How the Parables of Jesus Help Us to Better Understand and Apply the Atonement
by C. Robert Line
Wednesday: The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard
Keys to understanding the parables
Often conceal rather than reveal doctrine
Often teach doctrine of atonement
Best understood when their context is understood
It doesn't seem fair, but when we read them as a story we only get so much. Inside the deepest doctrines are the pearls of greatest price.
What is the context?
Matthew 19 - verse 16-23 - man asks how to receive eternal life, sell all he possesses, he couldn't do it. Rich man can't get into heaven. V.25 - the key that unlocks parable - who can be saved?
Parable is about salvation, how you and I are saved.
Verse 26 - with man salvation is impossible, only through Jesus Christ. "This" = salvation
Alma 34:9 - can't be a sacrifice of a mortal, only eternal
Verse 28 - peter asks what's in it for us? Christ says, plenty. And so will any who sacrifices for his sake.
The twelve were looking for a better reward because they labored longer
The reward was promised if they were worthy, but it was hinted that some outside the apostolic circle would prove in the end more worthy than some of the apostles. Bruce r mcconkie
What is parable about?
1. Rebukes against the spirit of entitlement.
2. More important - it is an in-depth teaching about the savior's grace and mercy.
1. Lord of the vineyard - Christ
2. Laborers in the vineyard -
Those who join the church,
3. The penny - eternal life
2 Nephi 25:23 - by grace we are saved, "after all we can do" doesn't mean that we have to do everything. Grace s an enabling power than gives us ability to do good works. Meaning "despite all we do" - even if we labor all our days and it will still not be enough. We'd still be unprofitable servants. Our works are important but they don't have a salvational role
2 Nephi 2:3 - Jacob is redeemed not because of his righteousness, but because of Christ’s' righteousness
Atonement is infinite. Mathematically, infinite plus 1 = infinity. Spiritually speaking, we have to enter into covenant with him as the one. What we do here really doesn't matter, as long as we decide to be in and stay in the covenant relationship. That's what you have to be to attain eternal life. When we get our penny, will we be proud of ourselves? No, we are woefully short of our own salvation. It doesn't matter how many hours we labor, as long as we get in the covenant relationship.
How Christ describes reward
13 - I do thee no wrong
15 - lawful
Not for sinners, willfully rebel, just those in the covenant and remain in covenant.
V.10-12 - notice the attitudes
Look at section 84 - reward is everything the father has, how can you ask for more?
We say that people are proud of being rich or clever or good looking but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better looking - cs Lewis. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it that the next man. It is the comparison that makes you proud, the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.
V.12 - irony that these laborers thought 12-hour day was burden, misery - should see that it is still better than living in sin.
Matthew 11 - burden is easy, light
L tom Perry Nov 1999 - Christianity is not weight, it is wings
Not a burden, it is buoyant.
Wailing wall - this is the closest thing to the temple - they are praying for return of temple, mourning loss of temple in 70 a.d.
People that are wandering need to be loved back, you can't shout at them from a distance for them to join you, you need to go to them.
D&c 1:30 - most offensive doctrine to outsiders, that there is one true church
Sometimes confuse it with this scripture - 1 Nephi 14:10 - church of Lamb of God, church of the devil
2 Nephi 10:16 - the church of the devil isn’t any particular church; the church of the lamb is religion that will save. Religion that
Well-intentioned churches are not mother of abominations. Church of the lamb is by loyalty not membership. There are members of other churches who belong to the lamb is based more on who has your heart than on who has your records.
Church of the Lamb/devil are churches of the heart - any one of any institution can be in it. Some members of LDS faith are doing things to put them in the church of the devil.
1st pres Feb 1978
Many people given a portion of god's light - i.e. Confucious, Plato, etc.
Elder oaks 2000
Master’s reward in final judgment will not be based on how long we have labored in the vineyard. It's not punching a time clock. We need to become something; it might take some longer time. Many who come in 11th hour have been prepared in other ways than formal employment in the vineyard. Still need perfecting ordinance of baptism and Holy Ghost.
d&c 123:12 - 11th hour laborers know not where to find it.
Benson 0 good uses good men to do his purposes
Whitney 1928 - maybe people can be more useful out side the church for a wise purpose in god. We have no quarrel with the gentiles - they are our partners.
Salvation is in Christ - he is the one that saves.
