2 Nephi 9:5-7 — LeGrand Baker — creation powers of the Atonement
What Jacob says is that the Atonement was performed by the God of Creation. He wrote: 2 Nephi 9:5-7
5 Yea, I know that ye know that in the body he shall show himself unto those at Jerusalem, from whence we came; for it is expedient that it should be among them; for it behooveth the great Creator that he suffereth himself to become subject unto man in the flesh, and die for all men, that all men might become subject unto him.
6 For as death hath passed upon all men, to fulfil the merciful plan of the great Creator, there must needs be a power of resurrection, and the resurrection must needs come unto man by reason of the fall; and the fall came by reason of transgression; and because man became fallen they were cut off from the presence of the Lord.
7 Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite Atonement–save it should be an infinite Atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption. Wherefore, the first judgment which came upon man must needs have remained to an endless duration. And if so, this flesh must have laid down to rot and to crumble to its mother earth, to rise no more.
To me that suggests that Jacob has associated the powers of performing the Atonement with the powers of Creation. That is, that the powers by which the Saviour created all things are the same powers by which he atoned for all things.
The key to understanding that, I think, is in D&C 93:10, which reads, “The worlds were made by him; men were made by him; all things were made by him, and through him, and of him.”
I now want to try to describe what I think is meant by the idea that Christ created “all things.”
Joseph Smith said there is no such thing as immaterial matter, and that physical matter and spirit matter are the same except one is more refined than the other. So I presume the following fundamental ideas are as true of spirit matter as they are true of physical matter.
Matter is an expression of the way energy is organized. Matter and energy are fundamentally the same thing. That’s what Einstein’s most famous theory is all about. A demonstration of that is an atomic explosion. When matter is changed back into energy, that energy is expressed in an explosion of force, visible and non-visible light, and heat.
The string theory teaches the same thing: matter is energy. As was demonstrated by the atomic explosion, energy is light.
The elementary particles of visible light are called photons. Sometimes they act like a wave, other times they act like a particle, so no one is quite sure whether they are either or both.
There are different kinds of expressions of light. D&C 88 suggests photons are only one:
5 … through Jesus Christ his Son-
6 He that ascended up on high, as also he descendedbelow all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth;
7 Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made.
8 As also he is in the moon, and is the light of the moon, and the power thereof by which it was made;
9 As also the light of the stars, and the power thereof by which they were made;
10 And the earth also, and the power thereof, even the earth upon which you stand.
11 And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings;
12 Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space–
13 The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things. (D&C 88:5-13)
Both physics theories suggest that energy, which is light, or something very akin to it, is the stuff of which matter is made. D&C 88 suggests the same thing. But neither say that precisely — the stuff part, I mean. Einstein talks of “energy” which is sometimes expressed by light, while the D&C talks of “power” which is the same thing as light. Each suggest that matter is a form or function of that energy or power. I suppose it would not be too wrong to simplify all that by suggesting that the elementary particle of matter of which our bodies, this earth, and the universe, are made is light, but not necessarily something akin to or the same sort of thing as photons. I presume, then, it would be correct, if over-simplistic, to say that our bodies are made of light. I also presume it would be equally correct to say that our spirit bodies are made of light also.
This substantiates Abinadi’s testimony that Christ “is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death (Mosiah 16:9). The Saviour himself reiterates this point through the frequently repeated statements that he is “the light and the life of the world.” (D&C 34:1-2; 39:1-2; 45:7) Thus, the statement that Christ is the creator of all things, when “all things” refers to the basic element from which everything is organized, places us in a time context which can best be described as the very beginning before the beginning (as it does in the Secrets of Enoch). That seems to be equally true of the beginning of life. For life, cognizance, is also an expression of the light of Christ.
The essence of our being and personality is called in the scriptures, “intelligence.” Of that we learn,
29 Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.
30 All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence (D&C 93:29-30).
The phrase “light of truth” seems to be a literal, rather than a figurative description. We have already read section 88 as it relates to light and matter, but now lets look at it again as it relates to light and life. The first thing we note is that truth shines, and thus is the source of light.
4 This Comforter is the promise which I give unto you of eternal life, even the glory of the celestial kingdom;
5 Which glory is that of the church of the Firstborn, even of God, the holiest of all, through Jesus Christ his Son– (D&C 88:4-5).
Truth seems to be something like the “elementary particles” of which light is made, or light is an expression of organized truth.
Truth is a knowledge of reality—of things as they really are. Christ is the personification of that knowledge, for he has all truth.
24 And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come; And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning.
25 The Spirit of truth is of God.
26 I am the Spirit of truth, and John bore record of me, saying: He received a fulness of truth, yea, even of all truth; (D&C 93:24-26)
Having all truth does not constitute a monopoly. For the next two verses say,
27 And no man receiveth a fulness unless he keepeth his commandments.
28 He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things. (D&C 93: 27-28)
What I am about to write may not be correct, but it is as close as I can come with the information I have.
