Tag Archives: Mormon

#BOMTC Jarom-Words of Mormon: Plates, Prophets, and Prosperity

Here is something pretty cool to consider that was published by Book of Mormon Central (by the way, if you have not yet found Book of Mormon Central on your favorite social media platform it is definitely time to like, follow, subscribe, etc.; they are amazing and will continue to produce inspiring and insightful Book of Mormon-related content for years to come). Check out the short video they produced below, “Has a Portion of the Lost 116 Pages been Discovered?” and if you are interested in learning more about this go to: What If Martin Harris Didn’t Lose All Of The 116 Pages?

Something that stands out to me in the books of Jarom to Words of Mormon is how to prosper in the Promised Land.

Plates and Lineage via Book of Mormon Central, featuring Mormon Abridging the Plates by Tom Lovell and The Gold Plates by Jerry Thompson

Ready for some alliteration? The Lord provided prophets and plates to preserve and prosper His people in the Promised Land (that is my attempt at Maxwellian alliteration…). Within these few pages we find the rise and demise of different civilizations, and generations within those civilizations, based on their diligence or indifference in heeding the words of the prophets of God. Those who preserve and obey God’s word prosper; those who do not falter. Those who obey the Lord prevail; those who rebel fail. So, do you want to prosper or falter; do you want to prevail or fail? The Lord has given us everything we need to succeed!

Sources for the Book of Mormon

The sources behind the Book of Mormon are remarkably complex, and sometimes hard to keep straight. Here is a helpful chart to use as you read and study. (Content by John Welch. Graphics by Fernando Vazquez.)

For a Wise Purpose

A seminary teacher uses over-sized models of the Book of Mormon, the gold plates, and other source plates to help his students understand the structure of the book . (11:18)

These few pages cover many different individuals, groups of people, eras, and years. Below you will find several charts that may help you study this material more effectively.

#BOMTC Day 24, April 30~Jarom-Words of Mormon or Pages 139-144 (3)

A simple way to mark the the table of contents in the Book of Mormon to help you understand the organization of the “plates”.

 

#BOMTC Day 24, April 30~Jarom-Words of Mormon or Pages 139-144 (4)

Visual explanation of “A Brief Explanation about the Book of Mormon” found at the beginning of the Book of Mormon

 

#BOMTC Day 24, April 30~Jarom-Words of Mormon or Pages 139-144 (5)

Genealogical, historical, legal, and prophetic records of the Nephites were handed down in sacred trust, usually from father to son. Only four Nephite families kept the plates: Lehi’s posterity mainly through Jacob, Mosiah’s family, Alma and his long line of descendants, and Mormon and his son Moroni. As anthropologist John L. Sorenson has pointed out, the Book of Mormon is structured as a “lineage history.” Inserted from http://byustudies.byu.edu/januarybomcharts/charts/16.html | view PDF

In these charts you will find the four families of Nephite record keepers of the Book of Mormon listed chronologically, along with their approximate dates of birth and other relevant information. If a date is not found in or tied directly to a specific verse then the information has been deduced from general historical information. The list below is similar to the chart above and can be used to document and explain the relationships between keepers of the plates of Nephi (source: http://byustudies.byu.edu/januarybomcharts/charts/17.html | View PDF)

#BOMTC Day 24, April 30~Jarom-Words of Mormon or Pages 139-144 (6) #BOMTC Day 24, April 30~Jarom-Words of Mormon or Pages 139-144 (7) #BOMTC Day 24, April 30~Jarom-Words of Mormon or Pages 139-144 (8)

#BOMTC Day 24, April 30~Jarom-Words of Mormon or Pages 139-144 (9)

Although only four families kept the main Nephite records (see the charts above), the words of many other authors are included in the Book of Mormon as well. The writings or speeches of Jesus Christ, Isaiah, Captain Moroni, and Zenos, for example, all add significantly to the Book of Mormon, even though these authors did not actually write upon the plates themselves. This chart adds to charts above some of the additional writers or speakers who are quoted in the Book of Mormon. (Source: http://byustudies.byu.edu/januarybomcharts/charts/18.html | View PDF)

BONUS! My buddy, Adam Daly, sent me a chart that he created in an effort to help him understand his scripture study better. It expands on what I have listed here, and I find it very informative. It is not exhaustive, but it is very helpful! I would invite you to put your own effort into a similar endeavor so that you can receive the benefit of such diligent study and pondering. Please click on the chart to enlarge it.

Chart created by Adam Daly. He said,

CLICK ON THE CHART TO ENLARGE IT. Chart created by Adam Daly. He said, “Seeing it laid out like this helped me understand the Book or Mormon better and also remember people, places and stories better.”

Want to know more? Check this out:

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#BOMTC Moroni 8-9: “Labor Diligently”

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Moroni 8 is an epistle Mormon wrote to his son Moroni about why little children do not need baptism. In the epistle, Mormon also taught about how we can prepare to dwell with God. He concluded by expressing concern for the wickedness and impending destruction of the Nephites.

Moroni 9 contains Mormon’s final recorded epistle to his son. He expressed sorrow for the wicked state of the Nephites and urged Moroni to labor diligently to help the Nephites repent. Notwithstanding the corrupt situation of his people, he encouraged his son to be faithful in Christ and to let the promise of eternal life rest on his mind forever.

It is interesting to note that with both of the difficulties addressed in Moroni 8 & 9 (doctrinal and moral issues), the solution that Mormon shared with Moroni was the same: “LABOR DILIGENTLY” (see Moroni 8:6 & 9:6).

#BOMTC Day 84, June 29~Moroni 8-9 or Pages 525-529, Labor Diligently

What great advice! It seems like the call to “labor diligently” is the solution for not just addressing doctrinal and moral issues, but just about any issue that we will face in life.

This seems to have been the exact same advice that President Gordon B. Hinckley’s father gave to him when President Hinckley was experiencing problems on his mission.

Gordon B. Hinckley

As a new missionary serving in Preston, England, Elder Gordon B. Hinckley was facing a major trial in his life. He was sick when he arrived in the mission field, and he quickly became discouraged because of the opposition to the missionary work. At a time of deep frustration, Elder Hinckley wrote in a letter to his father that he felt he was wasting his time and his father’s money. A little while later, Elder Hinckley received a reply from his dad. It said, “Dear Gordon, I have your recent letter. I have only one suggestion: forget yourself and go to work.”

Earlier that morning during scripture study, Elder Hinckley had read in the Bible, “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Mark 8:35).

“With my father’s letter in hand, I went into our bedroom in the house at 15 Wadham Road, where we lived, and got on my knees and made a pledge with the Lord. I covenanted that I would try to forget myself and lose myself in His service” (Ensign, July 1987, p. 7). (Sweet Is the Work: Gordon B. Hinckley, 15th President of the Church)

His father’s words became the motto for a life of service: “Forget yourself and go to work.” Do you see the connection between the advice given by Mormon to his son, Moroni, and President Hinckley’s father to him in time of trial?

So many times we let worry and stress rob us of our strength. Why don’t we just “LABOR DILIGENTLY” and address the issues head on?

With each passing day we draw nearer and nearer to the Second Coming of our Savior Jesus Christ. And even if we don’t have any doctrinal, or moral, or personal issues we are facing right now, if we “LABOR DILIGENTLY” we will be blessed to meet Him some day.

One more thing to keep in mind that seems to go well with these chapters. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continually faces serious scrutiny in the media for it’s stance on certain doctrinal and moral issues. As I read the information coming from both the media and the Church, I consider two scriptures from Doctrine and Covenants section 1 (which is the Lord’s own “preface” to His latter-day book of scripture). I invite you to consider how they relate to each of the epistles that Moroni included from his father, and how they relate to the current events and situation as Saints today.

#BOMTC Day 84, June 29~Moroni 8-9 or Pages 525-529, DC 1~14

#BOMTC Day 84, June 29~Moroni 8-9 or Pages 525-529, DC 1~38 Whether by Mine Own Voice or the Voice of My Servants It Is the Same

I know that if we “LABOR DILIGENTLY” to apply D&C 1:38 that we will never fall victim to D&C 1:14 as the people did in the closing chapters of the Book of Mormon.

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#BOMTC Ether 8-10: Your “Stance” Determines Your Liberty or Captivity

Saddened by his people’s request to be led by a king, the Brother of Jared lamented and prophesied: “Surely this thing leadeth to captivity” (Ether 6:23).

Though the Brother of Jared prophesied that establishing a Jaredite king would lead to captivity, his words were not immediately fulfilled. The first Jaredite king, Orihah, ruled in righteousness. However, a man named Jared became king two generations later by forming a secret combination. During the reigns of their kings, the Jaredites went through several cycles of hearkening to the prophets and living in righteousness, and rejecting the prophets and living in wickedness.

Two VERY important lessons we can learn from these chapters are:

  • Rejecting the words of prophets leads to captivity.
  • As we follow the counsel of prophets and remember the Lord, we prosper.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson taught:

“It was the ultimate sacrilege that Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, was rejected and even put to death. And it continues. In many parts of the world today we see a growing rejection of the Son of God. His divinity is questioned. His gospel is deemed irrelevant. In day-to-day life, His teachings are ignored. Those who legitimately speak in His name find little respect in secular society.

If we ignore the Lord and His servants, we may just as well be atheists—the end result is practically the same. It is what Mormon described as typical after extended periods of peace and prosperity: “Then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One” (Helaman 12:2). And so we should ask ourselves, do we reverence the Holy One and those He has sent?” (A Sense of the Sacred, emphasis added.)

Perhaps a better title for today’s post would have been: “The STATURE of Liberty: It’s All About Your STANCE.” Here’s why.

I liken what happens with the people these chapters to an analogy that a popular news commentator once made using the Colossus of Rhodes and the Statue of Liberty. I have made a few edits to help it flow.

#BOMTC Day 80, June 25~Ether 8-10 or Pages 501-506, Colossus of Rhodes

This is a painting of the Colossus of Rhodes [above]. They didn’t have cameras in 280 B.C. So, this is an artist’s rendering of what it may have been like. This was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It took 12 years to build. It stood about 107 feet high. (The Statue of Liberty is 151 ft. from the base to the torch.) You can get a sense of how huge this thing was. We’re not sure but we think that it was in somewhat of a slouched or relaxed position. Rhodes had become an important economic port in the ancient world and the people felt invincible. It’s interesting to note that the Colossus of Rhodes stood for less than 50 years. The torch, the crown — look familiar? Fifty years this stood and then it was knocked down by an earthquake. And then it laid there in rubble for 800 years as people came from all over the known world to see its great fall. Got it?

#BOMTC Day 80, June 25~Ether 8-10 or Pages 501-506, Statue of Liberty (2)

Now, contrast this with the Statue of Liberty [above]. Here’s the Statue of Liberty. The difference in its stance speaks volumes and it was meant to. First of all, you’ll notice that the Colossus of Rhodes is holding arrows and a bow, right? What is she holding? She’s holding the tablet of law. If you notice also her feet, she’s standing like she’s almost on the balls of her feet. And she’s moving forward. Her arm and torch is outstretched to the world. She’s going this way while she’s holding the tablets that signify the law, the Constitution that enables her to move forward and to break free of the chains that the European system had put in place. She’s able to move forward. I want to ask you a question: Is this still our stance?

 

#BOMTC_Day_80,_June_25~Ether_8-10_or_Pages_501-506,_Colossus_of_Rhodes_VS_Statue_of_Liberty

This is similar to the contrast that we find as we study the Jaredite kings and people. In just a few pages of scripture we flip-flop through more than 24 kings that take either a “stance” of the Colossus of Rhodes or that of the Statue of Liberty. And unfortunately the people tend to follow suit in their “stance”.

#BOMTC Day 80, June 25~Ether 8-10 or Pages 501-506, Statue of Liberty

In the end, the Jaredites fell just like the Colossus of Rhodes did. And just as people came to see the ruin of the Colossus of Rhodes, the people of the Book of Mormon found the Jaredite ruins and record (Mosiah 8:8).

We need to take a moment and consider our “stance”. Which of these two figures represents my “stance” when it comes to living the gospel? It seems that for the Jaredites, their liberty or captivity always came down to their “stance”.

Sometimes there are “hot topics” or social changes that show up in the news that relate to the gospel. Many times we may be tempted to compare our “stance” with someone else’s “stance” on these topics and changes. But what we really need to consider is, “What is the Lord’s ‘stance’ on this?” Once we have identified His “stance”, it seems to me that the only question left to answer is, “Am I willing to take His ‘stance’ or not?” If we are not willing to take His “stance” then the prophetic words of the Brother of Jared will be fulfilled again in our lives: “Surely this thing leadeth to captivity” (Ether 6:23)

We must be different from the Jaredites!  We cannot afford to flip-flop when it comes to our “stance” on the gospel. We must decide to be a Statue of Liberty and take a “stance” which will allow us to hold up the True Light (see 3 Nephi 18:24) with proper stature, continually holding firm to the Word of God (see 1 Nephi 8:301 Nephi 11:25; 15:23-25) and moving forward with the flame of faith burning brightly for all to see (see 2 Nephi 31:20Doctrine and Covenants 128:22).

#BOMTC Day 80, June 25~Ether 8-10 or Pages 501-506, Statue-Of-Liberty-3

I believe that the following letter from Clayton Christensen, written to correct a misunderstanding/mis-representation of his beliefs by a reporter, is a great illustration of the principles taught in Ether 8-10. Pay close attention to his STATURE and STANCE on the gospel of Jesus Christ…

June 21, 2014

Dear Friends:

I am writing about an article by Michael Fitzgerald, titled “How the Mormons Conquered America: The success of the Mormon religion is a study in social adaptation.” It appeared a couple of days ago in a journal, Nautilus.  I am misquoted in the piece.  Fitzgerald interviewed me several months ago relative to this article. He wrote notes as we talked; he did not record our conversation.

In the article, Fitzgerald reviews the history of how the church has changed several practices, such as polygamy and ordaining blacks to the priesthood. He then refers to same-sex marriage; and in that same paragraph quoted me as saying, “… I think I’m farther along than the church is on this one.” It implies that I support same-sex marriage, and that I expect that the leaders of the church in the future will agree with that position.

This is not true. I did not say this. I support wholeheartedly every phrase in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” And I sustain the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, who penned that document.

I am grateful that I belong to a church in which we do not attempt to convince God or our leaders that certain opinions in our society are correct, and God’s are not. Society changes its mind quite frequently. I do not believe that God changes his mind, however. When society is telling me something new, even when it has assembled powerful reasons and powerful people on its side, I do not ask society whether it is correct. I ask God.

I understand that this mis-representation of my beliefs by Mr. Fitzgerald is being widely circulated through the church. I would be very grateful if you could forward this letter to anyone who you believe ought to see this – and by the fastest and most effective ways possible.  Thanks for your help!

Clayton Christensen

Belmont, MA

I love the STANCE of Brother Christensen, because he has adopted the Lord’s STANCE!

Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, the Young Women General President, gave an amazing talk in the Women’s Session of the April 2015 General Conference of the Church. In her talk she issued a challenge for everyone to, “build the kingdom of God by STANDING up boldly and being defenders of marriage, parenthood, and the home.”

Defenders of the Family Proclamation
By Bonnie L. Oscarson

What a privilege and joy to be a part of this marvelous assembly of girls and women. How blessed we are as women to be joined together this evening in unity and in love.

I recently read the story of Marie Madeline Cardon, who, with her family, received the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ from the first missionaries called to serve in Italy in 1850. She was a young woman of 17 or 18 years of age when they were baptized. One Sunday, while the family was holding a worship service in their home high in the Alps of northern Italy, an angry mob of men, including some of the local ministers, gathered around the house and began shouting, yelling, and calling for the missionaries to be brought outside. I don’t think they were anxious to be taught the gospel—they intended bodily harm. It was young Marie who marched out of the house to confront the mob.

They continued their vicious yells and demands for the missionaries to be brought out. Marie raised her Bible up in her hand and commanded them to depart. She told them that the elders were under her protection and that they could not harm one hair of their heads. Listen to her own words: “All stood aghast. … God was with me. He placed those words in my mouth, or I could not have spoken them. All was calm, instantly. That strong ferocious body of men stood helpless before a weak, trembling, yet fearless girl.” The ministers asked the mob to leave, which they did quietly in shame, fear, and remorse. The small flock completed their meeting in peace.1

Can’t you just picture that brave young woman, the same age as many of you, standing up to a mob and defending her newly found beliefs with courage and conviction?

Sisters, few of us will ever have to face an angry mob, but there is a war going on in this world in which our most cherished and basic doctrines are under attack. I am speaking specifically of the doctrine of the family. The sanctity of the home and the essential purposes of the family are being questioned, criticized, and assaulted on every front.

When President Gordon B. Hinckley first read “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” 20 years ago this year, we were grateful for and valued the clarity, simplicity, and truth of this revelatory document. Little did we realize then how very desperately we would need these basic declarations in today’s world as the criteria by which we could judge each new wind of worldly dogma coming at us from the media, the Internet, scholars, TV and films, and even legislators. The proclamation on the family has become our benchmark for judging the philosophies of the world, and I testify that the principles set forth within this statement are as true today as they were when they were given to us by a prophet of God nearly 20 years ago.

May I point out something obvious? Life rarely goes exactly according to plan for anyone, and we are very aware that not all women are experiencing what the proclamation describes. It is still important to understand and teach the Lord’s pattern and strive for the realization of that pattern the best we can.

Each of us has a part to play in the plan, and each of us is equally valued in the eyes of the Lord. We should remember that a loving Heavenly Father is aware of our righteous desires and will honor His promises that nothing will be withheld from those who faithfully keep their covenants. Heavenly Father has a mission and plan for each of us, but He also has His own timetable. One of the hardest challenges in this life is to have faith in the Lord’s timing. It’s a good idea to have an alternative plan in mind, which helps us to be covenant-keeping, charitable, and righteous women who build the kingdom of God no matter which way our lives go. We need to teach our daughters to aim for the ideal but plan for contingencies.

Defenders of the Family Proclamation, Bonnie L. Oscarson

I would like to issue a challenge for all of us as women of the Church to be defenders of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”

During this 20th anniversary year of the family proclamation, I would like to issue a challenge for all of us as women of the Church to be defenders of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” Just as Marie Madeline Cardon courageously defended the missionaries and her newly found beliefs, we need to boldly defend the Lord’s revealed doctrines describing marriage, families, the divine roles of men and women, and the importance of homes as sacred places—even when the world is shouting in our ears that these principles are outdated, limiting, or no longer relevant. Everyone, no matter what their marital circumstance or number of children, can be defenders of the Lord’s plan described in the family proclamation. If it is the Lord’s plan, it should also be our plan!

If it is the Lord’s plan, it should also be our plan!

“If it is the Lord’s plan, it should also be our plan!” Bonnie L. Oscarson

There are three principles taught in the proclamation which I think are especially in need of steadfast defenders. The first is marriage between a man and a woman. We are taught in the scriptures, “Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.”2 For anyone to attain the fulness of priesthood blessings, there must be a husband and a wife sealed in the house of the Lord, working together in righteousness and remaining faithful to their covenants. This is the Lord’s plan for His children, and no amount of public discourse or criticism will change what the Lord has declared. We need to continue to model righteous marriages, seek for that blessing in our lives, and have faith if it is slow in coming. Let us be defenders of marriage as the Lord has ordained it while continuing to show love and compassion for those with differing views.

The next principle which calls for our defending voices is elevating the divine roles of mothers and fathers. We eagerly teach our children to aim high in this life. We want to make sure that our daughters know that they have the potential to achieve and be whatever they can imagine. We hope they will love learning, be educated, talented, and maybe even become the next Marie Curie or Eliza R. Snow.

Do we also teach our sons and daughters there is no greater honor, no more elevated title, and no more important role in this life than that of mother or father? I would hope that as we encourage our children to reach for the very best in this life that we also teach them to honor and exalt the roles that mothers and fathers play in Heavenly Father’s plan.

Our youngest daughter, Abby, saw a unique opportunity to stand as a defender of the role of mother. One day she got a notice from her children’s school that they were having Career Day presentations at the school. Parents were invited to send in an application if they wanted to come to school to teach the children about their jobs, and Abby felt impressed to apply to come and speak about motherhood. She didn’t hear back from the school, and when Career Day was getting close, she finally called the school, thinking they may have lost her application. The organizers scrambled around and found two teachers who agreed to have Abby come talk to their classes at the end of Career Day.

In her very fun presentation to the children, Abby taught them, among other things, that as a mother she needed to be somewhat of an expert in medicine, psychology, religion, teaching, music, literature, art, finance, decorating, hair styling, chauffeuring, sports, culinary arts, and so much more. The children were impressed. She finished by having the children remember their mothers by writing thank-you notes expressing gratitude for the many loving acts of service they received daily. Abby felt that the children saw their mothers in a whole new light and that being a mother or father was something of great worth. She applied to share again this year at Career Day and was invited to present to six classes.

Abby has said of her experience: “I feel like it could be easy in this world for a child to get the sense that being a parent is a secondary job or even sometimes a necessary inconvenience. I want every child to feel like they are the most important priority to their parent, and maybe telling them how important being a parent is to me will help them realize all that their parents do for them and why.”

Our beloved prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, is a wonderful example of honoring women and motherhood, especially his own mother. In reference to our earthly mothers, he has said: “May each of us treasure this truth; one cannot forget mother and remember God. One cannot remember mother and forget God. Why? Because these two sacred persons, God and [our earthly] mother, partners in creation, in love, in sacrifice, in service, are as one.”3

The last principle we need to stand and defend is the sanctity of the home. We need to take a term which is sometimes spoken of with derision and elevate it. It is the term homemaker. All of us—women, men, youth, and children, single or married—can work at being homemakers. We should “make our homes” places of order, refuge, holiness, and safety. Our homes should be places where the Spirit of the Lord is felt in rich abundance and where the scriptures and the gospel are studied, taught, and lived. What a difference it would make in the world if all people would see themselves as makers of righteous homes. Let us defend the home as a place which is second only to the temple in holiness.

