Posted in Divine identity, Foreordination, LDS Doctrine, Melchizedek Priesthood Lessons 2018, Relief Society Lessons 2018, virtue

Study helps: Joy D. Jones, “Value beyond Measure”

From http://www.lds.org:
What blessings flow into our lives when we understand our divine identity?

To answer this question, members of your quorum or Relief Society could review together the stories of Mariama, Renu, and Taiana in Sister Jones’s message.

What counsel does Sister Jones give to help us “remember and embrace our divine identity”?

Invite members to find and discuss a scripture passage or a quotation in Sister Jones’s message that helps them understand their true worth to God. Invite them to share one of these scriptures or quotations with someone who needs a reminder of his or her divine worth.

Divine identity

Each person on earth is a spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents. As their children we have inherited the potential to become like them also.

Watch: Child of God

‘Let us briefly discuss a significant threat to achieving our divine potential. Today we receive many warnings about identity theft. Some of you may have experienced the trauma resulting from this fraud. In our cybernetic world of trust and rapid transmission of medical, financial, and other personal data, we are vulnerable to exploitation of our identifying details. Theft of our numerical mortal identity can be costly and cause us a great deal of misery. But the theft of our eternal identity has much longer effects and more dire consequences. I am not talking about addresses, credit cards, or any other identifying numbers. I am talking about something much more basic and more important than who the world thinks you are. I am talking about who you think you are.

We know we are sons and daughters of God, with the potential to become like Him as described in His plan of happiness. We know this potential is achieved through our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and through obedience to the eternal laws and principles embedded in His gospel. We also know that Satan is totally dedicated to thwarting and derailing this marvelous plan-of-happiness knowledge and process. We know that one of his primary tools is to entice us to forget who we really are—to fail to realize or to forget our divine potential. This is the cruelest form of identity theft.’ (Elder Robert C Oaks, BYU Devotional, March 2006)

How does Satan try to rob us of our divine identity?

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‘The command Be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were “gods” and He is going to make good His words. . . . The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said.’ (CS Lewis, Mere Christianity)

Worth and worthiness

Let me point out the need to differentiate between two critical words: worth and worthiness. They are not the same. Spiritual worth means to value ourselves the way Heavenly Father values us, not as the world values us. Our worth was determined before we ever came to this earth. “God’s love is infinite and it will endure forever.”

On the other hand, worthiness is achieved through obedience. If we sin, we are less worthy, but we are never worth less! We continue to repent and strive to be like Jesus with our worth intact. As President Brigham Young taught: “The least, the most inferior spirit now upon the earth … is worth worlds.” No matter what, we always have worth in the eyes of our Heavenly Father.

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What happens when we get worth and worthiness confused? How can we guard against this?

Virtue

Marion G Romney said ‘I can think of no blessings to be more fervently desired than those promised to the pure and virtuous. Jesus spoke of specific rewards for different virtues but reserved the greatest gift, so it seems to me, for the pure in heart, for they, said he, shall see their God. (Matt 5:48) And not  only shall they see the Lord but they shall feel at home in his presence.’

See: Christ-like attributes – virtue

How can we find the strength to be virtuous in thought and deed in this world of terrible temptations?

Scriptures:

Romans 8:16-17

Revelation 21:7

Revelation 3:21

Philippians 3:14

2 Peter 1:4

D&C 132:20

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Posted in atonement, Family, Gospel Doctrine 2018, Jesus Christ, LDS Doctrine, Old Testament

Old Testament Lesson 4: “Because of My Transgression My Eyes Are Opened”

1. The Fall of Adam and Eve and its effects on them and us

‘They were highly intelligent people, not at all like either the hominids or the cavemen some claim the first humans to have been. They were well educated, having been taught by the Lord himself. What an education! What an instructor!’ (Mark E Petersen)

Moses 2:28 Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth

‘All my life I have heard the argument that the earth is overpopulated. Much controversy surrounded a 1994 United Nations International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo, Egypt. No doubt the conference accomplished much that was worthwhile. But at the very center of the debate was the socially acceptable phrase “sustainable growth.” This concept is becoming increasingly popular. How cleverly Satan masked his evil designs with that phrase.

