moral agency and, presumably, the light of Christ and, thus, each is unique in his or her affinity to Elohim’s plan and their ability and willingness to keep his commandments.   Elohim’s spirit children include Jesus Christ the first-born, preeminent child; Lucifer a prominent but flawed spirit child; the pre-mortal spirit children who followed Lucifer; and all who have come to this earth and received a body. 

The spirit children who accepted Elohim’s Plan of Happiness, as championed by the Savior, each received a mortal body on earth and are said to have kept their first estate.   Jesus Christ’s atonement is a key feature of that plan because it was recognized that each spirit child (except Christ) would sin and fall short of the strict standard established for returning to Elohim’s presence.   The acceptance or not of Elohim’s Plan by each spirit child was a fully informed decision, made individually and thoughtfully by each spirit child.  Given God’s justice, that decision was made with full knowledge of the consequences.   Those who rejected the plan thereafter affiliated with Lucifer, whose alternate plan had been rejected by Elohim.   They do not receive a body on this earth.  

Those who accepted Elohim’s plan do receive a body on this earth. Nevertheless, they had the pre-mortal understanding that their time on earth might be very difficult and involve exposure to evil and suffering.   The conditions in which Elohim’s spirit children are placed on earth are almost as varied as the characteristics of those children.  Conduct, performance, and achievement in the preexistence apparently affect, to some degree, the placement and performance of spirit children who receive a body on earth.   Why those placements are made is a function of God’s wisdom considering pre-mortal achievements, and whatever eternal constraints may apply.  Whatever that process, it is fair.

               For Elohim to be God, he is apparently constrained by conditions that are inherent in his nature and status, in the physical and spiritual matter from which he has organized and peopled his universe, in the principles of godliness, and other constraints not revealed to us.  For example, in judging his children Elohim cannot let mercy rob justice, except through the effects of the atonement of Jesus Christ.   There must be an opposition in all things.   Moral agency must be honored.  Judgment must be fair.  Obedience results in blessings.  Unrepented sin must be punished.   Elohim’s omniscience and omnipotence extend throughout his universe to all matters, but always in a way in which he will continue to be God.               

As there are laws which shape what Elohim can and must do, so there is a Plan of Salvation (Happiness) which defines what Elohim’s spirit children can do and what the consequences of their choices and actions will be.  The source of the over-arching laws is not clear, but the implementing plan is from Elohim and has been implemented by Jesus Christ who has given commandments, doctrines, ordinances, and covenants to facilitate obedience to the plan. The doctrine of Christ and his atonement are key elements of the Christ-centered plan. Why the plan is the way it is, and why mortal life is the way it is, are not completely revealed. Considering the source of all things, we can assume that the laws are fair and just and that the plan is the best possible for the eternal good of Elohim’s children. The choice to believe such things is what we call “faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

               The world is not a uniformly safe and happy place because such a world would not contribute to the exaltation and eternal life of Elohim’s children, which achievement is his work and his glory.   Elohim’s children are subject to the evil tendencies that are apparently part of human nature as the individuals achieve mortal accountability.   Evil is also presented to Elohim’s children by Satan and his spirits.  Such evil may be chosen and adopted through the exercise of moral agency, or it may be resisted.   Choosing evil leads to the loss of the blessings associated with obedience, plus actual punishment.   Resistance to, and overcoming evil are part of what Elohim’s children must learn and choose to achieve exaltation and eternal life.  

Elohim’s children are not spared suffering in this life, even terrible and extreme suffering.  Such suffering is inherent in mortal life and is part of the tutoring, probationary process that Elohim permits for his children.  Elohim chastens those who he loves, which is everyone.  Some suffering is the result of the misuse of moral agency.  Allowing such suffering to occur is somehow fundamental to the process of being a God: having spirit children, peopling an earth, having a perfect plan of salvation, and redeeming as many of those diverse spirit children as possible through a Savior.   Suffering is both a means to a worthy end, and a consequence of the imperfect constituents of human souls and the world on which they live.  It can be ennobling and strengthening, or it can be crushing and harmful.  God weeps with those who suffer.   

Agency is a two-edged sword, permitting the bad choices of some to cause suffering for others.  That such is allowed is a testament to the extreme importance of moral agency in Elohim’s plan, and not evidence of his indifference.  Such suffering will no doubt be important at the judgment for both the victim and the perpetrator.  Undeserved suffering may, in Elohim’s justice, be compensated in the hereafter.    Harsh punishment is indicated for those who cause others to suffer.