Sisters, I am grateful to be a woman in these latter days. We have opportunities and possibilities which no other generation of women has had in the world. Let us help build the kingdom of God by standing up boldly and being defenders of marriage, parenthood, and the home. The Lord needs us to be brave, steadfast, and immovable warriors who will defend His plan and teach the upcoming generations His truths.

I bear witness that Heavenly Father lives and loves each of us. His Son, Jesus Christ, is our Savior and Redeemer. I leave this testimony with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Please leave your thoughts about a special verse, teaching, etc. that you enjoyed at one of the following:

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#BOMTC Ether 2-3: Life Lessons

The book of Ether is full of “Life Lessons”. There are many parallels between the experiences the Jaredites had and the way that we need to live our lives.

We ended yesterday’s reading by beginning the book of Ether. The book of Ether is Moroni’s abridgment of the history of the Jaredites. The Jaredites came to the Americas centuries before the people of Lehi. Following the Flood in Noah’s day, a group of people attempted to build a tower “whose top may reach unto heaven” (Genesis 11:4). The account of the Jaredite nation began during this time period. The Lord dealt with the widespread wickedness by confounding the common language and by scattering the people across the face of the earth (see Genesis 11:5–8Ether 1:33). This account in the book of Ether begins with Jared and his brother seeking the Lord’s help when He confounded the language of the people at the Tower of Babel. The Lord preserved the language of Jared, his brother, and their families and friends and led them through the wilderness toward the promised land.

#BOMTC Day 78, June 23~Ether 2-3 or Pages 489-494, Brother of Jared

I invite you to create a list of “life lessons” that you can see in the book of Ether as you study it. Your list may look similar to mine, but you will probably catch things that I didn’t and you can add them to the list that I will share with you.

Bro Simon’s “Life Lessons” from Ether 1-3

Life lesson #1 from the book of Ether: Learn to “Cry” (Ether 1:34-43; 2:14)

How would you describe the kind of prayer that is described as “crying” unto the Lord? What kind of a prayer is that? Have you ever had the need to “cry” unto the Lord? I have found that President Henry B. Erying was correct when he taught:

As the challenges around us increase, we must commit to do more to qualify for the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Casual prayer won’t be enough. Reading a few verses of the scripture won’t be enough. Doing the minimum of what the Lord asks of us won’t be enough. Hoping that we will have the Atonement work in our lives and that we will perhaps sometimes feel the influence of the Holy Ghost won’t be enough. And one great burst of effort won’t be enough. Only a steady, ever-increasing effort will allow the Lord to take us to higher ground.” (see the full talk at, “Raise the Bar”)

Our need to “cry” unto the Lord need not be an “every now and then” experience. In the world that we are living in we need to learn to “cry” unto the Lord on a daily basis. I am learning to “cry” unto the Lord, but it is not a natural thing for me to do. It takes time and it takes effort, but I have found that when I do it, it is always worth it!

Pray with the thought that 3

Life lesson #2 from the book of Ether: Learn to “Go to Work” (Ether 2:16)

This admonition from the Lord came after the Jaredites had been brought by the Lord to the seashore, and they had dwelt there for four years. I must admit, I wouldn’t mind that either. I love “beach bum” living! But that is not where the Lord wanted them to be. He had a “Promised Land” for them. They were content with the beach, but the Lord had land of plenty prepared for them. It was time to “go to work”.

Sometimes we may be content with the “seashore”/beach that the Lord has brought us to. We may pitch our tents and begin to enjoy our “four years” of rest and relaxation. But then the Lord comes along and reminds us that THE ONLY REASON that He brought us to the “seashore” was so that we could “go to work” and move towards the “promised land” that He has so mercifully prepared for us.

The following quotes from President Gordon B. Hinckley seems to show us how lessons #1 & 2 work together:

#BOMTC Day 78, June 23~Ether 2-3 or Pages 489-494, keep trying and praying and working

Carry on. Things will work out. If you keep trying and praying and working, things will work out. They always do.” (Go Forward with Faith, p. 423)

“Get on your knees and ask for the blessings of the Lord; then stand on your feet and do what you are asked to do.” (“To the Women of the Church,” Ensign, Nov. 2003)

Life lesson #3 from the book of Ether: Learn to Hang “Tight” (Ether 2:17; 6:7)

All the water in the world,

However hard it tried,

Could never sink the smallest ship

Unless it [gets] inside.

And all the evil in the world,

The blackest kind of sin,

Can never hurt you the least bit

Unless you let it in.

(Boyd K. Packer, “The Spirit of Revelation,” Ensign, Nov. 1999)

Brother S. Michael Wilcox explains this so well:

Now I have a tendency, because I’m an English major, to edit almost everything I read. It’s just a habit I can’t get out of with whatever I read—textbooks, newspapers, novels, biographies—I’m always editing. I edit the scriptures as I’m reading them. There are actually times where I say, “Lord, I could fix this verse for you if you would like me to.” And one of the verses that I used to think I would edit is Ether chapter two, the seventeenth verse; the description of the Jaredite barges. Can you realize what word I might write if I were editing this? This is how it reads:

“They were built after a manner that they were exceedingly tight, even that they would hold water like unto a dish”—that’s once. “And the bottom thereof was tight like unto a dish”—twice. “And the sides thereof were tight like unto a dish”—three times. “And the ends thereof were peaked; and the top thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the length thereof was the length of a tree; and the door thereof, when it was shut, was tight like unto a dish”—five times.

I would have written redundant. We get the impression they are waterproof. It’s like taking a jar and sealing it and throwing it. These are not submarines; they float light like a fowl, we are told, on the water. But the problem is that great waves are going to be washing over them, and so they need to be waterproof.

Now being ‘Tight like a dish’ causes two problems for the Jaredites’ crossing of the sea. Number one, minor problems, it was probably Mrs. Moriancumer who pointed them out to her husband: “We can’t breathe in here, and we can’t see, so unless we are going to get the Promised Land in sixty seconds, we’ve got big problems. Did you get the instructions right?”

And so Moriancumer, the brother of Jared, goes back to the Lord, and he presents his two problems. Now you learn something about your Father in Heaven in the solution or the handling of these two problems. Of the two problems—no air and no light—the Lord solves one of them just because He is asked. He tells them to put the holes in so they can have air. And sometimes when we go to the Lord, we simply ask and we will receive. He tells us the solution. The second problem we have to seek and find; for the second problem the Lord says, “You come up with a solution.” Now He put some parameters on that. He tells them, “You can’t go by windows”—probably not invented yet, and the second, “You can’t go by fire”—oxygen is a problem anyway. All that tossing around in the sea with coals flying everywhere probably wouldn’t be good, so you come up with a solution.

Now you are the brother of Jared. I want you to listen with his mind at what the Lord says because the twenty-fourth verse is a really interesting verse of Ether chapter two:

“Behold, ye shall be as a whale in the midst of the sea; for the mountain waves shall dash upon you. Nevertheless, I will bring you up again out of the depths of the sea; for the winds have gone forth out of my mouth, and also the rains and the floods have I sent forth.”

Now the reason they need ‘Tight like a dish’ ships is because there are going to be mountain waves. Now what causes mountain waves in the ocean?—wind and storm. And what did the Lord just say the source of the winds were? “The winds have gone forth out of my mouth, and the rains and floods have I sent forth”—do you have a solution to the problem?

If I were the brother of Jared, I would have said, “Lord, we don’t need these ‘Tight like a dish’ ships at all. Since waves are the problem, and waves are caused by wind, and wind comes out of your mouth—blow softly. Blow softly. Breeze us to the Promised Land. We’ll sit on deck, we’ll fish, we’ll get tanned, we’ll play shuffleboard.” How many here want the first watch cruise version of life?—that’s me; I’m a first watch person. I don’t like mountain waves.

And then the great lesson: We know God can still the storms of our lives—we know that; there are precedents. But he prefers to do something else:

“Behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come. What will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea?” (Ether 2:25)

What we need to understand about our Father in Heaven is that He prefers to prepare us to face the storms of life, the contrary winds, rather than to still them. So if you are past your fourth watch and He has not come, don’t assume that He is not there, that He doesn’t care, He doesn’t listen, or that you are not worthy. Assume your ship is tight like a dish. You will not sink.  Somewhere in the past of your life, experiences have been placed by a wise and foresighted Father in Heaven to prepare you to face the very things that you are facing. As the lion and the bear came to David, before Goliath, to prepare him to face Goliath, so will lion-and-bear moments come in your lives before the Goliath moments come. Because if your ship was not tight like a dish and you have reached the fourth watch, He will come to you and still the storm. So if the storm is not still, we must assume our ship is tight like a dish. (Bread or Stones: Understanding the God We Pray to)

#BOMTC Day 78, June 23~Ether 2-3 or Pages 489-494, Jaredite Barges

Life lesson #4 from the book of Ether: Learn to Listen and Listen to Learn (Ether 2:18-25)

God’s children should learn to listen, then listen to learn from the Lord… The wise listen to learn from the Lord.” (Elder Russell M. Nelson, “Listen to Learn,” Ensign, May 1991)

As the Brother of Jared performed the work the Lord had commanded him, he realized that there were a few “details” that needed to be addressed regarding their voyage in the “tight like unto a dish” vessels: no light, no steering, no fresh air. Each of these are major problems when crossing the “great sea which divideth the lands,” but only one of them is immediately life-threatening: no fresh air.

What we can learn here is that when God gets specific we need to take note, because it is probably a life-or-death situation (physically or spiritually). In other words, where the stakes are high (physically or spiritually) you get specific instructions from God.

Did you catch that? Is it true?

Ordinances are a great example to illustrate this principle. In the Church, an ordinance is a sacred, formal act performed by the authority of the priesthood. Some ordinances are essential to our exaltation. These ordinances are called saving ordinances. They include baptism, confirmation, ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood (for men), the temple endowment, and the marriage sealing.  Each of these soul-saving ordinances include very specific wording and instruction because they are essential for our exaltation.

The Lord gave the Brother of Jared very specific instructions on how to take care of the air! The only wise thing to do then was to follow it, to the specifics. “Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise.” (Prov. 19:20.)

So that we don’t miss these specific types of soul-saving instructions, God will usually invoke the Law of Witnesses in our lives. The Law of Witnesses is helpful in at least two ways here: it gives validity to the specific instructions being given, and it allows us to catch a specific message that we may have missed the first time it was given. “When the words of prophets seem repetitive, that should rivet our attention.” (President Henry B. Eyring, “Finding Safety in Counsel,” Ensign, May 1997)

As a final example of this principle, consider the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet. (By the way, it is not just for the youth. It is STRENGTH FOR YOU too!) In just about every section you will find “specifics” like the ones I have mentioned. Things that they Lord has told us through multiple witnesses, very specifically, that we should do or not do. These are NOT suggestions. They should be likened unto the dilemma of the Brother of Jared, who referred to such dilemmas with the words, “therefore we shall perish” (Ether 2:19). And indeed we will “perish” (physically or spiritually) if we ignore them.

  • Agency and Accountability: “Have the moral courage to stand firm in obeying God’s will, even if you have to stand alone.”
  • Dating: “You should not date until you are at least 16 years old.”
  • Dress and Appearance: “Never lower your standards of dress. Do not use a special occasion as an excuse to be immodest.”
  • Entertainment and Media: “Avoid pornography at all costs. It is a poison that weakens your self-control, destroys your feelings of self-worth, and changes the way you see others. It causes you to lose the guidance of the Spirit and can damage your ability to have a normal relationship with others, especially your future spouse. It limits your ability to feel true love. If you encounter pornography, turn away from it immediately.”

The list goes on and on. Those who have not followed these types of specifics have learned from “sad experience” that when God gives specific instructions we need to follow them to the specifics.

Our rule should be the rule that the Prophet Joseph made for himself when he says he was at the busiest time of his life: “As my life consisted of activity and unyielding exertions, I made this my rule: When the Lord commands, do it.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (2007), 160.)

#BOMTC_Day_78,_June_23~Ether_2-3_or_Pages_489-494,_JS_I_Made_This_My_Rule

Life lesson #5 from the book of Ether: Learn to Take Important “Things” to God (Ether 3:1-6)

Once the Lord gave the “specifics” to the Brother of Jared about how to obtain fresh air, He proceeded to explain that He would “steer” them forth to the promised land. Brother Wilcox did a great job of covering that subject above. Sometimes God just “prepares” us for what is to come and steers us with His wind and waves (Ether 2:25). What I would like to discuss for a moment is the importance of taking important “things” to the Lord.

Why do I use the word “things” in quotes? Well, because when the Brother of Jared had “molten out of rock sixteen small stones,” the took them to the Lord and said, “behold these THINGS which I have molten out of the rock.” (Ether 3:3) How had the Brother of Jared come to this point? Well, the Lord had already told him what he could NOT do, and then left him with the question, “What will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea?” (Ether 2:25)

The Brother of Jared was left to make a decision, a very important decision, and the Lord trusted him to make the right one!

Here is how I liken and apply this principle to myself. When I have an important decision to make (or other significant “thing”), I study it out with due diligence and make a decision regarding the “thing” (compare Ether 2:23-24 & 3:4 with Genesis 6:16, footnote a). Then I “cry” unto the Lord “upon the top of the mount” (Ether 3:1), and I ask Him to “touch” the “thing” that I have brought to Him. When He doesn’t touch it, I go back to the metaphorical drawing board. When He does touch it, I go forward with faith!

Now I am not suggesting that you take every “thing” to God. I have been trying to stress that I am referring to important “things”, like having light in your life. Here are three quotes that help me when the Lord places me in these types of situations about important “things”. I hope they will provide proper balance to this principle:

  1. The Lord counsels us on balance. Faith is vital, but it must be accompanied by the personal work appropriate to the task. Only then do we qualify for the blessing. The appropriate approach is to study as if everything depended upon us and then to pray and exercise faith as if everything depended upon the Lord.” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall,” Ensign, Oct 1994, 11)
  2. In the past I have tried to figure out whether I should go into business or into teaching or into the arts or whatever. As I have begun to proceed along one path, having more or less gathered what facts I could, I have found that if that decision was wrong or was taking me down the wrong path—without fail, the Lord has always let me know. On the other hand, there may have been two or three ways that I could have gone, any one of which would have been right and would have been in the general area providing the experience and means whereby I could fulfill the mission that the Lord had in mind for me. Because he knows we need growth, he generally does not point and say, ‘Open that door and go twelve yards in that direction; then turn right and go two miles’… But if it is wrong, he will let us know—we will feel it for sure. So rather than saying, ‘I will not move until I have this burning in my heart,” let us turn it around and say, “I will move unless I feel it is wrong; and if it is wrong, then I will not do it.’ By eliminating all of these wrong courses, very quickly you will find yourself going in the direction that you ought to be going.” (Elder John H. Groberg, Speeches, 1979, 97-98)
  3. If I ask [God] to give me wisdom concerning any requirement in life, …and get no answer from him, and then do the very best that my judgment will teach me, he is bound to own and honor that transaction, and he will do so to all intents and purposes.” (Teachings Of Presidents Of The Church: Brigham Young, p.41)

#BOMTC Day 78, June 23~Ether 2-3 or Pages 489-494, Take Your Important THINGS to the Lord

Life lesson #6 from the book of Ether: Learn to Answer God’s Questions (Ether 3:7-26)

If God knows everything (which He does), then why does He ask questions? Elder Jeffrey R. Holland is our next guest speaker! He will help us understand why God asks questions so that we can appropriately answer them:

One of the greatest prophets in the Book of Mormon goes unnamed in the record that documents his remarkable life. He is identified only as “the brother of Jared.” Yet the revelation that unfolded before his eyes was so extraordinary that his life and legacy have become synonymous with bold, consummate, perfect faith.

In the dispersion from the Tower of Babel, the people of Jared arrived at “that great sea which divideth the lands,” where they pitched their tents, awaiting further revelation about crossing the mighty ocean. For four years they awaited divine direction, but apparently they waited too casually, without supplication and exertion. Then came this remarkable encounter: “The Lord came again unto the brother of Jared, and stood in a cloud and talked with him. And for the space of three hours did the Lord talk with the brother of Jared, and chastened him because he remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord.”

It is difficult to imagine what a three-hour rebuke from the Lord might be like, but the brother of Jared endured it. With immediate repentance and prayer, this prophet again sought guidance for the journey they had been assigned and those who were to pursue it. God accepted his repentance and lovingly gave further direction for their crucial mission.

For their oceanic crossing, these families and their flocks would need seaworthy crafts similar to the barges they had constructed for earlier water travel-small, light, dish-shaped vessels identical in design above and beneath so they were capable of staying afloat even if overturned by the waves. These “exceedingly tight” crafts were obviously of unprecedented design and capability, made under the direction of him who rules the seas and the winds to the end that the vessels might travel with the “lightness of a fowl upon the water.”

As miraculously designed and meticulously constructed as they were, these ships had one major, seemingly insoluble limitation. Such a tight, seaworthy design provided no way to admit light for the seafarers.

“The brother of Jared . . . cried again unto the Lord saying: O Lord, behold I have done even as thou hast commanded me; and I have prepared the vessels for my people, and behold there is no light in them. Behold, O Lord, wilt thou suffer that we shall cross this great water in darkness?”

Then came an extraordinary and unexpected response from the creator of heaven and earth and all things that in them are, he who boldly declared to Abraham, “Is any thing too hard for the Lord?”

“And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared: What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels?” Then, as if such a disarming inquiry from omnipotent Deity were not enough, the Lord proceeded to articulate the very problems that the brother of Jared knew only too well. He said, “Behold, ye cannot have windows, for they will be dashed in pieces; neither shall ye take fire with you, for ye shall not go by the light of fire.

“For behold, ye shall be as a whale in the midst of the sea; for the mountain waves shall dash upon you. . . .

“Therefore what will ye that I should prepare for you that ye may have light when ye are swallowed up in the depths of the sea?”

Clearly the brother of Jared was being tested. God had done his part. Unique, resolutely seaworthy ships for crossing the ocean had been provided. The brilliant engineering had been done. The hard part of the construction project was over. Now the Lord wanted to know what the brother of Jared would do about incidentals.

After what was undoubtedly a great deal of soul-searching, the brother of Jared came before the Lord-perhaps hesitantly but not empty-handed. In a clearly apologetic tone, he said, “Now behold, O Lord, and do not be angry with thy servant because of his weakness before thee; . . . O Lord, look upon me in pity, and turn away thine anger from this thy people, and suffer not that they shall go forth across this raging deep in darkness; but behold these things which I have molten out of the rock.”

Things. The brother of Jared hardly knew what to call them. Rocks undoubtedly did not sound very inspiring. Here, standing next to the Lord’s magnificent handiwork, the impeccably designed and marvelously unique seagoing barges, the brother of Jared offered for his contribution rocks. As he eyed the sleek ships the Lord had provided, it was a moment of genuine humility.

He hurried on: “And I know, O Lord, that thou hast all power, and can do whatsoever thou wilt for the benefit of man; therefore touch these stones, O Lord, with thy finger, and prepare them that they may shine forth in darkness; and they shall shine forth unto us in the vessels which we have prepared, that we may have light while we shall cross the sea.

“Behold, O Lord, thou canst do this. We know that thou art able to show forth great power, which looks small unto the understanding of men.”

For all of his self-abasement, the faith of the brother of Jared was immediately apparent-in fact, we might better say transparent in light of the purpose for which the stones would be used. Obviously Jehovah found something striking in the childlike innocence and fervor of this man’s faith. “Behold, O Lord, thou canst do this.” In a sense there may be no more powerful expression of faith spoken in scripture. It is almost as if the brother of Jared was encouraging God, emboldening him, reassuring him. Not “Behold, O Lord, I am sure thou canst do this.” Not “Behold, O Lord, thou hast done many greater things than this.” However uncertain the prophet was about his own ability, he had no uncertainty about God’s power. This was nothing but a single, assertive declaration with no hint of vacillation. It was encouragement to him who needs no encouragement but who surely must have been touched by it. “Behold, O Lord, thou canst do this.”

#BOMTC Day 78, June 23~Ether 2-3 or Pages 489-494, Small Stone

What happened next ranks among the greatest moments in recorded history, surely among the greatest moments in recorded faith. It established the brother of Jared among the greatest of God’s prophets forever. As the Lord reached forth to touch the stones one by one with his finger-an action coming in undeniable response to the commanding faith of this man-“the veil was taken from off the eyes of the brother of Jared, and he saw the finger of the Lord; and it was as the finger of a man, like unto flesh and blood; and the brother of Jared fell down before the Lord, for he was struck with fear.”

The Lord, seeing the brother of Jared fall to the earth, commanded him to rise and asked, “Why hast thou fallen?” The reply: “I saw the finger of the Lord, and I feared lest he should smite me; for I knew not that the Lord had flesh and blood.”

Then came this marvelous declaration from the Lord: “Because of thy faith thou hast seen that I shall take upon me flesh and blood; and never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast; for were it not so ye could not have seen my finger. Sawest thou more than this?”

The brother of Jared answered, “Nay; Lord, show thyself unto me.” Following this remarkable exchange and prior to the full revelation to come, the Lord confronted the brother of Jared’s faith one more time with a most intriguing question: “Believest thou the words which I shall speak?” he asked him. Not “Believest thou the words which I have already spoken” but a much more rigorous request: “Believest thou the words which I shall speak?”

Preparatory faith is formed by experiences in the past-by the known, which provides a basis for belief. But redemptive faith must often be exercised toward experiences in the future-the unknown, which provides an opportunity for the miraculous. Exacting faith, mountain-moving faith, faith like that of the brother of Jared, precedes the miracle and the knowledge. He had to believe before God spoke. He had to act before the ability to complete that action was apparent. He had to commit to the complete experience in advance of even the first segment of its realization. Faith is to agree unconditionally-and in advance- to whatever conditions God may require in both the near and distant future.

