The grand panorama of scripture

Once upon a time there was a man who was given a map, and was told that if he followed the instructions on this map, he would find treasure untold.  Excited by the prospect of this treasure map, he set out one day to find the buried treasure.

The instructions on the map were many, and some were very difficult.  One of the instructions conveniently directed him to a tree under which there was much shade.  He was happy to see this instruction, for the day was hot, and he sat under the tree expectantly.  After a while, another man came to the tree, enjoyed the shade momentarily, and then made to move off.

“Where are you going” said the first man?  “I’m following the instructions in a treasure map” said the second.  “But I’ve got the same map said the first, and the instructions say to come to this tree, under which there is nice shade”.  “Ah”, said the second man, “Indeed this is nice, but there are more instructions on the map than just this one, and to reach the treasure, I must follow them all.” 

The scriptures of God contain many instructions.  But they cannot be cherry picked.  This man can sit under the tree as long as he wishes, completely fulfilling one of the distinct instructions, but he will get no closer to his desired treasure than this.  And because of the convenience of this particular instruction, it is easy to cling to it alone; justifying to himself that this was sufficient, for indeed it was instructed on the map.

Often as we discuss principles of religion on this blog, I seem to find this recurring theme.  Someone will quote to a certain scripture, justifying a particular belief or behavior, but in doing so ignoring so many other scriptural instructions that must also be taken into consideration to paint the full picture.

Much like a large oil painting, when you stand up close to the picture, with your eyes mere inches from its canvass, all you see are brushstrokes.  And while you can determine the color of each brush stroke, and it’s individual beauty, it’s not until you step back and consider the canvas as a whole that the true glory of the painting becomes clear.  From this vantage point, each brush stroke is seen in context, in conjunction with all the rest, for a clear picture.

As we work daily to increase our understanding of the scriptures, may we more diligently step back and consider the work as a whole, and see each principle in its proper place, that we might more completely abandon the short-sightedness of mortality, in favor of the grand vista of divinity.


0 replies
  1. Larry says:

    And the first man while sitting under the tree, began to study the life in the tree. He noticed how the trunk of the tree and it’s limbs straightened themselves into the sky towards the light. He traced the the roots under the soil learning that the roots were the source for gathering water for drink. He shared the fruits made by the tree with the birds and other animals that took shelter with him. He reasoned within himself. How can it be that this tree makes fruit worthy of enjoying yet does not make it’s own water or generate it’s own light? He listened to the tree even though it had no mouth. And what it spoke was the simplicity of the Gospel. It was Christ who is the water of life and is Christ who is the light of the world. Only by living in His light and drinking from His water are we producing the fruits worthy of enjoying.

    The second man momentarily stopped by that tree but failed to rest and learn from the tree. He thought the stop by the tree was only for shelter. Instead the stop under the tree was designed to provide the legend and keys for interpreting all the remaining instructions on the map.

    So it is with your faith Rusty.

  2. ponderingpastor says:

    A third person wanders by, watching the intense concentration of the first man, who is carefully following the secrets of the map. She gently takes his hand, with no lack of protest, and draws him even further from the map. As they step back, the first man discovers that this is not a treasure map at all! It is a love poem between God and humanity. He is shown that the treasure has already been given. The love poem reflects the many ways in which the relationship is blessed. All the necessary doing and wandering and searching and finding has been accomplished. The treasure has been found … and it is already ours! The love poem becomes a song. His heart begins to sing!

    (Your images [picking a lock, treasure map] betray you.)
    Pondering Pastor

  3. Larry says:

    So then it was, the second man was wandering in the heat of the day following what he thought was a map. In his journey, he found many others whom also had maps to find the treasures. Some maps were similar to his map, others had significantly different directions. He then became confused about the map that he had been given.
    How can it be that these others have their own maps? He asked God about all the maps and which one was the correct one to follow. God was disappointed with the man when he failed to rest at the tree as commanded and behold His Glory in Christ Jesus and praise Him. God saw that the man’s heart desired the riches of treasure more than He who was the treasure. And for this reason, God sent him a strong delusion, a mirage filled with many riches and pleasures, and so it is today.

  4. Rusty Lindquist says:

    … And the seeds that fell among thistles sat for a while, until a soft rain came, lifted them up, and carried them to softer ground, where they sprang up, and brought forth fruit for man…

    All parables can be modified to suit our needs, but these (although poetic and insightful) additions don’t address the issue – that all scripture must be considered as a whole, and we would be mistaken to somehow abandon a verse here and a verse there, because they don’t fit within our adopted belief-system.

  5. Rusty Lindquist says:

    What’s more, read these additions again, and see if they describe to you a path that is straight and narrow, with few there be that find it, or a path that is boad, with a wide gate?

    By virtue of the very easiness of these beliefs, they become suspect under the description of salvation offered by Christ Himself, for by his very words we know that the path to life eternal cannot be so easy, so accommodating.

    Matthew 7:13-14, 21

    Enter ye in at the striat gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

    Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

    If it seems that I raise this point often, it’s because I want, above almost all else, to be one who constantly encourages man to do more, to be more, to obey more, for I know that only he that doeth the will of my Father, will enter the kingdom of heaven. Belief is not enough, only he that DOETH, will enter into the kingdom of heaven. Therefore I encourage all, to not settle with belief, but to let that belief stir you into action, for by your works ye shall be judged… (Revelation 20:12-15).

