The Restoration of All Things

President James E. Faust
2nd Counselor in the First Presidency

With this falling away, priesthood keys were lost, and some precious doctrines of the church organized by the Savior were changed.  Among these were: baptism by immersion, receiving the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands; the nature of the Godhead — that they are three distinct personages; all mankind will be resurrected through the atonement of Christ, “both the just and the unjust”; continuous revelation — that the heavens are not closed; and temple work for the living and the dead.  The period that followed came to be known as the Dark Ages…

In the centuries that followed, religious men came to recognize that there had been a gradual falling away from the church organized by Jesus Christ.  Some of them suffered greatly for their beliefs in what came to be called the Reformation, a 16th century movement that aimed at reforming Western Christianity.  This resulted in the separation of the Protestant churches from the main Christian church…

Roger Williams, a 17th century pastor who founded Rhode Island, refused to continue as pastor in Providence on the grounds that there was “no regularly-constituted church on earth, nor any person authorized to administer any Church ordinance;  nor could there be until new apostles are sent by the great Head of the Church, for whose coming he is seeking…

We now have in the restored Church apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, and evangelists as spoken of by Paul to the Ephesians.  These priesthood offices were established by the Savior when He organized His Church in the meridian of time.  We recognize the two orders of the priesthood and the offices contained within them:  the lesser priesthood is the Aaronic Priesthood named after Aaron; and the greater priesthood is the Melchizedek Priesthood named after Melchizedek, to whom Abraham paid tithes.  The Aaronic Priesthood was restored May 15, 1829, under the hands of John the Baptist, and the Melchizedek Priesthood within a month under the hands of the ancient apostles, Peter, James, and John, to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.  Thus those possessing the priesthood today claim the power to act in the name of God through the priesthood, which power commands respect both on earth and in heaven.”

Broken Things to Mend

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Of the Quorum of the Twelve

I speak to those who are facing personal trials and family struggles, those who endure conflicts fought in the lonely foxholes of the heart, those trying to hold back flood waters of despair that sometimes wash over us like a tsunami of the soul.  I wish to speak particularly to you who feel your lives, or the lives of those you love, are broken, seemingly beyond repair.

To all such I offer the surest and sweetest remedy that I know.  It is found in the clarion call the Savior of the world Himself gave.  He said it in the beginning of His ministry and He said it in the end.  He said it to believers and He said it to those who were not so sure.  He said to everyone, whatever their personal problems might be:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

In this promise that introductory phrase, “come unto me,” is crucial.  It is the key to the peace and rest we seek…

It seems clear that the essence of our duty and the fundamental requirement of our mortal life is captured in these brief phrases from any number of scenes in the Savior’s mortal ministry.  He is saying to us, “Trust me, learn of me, do what I do.  Then, when you walk where I am going,” He says, “we can talk about where you are going, and the problems you face and the troubles you have.  If you will follow me, I will lead you out of darkness.”  He promises, “I will give you answers to your prayers.  I will give you rest to your souls.”

My beloved friends, I know of no other way for us to succeed or to be safe amid life’s many pitfalls and problems.  I know of no other way for us to carry our burdens or find what Jacob in the Book of Mormon called “that happiness which is prepared for the saints.”

So how does one “come unto Christ” in response to this constant invitation?”…In as many ways as possible we try to take upon us His identity, and we begin by taking upon us His name.  That name is formally bestowed by covenant in the saving ordinances of the gospel.  Those start with baptism and conclude with temple covenants, with many others, such as partaking of the sacrament, laced throughout our lives as additional blessings and reminders…

My desire today is for all of us — not just those who are “poor in spirit,” but all of us — to have more straightforward personal experience with the Savior’s example.  Sometimes we seek heaven too obliquely, focusing on programs or history or the experience of others.  These are important but not as important as personal experience, true discipleship, and the strength that comes from experiencing firsthand the majesty of His touch…

This reliance upon the merciful nature of God is at the very center of the gospel Christ taught.  I testify that the Savior’s atonement lifts from us not only the burden of our sins, but also the burden of our disappointments and sorrows, our heartaches and our despair…

When He says to the poor in spirit, “Come unto me,” He means He knows the way out and He knows the way up.  He knows it because He has walked it.  He knows the way because He is the way…

If you are lonely, please know you can find comfort.  If you are discouraged, please know you can find hope.  If you are poor in spirit, please know you can be strengthened.  If you are broken, please know you can be mended.

The Great Plan of Happiness

Elder Earl C. Tingey
Of the Presidency of the Seventy

Alma refers to the atonement as “the great plan of happiness.”  I shall use that phrase to describe the beautiful doctrine we know as the atonement of Jesus Christ… Let me share with you five truths of the great plan of happiness that have brought this kind of joy to me.

First:  A knowledge of the plan confirms that there is a God and He has a Son, Jesus Christ.  The Father and the Son are perfect.  They live in heaven, and They possess glorified bodies of spirit, flesh, and bones…

Second:  Knowing the identity of the Father and the Son helps us to know that all of us are placed on earth to acquire a physical body, gain experience, and prove ourselves worthy to return to our Heavenly Father…

Third:  Through the infinite atonement, God has provided a means whereby we can both overcome our sins and become completely clean again.


 

  This is made possible by the eternal law of mercy…

Fourth:  The fall of Adam and Eve brought about two deaths.  We are all subject to those deaths.

Physical death is the separation of the spirit from the physical body.  Because of the fall of Adam, all mankind will suffer physical death.

The second death is spiritual.  It is separation from God’s presence.

Currently, we are all in the state of spiritual death.  We are separated from God.  He dwells in heaven; we live on earth.  We would like to return to Him.  He is clean and perfect.  We are unclean and imperfect.

The power of Christ’s atonement overcame both deaths.

Fifth:  Jesus Christ was born of an earthly mother, Mary.  From her, He inherited mortality and became subject to death…

The atonement is an event that enables us to be reconciled to God.  The word atonement or “at-one-ment” means to restore or come back.  In terms of family, it means to be reunited with one another and with God and His Son, Jesus Christ.  It means sadness through separation will become happiness through reuniting.


To Grow Up Unto the Lord

Sister Anne C. Pingree
Of the Relief Society General Presidency

Helaman, the great Book of Mormon prophet, named his sons Nephi and Lehi after their forebears and “they began to grow up unto the Lord.”  Young or older, all of us must do the same.

This idea of growing up unto the Lord is a compelling one.  Unlike the process of growing up physically, we will not mature spiritually until we choose, as the Apostle Paul phrased it, to “put away childish things.”

Daily prayer and scripture study, adherence to commandments and to covenants made at baptism and in the temple are at the core of growing up unto the Lord.  We learn to walk in his ways as we do what draws us closer to Heavenly Father and as we teach our children and others to do the same.  We “put away childish things” as we choose to become Christlike and serve others as He would have us do…

I participated in a memorable example of such determined service to those who are new in the gospel… What I saw was a young mother serving as a visiting teacher mentor to newer converts in the ward.  While her husband cared for their baby, she enthusiastically modeled loving watchcare to two African sisters.  This watchcare involved teaching these sisters not only how to function in a new country but also how to adapt to their new religion.

Through her example she taught these African sisters how the Lord would have us serve each other.  The words of the Apostle Paul tenderly describe what I saw in this visiting teaching mentor’s actions towards these new converts:  “We were gentle among you…being affectionately desirous of you… willing to have imparted not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.”  With each visit, the young mentor brought good cheer, a gentle helping hand, and the visiting teaching message.

