(3) Talmage: Agency

Jesus The Christ – Study Guide

(3) Agency

In the Premortal Existence (PME) “the entire human race existed as spirit being…they were endowed with the powers of agency…” (p. 17). If we treat agency as the power to act righteously with the ability to make choices, it adds to the richness of the construct.PME

Elder Talmage explains that God’s omnipotence relates to agency and also provides an answer to the underlying question of how we are able to exercise agency despite His omniscience. He permits us the ability to make choices without infringing upon our desire to act righteously. However, when we choose sin over His commandments we no longer engage in agency. Instead we stray from the strait and narrow and His Spirit is withheld.

(2) Talmage: Premortal Existence

Jesus The Christ – Study Guide

(2)      The Premortal Existence

Genesis 1:26-27 is the biblical account of what is left of the premortal life, which according to some LDS scholars was over 2.5 billion years of existence. In this organizational meeting (Abraham 3:22-28), we were all present and witnessed the Savior’s appointment as the Premortal_existenceRedeemer. Jesus explained that some souls would be lost and not make it back. Lucifer argued that he could save them (v. 26). In verses 24-25, Jesus is already the Chosen One. He is speaking in past tense that we (God the Father and Him) we prove us to determine if we keep our covenants made (in the premortal existence).

Living a Sheltered Life

“No man knows had bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not knowScripture_study what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is.”

Bad people don’t know wickedness because they live a sheltered life. Sheltered from the resistance of evil. If we resist evil, evil fights back. If we don’t resist evil, evil leaves us alone.

Lying down in a windstorm doesn’t give one an appreciation for the strength of the wind. Only standing up against the wind can one appreciate the power of the wind.

Power vs. Control Updated

My new book: Listen & Lead: The Micro Skills of a Leader is arriving by mail today. Last night I updated this blog from a year ago because my son Scott’s Mission President is asking questions about Ted and Ting and my book. The Micro Skills of being a leader or a sales professional are identical with being an effective missionary. This is a gospel introduction to the principles taught in my book. 

Here are two chapters from the book to sample. If you want to order it, click here. Tomorrow is the final day for preorders at a discount ($5.00 off).

Agency vs. Control

My son Scott is now in Korea serving his remaining 22 months, after a two-month language training period. Here is my most recent letter to him.

Dear Elder Himmer,

On 24 March, two weeks ago, as I sat in church, I wrote the following notes and if you can open a pdf file, I will provide the charts that I scribbled on the back of my notes.

Go carts & governors

When I was a young boy my friend had a go-cart his dad fixed up for him. He explained that his dad had put a governor on the throttle so he wouldn’t go too fast. To my 9-year old mind that was foolishness. Why have a machine that can give you all these great thrills and then bridle it. I told my friend that was stupid. In reply he summed up the situation like an adult, “he doesn’t want me to get hurt.”

Why is Laban losing his head such a big deal?

The story of cutting off the head of Laban is gory and unnecessary to an American.

Here are a couple of perspectives on this story.

1)           Laban’s mortal experience was over according to God. God gave Laban his life. Nephi was commanded by God to take the life of Laban.

  • The boys tried to get the plates three times.
  • Laban had three opportunities to give Lehi’s boys the plates.
  • The Spirit constrained Nephi to kill Laban three times.
  • Laban mortal probation was over which is a shadow of Samuel the Lamanite’s prophecy just prior to the birth of the Savior in Helaman 13:38 where he says…

The Book of Mormon through the eyes of an American

Understanding the Book of Mormon from the perspective of an American is impossible. It is a Hebrew book, written by prophets from a Jewish culture. The words, insights, analogies, stories, and experiences need to be understood through the eyes of a Jew.

For example, remember the story when Lehi and his family took off into the wilderness and dwelt in a tent? Trying to comprehend this from an American standpoint is not possible. None of us make a living travelling with camels and tents in the wilderness. Lehi probably did and his boys did too.

Are You Free Now?

Having knowledge is not sufficient for happiness or salvation. In life you are given a puzzle to solve. You have forever to solve it. When you do, you become like God. However, you have a problem—you don’t have the ability to solve the puzzle alone.

Are you free?

Freedom is knowing the truth. The truth will set you free (John 8:32). Free from what? Free from mortality and free to live an exalted life.

What is truth? Truth is knowledge of things as they are, as they were, and as they are to come (D&C 93:24).

Every Soul is Free

The hymn Elder Hales quotes in his talk summarizes my thoughts in this manner:

Know this, that ev’ry soul is free

To choose his life and what he’ll be;

For this eternal truth is giv’n:

That God will force no man to heav’n. (Hymn no. 240)

 

God gave us the freedom to choose which side we’ll take in the pre-mortal existence. Once we made the choice, we became moral agents unto Him and His law. Furthermore, he teaches us that each person born should be free to act upon their covenant and that action will determine their agency.

Agency: An Exalting Power

God or the Laws of Nature dictate that men are free to choose so we can be tested on how we will act according to our covenant. According to our foreordination (some of which can be found in each of our Patriarchal Blessings), each of us will be given agency, the power to act righteously, during some part of our mortal probation.

Consider the implication of sin. When a person sins, the spirit immediately vacates his person. Sin brings upon an individual darkness and isolation from God. Can anyone act righteously when under the influence of sin?

Lucifer’s Plan Violated Law

His suggestion was a violation of a law that has no beginning and has no end. To say I don’t comprehend eternity, where God came from, how I’ll become a God, or how Christ brought about the atonement is an understatement, but to requisition the power of the universe as a spirit entity, before ever going through the required mortality of the system, is absurd.

After the eternal law of no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God and Adam remove Lucifer, the physical creation of the earth is completed and Adam and Eve are placed thereon.

Lucifer’s Temper Tantrum

In the council of heaven as found in Moses 4, the Father explains that Jehovah was the chosen one from the beginning. It’s at this point that Lucifer tries to change the rules of engagement for exaltation. Notice that he (Lucifer) offered no agency in either sense of the word. He offered 1) no freedom of choice and 2) no power to act righteously.

In fact, Lucifer only addressed one aspect of God’s plan, the law that states: no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God. He overlooked in his haste to formulate a competing plan, the aspect of becoming like God versus simply being with God.

Agency: A Basic Tenet of Mortal Probation

The war in heaven was the proving grounds for the initial choice of God’s creations. There we were, in effect, free agents. God was our Father and Creator, and He proposed a plan (system) whereby we could all become like Him, if that was what we wanted. Some did not want to follow His system.

There was only one plan on the agenda during the council in heaven as taught in Abraham 3 when Lucifer got his feelings hurt. Notice verse 27 when the Father rhetorically questions, Whom shall I send? In verse 28 Lucifer becomes angry. Up until that time, Jehovah is already creating worlds and organizing universes. There is still no second plan. Lucifer has only lost his temper; he doesn’t formulate his plan, a non-functioning one that cannot exalt, until the next council as found in Moses 4.

2 Definitions of Agency

Prior to Elder Hales talk, I understood freedom of choice as a requisite step to obtain the power to act righteously. In this way, choice and agency are connected. The freedom comes from God, however, when government removes the freedom of choice, the ability to act righteously is also at risk.

Since Elder Hales has chosen to insert freedom of choice into the definition, it seems logical to separate the two as follows:

  1. Agency as a basic tenet of our mortal probation
  2. Agency as an exalting power