Friday, November 20, 2009 0 comments

The Spiritual Perils of Going Through Foreclosure

Whether or not you have noticed, there is a movement among a number of people who say that if homeowners are underwater they should just walk away and allow their house to go into foreclosure to get out from underneath the debt. There are others who say that the homeowner should try to get a loan modification.

Please consider the article “How Banks View Loan Modifications.”

When I read this article, I was very disturbed that the writer seemed to say that a homeowner should not feel guilty and ashamed. The subtext seemed to be “The banks are trying to emotionally manipulate you to think that you are the bad guy, so get back at them by determining to not feel guilty about going through foreclosure.”

This is wrong on so many levels.

I know by sad experience (though not with foreclosure) that when a person makes a conscious decision to not feel sorry for something they have done wrong, they are deadening their conscience. It is refusing to sacrifice a broken heart and contrite spirit. Unless they realize what has happened and speedily repent, the Spirit will cease striving with them and they will become as the Nephites of old in Mormon’s day—good for nothing but to be hewn down and cast into the fire.

I can’t emphasize enough how DANGEROUS this spiritual state is.
Repenting of it requires:
  • Praying for forgiveness for the decision to not feel sorry
  • Praying for forgiveness for all other sins committed which caused the decision
  • Praying to overcome all temptation to shrink from the pain of a broken heart
I’m not talking about a few sporadic prayers. Constant prayer is required. It’s a very hard and painful process. You DON’T EVER want to go there.

Back to the foreclosure issue. Please don’t misunderstand me; I am not making any kind of judgment of people who have their house foreclosed. There are all kinds of ways people get into this predicament. I just want to point out the spiritual dangers and consequences of going through it. To not do what you promise to do in a contract is a sin, but there is a difference between deliberate delinquency and being forced into something by circumstances. Having nothing to pay is one thing, but deliberately withholding payment while possessing the means to pay is another.

Either way, the Atonement of Christ covers all sins and transgressions. God can forgive and God can provide. But of course we have to do everything in our power to avoid sin first.

If you happen to be getting the phone calls and letters from the banks that the article describes, realize that it amounts to spiritual abuse.
14 The Lord will enter into judgment with the ancients of his people, and the princes thereof: for ye have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses.
15 What mean ye that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor? saith the Lord God of hosts. (Isaiah 3:14-15)
Fortunately Christ has told us how we should act if we experience this type treatment.
43 ¶ Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? (Matthew 5:43-47)
By doing this, the unfortunate experience of foreclosure can be transformed from an embittering, confidence-destroying, and spiritually dangerous experience into a refiner’s fire that yields greater charity and a godly character.
Thursday, November 19, 2009 5 comments

Extra Blessings of Keeping the Sabbath Holy

Keeping the Sabbath Holy Qualifies and Prepares Us For Temple Blessings and Eternal Life

4 For thus saith the LORD
unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths,
and choose the things that please me,
and take hold of my covenant;
5 Even unto them will I give in mine house
and within my walls a place
and a name better than of sons and of daughters:
I will give them an everlasting name,
that shall not be cut off.
6 Also the sons of the stranger,
that join themselves to the LORD,
to serve him,
and to love the name of the LORD,
to be his servants,
every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it,
and taketh hold of my covenant;
7 Even them will I bring to my holy mountain,
and make them joyful in my house of prayer:
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar;
for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.
(Isaiah 56:4-7)
Something that is special about these verses is that Isaiah promises eunuchs (those physically unable to have children) that if they keep the Sabbath, they will be given a name better than having children. Those who can’t bear children lament that once they are dead, their family name ends with them. Isaiah promises these people that if they are faithful, they will have an everlasting name that will never end. This is how Isaiah brings the idea of eternal life home to them. Today we also know that eternal life means eternal posterity as well.

Another thing that is special about these verses is that Isaiah promises those foreigners who join themselves to the house of Israel (which would mean they had accepted the everlasting covenant) that they will also be able to participate in the temple. In Isaiah’s day, non-Israelites could not enter the temple courts past the court of the gentiles. Isaiah promises them that if the strangers will join themselves to the Lord, serve Him, love Him, keep the Sabbath, and keep the everlasting covenant, that they too will be able to offer sacrifices on the altar; they will be allowed further into the temple precincts, as the Lord wants His house to be a house of prayer for all his covenant people, no matter what nation they are from.

Something that sticks out from this scripture is that no matter who we are or where we live, keeping the Sabbath holy is one of the specific things we can do to prepare to go to the temple. It took me a while to figure out how those two things are connected. It required some gospel-based reasoning.