In time, together the sisters prepared the visiting teaching message to share in other sisters’ homes.  Assessing needs, giving on-the-spot service as they went, they became true Relief Society sisters committed to lifting, comforting and encouraging one another.  I doubt I will ever hear the phrase “hearts knit together in unity and love” that I don’t think of those three happy, loving women — demonstrating through their determined service to others — what it means “to grow up unto the Lord”…

We’ve all had experiences where we’ve had to demonstrate our determination to serve others and our willingness to press forward in faith.  When my husband telephoned to tell me that our mission call had been changed to a challenging assignment in Africa, I responded, “I can do that.  I think I can do that.”  I demonstrated by my words my commitment to move forward in faith — trusting once again, that the Lord would help me.  I was showing my willingness to “grow up unto the Lord.”

“All Men Everywhere”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Of the Quorum of the Twelve

Last year at the invitation of a prophet, millions read the Book of Mormon.  Millions benefited.  For each of us there were blessings of obedience, and most of us also grew in knowledge and testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom this book is a witness.

Many other things were learned but what was learned depended on the reader.  What we get from a book — especially a sacred text — is mostly dependent on what we take to its reading — in desire and readiness to learn, and in attunement to the light communicated by the Spirit of the Lord…

One of the things I learned in this most recent reading of the Book of Mormon was how much God loves all of His children in every nation…The Book of Mormon teaches that our Savior:

Inviteth [all the children of men] to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female;  and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile (2 Ne. 26:33; also see Alma 5:49).

“He inviteth them all.”  We understand “male and female.”  We also understand “black and white,” which means all races.  But what about “bond and free?”  Bond — the opposite of free — means more than slavery.  It means being in bondage (bound) to anything from which it is difficult to escape.  Bond includes those whose freedom is restricted by physical or emotional afflictions.  Bond includes those who are addicted to some substance  or practice.  Bond surely refers to those who are imprisoned by sin — “encircled about” by what another teaching of the Book of Mormon calls “the chains of hell” (Alma 5:7).  Bond includes those who are held down by traditions or customs contrary to the commandments of God.  Finally, bond also includes those who are confined within the boundaries of other erroneous ideas. 

The prophet Joseph Smith taught that we preach to “liberate the captives.”  Our Savior “inviteth…all to come unto him and partake of his goodness,” “he denieth none that come unto him,” and “all are alike unto God.”

Seek Ye the Kingdom of God

President Gordon B. Hinckley

 

I face the sunset of my life. We’re all totally in the hands of the Lord.  I am now approaching my 96th birthday.  I take this opportunity while it is available to express appreciation and gratitude for the remarkable blessings the Lord has showered upon me.

We all face choices in the course of our lives; some of them with a siren song of wealth and prosperity; others appear less promising.

Somehow the Lord has watched over and guided my choices although it was not always evident at the time.

There come to mind the words of Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken, which concludes with these lines:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


 

…When I was a young man, a mere boy of eleven, I received a patriarchal blessing from a man I had never seen before and never saw thereafter.  It is a remarkable document, a prophetic document.  It is personal and I will not read extensively from it. However it contains this statement, “The nations of the earth shall hear thy voice and be brought to a knowledge of the truth by the wonderful testimony which thou shalt bear.”

When I was released from my mission in England, I took a short trip on the continent.  I had borne my testimony in London.  I did so in Berlin, and again in Paris, and later in Washington D.C.  I said to myself that I had borne my testimony in these great capitals of the world and had fulfilled that part of my blessing.

That proved to be a mere scratching of the surface.  Since then I have lifted my voice on every continent, in cities large and small, all up and down from north to south and east and west across this broad world — from Capetown to Stockholm, from Moscow to Montreal, in every capital of the world.

Last year I asked members of the Church throughout the world to again read the Book of Mormon. Thousands, even hundreds of thousands, responded to that challenge.  The Prophet Joseph said in 1841, “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book.”

Accepting the truth of this statement, I think something remarkable has happened to the people of this Church.  They’ll have been observed reading the Book of Mormon while riding the bus, while eating lunch, while in the doctor’s waiting room, and in scores of other situations.  I trust and hope that we have drawn closer to God because of reading this book.