The brother of Jared’s faith was complete. Committing to the words God would yet speak, he answered, “Yea, Lord.”

Then the Lord removed the veil from the eyes of the brother of Jared and came into full view of this incomparably faithful man.

“Behold,” he said, “I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters.

“And never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast. Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were created in the beginning after my own image.

“Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh.”

Understanding the Brother of Jared’s Experience

Before examining the doctrinal truths taught in this divine encounter, it will be useful to note two seemingly problematic issues here, issues that seem to have reasonable and acceptable resolutions.

The first consideration rises from two questions the Lord asked the brother of Jared: “Why hast thou fallen?” and “Sawest thou more than this?” It is a basic premise of Latter-day Saint theology that God “knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it.” The scriptures, both ancient and modern, are replete with this assertion of omniscience. Nevertheless, God has frequently asked questions of mortals, usually as a way to test their faith, measure their honesty, or develop their knowledge.

For example, he called to Adam in the garden of Eden, “Where art thou?” and he later asked Eve, “What is this that thou hast done?” Yet an omniscient Parent clearly knew the answer to both questions, for he could see where Adam was, and he had watched what Eve had done. Obviously the questions were for the children’s sake, giving Adam and Eve the responsibility to reply honestly.

Later, in trying Abraham’s faith, God would repeatedly call out about Abraham’s whereabouts, to which the faithful patriarch would answer, “Here am I.” God’s purpose was not to obtain information he already knew but to reaffirm Abraham’s fixed faith in confronting the most difficult of all parental tests. Such questions are frequently used by God, particularly in assessing faith, honesty, and the full measure of agency, allowing his children the freedom and opportunity to express themselves as revealingly as they wish, even though God knows the answer to his own and all other questions.

The second issue that requires brief comment stems from the Lord’s exclamation “Never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast; for were it not so ye could not have seen my finger.” And later, “Never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast.”

The potential for confusion here comes with the realization that many (and perhaps all) of the major prophets living prior to the brother of Jared had seen God. How, then, do we account for the Lord’s declaration? Adam’s face-to-face conversations with God in the garden of Eden can be exempted because of the paradisiacal, pre-fallen state of that setting and relationship. Furthermore, other prophets’ visions of God, such as those of Moses and Isaiah in the Bible, or Nephi and Jacob in the Book of Mormon, can also be answered because they came after this “never before” experience of the brother of Jared.

But before the time of the brother of Jared, the Lord did appear to Adam and “the residue of his posterity who were righteous” in the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman three years before Adam’s death. And we are left with Enoch, who said explicitly, “I saw the Lord; and he stood before my face, and he talked with me, even as a man talketh one with another, face to face.” We assume that other prophets between the Fall and the Tower of Babel saw God in a similar manner, including Noah, who “found grace in the eyes of the Lord” and “walked with God,” the same scriptural phrase used to describe Enoch’s relationship with the Lord.

This issue has been much discussed by Latter-day Saint writers, and there are several possible explanations, any one-or all-of which may cast light upon the larger truth of this passage. Nevertheless, without additional revelation or commentary on the matter, any conjecture is only that and as such is inadequate and incomplete.

One possibility is that this is simply a comment made in the context of one dispensation and as such applies only to the people of Jared and Jaredite prophets-that Jehovah had never before revealed himself to one of their seers and revelators. Obviously this theory has severe limitations when measured against such phrases as “never before” and “never has man.” Furthermore, we quickly realize that Jared and his brother are the fathers of their dispensation, the very first to whom God could have revealed himself in their era.

Another suggestion is that the reference to “man” is the key to this passage, suggesting that the Lord had never revealed himself to the unsanctified, to the nonbeliever, to temporal, earthy, natural man. The implication is that only those who have put off the natural man, only those who are untainted by the world-in short, the sanctified (such as Adam, Enoch, and now the brother of Jared)-are entitled to this privilege.

Some believe that the Lord meant he had never before revealed himself to man in that degree or to that extent. This theory suggests that divine appearances to earlier prophets had not been with the same “fulness,” that never before had the veil been lifted to give such a complete revelation of Christ’s nature and being.

A further possibility is that this is the first time Jehovah had appeared and identified himself as Jesus Christ, the Son of God, with the interpretation of the passage being “never have I showed myself [as Jesus Christ] unto man whom I have created.” That possibility is reinforced by one way of reading Moroni’s later editorial comment: “Having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil; therefore he saw Jesus.”

Yet another interpretation of this passage is that the faith of the brother of Jared was so great he saw not only the spirit finger and body of the premortal Jesus (which presumably many other prophets had also seen) but also some distinctly more revealing aspect of Christ’s body of flesh, blood, and bone. Exactly what insight into the temporal nature of Christ’s future body the brother of Jared could have had is not clear, but Jehovah did say to him, “Because of thy faith thou hast seen that I shall take upon me flesh and blood,” and Moroni said that Christ revealed himself in this instance “in the likeness of the same body even as he showed himself unto the Nephites.” Some have taken that to mean literally “the same body” the Nephites would see-a body of flesh and bone. A stronger position would suggest it was only the spiritual likeness of that future body. In emphasizing that this was a spiritual body being revealed and not some special precursor simulating flesh and bone, Jehovah said, “This body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit . . . and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh.” Moroni also affirmed this, saying, “Jesus showed himself unto this man in the spirit.”

A final explanation-and in terms of the brother of Jared’s faith the most persuasive one-is that Christ was saying to the brother of Jared, “Never have I showed myself unto man in this manner, without my volition, driven solely by the faith of the beholder.” As a rule, prophets are invited into the presence of the Lord, are bidden to enter his presence by him and only with his sanction. The brother of Jared, on the other hand, seems to have thrust himself through the veil, not as an unwelcome guest but perhaps technically as an uninvited one. Said Jehovah, “Never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast; for were it not so ye could not have seen my finger. . . . Never has man believed in me as thou hast.” Obviously the Lord himself was linking unprecedented faith with this unprecedented vision. If the vision itself was not unique, then it had to be the faith and how the vision was obtained that was so unparalleled. The only way that faith could be so remarkable was its ability to take the prophet, uninvited, where others had been able to go only with God’s bidding.

That appears to be Moroni’s understanding of the circumstance when he later wrote, “Because of the knowledge [which came as a result of faith] of this man he could not be kept from beholding within the veil. . . . Wherefore, having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil; therefore he saw Jesus.”

This may be one of those provocative examples (except that here it is a real experience and not hypothetical) a theologian might cite in a debate about God’s power. Students of religion sometimes ask, “Can God make a rock so heavy that he cannot lift it?” or “Can God hide an item so skillfully that he cannot find it?” Far more movingly and importantly one may ask here, “Is it possible to have faith so great that even God cannot resist it?” At first one is inclined to say that surely God could block such an experience if he wished to. But the text suggests otherwise: “This man . . . could not be kept from beholding within the veil. . . . He could not be kept from within the veil.”

This may be an unprecedented case of a mortal man’s desire, will, and purity so closely approaching the heavenly standard that God could not but honor his devotion. What a remarkable doctrinal statement about the power of a mortal’s faith! And not an ethereal, unreachable, select mortal, either. This was a man who once forgot to call upon the Lord, one whose best ideas were sometimes focused on rocks, and one who doesn’t even have a traditional name in the book that has immortalized his unprecedented experience. Given such faith, we should not be surprised that the Lord would show this prophet much, show him visions that would be relevant to the mission of all the Book of Mormon prophets and to the events of the latter-day dispensation in which the book would be received. (Christ and the New Covenant: The Messianic Message of the Book of Mormon, p.14-24)

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#BOMTC Mormon 8-Ether 1: “It Shall Come in a Day When…”

“IT SHALL COME IN A DAY WHEN”:

…it shall be said that miracles are done away

…the blood of saints shall cry unto the Lord, because of secret combinations and the works of darkness

…the power of God shall be denied, and churches become defiled and be lifted up in the pride of their hearts

…leaders of churches and teachers shall rise in the pride of their hearts, even to the envying of them who belong to their churches

…there shall be heard of fires, and tempests, and vapors of smoke in foreign lands

…there shall be great pollutions upon the face of the earth; there shall be murders, and robbing, and lying, and deceivings, and whoredoms, and all manner of abominations; when there shall be many who will say, Do this, or do that, and it mattereth not, for the Lord will uphold such at the last day

…there shall be churches built up that shall say: Come unto me, and for your money you shall be forgiven of your sins (Mormon 8:26-32)

Doesn’t sound like a very good day does it? And yet, it is OUR DAY that is being spoken about in Mormon 8!

After writing about the destruction of his people and the death of his father, Moroni prophesied of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. Moroni saw that the Nephite record would come forth in a day of great wickedness. He testified that the Book of Mormon would be “of great worth” (Mormon 8:14) during the spiritually dangerous conditions of the last days. As you have read the Book of Mormon, I am confident that you have discovered that “great worth” for yourself.

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I love the lyrics to the song, “For Our Day”It describes well the purpose of the Book of Mormon “for our day”…

The words of a book like heavenly sounds,

have spoken to us from out of the ground.

This voice from the past, now heard in our day,

Is a work and a wonder today.

A voice we can trust, that cries from the dust.

And is speaking to us.

In our day when people hunger,

For our time when good men wander,

A book is designed to give help divine for our day.

The words of a book that shine as a light

have opened our eyes and restore our sight.

This light of the Lord that shows us the way

Is a marvelous work and a wonder.

A  light for our time, to brighten our minds.

It gives sight to the blind

This book of books, like an iron rod,

Leads to the fruit of the Love of God

In our day when people hunger,

For our time when good men wonder,

A book is designed to give help divine for our day.

Written for Us Today

President Ezra Taft Benson explained that the Book of Mormon was meant for our generation. We must, therefore, make it a center-point of our study. (The Book of Mormon—Keystone of Our Religion)

#BOMTC Day 77, June 22~Mormon 8-Ether 1 or Pages 483-488, book-of-mormon

Prepared for Our Day

Elder L. Tom Perry also explained that the Book of Mormon was prepared for our day. (Blessings Resulting from Reading the Book of Mormon)

#BOMTC Day 77, June 22~Mormon 8-Ether 1 or Pages 483-488, Book of mormon

For Our Day

Latter-day Saint youth from around the world describe the influence and guidance the Book of Mormon provides in their lives.

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#BOMTC Mormon 5-7: From FAIR to FALLEN!

Imagine how Mormon must have felt as he witnessed the devastation of the final battle between the Nephites and the Lamanites. He had labored his entire life to do the will of the Lord and had tried over and over to help the people repent and return to God.

#BOMTC Day 76, June 21~Mormon 5-7 or Pages 477-482, Mormon Abridging

“I write a small abridgment,” said Mormon, “daring not to give a full account of the things which I have seen … that ye might not have too great sorrow because of the wickedness of this people.” (Morm. 5:9)

Mormon’s message is for our day: “How can ye stand before the power of God, except ye shall repent and turn from your evil ways? Know ye not that ye are in the hands of God?” (Morm. 5:22–23) In these chapters we can see the extreme consequences that can come upon a people once they have turned from God and resist repentance.

In the short video below, the end of the great destruction of the battle of Cumorah is depicted. As Mormon and his son Moroni behold the hundreds of thousands of Nephites slain in the last battle with the Lamanites, Mormon laments, “O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! …How is it that ye could have fallen!” (Mormon 6:17 & 19).

O Ye Fair Ones

As I was doing some research for this post, I ran across an article that I had long forgotten about. It is called, “Mormon: The Man and the Book, Part 1“, and it was written by Jeffrey R. Holland, when he was the commissioner of Church Education. I don’t believe that there is anything better that I could post than what he has already left for us to study. It will be well worth your time to learn from this master teacher about Mormon and his book.

Mormon: The Man and the Book, Part 1

(Jeffrey R. Holland, “Mormon: The Man and the Book, Part 1,” Ensign Mar. 1978)

The Prophet Joseph Smith once wrote in his journal, “It was an awful responsibility to write in the name of the Lord.” (Joseph Smith, Jr., History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1:226.) One who must have felt that “awful responsibility” as much as any other in this world was Mormon, when at the tender age of ten years he was introduced to the weighty assignment that would be his.

After nearly a thousand years of Nephite history he was called of God to select and summarize the story of his people. That story tells in part of “peace in the land” and “all manner of miracles,” including the appearance and sermons of the resurrected Son of God.

But the story also contains the terror and depravity of that civilization gone awry, a dispensation concluding “without order and without mercy” in which women were fed on the flesh of their husbands and children were offered as sacrifice to dumb idols. In the end, Mormon’s was a painful and very lonely task.

Of the record Mormon helped to produce, the Prophet Joseph Smith said: “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.” (History of the Church, 4:461.) After long decades of darkness, the appearance of Mormon’s book would be one of the first contributions toward the “restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21) in preparation for the fullness of times. His task was as crucial in the eternal plan of salvation as it was unique.

One prevailing impression we have as we read of Mormon’s life and times is that he has been almost too modest, too brief (scarcely twelve pages) with the inspiration and insight of a man so uniquely chosen and prepared to write. Indeed, we are grateful that his son, Moroni, shared with us both his memories of and his personal correspondence with his father, which reveal Mormon’s great doctrinal strength, his humanity and hope, and his abiding devotion to his people. (See Moro. 7–9.)

While acknowledging our indebtedness to Moroni for including these wonderfully inspiring chapters, we nevertheless wonder what other great discourses we might have received from Mormon if the book he abridged or the times in which he lived had not restricted his hand and limited his opportunity to speak to us. What we do have from him—and thus what we come to know of him—is of the highest order and places him in the front ranks of ancient America’s prophetic voices.

We know that “every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose” in his premortal existence. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 365.) Perhaps that call has an effect on those men even in their earliest mortal years, for Mormon was recognized by his predecessor Ammaron as being “a sober child” and one “quick to observe.” (Morm. 1:2.) As a lad only ten years of age, Mormon received a charge from Ammaron that some fourteen years later he should “go to the land Antum, unto a hill which shall be called Shim” and there obtain the ancient and faithfully recorded history of his people. (Morm. 1:3.) It was a charge he accepted and faithfully fulfilled.

Under the guidance of his father, for whom he was named (see Morm. 1:5–6), young Mormon moved to the land of Zarahemla when he was eleven years of age and prepared for his prophetic role. But these were difficult times. After more than two hundred years of peace and righteousness introduced on the western hemisphere by the Savior himself, the civilization had now declined to the point where “both the people of Nephi and the Lamanites had become exceeding wicked one like unto another. … And there were none that were righteous save it were the disciples of Jesus.” (4 Ne. 1:45–46.) Indeed, that wickedness continued unchecked upon the whole of the land until even the disciples of Jesus, that last remnant of Christ’s ministry among the people, were taken away by the Lord:

“And the work of miracles and of healing did cease because of the iniquity of the people.

“There were no gifts from the Lord, and the Holy Ghost did not come upon any, because of their wickedness and unbelief.” (Morm. 1:13–14.)

Maintaining his integrity and faithful independence amidst such evil practice, Mormon was, at approximately the same age as the young prophet Joseph Smith, “visited of the Lord.” (Morm. 1:15.) Still in his teens, he tried valiantly to preach to his people, but because these people had willfully rebelled against their God and because their wickedness continued to run rampant, he was finally forbidden of God to speak. “My mouth was shut,” he records, “and I was forbidden that I should preach unto them … because of the hardness of their hearts.” (Morm. 1:16–17.)

Other, if less divine, opportunities for service were given to him. Like his ancestor Nephi, Mormon was also “large in stature” (Morm. 2:1), and with both a strong body and a resolute spirit he was chosen to lead the armies of the Nephite people—at the age of sixteen.

Even as Nephite blood flooded the battlefields, however, an army of domestic adversaries—thieves, robbers, murderers, and magicians—sheared the more private fabric of Nephite society. There was despair at home and abroad, and great sorrow among the people.

But as Mormon records, “Their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin.

“And they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God, and wish to die. …

“The day of grace was past with them, both temporally and spiritually.” (Morm. 2:13–15.)

The theft of personal property naturally grew into more conquest of home and lands until Mormon watched these, his brothers and sisters, stand in open conflict against each other and fall in open rebellion against their God. The bodies of the dead were “heaped up as dung upon the face of the land.” (Morm. 2:15.)

In the midst of this kind of personal and public destruction, Mormon made his way to the hill Shim and obtained the plates of Nephi in fulfillment of Ammaron’s commandment. There on these ancient metal plates he would, over the weeks and months ahead, give “a full account of all the wickedness and abominations” of his people, for there was little else to record. Indeed, these scenes of wickedness and abomination had been before his eyes “ever since I have been sufficient to behold the ways of man.” (Morm. 2:18.) Nephite history in the fourth century A.D. was by every standard an unpleasant story to tell.

Striving to maintain what military defense he could, even as he recorded the inevitable demise of his people, Mormon urged that the Nephites “stand boldly” and defend “their wives, and their children, and their houses, and their homes.” (Morm. 2:23.) Although there was an occasional temporary gain, Mormon faced the most hopeless of all military tasks—fighting when “the strength of the Lord was not with us.” He records in his history, “Yea, we were left to ourselves, that the Spirit of the Lord did not abide in us; therefore we had become weak like unto our brethren.” (Morm. 2:26.)

As he fought against the enemy with sword and shield, he also tried to pierce the heart of his own people with strong testimony. But his cry was in vain. These people would not make that one crucial admission that the Lord God of Israel held the keys to their success. (See Morm. 3:2–3.) The warring would go on.

Both armies fought on in the feeble strength of the arm of flesh; and after two surprisingly successful defenses against Lamanite attacks, the Nephites “began to boast in their own strength.” (Morm. 3:9.) In utter despair Mormon threw down his weapons of war and vowed he would have no more to do with their cause. Though he “had loved them” (Morm. 3:12), he refused to lead their military forces and, by the Lord’s command, waited “as an idle witness” for total destruction. (Morm. 3:16.)

Yet at such moments of disappointment and frustration we learn something special about the heart and hunger of this man. His faith, his hope, and his charity were irrepressible. He could not abandon his own people. Notwithstanding their wickedness, he agreed once more to lead them. But some critical threshold had been passed. These people had decisively chosen darkness over light, evil over goodness, blood over benevolence. Prayer unto God “all day long” (Morm. 3:12) for that kind of soul was difficult indeed, but so Mormon prayed. Nevertheless, the judgments of God overtook his people and the degree of Nephite wickedness was equaled only by their loss of life.

Mormon records: “It is impossible for the tongue to describe, or for man to write a perfect description of the horrible scene of the blood and carnage which was among the people, both of the Nephites and of the Lamanites; and every heart was hardened, so that they delighted in the shedding of blood continually.

“And there never had been so great wickedness among all the children of Lehi, nor even among all the house of Israel, according to the words of the Lord, as was among this people.” (Morm. 4:11–12.)

Undoubtedly it was in one of these times that Mormon wrote the painful letter to his son which Moroni recorded in his own book.

“My beloved son,” he writes, “I am laboring with [the Nephites] continually; and when I speak the word of God with sharpness they tremble and anger against me; and when I use no sharpness they harden their hearts against it. …

“They have no fear of death; and they have lost their love, one towards another; and they thirst after blood and revenge continually.” (Moro. 9:1, 4–5.)

But Mormon’s remarkable and indomitable spirit prevails. He holds to faith, hope, and charity, and to the miraculous intervention of angels and heavenly priesthood powers, as a prophet always will. Indeed, he loved his people with a “perfect love” that “casteth out all fear.” (Moro. 8:16.) He would simply try once again.

“And now, my beloved son,” he writes, “notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; … for we have a labor to perform.” (Moro. 9:6.)

The Spirit of Christ could yet lead this people if they would permit it to do so, and by his light they could yet “lay hold on every good thing.” (Moro. 7:21.) Even in the midst of these wicked days there was an opportunity to repent, a message delivered by the very angels of heaven. In the midst of his people’s abject wickedness, Mormon reminds his son that, in the past, “by the ministering of angels, and by every word which proceeded forth out of the mouth of God, men began to exercise faith in Christ; and thus by faith, they did lay hold on every good thing.” (Moro. 7:25.)

And what God did in the past, he would do now: “Have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?

“Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men.” (Moro. 7:36–37.)

What a remarkable message to be delivered in what we know were frightful and unfaithful times! We wonder what miracles might have been wrought, even at that late hour, if congregations of Nephite saints had claimed the privileges which could have been theirs. But they did not choose to claim them and so, for them, the day of miracles did indeed cease.

Gradually, inevitably, inexorably the Nephites lost men, women, children, property, and possessions to the increasingly powerful Lamanites; they “began to be swept off by them even as a dew before the sun.” (Morm. 4:18.) And as Nephite women and children were being sacrificed to Lamanite idols (Morm. 4:21), Mormon once again took command of the Nephite army, though he knew it was in vain and would be the last time.

“I was without hope,” he said, “for I knew the judgments of the Lord which should come upon them; for they repented not of their iniquities, but did struggle for their lives without calling upon that Being who created them.” (Morm. 5:2.)

Mormon achieved some temporary victories and maintained some temporary positions, but ultimately the Lamanites moved upon them in numbers so vast that “they did tread the people of the Nephites under their feet.” (Morm. 5:6.)

In solitude and sorrow Mormon withdrew from the horde and wrote to an audience yet unborn but certain to receive his record. For Jew, Lamanite, and Gentile he describes the destruction of what had once been “a delightsome people,” a nation who once had “Christ for their shepherd.” (Morm. 5:17.) Now he records that “they are led about by Satan, even as chaff is driven before the wind, or as a vessel is tossed about upon the waves, without sail or anchor, or without anything wherewith to steer her; and even as she is, so are they.” (Morm. 5:18.)