Few voices in the developed nations cry out in the wilderness against this coined phrase, “sustainable growth.” In Forbes magazine a thoughtful editorial asserts that people are an asset, not a liability. It forthrightly declares as preposterous the broadly accepted premise that curbing population growth is essential for economic development. This editorial then states convincingly, “Free people don’t ‘exhaust’ resources. They create them.”

An article in U.S. News & World Report entitled “10 Billion for Dinner, Please” states that the earth is capable of producing food for a population of at least eighty billion, eight times the ten billion expected to inhabit the earth by the year 2050. One study estimates that with improved scientific methods the earth could feed as many as one thousand billion people. Those who argue for sustainable growth lack vision and faith. The Lord said, “For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare.” 17 That settles the issue for me. It should settle the issue for all of us. The Lord has spoken.’ (James E Faust, “Serving the Lord and Resisting the Devil,” Ensign, Sept. 1995, 4-5)

Moses 3:17 Nevertheless thou mayest choose for thyself

…it is the only place in all the history where we read that the Lord forbade something and yet said, ‘Nevertheless thou mayest choose for thyself.’ He never said that of any sin. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of the Gospel institute Manual, p. 20)

Moses 5:10-11 Were it not for our transgression

‘With the Fall, Adam and Eve became mortal. Death, sin, sorrow, and pain became a part of life. But so too did the opportunity to progress, to grow in knowledge and develop our talents and gifts, to experience the joys of parenthood, and, if we are faithful to the commandments and to Jesus Christ, to return to our Heavenly Father’s presence. The scriptures state that Adam proclaimed, “Because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God. And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient. And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God” (Moses 5:10-12).

The experiences of life, with their contrasts and opposites-health and sickness, success and failure, joy and sorrow-help us to know how to value the good.  They help us to make the choices necessary to obtain eternal happiness and exaltation. They are our great teachers, if we will but listen and learn from them. However, people can react differently to almost identical experiences. After losing a loved one, for example, some people draw closer to the Lord, but others alienate themselves from Him. T. S. Eliot’s comment that many people have “had the experience but missed the meaning” (“The Dry Salvages,” in Four Quartets [1943], 39) suggests that we must understand the true meaning of life’s experiences if we are to learn from them.

To learn fully from the experiences of life, we must interpret them within the framework of the restored gospel. For example, those who understand and believe the Church’s teachings about the eternal nature of humankind and the family will feel and react much differently to the loss of a loved one than will others who fail to understand or believe these glorious doctrines. In this, as in all else, we are free to choose. “And now remember, remember, my brethren, that whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto himself; and whosoever doeth iniquity, doeth it unto himself; for behold, ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a knowledge and he hath made you free” (Hel. 14:30).’ (Alexander B. Morrison, “Life-The Gift Each Is Given,” Ensign, Dec. 1998, 17-18)

Moses 6:49 Carnal, sensual and devilish

Carnal adj.  1. pertaining to or characterized by the passions and appetites of the flesh or body; sensual.    2. not spiritual; temporal; worldly. Refers to the physical rather than the rational or spiritual nature of human beings. CARNAL, although it may refer to any bodily need or urge, most often refers to sexuality. (adapted from Random House Webster’s College Dictionary 1996)

Sensual adj.  1. arousing or preoccupied with gratification of the senses or appetites; carnal.    2. lacking in moral restraints.  3. worldly; materialistic; irreligious.  SENSUAL refers to the enjoyments derived from the senses, esp. to the gratification or indulgence of physical appetites: sensual pleasures. SENSUAL most often describes the arousal or gratification of erotic urges. See also carnal. (adapted from Random House Webster’s College Dictionary 1996)

Devilish adj. 1. Partaking of the qualities of the devil; diabolical; very evil and mischievous; malicious; 2. Having communication with the devil; pertaining to the devil. 3. Excessive; enormous; in a vulgar and ludicrous sense; as a devilish cheat. (adapted from  American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828)