The world doesn’t think “time” can be holy. They think one slice of time is just the same as another slice of time. We know differently. We know the Sabbath is a holy day, because God hallowed it. (To “hallow” something means to make it sacred. You could say God made the Sabbath wholly holy.)

Because the world doesn’t think a time can be holy, you can be sure they wouldn’t think a place could be holy either. If they pollute a holy time that is accessible to everyone and do it without a second thought, you can be sure they would also pollute a holy place without a second thought. So the temple is made inaccessible to them.

We, on the other hand, show by keeping the Sabbath holy that we are able to keep the temple holy too. And really, if you can keep an entire day holy, keeping a place holy is a cinch!

One way we keep the Sabbath holy is by learning how to serve God and practicing what we learn. If the Sabbath prepares us for the temple, can you guess that temple worship involves learning to serving God and practicing what we learn.

The world at large has a really hard time serving God, because they don’t know what work God considers most important. At best they have a vague idea that God would want them to help people, but they find this so difficult to do (since the natural man gets in the way) that they simply bag it and serve themselves instead, because they understand perfectly how to do that.

We, on the other hand, know exactly how to serve God. We know His work is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39), so we serve him when we teach the gospel and administer saving ordinances to people. On the Sabbath, we do this by instructing and strengthening each other in the gospel. We serve each other in church callings. Guys are particularly of service when they use their priesthood authority to administer the sacrament. If it becomes natural to us to serve during the Sabbath, it will become natural to serve in the temple. The only difference is that in the temple you serve people whom the world thinks are “beyond help”. Namely, the dead. (If the world can’t serve God, who they think is “out-of-sight-out-of-mind”, they would have an equally hard time serving the “out-of-sight-out-of-mind” dead.)

Another way we keep the Sabbath holy is by worshipping God. If the Sabbath helps us prepare for the temple, you can probably guess what happens in the temple - the worship of God.

The world has a hard time worshipping God. They think the character of God is an unknowable mystery, and of course it is difficult to worship someone who you are told you can never know. (Naturally, they find our assertion “man can become like God” to be equally incomprehensible.) They also think that nobody is perfect, so they believe this dooms to impossibility any prospect of achieving a perfectly holy state similar to that of God’s. Because of this, they think God will excuse all kinds of bad behavior.

We, on the other hand, know exactly how to worship God. We worship God best by trying to become like Him. (I said it before and I’ll say it again; imitation is the sincerest form of worship.) We do this by doing three things: 1) we use Christ’s atonement to have our sins taken away, 2) we resist temptation, and 3) we work to develop Christ-like attributes by depending upon God’s grace.

The Sabbath is a special day to worship God, because we get the chance to worthily take the sacrament, which makes us holy, sanctified, just like Christ is holy. Becoming and staying sanctified prepares us to further imitate Christ in the temple. Just like Christ is our Savior, we can become saviors on Mount Zion (in the temple) by doing vicarious ordinance work that saves our dead from spirit prison. And just like participating in the sacrament worthily sanctifies us as we remember Christ’s sacrifice, participating at the temple worthily will sanctify us as we remember Christ’s sacrifice.

Now we see how keeping the Sabbath holy gives us valuable experience and practice at keeping something holy, serving God by serving each other, and worshipping God, all of which is also done in the temple. Now that we’ve figured all this stuff out, it’s time to go back to those verses of Isaiah and review the promises the Lord gives to those who keep the Sabbath holy.
5 Even unto them will I give in mine house
and within my walls
a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters:
I will give them an everlasting name,
that shall not be cut off. . . .
7 Even them will I bring to my holy mountain,
and make them joyful in my house of prayer:
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar;
for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.
(Isaiah 56:5,7)
[U]nto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off - Now I can see that these two things mean essentially the same thing, but it can be read in two different ways.

First, the name we’ll be given is that of Christ. We take this name upon us at baptism, and we renew it when we take the sacrament. In the temple, the name becomes even more important. According to Isaiah, being called a child of Christ is better than having sons or daughters that are called after us. (I think he is saying this based upon if we had to choose between having the gospel and having children.) If we’re called by that name, then we’ll be worthy of receiving eternal life, and as an immortal, exalted being, our name will truly never die. We’ll be able to have our own spirit sons and daughters that will be called by our names.

Second, in the temple we become sealed to our families for eternity, and that makes our family (with all its names) survive beyond the grave. It becomes an eternal family “that shall not be cut off”.

Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer – If we practice serving and worshipping God on the Sabbath, we will be ready to do the same in the temple. If we enjoy serving and worshipping God on the Sabbath, we will also enjoy serving and worshipping God in the temple.

[T]heir burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar - The modern version of this is that our broken hearts and contrite spirits will be offerings the Lord accepts. If so, then we will know that our subsequent offerings of service in the temple will also be acceptable and pleasing to God.

Keeping the Sabbath Helps Us Stay Active in the Church
13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath,
from doing thy pleasure on my holy day;
and call the sabbath a delight,
the holy of the LORD,
honourable;
and shalt honour him,
not doing thine own ways,
nor finding thine own pleasure,
nor speaking thine own words:
14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD;
and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth,
and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father:
for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
(Isaiah 58:13-14)
If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath - This is a peculiar expression. You probably sense what it means in the same way that I do... that it means to not do something on the Sabbath, but what that is in particular we don’t know. Isaiah is nice enough to clue us in at the very end of the very same verse that “turn away thy foot from the sabbath” means “not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words”. It’s the Lord’s day, so you do the Lord’s ways, you find the Lord’s pleasure, and you speak the Lord’s words instead of your own. OR... even better, you can change yourself so that the things the Lord loves, you love, the things the Lord likes to do, you like to do, and the things the Lord likes to say, you like to say. That would definitely make the Sabbath more fun. In fact, it would make the Sabbath into your favorite day!

[C]all the sabbath a delight - Isaiah advises us to start by calling the Sabbath a “delight”. One of the strange, yet cool things about this is that it actually works! (I know because I tried it.) If you say, “Yippeee! Tomorrow’s the Sabbath! I get to rest!” in an enthusiastic, excited way, somehow you will start to actually feel enthusiastic and excited about the Sabbath. Try it on Saturday night; see what happens.

But why should we call the Sabbath a delight? I can think of several reasons.
  1. The Lord enjoys the Sabbath. I know this by the Spirit. If the Lord enjoys something, then that should tell us that we need to enjoy it too in order to become like Him.
  2. The Sabbath is made for man. It’s a gift! If we didn’t have God’s permission to rest one day out of every seven, think how overworked we would be!
Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD - This is the real purpose of the Sabbath, to delight in the Lord and to worship Him. Just how do we best worship the Lord? First, by taking the sacrament, because that helps us remember Him and the Atonement He worked out for us. Secondly, by imitating Him as best we can. Imitation is the sincerest form of worship. (It’s also the kind of worship of God that we should not confine to just the Sabbath.)

[A]nd I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth – This is one of those phrases of Isaiah that sounds really cool but which we aren’t quite sure what it means. Several key words in this phrase, however, can give us a clue. The “high places” can mean the temple, since it is the mountain of the Lord and the highest and holiest place. Riding something evokes the image of being carried by an animal, and when we associate riding with the temple, it shows us that temple worship carries us through the hard times. Also, temple worship expands our vision of the purpose of earth life and we depend upon that vision to make proper decisions, so in a sense that vision from the temples’ “high place” also carries us.

[A]nd feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father – One important word in this phrase is “feed”. The other important part is “the heritage of Jacob”. This gives us a clue to the meaning. It has to be some kind of special meal that Israelites had in Isaiah’s day. My guess is that it is referring to the Passover meal. Since the Mosiac law also involved a number of festivals with various meals, we can interpret this phrase to mean that someone who kept the Sabbath holy would also participate in the other sacred festivals that faithful Israelites practiced, which in a certain sense means that a person who keeps the Sabbath will not go inactive. Christ replaced the Passover with the sacrament, as a sacred meal. It is certainly true that someone who really wants to keep the Sabbath holy will also take the sacrament with other members of the church who are the modern heritage of Jacob and part of the house of Israel.

In 2004, I decided I had not been keeping the Sabbath as well as I had been taught when I lived with my parents. At my parents’ house, there were plenty of church movies to watch and church books to read, but my husband and I had not yet started to build ourselves a library of church books, and because I thought I didn’t have anything to read on Sunday afternoons I had fallen into the habit of reading my other books. So I made a decision to change my ways and read only church books on Sunday. The next Sunday, I read through my relief society manual. The Sunday after that I read the Brigham Young manual through. The Sunday after that, I read another one of those manuals through. I studied them carefully, and boy, did it work my brain! I pulled out my Sunday school study guide and made sure to look over the material ahead of time so that I could be prepared to participate in the lesson. I wrote in my journal some things I discovered in the scriptures. I also decided to try to write poetry about different aspects of the gospel.