At Mormon’s request, the Lamanites let the Nephites gather in the land of Cumorah (Morm. 6:2–4) to wage “the last struggle” of these peoples. (Morm. 6:6.) Mormon, now old and hoping only to protect the record, hid in the Hill Cumorah all the plates with which he had been entrusted, save the brief abridged record that he gave to his son Moroni. (Morm. 6:6.) In fearful anticipation and finally horrible realization, Mormon and Moroni fought as the remaining Nephite men, women, and children fell before the oncoming armies of the Lamanites. Mormon himself fell wounded, but his life, for a time, was spared as the Lamanite armies swept on. Only he, Moroni, and twenty-two other Nephites remained; 230,000 of their nation had fallen.

The scope and significance of that horrible slaughter may be seen more readily when we realize that the great American Civil War of the 1860s, the costliest war, in terms of human life, that the United States has ever known, took the lives of 140,000 men in a five-year period. Here, 230,000 fell in a single day.

#BOMTC Day 76, June 21~Mormon 5-7 or Pages 477-482, Mormon and Moroni After Final Battle

Looking out over that carnage, Mormon cried:

O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you! …

“O ye fair sons and daughters, ye fathers and mothers, ye husbands and wives, ye fair ones, how is it that ye could have fallen!

“But behold, ye are gone, and my sorrows cannot bring your return.” (Morm. 6:17, 19–20.)

As his own death approached, Mormon concluded his record with one great and final testimony.

To the mighty remnant of the house of Israel he testified that they must come to know that they are God’s covenant people. They must come to know that repentance is the only course to salvation.

They must come to know that war must cease and the peace of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only victory over death and the grave.

If indeed the great remnant of the house of Israel will lay hold upon his record and the gospel of Jesus Christ which it teaches, then, he promises, “it shall be well with you.”

Having seen a devastating day of judgment upon his own people, Mormon closed his weary eyes, seeking the rest of the valiant and the consolation of the saints. But to his eternal credit—and for our eternal good—he left behind a testament which would one day speak “out of the dust” and “hiss forth from generation to generation.” (Moro. 10:27–28.) It would be in every way “a marvellous work and a wonder.” (Isa. 29:14.)

For a wonderful followup to this article see, “Mormon: The Man and the Book, Part 2

#BOMTC Day 76, June 21~Mormon 5-7 or Pages 477-482, Moroni Mourning

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#BOMTC Mormon 2-4: Godly Sorrow

“More good” Mormon desired to help the “more bad” Nephites repent, but because of their willful rebellion, he was forbidden by the Lord to preach to them. The “more bad” Nephites lost the gift of the Holy Ghost and other gifts of God and were left to their own strength as they battled the Lamanites. Mormon pled with the Nephites to repent; instead, they boasted in their own strength and swore to avenge their fallen brethren. Because the Lord had forbidden His people to seek revenge, Mormon refused to lead their army, and they were defeated. As the Nephites persisted in wickedness, God poured out His judgments upon them and the Lamanites began to sweep them from the earth.

One of the lessons that we can learn and apply from these chapters is that true repentance (change) cannot be complete without sincere sorrow. At one point Mormon’s heart began to rejoice because it appeared that his people had begun to sorrow unto repentance (Mormon 2:12). Unfortunately he quickly found that their sorrow was not unto repentance, but rather the “sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin” (Mormon 2:13). Their sorrow turned to anger and vengeance, which led to their ultimate downfall (Mormon 3:14-15).

#BOMTC Day 75, June 20~Mormon 2-4 or Pages 471-476, Godly Sorrow (1)

In 2 Corinthians 7:8-10 Paul emphasized the importance of godly sorrow in the repentance process. He taught that Godly sorrow for sin leads to repentance, and the sorrow of the world leads to death.

For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.

Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.

10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

It is important to understand the difference between godly and worldly sorrow, because it is godly sorrow for sin that leads to true repentance.

So what is the difference between godly sorrow and “the sorrow of the world”? Why is godly sorrow an important part of repentance?

President Spencer W. Kimball explained:

“If one is sorry only because someone found out about his sin, his repentance is not complete. Godly sorrow causes one to want to repent, even though he has not been caught by others, and makes him determined to do right no matter what happens. This kind of sorrow brings righteousness and will work toward forgiveness” (Repentance Brings Forgiveness [pamphlet, 1984], 8).

President Ezra Taft Benson said:

“It is not uncommon to find men and women in the world who feel remorse for the things they do wrong. Sometimes this is because their actions cause them or loved ones great sorrow and misery. Sometimes their sorrow is caused because they are caught and punished for their actions. Such worldly feelings do not constitute ‘godly sorrow’ (2 Corinthians 7:10).

“Godly sorrow is a gift of the Spirit. It is a deep realization that our actions have offended our Father and our God. It is the sharp and keen awareness that our behavior caused the Savior, He who knew no sin, even the greatest of all, to endure agony and suffering. Our sins caused Him to bleed at every pore. This very real mental and spiritual anguish is what the scriptures refer to as having ‘a broken heart and a contrite spirit’ (D&C 20:37). Such a spirit is the absolute prerequisite for true repentance” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [1988], 72).

Ezra Taft Benson, Godly Sorrow

In the short video below President Dieter F. Uchtdorf explains that godly sorrow leads to repentance.

Godly Sorrow

We need a strong faith in Christ to be able to repent. Our faith has to include a “correct idea of [God’s] character, perfections, and attributes” (Lectures on Faith [1985], 38). If we believe that God knows all things, is loving, and is merciful, we will be able to put our trust in Him for our salvation without wavering. Faith in Christ will change our thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors that are not in harmony with God’s will.

True repentance brings us back to doing what is right. To truly repent we must recognize our sins and feel remorse, or godly sorrow, and confess those sins to God. If our sins are serious, we must also confess them to our authorized priesthood leader. We need to ask God for forgiveness and do all we can to correct whatever harm our actions may have caused. Repentance means a change of mind and heart—we stop doing things that are wrong, and we start doing things that are right. It brings us a fresh attitude toward God, oneself, and life in general. (“Point of Safe Return,” Ensign, May 2007)

The following presentation portrays a young woman learning the difference between worldly and godly sorrow. In an interview for a temple recommend for her marriage she confesses some past sins to her bishop. She is upset and feels worldly sorrow when her bishop tells her she cannot have a temple recommend until she repents. Through the repentance process the young woman begins to feel godly sorrow and the sweet joy that follows true repentance.

Godly Sorrow Leads to Repentance

I invite you to watch/listen to/read President Uchtdorf’s talk below, in which he helps us to understand the importance of godly sorrow and invites us to use it to repent and change.

You Can Do It Now!

When I was young, falling and getting up seemed to be one and the same motion. Over the years, however, I have come to the unsettling conclusion that the laws of physics have changed—and not to my advantage.

Not long ago I was skiing with my 12-year-old grandson. We were enjoying our time together when I hit an icy spot and ended up making a glorious crash landing on a steep slope.

I tried every trick to stand up, but I couldn’t—I had fallen, and I couldn’t get up.

I felt fine physically, but my ego was a bit bruised. So I made sure that my helmet and goggles were in place, since I much preferred that other skiers not recognize me. I could imagine myself sitting there helplessly as they skied by elegantly, shouting a cheery, “Hello, Brother Uchtdorf!”

I began to wonder what it would take to rescue me. That was when my grandson came to my side. I told him what had happened, but he didn’t seem very interested in my explanations of why I couldn’t get up. He looked me in the eyes, reached out, took my hand, and in a firm tone said, “Opa, you can do it now!”

Instantly, I stood.

I am still shaking my head over this. What had seemed impossible only a moment before immediately became a reality because a 12-year-old boy reached out to me and said, “You can do it now!” To me, it was an infusion of confidence, enthusiasm, and strength.

Brethren, there may be times in our lives when rising up and continuing on may seem beyond our own ability. That day on a snow-covered slope, I learned something. Even when we think we cannot rise up, there is still hope. And sometimes we just need someone to look us in the eyes, take our hand, and say, “You can do it now!”

The Delusion of Toughness

We may think that women are more likely than men to have feelings of inadequacy and disappointment—that these feelings affect them more than us. I’m not sure that this is true. Men experience feelings of guilt, depression, and failure. We might pretend these feelings don’t bother us, but they do. We can feel so burdened by our failures and shortcomings that we begin to think we will never be able to succeed. We might even assume that because we have fallen before, falling is our destiny. As one writer put it, “We beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”1

I have watched men filled with potential and grace disengage from the challenging work of building the kingdom of God because they had failed a time or two. These were men of promise who could have been exceptional priesthood holders and servants of God. But because they stumbled and became discouraged, they withdrew from their priesthood commitments and pursued other but less worthy endeavors.

And thus, they go on, living only a shadow of the life they could have led, never rising to the potential that is their birthright. As the poet lamented, these are among those unfortunate souls who “die with [most of] their music [still] in them.”2

No one likes to fail. And we particularly don’t like it when others—especially those we love—see us fail. We all want to be respected and esteemed. We want to be champions. But we mortals do not become champions without effort and discipline or without making mistakes.

Brethren, our destiny is not determined by the number of times we stumble but by the number of times we rise up, dust ourselves off, and move forward.

Godly Sorrow

We know this mortal life is a test. But because our Heavenly Father loves us with a perfect love, He shows us where to find the answers. He has given us the map that allows us to navigate the uncertain terrain and unexpected trials that each of us encounters. The words of the prophets are part of this map.

When we stray—when we fall or depart from the way of our Heavenly Father—the words of the prophets tell us how to rise up and get back on track.

Of all the principles taught by prophets over the centuries, one that has been emphasized over and over again is the hopeful and heartwarming message that mankind can repent, change course, and get back on the true path of discipleship.

That does not mean that we should be comfortable with our weaknesses, mistakes, or sins. But there is an important difference between the sorrow for sin that leads to repentance and the sorrow that leads to despair.

The Apostle Paul taught that “godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation … but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”3 Godly sorrowinspires change and hope through the Atonement of Jesus ChristWorldly sorrow pulls us down, extinguishes hope, and persuades us to give in to further temptation.

Godly sorrow leads to conversion4 and a change of heart.5 It causes us to hate sin and love goodness.6 It encourages us to stand up and walk in the light of Christ’s love. True repentance is about transformation, not torture or torment. Yes, heartfelt regret and true remorse for disobedience are often painful and very important steps in the sacred process of repentance. But when guilt leads to self-loathing or prevents us from rising up again, it is impeding rather than promoting our repentance.

Brethren, there is a better way. Let us rise up and become men of God. We have a champion, a Savior, who walked through the valley of the shadow of death on our behalf. He gave Himself as a ransom for our sins. No one has ever had greater love than this—Jesus Christ, the Lamb without blemish, willingly laid Himself on the altar of sacrifice and paid the price for our sins to “the uttermost farthing.”7 He took upon Himself our suffering. He took our burdens, our guilt upon His shoulders. My dear friends, when we decide to come to Him, when we take upon ourselves His name and boldly walk in the path of discipleship, then through the Atonement we are promised not only happiness and “peace in this world” but also “eternal life in the world to come.”8

When we make mistakes, when we sin and fall, let us think of what it means to truly repent. It means turning our heart and will to God and giving up sin. True heartfelt repentance brings with it the heavenly assurance that “we can do it now.”

Who Are You?

One of the adversary’s methods to prevent us from progressing is to confuse us about who we really are and what we really desire.

We want to spend time with our children, but we also want to engage in our favorite manly hobbies. We want to lose weight, but we also want to enjoy the foods we crave. We want to become Christlike, but we also want to give the guy who cuts us off in traffic a piece of our mind.

Satan’s purpose is to tempt us to exchange the priceless pearls of true happiness and eternal values for a fake plastic trinket that is merely an illusion and counterfeit of happiness and joy.

Another method the adversary uses to discourage us from rising up is to make us see the commandments as things that have been forced upon us. I suppose it is human nature to resist anything that does not appear to be our own idea in the first place.

If we see healthy eating and exercise as something only our doctor expects of us, we will likely fail. If we see these choices as who we are and who we want to become, we have a greater chance of staying the course and succeeding.

If we see home teaching as only the stake president’s goal, we may place a lower value on doing it. If we see it as our goal—something we desire to do in order to become more Christlike and minister to others—we will not only fulfill our commitment but also accomplish it in a way that blesses the families we visit and our own as well.

Often enough, we are the ones who are being helped up by friends orfamily. But if we look around with observant eyes and the motive of a caring heart, we will recognize the opportunities the Lord places in front of us to help others rise up and move toward their true potential. The scriptures suggest, “Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.”9

It is a great source of spiritual power to live lives of integrity and righteousness and to keep our eyes on where we want to be in the eternities. Even if we can see this divine destination only with the eye of faith, it will help us to stay the course.

When our attention is mainly focused on our daily successes or failures, we may lose our way, wander, and fall. Keeping our sights on higher goals will help us become better sons and brothers, kinder fathers, and more loving husbands.

Even those who set their hearts upon divine goals may still occasionally stumble, but they will not be defeated. They trust and rely upon the promises of God. They will rise up again with a bright hope in a righteous God and the inspiring vision of a great future. They know they can do it now.

You Can Do It Now

Every person, young and old, has had his own personal experience with falling. Falling is what we mortals do. But as long as we are willing to rise up again and continue on the path toward the spiritual goals God has given us, we can learn something from failure and become better and happier as a result.

My dear brethren, my dear friends, there will be times when you think you cannot continue on. Trust the Savior and His love. With faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and the power and hope of the restored gospel, you will be able to walk tall and continue on.

Brethren, we love you. We pray for you. I wish you could hear President Monson pray for you. Whether you are a young father, an elderly priesthood bearer, or a newly ordained deacon, we are mindful of you. The Lord is mindful of you!

We acknowledge that your path will at times be difficult. But I give you this promise in the name of the Lord: rise up and follow in the footsteps of our Redeemer and Savior, and one day you will look back and be filled with eternal gratitude that you chose to trust the Atonement and its power to lift you up and give you strength.

My dear friends and brethren, no matter how many times you have slipped or fallen, rise up! Your destiny is a glorious one! Stand tall and walk in the light of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ! You are stronger than you realize. You are more capable than you can imagine. You can do it now! Of this I testify in the sacred name of our Master and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, amen.

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#BOMTC 4 Nephi-Mormon 1: MORMON Should Mean “MORE GOOD”

In my previous post I focused on President Russell M. Nelson’s plea and President M. Russell Ballard’s emphasis and followup on the importance of using “The Correct Name of the Church.”

We may never be able to shake the nickname of “Mormons” but as President Nelson pointed out:

“While we have no control over what other people may call us, we are in complete control over how we refer to ourselves. How can we expect others to honor the correct name of the Church if we as its members fail to do so?”

So even though others may not be interested in using the correct name of the Church we should be.

Now, when other’s choose to use the term “Mormon” we can do what President Nelson did during an interview that he had while visiting Samoa and use that opportunity to not just emphasize the correct name of the Church, but do so in a way that emphasizes the Savior Jesus Christ :

SAMOA OBSERVER: In this part of the world, the public face of the L.D.S. Church is its humanitarian work. Can you talk a little bit about that, and can you tell us what drives the humanitarian work of the church?

President Nelson: Let me correct you, it’s not the L.D.S. church. It’s the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I make that correction because we are humanitarian because Jesus taught us to be a caring people.

See what he did there?! Okay, now that we understand this a bit more, let’s look at today’s post–“MORMON” SHOULD MEAN: “MORE GOOD”.

Now, you may be asking yourself, “‘More good‘, is that proper grammar?” Well, its not, but it is derived from an article that was purported to have been written by the Prophet Joseph Smith. Wikipedia explains:

The May 15, 1843 issue of the official Mormon periodical Times and Seasons contains an article, purportedly written by Joseph Smith, Jr., deriving the etymology of the name “Mormon” from English “more” + Egyptian mon, “good”, and extolling the meaning as follows:

It has been stated that this word [mormon] was derived from the Greek word mormo. This is not the case. There was no Greek or Latin upon the plates from which I, through the grace of God, translated the Book of Mormon. Let the language of that book speak for itself. On the 523d page, of the fourth edition, it reads: And now behold we have written this record according to our knowledge in the characters which are called among us the Reformed Egyptian … none other people knoweth our language; therefore [God] hath prepared means for the interpretation thereof.” … [The] Bible in its widest sense, means good; for the Savior says according to the gospel of John, “I am the good shepherd;” and it will not be beyond the common use of terms, to say that good is among the most important in use, and though known by various names in different languages, still its meaning is the same, and is ever in opposition to bad. We say from the Saxon, good; the Dane, god; the Goth, goda; the German,gut; the Dutch, goed; the Latin, bonus; the Greek, kalos; the Hebrew, tob; and the Egyptian, mon. Hence, with the addition of more, or the contraction, mor, we have the word MOR-MON; which means, literally, more good.

Whether [Joseph] Smith was the actual author of this passage is uncertain. Official LDS Church historian B. H. Roberts removed the quote from his History of the Church compilation, saying he found evidence that W. W. Phelps wrote that paragraph and that it was “based on inaccurate premises and was offensively pedantic.” LDS Church apostle Gordon B. Hinckley noted that the “more good” translation is incorrect but added that “Mormon means ‘more good'” is a positive motto for members of the LDS Church. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormon_(word))

(For a more scholarly take on the origin and etymology of the word Mormon see Book of Mormon Onomasticon: MORMON and “Most Desirable Above All Things”: Onomastic Play on Mary and Mormon in the Book of Mormon, pages 41-61.)

The reason that I am focusing on this for the current post is because in the book of Fourth Nephi we find a people who started off being “more good” and ended up being “more bad” (WAY “more bad”).

After Jesus Christ’s visit and ministry in the Americas, the people applied His teachings and enjoyed 200 years of unity, prosperity, and happiness (“more good“). Eventually, however, the people began to be prideful and became increasingly wicked (“more bad”). Soon they became divided into Nephites and Lamanites again, and after 300 years, both the Nephites and Lamanites had become wicked (“more bad”), with only a few righteous people remaining. A young man named MORMON was one of the few remaining righteous people (“more good“).

As you study from the book of Mormon, you will learn valuable lessons from Mormon, who lived faithfully as a disciple of Jesus Christ (“more good“) even though he was surrounded throughout his life by a “more bad” “continual scene of wickedness and abominations” (Mormon 2:18). The Nephites lost the gift of the Holy Ghost and other gifts of God and were left to their own strength as they battled the Lamanites (“more bad”). By studying the accounts in Mormon we can learn the importance of choosing to live “more good” in a world that is continually becoming “more bad”.

How “more good” was Mormon? When he was “about ten years of age,” the record keeper Ammaron informed him that eventually he would have the responsibility to record “all the things that [he] observed concerning this people” (Mormon 1:2, 4). When he was 15 years old, Mormon was “visited of the Lord, and tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus” (Mormon 1:15). In the same year, the Nephites appointed him to lead their armies (see Mormon 2:1). At about age 24, he gained custody of the plates of Nephi and made “a record according to the words of Ammaron” (Mormon 2:17). Later, Mormon began abridging the large plates of Nephi, which included writings from prophets and record keepers from Lehi through Ammaron. Near the end of his life, Mormon “hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to [him] by the hand of the Lord,” except for a few plates that he gave to his son Moroni (Mormon 6:6). He then led the Nephites in their last great battle against the Lamanites. Before Mormon died, he directed Moroni to complete his record. That is a lot of “more good” stuff! (For an interesting analysis of the timeline of Mormon’s life see, “The Writer and His Spokesman:
A Study of the Prophet Mormon and His Son Moroni“)

President Gordon B. Hinckley had this to say about the nickname Mormon:

“While I sometimes regret that people do not call this church by its proper name, I am happy that the nickname they use is one of great honor made so by a remarkable man and a book which gives an unmatched testimony concerning the Redeemer of the world. Anyone who comes to know the man Mormon, through the reading and pondering of his words, anyone who reads this precious trove of history which was assembled and preserved in large measure by him, will come to know that Mormon is not a word of disrepute, but that it represents the greatest good—that good which is of God” (“Mormon Should Mean ‘More Good,’” Ensign, Nov. 1990, 52–53).

That doesn’t mean that we are “more good” (better) than other people by virtue of our membership, but it does mean that by virtue of our membership we should be striving to be “more good” (better) each day.

Therein lies our challenge: to strive to be “more good” in a world that is becoming “more bad”. It is interesting to consider what may have been the result had the people of Fourth Nephi continued to live after a manner of being “more good“. Unfortunately, we only get to learn the consequences of becoming “more bad”. But Mormon shows us that no matter how “more bad” the world may get, anyone can use their agency to become “more good“, if they really want to be.

Here is a little song that can help us to ponder the question we should be asking at this point: How can I be “more good?

How Can I Be

Lets be like MORE like MORMON, today and EVERY DAY, by being “MORE GOOD”!

Mormon Should Mean “More Good”

My beloved brethren and sisters, I greet you with love this beautiful Sabbath morning as we are assembled in the Tabernacle on Temple Square, and as you are gathered in thousands of other Church buildings across the world, as well as in your homes. It is a beautiful autumn morning here in the valley of the mountains where almost a century and a half ago, after much suffering, our pioneer forefathers found a place where they could worship God according to the dictates of conscience. How grateful we are for the peace we enjoy. How precious is the privilege of worshipping our Eternal Father as we desire so to do, while respecting others as they worship according to their desire.

We meet in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of mankind. We meet as members of the Church which carries His sacred name.

Many of our people are disturbed by the practice of the media, and of many others, to disregard totally the true name of the Church and to use the nickname “the Mormon Church.”

Six months ago in our conference Elder Russell M. Nelson delivered an excellent address on the correct name of the Church. He quoted the words of the Lord Himself:

“Thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” (D&C 115:4.)

He then went on to discourse on the various elements of that name. I commend to you a rereading of his talk.

The Mormon church, of course, is a nickname. And nicknames have a way of becoming fixed. I think of the verse concerning a boy and his name:

Father calls me William,
Sister calls me Will,
Mother calls me Willie,
But the fellers call me Bill.

I suppose that regardless of our efforts, we may never convert the world to general use of the full and correct name of the Church. Because of the shortness of the word Mormon and the ease with which it is spoken and written, they will continue to call us the Mormons, the Mormon church, and so forth.

