Let me introduce myself to new readers

Let me introduce myself.  My name is Elon Todd Wood.  I cherish my first name, Elon.  It is a name that can be traced all the way back to the 1700s among the men in our family genealogy.  Also, Elon is a biblical name, where the Semitic roots provide the Hebrew meaning of oaks.  Hence, Isaiah 61:3 has become the theme verse for my immediate family.  We are “growing oaks” planted by the waters for the purpose of bringing glory to God.

I was born on December 13th, 1969 in the old LDS hospital that at one time existed along the Snake River in Idaho Falls.  At an early age, I came to realize that the Bible is a book read and referenced by many in this city. 

In this divinely, inspired book, on the very first page, I discovered God the Creator.  “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”  I realized that from where I stood, everything below me owed its existence to God.  And everything above me, as far as the eye could see, and beyond, stretching into the galaxies and even spiritual dimensions, owed its existence to God.  God is the Creator of all – both matter and life on this earth and in heaven.  It is amazing how God can create things and life into existence by His spoken Word alone.  Therefore, being the sovereign Creator, we the creatures must be subject to His perfect and beautiful will.

Yet things went terribly awry.  Satan tempted the first man and first woman in Paradise.  They sinned.  They wickedly broke the law of God.  They sadly doubted His love by not trusting.  They rebelliously succumbed to unbelief.  Explained simply, it was a horrendous fall downward for the human race.  A curse fell upon Adam and Eve and all of the rest of earthly creation.  The just God needed to judge.  Adam and Eve were cast out of Paradise.  Thorns and thistles sprang up everywhere.  Men groaned in their work.  Women experienced sharp pain.  And because of sin, death entered the world.  And since the first man’s sin, every man sinned thereafter, continually falling short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).  All men and women stand guilty and condemned before a Holy God.  They are rightfully deserving of an eternal hell because of their abominations committed in front of the eternal God, the pure One who cannot even look upon sin.

Questions arise.  Is there any hope for soiled humans, ruined by the fall?  How can a guilty man be justified?  Can Paradise be regained? 

Let me discuss with you the good news, the great Evangel, the gospel.  Growing up in Idaho Falls, I lived a good life.  I sought to obey my parents.  I externalized in an excellent way – religious activity.  I first read through the entirety of the King James Version of the Bible when I was in 6th grade.  Gift Bibles were given to me in elementary school for my memorization of many verses.  I distributed tracts.  From the time that I can earliest remember, I went to Sunday School, morning Sunday services, and evening Sunday services.  I went to children’s and youth clubs on Wednesday evenings.  I received public acknowledgement in both junior high and early high school for displaying outstanding Christian leadership on the west side of town.

But let me share with you a truth that is sometimes not communicated very clearly in this community.  It was not my very intense and personal, Christian moralism that justified me before God.  It is extremely attractive and gratifying in such a community as ours, I would not debate that.  Many people enjoyed and complimented me on my Christian lifestyle lived outwardly before others.  But during my senior year and the summer that followed, I struggled.  I struggled so badly with inner emotions, that I wished for death.  I had no inner peace.  No joy.  I was not resting in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Bible states that before the foundation of the world, God made me one of His elect.  But how could He?  I didn’t feel like I measured up.  I struggled with inward doubts and selfish desires.  I constantly battled pride in this sense – wallowing in a focus on my own inadequacies and then marshalling a renewed offensive plan of personal discipline to counteract.  Was this gospel Christianity?  I was growing weary.  I easily empathized with the words of a brother, Milton Vincent:  “I would never have acknowledged this to be the case at the time, but I labored for most of my life to maintain my justified status before God, and I was always left frustrated in my attempts to do so.”

The Word of God in the book of Romans literally changed my life, ending my gospel fears and frustrations.  The Holy Spirit of God convicted me and set me free with this truth.  It is not my personal faith that is my savior.  It is the object of my faith – the Lord Jesus Christ, the great and glorious Hero of my human faith.  Faith is not the end.  Faith was just the tool or the human instrument to lay a hold of my glorious Redeemer.