Some other things I like to do during the Sabbath are the following: go to choir practice, go to firesides, play church music, talk to my family, take a nap, and watch church movies.

I found myself really enjoying the Sabbath, and discovered that the gospel was satisfying my soul more than it ever had before. I wanted to pray more often for help with the things I intended to do, even with things that I thought I already knew how to do because I had a new conviction of my own ignorance and nothingness in comparison with the Lord. I felt the influence of the Spirit more strongly.

If recommitting to keep the Sabbath helped me, it will help you too.
Thursday, November 12, 2009 5 comments

We Shall Overcome

I was reading today in Doctrine and Covenants 76 about those who inherit the celestial kingdom and I ran across this:
And they shall overcome all things. (D&C 76:60)
This verse always sort of freaked me out because when I read it, I would think to myself, I’m going to have to overcome all things? Yikes! I would begin to fear the future, worrying about what would come at me next. And it kind of gives the impression that it is all going to come all at once, as if I was a wrestler who suddenly has to fight the entire WWF and the audience too.

Today I was reading it and thinking about it and I stopped focusing on “all things” and began to focus on the “overcome” part. In doing so, I realized that two different ideas were implicit in this word:
  1. All things can be overcome and
  2. those obstacles that are overcome have an end.
That suddenly seemed encouraging to me.

And it stands to reason that we don’t have to do it all at once. We may be given a combination of trials at the same time, but it is never ALL OF THEM AT ONCE. Overcoming isn’t about breaking us; it is about strengthening and refining us.

Then I found something else.
And who overcome by faith... (D&C 76:53)
This showed me that faith is how we overcome those things that we have to face. What do we have to have faith in?

Christ, of course.

Wherefore, let no man glory in man, but rather let him glory in God, who shall subdue all enemies under his feet. (D&C 76:61)

He’s got the power to do it. I really like that image of God subduing my trials and afflictions and enemies under His feet. (Stomp, stomp, stomp) He trod that winepress alone.

Maybe we need to get in a habit of giving ourselves a pep talk periodically to remind ourselves to have faith.
  • You can get through this. There will be an end to it. (Just because you can’t see where that end is doesn’t mean it isn’t there. It may be closer than you ever dreamed.)
  • God will help you. He hasn’t left you alone.
  • If you endure, you will be a better person and will have gained valuable experience.
  • In the eternal scheme of things, this will be “but a small moment”.
  • It could be worse. [insert list of how it could be worse]
I had a little bit of an accident on my motor scooter on Friday which landed me in the hospital for a few hours. I was absolutely ecstatic that nothing was broken, although I had gotten scraped up on my right elbow, right hip, right knee, and right foot.

I didn’t know what nurses do to clean up bad scrapes. I didn’t know it would involve vigorously scrubbing the wounded area with disinfectant-saturated cloth pads

Before they started, the male nurse said, “You can have a little bit of pain now or a lot of pain later if it gets infected.”

“Right,” I said. “This is supposed to be good for me.” I knew then that he was warning me that it was going to hurt, and so I determined I was going to have a good attitude about it.

He started scrubbing the scrapes on my foot. Hard.

“This is good for me! This is good for me! I’m going to be okay!” I repeated loudly while it seemed like all the skin was being raked off my foot with rough sandpaper. The left side of my body was all tensed up and saying that seemed to help me focus on the goal rather than the pain.

I went through the same thing with my knee, my hip, and my elbow. It certainly wasn’t fun, but I was so thankful that I wasn’t hurt worse that I was more delighted than anything else.

I look back at that, and it was a small moment.

What is taking greater patience, however, is a full recovery. I didn’t know that I had bruises so deep that they would hurt for longer than it took my scrapes to scab up. Evidently it might take at least a month for my bruises to heal. I’m reminded of it every time I hoist my backpack to my right shoulder and it bangs against my right hip. I’m reminded of it as my elbow throbs a bit from lifting the backpack in the first place. I’m reminded that I need to have patience every time I accidently bump my elbow on something or raise my arm to tuck a strand of hair behind my ear. Even after four days of dealing with it I have had to keep reminding myself that I will get through it and remember how much badly I could have been hurt and remember to thank Heavenly Father for His blessings.

