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Elder Dallin H. Oaks: Love and Law
Elder Robert D. Hales: Seeking to Know God our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ
Elder Jorge F. Zeballos: Attempting the Impossible
Elder Tad R. Callister: Joseph Smith-Prophet of the Restoration
Elder Kent D. Watson: Being Temperate in all Things
Elder Neil L. Andersen: Repent.That I May Heal You
President Boyd K. Packer: Prayer and Promptings
Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Love and Law
My message is that God’s universal and perfect love is shown in all the blessings of His gospel plan, including the fact that His choicest blessings are reserved for those who obey His laws. These are eternal principles that should guide parents in their love and teaching of their children.
The love of God is so universal that His perfect plan bestows many gifts on all of His children, even those who disobey His laws. Mortality is one such gift, bestowed on all who qualified in the war in heaven. Another unconditional gift is the universal resurrection. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor 15: 22). Many other mortal gifts are not tied to our personal obedience to law. As Jesus taught, He “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust” (Matt. 5: 45).
If only we will listen, we can know of God’s love and feel it, even when we are disobedient. A woman recently returned to Church activity gave this description in a sacrament meeting talk: “He has always been there for me, even when I rejected him. He has always guided me and comforted me with his tender mercies all around me, but I [was] too angry to see and accept incidents and feelings as such.”
God’s choicest blessings are clearly contingent upon obedience to God’s laws and commandments. The key teaching is from modern revelation:
“There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated-
“And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated” (D&C 130: 20-21).
This great principle helps us understand the why of many things, like justice and mercy balanced in the atonement. It also explains why God will not forestall the exercise of agency by His children. Agency-our power to choose-is fundamental to the gospel plan that brings us to earth. God does not intervene to forestall the consequences of some persons’ choices in order to protect the well-being of other persons-even when they kill, injure or oppress one another-for this would destroy His plan for our eternal progress. He will bless us to endure the consequences of others’ choices, but He will not prevent those choices.
If a person understands the teachings of Jesus, he or she cannot reasonably conclude that our loving Heavenly Father or His divine Son believe that their love supersedes their commandments.”
Elder Robert D. Hales
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Seeking to Know God Our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ
As prophesied, we live in a time when the darkness of secularism is deepening around us. Belief in God is widely questioned and even attacked in the name of political, social and even religious causes. Atheism, or the doctrine that there is no God, is fast spreading across the world.
Even so, as members of the restored Church of Jesus Christ, we declare that, “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.”
Some wonder, why is belief in God so important? Why did the Savior say, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent?”
Without God life would end at the grave and our mortal experiences would have no purpose. Growth and progress would be temporary, accomplishment without value, challenges without meaning. There would be no ultimate right and wrong, and no moral responsibility to care for one another as fellow children of God. Indeed, without God there would be no mortal or eternal life.
If you or someone you love is seeking purpose in life or a deeper conviction of God’s presence in our lives, I offer, as a friend, my witness that He lives!
Some may ask, How can I know that for myself? We know He lives because we believe the testimonies of His ancient and living prophets, and we have felt God’s Spirit confirm that the testimonies of these prophets are true.
No testimony is more significant to us in our time that the witness of Joseph Smith. He was the prophet chosen to restore the ancient Church of Christ in this, the last time when the gospel will be on the earth before the return of Jesus Christ. Like all the prophets who opened the work of God in their time, Joseph was given especially clear and powerful prophetic experiences to prepare the world for the Savior’s second coming.
So come. Believe the testimonies of the prophets. Learn of God and Christ. The pattern to do so is clearly taught by prophets of old and prophets today.
Cultivate a desire to know that God lives.
This desire leads us to ponder on the things of heaven-to let the evidence of God all around us touch our hearts.
With softened hearts we are prepared to heed the Savior’s call to “search the scriptures” and to humbly learn from them.
We are then ready to ask our Heavenly Father sincerely, in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ, if the things we have learned are true. Most of us will not see God as the prophets have, but the still, small promptings of the Spirit-the thoughts and feelings that the Holy Ghost brings to our minds and hearts-will give us an undeniable knowledge that He lives.
Gaining this knowledge is ultimately the quest of all God’s children on the earth. If you cannot remember believing in God, or if you have ceased to believe, or if you believe but without real conviction, I invite you to seek a testimony of God now. Do not be afraid of ridicule. The strength and peace that come from knowing God and having the comforting companionship of His Spirit will make your efforts eternally worthwhile.
Even more, with your own testimony of God, you will be able to bless your family, your posterity, your friends-all those you love. Your personal knowledge of God is not only the greatest gift you will ever give; it will bring you the greatest joy you will ever have.
Elder Jorge F. Zeballos
Of the First Quorum of the Seventy
Attempting the Impossible
At the dawning of the restoration, when this marvelous work was about to appear among the children of men, the Lord said, “Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.
With all our heart, with all our might, with all our mind and with all our strength, that is to say with all our being. President David O. McKay said: “The rich rewards come only to the strenuous strugglers.” These rewards will be for those who nurture faith in Jesus Christ and comply with His will to work, sacrifice, and give all they have received to strengthen and build the kingdom of God.
The fulfillment of the divine promise to have eternal life, to achieve perfection and to be happy forevermore in the family unit is subject to the sincere demonstration of our faith in Jesus Christ, obedience to the commandments, perseverance, and diligence throughout our life.
The Lord does not expect that we do what we cannot achieve. The command to become perfect as He is encourages us to achieve the best of ourselves, to discover and develop the talents and attributes with which we are blessed by a loving Eternal Father, who invites us to realize our potential as children of God. He knows us; He knows of our capacities and our limitations, the invitation and challenge to become perfect, to achieve eternal life is for all mankind.
God will not require more than the best we can give because that would not be just, but neither can he accept less than that, because that would not be just either. Therefore, let us always give the best we can in the service of God and our fellowmen, let us serve in our families and in our callings in the Church in the best manner possible. Let us do the best we can and each day do a little better.
Elder Tad R. Callister
Of the Second Quorum of the Seventy
Joseph Smith-Prophet of the Restoration
Suppose for a moment someone told you these three facts about a New Testament personality and nothing more: first, the Savior said of this man, “O thou of little faith,” second, this man in a moment of anger cut off an ear of the high priest’s servant, and third, this man denied knowing who the Savior was on three occasions, even though he had walked with Him daily. If that is you knew or focused upon you might have thought this man a scoundrel or a no-good, but in the process you would have failed to come to know on of the greatest men who ever walked the earth-Peter the Apostle.
Similarly, attempts have been made by some to focus upon or magnify some minor weaknesses of the Prophet Joseph Smith but in that process they too have missed the mark, the man and his mission. Joseph Smith was the Lord’s anointed to restore Christ’s Church to the earth. When he emerged from the grove of trees he eventually learned four fundamental truths not then taught by the majority of the contemporary Christian world.
First, he learned that God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ are two separate distincy beings.
The second great truth Joseph Smith discovered was that the Father and Son have glorified bodies of flesh and bones.
The third truth that Joseph Smith learned was that God still speaks to man today-that the heavens are not closed.
The fourth truth that Joseph Smith learned was that the full and complete Church of Jesus Christ was not then upon the earth.
Following Joseph Smith’s first vision, the restoration of Christ’s Church commenced line upon line, precept upon precept.
In many ways the gospel of Jesus Christ is like a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle. When Joseph Smith came on the scene, perhaps a hundred pieces were in place. Then Joseph Smith came along and put many of the other nine hundred pieces in place so that people could say, “Oh, now I understand where I came from, why I am here and where I am going.” As for Joseph Smith’s role in the Restoration, the Lord defined it clearly: “this generation shall have my word through you.”
Elder Kent D. Watson
Of the Seventy
Being Temperate in All Things
In response to the Prophet Joseph Smith’s inquiry, the Lord instructed: “And no one can assist in this work except he shall be humble and full of love, having faith, hope and charity, being temperate in all things, whatsoever shall be entrusted to his care.”
The instruction of being temperate in all things applies to each of us. What is temperance and why would the Lord want us to be temperate? A narrow definition might be exercising restraint when it comes to food and drink. Indeed, this meaning of temperance could be a good prescription for keeping the Word of Wisdom. Sometimes temperance might be defined as refraining from anger, or not losing one’s temper. These definitions, however, are a subset of the scriptural usage of the word.
In a spiritual sense, temperance is a divine attribute of Jesus Christ. He desires for each of us to develop this attribute. Learning to be temperate in all things is a spiritual gift available through the Holy Ghost.
A few years ago, I was driving home from work when a large semi-truck, traveling in the opposite direction, lost one of its dual tires. The tire flew over the median separating our lanes. It came bouncing down my side of the freeway. Cars were swerving in both directions, drivers not knowing which direction the tire would bounce next. I dodged left when I should have dodged right, and the tire took its final bounce right on the corner of my windshield.