               Some undeserved suffering is holy and redemptive.  The suffering and death of Jesus Christ, the beloved first-born of Elohim in the spirit and his only-begotten in the flesh, was a necessary part of Elohim’s plan.   This necessity of a Savior is the result of Elohim’s perfect knowledge of his children and the world in which they live.  It is also the result of other conditions and constraints of godliness that we do not now understand.  The necessity for the Savior’s atonement seems related to the diversity and imperfection of the spirit creation, and is a process to make whole and perfect that which begins as varied, untutored, and imperfect.

Christ’s atonement makes possible both the resurrection of all those who receive a body, and the exaltation of those who qualify by keeping the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.  The Savior’s atonement makes repentance possible when bad choices are made. Through repentance Elohim’s children can become clean and pure, as they were in the beginning.  

               As God, Elohim is entitled and required to judge his children after they complete mortality.   Such judgment may be delegated to other worthy resurrected individuals, who apply Elohim’s standards.  In judging his children, Elohim’s knowledge includes his perfect knowledge of each child’s nature, conditions, and circumstances, including what they chose to do on earth, with special emphasis on what they have become, and the goodness of their hearts.   Some of each child’s mortal performance will be the consequence of their characteristics resulting from of the particular spirit matter from which they were organized, the effects of the pre-mortal parental process through which they were organized, and the attributes developed in the preexistence.  Elohim’s spirit children include the enormous variety that make up the human race, and each must and will be judged on his or her own merits, using the standards in Elohim’s plan.  All relevant factors will be appropriately considered by him who is both just and fair.

The spirit children who accept the Father’s plan and progress through the resurrection will each be the same individuals who were created in the preexistence, as improved or degraded by their choices and other pre-mortal and mortal experiences.  Each person will still be himself or herself, and not someone else.  No one will escape either the resurrection or the judgment.

Through the Savior’s atonement, Elohim’s children can avoid suffering for their own sins, on conditions of repentance.   The Savior’s atonement makes possible the exaltation and eternal life of all of Elohim’s children who choose to accept and diligently follow his plan.  Becoming as God is, is a revealed possibility.

Elohim loves his children.  Taking all factors into account, he will judge and reward or punish his children in a manner that is completely fair and acceptable to each child.  The judgment will maximize the glory, exaltation, and eternal life of each child as much as divinely possible.  Except for the sons of perdition, and after any appropriate punishment, all of Elohim’s spirit children will end up in a suitable place of glory where they are comfortable.  

The vicissitudes of life are necessary but mercifully brief in the context of Elohim’s eternity and the applicable plan of salvation. We should glory in his plan and worship him for his love and the mercy embodied in that plan.  We should also love and worship our Savior whose love for us and for his father made possible the merciful implementation of Elohim’s plan and our possible, eventual exaltation. 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

A woman loves her child with so much love. When her second child comes, she doesn’t divide her love between her children, but loves each of them with the same amount of love as she had for the first. Her love doubles. And so for each additional child, the love isn’t divided, but multiplies. I think this is how God loves all his children. Love isn’t finite and divided, but infinite and multiplied.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Modest proposal for universal world peace and prosperity.
    Stop killing people.
    Stop taking other people’s property.
    Stop wanting what other people have.
    Help people who need help.
    Share what you have with other people.
    Respect everyone.
    Be kind.
    Love God and keep his commandments.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Quiet but firm
The disciple's voice
Thy will be done
What better choice.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Thoughts on Grace
After reading Sheri Dew’s book

God’s grace helps us do all we can.

Grace, administered by the Holy Ghost, helps us feel the love of God.

The atonement becomes real to us as we access the grace of God to help us do what we can.

What we can do, with the help of God, is to love him, to love and serve his children, and to love ourselves.

We feel the grace of God as tender mercies.

God’s angels include his children providing tender mercies to each other.

Righteous intentions, attempted in the name of Christ, avail much.

Accept the gift of the Holy Ghost and be a righteous companion with whom he will feel comfortable.

In righteousness be a giant; in humility be a child.

God appreciates when you help his children.

If we really want to help God, we should work to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of his beloved children.

The Holy Ghost will help us figure out the many ways we can help one another.

