Sunday, October 5, 2014

In My Flesh I Shall See God

This week two of my coworkers passed away unexpectedly. One was 38 and left his wife and two teenage children, the other just retired and left his wife and children behind. The funeral for one of them was Friday and the other will be tomorrow. It is times like these that we often question what will happen to us after we die. This is a question that we all have asked at some time. Job in the Old Testament gives us his testimony of what will happen:

For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:

And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:

Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me. (Job 19:25-27)

Job's words can bring comfort to those who have lost loved ones that there is life after death. We read of the Savior’s resurrection three days after his crucifixion. Several women came to the sepulcher and found the tomb empty. They ran back to tell the disciples what they found. Peter, John and Mary ran back to the sepulcher. When Peter and John saw that it was empty they left but Mary stayed and the scriptures say that while she was there she saw two angels who asked her why she was seeking the living among the dead. She turned and saw another man whom she thought was the gardener and she asked if he had taken the Lord’s body somewhere. The scripture continues:

 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. (John 20:14-17)

Mary was the first to witness the reality of Job’s testimony, that there is life after death. There in front of her was Jesus, he indeed had been resurrected. Later that night Jesus appeared to ten of the disciples as they were talking:

And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.

And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?

Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.

And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.
And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat?

And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.

And he took it, and did eat before them.

Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,

And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day. (Matthew 24:36-46)

With these scriptures we know that Jesus Christ died and was resurrected, not just as a spirit but with a physical body. Job’s testimony is that he will see God as a physical person as well, meaning that we will be resurrected in the same manner that Christ was resurrected. In Book of Mormon Amulek taught us:

Now, there is a death which is called a temporal death; and the death of Christ shall loose the bands of this temporal death, that all shall be raised from this temporal death.
The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time; and we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt.

Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil. (Alma 11:42-44)

When we are resurrected we will have everything restored in a perfect body and we will be brought to stand before Jesus Christ to be judged according to our works. The resurrection will come to every person that is born into this word, none will be left out. If we are judged to be worthy of God’s presence then we will dwell there eternally as families.

Elder Robert D. Hales, of the Quorum of the Twelve, bore this testimony of the resurrection not just as individuals, but as families:

“The knowledge and understanding of the doctrine that God lives and Jesus is the Christ and that we have an opportunity to be resurrected and live in the presence of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, makes it possible to endure otherwise tragic events. This doctrine brings a brightness of hope into an otherwise dark and dreary world. It answers the simple questions of where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going. These are truths that must be taught and practiced in our homes.

“God lives. Jesus is the Christ. Through His Atonement we will all have the opportunity of being resurrected. This is not just an individual blessing; it is much more than that. It is a blessing to each one of us and to our families. That we may be eternally grateful, that we can live in the presence of God the Eternal Father and His Son Jesus Christ, that we may be together in the eternities to come, that we might understand the joy, and that we not only teach this doctrine but live true to it in our lives and in our families, is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” (“The Eternal Family”, Robert D. Hales, General Conference, October 1996)

Our testimony to the world is that we are here for a reason, and that there is life after this life. The life after this life can be wonderful and exalting if we keep God’s commandments, are baptized by the proper priesthood authority and receive the temple covenants that bind our family together forever.
Knowing we will be together as a family is a great promise, but how do we get through the lonely times ahead when we miss a loved one that has passed beyond the veil? How do we endure the trials without a husband, father, mother, brother, sister or friend? We must rely on the promise of the Lord Jesus Christ that he can free us from our burdens and find peace. He has said:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (Matthew 11:28-29)

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, of the Quorum of the Twelve, spoke about how we can find happiness even in the difficult times. He said:

“Above all else, ultimate happiness, true peace, and anything even remotely close to scriptural joy are found first, foremost, and forever in living the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Lots of other philosophies and systems of belief have been tried.  Indeed it seems safe to say that virtually every other philosophy and system has been tried down through the centuries of history.  But when the Apostle Thomas asked the Lord the question young people often ask today, “How can we know the way?” (and at your age in life that really translates, “How can we know the way to be happy?”) Jesus gave the answer that rings from eternity to all eternity, “I am the way, the truth, and the life . . . And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do. . . . If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”
"What a promise!  Live my way, live my truth, live my life—live in this manner that I am showing you and teaching you—and whatsoever you ask will be given, whatsoever you seek you will find, including happiness.  Parts of the blessing may come soon, parts may come later, and parts may not come until heaven but they will come—all of them.  What encouragement that is after a blue Monday or a sad Tuesday or a tearful Wednesday!  And it is a promise the realization of which cannot come any other way than by devotion to eternal truth!  In the words of then newly ordained Elder David O. McKay just short of a full century ago, “[Unlike gratification or pleasure or some kind of thrill, true] happiness is found only along that well beaten [gospel] track, narrow as it is, . . . [and] straight [as it is], which leads to life eternal.”7  So love God and each other, and be true to the gospel of Jesus Christ.” (“Living After the Manner of Happiness”, Jeffrey R. Holland, BYU-Idaho Devotional Address, September 23, 2014)

The Gospel of Jesus Christ provides all the answers to the questions about the purpose of life and what will happen to us after we die. It is a comforting blessing to know we can and will be with our families through the eternities. When we lose a loved one and we have to go through our lives without them we know that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the sealing ordinances of the temple, we will be with them again. We can find peace and happiness even when we feel alone if we follow the advice of Elder Holland and live the gospel and follow the Savior’s example of love and service.

I want the families of my two friends and coworkers to know that our family prays that the Lord will lift their burdens from them and they find peace in this difficult time. I know they have a testimony of the resurrection and that because they have been sealed by temple covenants their families are eternal. I know that after this life we will all see God and our families in the flesh and then dwell with them for all eternity.

Your comments and questions are welcome.

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