Monday, June 17, 2013

Divine Love

In the February 2003 Ensign, Elder Russel M. Nelson presents an exposition on "Divine Love".

In the article, Elder Nelson explains the nature of divine love, a frequently misunderstood and mistakenly characterized idea.  "While divine love can be called perfect, infinite, enduring, and universal, it cannot correctly be characterized as unconditional."

  He offers unambiguous scriptural references to conditional promises that the Lord has offered through time.   The nature of divine conditional love is expressed in specific language that characterizes such scriptures.
It is equally evident that certain blessings come from a loving Lord only if required conditions are met. Examples include:
If thou wilt walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, … then I will lengthen thy days. (1 Kings 3:14)
If thou wilt walk in my statutes, and execute my judgments, and keep all my commandments … ; then will I perform my word with thee.” (1 Kings 6:12)
“I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” (Doctrine and Covenants 82:10)
“When we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:21)
“Unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions.” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:38)
Elder Nelson explains, "Understanding that divine love and blessings are not truly “unconditional” can defend us against common fallacies..."
“Since God’s love is unconditional, He will love me regardless …”; or 
“Since ‘God is love,’  He will love me unconditionally, regardless …”
These are popular ideas today, but they are as mistaken as the false teachings of Nehor in the Book of Mormon, 
...he also testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life. (Alma 1:4)
Does this mean that Jesus has no love for unbelievers and sinners?  No, it means that the Lord gives us our agency, and we choose the extent to which we receive the Lord's blessings.

Elder Nelson quotes from Brigham Young:
“Every blessing the Lord proffers to his people is on conditions. These conditions are: ‘Obey my law, keep my commandments, walk in my ordinances, observe my statutes, love mercy, … keep yourselves pure in the law, and then you are entitled to these blessings, and not until then.’” (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe (1954), 454)
Jesus asked us to love one another as He has loved us.  The pure love of Christ is granted to all who seek and qualify for it.   Such love requires our obedience to the conditions and laws upon which it is based.

No comments: