“My Works are Without End, and … My Words … Never Cease”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Some Christians, in large measure because of their genuine love for the Bible, have declared that there can be no more authorized scripture beyond the Bible. In thus pronouncing the canon of revelation closed, our friends in some other faiths shut the door on divine expression that we in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hold dear — the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price and the ongoing guidance received by God’s anointed prophets and apostles.
It is, at least in part, because of this fundamental disagreement on the closure of the canon that we have been denied by some the title of “Christian.” Imputing no ill will to those who make such a judgment, we respectfully but resolutely reject such an unscriptural characterization of true Christianity.
One of the arguments often used in any defense of a closed canon is the New Testament passage recorded in Revelation 22:18. “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of … this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.”
However, there is overwhelming consensus among biblical scholars that this verse applies only to the book of Revelation, not the whole Bible. Virtually every scholar of our day acknowledges a number of New Testament “books” that were almost certainly written after John’s revelation on the Isle of Patmos was received. Included in this category are at least the books of 1 and 2 Peter, Jude, the three Epistles of John, and probably the entire Gospel of John itself.
But there is a simpler answer as to why that passage in the final book of the current New Testament cannot apply to the whole Bible. That is because the whole Bible as we know it — one collection of texts bound in a single volume — did not exist when that verse was written.
For centuries after John produced his writing, the individual books of the Bible were in circulation singly or perhaps in combinations with a few other texts, but almost never as a complete Bible as we now know it, and all 34 of those were compiled after the year 1000 A.D.
The fact of the matter is that virtually every prophet of the Old and New Testament has added scripture to that received by his predecessors. If the Old Testament words of Moses were sufficient, as some could have mistakenly thought them to be, then why the subsequent prophecies of Isaiah? Or Jeremiah who follows him? To say nothing of Ezekiel and Daniel, of Joel, Amos, and the rest.
If one revelation to one prophet in one moment of time is sufficient for all time, what justifies these many others? What justifies them was made clear by Jehovah Himself when He said to Moses, “My works are without end, and … my words … never cease” (Moses 1:4).
One Protestant scholar has inquired tellingly into the erroneous doctrine of a closed canon. He writes, “On what biblical or historical grounds has the inspiration of God been limited to the written documents that the church now calls its Bible? … If the Spirit inspired only the written documents of the first century, does that mean that the same Spirit does not speak today in the church about matters that are of significant concern?”
Continuing revelation does not demean or discredit existing revelation. The Old Testament does not lose its value in our eyes when we are introduced to the New Testament and the New Testament is only enhanced when we read the Book of Mormon, “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.”
In considering the additional scripture accepted by Latter-day Saints, we might ask: Were those early Christians who for decades had access only to the primitive Gospel of Mark, generally considered the first of the New Testament gospels to be written, were they offended to receive the more detailed accounts set forth later by Mathew and Luke, to say nothing of the unprecedented passages and revelatory emphasis offered later yet by John? Surely they must have rejoiced that ever more convincing evidences of the divinity of Christ kept coming. And so do we rejoice.
Ask in Faith
Elder David A. Bednar
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
I long have been impressed with the truth that meaningful prayer requires both holy communication and consecrated work. Blessings require some effort on our part before we can obtain them, and prayer, as a form of work, is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings. We press forward and persevere in the consecrated work of prayer after we say “amen” by acting upon the things we have expressed to Heavenly Father.
Asking in faith requires honesty, effort, commitment, and persistence. Let me provide an illustration of what I mean and extend to you an invitation.
We properly pray for the safety and success of the full-time missionaries throughout the world. And a common element in many of our prayers is q request that the missionaries will be led to individuals and families who are prepared to receive the message of the restoration. But ultimately it is my responsibility and your responsibility to find people for the missionaries to teach.
Missionaries are full-time teachers; you and I are full-time finders. And you and I as life-long missionaries should not be praying for the full-time missionaries to do our work!
If you and I would truly pray and ask in faith, as did Joseph Smith — if we would pray with the expectation to act and not just to express — then the work of proclaiming the gospel would move forward in a remarkable way. Such a prayer of faith might include some of the following elements.
- Thanking Heavenly Father for the doctrines and ordinances of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ which bring hope and happiness into our lives.
- Asking for courage and boldness to open our mouths and share the gospel with our family and friends.
- Entreating Heavenly Father to help us identify individuals and families who will be receptive to our invitation to be taught by the missionaries in our homes.
- Pledging to do our part this day and this week — and petitioning for help to overcome anxiety, fear, and hesitation.
- Seeking for the gift of discernment — for eyes to see and ears to hear missionary opportunities as they occur.
- Praying fervently for the strength to act as we know we should.
Gratitude would be expressed, and other blessings might be requested in such a prayer — which would be closed in the name of the Savior. And then the consecrated work of that prayer would continue and increase.
“We Will Not Yield, We Cannot Yield”
Elder W. Craig Zwick
Of the First Quorum of the Seventy
My young friend, Ethan, approached his mother with a weighty question. Ethan, like most teenagers, wants to be independent, self-sufficient and surrounded by good friends.
He is trying to make good choices on his own. He is exceedingly valiant, works hard on his grades and studies the scriptures daily.
Like all young people, Ethan faces tremendous temptations. It comes in the halls of his school, on the Internet, in the movies and music. It can be heard in bad language and seen in provocative clothing. That which is wrong is often made to look right. Anxiety and fear of rejection are common among teenagers. Peer pressure is often overpowering. Ethan was feeling bombarded with opposing values.
This is the question he asked his mother. Mom, do I need to lower my standards to keep my friends?
It is a profound question for each of us to consider at all stages of life. Are we lowering our standards to fit into our neighborhoods? Are we altering our values to suit the situation in the workplace or to be popular at school?
Ethan’s loving mother answered him with a resounding, “no.”
I, too, unequivocally answer, “Don’t do it Ethan. Never forget that you are a son of God and He loves you. Live by your standards. Stand up for what you believe in. Sometimes it is not easy and you may be standing alone for awhile. Look for friends who show integrity and character, then go to them and express appreciation for their example. You might even find someone who has been feeling as lonely as you. Pray for the guidance and protection of the Lord. He will sustain you. He will become a trusted friend and you will discover that your example will attract many friends who will take courage from your strength of character.”
Nephi taught us a powerfully simple principle in recounting his father’s dream of the tree of life. He described a strait and narrow path leading to a tree and a great and spacious building. This building looked down on the tree and it was filled with people who were dressed in exceedingly fine and fashionable clothing. They were all in an attitude of mocking and pointing fingers towards those who were partaking of the fruit of the tree. They were all in an attitude of mocking and pointing fingers towards those who were partaking of the fruit of the tree. They were putting pressure on those finding their way on the path to enter the building.
From all appearances the people inside seemed to be having a great time. What an indelible image of temptation and scorn! Elder Maxwell concluded, “The laughter of the world is just loneliness trying to reassure itself.”
The Power of Light and Truth
Elder Robert R. Steuer
Of the Quorum of the Seventy
As a young boy I discovered amazing power in a small flashlight. Turning it on at night, I saw a large lighted spot wherever I pointed it. My excitement increased when shining the flashlight inside a dusty barn. A cone of light was projected through the air. But, the most interesting discovery came when I pressed the flashlight firmly against the palm of my hand. My entire hand glowed in the dark. The light was actually within me! To observe the physical properties of light can be exciting, but discovering the properties of spiritual light and truth is even more awe-inspiring and essential.
We live in marvelous times, yet also an hour when peace has been taken from the earth. To prosper in these times, spiritual light must burn within us…
In 1832, the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith a true and powerful doctrine about spiritual light: the Light of Christ—“Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space—The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all t hings, which is the law by which all things are goverened, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne…” (D&C 88: 12-13).