Drawing on the powers of heaven to realize righteous desires
Thursday: Parable of the Talents
4th key to understanding parable: parables are often a microcosm of the plan of salvation
Parable of the talents touches on this life and also the pre-existence.
Maxwell apr 1997
Trying to comprehend the meaning of this life without the plan of salvation is like trying to understand a 3-act play while seeing only the second act. The atonement and knowledge of the savior helps us to endure our trials and see purpose in suffering and to trust god for what we cannot comprehend.
Context is parable of ten virgins, though some things in this parable don't have a context.
Lord of the servants - God
Servants - all of us
Talents - gifts and abilities
Historically, a talent back then was about $2.5 million
(Anywhere from $500,000 to $4,000,000)
Do we realize how much our worth is?
Verse 21, 23
They end up with 4 and 10 talents, but both get the same reward. In both cases, the lord considered 2 and talents "a few".
Bad economic plan to take from poor and give to rich. Alma 12:9-11 - if you listen to gospel you'll gain more light, the greater portion of the word. Spiritually speaking you can't stand on neutral ground - you either increase talents or they wither and die
2 Nephi 28:29-30 - this is an attitude in the church occasionally - if you ever stop learning you will apostatize (JS)
If you have chosen to follow Christ, you have left neutral ground, and can never get back to it. You will either serve god or Satan.
Matthew 25 Verse 24-25
Heavenly father is going to reap where he hasn't sown - he expects us to do the sowing. He has given us the ability. Some get a rake and some seed, and some get a tractor - if you get a tractor, you better get to work.
"Hard master" - men are prone to conceive of the attributes of god as comprising in augmented degree the dominant traits of their own nature. (Talmadge)
Something is missing - where did the talents come from? Why did some have 5, some 2, and some 1?
Matter always existed, can't create it or destroy it. One type is intelligence or spirit matter, more fine or pure than regular matter. It has substance. Section 93 is coarse matter, iron carbon, etc.
Heavenly father organizes intelligence into a spirit
He organized element into bodies. A spirit is an organized intelligence.
Christ is the firstborn, meaning he was the first spirit child born to god the father in the pre-existence.
Alma 13:3 context is priesthood holders in pre-existence
Some had exceeding faith, implies some had little faith or no faith. Why have faith when you can see god?
1. We had agency in the preexistence.
2.dc 93:29 - agency began when we were organized as spirits.
3. We could choose good or evil (sins).
4. Abr. 3:18-19 - we had varying degrees of faithfulness.
We had lessons; we made choices in the preexistence.
5. We started our preexistence as spirits on the same standing - equal capacity!
Mcconkie - we developed aptitudes, talents, capacities, and abilities. No two spirits remained alike. The whole house of Israel was inclined toward spiritual things.
Mcconkie - men are not born equal (on the earth). Each person in this life has those talents and capacities which his preearth life entitle him to receive. Some by obedience to law acquired one talent and some another and all bring with them into mortality.
We’ll be judged on two things - spiritual knowledge, received testimony AND obedience -
Section 82:3 - sons of perdition had testimony but not obedient, received the worst
Lehi’s dream describes 4 types of people, parable of sower has 4 types of soils - there are always 4 types of outcomes based on the above.
D&c 93:38 - innocent in the beginning of premortal life. We were given agency and were free from sin at the beginning. God redeemed us from our personal fall in the preexistence. We not only chose heavenly father's plan, but we partook of the atonement and were cleansed from our sins.
There is not such thing as original sin all children start out their mortal probation in purity and innocence because of the atonement.
People exercised faith in the atonement, it was operative Infinitely. In order to come here innocent we had to be saved. With a credit card you can buy things, but eventually the payment has to be made.
They had to have faith in the atonement, and some people exercised great faith.
Some of us worry about not being able to be redeemed from our sins, but we shouldn't doubt because it's happened once already. We've already experienced the cleansing and forgiveness.
We know this:
We start out as spirits
-Innocent, free of sin
We start mortal life
-Innocent again - free of sin
-Different capacities because of choices made in preexistence
Isn’t it reasonable to believe that what we were given in this world was because of obedience in the premortal state? Harold b lee
God does not punish, he blesses. We are put in places we are because of justice and mercy.
Do good with what you have, and he will bless you with many things.
Wj Cameron "Is there a chosen people?" in James H Andersons God's Covenant Race. Pp 300
Our greatest success comes from being ourselves