They could do worse. More than fifty years ago, when I was a missionary in England, I said to one of my associates, “How can we get people, including our own members, to speak of the Church by its proper name?”

He replied, “You can’t. The word Mormon is too deeply ingrained and too easy to say.” He went on, “I’ve quit trying. While I’m thankful for the privilege of being a follower of Jesus Christ and a member of the Church which bears His name, I am not ashamed of the nickname Mormon.

“Look,” he went on to say, “if there is any name that is totally honorable in its derivation, it is the name Mormon. And so, when someone asks me about it and what it means, I quietly say—‘Mormon means more good.’” (The Prophet Joseph Smith first said this in 1843; see Times and Seasons,4:194; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 299–300.)

His statement intrigued me—Mormon means “more good.” I knew, of course, that “more good” was not a derivative of the word Mormon. I had studied both Latin and Greek, and I knew that English is derived in some measure from those two languages and that the words more good are not a cognate of the word Mormon. But his was a positive attitude based on an interesting perception. And, as we all know, our lives are guided in large measure by our perceptions. Ever since, when I have seen the wordMormon used in the media to describe us—in a newspaper or a magazine or book or whatever—there flashes into my mind his statement, which has become my motto: Mormon means “more good.”

We may not be able to change the nickname, but we can make it shine with added luster.

After all, it is the name of a man who was a great prophet who struggled to save his nation, and also the name of a book which is a mighty testament of eternal truth, a veritable witness of the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ.

May I remind you for a moment of the greatness and of the goodness of this man Mormon. He lived on this American continent in the fourth century after Christ. When he was a boy of ten the historian of the people, whose name was Ammaron, described Mormon as “a sober child, and … quick to observe.” (Morm. 1:2.) Ammaron gave him a charge that when he reached the age of twenty-four, he was to take custody of the records of the generations who had preceded him.

The years that followed Mormon’s childhood were years of terrible bloodshed for his nation, the result of a long and vicious and terrible war between those who were called Nephites and those who were called Lamanites.

Mormon later became the leader of the armies of the Nephites and witnessed the carnage of his people, making it plain to them that their repeated defeats came because they forsook the Lord and He in turn abandoned them. His nation was destroyed with the slaughter of hundreds of thousands. He was one of only twenty-four who survived. As he looked upon the moldering remains of what once had been legions, he cried:

“O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you!” (Morm. 6:17.)

He wrote to our generation with words of warning and pleading, proclaiming with eloquence his testimony of the resurrected Christ. He warned of calamities to come if we should forsake the ways of the Lord as his own people had done.

Knowing that his own life would soon be brought to an end, as his enemies hunted the survivors, he pleaded for our generation to walk with faith, hope, and charity, declaring: “Charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.” (Moro. 7:47.)

Such was the goodness, the strength, the power, the faith, the prophetic heart of the prophet-leader Mormon.

He was the chief compiler of the book which is called after his name and which has come forth in this period of the world’s history as a voice speaking from the dust in testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It has touched for good the lives of millions who have prayerfully read it and pondered its language. May I tell you of one such I recently met in Europe.

He was a businessman, successful in his undertakings. In the course of his travels he met two of our missionaries. They tried to set up an appointment to teach him. He put them off, but finally agreed to listen. He somewhat perfunctorily accepted what they had to say. He became convinced in his mind that they spoke the truth, but he was not moved in his heart.

He decided that he would read the Book of Mormon. He said that he had been a man of the world, never given to crying. But as he read the book, tears coursed his cheeks. It did something to him. He read it again and felt the same emotions. What had been conversion of the mind became conversion of the heart.

His way of life was altered, his perspective changed. He threw himself into the work of the Lord. Today he fills a high and holy calling in the cause he has come to love.

And so, while I sometimes regret that people do not call this church by its proper name, I am happy that the nickname they use is one of great honor made so by a remarkable man and a book which gives an unmatched testimony concerning the Redeemer of the world.

Anyone who comes to know the man Mormon, through the reading and pondering of his words, anyone who reads this precious trove of history which was assembled and preserved in large measure by him, will come to know that Mormon is not a word of disrepute, but that it represents the greatest good—that good which is of God. It was the modern translator of this ancient record who declared that through reading it a man would come closer to God than through the reading of any other book.

All of this places upon us of this Church and this generation an incumbent and demanding responsibility to recognize that as we are spoken of as Mormons, we must so live that our example will enhance the perception that Mormon can mean in a very real way, “more good.”

In what way, you ask? There are many ways, but I have time to mention only three or four. When I think of the more obvious matters, I think of what we call the Word of Wisdom. This is a divine code of health received through revelation in 1833, 157 years ago. It proscribes alcohol and tobacco, tea and coffee, and emphasizes the use of fruit and grains. ThisWord of Wisdom came to us from the Father of us all, the God of heaven, for our blessing and the blessing of all who would observe it.

I regret that we as a people do not observe it more faithfully. But remarkable have been the blessings that have come of its observance to the degree that we have observed it. Newspapers across the nation have recently run reports on a significant California study. It was conducted by Dr. James Enstrom of the UCLA School of Public Medicine. It included a substantial number of active members of the Church—5,231 high priests and 4,613 of their wives. I quote now from a newspaper story:

“Compared to the other groups, the study found the Mormons had an average of 53 percent fewer fatal cancers … 48 percent fewer deaths from heart disease and 53 percent fewer fatal illnesses of all kinds.” (Salt Lake Tribune, 12 Sept. 1990.)

Dr. Enstrom, speaking of the eight-year study, said that he “can predict that a very active, health-conscious 25-year-old Mormon male will live 11 years longer than the average American male of the same age.” (Ibid.; italics added.)

Can you doubt that the word Mormon, spoken in this context, means “more good?” It means, on average, a longer life. It means, on average, a life substantially more free of pain and misery. It means more happiness. It means “more good.”

Of course, some of our people suffer from these same diseases that afflict others. Some of them die young. But here are the scientific data, released to the world, of an independent study of eight years made by a faculty member of one of the great universities of the nation, a recognized expert in public health who knows whereof he speaks.

As with personal and public health, so also Mormon should mean “more good” in terms of family life.

I recently read an illuminating article on the deterioration of the family in New York City, which is described as a root cause of the severe problems that plague that city and almost every other large city across the world.

The strength of any community lies in the strength of its families. The strength of any nation lies in the strength of its families. Strong family life comes of strong and clear religious understanding of who we are, and why we are here, and of what we may eternally become. Strong family life comes of the perception that each of us is a child of God, born with a divine birthright, and with a great and significant potential. Strong family life comes of parents who love and respect one another, and who love and respect and nurture their children in the ways of the Lord. These are undergirding principles of our teachings as a church. To the degree that we observe these teachings we build strong families whose generations will strengthen the nation.

These are families where there is daily prayer with an acknowledgment of God as our Eternal Father and of our accountability to Him for what we do with our lives.

These are families where parents and children counsel together. These are families where education is encouraged and where children build upon the strengths of one another.

We are far from perfect in doing all that we ought to do, but, speaking collectively, we are trying, and we are achieving some measure of success.

To the degree that we accomplish these Church-fostered goals Mormonmeans “more good.”

It also means more of tolerance and mutual respect and helpfulness. Said the Prophet Joseph Smith, speaking in Nauvoo in the year 1843:

“The Saints can testify whether I am willing to lay down my life for my brethren. If it has been demonstrated that I have been willing to die for a ‘Mormon.’ I am bold to declare before Heaven that I am just as ready to die in defending the rights of a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or a good man of any other denomination; for the same principle which would trample upon the rights of the Latter-day Saints would trample upon the rights of the Roman Catholics, or of any other denomination who may be unpopular and too weak to defend themselves.” (History of the Church, 5:498.)

Last Sunday I attended a sacrament service in one of our university wards, a ward comprised entirely of young married students who are struggling with their educational pursuits as well as with the burdens of family life. Two babies, recently born, were given blessings by their fathers as they were given names to be placed on the rolls of the Church.

I was touched by the prayers of both of these young fathers. One of them, speaking to his newborn son, blessed him that throughout his life he would have a spirit of love for all people regardless of their circumstances or condition. He blessed him that he should practice respect for others regardless of race, religious denomination, or other differences. I know that this young father, a medical student, has carried in his own life, as a faithful member of this Church, love and appreciation and respect for all.

How great a thing is charity, whether it be expressed through the giving of one’s substance, the lending of one’s strength to lift the burdens of others, or as an expression of kindness and appreciation.

The people of this Church, the people of this so-called Mormon church, have given generously of their resources to help those in need. My mind goes back to one Sunday, a few years ago, when the Presidency of the Church asked that our people fast for two meals and consecrate the equivalent value, and more, to help the homeless and hungry in areas of Africa where we had no members, but where there was much of famine and suffering.

On Monday morning the money began to come in. There were hundreds of dollars, and then thousands of dollars, then hundreds of thousands of dollars, and then millions of dollars. These consecrated funds became the means of saving many who otherwise might have starved.

We do not boast of this. I simply mention it in furtherance of my theme that Mormon can and for many does mean “more good.”

The Relief Society of the Church, the Mormon Relief Society which embraces over two million women organized in more than a hundred nations, has as its motto Charity Never Faileth. Innumerable are the deeds of these remarkable and wonderful and unselfish women in succoring those in distress, in binding up the wounds of those who have been hurt, in giving cheer and comfort to those in distress, in feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, and in lifting up those who have fallen and giving them strength and encouragement and the will to go forward.

This remarkable choir seated behind me is known across the world as theMormon Tabernacle Choir. Everywhere that it has been heard—and those places are numerous—its song has been a hymn of peace, of love, of reverence, and of humanity, given in anthem of praise to the Almighty and His Beloved Son.

They of this choir are a part, a segment, of this remarkable thing which the world calls “Mormonism” and which we call the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

And so I leave with you the simple but profound thought: Mormon means “more good.”

The current issue of Fortune magazine, a highly respected business journal, carries a lead article naming Salt Lake City the number one city in America in which to do business. This is a great and singular compliment. Some feel it will help to attract many new people to the community. For us of the Church who reside here, this presents a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate through our attitudes, through our integrity, through our industry and neighborliness that we are the kind of people others appreciate.

May God grant us the strength and the discipline so to conduct our lives as to follow more nearly the matchless example of the Redeemer, of whom it was said, He “went about doing good.” (Acts 10:38.)

I testify of His living reality. I testify of the reality of God, our Eternal Father. I testify of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in this the dispensation of the fulness of times. I testify that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that when people speak of us by the name of this book, they will compliment us, if we will live worthy of the name, remembering that in a very real sense Mormonism must mean that greatergood which the Lord Jesus Christ exemplified. I so pray in His holy name, even the name of Jesus Christ, amen. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Mormon Should Mean ‘More Good'”,” Ensign, Nov. 1990.)

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#BOMTC 3 Nephi 27-30: The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints

#BOMTC Day 73, June 18~3 Nephi 27-29 or Pages 459-464, The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints (1)

Of the several topics that are covered in 3 Nephi 27-29 (what to call Christ’s church; the Atonement of Jesus Christ as the essence of the gospel; through the Savior’s Atonement we may stand spotless before God as we apply the first principles and ordinances of the gospel and endure to the end; Christ granting the Nephite disciples their righteous desires; the transfiguration and translation of three of the Nephite disciples), I think I had better spend my time on the topic that has been taughtemphasized, followed up on, and corrected in our day–THE CORRECT NAME OF THE CHURCH (3 Nephi 27).

President Russell M. Nelson initiated a renewed emphasis on using the full and proper name of the church beginning in August of 2018:

The Correct Name of the Church

Because of the importance and relevance of President Nelson’s message, I am including it in its entirety here. I hope that you will take the time to study it and ponder its significance in your personal life. I will include his footnotes in [brackets and italics] so that you may study those in the context of his prophetic plea:

Today I feel compelled to discuss with you a matter of great importance. Some weeks ago, I released a statement regarding a course correction for the name of the Church.1 [1. “The Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name He has revealed for His Church, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We have work before us to bring ourselves in harmony with His will. In recent weeks, various Church leaders and departments have initiated the necessary steps to do so. Additional information about this important matter will be made available in the coming months” (Russell  M. Nelson, in “The Name of the Church” [official statement, Aug. 16, 2018].I did this because the Lord impressed upon my mind the importance of the name He decreed for His Church, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.2 [2. Preceding Presidents of the Church have made similar requests. For example, President George Albert Smith said: “Don’t let the Lord down by calling this the Mormon Church. He didn’t call it the Mormon Church” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1948, 160).

As you would expect, responses to this statement and to the revised style guide3 [3. See “Style Guide—The Name of the Church] have been mixed. Many members immediately corrected the name of the Church on their blogs and social media pages. Others wondered why, with all that’s going on in the world, it was necessary to emphasize something so “inconsequential.” And some said it couldn’t be done, so why even try? Let me explain why we care so deeply about this issue. But first let me state what this effort is not:

  • It is not a name change.

  • It is not rebranding.

  • It is not cosmetic.

  • It is not a whim.

  • And it is not inconsequential.

Instead, it is a correction. It is the command of the Lord. Joseph Smith did not name the Church restored through him; neither did Mormon. It was the Savior Himself who said, “For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”4 [4. Doctrine and Covenants 115:4.]

Even earlier, in AD 34, our resurrected Lord gave similar instruction to members of His Church when He visited them in the Americas. At that time He said:

“Ye shall call the church in my name. …

“And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church.”5 [5. 3 Nephi 27:7–8.]

Thus, the name of the Church is not negotiable. When the Savior clearly states what the name of His Church should be and even precedes His declaration with, “Thus shall my church be called,” He is serious. And if we allow nicknames to be used or adopt or even sponsor those nicknames ourselves, He is offended.

What’s in a name or, in this case, a nickname? When it comes to nicknames of the Church, such as the “LDS Church,” the “Mormon Church,” or the “Church of the Latter-day Saints,” the most important thing in those names is the absence of the Savior’s name. To remove the Lord’s name from the Lord’s Church is a major victory for Satan. When we discard the Savior’s name, we are subtly disregarding all that Jesus Christ did for us—even His Atonement.

Consider this from His perspective: Premortally, He was Jehovah, God of the Old Testament. Under the direction of His Father, He was the Creator of this and other worlds.6 [6. See Moses 1:33.]He chose to submit to the will of His Father and do something for all of God’s children that no one else could do! Condescending to come to earth as the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh, He was brutally reviled, mocked, spit upon, and scourged. In the Garden of Gethsemane, our Savior took upon Himself every pain, every sin, and all of the anguish and suffering ever experienced by you and me and by everyone who has ever lived or will ever live. Under the weight of that excruciating burden, He bled from every pore.7 [7. See Doctrine and Covenants 19:18.] All of this suffering was intensified as He was cruelly crucified on Calvary’s cross.

Through these excruciating experiences and His subsequent Resurrection—His infinite Atonement—He granted immortality to all and ransomed each one of us from the effects of sin on condition of our repentance.

Following the Savior’s Resurrection and the death of His Apostles, the world plunged into centuries of darkness. Then in the year 1820, God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith to initiate the Restoration of the Lord’s Church.

After all He had endured—and after all He had done for humankind—I realize with profound regret that we have unwittingly acquiesced in the Lord’s restored Church being called by other names, each of which expunges the sacred name of Jesus Christ!

Every Sunday as we worthily partake of the sacrament, we make anew our sacred promise to our Heavenly Father that we are willing to take upon us the name of His Son, Jesus Christ.8 [8. See Moroni 4:3Doctrine and Covenants 20:37, 77.] We promise to follow Him, repent, keep His commandments, and always remember Him.

When we omit His name from His Church, we are inadvertently removing Him as the central focus of our lives.

Taking the Savior’s name upon us includes declaring and witnessing to others—through our actions and our words—that Jesus is the Christ. Have we been so afraid to offend someone who called us “Mormons” that we have failed to defend the Savior Himself, to stand up for Him even in the name by which His Church is called?

If we as a people and as individuals are to have access to the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ—to cleanse and heal us, to strengthen and magnify us, and ultimately to exalt us—we must clearly acknowledge Him as the source of that power. We can begin by calling His Church by the name He decreed.

For much of the world, the Lord’s Church is presently disguised as the “Mormon Church.” But we as members of the Lord’s Church know who stands at its head: Jesus Christ Himself. Unfortunately, many who hear the term Mormon may think that we worship Mormon. Not so! We honor and respect that great ancient American prophet.9 [9. Mormon was one of the four major writers of the Book of Mormon, the others being Nephi, Jacob, and Moroni. All were eyewitnesses of the Lord, as was its inspired translator, the Prophet Joseph Smith.] But we are not Mormon’s disciples. We are the Lord’s disciples.

In the early days of the restored Church, terms such as Mormon Church and Mormons10 [10. Even the word Mormonites was among terms of derision that were employed (see History of the Church, 2:62–63, 126).] were often used as epithets—as cruel terms, abusive terms—designed to obliterate God’s hand in restoring the Church of Jesus Christ in these latter days.11 [11. Other epithets seem to have occurred in New Testament times. During the Apostle Paul’s trial before Felix, Paul was said to be “a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes” (Acts 24:5). Regarding the use of the phrase “of the Nazarenes,” one commentator wrote: “This was the name usually given to Christians by way of contempt. They were so called because Jesus was of Nazareth” (Albert Barnes, Notes, Explanatory and Practical, on the Acts of the Apostles [1937], 313). Similarly, another commentary states: “As our Lord was contemptuously called ‘The Nazarene’ (Matt. xxvi. 71), so the Jews designated his disciples ‘Nazarenes.’ They would not admit that they were Christians, i.e. disciples of the Messiah” (The Pulpit Commentary: The Acts of the Apostles, ed. H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell [1884], 2:231). In a related vein, Elder Neal A. Maxwell observed: “Throughout scriptural history, we see recurring efforts to demean prophets in order to dismiss them—to label them in order to diminish them. Mostly, however, they are simply ignored by their contemporaries and by secular history. After all, early Christians were merely called ‘the sect of the Nazarenes.’ (Acts 24:5.)” (“Out of Obscurity,” Ensign,Nov. 1984, 10).]

Brothers and sisters, there are many worldly arguments against restoring the correct name of the Church. Because of the digital world in which we live and with search engine optimization that helps all of us find information we need almost instantly—including information about the Lord’s Church—critics say that a correction at this point is unwise. Others feel that because we are known so widely as “Mormons” and as the “Mormon Church,” we should make the best of it.

If this were a discussion about branding a man-made organization, those arguments might prevail. But in this crucial matter, we look to Him whose Church this is and acknowledge that the Lord’s ways are not, and never will be, man’s ways. If we will be patient and if we will do our part well, the Lord will lead us through this important task. After all, we know that the Lord helps those who seek to do His will, just as He helped Nephi accomplish the task of building a ship to cross the sea.12 [12. See 1 Nephi 18:1–2.]

We will want to be courteous and patient in our efforts to correct these errors. Responsible media will be sympathetic in responding to our request.

In a previous general conference, Elder Benjamín De Hoyos spoke of such an event. He said:

“Some years ago while serving in the office of public affairs of the Church in Mexico, [a companion and I] were invited to participate in a radio talk show. … [One of the program directors] asked [us], ‘Why does the Church have such a long name? …’

“My companion and I smiled at such a magnificent question and then proceeded to explain that the name of the Church was not chosen by man. It was given by the Savior. … The program director immediately and respectfully responded, ‘We will thus repeat it with great pleasure.’”13 [13. Benjamín De Hoyos, “Called to Be Saints,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 106.]

That report provides a pattern. One by one, our best efforts as individuals will be required to correct errors that have crept in through the years.14 [14. While we have no control over what other people may call us, we are in complete control over how we refer to ourselves. How can we expect others to honor the correct name of the Church if we as its members fail to do so?]

The rest of the world may or may not follow our lead in calling us by the correct name. But it is disingenuous for us to be frustrated if most of the world calls the Church and its members by the wrong names if we do the same.

Our revised style guide is helpful. It states: “In the first reference, the full name of the Church is preferred: ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.’ When a shortened [second] reference is needed, the terms ‘the Church’ or the ‘Church of Jesus Christ’ are encouraged. The ‘restored Church of Jesus Christ’ is also accurate and encouraged.”15 [15.Style Guide—The Name of the Church”]

If someone should ask, “Are you a Mormon?” you could reply, “If you are asking if I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, yes, I am!”

If someone asks, “Are you a Latter-day Saint?”16 [16. The term saint is used often in the Holy Bible. In Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians, for example, he used the word saint at least once in every chapter. A saint is a person who believes in Jesus Christ and strives to follow Him.you might respond, “Yes, I am. I believe in Jesus Christ and am a member of His restored Church.”

My dear brothers and sisters, I promise you that if we will do our best to restore the correct name of the Lord’s Church, He whose Church this is will pour down His power and blessings upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints,17 [17. See Doctrine and Covenants 121:33.] the likes of which we have never seen. We will have the knowledge and power of God to help us take the blessings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people and to prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Lord.

So, what’s in a name? When it comes to the name of the Lord’s Church, the answer is “Everything!” Jesus Christ directed us to call the Church by His name because it is His Church, filled with His power.

I know that God lives. Jesus is the Christ. He leads His Church today. I so testify in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

President M. Russell Ballard of the First Presidency had previously taught:

“I have thought a lot about why the Savior gave the nine-word name to His restored Church [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints]. It may seem long, but if we think of it as a descriptive overview of what the Church is, it suddenly becomes wonderfully brief, candid, and straightforward. How could any description be more direct and clear and yet expressed in such few words?

“Every word is clarifying and indispensable. The word The indicates the unique position of the restored Church among the religions of the world.

“The words Church of Jesus Christ declare that it is His Church. In the Book of Mormon, Jesus taught, “How be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man [like Mormon] then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel” (3 Nephi 27:8).

“Of Latter-day explains that it is the same Church as the Church that Jesus established during His mortal ministry but restored in these latter days. We know there was a falling away, or an apostasy, necessitating the restoration of His true and complete Church in our time.

“Saints means that its members follow Him and strive to do His will, keep His commandments, and prepare once again to live with Him and our Heavenly Father in the future. Saint simply refers to those who seek to make their lives holy by covenanting to follow Christ.

“The name the Savior has given to His Church tells us exactly who we are and what we believe. We believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior and the Redeemer of the world. He atoned for all who would repent of their sins, and He broke the bands of death and provided the resurrection from the dead. We follow Jesus Christ. And as King Benjamin said to his people, so I reaffirm to all of us today, “Ye should remember to retain [His] name written always in your hearts” (Mosiah 5:12).” (“The Importance of a Name,” Ensign, Nov. 2011.)

The First Presidency has taught:

“The use of the revealed name, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (D&C 115:4), is increasingly important in our responsibility to proclaim the name of the Savior throughout all the world. Accordingly, we ask that when we refer to the Church we use its full name wherever possible” (First Presidency letter, Feb. 23, 2001).

Following Up

“In the October 2011 conference, I urged that we remember these important words of the Lord: “For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” (Doctrine and Covenants 115:4)

“With these words, the Lord makes clear that this is not only a formal title but also the name by which His Church is to be called. Given His clear declaration, we should not refer to the Church by any other name, such as “Mormon Church” or “LDS Church.”

“The term Mormon can be appropriately used in some contexts to refer to members of the Church, such as Mormon pioneers, or to institutions, such as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Church members are widely known as Mormons, and in interactions with those not of our faith, we may fittingly refer to ourselves as Mormons, provided we couple this with the full name of the Church.

If members learn to use the correct name of the Church in connection with the word Mormon, it will underscore that we are Christians, members of the Savior’s Church.

“Brothers and sisters, let us follow up and develop the habit of always making it clear that we belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” (Following Up, Ensign, May 2014. Emphasis added.)

#BOMTC Day 73, June 18~3 Nephi 27-29 or Pages 459-464, The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints I am a Christian

Here are a few entries from the Guide to the Scriptures that deal with the name of the Church and different parts of the name of the Church:

CHURCH, NAME OF

In the Book of Mormon, when Jesus Christ visited the righteous Nephites shortly after his resurrection, he said that his church should bear his name (3 Ne. 27:3–8). In modern times the Lord revealed the name of the Church to be “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (D&C 115:4).

CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS, THE

The name given to the Church of Christ in the latter-days to distinguish it from the Church in other dispensations.

CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST

An organized body of believers who have taken upon themselves the name of Jesus Christ by baptism and confirmation. To be the true Church it must be the Lord’s Church; must have his authority, teachings, laws, ordinances, and name; and must be governed by him through representatives whom he has appointed.

SAINT

A faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ.

The nickname Mormon was created by people who were not members of the Church to refer to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The name given by the Lord by which members of the Church are to be known is “Saints.” (The Guide to the Scriptures, “Mormon(s)”). Sometimes we seek to be accepted by the Christian world by adopting the term, “Christian”. Although this term is commonly used throughout the world, the Lord has designated true followers of Christ as Saints (Acts 9:13, 32, 411 Cor. 1:2D&C 115:4) (see The Guide to the Scriptures, “Christians”).

What Is a Latter-day Saint?

“A Latter-day Saint is quite an ordinary individual. We are now everywhere in the world, 14 millions of us. And this is only the beginning. We are taught to be in the world but not of the world (see John 17:14–19). Therefore, we live ordinary lives in ordinary families mixed with the general population.

“We are taught not to lie or cheat or steal (see Exodus 20:3–17). We do not use profanity. We are positive and happy and not afraid of life.

“We are “willing to mourn with those that mourn . . . and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:9).

“If someone is looking for a church that requires very little, this is not the one. It is not easy to be a Latter-day Saint, but in the long run it is the only course.”

Read, watch, or listen to President Packer’s entire talk.

The Importance of a Name

Since last April’s general conference, my mind has repeatedly focused on the subject of the importance of a name. In these past few months, several great-grandchildren have come into our family. Although they seem to come faster than I can keep up with, each child is a welcome addition to our family. Each has received a special name chosen by his or her parents, a name to be known by throughout his or her lifetime, distinguishing him or her from anyone else. This is true in every family, and it is also true among the religions of the world.

The Lord Jesus Christ knew how important it was to clearly name His Church in these latter days. In the 115th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, He Himself named the Church: “For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (verse 4).

And King Benjamin taught his people in Book of Mormon times:

“I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives. …

“And I would that ye should remember also, that this is the name that I said I should give unto you that never should be blotted out, except it be through transgression; therefore, take heed that ye do not transgress, that the name be not blotted out of your hearts” (Mosiah 5:8, 11).

We take the name of Christ upon us in the waters of baptism. We renew the effect of that baptism each week as we partake of the sacrament, signifying our willingness to take His name upon us and promising always to remember Him (see D&C 20:77, 79).

Do we realize how blessed we are to take upon us the name of God’s Beloved and Only Begotten Son? Do we understand how significant that is? The Savior’s name is the only name under heaven by which man can be saved (see 2 Nephi 31:21).

As you will remember, President Boyd K. Packer discussed the importance of the name of the Church in last April’s general conference. He explained that “obedient to revelation, we call ourselves The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rather than the Mormon Church” (“Guided by the Holy Spirit,” Liahona and Ensign, May 2011, 30).

Because the full name of the Church is so important, I echo the revelations from the scriptures, the First Presidency’s instructions in letters of 1982 and 2001, and the words of other Apostles who have encouraged the members of the Church to uphold and teach the world that the Church is known by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the name by which the Lord will call us at the last day. It is the name by which His Church will be distinguished from all others.

I have thought a lot about why the Savior gave the nine-word name to His restored Church. It may seem long, but if we think of it as a descriptive overview of what the Church is, it suddenly becomes wonderfully brief, candid, and straightforward. How could any description be more direct and clear and yet expressed in such few words?

Every word is clarifying and indispensable. The word The indicates the unique position of the restored Church among the religions of the world.

The words Church of Jesus Christ declare that it is His Church. In the Book of Mormon, Jesus taught: “And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man [like Mormon] then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel” (3 Nephi 27:8).

Of Latter-day explains that it is the same Church as the Church that Jesus Christ established during His mortal ministry but restored in these latter days. We know there was a falling away, or an apostasy, necessitating the Restoration of His true and complete Church in our time.

Saints means that its members follow Him and strive to do His will, keep His commandments, and prepare once again to live with Him and our Heavenly Father in the future. Saint simply refers to those who seek to make their lives holy by covenanting to follow Christ.

The name the Savior has given to His Church tells us exactly who we are and what we believe. We believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior and the Redeemer of the world. He atoned for all who would repent of their sins, and He broke the bands of death and provided the resurrection from the dead. We follow Jesus Christ. And as King Benjamin said to his people, so I reaffirm to all of us today: “Ye should remember to retain [His] name written always in your hearts” (Mosiah 5:12).

We are asked to stand as a witness of Him “at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:9). This means that we must be willing to let others know whom we follow and to whose Church we belong: the Church of Jesus Christ. We certainly want to do this in the spirit of love and testimony. We want to follow the Savior by simply and clearly, yet humbly, declaring that we are members of His Church. We follow Him by being Latter-day Saints—latter-day disciples.

People and organizations are often given nicknames by others. A nickname may be a shortened form of a name, or it may be derived from an event or some physical or other characteristic. While nicknames do not have the same status or significance as actual names, they can be properly used.

The Lord’s Church in both ancient and modern times has had nicknames. The Saints in New Testament times were called Christians because they professed a belief in Jesus Christ. That name, first used derogatorily by their detractors, is now a name of distinction; and we are honored to be called a Christian church.

Our members have been called Mormons because we believe in the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Others may try to use the word Mormon more broadly to include and refer to those who have left the Church and formed various splinter groups. Such use only leads to confusion. We are grateful for the efforts of the media to refrain from using the word Mormon in a way that may cause the public to confuse the Church with polygamists or other fundamentalist groups. Let me state clearly that no polygamist group, including those calling themselves fundamentalist Mormons or other derivatives of our name, has any affiliation whatsoever with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

While Mormon is not the full and correct name of the Church, and even though it was originally given by our detractors during our early years of persecution, it has become an acceptable nickname when applied to members rather than the institution. We do not need to stop using the name Mormon when appropriate, but we should continue to give emphasis to the full and correct name of the Church itself. In other words, we should avoid and discourage the term “Mormon Church.”

Through the years as I have filled assignments around the world, I have been asked many times if I belong to the Mormon Church. My response has been, “I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ. Because we believe in the Book of Mormon, which is named after an ancient American prophet-leader and is another testament of Jesus Christ, we are sometimes called Mormons.” In every instance this response has been well received and in fact has opened up opportunities for me to explain the Restoration of the fulness of the gospel in these latter days.

Brothers and sisters, just think of what an impact we can have by simply responding by using the full name of the Church as the Lord has declared we should do. And if you cannot immediately use the full name, at least say, “I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ” and later explain “of Latter-day Saints.”

Some may ask, what about the Internet sites such as Mormon.org as well as various Church-initiated media campaigns? As I said, referring collectively to members as Mormons is sometimes appropriate. As a practical matter, those outside of our faith come looking for us searching for that term. But once you open up Mormon.org, the proper name of the Church is explained on the home page, and it appears on each additional page on the site. It is impractical to expect people to type the full name of the Church when seeking to find us or when logging on to our website.

While these practicalities may continue, they should not keep members from using the full name of the Church whenever possible. Let us develop the habit within our families and our Church activities and our daily interactions of making it clear that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the name by which the Lord Himself has directed that we be known.

A recent opinion poll indicated that far too many people still do not understand correctly that Mormon refers to members of our Church. And a majority of people are still not sure that Mormons are Christian. Even when they read of our Helping Hands work throughout the world in response to hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and famines, they do not associate our humanitarian efforts with us as a Christian organization. Surely it would be easier for them to understand that we believe in and follow the Savior if we referred to ourselves as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In this way those who hear the nameMormon will come to associate that word with our revealed name and with people who follow Jesus Christ.

As the First Presidency asked in their letter of February 23, 2001: “The use of the revealed name, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints … , is increasingly important in our responsibility to proclaim the name of the Savior throughout all the world. Accordingly, we ask that when we refer to the Church we use its full name wherever possible.”

Back in 1948 at the October general conference, President George Albert Smith said, “Brethren and sisters, when you go away from here, you may be associating with various denominations of the world, but remember that there is only one Church in all the world that by divine command bears the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1948, 167).

Brothers and sisters, may we also remember this as we leave conference today. Let our testimonies of Him be heard and our love for Him always be in our hearts, I humbly pray in His name, the Lord Jesus Christ, amen. (“The Importance of a Name,” Ensign, Nov. 2011.)

“Thus Shall My Church Be Called”

Today I would like to speak about a name. We are all pleased when our names are pronounced and spelled correctly. Sometimes a nickname is used instead of the real name. But a nickname may offend either the one named or the parents who gave the name.

The name of which I shall speak is not a personal name, yet the same principles apply. I refer to a name given by the Lord:

“Thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” (D&C 115:4.)

Note carefully the language of the Lord. He did not say, “Thus shall my church be named.” He said, “Thus shall my church be called.” Years ago, its members were cautioned by the Brethren who wrote: “We feel that some may be misled by the too frequent use of the term ‘Mormon Church.’” (Member-Missionary Class—Instructor’s Guide, Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1982, p. 2.) Before any other name is considered to be a legitimate substitute, the thoughtful person might reverently consider the feelings of the Heavenly Parent who bestowed that name.

Surely every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord is precious. So each word in this name must be important—divinely designated for a reason. If we study the key words in that name, we can better understand the name’s full significance.

Saints

The last word in the title is Saints. I smile when I remember a comment made after my call to the Quorum of the Twelve. A doctor friend relayed a report made at a professional meeting that “Dr. Nelson was no longer practicing cardiac surgery because his church had made him ‘a saint.’”

Such a comment was not only amusing but revealing. It evidenced unfamiliarity with the language of the Bible, in which the word saint is used much more frequently than is the term Christian.

The word Christian appears in only three verses of the King James Version of the Bible. One verse describes the historical fact that “disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26); another quotes a sarcastic nonbeliever, King Agrippa (see Acts 26:28); and the third indicates that one known as “a Christian” must be prepared to suffer (1 Pet. 4:16).

In contrast, the term saint (or saints) appears in thirty-six verses of the Old Testament and in sixty-two verses of the New Testament.

Paul addressed an epistle “to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 1:1.)

To recent converts there he said, “Ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” (Eph. 2:19; see also Eph. 3:17–19.)

In his epistle to the Ephesians, Paul used the word saint at least once in every chapter!

Despite its use in ninety-eight verses of the Bible, the term saint is still not well understood. Some mistakenly think that it implies beatification or perfection. Not so! A saint is a believer in Christ and knows of His perfect love. The giving saint shares in a true spirit of that love, and the receiving saint accepts in a true spirit of gratitude. A saint serves others, knowing that the more one serves, the greater the opportunity for the Spirit to sanctify and purify.

A saint is tolerant, and is attentive to the pleadings of other human beings, not only to spoken messages but to unspoken messages as well. A saint is different from an individual whose response to a concern might be a selfish “What do I care” attitude. A real saint responds, “What? I docare!” Do is an action verb, and it becomes the driving force in the reply of one who will care for another in need. (See 1 Cor. 12:25–272 Cor. 7:12.)

A saint “refrain[s] from idleness” (Alma 38:12) and seeks learning by study, and also by faith. Education not only helps in communication with others, but it enables one to discern truth from error, particularly through studying the scriptures. (See D&C 88:118.)

A saint is honest and kind, paying financial obligations promptly and fully, treating others as she or he would want to be treated. (See Matt. 7:123 Ne. 14:12D&C 112:11.)

A saint is an honorable citizen, knowing that the very country which provides opportunity and protection deserves support, including prompt payment of taxes and personal participation in its legal political process. (See D&C 134:5.)

A saint resolves any differences with others honorably and peacefully and is constant in courtesy—even in traffic at the rush hour.

A saint shuns that which is unclean or degrading and avoids excess even of that which is good.

Perhaps above all, a saint is reverent. Reverence for the Lord, for the earth He created, for leaders, for the dignity of others, for the law, for the sanctity of life, for chapels and other buildings, are all evidences of saintly attitudes. (See Lev. 19:30Alma 47:22D&C 107:4D&C 134:7.)

A reverent saint loves the Lord and gives highest priority to keeping His commandments. Daily prayer, periodic fasting, payment of tithes and offerings are privileges important to a faithful saint.

Finally, a saint is one who receives the gifts of the Spirit that God has promised to all His faithful sons and daughters. (See Joel 2:28–29Acts 2:17–18.)

Latter-day

The term latter-day is an expression especially difficult for translators who labor in languages in which there is not a good equivalent term. Some translations may suggest last day.

It is true that scriptures foretell the final days of the earth’s temporal existence as a telestial sphere. The earth will then be renewed and receive its paradisiacal, or terrestrial, glory. (See A of F 1:10.) Ultimately, the earth will become celestialized. (See Rev. 21:1D&C 77:1D&C 88:25–26.) But its last days must be preceded by its latter days!

We live in those latter days, and they are really remarkable. The Lord’s Spirit is being poured out upon all inhabitants of the earth, precisely as the Prophet Joel foretold. His prophecy was of such significance that the angel Moroni reaffirmed it to the Prophet Joseph Smith. (See Joel 2:28–32;JS—H 1:41.)

For millennia, methods of farming, travel, and communication were largely unchanged from ancient techniques. Developments since the birth of Joseph Smith, however, have risen in remarkable contrast.

Joseph Smith had long been foreordained as God’s prophet for the restoration of the gospel in the fulness of times. (See 2 Ne. 3:7–15.) Twenty-five years after his birth, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was officially organized.

Later in that same century, the telegraph was developed, the Atlantic Ocean was first crossed by a steamship, and the telephone, the automobile, and motion pictures were invented.

The twentieth century has been even more extraordinary. Farming has become mechanized.

Modern transportation allows travel to nearly any destination in the world within a day or two.

Computers have been developed that allow the Church to serve living members and to organize information relative to progenitors who live on the other side of the veil. People throughout the world, once little concerned with family history, now search for roots of their ancestral heritage using technologies unavailable a century ago.

Long-distance telephone, telefax, radio, television, and satellite communications have become routine. In these latter days it is possible for the word of the Lord to be broadcast from world headquarters of His Church and heard in the most remote areas of the globe.

The divine promise is being fulfilled that this restored “gospel shall be preached unto every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” (D&C 133:37.)

Political changes have occurred recently in many countries. Previous restrictions of personal liberties have been relieved. The shell of spiritual confinement has been shattered. Swelling shouts of freedom fill the air. Surely the hand of the Lord is apparent. He said, “I will hasten my work in its time” (D&C 88:73), and that time of hastening is now.

Jesus Christ

By divine directive, the title of the Church bears the sacred name of Jesus Christ, whose church this is. (See D&C 115:3–4.) He so decreed more than once. Nearly two thousand years ago, the Lord said, “Ye shall call the church in my name; …

“And how be it my church save it be called in my name?” (3 Ne. 27:7–8; italics added.)

We worship God the Eternal Father in the name of His Son by the power of the Holy Ghost. We know the premortal Jesus to be Jehovah, God of the Old Testament. We know Him to be “the chief corner stone” upon which the organization of His Church is based. (Eph. 2:20.) We know Him to be the Rock from whom revelation comes to His authorized agents (see 1 Cor. 10:4Hel. 5:12) and to all who worthily seek Him (see D&C 88:63).

We know that He came into the world to do the will of His Father, who sent Him. (See 3 Ne. 27:13.) His divine mission was to effect the Atonement, which was to break the bands of death and enable us to receive immortality and eternal life.

The living Lord’s divine mission still continues. One day we will stand before Him in judgment. He has foretold that event:

“Whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.” (3 Ne. 27:16.)

We revere the name of Jesus Christ. He is our risen Redeemer.

The Church

The first two words of the name the Lord chose for His earthly organization are The Church.

Note that the article The begins with a capital letter. This is an important part of the title, for the Church is the official organization of baptized believers who have taken upon themselves the name of Christ. (See D&C 10:67–69D&C 18:21–25.)

The foundation of the Church is the reality that God is our Father and that His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, is the Savior of the world. The witness and inspiration of the Holy Ghost confirm those realities.

The Church is the way by which the Master accomplishes His work and bestows His glory. Its ordinances and related covenants are the crowning rewards of our membership. While many organizations can offer fellowship and fine instruction, only His church can provide baptism, confirmation, ordination, the sacrament, patriarchal blessings, and the ordinances of the temple—all bestowed by authorized priesthood power. That power is destined to bless all children of our Heavenly Father, regardless of their nationality:

“The keys of the kingdom of God are committed unto man on the earth, and from thence shall the gospel roll forth unto the ends of the earth.” (D&C 65:2; see also Dan. 2:37–45D&C 109:72.)

Admission into His church is by baptism. This sacred ordinance is reserved only for children after they reach the age of accountability and for adults who are truly converted, prepared, and worthy to pass this scriptural test:

“Ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;

“Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in.” (Mosiah 18:8–9.)

Through the ordinance of baptism, we take upon ourselves the name of the Lord and covenant to be saints in these latter days. We covenant to live by the doctrines of the Church as recorded in sacred scriptures and as revealed to prophets, ancient and modern.

“We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” (A of F 1:9.)

These revelations include fundamental truths essential to our everlasting happiness and joy. They teach of priorities with eternal potential, such as love of God, family, mother, father, children, and home; self-mastery; care of the poor and needy; service; and thoughtful consideration for others.

This church, established under the direction of Almighty God, fulfills promises made in biblical times. It is part of the “restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:21.) It has been restored and given a name by the Lord Himself.

He issued this solemn warning: “Let all men beware how they take my name in their lips.” “Remember,” He added, “that which cometh from above is sacred, and must be spoken with care.” (D&C 63:61, 64.) Therefore, just as we revere His holy name, we likewise revere the name that He decreed for His church.

As members of His church, we are privileged to participate in its divine destiny. May we so honor Him who declared, “Thus shall my church be called … The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” I pray in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen. (“Thus Shall My Church Be Called,” Ensign, May 1990.)

What changes have been made in the name of the Church? Its full designation does not appear in the revelations until 1838. (D&C 115:4)

Richard Lloyd Anderson, professor of religion and history, Brigham Young University:

A concise answer to this question is found by comparing the name of the Church on the title pages of the first three printings of the revelations: “The Church of Christ” (Book of Commandments, 1833), “The Church of the Latter Day Saints” (Doctrine and Covenants, 1835), and “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints” (Doctrine and Covenants, 1844).

The Savior told the Nephites that his church should be called in his name. (See 3 Ne. 27:8.) As a result, the restored Church’s official title from 1830 to 1834 was “The Church of Christ.” That title is found in the revelation on the organization and government of the Church (D&C 20:1) and in early minute books. During this period, however, members of the Church regularly called themselves “saints”; the word saint is used approximately three dozen times in the D&C before 1834.

On 3 May 1834, official action modified the name of the Church. In a priesthood conference presided over by Joseph Smith, a motion passed “by unanimous voice” that the Church be known as “The Church of the Latter Day Saints.” (See The Evening and the Morning Star, May 1834, 2:160.) This alteration was not seen as a de-emphasis of Christ; on the contrary, it was done in hopes that the name of the Church would more clearly reflect the fact that Christ was at its head.

In the same issue of the Kirtland newspaper in which the announcement appeared, an editorial explained that the change stemmed from a misleading nickname: the “Mormonite” church. The new name also had these advantages: (1) Since American Christians, including Congregationalists and reformers, frequently designated themselves as “The Church of Christ,” that title did not distinguish the restored gospel from a host of Protestant sects. (2) Since Paul and Peter used the Greek word saint (“a holy person”) to refer to believers in Christ, the term Latter-day Saints implied that Church members were modern followers of Christ. Thus it also asserted the claim of restoration.

