Saturday, January 22, 2011

We Believe: Agency, Accountability, and Justice

Article of Faith #2: We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression. 

The second Article of Faith represents our belief that each of us have the God-given gift of agency and that we are "free to choose liberty and eternal life...or to choose captivity and death (2nd Nephi 2:27)".

We believe that the Fall of Adam and Eve was a necessary step in the Plan of Salvation.  Had Adam and Eve not fallen then they would have never brought forth children, nor would the world have continued in its progression (see 2nd Nephi 2:22-23, Moses 5:10-11).  As the prophet Lehi taught his sons, "Adam fell that men might be (2nd Nephi 2:25)."

We believe that God has given unto man his agency or the ability to choose (see D&C 101:78).  We are free to choose what we will do with our lives, what path to follow, and what to be.  I love the scripture that says, "For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things... men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will...For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward (D&C 58:26-28)."

We believe that just like everything in the world, you are free to make a choice but you cannot choose the consequences.  That is the principle of justice; obtaining that which you earn by your actions, whether for good or for ill.  If we do that which is right and in harmony with God's law, then we are promised blessings (see D&C 130:20-22).  The inverse is true as well; if we break God's laws, then we are subject to the consequences which were put in place before the world was created.

We believe that we will all be held accountable for our lives and for how we exercised our gift of agency.  We read in the Bible, " I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened...and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works (Rev. 20:12, see also 2nd Nephi 9:12-15)."  If we were to be judged only on the principle of justice, then we would feel "glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence (Alma 12:14)" for none of us are perfect.

I know that agency is one of the greatest gifts God has given to us as His children.  I know that we are all making choices that are following the footsteps of the Savior.  I know that justice is real, and were it not for Christ we would all be in trouble.

picture taken from the Book of Mormon Student Manual, pg 114

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