Until we believe God loves us, it is hard to love ourselves.

God’s love usually comes from one of his lovely children.

The forces of good are greater than the forces of evil; we need to choose which force we support.

Feel God’s love by helping someone.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Act righteously.
React mercifully.

Serve lovingly.
Receive humbly.

Get busy.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Love God

God loves you.
Love God.
Love your neighbor as your self.
Love yourself.
God loves all his children.
Be like God by loving all His children.
Serve God’s children.
Accept help when you need it.
Show God you love him by keeping His commandments.
If you stumble, repent.
Thank God for His Son Jesus Christ.
Thank God for everything.
        Scott C. Pugsley

Sunday, July 3, 2011

More Sayings 3

Offer prayer when you are worried or depressed.

Be like your children when they are being like the Savior; lovingly correct them when they are not.

Life is a necessary detour on the road to heaven.

The formalities of religion help both to provide a structure for the meek and to teach humility to the strong.

Sometimes you have to wait for things to get good; you can do something else good while you are waiting.

You can't hide from God or yourself.

Don't wait for your neighbor to be robbed before being a Good Samaritan.

The power of acting on behalf of others extends all the way from the Savior's redemption to the Primary nursery.

Try to learn the tough lessons of life on your own without having to learn the hard way.

Help your neighbor look for what is lost, then rejoice with them when it is found.

Follow a good example to become a good example.

Most people are neither wicked nor disobedient; they just don't know any better.

Stand up against that which is wrong.

Any authority that can be delegated should be delegated, accompanied by appropriate accountability.

The God of this earth is Jesus Christ, not Satan.

Properly delegated authority is just as good as the original authority.

Responsibilities come and go, but testimony should continue to increase.

In the Church, do what you are asked, regardless of what you have done before.

If you are relying on a technicality, you have probably missed the point.

Rest in heaven may consist of working hard but not getting tired.

View the big picture, but work in your neighborhood.

If time is getting short, focus on what is most important; in fact, always focus on what is most important.

Get organized; it will be a good skill to have in the hereafter.

Good advice can come from anywhere; keep an open mind.

The punishment for sin probably won't be to just hang around with people who enjoy the same sins you do.

If you want to avoid being punished for your sins, repent and don't do them again.

If you need something to be grateful for, be grateful you didn't live just about any time before now.

Don't be surprised if kids act their age; that is their job.

If you want to be listened to, make sure you know what you are talking about.

Sometimes it is very hard not to be discouraged; pray for help and then do the best you can until you feel better.

There is a fine line between living a robust life and being a darn fool.

Give everyone the benefit of the doubt since we have no idea what burdens each person carries and what good they do.

We must be the leaven of righteousness that leavens the whole lump of the world to keep the earth from receiving the punishments most of it deserves for the rampant evils all about.

The great majority of people on earth know nothing of the Church or the Savior, and are neither wicked nor rebellious; merciful provision is made in the plan of happiness to save and redeem these people, either in this life or in the life to come.

The truth of the gospel does not depend on what happens to you or your family, and you should not link them.

The Savior suffers with us when we suffer and will comfort us if we are faithful to him.

We pray to align ourselves with God, not to instruct him of our needs.

Righteous living is its own reward, but we all have to die sometime, of something.

The Lord has the big picture because all things past, present, and future are continually known to him.

Try to appreciate and understand the Father's plan instead of suggesting changes.

Your personal plan should include all parts of the Father's plan for you; resolve any differences in favor of the Father's plan.

Life seems to speed up because each successive day is a smaller part of your total life.

You might as well get comfortable with yourself because you have a long eternity to be who you are.

If you think keeping the commandments is hard, think how hard eternal punishment for sin will be.

Keeping God's commandments leads to a happy life; you have nothing to lose.

Petty disobediences reveal lack of real commitment.

As with baptism, we need to immerse ourselves in gospel living to get the benefit.

We can't change our identity, but we can improve the type of person we are.

Jesus' life is our example; his commandments and instructions are examples of how deity operates, not an example to follow.

We need to be careful not to confuse Jehovah's actions and reactions with Jesus' example for us to follow.

Pay attention to your prayers to discover your priorities, your desires, and the real you.

Knock off your own rough edges.

Anticipate the lessons you need to be taught, then learn them on your own.

Give yourself a good talking to whenever you need it.

Many more sayings follow.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

More Sayings 2

Obey Jehovah's commandments, but follow Jesus' example. 