What I am going through is mild compared to what many others go through, but small as it is, it still is showing me that it really is those longer trials (whatever they are) that take the most faith. Sometimes it is an external trial—something that happens that you are forced to deal with. Sometimes it is an internal trial—some sort of weakness or foible or tendency or character trait or disease or addiction or temptation that you suddenly have to grapple with. But we can overcome all things through Christ.
Friday, November 6, 2009 9 comments

Pomegranate Symbolism

The main places in the scriptures that we hear about pomegranates are in association with decoration of the high priest’s robes and of the temple Solomon built.
33 ¶ And beneath upon the hem of it thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, round about the hem thereof; and bells of gold between them round about:
34 A golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe round about.
35 And it shall be upon Aaron to minister: and his sound shall be heard when he goeth in unto the holy place before the Lord, and when he cometh out, that he die not. (Exodus 28:33-34)
Pomegranates were part of the high priest’s robes.
And four hundred pomegranates for the two networks, even two rows of pomegranates for one network, to cover the two bowls of the chapiters that were upon the pillars; (1 Kings 7:42)
Evidently there were temple pillars that Solomon built that had pomegranates as part of their decoration.
21 And concerning the pillars, the height of one pillar was eighteen cubits; and a fillet of twelve cubits did compass it; and the thickness thereof was four fingers: it was hollow.
22 And a chapiter of brass was upon it; and the height of one chapiter was five cubits, with network and pomegranates upon the chapiters round about, all of brass. The second pillar also and the pomegranates were like unto these.
23 And there were ninety and six pomegranates on a side; and all the pomegranates upon the network were an hundred round about. (Jeremiah 52:21-23)
I remember reading through the Old Testament with my family growing up and wondering what was so significant about the pomegranate that the Lord would want representations of it to adorn the robes of the high priest and the temple.

The first progress I made towards understanding was on a “Plants of the Bible” tour of the Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Arizona when the guide pointed out that pomegranates symbolized eternal life. I was struck and excited by this.

Recently I did a search to see if there was more that could be associated with pomegranates. Here’s what I found:
  • Christ’s atoning sufferings for our sins
  • Eternal life
  • Fertility
I enjoy eating pomegranates and as I was eating one, the symbolism began to strike me even more.

It’s a very messy process; cutting into it can induce an explosion of red juices all over, evoking remembrance of the blood that was shed for us.

It’s hard to get at all the fruit of a pomegranate. It’s a long, labor-intensive process.
Regina Schrambling has made an apt analogy: “[pomegranates] are the crabs of the produce aisle, wondrous to eat but a messy hassle to break down to extract that wondrousness.” Just like achieving eternal life takes work and time.

You want to get every single little aril—the “aril” is the little fruit-seeds inside the pomegranate—that you can, just like Christ works to try to get each of us.

The arils have to be handled carefully to remove them, otherwise they rupture. This reminds us of how carefully we are nurtured and how salvation comes through Christ’s persuasion and long-suffering, while forcing us to be good would break us.

Each one of the arils has the potential to become a pomegranate tree that bears many fruit. The large number of arils evoke the idea of the huge numbers of God’s children, all of whom are precious. (This also evokes the promise of eternal posterity as part of eternal life, so it certainly suggests a promise of fertility.)

These may have been the ideas that the Lord wanted to evoke by placing pomegranate decorations on the high priests robes.

Here’s a link to a video about getting seeds from a pomegranate.
(They try to make it seem like a shorter process, but you can see the care that has to be taken and you can see that it is a multi-stage operation.)

Image#1 from Producepedia.com, http://www.producepedia.com/pomegranates.php

Image#2 from Faerie’s Finest, http://www.faeriesfinest.com/A052.html
Thursday, November 5, 2009 1 comments

Paul and Silas: Transcending physical captivity with spiritual freedom

The story of Paul and Silas and how they dealt with being cast into prison is very indicative of how Paul had learned to be content in whatever state he was in and how he had a strong conviction of how he was actually free in Christ.

Recall in Acts 16 that after casting out a spirit of divination from a girl, they were accused of troubling the city and teaching unlawful customs, then were beaten with many stripes and cast into prison.

The jailer was also charged to keep them very carefully, which must have made him think that they were the worst of hardened criminals and deserved to lose as much freedom as they could take away. So the jailer put them in the inner prison (maximum security) and had them physically restrained in the stocks. (see Acts 16:24)
And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. (Acts 16:25)
The jailer hadn’t thought to gag them or muzzle them. At the time of the greatest darkness, they exercised their freedom of conscience and prayed and praised God. And they did it loud enough that all the other prisoners heard them.

