Wednesday, July 31, 2013 0 comments

Firm and Undaunted, Alma 57:20

“As the remainder of our army were about to give way before the Lamanites, behold, those two thousand and sixty were firm and undaunted” (Alma 57:20)
I was reading this recently and somehow I noticed that word “undaunted.”  I got curious about it and looked it up.  To be undaunted means one refuses to be intimidated or discouraged by the difficulty, danger, or disappointment that would bother other people. 

How does one stay undaunted?  I think this involves the ability to emotionally dissociate yourself a little when facing difficulty, to mentally step back to view one’s initial emotional reaction and make a conscious choice not to be bothered or worried, but to see it as a challenge that can be overcome.

The ancient historian Herodotus wrote a good example of an undaunted attitude.  “It is said that on the eve of battle, [the Spartan, Dienekes] was told by a native of Trachis that the [enemy] Persian archers were so numerous that, their arrows would block out the sun. Dienekes, however, undaunted by this prospect, remarked with a laugh, 'Good. Then we will fight in the shade.”  An undaunted person sees the danger, but chooses not to be bothered or worried. 

Today let’s practice staying firm and undaunted.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013 0 comments

Temple Veil & Garment Symbolism

19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,  
20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; (Hebrews 10:19-20)
Here Paul speaks of how Christ made it possible for us to enter into heaven, which is symbolized by entering into the holiest (holy of holies) through the veil of the temple.  Paul also shows that the veil becomes symbolic of the flesh of Christ that was torn for us.

Hugh Nibley in his article “Worthy of Another Look: Classics from the Past: The EarlyChristian Prayer Circle”  talks about the cosmic veil that is appropriately adorned with marks and emblems, and in his article “Sacred Vestments” he talks about these same marks present on sacred garments of very early Christians.  There is a certain symbolism to consider through these corresponding marks. 

It makes the sacred garments a sort of temple veil, which the initiate carries about with him as a second skin, so that in essence one lives perpetually at the temple veil, standing in a holy place anywhere one is, ready to speak (pray) to the Lord with full confidence of being heard and answered.     
And too, since the veil symbolizes Christ’s flesh (or skin), we put on Christ and we try to make our lives match His, while He covers us with His atonement.

One is also reminded with this second skin that passing through it will happen at death.
Living so near the veil can remind us how close we are to crossing over into the next world, which should help us appreciate the importance of never procrastinating our repentance.

Saturday, July 27, 2013 0 comments

Paul’s Prooftext that God is True, Romans 3:3-4

For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?
God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged. (Romans 3:3-4)

Paul’s quotation to prove God is true seems very strange at first reading; it seems like the “thou” refers to man, which view doesn’t help his proof.  I suspected that it might be important to find where he was quoting, so I did a search for those words and found it was a quotation from Psalms 51:4. (And actually I need not have searched because there was a footnote indicating the reference, which I didn’t notice until later… Oh well.)

Psalms 51 happens to be the one in which David pleads for forgiveness after his adultery with Bathsheba.  The context of the bit Paul quoted clarifies greatly.

Against thee, thee only, have I sinned,
and done this evil in thy sight:
that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest,
and be clear when thou judgest. (Psalms 51:4)

So Paul’s quotation of David shows that God is always true, while man lies.

There’s a little variation between David’s phrasing and the way Paul quotes the last bit.

"and be clear when thou judgest"
"and mightest overcome when thou art judged"

David’s is a parallel statement with his previous phrase about God's judgment always being justified by events, but Paul seems to expand the meaning to convey that man judges God and then ultimately God’s sayings are justified, clearing God’s name as a truth-speaker.

Okay.. David’s thoughts in Psalms 51:4 seem to demand closer examination, so I hope you don’t mind if I get just a little distracted..

There is something a little odd about David’s logic in Psalms 51:4.  It is as if he says, “God, I sinned against thee so that you would be justified when you speak.”  This has very twisted logic and I don’t think it is quite what David meant, if he had a true idea of the nature of his responsibility to God, especially in his repentance.  I think the truth is a bit deeper here.  A man doesn’t sin with the intent to prove God right; usually sin arises in an attempt to prove God’s warnings wrong.  God warns, man thinks the warning unwarranted, man does what he wants in an attempt to prove God wrong, and man ends up sinning just as God warned.   So, I think David is acknowledging that the Lord warned him ahead of time as he was contacting Bathsheba that he was acting badly and it wasn’t going to end well, but David said, “No, it’ll be fine; I’m not doing anything wrong.”  And then what-do-you-know, it turns out God was completely justified in His warning, and David found it was himself who had lied, lied to himself and God.  (This principle is what makes Paul’s use of the quotation a powerful proof that God is true, and his readers would be completely aware of the quotation context.)