President Boyd K. Packer reinforced this truty in saying, “…the Light of Christ is also described in the scriptures as ‘the Spirit of Jesus Christ’…The Spirit of Christ can enlighten the inventor, the scientist, the painter, the sculptor, the composer, the performer, the arachitect, the author to produce great, even inspired things for the blessing and good of all mankind.”
Recent scientific thinking on the fundamental properties of light is indeed stunning. Today scientists even describe light as “carrier,” or “messenger,” or “mediator.” How profound are the doctrines of the Lord.!
One among the Crowd
Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander
Of the First Quorum of the Seventy
One of the most well known crowds in the Book of Mormon is the one that occupies the great and spacious building in Lehi’s vision of the Tree of Life. The building was filled with people, old and young, male and female, who were mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who were partaking of the fruit of the tree.
Unfortunately, some who had tasted of the fruit listened to the crowd and “fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.” There were others, however, who partook of the fruit and paid no heed to the crowd. These were the ones who enjoyed the full blessings of the Tree of Life.
In reality these stories are not about crowds, but individuals among those crowds. They are really about you and me. All of us are among the crowds of this world. My experience has taught me that almost all of us who like the woman who, despite the crowd, comes to the Savior. We all have faith hat just a touch will bring healing to our aching souls and relief to our innermost needs.
I have observed that new members of the Church in many lands are often like Alma. They hear the words of life when no one else in their family or circle of friends does. Yet, they still have the courage to accept the gospel and chart a course through the crowds. I think each one of us understands what it means to partake of the fulfilling fruit of the Tree of Life within sight and sound of those who mock, and what it means to exert every courageous effort to pay them no heed.
Struggling through the crowds of the world can be lonely and hard. Their pull and tug on the individual who wishes to step away to something better can be very strong and very difficult to overcome.
Who can reach, support and ultimately rescue the one among the crowd better than the Savior? He understands what it is to persevere among a disrespectful crowd and still remain true. The worldly crowds do not recognize Him, saying that “he hath no form nor comeliness” and that “there is no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2). King Benjamin says that the world “shall consider him a man” (Mosiah 3:9). Isaiah further describes Christ’s place among the crowds of the world with these words:
He is despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief … he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted (Isaiah 53:3,4).
…Yet ultimately, this Firstborn Son of God who is so often misjudged and misunderstood, will emerge from being one among the crowd as “The Anointed One,” the Savior and Redeemer of the world. This emergence is humbly predicted in the Savior’s statement to certain chief priests and elders that, “the stone which the builders rejected, the same has become the head of the corner” (Matthew 21:42).
Elder Lance B. Wickman
Of the First Quorum of the Seventy
Our infantry battalion had been in Vietnam for several months. I was a lieutenant, the leader of a rifle platoon. We were involved almost constantly in combat operations. That day dawned with our battalion deep in hostile territory. Very early, we sent out a reconnaissance patrol of about ten men. One of them was Sgt. Arthur Morris. Several of the men were wounded in a firefight, including Sgt. Morris, who received a slight flesh wound. Eventually the men of the patrol limped back to our lines.
We radioed for a medical evacuation helicopter. Loading the wounded men on the chopper, I urged Sgt. Morris also to get aboard. He demurred. Again, I urged him. Again, he demurred. Once again, I admonished him. Once again, he refused. Finally, I said “Sgt. Morris, get on that chopper.” He looked at me, his eyes earnest, pleading — “Please, sir” — and then these words that will forever haunt me, “They can’t kill a tough old bird like me.”
The entire scene is etched in my mind like a battle tableau — the jungle clearing; the impatient, throbbing rotor blade of the helicopter; the pilot looking at me expectantly; and my friend begging to stay with his men. I relented. I waved away the chopper with its lifeline to Tomorrow. Before the sun had set that very day, my dear friend — Sgt. Arthur Cyrus Morris — lay dead upon the ground, felled by hostile fire. And echoing in my mind, over and over again, I hear his exclamation — “They can’t kill, they can’t kill, they can’t kill…”
Of course, in one sense he was dreadfully wrong. Mortality is so fragile. Only one heartbeat, the drawing of a single breath, separates this world from the next. One moment, my friend was a vital, living person; the next, his immortal spirit had fled, leaving his mortal tabernacle a lump of lifeless clay. Death is a curtain through which each must pass, and — like Sgt. Arthur Morris — none of us knows when that passage will occur. Of all the challenges we face, perhaps the greatest is a misguided sense that mortality goes on forever, and its corollary — that we can postpone until tomorrow the seeking and offering of forgiveness, which as the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches, are among mortality’s central purposes.
This profound truth is taught by Amulek in the Book of Mormon:
For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the da for me to perform their labors…Therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end … For that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world (Alma 34:32-34).
A Book with a Promise
Elder Craig C. Christensen
Of the Seventy
Several months ago, a friend and I had the opportunity of presenting a set of scriptures to an associate who is not a member of the Church. Knowing that this might be a life-changing event for him—and for us—we took the time to have his name embossed on each volume. As we presented these sacred records to him, we could tell he was deeply moved by the significance and sincerity of our offering. For several minutes he examined each book without speaking, rubbing his hand on the cover and turning some of the pages.
Recognizing the importance of the moment, we helped him turn to the title page of the Book of Mormon and began to explain that the Book of Mormon was another testament, or witness of Jesus Christ. He then asked a question that all missionary-minded members are anxious to hear: “Why do we need additional witnesses of Jesus Christ other than the Bible?” Rather than responding quickly, we asked him why he thought his might be important. His answer seemed even more inspired than his question. He suggested that since there appeared to be so many variations of the bible and its teachings, we needed some kid of clarifying voice, something that would help us understand the Bible better. His observation opened the door for us to share our feelings and testimonies regarding both the Bible and the Book of Mormon.
Daughters of God
Elder M. Russell Ballard
Of the Quorum of the Twelve
There is no one perfect way to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children. The choice is different and unique for each mother and each family.
Many are able to “full time moms,” at least during the most formative years of their children’s lives, and many others would like to be. Some may have to work part or full time; some may work at home; some may divide their lives into periods of home and family and work. What matters is that a mother loves her children deeply and, in keeping with the devotion she has for God and her husband, prioritizes them above all else.
I am impressed by countless mothers who have learned how important it is to focus on the things that can only be done in a particular season of life. If a child lives with parents for 18 or 19 years, that span is only one fourth of a parent’s life. And the most formative time of the all, the early years in a child’s life, represent less than one tenth of their normal life. It is crucial to focus on our children for the short time we have them with us and to seek, with the Lord’s help, to teach them all we can before they leave our homes. This eternally important work falls to mothers and fathers as equal partners. I am grateful that many fathers are more involved in caring for their children. But I believe that the instincts and intense nurturing involvement of mothers with their children will always be the major key to their well being. In the words of the Proclamation on the Family, “Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.”
We need to remember that the full commitment of motherhood and of putting children first can be difficult. Through my own four-generation experience in our family, and through discussions with mothers of young children throughout the Church, I know something of a mother’s emotions that accompany her commitment to be at home with young children.
There are moments of great joy and incredible fulfillment, but there are also moments of a sense of inadequacy, monotony, and frustration. Mothers may feel they receive little or no appreciation for the choice they have made. Sometimes, even husbands seem to have no idea of the demands upon their wives.
As a Church, we have enormous respect and gratitude for you mothers of young children. We want you to be happy and successful in your families and to have the validation and support you need and deserve. So today, let me ask, and briefly answer four questions. While my answers may seem extremely simple, if the simple things are being tended to, a mother’s life can be most rewarding.