    We must beware of any pat that seems too easy, for by virtue of Christ’s own definition, the path to salvation will be straight and narrow, with few that find it.

  6. Margaret says:

    This thread really reminds me of how the apostasy happened. At the time of Christ and the original apostles, the Gospel was pure and complete (like the original post). Then, as others came along and made copies of the scriptures and translated them into other languages, it was changed here a little, there a little. Sometimes when someone didn’t understand it as written, they either left it out or changed a few words. Sometimes the changes were just the errors of men. It was still the word of God, but no longer complete.

    Looking at these comments, it’s easy to see how each one who came along made changes and the message is no longer the same. Clearly a correction needs to be made if the outcome is to be the intended one or many will be lost on the deviated paths.

    I know that the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants and Pearl of Great Price, along with the living Prophet provide that course correction. Those who will just examine the evidences (read it),ponder, pray and listen to what the Spirit tells them, can know it, too. I invite you to try it.

  7. ponderingpastor says:

    Rusty, you write “…address the issue – that all scripture must be considered as a whole, and we would be mistaken to somehow abandon a verse here and a verse there, because they don’t fit within our adopted belief-system.” This is so very important. It is a real challenge! All of us are guilty of this. Your learning about scripture has so significantly influenced you that you miss some real grace-filled passages, so much so that you abandon them. While you advocate for looking at all of scripture, not just the ones that focus on the path to salvation being difficult and a challenge, you tip toward the challenging without giving credit to those that say the opposite. For one simple example; (Matthew 11:29-30) “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

    Acknowledged are the “narrow path” passages. Will you acknowledge the “wide path” passages, and look at scripture as a whole without choosing sides?

    Pondering Pastor

  8. Rusty Lindquist says:


    You’re absolutely right, and you’re right to call me out on it (and I appreciate the meekness in which you do it too). I do overemphasize, or at least spend more time talking about the importance of righteous living. I don’t do this because I discount mercy, or the role of Christ, but for two primary reasons.

    A call to action

    The first, is that more than anything else, I want my blog to be one that inspires people to be better, to try harder, to do more. I have grown up seeing the impact of people who could have tried harder. I read the news every day and see so many instances illustrating a decline of righteousness behavior. A deterioration of spirituality. I want my voice to be a tireless call to action, a constant call to try harder, to be just a little more obedient, that perhaps I might inspire another to do just one more good thing. I have witnessed the blessings that come from obedience, and the richness of a life lived within the boundaries the Lord has set. I want others to enjoy those same blessings.

    The role of righteousness

    More importantly, mercy is a gift. His grace is free, we don’t have to do anything to earn it. But what part of our salvation is our responsibility? In the scripture above, what part is ours… “he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven”.

    So I don’t spend a lot of time talking about the part that requires no effort on our part, my audience is almost entirely Christian, they get that already, instead, I want to be the one encouraging them to “do the will of my Father” so that they may enter into the kingdom of heaven.

  9. grant czerepak says:

    Then perhaps the map was a compilation of map makers over about 5000 years or even longer if you realize that the old map makers borrowed from the maps of even older map makers and the new map makers altered their maps to make it seem their new maps were the correct extensions of the old maps. To the point where no one who used the maps really knew where the hell they were going. And it was called astrology.

    Then someone looked up at the stars and plotted their paths and saw that the earth and planets revolved around the sun. Then someone found that force is equal to mass multiplied by gravity. Then someone found that force is equal to mass multiplied by acceleration. Then someone found that energy is equal to mass multiplied by the speed of light squared. Then someone sent up a satellite and made a map of the earth. Then someone walked on the moon. And it was called astronomy.

    Yet still a bunch of fools are stumbling around with their astrology and babbling about a human sacrifice saving everybody.

  10. Rusty Lindquist says:

    In all honesty, while I find it regrettable that you don’t yet believe in the Savior, I truly (in all sincerity) respect and appreciate the work that science invests into explaining the mechanisms that govern our physical environment.

    All knowledge is valuable (even when it’s incomplete), for whatever principle of intelligence we attain in this life, it will rise with us in the ressurection, and a person who gains more knowledge and experience in this life, than another, shall have so much the advantage in the world to come.

    Understanding the laws of science helps us understand the workings of our Creator, and what’s more, the physical principles that govern our environment all have spiritual shadows, and much spiritual learning can come from careful evaluation of their mechanisms.

  11. Rusty Lindquist says:

    I appreciate your comment. I continuously find it intriguing that those who are so familiar with the bible can take such casual approach to earning exaltation (not salvation). Reading the teachings of Christ myself, there’s not much “sit back and relax” (sit under the tree, the treasure has already been found). No, instead I read Christ’s teachings and all I read is “do”. It’s all action based, there’s nothing casual or relaxed about it. There’s nothing I read of his words that suggests “don’t worry, the treasure is found”. Instead, he gives covenants, commandments, strict commands to DO, to sacrifice and work. But the world translates that today into a message of leniency, when he tells us specifically that the path to exaltation is straight and narrow, with few who find it. It takes the astounding beauty of the message of the atonement, with its encompassing power, and uses it to put the hearts of men asleep in works. But that’s clearly contrary to the teachings of the Savior that I read in scripture.


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