Monday, August 17, 2015

All that Glitters, Conclusion:
Who Shall Abide the Day?

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
—1 Peter 1:7

When our Lord visited the Nephites, He provided words of scripture not found in the Nephite canon. Mormon, in abridging the record for our day, found the Lord’s scriptural additions important enough to occupy precious space on the plates, even though we already had these words from Malachi:
But who may abide the day of his coming, and who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap. And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. (3 Nephi 24:2-3)
Who, indeed, will abide the day of His coming? Who shall stand when he appears in the coming day “that shall burn as an oven?” (3 Ne. 25:1) For the Lord is like a refiner’s fire—a fire that refines gold and consumes dross. Gold, thus purified, survives the burning because there is no further dross to be consumed.

Pure Gold

Since gold is the metaphor for those who will abide the day, let’s conclude this series about imitation vs. real by considering the following attributes of pure gold:

Solid: Gold is substantial, and one of the most dense metals. There is nothing trifling or insubstantial about it. Therefore, gold is not wasted on the unimportant or trivial.

Malleable: Gold, though substantial, is soft enough to be molded and formed into something of beauty.

Refined: The process of refining gold removes impurities and dross to leave only what is most precious and valuable. Refined gold is pure and elemental.

Incorruptible: Gold is not tarnished by the elements, or stained by contact with with other substances. Gold that is pure, remains pure.

Precious: Gold has been sought throughout history because of its excellent qualities. It is one of the only substances on earth universally recognized as money.

Rare: Pure gold is rare, difficult to produce, and seldom found.

Beautiful: Gold’s beauty is undeniable. Throughout history, the finest ornaments, artwork, and luxury furnishings have been pure gold.

Pure People

Now, with these golden facts in mind, let’s consider the attributes of those the Lord refines and prepares, who will abide the day of His coming:

Solid: Those who will let go of unnecessary worldly cares and superfluous pursuits, find that what remains is substantial. Consider Nephi, son of Helaman:
Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.
And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will. (Helaman 10:4-5)
Here’s an example of a man so solid that the Lord can trust him with Godly power—because the Lord knows Nephi will never use that power contrary to the Lord’s will. Nephi has proven it by seeking only the Lord’s will, doing so with unwearyingness.

Would to God that I might be so substantial!

Malleable: Hard heartedness is the common affliction of humanity and the preventer of faith. It takes a soft heart to mold to the Lord’s will.

Nephi, son of Lehi, faced the difficult circumstance of giving up everything he knew to follow his father, who claimed to speak for the Lord. How would that affect the average young man? I'll tell you how it affected Nephi. It caused him to cry to the Lord for a soft heart:
And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers. (1 Nephi 2:16)
Because he voluntarily allowed his heart to be soft, he not only believed his father’s words, but he also came to know the mysteries of God. A soft heart governs the receipt of such knowledge:
And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full. And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. (Alma 12:10-11)
I’m reminded of the concluding lyrics to “Consider the Lilies” by Roger Hoffman:

He clothes the lilies of the field
He feeds the lambs in his fold
And he will feed those who trust him
And make their hearts as gold 

Oh Lord, take my stony heart and grant me a soft heart to believe your word!

Refined: The fallen nature of our mortal experience requires that we endure a process of refining to remove corruption and supply missing virtues. Our Lord descended below all things, and suffered all things for His Father’s will. We must similarly bear the Father’s will in all things. Part of this refining purification is to practice pure religion:
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:27) 
And now behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you, do not suppose that this is all; for after ye have done all these things, if ye turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need—I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do deny the faith. 
Therefore, if ye do not remember to be charitable, ye are as dross, which the refiners do cast out, (it being of no worth) and is trodden under foot of men. (Alma 34:28-29)
When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
(From the hymn, How Firm a Foundation)

God in heaven, consume my dross, refine my gold, and grant me charity for all!

Incorruptible: Those with an eye single to the Glory of God are filled with such light that darkness cannot corrupt them:
And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things. (D&C 88:67) See also Luke 11:34, 3 Nephi 13:22.
Oh Lord, make my eye single to your glory, that I may be filled with your marvelous light!

Precious: Those who will rise up and receive eternal life are counted most precious unto the Lord.
Wherefore, go to, and call servants, that we may labor diligently with our might in the vineyard, that we may prepare the way, that I may bring forth again the natural fruit, which natural fruit is good and the most precious above all other fruit. (Jacob 5:61)
Indeed His work and His glory are to bring about our immortality and eternal life. (Moses 1:39). There is nothing more precious to Him than preserving the fruit of His labors, even in the midst of His required justice.
And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.
I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir. (Isaiah 13:11-12)

Rare: There are always only a precious few who accept the gift the Lord offers:
Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, which leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in thereat; Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (3 Nephi 14:13-14)  
That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:7-9)
Beautiful: Those cleansed and redeemed of the Lord are indeed beautiful. 
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! (Isaiah 52:7)
In ancient Israel, those who offered sacrifices to atone for Israel’s sins would have bloody feet from walking in the blood that was shed upon the ground. It represented the blood and sins of their generation.

Therefore, those who have been cleansed from the blood and sins of their generation are described as having beautiful feet. The Lord has made them clean. Christ symbolized this cleansing when he washed his disciples’ feet. How beautiful indeed!

Such feet are fit to walk in holy places:
I saw the beautiful streets of that kingdom, which had the appearance of being paved with gold. (D&C 137:4)
Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean. (Isaiah 52:1)

Such a setting, and those fit for it, bring us to consider the final chapters of Revelation, where John sees the return of the heavenly city to Earth:
Revelation 21: 
 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 
 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 
 18 And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. 
 21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. 
 22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. 
 23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. 
 27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

 22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
Blessed, indeed, are those who are purified as gold, and who can therefore enter into the city of gold and not defile it with their footprints upon her beautiful streets.

In such a setting, gold itself, though rare and precious in this world, will be as common as street pavement. And those who dwell in that city will be made even more precious than gold:
And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. (Malachi 3:17)
Be the Gold

I started this series by speaking of the pure gold we can mine from the Book of Mormon. 

We've now come full circle to seeking to become gold ourselves. Only the Lord can guide us on this journey of refinement.

I pray that this extended metaphor will help us all to discern between real and imitation, recognize the dross within ourselves, and seek the refining that only the Lord can provide. Only He is mighty to save and cleanse from all unrighteousness (Alma 7:14). Only He can provide us with gold, tried in the fire (Revelation 3:18). He is the refiner indeed!

The fire will indeed come, whether we are prepared or not. Our very survival in that day will depend on what we've built on Christ's foundation:
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 
Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. 
If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself may be saved; yet so as by fire.
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. (1 Corinthians 3:11-17, JST)

Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.

But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? 
—Malachi 3:1-2

I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, “They are my people, and they will say, “The Lord is our God.

—Zechariah 13:9b, NIV

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate that we must decide whether to be gold in it's purity or if we are going to be merely fools gold. Our humanity makes it very easy to choose the latter. I think only one thing can motivate us to purify ourselves to become "more precious than gold." That is our ability to love God by loving others more than ourselves. This is why Moroni stressed the importance of obtaining charity. This is of course the genuine love for others we might have and not a superficial regard for the well-being of others, mostly supplanted by our own concern for ourselves. It's hard. We need help. We need a personal relationship with Christ. Thanks Adrian for this analogy to remind us to be gold.


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