Why did David say that he had only sinned against God when he had also sinned against Bathsheba and Uriah, and all those who saw his bad example and were affected by it?  I had to think about this for a while before I realized that David really did have a testimony of Christ’s atonement and he knew that Christ would suffer not only for David’s sins and grief and pain, but also for all the grief and pain that others suffered on account of David’s adultery.  So, ultimately David was sinning only against Christ, causing wound upon wound on Christ through all the people David had affected.

So, back to Paul.  Paul says,

For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?
God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged. (Romans 3:3-4)

If unbelief in God’s warnings can be shown to be lies of man (as David learned by sad experience with Bathsheba), then unbelief in God’s salvation can also be shown to be lies of man.  Just as God’s warnings are real, God’s promises of salvation and exaltation are real.  If others do not believe, it will not stop us from enjoying the fruits of our faith in Christ.
Thursday, July 25, 2013 0 comments

Paul’s Celebration of Church Membership, Ephesians 1-3

I’ve been reading through the epistles of Paul lately, reading them in the order they were written as listed in the Bible Dictionary just to see if that could give me a different view.   The last few days I’ve gotten to Ephesians.

The first three chapters of Ephesians seemed kind of odd to me until I realized that Paul was enthusing about and celebrating the spiritual privileges and blessings of church membership.  These are good things for us to remember at those times when we begin to take our church membership for granted or we’re just not “feelin’ it.” 

“he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (1:4)
”he hath made us accepted in the beloved” (1:6)
“we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins” (1:7)
“he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence” (1:8)
“Having made known unto us the mystery of his will” (1:9)
“in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ” (1:10)
“we have obtained an inheritance” (1:11)
“ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession” (1:13-14)
“eyes of your understanding being enlightened” (1:18)
“the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (1:23)
“when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ” (1:5)
“hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (2:6)
“we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (2:10)
“ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ” (2:13)
“ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (2:19)
“built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (2:20)
“partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” (3:6)
“In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him” (3:12)
“unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ” (4:7)

If you look at the verbs, you can see all that God has done for us—redeemed, gathered, sealed, enlightened, filled, quickened, raised, built, made nigh, created..
Stop and think about those things for a moment.  Can you remember and feel them in your life?

Paul also noted to the Ephesians what they had escaped in their conversion, noting how they had once been without hope and without God in the world, as well as other points of the fallen condition.  What a terrible thing!  How wonderful it makes conversion seem!

I notice that the blessings listed are all spiritual.  They are not something you can see unless it comes to good works, good words, and avoiding evil.  No one can give them but God, which means that no one can take them from us except our own sin.

A thought aside: I’ve noticed that sometimes when I get sucked too deeply into fantasy movies or books that depict magic or super strength that I begin to wish that the power of the Spirit were more dramatic.  It is when I pull back that I realize there is a reason the Spirit is so quiet.  Peace is quiet.  The quiet influence develops our sensitivities.  Quiet improvements give us refinement.  Quiet and small impulses to serve help us express love even when we don’t have much.  Quiet spiritual gifts don’t attract the attention that might puff us up with pride.

Today let’s think about the difference God has made in our lives and the blessings we’ve enjoyed so far because of all Christ has done for us.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013 2 comments

Book Review: The Power of Everyday Missionaries

The cover of The Power of Everyday Missionaries by Clay Christensen is not one that will jump off the shelf and grab you, but it is most definitely an excellent read, so pleeeeeeeeease don't judge this book by its cover!  I don’t think I would have picked it up, except for the fact that I had previously seen a few videos online of Clay Christensen and had been impressed by his personality and the way he tries to share his best insights.  (One was on his ideas for how to reform the healthcare system, and it was amazing to see how he was able to break down some of the complexities of the system and give some very simple ways to fix it.)  Christensen has a way of densely packing his thoughts and going to the root of the matter in a simple-to-understand manner that delights.

Soooo, when I saw this book with his name on it, I thought to myself, I need help finding ways to be a better missionary.  I bet this guy has some excellent perspective on it. And I picked it up and started reading. 

Now, you know and I know that there are right ways and wrong ways to try to motivate people to do missionary work.  Wrong ways tend to fill you with guilt without actually addressing your deepest concerns.  Wrong ways tend to assume that we somehow want to keep the gospel to ourselves.  Wrong ways assume that there are no obstacles (cultural/political/social/psychological) facing us, so they don’t even begin to give you techniques to cope with these internal or external obstacles.  Wrong ways leave you feeling defeated before you’ve even tried.

