Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Earnest Money

from a symposium paper on Covenant Renewal by Matthew Clayton:

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul uses a unique Greek word (see 2 Corinthians 1:22) to describe our state in Christ. He says that we have been “given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” The word translated as “earnest” comes from the Greek word arrabon, which in modern Greek means “engagement ring.” When a young man places a ring on his sweetheart’s hand, their relationship changes. She is now promised to him. Likewise, when a follower of Christ is baptized, confirmed, and then receives the Holy Ghost, he or she is the Lord’s. The Spirit is a sign in the present of what is sure to come in the future. Explaining this very same Pauline concept, Brother Millet taught that
the same Holy Spirit of Promise that searches the hearts of men and women, that ratifies and approves and seals ordinances and lives, that same Holy Spirit serves, as Paul indicates, as the “earnest of our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:14). The Lord’s “earnest money” on us, his down payment, his indication to us that he fully intends to save us, is the Holy Spirit. We know that we are on course when the Spirit is with us. We know that our lives are approved of God when the Spirit is with us. We know that we are in Christ, in covenant, when the Spirit is with us. And we know that we are saved when the Spirit is with us. If we live in such a way that we can partake of the sacrament worthily, hold and use a current temple recommend, and maintain the gift and gifts of the Spirit, then we are in the line of our duty; we are approved of [in] the heavens, and if we were to die
 suddenly, we would go into paradise and eventually into the celestial kingdom.[17]
Paul is teaching that God has invested in us. He has put earnest money down for us as a goodwill gesture to show that he is serious about making the purchase (i.e., saving us). If we worthily partake of the sacrament, we can have the Spirit with us. If we feel that Spirit comforting, directing, and enlightening our lives, we can know with surety that we are receiving God’s seal, his affirmation that we are on track.
Image result for last supper prints lds walter rane
In Remembrance of Me by Walter Rane
It is interesting that from Adam to Christ, sacrifice pointed toward the Atonement. When Jesus prepared the Last Supper for his disciples, the bread, representing his flesh, was blessed and then broken (see Matthew 26:26) to symbolize the fact that for millennia people had looked forwardto this time. But since that time the sacrament replaced sacrifice, and people have looked back to remember his sacrifice. This is evidenced in the Book of Mormon: in a setting after Christ’s Atonement had been made, Jesus broke the bread first and then blessed it (see 3 Nephi 18:3). That sequence, which continues today, indicates that although the sacrifice was already offered, it is made holy for us again.

Having the Spirit in this life is the best indicator of our eternal destination. Seeking to keep the companionship of the Holy Spirit is the most important thing we do, thus we meet each week to remember him (see 3 Nephi 18:7). The repetition of this ordinance weekly is vital for us. As we return faithfully each week to humbly take the sacrament we will have the peace borne of the Spirit. The grand secret is that if we have the Spirit, all of our covenants and their blessings are in force. We must be careful not to skip over that vital step in the process. I believe we as a people habitually neglect the Spirit. We neglect not only his influence, but we downplay his role in the process of salvation. In John 6:54 Jesus specifically included eternal life as one of the blessings made available via the sacrament. If this is true, and it is, then why would anyone ever miss a sacrament meeting? This is why it is so crucial for us to seek and retain the Spirit in our life.

President Joseph Fielding Smith, put the relationship between the sacrament and the Spirit into proper context when he taught,
No member of the Church who refuses to observe this sacred ordinance can retain the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Ghost. . . . When we eat the bread and drink the water, we covenant that we will eat and drink in remembrance of the sacrifice which he made for us in the breaking of his body and the shedding of his blood; that we are willing to take upon us the name of the Son; that we will always remember him; that we will always keep his commandments which he has given us. In this act we witness to the Father, by solemn covenant in the name of the Son, that we will do all of these things. Through our faithfulness to these covenants, we are promised that we will always have the Spirit of the Lord to be with us in all truth and righteousness . . . . This covenant we are called upon to renew each week, and we cannot retain the Spirit of the Lord if we do not consistently comply with this commandment.[30]

President Spencer W. Kimball taught us, “Remembering covenants prevents apostasy. That is the real purpose of the sacrament, to keep us from forgetting [what we have] . . . covenanted at the water’s edge or at the sacrament table and in the temple.”

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