Moses 4:23-25 Cursed be the ground

‘Note that the curse was not placed upon Adam, but upon the ground for Adam’s sake. Rather than a curse upon Adam, it was a blessing to him. It launched him and his posterity upon the only course by which they can eventually reach that perfection enjoined by the Master. The fact that when the Lord cursed the ground to bring forth “thorns” and “thistles,” thereby requiring men to labor in order to derive a living from it, it was for their “sake”—meaning “good,” “advantage,” or “well-being?” This cannot be overemphasized.’  (Marion G Romney)

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Abraham 3:24-26 We will prove them herewith

‘In fact, adequacy in the first estate may merely have ensured a stern, second estate with more duties and no immunities! Additional tutoring and suffering appears to be the pattern for the Lord’s most apt pupils. (See Mosiah 3:19; 1 Pet. 4:19.) Our existence, therefore, is a continuum matched by God’s stretching curriculum.’ (Neal a Maxwell, “Premortality, a Glorious Reality,” Ensign, Nov. 1985, 17)

Moses 4:6 He sought to destroy the world

In his desire to overthrow the plan of God, Satan did not realize that he was bringing about the very condition which would enable the plan to work, the mortality of man. God had structured the plan to bring about the desired result without violating the principle of agency.

2. The Atonement of Jesus Christ saves us from physical and spiritual death.

‘The Book of Mormon Saints knew that the plan of redemption must start with the account of the fall of Adam. In the words of Moroni, “By Adam came the fall of man. And because of the fall of man came Jesus Christ, . . . and because of Jesus Christ came the redemption of man” (Mormon 9:12).

Just as a man does not really desire food until he is hungry, so he does not desire the salvation of Christ until he knows why he needs Christ.

No one adequately and properly knows why he needs Christ until he understands and accepts the doctrine of the Fall and its effect upon all mankind. And no other book in the world explains this vital doctrine nearly as well as the Book of Mormon.

Brethren and sisters, we all need to take a careful inventory of our performance and also the performance of those over whom we preside to be sure that we are teaching the “great plan of the Eternal God” to the Saints.

Are we accepting and teaching what the revelations tell us about the Creation, Adam and the fall of man, and redemption from that fall through the atonement of Christ? Do we frequently review the crucial questions which Alma asks the members of the Church in the fifth chapter of Alma in the Book of Mormon?

Do we understand and are we effective in teaching and preaching the Atonement? What personal meaning does the Lord’s suffering in Gethsemane and on Calvary have for each of us?

What does redemption from the Fall mean to us? In the words of Alma, do we “sing the song of redeeming love”? (Alma 5:26).’ (Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, May 1987, 85)

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Moses 6:50-52 He called upon our father Adam by his own voice

‘The first man was instructed by the best teacher man ever had, for he was taught of God, and spoke the language of the Most High, in which angels conversed. This language he taught to his children. It is true that he was left to work out, through the use of his faculties, many of nature’s great secrets; but the Lord did not leave him helpless, but instructed him, and he was inspired by the Spirit of the Lord.

The Lord gave him commandments after he was driven out of the Garden of Eden, revealed to him the plan of salvation, and he taught his children, and he set up a government. It was a perfect government, for Adam listened to the counsels of the Almighty, his Father, and our Father. He taught his children principles of divine truth and endeavored to establish them in the knowledge and understanding of the things of the kingdom of God.

Some people have the idea that the Ten Commandments were first given by Moses when he directed the children of Israel and formulated their code of laws. This is not the case. These great commandments are from the beginning and were understood in righteous communities in the days of Adam. They are, in fact, fundamental parts of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the gospel in its fulness was first given to Adam.’ (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:94-96)

3. Adam and Eve begin life as mortals, bear children, teach them the gospel, and worship and obey God.

Moses chapter 5 tells us about the beginning of family life on earth. We learn how God revealed the gospel to Adam and Eve and their posterity and how their posterity responded to the enticings of Satan.