The Savior should be both our example and our hero. 

Study what Jesus did so you can know what he would do if he were you. 

Many righteous people have successfully followed the Savior's example and you can learn from them. 

One way we can be more like Jesus is to act righteously on behalf of others. 

"Agency" implies acting on behalf of another; proper exercise of our agency requires that we choose to faithfully serve the Lord by helping his children. 

While we can't match Jesus, we can do much good for many people. 

Endure to the end so you can retain a remission of your sins. 

The Lord's church will triumph in the end; you need to be a survivor, not a casualty, of that struggle.  

Cultural Mormonism is a bit of an acquired taste. 

In the eternities, no good deed goes unrewarded. 

Places and things can be holy if the people around them try their best to be holy. 

Show respect for all God's creatures and creations. 

Life is an integrated whole; there can be no secret, dark places in a righteous life. 

For an adult, maintaining child-like faith requires a big-person effort and the help of the Holy Ghost. 

A righteous person and his money are soon tithed. 

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you; perhaps do even better. 

When you see something nice, say so.

Live to serve.

Repentance doesn't necessarily remove the temporal consequences of sin.  

The poor may always be with us, but we must take the opportunity to help them while we can.    

There doesn't have to be a first time for everything, such as something you shouldn't do even once.  

Being active in the Church is totally worth it.

Don't seek to revise the Fathers plan; instead seek to understand and help implement that plan.

Keeping the commandments is not a negotiation, but rather a process of learning God's will and then striving to do it.

We should err on the side of generosity to others and of discipline of ourselves.

Hold off on the mysteries until you have completely mastered faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, as well as faith, hope, charity, and love.

Get ready to welcome the Savior; quit nit-picking the brethren and leave Church history alone.

"Never" and "always" are good standards for our own conduct but poor standards for judging others.

Look for the good in others instead of in your own conduct.

People's name are important to them; treat them with respect.

Gravity - an important physical law but a poor attitude for life.

It is hard to view eternity from the vantage point of modernity.

Rejoice that the heavens are open and we have a prophet.

We need to be careful not to treat our church contributions as if they were medieval indulgences; when we sin, we still need to repent, no matter how much we have contributed.

Church history - a good place to get faith-promoting stories, but not a good place to hang your testimony.

Make good church history now.

"Virtuous, lovely, and of good report" is still the right standard for judging contemporary culture.

We need to become as comfortable with the idea of eternal progression as we are with mortal progression.

True religion doesn't conflict with any truth, be it science, politics, economics, ethics, or religion.

Religion is more important than politics; salvation is more important than situations.

The positions taken by the Church are not automatically binding on Church members, but they should be very persuasive; lets not forget who is behind those positions.

There is nothing inflexible or intolerant about keeping the commandments of God, or with teaching and exemplifying them in our lives.

You can't afford to be a bad example to anyone; everyone is important.

The Savior ministered to the less-fortunate, and so should we.

The Savior taught the learned and unrighteous, and so should we.

The Savior blessed his friends, and so should we.

As to guile, we should follow our children's example; as to obedience and integrity, we should set the example for them to follow.

We must not support irreligion with either our money or our social influence or our indifference.

More proverbs and sayings follow the LDS Overview, below.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Overview of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

          The official name of the church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; it is sometimes called the Mormon Church. The word Mormon comes from the Book of Mormon which, along with the Bible, is one of the sacred scripture books of the church. The church is named after Jesus Christ because we believe he established the church, approves of the church, and is its ultimate leader, through a prophet who lives in our day. The prophet communicates with God in the same ways as the prophets did in the Bible, such as Moses and Abraham. The church has the same organization that Jesus established in his church when he was alive, including prophets and apostles, and it has the priesthood of God.

          If you want to learn about the church, do not look to the enemies of the church. Instead look to the church itself. The church is not a cult, does not practice or believe in polygamy, and contains no bizarre practices or doctrines. We are a Christian church even though our understanding of Christ is somewhat different from other Christian churches. We base our understanding of Christ on the scriptures, including the Bible, which we accept as coming from God. We respect that others may disagree with us and feel that they should respect that we do not agree with them.