This shows us how Paul and Silas were still free to teach the gospel, even though they were in prison. They exercised freedom by praising God in spite of the pain they must have been experiencing from the stripes on their bodies. I can imagine that not only did they pray for themselves but also the other prisoners as well. I can imagine them singing Messianic psalms about salvation and freedom.
And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. (Acts 16:26)
We can see in this sudden earthquake how Heavenly Father wanted to show that spiritual freedom leads to physical freedom through faith on Christ. What a dramatic object lesson! And not just one or two doors were opened, but ALL the doors were opened, showing that freedom is available not just to a chosen few, but to ALL who were willing to fulfill the conditions.
And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. (Acts 16:27)
It is interesting that it says that the keeper awaked out of his sleep. Yes, it is physical sleep, but could it be that he is stirring from spiritual sleep as well? He is ultra concerned because here he has been given a charge to keep the prisoners confined and now all the doors are open and surely none will stay confined when they can escape. He will be held personally accountable to the government and they will execute him for dereliction of duty and probably kill him. So he might as well beat them to it and kill himself to salvage his personal honor.
But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. (Acts 16:28)
Here Paul is demonstrating the extent of his liberty. Even though the doors are open, and he is physically free to go, he has chosen to stay until he is released by an authorized agent of the government. (He knows that if he leaves on his own, it will not solve anything, but make things worse, since he will be considered an escaped prisoner and a maximum security prisoner at that!
29 Then he [the keeper] called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,
30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? (Acts 16:29-30)
Here the jailer has awakened spiritually. He recognizes that the earthquake is somehow connected with Paul and Silas as a sign that their power and authority comes from God and supersedes even the governmental authority represented by the confining walls, doors, chains, and stocks of the prison.
31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. (Acts 16:31-32)
Figuratively Paul and Silas are opening the prison doors to the jailer and his household. Even though they have been control of the physical prison, they recognize that they have been in a spiritual prison and that Paul and Silas have been given keys to set them free.
And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. (Acts 16:33)
The Jailer and his house have been made free.
And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. (Acts 16:34)
The jailer certainly knows now that there is no danger of Paul and Silas running away and that they are no more deserving of maximum security than any other ordinary citizen at large. (Rather, they deserve to have the highest level of freedom and convenience)
And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go. (Acts 16:35)
This is curious. The magistrates attempt to let Paul and Silas go secretly indicates they knew when they had them jailed that they were innocent, but that they didn’t feel free to administer true justice in public for fear of their townspeople. It indicates that they had the apostles beat and jailed as a show of responsiveness to their constituents, even though they knew that it was not right. Curious.
36 And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace.
37 But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out. (Acts 16:36-37)
Paul is not demanding special treatment to rub the administrator’s noses in their mistakes. He is concerned about legality. He is a legal administrator of Christ’s kingdom; he knows that no one can come into the kingdom of God except by the correct way, through Christ, by obedience. Understandably then, he wants his release from physical prison to be just as legal and aboveboard as a true spiritual release. Everyone in the community must know that he has been legally released, otherwise the trouble will begin again.
38 And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans.
39 And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city.
40 And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed. (Acts 16:38-40)
Paul and Silas are still using their spiritual freedom here. Although the magistrates want them to leave, Paul and Silas stay long enough to visit and encourage church members.

I like this story because it seems to draw a sharp contrast between those with spiritual freedom and those without. Spiritual freedom brings hope that transcends and overcomes temporal captivity. Spiritual freedom overcomes fear of man. Spiritual freedom is governed by internal restraints stronger than external restraints. Spiritual freedom opens a person up to be governed by righteous impetuses.

Interestingly enough, before running across this section, I also ran across another series of verses, this time in the Book of Mormon that seemed to teach about spiritual freedom of prophets and church leaders.
23 And also in the reign of Shule there came prophets among the people, who were sent from the Lord, prophesying that the wickedness and idolatry of the people was bringing a curse upon the land, and they should be destroyed if they did not repent.
24 And it came to pass that the people did revile against the prophets, and did mock them. And it came to pass that king Shule did execute judgment against all those who did revile against the prophets.
25 And he did execute a law throughout all the land, which gave power unto the prophets that they should go whithersoever they would; and by this cause the people were brought unto repentance.
26 And because the people did repent of their iniquities and idolatries the Lord did spare them, and they began to prosper again in the land…(Ether 7:23-26)
It seems significant that because the prophets were given the temporal freedom to go wherever they wanted to go to preach, it led to the spiritual freedom of the people, which led to greater temporal freedom for the nation in the form of prosperity.