The Book of Jacob is a pretty short book, I thought about combining it with Enos-Words of Mormon, but I thought it had two really interesting points I hadnâ€™t before thought of, so Iâ€™d go ahead and share them.
1. Every so often, we get people that come across this blog and wonder why we are wasting our time talking about the atonement or other things, because as Jacob 4:8 says â€œit is impossible that man should find out all his waysâ€. But I believe it is our sincere hope that we will receive revelation as â€œwe search the prophetsâ€ (Jacob 4:6) Further Jacob encourages us to talk of these things, saying â€œAnd now, beloved, marvel not that I tell you these things; for why not speak of the atonement of Christ, and attain to a perfect knowledge of him, as to attain to the knowledge of a resurrection and the world to come?â€ Of course, some may accuse us of â€œlooking beyond the markâ€ seeking out complexities where we ought not, but I think everyone blogging here would agree we are hoping for the plainness of the true Gospel. Sometimes it does seem otherwise, Iâ€™ll grant you. My wife teases me that we are like this scripture:
And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new [cool] th[a]ng.)
And yes, there seems to be an unwritten order of things which says Blake, Geoff and Jacob canâ€™t all three agree on any one given thing at any one point in time, but I have become more connected to Christ as I have thought more deeply on his atonement. While it is true that it has become readily apparent to me the many things I do not know about the atonement, that has been really valuable to me, to shake off assumptions that I thought I knew, but upon investigation proved flimsy. More so, being able to tear away what I donâ€™t know has also helped strengthen what I do know, as the truth becomes less muddled by false assumptions. Some say (I honestly donâ€™t know who to attribute this to) we will not receive more revelation until we master what we already have, and we have been given so much instruction on the atonement that we had better dig deep into it.
In fact, in Jacob it teaches that Christ has the power of the redemption and the resurrection (jacob 6:9), which allows us to either reconcile ourselves through the atonement and be presented as â€œthe first fruits of Christ unto Godâ€ (Jacob 4:11) or that same power can bring us to stand in that presence in â€œshame and awful guiltâ€ which will ultimately cause us to â€œgo awayâ€ (Jacob 6:10) So I say we must be reconciled to through the atonement by properly understanding it, by believing in it and hoping in it, and making it a part of our minute to minute way of being. As we accept it into our lives, we will feel itâ€™s power and I believe it will change us.
2. Jacob 3:9 notes that there are two types of bad. There is the bad of those that comes because of their fathers, and there is the bad of those who are bad of their own accord. In vs 9 Jacob tells his people not to revile against those who are bad because of their traditions, but to think of our own error. This caused me to ponder a bit on agency, a much-discussed topic here of late. This scripture is basically saying that some of our actions are caused by determinism and some are not.
Often we run on autopilot, not being self-aware of what motivates us to do what we are doing. This is similar to what Terry Warner calls self-deception, where we do something wrong, it puts us in a state of self-deception, and then we are perpetually justifying out poor behavior until we brought out of our initial poor behavior, except itâ€™s not that deep. See, a determined being isnâ€™t aware they are being determined. Becoming aware of what determines them would break the spell, and then they would be making a choice.
Hereâ€™s an interesting paradox of the gospel. God wants us to make a choice, however, it is better for us to be determined rather than make a bad choice. While living a life that is not self-aware (determined) fails to allow us to progress and leaves us stagnant and frustrated, willfully making bad choices produces a worse case, where we are miserable and trapped by the consequences of our bad choices in a self-destructive cycle. So making choices is better than not making choices, but making bad choices is worse. This is a case where the benefits apparently outweigh the risk, as God has set up the entire system of the atonement to improve our odds in overcoming the risks of making bad choices.
Ok, I think I am rambling at this point.