Jesus saw me.  He really saw what was behind all my outward Christian moralism.  He saw the real me, standing on the slavery block, chained to my sins and with no hope for escape.  He paid my enormous ransom (which I could not pay in order to obtain freedom) by shedding his precious blood on the cruel cross.  He took on my sin – past, present, and future.  In a propitiatory act, He absorbed the full wrath of God’s judgment through efficacious, vicarious atonement.  He died for me – in my place.  In exchange for the robes of my sin, Jesus placed upon me the perfect robes of His righteousness.  And all this is sure, because after He died, burying all my sin, He rose again!  And I, who was once spiritually dead, am now alive.

Looking upon me now, God, the divine Judge, gives the verdict.  I am without guilt.  I am a new creature created in righteousness and holiness.  I am eternally loved by the Father, and it is a love not based upon my religious performance in Idaho Falls.  I want to be godly, not because I want to move up in my religious status before God, but because I love Him.  I love Him because He first loved me.  I am completely accepted by God, my Lord and King.  I am eternally safe.  I am eternally free.  I am eternally loved.  No one here on earth can condemn me.  Nothing in heaven, or on earth, or in hell can shatter my spiritual and vital union with the Lord Jesus Christ. 

The best days of salvation are yet ahead.  I have been freed from the penalty of sin.  Daily, I am being freed from the power of sin.  And soon, very soon, I will be completely freed from the presence of sin.  The Bible does speak of so great a salvation!

Dear friends, concerning the Gospel principles in scripture, there is only one way, only one hope for you escaping the just wrath of heaven.  Look in faith to the One who was lifted up on the cross for you.  Turn from your sin in repentance.  Turn to Jesus in trust.  Be washed.  Be made new by the Spirit.

And then as you have experienced the amazing grace of gospel salvation, be an ambassador of reconciliation in this community.  We have so much good news to share!

It is all God.  All grace.  All glory.  Paradise regained.

16 comments

  1. “The just God needed to judge”

    Certainly, God did not need to create us or devise a plan to save us from our sin. But having created us and established a law by which we should live. It would be inconsistent with His nature as judge, as well as many other attributes, to not hold us accountable and bring us to justice. Therefore, Todd could have said, “The just God must judge!” and avoided the tripping of one over the word “need” when it comes to God. But then again, doesn’t God need to be consistent with all of his wonderful and matchless attributes because of His immutability? One of my favorite verses is Deut. 32:4, “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.”

  2. The meaning of the Hebrew word for “just”, as above, of which the triliteral root is ts-d-q, is precisely what is discussed in the article for which I have provided a link. In short, the meaning in question, if it must be reduced to one word, would be “faithfulness”. (See, for example, the Hebew parallelism, but rendered in Greek in I John 1:9: “He is faithful and just”) In Judaism, this is the word that is used to speak of, for example, the practice of philanthrophy.

    In any event, please see the article.

    Regarding “must judge” vs. “needs to judge,” there is no difference. Either way, one is putting a constraint upon God and this is completely unwarranted. In radical freedom, God “judges” in the sense that God discerns what needs to be done in order to bring about what God seeks, which is the restoration of the universe in general and the salvation of humans in particular.

    According to the Bible, “God IS love”. Every other Divine attribute must be understood in terms of this Divine Agape, and not vice-versa.

  3. Greg, I had the wicked, hateful, unloving heart of a sinner.

    God hates the sinner. But His hate was not like mine. Neither is it wicked. So I don’t impugn God with wickedness for His holy hate. And certainly, it was not wickedness of God to create an abode of eternal damnation.

    I was under wrath. I deserved hell forever.

    But Jesus changed everything. He became my mercy seat. My propitiation.

    The Son propitiated the wrath of the Father. The Father justified me. If I thought this were some legal fiction, everyday I would be detesting God. I would consider God a cruel tormenter. Because my spiritual performance can never, ever match up. I could never through the strength of my free will drive an arrow straight to the bullseye of God’s glory.