Very soon after I started reading, I found Christensen’s book to be one of the right ways to motivate.  It was full of ways we can change our thinking, principles to act by, and so many inspiring stories of how Christensen had used those principles to share the gospel with others.  In short, it is a major game-changer.  

Can I just say that again? 


Yes, I am yelling, and this is worth yelling about!

The first helpful thing Christensen does is show that changing our idea of what member missionary success is can help us get involved.  We tend to think we have succeeded when someone we have invited and referred to the missionaries decides to get baptized.  However, this is not a good measure of our missionary success because it is dependent upon someone else’s choices, which we can’t (and shouldn’t) control.  Christensen instead suggests that we see ourselves as successful member missionaries when we invite others to come to church or take the missionary discussions.  He says that if we invite we succeed, whether others accept our invitation or not.

Christensen also explodes some mistaken notions that we may have such as:
·      Supposing that religious discussions aren’t allowed at work
·      Supposing that we must be friends with someone before we invite them to church or to hear the missionaries in some way. 
·      Supposing that we can predict or judge who is most likely to accept an invitation to meet with the missionaries and thereby accurately refer the best candidates
·      Supposing that there is something wrong with us if we have experienced a rejection, which may cause us to think there is no point in trying to invite more people.

Christensen shows that religious discussions can’t be prohibited at work any more than can discussions of politics and sports, which can get pretty heated.  He asserts that in 20 years of member missionary work he has observed no correlation between depth of a relationship and probability that a person will be interested in learning about the gospel.  He also says that we should not alter our relationship with others in order to invite them, as it will keep our interactions genuine.  While it may seem like a problem to find out that we can’t predict who would be the best people to refer to the missionaries, it actually widens the field considerably.  (Christensen's discussions of these different points are detailed and very helpful, so read the book to get the full beneficial effect!)

Christensen knows that to be member missionaries, we want to know how to do it:
·      We want to know how we can talk about the church to others in a way that is natural and invites them to talk to us about religion or faith.  We want to encourage further conversation without being blatant.
·      We want to know how to phrase our invitations in a way that will be friendly and not put pressure on our friends, neighbors, and coworkers or scare them away from ever talking to us again.
·      We want to know how we can engage with people uninterested in organized religion in a way that will address their concerns and help them grow without feeling uncomfortable ourselves or getting defensive.
·      We want to know how to interest people in the church who are well off, satisfied, and don’t think they need God.  

Christensen addresses all these needs with inspiring stories and even shares conversation templates that will help us invite naturally, with love, based on the needs of those we talk to.   For me as a reader, this had the effect of building substantial confidence and faith that I can do this!  I didn’t see the conversation templates as something I had to say, but as an example of how to dial down the pressure significantly and how to make a conversation open-ended and driven by the needs of the other person.

Who is this book for?  This book is for those of us who want to be better missionaries but feel intimidated or stymied by worry about how to do it in a natural and loving way.  It is for those of us who have been demoralized or de-motivated from missionary work, and it is for those of us who feel lacking in opportunities to share the gospel or who feel isolated.  It is a perfect gift for bishops, for ward mission leaders, for auxiliary leaders..  heck, just about everyone in the church could benefit from this book!

How has this book helped me?  It, along with the worldwide missionary broadcast, galvanized me to action and that’s what led to my efforts to introduce the missionaries to my neighbors, which I described in my post “In which I confront my fears about introducing the missionaries to my neighbors”  This experience boosted my courage appreciably.  Also, since then, I have felt more confident and have been able to talk naturally about the church, mentioning it in everyday conversations with nonmembers.

See?  Game-changer, people!

If you are budget-conscious, the paperback edition will save you $15 or so.  (My link at the top of this post goes to Deseret Book's paperback edition)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Sunday, July 21, 2013 0 comments

KJV versus JST: Faith Counted for Righteousness, Romans 4:2-5

 Welcome to another episode of KJV versus JST!  Today we're looking at a block of verses in Romans about how faith is counted for righteousness.

KJV:  Romans 4:2-5
JST:  Romans 4:2-5
2 For if Abraham were justified by works, 
he hath whereof to glory;
but not before God.
2 For if Abraham were justified by the law of works,
he hath to glory in himself;
but not of God.
3 For what saith the scripture?
Abraham believed God,
and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
3 For what saith the scripture?
Abraham believed God,
and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
4 Now to him that worketh
is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
4 Now to him who is justified by the law of works,
is the reward reckoned, not of grace, but of debt.
5 But to him that worketh not,
but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly,
his faith is counted for righteousness.
5 But to him that seeketh not to be justified by the law of works,
but believeth on him who justifieth not the ungodly,
his faith is counted for righteousness.