Just as the term saint flourished when the official name was “The Church of Christ,” the name of Christ regularly supplemented the official name of “The Church of the Latter Day Saints.” For example, in 1835, the church was referred to as “the church of Christ” and the Twelve apostles were commissioned as “special witnesses of the name of Christ.” (D&C 107:59, 23) The Saints certainly did not feel that the Church was leaving out the name of Christ.

Sometimes during this period the first and second titles would be combined—“the church of Christ of Latter Day saints”—as they were in priesthood minutes (Messenger and Advocate, Feb. 1836, 2:266) and in the publication of the first high council minutes (see headnote, D&C 5, 1835 edition).

A vivid illustration of the way members then understood the official name of the Church is found in a letter from John Smith, the Prophet’s uncle, to his son Elias before the latter was converted. Writing 19 Oct. 1834, Uncle John answers the question of why the name could be changed:

“The Church of Christ is the Church of Saints and always was. This is the reason why the apostle directed letters sometimes to the Church of God, others to the Church, and again to the Brethren, sometimes to the Saints, always meaning the Church of Christ.” (Archives, University of Utah)

Thus, the final version of the Church’s name was no radical shift from the previous practice of using both “Christ” and “Saints” in designating the restored Church and its members. Revealed on 26 April 1838 (D&C 115:4), the full title, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” is striking by comparison to the names of the scores of churches that obscure their Christianity under the label of their founders or of some characteristic belief or aspect of church organization. It is a highly effective name, for while it is distinctive, it indicates that Jesus is at its head. It is also descriptive of divine restoration. And it is more than a name—it is a public commitment to a holy life through the Savior’s power. (“I Have a Question,” Ensign, Jan. 1979.)

 

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#BOMTC Alma 32-33: Nourishing the S.E.E.D. of the Word of God

Using an analogy of the planting and nourishing of a seed, Alma taught the people who were poor and cast out of the Zoramite synagogues what they must do to receive and nourish faith in the word of God (see Alma 32). Alma invited them (and us) to experiment on the word and to nourish their faith and testimony daily (see Alma 32:27).

In the October 2010 General Conference of the Church, Bishop Richard C. Edgley of the Presiding Bishopric used Alma 32 to teach us that faith is a choice:

“Alma’s classic discussion on faith, as recorded in the 32nd chapter of Alma in the Book of Mormon, is a series of choices to ensure the development and the preservation of our faith. Alma gave us a directive to choose. His were words of action initiated by choosing. He used the words awake, arouse, experiment, exercise, desire, work, and plant. Then Alma explained that if we make these choices and do not cast the seed out by unbelief, then ‘it will begin to swell within [our] breasts’ (Alma 32:28).

“Yes, faith is a choice, and it must be sought after and developed. Thus, we are responsible for our own faith. We are also responsible for our lack of faith. The choice is yours.” (“Faith—the Choice Is Yours,” Ensign, Nov. 2010. Emphasis added.)

In the English version of the Book of Mormon, there is a cool little acrostic-type pattern that spells the word SEED in Alma 32:28. In this verse Alma is describing to the people some of the sensations that they will “begin” to experience as they choose to “experiment upon [his] words” (Alma 32:27).

“Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.” (Alma 32:28, emphasis added.)

“we will compare the word unto a SEED

  • “it will begin to Swell within your breasts”
  • “it beginneth to Enlarge my soul”
  • “it beginneth to Enlighten my understanding”
  • “it beginneth to Delicious to me”
#BOMTC Day 46, May 22~Alma 32-33 or Pages 287-293 (3)

For a great breakdown of this verse click the graphic

In the October 2015 session of General ConferenceElder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles elaborated on this powerful principle concerning faith:

“By the grace of Christ, we will one day be saved through faith on His name. The future of your faith is not by chance, but by choice.” (“Faith Is Not by Chance, but by Choice,” Ensign Nov. 2015. Emphasis added.)

The future of your faith is not by chance, but by choice. Neil L. Andersen LDS Quotes General Conference October 2015:

He then went on to illustrate this point by sharing the following story:

“A month ago in Brazil, I met Aroldo Cavalcante. He was baptized at age 21, the first member of the Church in his family. His faith burned brightly, and he immediately began preparing to serve a mission. Sadly, Aroldo’s mother was diagnosed with cancer. Three months later, only days before she died, she spoke to Aroldo of her greatest concern: There were no relatives to help. Aroldo would need to take full responsibility for his two younger sisters and his younger brother. He solemnly made this promise to his dying mother.
“By day he worked in a bank, and at night he attended the university. He continued to keep his baptismal covenants, but his hopes for a full-time mission were gone. His mission would be caring for his family.
“Months later while preparing a sacrament meeting talk, Aroldo studied the words that Samuel reprovingly spoke to King Saul: “To obey,” he read, “is better than [to] sacrifice.” (1 Samuel 15:22) Aroldo received the seemingly impossible impression that he needed to obey the prophet’s call to serve a mission. Undaunted by the obstacles before him, he moved forward with enormous faith.
“Aroldo saved every Brazilian cruzeiro he could. At age 23, he received his mission call. He told his brother how much to withdraw each month from his account for the family. Aroldo still did not have enough money to pay the full cost of his mission and the living expenses for his brother and sisters, but with faith he entered the MTC. A week later he received the first of many blessings. The bank that had employed Elder Cavalcante unexpectedly doubled the money he was to receive as he concluded his work. This miracle, along with others, provided the needed income for his mission and his family during his absence.
“Twenty years later, Brother Cavalcante is now serving as the president of the Recife Brazil Boa Viagem Stake. Looking back, he said of those days, ‘As I tried to live righteously, I felt the Savior’s love and guidance. My faith grew, allowing me to overcome many challenges.’ Aroldo’s faith did not come by chance, but by choice.” (“Faith Is Not by Chance, but by Choice,” Ensign Nov. 2015. Emphasis added.)

A quote from Elder Neil L. Andersen, “Your faith will grow not by chance, but by choice,” on a white background bordered by a lake and clouds.

President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency identified ways we can choose to nourish our testimonies:

“Testimony requires the nurturing by the prayer of faith, the hungering for the word of God in the scriptures, and the obedience to the truth we have received. There is danger in neglecting prayer. There is danger to our testimony in only casual study and reading of the scriptures. They are necessary nutrients for our testimony. …

“Feasting on the word of God, heartfelt prayer, and obedience to the Lord’s commandments must be applied evenly and continually for your testimony to grow band prosper. All of us at times have circumstances beyond our control that interrupt our pattern of scripture study. There may be periods of time when we choose for some reason not to pray. There may be commandments that we choose for a time to ignore.

“But you will not have your desire for a living testimony granted if you forget the warning and the promise in Alma [32:40–43].” (“A Living Testimony,” Ensign , May 2011. Emphasis added.)

Illustrating these basic nurturing steps taught by Alma and President Eyring, Brother Chad H Webb, the Administrator of Seminaries & Institutes of Religion, share the following:

We act in faith when we choose to trust God and turn to Him first in our efforts to acquire and understand spiritual knowledge. We act in faith as we keep His commandments and watch for evidence of His promised blessings. Acting in faith includes doing those things that will invite the Spirit as we search for further understanding. Elder M. Russell Ballard shared this example:

“One of our outstanding missionaries that served with us in the Canada Toronto Mission years ago came to my office in Salt Lake City. During our visit, he told me that he was losing his faith and his testimony and that he had many questions. I asked him to write down his questions and promised to find answers to them, certainly as many as I could. As he was about to leave . . . I said, ‘Elder, how long has it been since you have studied the scriptures; specifically, how long has it been since you have read from the Book of Mormon?’ He lowered his head and said he had not been doing that. I gave him an assignment to begin reading the Book of Mormon for an hour each day while I worked to prepare answers to his questions. He agreed to do so.

“Two weeks later, he came back to my office, and as he entered in and sat down he said, ‘President, I don’t need answers to those questions anymore. I did what you asked—I know the Book of Mormon is true and I know Joseph Smith is a prophet of God.’ I was very happy to hear that but said, ‘Elder, I spent a long time answering your questions so you will have to sit down and hear the answers!’ What a joy! The Spirit and light of the gospel had returned to him. I commended him and gave him a big hug before he left.”

As we act in faith through study, prayer, and obedience, we invite the Holy Ghost to dispel uncertainty and to reaffirm the testimony we have already been given of Jesus Christ and His restored gospel. (“That They May Know How to Come unto Him and Be Saved,” Brigham Young University-Hawaii, March 22, 2016.)

Al Fox, “The Tattooed Mormon,” on Finding Faith

The following account was shared by Elder Loren C. Dunn:

“I am reminded of two young men who came in to see me some months ago. They had been recommended by their priesthood leaders. From the moment they stepped into the office, they began in a very sincere way questioning certain doctrines and teachings and procedures of the Church. Their attitude, however, was not antagonistic, as they were sincerely looking for answers.

“I asked them finally if their questions perhaps represented the symptoms of their problem and not the cause. Wasn’t their real question whether or not this church is true? Whether or not it is actually the Church of Jesus Christ? And whether or not it is led by divine revelation? The young men agreed that perhaps if they were sure of the answers to these questions, they could take care of the other questions that seemed to arise in their hearts.

“I asked them if they were willing to participate in an experiment. One of them appeared to be athletically inclined, and so I turned to him and asked, “If you wanted to learn about the chemical properties of water, would you go to the local sports stadium and run four laps around the track?”

“He said, “Of course not.”

“I asked, “Why not?”

“He said, “The two are not related.” We then turned to John, chapter seven, and read: “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it he of God, or whether I speak of myself.” (John 7:17.)

“If we are going to experiment with the things of Christ, then we are going to have to put these things to a spiritual test—a test that the Savior himself has outlined for all those who wish to know, a test of doing.

“I asked them if they read the scriptures.

“They said, “No.”

“I asked them if they prayed.

“They said, “Not often.”

“I asked them if they kept the Word of Wisdom.

“They said, “Occasionally.”

“I asked them if they went to church. They said they’d stopped.

“I asked them if they would be interested in a three-month experiment. They said they would try but were not anxious to commit themselves until they found out what I had in mind.

“During the next three months will you attend all your church meetings and listen carefully to what is being said, even taking notes of the principal points being made by the teachers and how these points might apply to your lives?”

“They thought for a moment and said they would.

“During the next three months will you reinstitute in your personal life prayer, night and morning, thanking God for the blessings you enjoy and asking him to help you know if the Church is true and if the things you are doing are meaningful to your lives?”

“One of these young men, who considered himself an agnostic, balked at this, but then he finally agreed to do it on the basis that for the sake of the experiment he would accept the premise that there is a God and would appeal to this God for the light and knowledge which he was seeking.

“I asked them if in the next three months they would refrain from drinking, smoking, and drugs. Although this created some anxiety, they resolved to do it.

“I asked them if in the next three months they would resolve to keep themselves morally clean and in harmony with the principles of virtue which the Savior taught. They said they would. And then I suggested they establish a schedule, on their own, during the next three months to read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover—a few pages each day, with a prayer at each reading that the Lord would bless them to know if the book is true and actually from him. They agreed.

“Anticipating what might happen, I said, “Now, if you feel disposed to tell your friends about this, probably their first comment will be ‘Boy, has Brother Dunn snowed you.’ You may even feel that way a time or two during this experiment, but don’t let it keep you from doing what you have agreed to do. If you think that might be a problem, then keep it in the back of your mind, and go ahead and honestly experiment, and let this three-month experience speak for itself.” I added, “If things go properly, you’ll notice some by-products, such as a growing awareness and concern for your fellowman and greater appreciation and consideration for other people.” They accepted the challenge and left.” (“Drink of the Pure Water“, Ensign, June 1971)

Alma 32, An_Experiment_Upon_the_Word BYU_Magazine

There was an AMAZING “experiment” conducted as a joint effort by the Church and the BYU AdLab concerning the power of the Book of Mormon as Another Testament of Jesus Christ. An article explaining this experiment can be found at, “An Experiment Upon the Word“. The video clip below is from the talk, “Experiment Upon the Word,” by Elder Kevin R. Duncan, and shows a visual summary of the experiment that was conducted.

Brothers and sisters, put yourself in the position of those in the experimental group.  You are a millennial non-Mormon from somewhere around the world.  Perhaps you’ve heard of the Book of Mormon, if so you most likely think it’s a Broadway musical.  Perhaps you know a Mormon or have met a missionary, and if so, you probably think you already know what they will say to you.  You are curious, so you agree to take part in a simple experiment.

As I said, these experiments were conducted all over the world. People from every walk of life and from most every religion were involved, a true cross-section of Heavenly Father’s children here on this earth.

Because I knew I would be coming here to your campus, I asked the team to conduct one of the experiments here in Hawaii.  Here is a short video of the experiments from around the world.

Brothers and sisters, the Book of Mormon speaks for itself, or rather, the voice of God is found within its pages.  These children of God recognize and remember on a spiritual level that God is their Father.  Much like children respond to the voice of their father here on earth, these children of God responded to their Eternal Father’s voice as found in the Book of Mormon.

Let’s now enjoy the results of the experiment.

How do you think a Muslim would view the Book of Mormon?  Rafi, a Muslim from London, read page 430 and remarked:

Alma_32,_An_Experiment_Upon_the_Word_Rafi's_Words

This is the first time that I have ever read a page of scripture. I think the page was good, it’s definitely good. It shows that God is a God of miracles, not a god of punishment. He’s merciful, he does miracles and he wants to help us. I believe that God is that way, he wants to help us. Reading this book has helped me. I love it!

How might a person respond who feels like they have been in the dark respond?  Kate, who calls herself Non-Religious from Australia, read page 184 and then said:

Alma_32,_An_Experiment_Upon_the_Word_Kate's_Words

It was one of the first pages of scripture that I have ever read. And I think that a book like this can help people find answers in their life when they feel like they are in darkness. I’m so grateful to have been part of this experiment…I’ve been in the dark and needed a little more light in my life.

Here is the response from Nazam, another Muslim from the UK who read page 239:

Alma_32,_An_Experiment_Upon_the_Word_Nazam's_Words

I can see a lot of similarities between what I read here and what I read in the Koran, I do not think the two are as different as many believe them to be. I think we actually believe very similar things. I felt good as I read it and as long as it is teaching people to be good to one another then I believe it to be good.

What about people who claim that we aren’t Christians?  Will, an Atheist from Chicago had something to say about that.  He read page 440 and wrote:

Alma_32,_An_Experiment_Upon_the_Word_Will's_Words

The page that I read seemed to reference the Old Testament and I could see that it was talking about Jesus. If anything talks about God this book does.

Sometimes, one page was simply not enough!  Bianca, a Christian, from South Africa, read page 307 and shared:

Alma_32,_An_Experiment_Upon_the_Word_Bianca's_Words

Where’s the next page? I want to read what happens next! I had always heard never to read more than the bible but this taught me the same things about Christ and His resurrection. I want to know more!

Incidentally after Bianca read her page it lead to an hour-long discussion about the Restoration of the Gospel and the blessing in having Another Testament of Jesus Christ on the earth today—the Book of Mormon.

Some responses made us chuckle.  John, a Christian from South Africa in London, read page 232 and said:

Alma_32,_An_Experiment_Upon_the_Word_John's_Words

I didn’t know that I agreed with your doctrine. I think I am a secret Mormon!

Finding John was a pretty special experience in and of itself. The team was set up on the corner of Hyde Park and Marble Arch in London, at a little place known as Speaker’s Corner. For those familiar with the history of Missionary Work in the Church, this is the same location where the first missionaries from the Church sent to England preached the Gospel publically. Today this location is still reserved on Sunday as a public space for open discussion and preaching of religion.  But the modern scene might best be described as chaotic and loud.  There are people on soap boxes and people on ladders yelling with megaphones.

John told us that he had moved to London from South Africa 22 years ago and had been coming every Sunday to Speaker’s Corner looking for religion.  He had not felt the spirit of confirmation he had been searching for until he had stopped and read a page from the Book of Mormon.  He exclaimed, “I didn’t know I agreed with your doctrine. I think I am a secret Mormon.”

The Book of Mormon helped one woman remember spiritual experiences from her youth.  Miriam, a middle-aged Christian woman from Brazil, read a wonderful page, page 478.  She then said:

Alma_32,_An_Experiment_Upon_the_Word_Miriam's_Words

I was very sick when I was young and my mother told me everyday to ask for God’s help. When I was five God came to me and blessed me. My father was killed in a car accident when I was 19 and when I ran up to my room upset I asked God where He was and why He would let this happen. He told me that my earthly father was gone, but I would always have my Heavenly Father. I’m so glad you’re doing this. I had forgotten about those experiences until I read this page. Reading this book lets people remember their spiritual experiences.

What is the favorite part for many who read the Book of Mormon?  Lester, a Christian from the Philippines, read page 416 and then gave this beautiful and simple witness after reading his page:

Alma_32,_An_Experiment_Upon_the_Word_Lester's_Words

I really liked the experiment.  My favorite part was reading that Jesus is our Savior.

Brothers and sisters, the world wants and needs a Savior and finding that second witness in the Book of Mormon is thrilling to anyone who receives it.

Many people are exposed to war and violence.  How did the experiment help them?  Amna, a Muslim from Pakistan, read page 397 and wrote:

Alma_32,_An_Experiment_Upon_the_Word_Amna's_Words

This is a brilliant idea. You should take out an ad and tell people to be here.  I woke up and turned on the TV today and all I saw was war, refugees, violence, and problems. The world needs to see this.  To see that there is hope and love in the world and that God is good, this is what this world needs.  I am so grateful to be part of the project. The whole world needs to see it.  Thank you!!  It’s brilliant!

Brothers and sisters, we could keep going and going with one person after another, but you can see for yourself what one single page from the Book of Mormon can do to a child of God.  People are hungry for words from their Father in Heaven and from their Brother and Savior Jesus Christ.  Perhaps this scripture from the Book of Mormon itself proclaims the power of these many witnesses.  (Elder Kevin R. Duncan, “Experiment Upon the Word,” BYU-Hawaii, November 14, 2017.)

Perhaps the BEST lesson from Alma 32 that I have ever heard came from Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Presidency of the Seventy. In a Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, Elder Robbins shared amazing insights and application regarding what is taught in Alma 32. PLEASE do yourself a favor and take the time to study, watch, or listen to Elder Robbins’ talk:

Tasting the Light

Brothers and sisters, welcome to this Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, with a special welcome to those of you who will graduate this year from seminary—a praiseworthy achievement and evidence of your faith and love of the Lord. I invite you to follow the example of many others here tonight and continue your quest for spiritual learning in a local institute of religion or at a Church university. I promise you that you will continue to receive important guidance for all other vital decisions in your life, as well as meet people who will have a significant impact in your life.

Tonight you are going to hear me bear witness of the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel. You are going to hear me use the words “I know.” I want to describe to you how I came to know that He is the literal Son of God, the Redeemer and Savior of the world, and that His gospel is true.

I also want to help you discover that your own testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel is much stronger than you may think it is.

Where Is My Testimony on the Faith Spectrum?

I would like to begin by having you do a mental self-assessment. Look at the line in this illustration, and give your testimony a score on this faith spectrum:

At the bottom is the atheist. We will score the atheist a zero. At the top of the scale is a 10, or to have a perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ and His gospel. Where would you place yourself on this spectrum? I suspect that many of you would give yourself a lower score than you deserve.

Remember the score you have given yourself to see if it increases during the course of this presentation as we discuss various faith-building aspects of a testimony and how each one helps advance us on the faith spectrum and experience greater peace and happiness.

Alma invites each person to take the first step forward on the faith spectrum with “an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe” (Alma 32:27; emphasis added).

Desire

The following insight illustrates the wisdom of taking this first step of desire.

In 1623 the French prodigy, mathematician, and inventor Blaise Pascal was born. Among his other discoveries was the mathematical theory of probability, which provided the science behind rational choice theory—a logical approach for making optimal decisions. With decision theory, Pascal astutely observed that in the game of life humans cannot avoid life’s greatest wager: whether or not God exists. It has become known as Pascal’s Wager, with a person’s life—or more specifically, his or her eternal life—at stake, as depicted in this illustration:

In the column headings are two options: either God exists or He does not. In the rows are also two options: I can either choose to believe or not believe.

The possible resulting combinations are as follows:

  • If God exists and I believe and act accordingly, I can inherit eternal life.

  • If I believe and God does not exist, I lose nothing.

  • If I do not believe nor honor or obey God and He exists, I forfeit eternal life.

  • If I do not believe and God does not exist, I gain nothing.

  • Pascal’s Wager argues that the optimal decision is to believe in God’s existence and that only a fool would bet against the existence of God because he has everything to lose and nothing to gain.

The prodigal son would argue that what he loses is the chance to “eat, drink and be merry” (2 Nephi 28:7)—a poor consolation prize when you consider what is at stake. He may “have joy in [his] works for a season, [but] by and by the end cometh” (3 Nephi 27:11). His dreams of merrymaking and revelry become a living nightmare as he inevitably awakens to the spiritual hangover he experiences in this life and discovers for himself that “wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10) and later, at judgment day, when he “shall confess before God that his judgments are just” (Mosiah 16:1). In due course he learns that he has been duped by the master of illusion with his sugarcoated brand of pleasure-disguised misery. Hence, “let not thine heart envy sinners” (Proverbs 23:17).

Thank goodness there was a second chance for the prodigal son, which is one of the great lessons the Savior expects us to learn from this parable (see Luke 15:11–32).

Plant the Seed—Begin Learning

Alma describes the next step:

“Let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.

“Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, [let the] seed … be planted in your heart” (Alma 32:27–28; emphasis added).

Planting the seed means you have now acted on the desire with an inspired curiosity in the experiment. You have now initiated the learning process.

According to the scriptures, this learning process should proceed in two ways: “And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118; emphasis added).

The scriptures also teach us of two learning channels through which the Spirit teaches us:

“Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in yourheart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.

“Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation” (D&C 8:2–3; emphasis added).

Aligning Learning Methods and Learning Channels

Before returning to the faith spectrum, I want to illustrate the interrelationship between the two learning methods and the two learning channels. Cross-connecting them should give you some helpful insights on how we continue to progress along the faith spectrum.

When Joseph Smith learned about prayer by study, he was reading in the Bible, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).

Joseph learned about prayer by faith when he acted on his belief and went into the Sacred Grove and prayed.

At the top of the visual are the two learning channels—the mind and heart.

Connecting Learning by Study with the Mind

When we seek learning by study, the Lord speaks to our mind in the form of inspired thoughts. Among other possible words relating to the intersection of “Study” and “Mind,” we could add the following: thoughts, interest, curiosity, examine, study, search, consider, questions, and pondering.

Inspired questions cause one to ponder, and pondering under the influence of the Spirit takes you to the next level of learning, where study intersects with the heart.

Connecting Learning by Study with the Heart

Your pondering is nourishing the seed, and it begins tosprout, and you begin to have feelings inspired by the Spirit. It is the heart, or inspired feelings, that changes a thought into a belief.

Alma states it this way: “If it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you  feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me” (Alma 32:28; emphasis added).

While we normally associate the word understand with the mind, multiple scriptures link understanding with the heart, such as “and their hearts were open and they did understand in their hearts the words which he prayed” (3 Nephi 19:33). When he spoke of James 1:5, young Joseph said, “Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine” (Joseph Smith—History 1:12).

With those kinds of feelings, Alma says, “Now behold, would not this increase your faith ? I say unto you, Yea; nevertheless it hath not grown up to a perfect knowledge” (Alma 32:29; emphasis added).

It is not yet a perfect knowledge. However, with the heart touched, it inspires us to take another step on the faith spectrum. For Joseph, it inspired him toact and accept the scriptural invitation to pray. He would not “receive [a] witness until after the trial of [his] faith” (Ether 12:6).

Connecting Learning by Faith with the Mind

Learning by faith requires acting on feelings and beliefs.1 The Savior gave this very invitation to learn by faith when He said, “If any man will do his will, he shallknow of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17; emphasis added). In this verse the Savior teaches us that doing is the act of faith that turns a belief into knowledge. For naysayers He exhorts, “Though ye believe not me, believe the works:that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him” (John 10:38; emphasis added).

In speaking of knowing, Alma says:

“And now, behold, because ye have tried the experiment, and planted the seed, and it swelleth and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, ye must needs knowthat the seed is good.

“And now, behold, is your knowledge perfect? Yea, yourknowledge is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant; and this because you know,  … your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand” (Alma 32:33–34; emphasis added).

Acting on your faith has given you knowledge.

Among other words we might associate with learning by faith and the mind, we could add the following: knowledge perfect (in that thing), pray, repent, change behavior, obey, experiences, and taste.

Alma uses the verb taste in a very peculiar way as he refers to tasting light. Listen:

“O then, is not this real? I say unto you, Yea, because it is light; and whatsoever is light, is good, because it is discernible, therefore ye must know that it is good; and now behold, after ye have tastedthis light is your knowledge perfect?

“Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither must ye lay aside your faith, for ye have only exercised your faith to plant the seed that ye might try the experiment to know if the seed was good” (Alma 32:35–36; emphasis added).

It is tasting the light and savoring it that has given you a perfect knowledge in that thing, or knowing that the seedling is good. The light is inviting you to come unto Jesus Christ, “and the power of God [is] working miracles in [you] … and [converting you] unto the Lord” (Alma 23:6).

Connecting Learning by Faith with the Heart

Alma continues: “And behold, as the tree beginneth to grow, ye will say: Let us nourish it with great care, … with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof. …

“… Behold, by and by ye shall pluck [or taste] the fruitthereof, which is most precious” (Alma 32:37, 41–42; emphasis added).

Tasting of the fruit advances us to where learning by faith and the heart intersect. Here we discover for ourselves that the fruit is, indeed, sweet and precious. Following Jesus Christ, and doing His will, allows us to taste of His Atonement and the gospel in multiple ways. Earlier in the process our hearts were deeply moved.Now “a mighty change [of] heart” is occurring, as described by Alma (Alma 5:12), and the Spirit is turning our experience and knowledge into conversion.

When we are “converted unto the Lord” (Alma 23:8), we follow the Savior by being baptized and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. As we taste the fruits of the gospel, we experience blessings and such joy and happiness that we want to share it with others, just as Lehi did: “And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit” (1 Nephi 8:12).

To be “converted unto the Lord,” in a literal sense, is themighty change and transformation of becoming like Jesus Christ, by “[yielding] to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and [putting] off the natural man and [becoming] a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord” (Mosiah 3:19). In the more comprehensive sense of the word, our conversion won’t be complete until we have grown spiritually “unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). This will be a lifelong pursuit and journey of faith in Him and with His grace or divine help (see 2 Nephi 25:23).

This lifelong conversion will clearly require continued nurturing on our part to avoid the withering effect described by Alma: “But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, … it withers away” (Alma 32:38).

“Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life” (2 Nephi 31:20; emphasis added).

This mighty change and conversion doesn’t mean we won’t still have questions. However, having tasted the light, questions should instill in us a desire to continue learning rather than causing doubts that can wither our growing faith. “And whosoever shall believe in my name, doubting nothing, unto him will I confirm all my words” (Mormon 9:25).

Questions are good. They cause us to ponder, search, and pray. Joseph Smith continued to have questions throughout his life. Nearly every section of the Doctrine and Covenants was revealed through him as a result of a question he took to the Lord in prayer, line upon line, and precept upon precept. This is the same way the Savior learned: “And he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness” (D&C 93:13).

A Perfect Knowledge

Returning to our faith spectrum, we labeled the top a “perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ and His gospel.”

Let’s examine the phrase “perfect knowledge.” In referring to “tasting light,” Alma taught that “your knowledge is perfect in that thing” (Alma 32:34). In the following verse, look for the prophet Mormon’s use of the same phrase, “perfect knowledge,” as he adds his witness of the same light:

“For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge,as the daylight is from the dark night.

“For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God. …

“And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully” (Moroni 7:15–16, 18; emphasis added).

Both prophets testify that it is the Light of Christ that gives us a perfect knowledge of truth. Even the people of the world recognize that they have an inner sense of right and wrong. They acknowledge the Light of Christ in the use of the word conscience, which comes from the Latin word conscientia, or “knowledge within oneself.” 2

With that light as our seal of truth, we continue to progress on the faith spectrum line upon line, and precept upon precept (see 2 Nephi 28:30; D&C 98:12;128:21), “and by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5; emphasis added).

In just a moment we will actually try Alma’s experiment so that you can be reminded of what the light tastes like and how it gives you a perfect knowledge.

Opposition Reveals the Truth

Before going forward with the experiment, it is important to identify another essential element in the process. We are taught in 2 Nephi 2 that there “must needs be … an opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11). Humankind “taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good” (Moses 6:55). Health, for example, is primarily the study of its opposite, sickness and disease; freedom, the study of oppression and slavery; happiness, the study of sorrow; and so on. And like the tiny miracle of fireflies, light goes unappreciated without a dark backdrop.

Opposition is indispensable to our education and happiness. Without opposition, the truth remains hidden in plain view, like taking air for granted until the moment you are gasping for it. Because the Light of Christ is everpresent, many people don’t notice the Spirit in their life, like those Lamanites in 3 Nephi 9:20who “were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.”

Opposition not only reveals or unveils the truth but manifests its inherent power, joy, and sweetness. For example, it took a taste of the bitter life for the prodigal son to realize what a sweet life he had abandoned back home and had taken for granted in his youth.

It is only through pain and sickness that we come to value our health. As a victim of dishonesty, we treasure integrity. Experiencing injustice or cruelty, we cherish love and kindness—all with a “perfect knowledge,” having tasted the fruit of each by the light which is in us. The perfect knowledge comes fruit by fruit, through opposition in all things. Obedience to God’s commandments promises ultimate happiness, growth, and progress through opposition, not bypassing it. “Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.” 3

Consider this insightful statement from the Prophet Joseph Smith: “By proving contraries, truth is made manifest.” 4

And this one from Brigham Young: “All facts are proved and made manifest by their opposite.” 5

The Faith Experiment

Now—let’s have you become a participant in the experiment by having you consider several “to-be” commandments, or Christlike virtues, contrasting each with its opposite. As you consider each one, the Light of Christ in you should affirm to your mind and your heart that each Christlike virtue is sweet, while it’s opposite is bitter:

  • Love versus hate, hostility, opposition

  • Honesty versus lies, deceit, theft

  • Forgiving versus revenge, resentment, bitterness

  • Kindness versus mean, angry, unkind

  • Patience versus short-tempered, hotheaded, intolerant

  • Humility versus pride, unteachable, arrogant

  • Peacemaker versus contentious, divisive, provoking

  • Diligence versus grow weary, give up, stubborn

These are only a handful of the scores of Christlike virtues, but sufficient to clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of the seed experiment.

In pondering this list, you recognize that you have come to know the power, truth, and sweetness of each virtue, one by one, through thousands of validating experiences. Good fruit comes with its own inherent proof and validation—its taste! The proof is in the eating, fruit by fruit and line upon line, each with a “perfect knowledge.” Perhaps that is what the Apostle Paul meant when he said, “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21; emphasis added). If you have integrated these and other virtues into your life, you are much further along the faith spectrum than you likely thought you were.

However, this is only what I would call a terrestrial, or glory-of-the-moon, testimony. Good God-fearing persons of any religion have this same testimony because they too have the Light of Christ, of which Mormon spoke, and have accepted a portion of His gospel.

The Faith Experiment—Next Level

A celestial, or glory-of-the-sun, testimony comes as one seeks “the fulness of the Father” (see D&C 76:75–78;93:19). When a person is baptized and worthy of the gift of the Holy Ghost, he or she receives a greater endowment of the Light of Christ, as noted in this Book of Mormon verse: “If this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, … that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you” (Mosiah 18:10, emphasis added).

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught us that “the more we incline our hearts and minds toward God, the more heavenly light distills upon our souls.” 6

“And he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day” (D&C 50:24).

I don’t need to tell you that a greater abundance of light improves your vision—you know that. The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “The nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments.” 7

With greater light with which to see, let’s take the experiment to the celestial level, and contrast some of the doctrines that are unique to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with those found elsewhere under dimmer light:

  • God is our Father, and we are created in His image versus not literally our Father; He is incomprehensible, unknowable

  • His divine organization with prophets and apostles versus abandonment of His established pattern

  • The Lord is a God of order, governing through those holding priesthood keys versus confusion, disparate voices, “false spirits” (D&C 50:2)

  • Priesthood authority and called of God versus a degree in theology; elected, hired, or self-appointed

  • Ordinances and covenants versus simply live a good life

  • Children innocent versus infant baptism

  • The Book of Mormon, a second witness versus the Bible, an only witness

  • Temple work for the dead versus light a candle and pray for the dead

  • Eternal marriage and families versus till death do us part

It’s enlightening to contrast truth with its opposite. It helps reveal the obvious, that which is hidden in plain view. We recognize that we know a lot more than we thought we did. It should inspire us to continue to “search diligently in the light of Christ … and … lay hold upon every good thing” (Moroni 7:19).

“Blessed Are They That Have Not Seen, and Yet Have Believed” (John 20:29)

Now let’s examine another interesting aspect of faith and testimony.

The Guide to the Scriptures states that “[true] faith must be centered in Jesus Christ in order for it to lead a person to salvation. …

“[It] includes a hope for things which are not seen, but which are true [see Hebrews 11:1 ].” 8

Isn’t it interesting that true faith in Jesus Christ is “believing without seeing” when the world believes the opposite, that “seeing is believing.”

The natural man discovers the world through the five senses, demanding signs as proof. And yet the scriptures are full of examples of those who received manifestations of God’s presence and power through the five senses without receiving an enduring conversion:

  • Laman and Lemuel saw an angel (see 1 Nephi 3:29). They heard the voice of the Lord that “did chasten them exceedingly” (1 Nephi 16:39). They felt God’s power when Nephi stretched forth his hand and “the Lord did shake them” (1 Nephi 17:54). They tasted and smelled: “I will make thy food become sweet, that ye cook it not” (1 Nephi 17:12). In spite of multiple manifestations through all five senses, Laman and Lemuel rebelled. Was seeing believing for them?

  • When Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, they witnessed plagues, pillars of fire, the Red Sea part; they tasted manna—experiences with all five senses. “And notwithstanding they being led, the Lord their God, their Redeemer, going before them, leading them by day and giving light unto them by night, and doing all things for them which were expedient for man to receive, they hardened their hearts and blinded their minds, and reviled against Moses and against the true and living God” (1 Nephi 17:30). Seeing certainly wasn’t believing for them!

  • There are many other similar examples in the scriptures, but the most dumbfounding example of all is of the spiritually inept who rejected the Savior in His very presence. “But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him” (John 12:37; see also D&C 138:26).

There are too many examples to the contrary to say that seeing is believing. Those hoping for just one spectacular experience to help define their testimony don’t realize that the greater testimony and witness of the Spirit comes to us daily, in many small ways, such as the last time you underlined your scriptures. Think about it. The reason you underlined your scriptures is because you received an impression, an insight, an “Aha!” An inspired impression is revelation.

Another example of revelation is when you are prompted to be kind or do a good deed, “for every thing which inviteth to do good … is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ” (Moroni 7:16). The Light of Christ is ever present! You are tasting it every day. And from these whisperings, these “small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33).

“By the Power of the Holy Ghost Ye May Know the Truth of All Things” (Moroni 10:5)

Can you think of anyone in the Book of Mormon who saw an angel and did believe? You are likely thinking of Alma the Younger. An angel had appeared to him and to the sons of Mosiah and “descended as it were in a cloud; and he spake as it were with a voice of thunder” (Mosiah 27:11). You know the rest of the story—Alma’s repentance and subsequent ministry.

Was seeing believing for Alma? No. Why? Because Alma had yet to exercise his agency in learning by study and faith and had not yet prayed to know the truth. Seeing isn’t a shortcut to faith or a testimony, as evidenced in the many examples that I just mentioned. Alma himself describes how he received his testimony, and he does not attribute it to the appearance of an angel. In fact, there is no mention of the angel anywhere in his testimony:

“And this is not all. Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety ?

“Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto meby the Holy Spirit of God [the light]. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelationwhich is in me” (Alma 5:45–46; emphasis added).

A “wake-up call” or a short-term change in behavior may result from the outside in, through the five senses, but is always short lived, as with Laman and Lemuel. An enduring testimony can only come from the inside out, as one learns by study and faith with the Holy Ghost planting the gospel “in their inward parts, and [writing] it in their hearts” (Jeremiah 31:33). That is why the Nephites, who in spite of having seen, heard, and felt the Savior at the time of His visit to them, as well as tastingand smelling bread miraculously provided by Him (see3 Nephi 20:3–9), nevertheless “[prayed] for that which they most desired; and they desired that the Holy Ghost should be given unto them” (3 Nephi 19:9).

Some years ago, the following story was shared with me by a senior missionary. It happened to him when he was a young man in the 1960s and also illustrates that it is only through study and prayer that the Holy Ghost gives us a witness of the truth. He said:

“I was living alone in Provo, Utah, in a small apartment close to the center of town. I was working as a salesman in a small furniture store in Provo, and it was during the long weekend surrounding the New Year’s holiday that this incident occurred.

“We had a long weekend holiday. It was Thursday, December 31, New Year’s Eve. We had been given from Thursday through Sunday off from work, and I was in my apartment without any plans of celebration. I was preparing my dinner, waiting for it to bake, and wanted something to read. Not having anything in the apartment, I went next door to ask some young men who were living there (students at BYU) if they had something—hoping for a copy of Field & Stream, or something of that order. They said they did not have any magazines, but they did have a book I might like to read. They handed me a copy of the Book of Mormon.

“While I had heard of the Mormon Church (who in Utah hasn’t?), I was not familiar with the book. I thanked them and took it to my apartment. During dinner I thumbed through it and started to read. I admit that I scanned through several parts, trying to find out the plot. There were names and places I had never heard before, and I just couldn’t get into it. So, after dinner, I took the book back and returned it with a “no, thank you.”

“‘Did you pray about it?’ one young man asked. ‘Pray about it?’ I responded. ‘I just wanted something to read, not something I had to pray about.’ This started a very interesting conversation about the content of the Book of Mormon. They told me that it was a book of scriptures, a book that if I would first pray about and then read with a real desire to know if it was true or not, that God would reveal the truth of it to me by the power of the Holy Ghost.

“I had been brought up a Catholic, and though I was not active at the time, I held on to my membership in the Catholic Church with a strangle hold because it was all that I had ever known. The only praying I had ever done was the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary, and reading in my missal—something I had not done in a long, long time. And now some young men were asking me to pray to a God I did not really know and to ask Him to tell me if the book was true or not. Well, what the heck, I did not have anything else to do, and it was going to be a long, long weekend. I took the book home, opened up a bottle of beer, lit up a cigarette, and got down on my knees and asked God to tell me if this book was true. Then I started to read: ‘I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents.’

“The names and places were the same as those I had read just a couple of hours before. The only difference this time was a ‘suspension of disbelief’ that had magically come over me. I was literally in the book! I could see Nephi; I could see his brothers, and it angered me when they mistreated him. I liked Nephi! I cheered the good guys on, and I felt sorry for the bad guys. I read for hours, and I couldn’t put the book down. When I finally looked at my watch, it was almost five o’clock in the morning. I wished myself Happy New Year and went to sleep.

“I woke up about eight thirty and instinctively reached for this book. And that is the way the rest of the weekend went. Like Brother Parley P. Pratt, the thought of food was a nuisance, I did not want anything to disturb me. I took my phone off the hook and read all day, with only occasional interruptions for quick snacks. Like the first night, I would finally realize it was early in the morning, sleep a few hours, pick up the book, and continue with my self-imposed marathon. Finally, about five o’clock on Monday morning, I finished the book and I fell asleep—exhausted.

“Just before Christmas that year, I had sold a large carpet job in the American Fork area. It was a specialized type of carpet, and my boss wanted me to supervise the carpet layers. My boss was a former bishop in the Provo area and had talked to me about the Church on several occasions, but I would have none of it. He was a good boss, but you did not want to provoke him because he had a temper. It was on this Monday morning, at eight o’clock, that I was supposed to supervise the carpet installation. The appointed time came, and I did not appear; nine o’clock, then ten.

“Finally, around ten thirty, my boss, mad as a wet hen, came to my apartment, walked in the door ready to tear my head off, saw me lying on the couch with the Book of Mormon laying on my chest, and changed his mind. He quietly closed the door and went back to the shop, confident that he could get the carpet layers started. Just after eleven thirty I awoke (not knowing of my boss’s visit), looked at the clock, and for the second time in a relatively short time said another prayer. I quickly dressed (believing that when I got there I probably would not have a job left), got into my car, and sped to the job site.

“I saw my boss there and went up to him to apologize. He turned around; a grin came on his face, and he asked, ‘How did you like the book?’ Realizing what must have happened, my mind went back to the previous weekend, and through tear-filled eyes I said the only thing I could have said: ‘The book is true. The Book of Mormon is the word of God.’ I then started to cry, and he came and put his arms about me and held me. I was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the 22nd of January, 1965.”

I met this good brother some decades after his conversion while he and his wife were serving a mission at the San Diego Mormon Battalion visitors’ center. The reason I like this story so much is the contrast in his two attempts to read the Book of Mormon. The first time he began to read, it was without real intent and without prayer. In the second attempt, with desire and prayer, it was an entirely different experience.

There is only one way to know if the Book of Mormon and the gospel are true, and it takes more than curiosity and more than the five senses. It takes a sincere use of one’s agency and acting on a desire to know:

“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

“And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:4–5).

That promise isn’t couched in terms of “He might” or “maybe” or “perhaps.” The promise is, “He will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.”

Another insightful principle we discover in this story is that you don’t have to read the entire Book of Mormon before a witness can come. For the man in this story, hetasted the light on page one. He didn’t need to eat the entire pizza before he knew if it was delicious. For others, it may be more of an acquired taste as the light becomes more delicious over time. That seems to be what Alma is saying in this verse: “Yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me” (Alma 32:28).

Your Testimony Is Stronger Than You Think It Is

As we began I asked you to score your testimony on the faith spectrum. I hope that you have discovered that your testimony is far more advanced than you imagined. With the Holy Ghost as your teacher, you have been gaining a perfect knowledge of many fruits of the gospel, and fruit by fruit, line upon line, your testimony has been growing stronger by the day.

The more one learns and lives the gospel, the more light they receive and the more the Father’s plan becomes the gospel of common sense. We learn from our own experiences that the fruit of the tree of life is, indeed, precious and “most sweet, above all that [we] ever before tasted” and that it fills our souls “with exceedingly great joy” (1 Nephi 8:11–12). We grow to love it because of the blessings, joy, and control it gives us over positive outcomes in our lives and the hope of endless happiness as eternal families.

I bear my witness that I know, and I know that I know, by the Holy Ghost, that the Book of Mormon is true. It is the word of God. It is sweet and precious to savor. I love and cherish its taste. I bear my witness that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He was crucified and suffered for the sins of the world. He is our Savior and continues to lead and guide His Church and kingdom here upon the earth through living prophets and apostles. I bear witness of His name and of these sacred truths in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Notes
1. See David A. Bednar, “Seek Learning By Faith,” Ensign, Sept. 2007, 60–68.

2. See Wordsense.eu Dictionary, “conscientia,” http://www.wordsense.eu/conscientia/.

3. African proverb.

4. Joseph Smith, in History of the Church, 6:428.

5. Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe [1954], 433.

6. Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Receiving a Testimony of Light and Truth,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 22.

7. Joseph Smith, in History of the Church, 2:8.

8. Guide to the Scriptures, “Faith,” scriptures.lds.org.

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