Moses 5:12 made all things known unto their sons and daughters

‘If we do not take the pains to train our children, to teach and instruct them concerning these revealed truths, the condemnation will be upon us, as parents, or at least in a measure.

Teach your children from their youth, never to set their hearts immoderately upon an object of this world.

Bring up your children in the love and fear of the Lord.’ (Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 207)

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Moses 5:5-6 The law of sacrifice

‘Adam and Eve were given the law of sacrifice and commanded to practice it by giving offerings. These included two emblems: the firstlings of the flock and the first fruits of the field. They obeyed without questioning (see Moses 5:5–6). President David O. McKay explained, “The effect of this [law] was that the best the earth produced, the best specimen in the flock or herd should not be used for self, but for God” (“The Atonement,” Instructor, Mar. 1959, 66). At a time in history when just making sure your family had food, those who sought to worship the Lord were asked to sacrifice the best part of their source of life. It was a real test of Adam and Eve’s faith, and they obeyed.

Likewise, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the holy prophets from Adam to Moses offered the Lord sacrifices in a similar way.’ (M Russell Ballard, CES Symposium on the New Testament, 13 August 1996, Brigham Young University)

Moses 5:5-8 Animal sacrifice

“From Adam to Moses, and from Moses to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in the flesh, either as part of the gospel or of the Mosaic law, as the cases might be, all of the saints offered sacrifices in similitude of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God. … For a pastoral people whose lives depended on their flocks and herds, there could have been no better similitude than this” (Bruce R McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 114–15).

Posted in Creation, Gospel Doctrine 2018, Jesus Christ, LDS Doctrine

Old Testament Lesson 3: The Creation

“The Lord expects us to believe and understand the true doctrine of the Creation–the creation of this earth, of man, and of all forms of life” (Bruce R. McConkie, “Christ and the Creation,” Ensign, June 1982, p. 9).

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1. Moses sees a vision of God’s creations.

‘In addition to his calling to free the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage, Moses was given the assignment to write about the events that occurred from the Creation of the earth until the final days of his own mission. The first five books of the Bible contain the writings of Moses. However, some of the truths Moses recorded in those five books were removed from the Bible by wicked men who altered the biblical text (see 1 Nephi 13:24–28Moses 1:23). By revelation, the Prophet Joseph Smith restored many truths that were lost (see 2 Nephi 3:6–15Moses 1:41).” (Pearl of Great Price Institute Student Manual)

Moses 1:27 Moses…beheld the earth

‘What did [Moses] behold? He looked upon that which mankind never can look upon in this natural state, without the aid of the same principle; he beheld every particle of the earth, or, as the new revelation says, and there was not a particle of it that he did not behold, discerning it by the spirit of God. What an excellent telescope! Did the Spirit of God impress it by the rays of light upon the retina of the eye only? No: the vision was exhibited to the mind, independent of the natural eye. Instead of acting upon the mere eye, every part of the human spirit could behold and discern, through the medium of that all-powerful substance-the Spirit of God, every particle of this earth. How long would it have taken Moses to have gazed at each particle separately, with the natural eye? While he was gazing with the eye at one, he could not be looking directly at another. It would have taken him a great many millions of years to have gazed directly and distinctly upon every particle of the earth, as we naturally see things in succession. But, instead of this, we find him, in a short space of time, perhaps the interval was only a few minutes or hours, gazing upon every particle of it. Here was something new, and independent of the natural vision, showing him things beneath the surface of the earth. Men look at things above the surface by the natural eye; but here is a man who, by the power of heaven, is enabled to penetrate that which the natural eye could never behold.’ (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854-1886], 2: 245)

2. Moses learns that God created all things.

Moses 1:39 my work and my glory

‘What a wonderful, warm, and reassuring thing it is to know that the primary objective of the very God of heaven is “the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39), or, in other words, our eternal happiness and joy. Sometimes I wonder if we really appreciate what that means and how it should affect our lives. We must give adequate attention to the doctrines of happiness-real happiness, infinite and eternal. They should be the objective of everything we teach in the Church and of everything we do.’ (M Russell Ballard, “Answers to Life’s Questions,” Ensign, May 1995, 23)

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Abraham 3:24-45 we will prove them herewith

‘So, the great test of life is to see whether we will hearken to and obey God’s commands in the midst of the storms of life. It is not to endure storms, but to choose the right while they rage. And the tragedy of life is to fail in that test and so fail to qualify to return in glory to our heavenly home.