One of the things the JST makes clear here in v4-5 is the issue is not between doing works and not doing works like the KJV makes it seem like it is.  The issue is what we believe about the role works have in our salvation.   It says that if we think we are justified by works (whether the law of Moses or the ordinances of the gospel or good works done to our fellowmen), we are going to think (even if only subconsciously) that God owes us for what we have done, that we have put God in our debt thereby.  There is no room for Christ in this way of thinking, which is why it is mistaken.

What is the alternative?  We have to start with the realization that we have sinned and Christ has paid for our sins, putting us in deep debt to Him.  Believing in the salvation He offers us, we repent of our sins.  Knowing that He will not justify the ungodly (those who continue to sin), we forsake sin, receive the ordinances, keep His commandments, and do good.  These works can never be enough to repay our debt to Christ, but we do them anyway because they are what He asks of us in return.

So “seeking not to be justified by the law of works” (v5) is not referring to stopping works.  It means that you know your works are not enough to pay the debt of your sins or the debt you owe to Christ who paid for those sins.  It means you’re just doing your best to serve Christ because you love Him for what He did and want to follow Him.

This is a really hard thing for us to grasp.  Somehow we are so used to thinking of debts as something we must try to pay off.  The problem in the case of our salvation debt is, the very moment we think of trying to pay it off, that’s the moment we have stopped trusting Christ and started trusting ourselves instead.  We must be content to be His debt slaves and do His bidding forever.  Serving with that attitude—that we are forever in His debt because of His atonement—is how our faith is counted for righteousness. 

He’s the best Master because the things He asks of us are calculated to make us more like Him, but not because we are able to do it on our own, but because as we do our best, He gives us the power (grace) to do those things.  Yes, the better we become, the more we are in His debt because of His enabling power of grace.
Friday, July 19, 2013 0 comments

Micah 5 versus 3 Nephi 21: The remnant of Jacob

It is interesting that when Jesus visits the Nephites, He quotes part of Micah to them, but He adds some things that change the sense of who the different people in the quotation refer to.  I have marked major changes in blue, although there are a few grammatical changes that do not change the sense of the text, which I have left unmarked.

Micah was speaking to the Israelites back in the land of Jerusalem, whereas Jesus was speaking to the Nephites in the Americas.

Micah 5:8-15
3 Nephi 21: 12-22
8 And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles
in the midst of many people
as a lion among the beasts of the forest,
as a young lion among the flocks of sheep:
who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces,
and none can deliver.
12 And my people who are a remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles,
yea, in the midst of them as a lion among the beasts of the forest,
as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he go through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces,
and none can deliver.
9 Thine hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries,
and all thine enemies shall be cut off.
13 Their hand shall be lifted up upon their adversaries,
and all their enemies shall be cut off.
10 And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord,
that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee,
and I will destroy thy chariots:
14 Yea, wo be unto the Gentiles except they repent;
for it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Father,
that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee,
and I will destroy thy chariots;
11 And I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strong holds:
15 And I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strongholds;
12 And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thine hand;
and thou shalt have no more soothsayers:
16 And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thy land,
and thou shalt have no more soothsayers;
13 Thy graven images also will I cut off, and thy standing images out of the midst of thee;
and thou shalt no more worship the work of thine hands.
17 Thy graven images I will also cut off, and thy standing images out of the midst of thee,
and thou shalt no more worship the works of thy hands;
14 And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee:
so will I destroy thy cities.

18 And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee;
so will I destroy thy cities.
15 And I will execute vengeance in anger and fury upon the heathen, such as they have not heard.
19 And it shall come to pass that all lyings, and deceivings, and envyings, and strifes, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, shall be done away.
 20 For it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that at that day whosoever will not repent and come unto my Beloved Son, them will I cut off from among my people, O house of Israel;
 21 And I will execute vengeance and fury upon them, even as upon the heathen, such as they have not heard.
22 But if they will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them, and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob, unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance;

In Micah, the prophecy is spoken as to the remnant of Jacob, that they would be like lions among the Gentiles, but also as though this remnant would have their cities thrown down, their idols and witchcrafts and soothsayers removed, etc.

In 3 Nephi 21, Jesus speaks of the remnant of Jacob in some future day, that they would be like lions among the Gentiles, but then speaks a warning to the Gentiles that without their repentance Gentile cities would be thrown down and their idols, witchcrafts, and soothsayers removed.  (I think this is directed to the Gentiles who are Christian.)  Also, two extra verses are added indicating those who would not repent and come to the Beloved Son would be cut off from among the people of the house of Israel.  This suggests that those among the Latter-day Saints must be sure to repent or they will be removed from the church as well and have vengeance and fury executed upon them “even as upon the heathen,” meaning they will get the same treatment as those who have never believed in Christ.

