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In Section 93, we are blessed with a portion of the record of John the Baptist. As of today, we, as a people, have not fully received his record. It has been promised to us, but perhaps we are not yet fully prepared for it. Though we do not have the full record, one of the small portions we’ve been given is recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 93.
While reading these sections, the thing that struck me the most was the repetition of ideas in verses 4-28. I want to look at some of these phrases and discuss why they’re so important that they would be repeated.
Gave and Receive
The following verses are about Christ.
Doctrine and Covenants 93
4 The Father because he gave me of his fulness
5 I…received of my Father
12 he received not of the fulness at the first, received grace for grace
13 received not of the fulness at first, until he received a fullness
14 received not of the fulness at the first
16 he received a fulness of the glory of the Father
17 he received all power, both in heaven and on earth
26 He received a fulness of truth
There are also a couple of parallels that speak about us.
Doctrine and Covenants 93
19 that you may come unto the Father…and receive of his fulness
20 you shall receive of his fulness, shall receive grace for grace
27 and no man receiveth a fulness unless he keepeth his commandments
28 receiveth truth and light
Some of the verses even repeat it twice within the verse. It’s this concept of Heavenly Father giving and Christ (or us) receiving. In 24 verses, this concept of “receiving” is repeated 15 times. In the context of worldly literature, this would be an example of terrible writing. In the context of scripture, this is a huge, neon flashing sign begging us to pay attention.
One of the foremost characteristics of Christ was perfection. It is one we always talk about, but do we truly understand what that means?
What does it mean to be perfect in the scriptures? Once again, the straightforward answer is to always keep the commandments. BUT. In this section, it doesn’t say “Christ kept the commandments until He received a fulness.” He did always keep the commandments, but that’s not what Section 93 is teaching us. Section 93 teaches us that Christ received of the Father continuously until He received of the Father’s fulness. Christ went from grace to grace.
Why is this significant? Because so many of us are trying to make it to heaven the wrong way. We’re trying to always keep the commandments all of the time. Which is awesome. But also impossible.
Christ didn’t even know who He was when He came to earth. He came to earth and suffered the weaknesses of flesh and the temptations of a fallen world, so how was He able to remain perfect? He received help from God continually.
This completely changes how I feel about the verse that teaches us to become as little children. This verse puzzled me deeply because I never totally thought of my kids as humble, and there are definitely moments that I haven’t particularly thought of them as Christlike. However, as I learned from Section 93, I saw my kids with new eyes.
If you were to ask me the most common thing my kids do during their waking hours, I can now answer that my kids are constantly asking for me to help them. I never realized how much of parenting just includes sitting down and getting back up again. I do it at least seven times during dinner; I’ve stopped sitting down at all during dinner. Warner will come up to me and literally hit me in the face with what he wants help with. But isn’t that precisely what we should be doing? Isn’t that the definition of humility? It takes a great amount of humility to ask for help from God after sinning, after hitting Him in the face if you will.
Christ doesn’t only command us to become perfect; He commands us to become perfect even as He is. How is He perfect? He perfectly turned to His Father for help every time. He literally walked from grace to grace throughout His mortal life. We often walk from grace to grace but there are often lot’s of steps in between, and it’s taking us a little longer than it took Christ.
But that’s okay! It was never about speed. It was about learning to constantly ask for help in everything.
When I was very newly married, my husband and I found ourselves having a bad day at the same time. I was tired trying to finish a certification while working full-time and figuring out how to be pregnant. My husband was stressed about finances, and he was working constantly on a project at work. I remember going downstairs and grabbing myself a drink. As I walked back up the stairs, I remember pausing on the steps. I knew that Conner needed me to go up and wrap my arms around him and tell him that it was all going to work out. He needed a hug and a kiss, and he needed some faith from his wife, but I didn’t have any left. I was exhausted and a little scared about our situation as well. I remember pausing (and interestingly enough, it was a little bit like a tantrum as I prayed), and telling Heavenly Father that I had no goodness left to give to anyone else and if He wanted me to walk into our bedroom and be supportive, it was going to have to come from Him. And the prayer worked. I walked back into our room and found strength beyond my own to comfort Conner.
There have been only a million and a half times that Conner has risen above to be there for me, but I used this example because it was such a defining moment for me. I chose this story because it taught me grace perfectly. I did not have, in my mortal body and fallen world, what I needed to be perfect, and I asked for it from God. God was the one who was perfect; I just happened to be sitting there.
This is precisely what grace is. According to the Bible Dictionary, “grace” is “divine help or strength extended to us through the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.” The “extended to us through the Atonement” part is extremely important. We are imperfect and that divine help is accessible to us through the atonement of our Savior. God would not be able to reach down and help us if not for the atonement. We literally do not deserve His help.
Christ’s perfection was cyclic. He was perfect and could merit divine help from God on His own, but He was perfect because He constantly accessed that divine help. He moved from grace to grace. He ran into a temptation or felt a weakness and would perfectly and immediately turn to God for help to overcome it. Because of that, He was able to always be perfect and perform the atonement so that we could access God just like He was able to.
Stop trying to be perfect on your own because you can’t be. Be perfect even as Christ was perfect. Be perfect in the same manner that Christ was perfect, and learn to constantly turn to your Father in Heaven for help. Receive over and over and over until you receive a fulness like Christ.
Having a hard time forgiving someone? Ask for help. You don’t even want to forgive someone? Ask for the desire. There is no step in the process of perfection that has to be performed alone; we were always meant to ask for help, even as little children. So remember to always ask and also remember that it is only through the atonement performed by Christ that we can receive an answer when we ask.
Why is it so important to understand this? It seems like a fairly straightforward concept. Christ received power from the Father to accomplish His work here on earth. We know this to be true; Christ testified of it Himself. Since it’s so straightforward, why is it so important that we highlight it? I give you another verse as an answer.
Doctrine and Covenants 93:19 I give unto you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship, and know what you worship…
Knowing the exact doctrine surrounding Christ helps us know what we’re worshipping and how to worship Him. Truly understanding the doctrine given to us in Section 93 by John the Baptist will forever change how you worship.
John the Baptist repeated this concept of “receiving from God” so that we would know who we worship and how to worship. So who do we worship? We worship a Being who perfectly turned to His Father in Heaven for everything He needed to remain perfect. How do we worship Him? By emulating Him. Instead of striving for perfection until we give up, we can consistently turn to our Father in Heaven to help us become like Christ and receive a fulness by the power of the atonement.