Monday, June 9, 2014

President's Weekly Letters #89

Election of Grace
The Keyhole Ranch puts cow/calf pairs on the mountain for summer pasture.  The range is 15 or 20 thousand acres on the National Forest in the mountains east of Fillmore.  Along with other cattleman, we start putting cows up in June each year and bring them home before the 1st of October.

It is the real deal when it comes to cowboying.  We place the cattle in a corral near Fillmore in the evening and then early on the next morning on horseback, we herd the cattle on mountain roads and trails about 12 miles to the summer range.  During the summer we ride at least a day every week to keep the cattle spread out in the various canyons to balance the grazing pressure on the grass, keep springs and troughs maintained, clear trails, fix fence, spread salt, doctor the sick, etc.  In the fall the process is reversed as we gather cattle that have been scattered all summer.  It is a pleasure to do and lends itself to great quality time on horses with family, friends and grandchildren.

All summer, we try to keep older cows with calves scattered throughout the whole range because they have been there before, they know the way home and are much easier for us while riding horses to find them and gather them as compared to dry cows (cows without calves) or young cows.  Cows usually stick together, so some older ones trailing out greatly helps others to follow and the herd tends to stay together.

In the allegory of the tame and wild olive trees in Jacob 5, the doctrine of scattering and gathering of Israel is taught.  Running cows on the mountain is in many ways a metaphor to scattering and gathering of Israel with the old cows with calves being the covenant people who are scattered.  It is interesting that the Lord himself scattered Israel.

8 And behold, saith the Lord of the vineyard, I take away many of these young and tender branches, and I will graft them whithersoever I will…  (Jacob 5:8)

Just as scattering certain cows is a blessing to me, I believe the Lord scattered Israel to bless his children, not simply to punish them for apostasy or sin.  To follow this line of thinking you must first understand the doctrine of Election of Grace which is:

“In general, the Lord sends to earth in the lineage of Jacob [the Covenant People] those spirits who in the pre-existence developed a special talent for spirituality and for recognizing truth. Those born in this lineage, having the blood of Israel in their veins and finding it easy to accept the gospel, are said to have believing blood” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 81).

“The spirits of men…had an equal start, and we know they were all innocent in the
beginning; but the right of free agency which was given to them enabled some to outstrip others, and thus, through the eons of immortal existence, to become more intelligent, more faithful for they were free to act for themselves, to think for themselves, to receive the truth or rebel against it.”  (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1: 58-59)

11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) (Romans 9:11)

I visualize in the pre-existence all of Father’s spirit children were at various positions along a political spectrum much as they are today on earth.  We know there were those in the pre-existence who fought valiantly for the plan proposed by our Father in Heaven and Christ which plan was founded on the agency of man and personal accountability.  There were a group of spirit children who joined Satan’s followers and fought against the plan.  I suspect that, just as on earth, there were also people in between the two sides who, for one reason or the other, supported parts of both plans, did not fight for either side but ultimately did not joint Satan.  If it happened that way, it is entirely consistent with God’s children on earth.  As an example, 20% of the population of America were Loyalists, remaining loyal to the British Empire, during the American Revolutionary War.  They simply did not support the revolution but most did not join either cause.  They ultimately became free from England by virtue of being an American.

Valiant spirits earned the right, by pre-existent devotion to the cause of righteousness, for more abundant opportunities to make and keep the covenants of salvation on earth.  As part of this election, Abraham and others of the noble and great spirits were chosen before they wore born for the particular missions assigned them in this life.  (Abr. 3:22)  Alma teaches that every Melchizedek priesthood holder was valiant and foreordained to labor here on earth. (Alma 13) Your conduct and capacities and talents in this world are not only happenstance.  Some of the reasons for your blessings may go back to your conduct in the pre-existence.

This is the doctrine of Election of Grace.  God sends the more valiant and noble and great spirits to earth through the lineage of Jacob, the house of Israel.  He then scattered Israel to the far corners of the earth.

I am sure the scattering was a blessing to God’s spirit children because it increased the chances for all his children to hear and accept the gospel.  It may be when those with believing blood who are scattered hear, recognize and accept the truth, they will join the church and influence friends, neighbors and acquaintances to also join the church in all corners of the earth.  It may also be that through marriage to nonbelievers, the pure blood line was diluted yielding more people with some drops of believing blood thus increasing the number of God’s children that are gathered.  Whatever the reason, the scattering blesses his children.

“The scattering of Israel throughout the world sprinkled the blood of believers, so that many nations may now partake of the gospel plan.” (James E. Faust, CR, Oct. 1982)

2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. (1 Peter 1:2)

All of God’s children come to earth with the same agency to choose what sort of life they will live.  They all have on earth or will have in the spirit world an equal opportunity to repent, accept the saving ordinances and keep their covenants and receive every blessing reserved for Israel.  Those who are not born into the lineage of Jacob will be adopted into the lineage when they accept their ordinances.

Thus, here you are, serving a mission.  You belong to the family of Israel by inheritance or adoption.  Your foreordination due to your faithfulness in the pre-existence is not a badge of honor but a call to serve God’s children and do your duty on earth.  You are called to gather Israel in this corner of the earth.  As the allegory of the olive of the tame and wild olive trees in Jacob 5 states:

70 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard sent his servant; and the servant went and did as the Lord had commanded him, and brought other servants; and they were few.
71 … if ye labor with your might with me ye shall have joy in the fruit …
72 … and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them; …
73 And there began to be the natural fruit again in the vineyard; and the natural branches began to grow and thrive exceedingly; (Jacob 5:70-73)

And the roots of the olive trees remained throughout the vineyard where they produced natural fruit.

President Robinson

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