          We believe that there are three separate members of the godhead, God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. They are "one" in purpose but are separate individuals who work together to do the work of God in our lives. God the Father is the originator of all things and the father of all spirits. Jesus Christ is his son, both spiritually and physically, and the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit who testifies of the Father and the Son, and leads people to the truth. We have access to God through sincere prayer and personal inspiration, aided by the Holy Ghost.

          God the Father and Jesus Christ have individual resurrected bodies, while the Holy Ghost has a spiritual body. The work of the Holy Ghost is to testify to us about the Father and the Son, and to spiritually reveal gospel truth to those who seek it. The members of the godhead seek the happiness of all mankind through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. The "gospel" is the good news that Jesus came to earth to save all people. Gospel truths and essential ordinances are revealed to the church through prophets of God chosen for that purpose. Joseph Smith was the prophet who restored the church in our day.

          We believe that, after this life, all people will be saved in the sense that they will be resurrected. Resurrection means that the spirit and the body will be reunited in a life after this life. While all will be resurrected, not all will be able to live with the God in an exalted condition. Following this life, exaltation will only be available to worthy individuals who have accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ, received the ordinances available through his approved church, and kept the Lord's commandments.

          We believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the implementation by Jesus Christ of the Father's plan of happiness for his children. That plan was developed in the life before this life, in which we all existed as spirit children with our Heavenly parents. Lucifer, or Satan, opposed the Father's plan and wanted to impose his own plan that would force people to return to God but not give glory to God. Jesus proposed to implement the Father's plan that would give people the freedom to choose their own compliance with the Father's plan and to determine their own eternal destiny. Jesus was chosen to be the Savior under the Father's plan. Satan's plan was rejected, and he and those who chose to follow him were cast out and denied a mortal existence.

          Faith is belief in things of God that are not seen with mortal eyes, and is a fundamental principle of the gospel. The gospel of Jesus Christ is based upon faith that Jesus Christ is the savior of all mankind and has made available a system of exaltation for all people who qualify. We believe that we are saved by Jesus' grace, but that our situation in the hereafter depends upon our willingness to keep God's commandments and do the things upon which spiritual progress and exaltation are based. We do not save ourselves, but we do qualify ourselves for other blessings after we are saved by Jesus. Forgiveness of sins through repentance is one of the great blessings of the Savior's atonement.

          As anticipated in the Father's plan, mortal life consists of hardships and challenges that give people the opportunity to grow and develop both physically and spiritually. The suffering that people experience in this life is not evidence that there is no god or of his cruelty; rather, it is evidence that this life is intended as a time of testing that will help determine each individual's situation in the eternity that follows. Either in this life or the life to come, individuals who would be comfortable living with God in the hereafter will have the opportunity to qualify themselves for eternal blessings. No one is forced to qualify, but those who don't qualify will not receive the same blessings as those who do. Such a plan is both just and merciful to all - those who qualify are blessed for their obedience, and those who don't qualify receive other blessings they are willing to receive.   

          As savior in the Father's plan, Jesus Christ agreed to make it possible for everyone to be resurrected. Jesus Christ's suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and his suffering and death on the cross brought to pass the atonement, which enables both the resurrection of all people and the exaltation of those who qualify. For those who choose to do so, the atonement makes it possible to repent of their disobedience to God’s commandments (sins) and to be cleansed from the effects of their sins. Through such repentance and cleansing, people can qualify themselves to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in the life after this life. Such qualification requires being worthily and devotedly associated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in this life.

          Mercifully, the Lord also makes the blessings of salvation available to deceased individuals who had no opportunity to join the church in this life. This is done through ordinances for the dead performed in the temples of the church. Also, all little children who die before they become accountable for their actions are saved with God, as are all those whose handicaps prevent them from being accountable.

          Families are very important to the church. Salvation for families, both living persons and deceased ancestors, is a primary focus of the work of the church. This work is carried on in homes, through missionary work, and in the temples of the church. The church sends missionaries throughout the world because it believes that the gospel offers peace, truth, and salvation to all people who will accept its message and follow God's commandments. The church respects the beliefs of other people and believes there is much good in the world.

          Thus, the gospel of Jesus Christ is the just and fair implementation of the plan of a God who loves all his children. Each person will receive the blessings they qualify for, without discrimination or coercion. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is composed of good people striving to keep the commandments of God, who have great love for everyone, whether in the church, or in some other church, or in no church at all. No one in the church is perfect, but church members strive to do what is right and follow the example of the Savior.

          If you have any question, go to