    But what I could not atone for . . . one substitionary sacrifice (only one sacrifice) took care of it all for me.

    Greg, when I was reading this in the article . . .

    Many will say: “Does not Holy Scripture itself often speak about the anger of God? Is it not God Himself who says that He will punish us or that He will pardon us? Is it not written that ‘He is a rewarded of them that diligently seek Him’ (Heb. 11:6)? 33 Does He not say that vengeance is His and that He will requite the wickedness done to us? Is it not written that it is fearful to fall into the hands of the living God?” 34

    I was thinking that America is completely losing any fear of God.

    Greg, I find the author’s final arguments unconvincing. I do not see conflict in God’s eternal wrath and God’s eternal love.

  4. “According to the Bible, ‘God IS love’. Every other Divine attribute must be understood in terms of this Divine Agape, and not vice-versa.” -FrGregACCA

    According to the Bible, “God IS a consuming fire” (Heb.12:29, Deut.4:24)

    According to the Bible God says “I AM holy” (1Pet. 1:16. Lev.11:44-45)

    Numbers 14:18 brings things together nicely:
    “The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

  5. “God is a consuming fire.” Again, Aaron, see the article to which I have linked.

    Quoting God as saying “I am holy” here presupposes a prior understanding of what it means to be holy.

    Regarding the Numbers quote, we see this clearly in the negative legacies that are passed down from generation to generation: a father is an alcoholic; his children and grandchildren suffer. (However, at the same time, somewhere else it is made clear that responsibility for one’s sin is only directly borne by the person who commits it. Obviousy, “the guilty” in question here are those who do not repent.)

  6. Todd, this is a great testimony of God’s grace, thanks for writing it. You are a great example having both love, respect and courtesy, as well as Christian zeal and earnestness.

  7. I grew up in Idaho Falls, but now I live in Salem, OR. But one of these time when I’m visiting family and friends in IF, I’ll track you down and drop in!

  8. Great. I would treat you to lunch.

    (I might have told you this, but my mom and dad both grew up in Prineville, Oregon. My dad’s sister and her husband live in Salem. So do some my cousins and their families. Nice place. Nineteen years ago, my girlfriend and I stayed for a night in Salem, OR with my aunt and uncle. I took her to the coast, knelt down on my knee, and asked her to marry me. It has been a beautiful, eighteen years of marriage.)

  9. Todd,

    I was kind of taken back by your views on the fall of Adam and Eve…”Yet things went terribly awry” — as you probably know the LDS have a much different belief of this.

    Here’s a talk given at the April 2004 General Conference by Elder Bruce C. Hafen that I recommend to you. I was recently studying this talk and it came to mind when I read your posting:

    The Atonement: All for All (Elder Bruce C. Hafen)
    http://lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-439-33,00.html
    [audio src="http://broadcast.lds.org/genconf/2004/apr/5/5_5english.mp3" /]

    Rob

  10. “God hates the sinner. But His hate was not like mine. Neither is it wicked. So I don’t impugn God with wickedness for His holy hate. And certainly, it was not wickedness of God to create an abode of eternal damnation.

    I was under wrath. I deserved hell forever.”

    I don’t think God hates the sinner. I think his great wrath comes because God loves the sinner and sees how the sin is utterly distroying him. I think the wrath is against the sin more than the person, though he might be wrathful that they ae destroying their life through such choices. Christ loves the sinners, for while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

  11. Patricia, thank you for that. Scripture, I think, also depicts the natural consequences of sin, “the wages of sin,” as “the wrath of God.” There is also the question of the fact that sin not only destroys the perpetrator, but by definition harms other parts of God’s creation, including other humans.

    However, John’s Gospel makes clear that the ultimate wrath of God is only manifested in the eschaton and is reserved for one thing, which is rejecting Christ.

    We are saved, first and foremost, not from God’s wrath, but from sin, Satan, and death. We are saved from God’s “wrath to come” secondarily.

  12. I don’t even know how to express my thanks for the Lord Jesus Christ being my mercy seat.

    Patricia, welcome to HI4LDS.

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