A friend called my wife to inform her of the accident. She told me later that her first thought was of lacerations from shattered glass. Indeed I was covered with beads of broken glass but did not suffer a single scratch. It was definitely not because of my driving skills, rather it was because the windshield of my little car was made of tempered glass.
Tempered glass, like tempered steel, undergoes a well-controlled heating process which increases strength. Thus, when tempered glass is under stress, it will not easily break into jagged shards that can injure.
Likewise, a temperate soul-one who is humble and full of love-is also a person of increased spiritual strength. With increased spiritual strength, we are able to develop self-mastery and to live with moderation. We learn to control our anger, vanity, and pride. With increased spiritual strength we can protect ourselves from dangerous excesses and destructive addictions of today’s world.
Elder Neal L. Andersen
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Repent.That I May Heal You
We love President Thomas S. Monson, the Lord’s prophet. I will forever remember his kindness as he extended my call last April. At the conclusion of our interview, he opened his arms to embrace me. President Monson is a tall man. As he wrapped his long arms around me, and pulled me close, I felt like a little boy being held in the protective arms of a loving father.
In the months since that experience, I have thought of the Lord’s invitation to come unto Him, and to spiritually be wrapped in His arms. He said: “Behold, [my arms] of mercy [are] extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me.
The scriptures speak of His arms being open, extended, stretched out, and encircling. They are described as mighty and holy, arms of mercy, arms of safety, arms of love, “lengthened out all the day long.”
We have felt to some extent these spiritual arms around us. We have felt His forgiveness, His love and comfort. The Lord has said, “I am he [who] comforteth you.”
The Lord’s desire that we come unto Him and be wrapped in His arms is often an invitation to repent. I quote: “Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you.”
When we sin, we turn away from God. When we repent we turn back toward God.
The invitation to repent is rarely a voice of chastisement, but rather a loving appeal to turn around, and to re-turn toward God. It is the beckoning of a loving Father and His Only Begotten Son to be more than we are, to reach up to a higher way of life, to change, and to feel the happiness of keeping the commandments. Being disciples of Christ, we rejoice in the blessing of repenting and the joy of being forgiven. It becomes a part of us, shaping the way we think and feel.
Prayer and Promptings
President Boyd K. Packer
President of the Quorum of the Twelve
No Father would send His children off to a distant, dangerous land for a lifetime of testing where Lucifer was known to roam free without first providing them with a personal power of protection. He would also supply them with means to communicate with Him from Father to child and from child to Father. Every child of our Father sent to earth is provided with the Spirit of Christ or the Light of Christ. We are, none of us, left here alone without hope of guidance and redemption.
During World War II [Graham W. Doxey] was in the Navy posted to China. He and several others went by train to the city of Tientsin to look around.
They boarded a train to return to their base, but after more than an hour the train turned north. They were on the wrong train! They spoke no Chinese. They pulled the emergency cord and stopped the train. They were put off somewhere in the countryside with nothing to do but walk back to the city.
After walking for some time, they found a small pump-handle car, the kind that the railroad workers use. They set it in the rails and began to pump their way along the tracks. It would coast downhill, but it had to be pushed uphill.
As they came to one downhill slope, they scrambled aboard the car and began to cast. Graham was the last to get aboard. The place left for him was in the front of the car. He ran alongside and finally climbed aboard. As he did so, he slipped and fell. He was bounding on his back with his feet against the car to keep from being run over. As the car quickly gained speed, he heard his mother’s voice say, “Bud, you be careful.”
He wore heavy military boots. His foot slipped, and the thick sole of his boot caught in a gear of a wheel and stopped the car just one foot from his hand.
His parents, who were presiding over the East Central States Mission at the time, were sleeping in a hotel room. His mother sat up at about 2:00 in the morning and awakened her husband: “Bud’s in trouble!” They knelt by the bed and prayed for the safety of their boy.
The next letter he received said, “Bud, what’s wrong? What happened to you?”
He then wrote to tell them what had happened. When they compared times, at the very time he was bouncing along that track, his parents were on their knees in the hotel room half a world away, praying for his safety.
These experiences of prompting and prayer are not uncommon in the Church. They are part of the revelation our Heavenly Father has provided for us.
One of the adversary’s sharpest tools is to convince us that we are no longer worthy to pray. No matter who you are or what you may have done, you can always pray.