2 Nephi 16 recounts Isaiah’s experience seeing “the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up.” Isaiah was filled with awe as he saw “the seraphim” surrounding the Lord on his throne and heard them praising him: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” And then Isaiah was filled with fear as he realized that he, Isaiah, a mortal, imperfect man was in the presence of the Lord. “Wo is unto me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips…for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts.” As soon as Isaiah uttered these words, one of the angels flew to him “having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar; And he laid it upon my mouth, and said: Lo, this has touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged” (2 Nephi 16:6-7).
I love the imagery, the feelings, and the message of this chapter which reminds me of the sweet, sacred opportunity I have to partake of the sacrament each week. This chapter teaches me of our Lord’s great desire for us to return to Him and to be comfortable in His presence. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ knew from the very beginning that sending us to earth would separate us from them physically and spiritually. Thus, the plan of salvation, their plan for our eternal happiness, included the way this separation might be overcome so that the law of justice would be met and we would have the opportunity to return to Them, “healed” from our fallen state of sin and imperfection and “converted” to the gospel plan. The prophet, Enoch, described at length the plan and the way we show our desire to return to Them and the purification process whereby we are cleansed and comfortable in their presence.
“Because that Adam fell, we are; and by his fall came death; and we are made partakers of misery and woe. Behold Satan hath come among the children of men, and tempteth them to worship him; and men have become carnal, sensual, and devilish, and are shut out from the presence of God. But God hath made known unto our fathers that all men must repent.
“And he called upon our father Adam by his own voice, saying: I am God; I made the world, and men before they were in the flesh.
“And he also said unto him: If thou wilt turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, and believe, and repent of all thy transgressions, and be baptized, even in water, in the name of mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth, which is Jesus Christ, the only name which shall be given under heaven, whereby salvation shall come unto the children of men, ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, asking all things in his name, and whatsoever ye shall ask, it shall be given you.
“And our father Adam spake unto the Lord, and said: Why is it that men must repent and be baptized in water? And the Lord said unto Adam: Behold I have forgiven thee thy transgression in the Garden of Eden….
“And the Lord spake unto Adam, saying: Inasmuch as thy children are conceived in sin, even so when they begin to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts, and they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good. And it is given unto them to know good from evil; wherefore they are agents unto themselves, and I have given unto you another law and commandment.
“Wherefore teach it unto your children, that all men, everywhere, must repent, or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God, for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence; for, in the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is his name, and the name of his Only Begotten is the Son of Man, even Jesus Christ, a righteous Judge, who shall come in the meridian of time.
“Therefore I give unto you a commandment, to teach these things freely unto your children, saying: That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory;
“For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified; Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment.
“And now, behold, I say unto you: This is the plan of salvation unto all men, through the blood of mine Only Begotten, who shall come in the meridian of time” (Moses 6:48-62)
Our sins are cleansed and washed away when we make a covenant to obey God’s commandments and serve Him through the ordinance of baptism. Because we are mortal beings, we will still make mistakes after our baptism. Through sincere repentance for all of our sins the atoning blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ, can purge us from our sins. Each week we have the opportunity remember and renew our baptismal covenants as we partake of the emblems of Christ’s atonement, the bread and the water, which symbolize His body and His blood “which [was] shed for as many as shall believe on my name, for the remission of their sins” (JST Matthew 26:24). “How did you feel the last time you partook of the sacrament? Did you ponder those covenants made in fonts and within temples? The sacrament enables us to renew our covenants. Thus, if we keep those covenants with honor and exactness, we can feel as fresh and as pure as we did when we were first baptized. We can feel as committed to a temple sealing as we did as a new bride or groom. We can feel…loved of God….Covenants keep us new” (Bonnie D. Parkin, “Celebrating Covenants,” Ensign, May 1995).
Partaking of the sacrament allows us to recommit to our covenants of obedience and service as we answer the Lord’s invitation: “Whom shall I send?” with the willing response, “Here am I; send me.” As we are faithful to our baptismal covenants, The Lord gives us the Holy Ghost, “the Comforter,” to be with us always, to “make us alive” to all that is good and “quicken” us in our efforts to do better and be better that we may be comfortable in His presence. Bishop Dean M. Davies testified, “One of the most important steps we can take to strengthen our lives and remain firmly attached to the foundation of the Savior is to worthily partake of the sacrament each week. The sacrament ordinance affords every Church member the opportunity to ponder his or her life in advance, to consider the actions or non-actions that may need to be repented of, and then to partake of the bread and water as sacred emblems in remembrance of the body and blood of Jesus Christ, a witness of His Atonement. If we partake with sincerity and in humility, we renew eternal covenants, are cleansed and sanctified, and receive the promise that we will have His Spirit to be with us always. The Spirit acts as a type of mortar, a welding link that not only sanctifies but also brings all things to our remembrance and testifies again and again of Jesus Christ. Worthily partaking of the sacrament strengthens our personal connection to the foundation rock, even to Jesus Christ” (“A Sure Foundation,” April 2013).
*How have you been cleansed or renewed by partaking of the sacrament?
*How have you been strengthened by partaking of the sacrament?
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