Micah doesn’t have an entirely scary picture of this remnant of Jacob as a lion.  Just before verse 8 there is a very positive picture of the remnant as well, and the contrast is fascinating when we read those verses together:
7 And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the Lord, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men.
8 ¶And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep: who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver. (Micah 5:7-8)
We get the curious impression that the remnant of Jacob is nourishing and refreshing AND terrifying and destructive.  This is understandable if we consider that there are righteous remnants and wicked remnants.  And yet the 3 Nephi version seems to buck this a view with the added bit, “And my people who are a remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles, yea, in the midst of them as a lion among the beasts of the forest” (21:12), which makes it seem like the righteous remnant is going to be the terrible one after all.  What makes it particularly puzzling is that during all the modern history of the Latter-day Saints we have rarely if ever taken up arms against our adversaries.  Our policy as a people has usually been to seek peace, and if necessary, allow the Lord to fight our battles for us.

It is possible that this pattern will continue, since the strong “I” statements about coming destruction give us a sense that God will execute vengeance and fury on the unrepentant Gentiles on behalf of the righteous:
·      I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee
·      I will destroy thy chariots
·      I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strongholds
·      I will cut off witchcrafts out of thy land
·      Thy graven images I will also cut off
·      I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee; so will I destroy thy cities

Mormon also references the remnant of Jacob himself as a warning to the Gentiles:
22 And then, O ye Gentiles, how can ye stand before the power of God, except ye shall repent and turn from your evil ways?
23 Know ye not that ye are in the hands of God? Know ye not that he hath all power, and at his great command the earth shall be rolled together as a scroll?
24 Therefore, repent ye, and humble yourselves before him, lest he shall come out in justice against you—lest a remnant of the seed of Jacob shall go forth among you as a lion, and tear you in pieces, and there is none to deliver. (Mormon 5:22-24, emphasis added)
Mormon sees these scriptures in a military way because he is a military man and has seen it happen literally to his people the Nephites.  In fact, to underscore his point, the very next chapter Mormon records is the final destruction of his people by a wicked remnant of Jacob.

Why does it say “there is none to deliver” this group?  I think it is because if they do not repent, there is no one that can deliver them spiritually, and later when they get into such trouble as threatens their lives, they are too hard-hearted to pray for deliverance, so no one can save them.

This passage is still rather unclear to us because events have not occurred that will give us an idea of who the fearsome remnant is, but neat thing is that when it starts to happen we will recognize the fulfillment and take comfort that God knew far ahead of time what was going to happen. 

I think the main message of these verses is that we must repent or we will be cut off from the church and have our share in the destruction eventually to come upon the unrepentant Gentiles.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013 0 comments

John’s Revelation on What Brings Meaning to History, Revelation 5:1-10

1 And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.
2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof?
3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.
4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.
5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
7 And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.
8 And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. (Revelation 5:1-10)

It doesn’t take a lot of study of the book of Revelation to come to the conclusion that the imagery of chapter 5 is pivotal to the whole structure of the book. John saw in the right had [sic] of the father a book (most likely a scroll) which was sealed with seven seals (see 5:1). He also saw that no one in heaven or earth was able or worthy to open the book, except for the Savior (vv. 2–14). Since the rest of the vision describes what John sees as each of the seven seals is opened by the Lamb, an understanding of the sealed book is critical to our whole understanding of the book of Revelation.
And here it is that the Prophet Joseph Smith made his greatest contribution to our ability to unveil the veiled, to reveal the revelation. He answered two significant questions: What is the meaning of the book and what is the meaning of the seals? Certainly more than any other single thing, his answers to those questions (see D&C 77:6–7) become the key to gaining access to the “house” of Revelation. From what as revealed in those two verses we then can derive the following:
1. The book in the right hand of the Father represents the history and destiny of the world. It is in his right hand to suggest he controls everything in and about our world. No one except the Savior was worthy to open the book because the atoning sacrifice was what made the whole of world history possible and meaningful.

That the atoning sacrifice was what made the whole of world history possible and meaningful is a very profound statement.  And we can see it in the imagery if we know where to look.  Books convey meaning.  If no one can open the book, then the meaning is out of reach of anyone.  But Jesus could open it, so He brought meaning to all of history.  The meaning we can get is that no pain or suffering will be unhealed or wasted.  Justice still exists in the universe and will be upheld by Christ, whether sooner or later.  Through the atonement, every other circumstantial pain can profit us eventually and refine us.  Mercy is attainable.