2 Nephi 10:24 – LeGrand Baker – Meaning of In and Through
2 Nephi 10:24
24 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved.
Sometimes, while I am rushing along through the scriptures, my toe strikes a little word which I had refused to acknowledge in my consciousness, and I fall flat on my face. Startled, I look about to see what tripped me and I discover an “ordinary” word. I had not acknowledged it because I had been looking but not seeing, reading but not listening. So now, having been thrown off balance by its simplicity, I realize I have just missed something which is mighty important, and I haven’t the foggiest idea what it is.
A phrase in today’s scriptures struck me that way. It reads: “…it is only IN and THROUGH the grace of God that ye are saved.” Now what, I asked my self, “do you suppose that means?” It doesn’t mean “by the grace of God.” If Jacob had wanted to say “by,” he could have said “by.” So I suppose it was intended to say “in and through.”
I think the thing that called that little phrase to my attention is its similarity to a statement in the D&C, referring to the Saviour as
He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be IN all and THROUGH all things, the light of truth (D&C 88:6).
But then, come to think of it, I didn’t know what those words mean in that context either. So I went looking in the usual places, the scriptures and the dictionaries. What I discovered was amazing. So amazing I can’t just dump the conclusions on you. I think if it’s going to make any sense to you, I’ll have to walk you through the steps I walked.
In the Book of Mormon, the phrase “in and through” Christ is used six times to relate to our this- world experiences. One is this week’s scripture. The other five are:
6 Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth (2 Nephi 2:6).
17 And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.
18 For behold he judgeth, and his judgment is just; and the infant perisheth not that dieth in his infancy; but men drink damnation to their own souls except they humble themselves and become as little children, and believe that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent (Mosiah 3:17- 18).
13 And now, ought ye not to tremble and repent of your sins, and remember that only in and through Christ ye can be saved? (Mosiah 16:13)
But the in the Book of Mormon there are also two other uses of the phrase “in and through.” Those two, and all three in the D&C, clearly are in a context which is much, much bigger than this temporal world. They are talking about our pre-mortal existence and about the creation, or else they are using the concept of “in and through” as a tie between the pre-mortal world, this life, and the next. The first scripture of that group is in Alma’s discussion of pre-mortal existence and for-ordination. It reads:
5 Or in fine, in the first place [I take “first place” to mean first place, i.e. when we were intelligences. ] they were on the same standing with their brethren; thus this holy calling being prepared from the foundation of the world for such as would not harden their hearts, being in and through the atonement of the Only Begotten Son, who was prepared–” (Alma 13:5)
The “they” Alma is talking about are those whom he describes in verse 1-2 as having been ordained by the Father, presumably at the Council in Heaven, and presumably they are the same individuals whom Abraham describes as the “noble and great.” Notice the verb tense: “being in and through the atonement of the Only Begotten Son…” “Being” is present tense. Putting those accounts of the Council together, it seems to imply that the quality of “noble and great” is the same as “ being in and through the atonement of the Only Begotten Son…” In any case “being in and through the atonement” is a necessary condition of the Father’s children before and during the Council.
Alma uses that phrase, “in and through,” again when he is talking with his son Shiblon. He says,
9 And now, my son, I have told you this that ye may learn wisdom, that ye may learn of me that there is no other way or means whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ. Behold, he is the life and the light of the world. Behold, he is the word of truth and righteousness (Alma 38:9).
That use of “word” wants to be cross referenced with John 1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.”
While talking to Shiblon, instead of only tying the phrase “in and through” to the pre-mortal existence of man, Alma uses it as the conjunction between people on this earth and our relationship with Christ as the creator god, which was one of his roles at the Council. So the phrase, “in and through” is used to bring our this-life experience into a kind of parallel with Christ’s role as Creator.
For Alma, the phrase “in and through Christ” seems to have a connotation of continuity, or continuation. In “there is no other…means whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ,” the word “through” might mean something like “Christ was the one who arranged it.” Like in the sentence, “John got the job through Jane’s influence.” But “there is no other way… whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ” seems to suggest something else. I
suspect that this “way” suggests the same thing as “way” does elsewhere in the scriptures. That is, a path— a direction in space and time that is defined by a sequence of ordinances.
Now I’m wondering if that might also be the correct meaning of this “through.” So off I go to the dictionary for help.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary has 18 definitions for “through.” Number nine reads “By means or instrumentality of; by the way or agency of.” Number 10 reads, “By reason of or in consequence of.” Either one of those definitions would do for what “means” means, but the other definitions were much closer to the notion of “way.”
The dictionary’s first definition of “through” reached out and grabbed me. It read: “In at one end, side, or surface and out at the other.” The rest of the definitions were all variations on that theme, except numbers 9 and 10. For example, “through,” meaning “finished,” is simply getting to the other end. As I thought about it, numbers 9 and 10 also carried that same sort of connotation. “Through” meaning “in consequence of” is simply about going from one end to the other, only it focuses on the agent by which one gets to the other end. So all of the definitions had something to do with the idea of one’s starting at one end and traveling through time or space to reach the other end.
By this time some pretty obvious scriptural connections were filling my mind: “Way,” “highway,” “path” are all words which talk about moving through a sequences of ordinances. All of the ordinances have to do with defining, and refining one’s relationship with Christ. With those words in mind, one remembers Jesus’ affirmation, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)
Now I’m getting an idea which is difficult to describe. If Christ is the “way” and salvation is “through” him; and that “through” begins in the “first place” and continues into the spirit world, this life, and beyond. How can one envision a time/space concept that “through Christ” really means?
I still hadn’t finished reading the scriptures I started, so I returned to the D&C and read this one:
59 Behold, I am from above, and my power lieth beneath. I am over all, and in all, and through all, and search all things, and the day cometh that all things shall be subject unto me. (D&C 63:59)”
Here the words “in” and “through” have a Christ-related spacial meaning—His relationship with place—i.e. sacred space.
It’s time to return to the dictionary, and look up the word “in.”
First definition of “in” : “Used to indicate inclusion within a space, a place, or limits.”
Second definition of “in”: “Used to indicate inclusion within something immaterial (in politics)” Third definition of “in”: “Used to indicate inclusion within or occurrence during a period or limit of time (in ancient time)”
So the phrase “in Christ” could mean “in” his space; “in” his cause; or “in” his time. The idea of being “in his cause” without also being in his space and time, doesn’t make any sense to me at all. So I decided that being in his cause is simply a necessary quality of being in his space and time. But what does it mean to be in his space and in his time.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.
5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not (John 1:3-5).
“Comprehend” means to encircle. If friendly, that could be an embrace; if belligerent it would mean to overpower.
Back to the first D&C reference: It says of Christ:
6 He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth…
12 which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space (D&C 88:6, 12).
All that brings me to an idea I can envision more easily than describe. But now it seems that the best words I could find to describe the idea are those very “ordinary” words used by the Book of Mormon prophets. The concept is this:
From the beginnings of our beginning, throughout our life as spirits and on earth, our resurrection, and our exaltation, “salvation can come unto the children of men, only in [withing his time and space] and through [moving with his assistance through his time and space—i.e. “way” ] the name [“name” denotes a covenant relationship] of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.”
Now the idea has gotten too big for me to comprehend. So it can just rest there for a while.