Truth shines, so light is either a product or a characteristic of truth. Christ has all truth and therefore is the immediate source of our light. Light is the power from which matter is organized. Light is also the power of life. Christ is “in all and through all things, the light of truth.” (D&C 88:6) Intelligence is “the light of truth.” (D&C 93:29-30)
I believe that life is also an expression of the love of Christ. Indeed, in my mind, I cannot discover the difference between the love of Christ and the light of Christ. “Love,” I suspect, is simply another expression of light.
God’s light “fills the imensity of space,” so does his truth, so does his love. Therefore light, truth, and love either occupy the same space at the same time or they are expressions of the same thing. I believe the latter is true. Therefore love is as tangible in the same way light is. Even though we can rarely see this love/light, we can feel it (or the lack of it) as it emanates from the people we are around. And they can feel what we are just as easily.
The beginning of the gospel of John is necessary to pull all this together. It equates the light which is “in him” with the life of man. It reads:
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. (John 1:1-4)
Thus, Christ is the source of the light which animates intelligence. Intelligence, which is the light of truth, cannot be created or made (D&C 93:29), but they can be “organized” (Abraham 3:22) Some of the organized intelligences” are greater than others: of those, some are called “noble and great ones.” This gradation of intelligences is because those who were noble were also “good.” These intelligences, receive spirit bodies, come to a physical earth where they receive physical bodies, and eventually are resurrected and become eternal beings. (see Abraham 3).
Thus it appears that man is an expression of the life which is the light which emanates from the fulness of truth of which Christ is the personification. In short, we and all things in this “age” are made of the light which emanates from Christ.
Now let us return more directly to the ideas in Jacob’s observation that it is the Creator God who is also the God of the Atonement.
The next phrase in John’s gospel, v. 5, seems to define the whole power of the Atonement. “The light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended [encircled, encompass, overcame] it not.” The power of the Atonement is the power to withstand, then overcome and defeat darkness, chaos, and entropy.
The ancient Israelite idea of creation of the earth was that the garden of Eden was lifted out of the waters of chaos. Thus creation is an organizing of cosmos from chaos. That idea seems to be represented in what Jacob is saying. The powers of creation (that is the powers which overcome chaos), and the powers of the Atonement (that is the powers which ultimately defeats chaos) are the same powers. Another way of saying that is that by the powers of the Atonement Christ overcame chaos in the initial creation – and in the subsequent organization – of all things. As it is by the powers of the Atonement that Christ overcomes the chaos which has to do with matter, so it is that by the powers of the Atonement of Christ overcomes the chaos which has to do with life.
During the full eternal scope of the creation process (the organization of intelligences, the creation of spirit element, then the creation of temporal element, then the creation of eternal-resurrected element) Christ gives free reign to the individual units of personality which are called “intelligences.” The result of this freedom is the introduction of a new kind of chaos. The chaos from which all things are organized is not bad, it is just not organized. However this new kind of chaos is bad in that it leads toward entropy rather than cosmos. This new kind of chaos is the result of individuals believing in, and propagating ideas to be fact even though those ideas are not truth—that is they are not consistent with eternal reality. The Lord explains,
24 And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;
25 and whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of the wicked one who was a liar from the beginning. (93:24-25)
All things called “fact” need not be “true.” One can “know” things which have no basis in reality. These range from scientific, religious, or historical theories which are simply false, or moral theories (“eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die and that is the end of the matter”) which are vicious. Such non-truths get in the way of knowing real truths. They can destroy, rather than build. Believing, teaching, or incorporating non-truths leads to a lessening of life, to chaos or entropy. That is explained by Alma this way:
9 It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.
10 And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.
11 And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell. (Alma 12:9-11)
Lies, believed or taught as truths, are, by definition, evil because they lead to chaos. Rejection of truth — not knowing the mysteries — is called “the chains of hell” because they lead to entropy.
Truth and light, on the other hand, are powers which bind things together. Believing, teaching, incorporating truths leads to unity—that is to love. Apparently, as one learns and incorporates truth, darkness is removed from his being, he grows in both life and light to become “holy, without spot.” (Moroni 10:33)
Thus, insofar as I understand it, the power of Creation—bringing organization or cosmos from chaos—is the power of Christ’s Atonement— evoking purifying and sealing powers in place of entropy—thus preventing a return to chaos.
For us in this world, the application of the Atonement begins with repentance and ultimately concludes with resurrection. The Atonement completes the creation process by sealing that which is organized into a permanent condition of its greatest possible glory. A greatly oversimplified review of the Atonement/creation sequence will show you what I mean.
The point of all that was this. It seems to me that the power of Christ to create and the power of Christ to atone, are not separate powers, but each a part of the same whole. That is, that the Atonement is the necessary beginning and the necessary conclusion to the creation process. That the powers of the Atonement were first expressed by the creation of all things, then by the organization of all things, then by the purging of all things from evil, then the eternal resurrection and sealing of all things. That in every aspect of this creation sequence, the
Atonement is, and ever will be, an expression of the Saviour’s infinite and eternal love, as it is of his infinite and eternal power.