We are the spirit children of a Heavenly Father. He loved us and He taught us before we were born into this world. He told us that He wished to give us all that He had. To qualify for that gift we had to receive mortal bodies and be tested. Because of those mortal bodies, we would face pain, sickness, and death.

We would be subject to temptations through the desires and weaknesses that came with our mortal bodies. Subtle and powerful forces of evil would tempt us to surrender to those temptations. Life would have storms in which we would have to make choices using faith in things we could not see with our natural eyes.

We were promised that we would have Jehovah, Jesus Christ, as our Savior and Redeemer. He would assure that we would all be resurrected. And He would make it possible for us to pass the test of life if we exercised faith in Him by being obedient. We shouted for joy at the good news.’ (Henry B Eyring, General Conference, October 2005)

Abraham 3:24 We will take of these materials

‘It is said in this book (the Bible) that God made the earth in six days. This is a mere term, but it matters not whether it took six days, six months, six years, or six thousand years. The creation occupied certain periods of time. We are not authorized to say what the duration of these days was, whether Moses penned these words as we have them, or whether the translators of the Bible have given the words their intended meaning. However, God created the world. If I were a sectarian I would say, according to their philosophy, as I have heard many of them say hundreds of times, “God created all things out of nothing; in six days he created the world out of nothing.” You may be assured the Latter- day Saints do not believe any such thing. They believe God brought forth material out of which he formed this little terra firma upon which we roam. How long had this material been in existence? Forever and forever, in some shape, in some condition.’ (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 18:231-232, 1876)

Abraham 4:1 Organized and formed

“During the Nauvoo period, [Joseph Smith] continued to speak about the Creation in terms of organization. William Clayton, the Prophet’s private secretary, reported Joseph Smith as saying in 1841, ‘This earth was organized or formed out of other planets which were broke up and remodeled and made into the one on which we live.”  In the famed King Follett discourse, delivered at general conference in April 1844, Joseph Smith presented an extensive treatise on creation as organization. He told the Saints that the word create comes from the Hebrew word baurau [bara], which means to organize, and that ‘God had materials to organize the world out of chaos … [which] may be organized and reorganized but not destroyed.’
“Although these teachings were new for his time, Joseph Smith’s ideas received little attention from his non-LDS contemporaries. Members of other sects in the nineteenth century accepted the idea of ex nihilo creation without reservation. Consequently, Christians dismissed any alternative as irrelevant.  Most accepted the Westminster Confession of Faith, which stated that God made the world ‘of nothing.’  To the people of his day, steeped in such traditions, Joseph Smith’s ideas on creation must have seemed implausible.” (Donald Q. Cannon, Larry E. Dahl, and John W. Welch, “The Restoration of Major Doctrines through Joseph Smith: The Godhead, Mankind, and the Creation,” Ensign, Jan. 1989, 32–33)
Moses 6:63 All things bear record of me

‘Can any man who has walked beneath the stars at night, can anyone who has seen the touch of spring upon the land doubt the hand of divinity in creation? So observing the beauties of the earth, one is wont to speak as did the Psalmist: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.” (Ps. 19:1-2)

All of beauty in the earth bears the fingerprint of the Master Creator.’ (Gordon B Hinckley, Conference Report, Apr. 1978, p. 90)

3. Moses learns that men and women are created in God’s image.

Moses 2:26-27 In mine own image

‘Man is made in the image of his maker, … he is His exact image, having eye for eye, forehead for forehead, eyebrows for eyebrows, nose for nose, cheekbones for cheekbones, mouth for mouth, chin for chin, ears for ears, precisely like our Father in heaven.’ (Brigham Young, In Ludlow, Latter-day Prophets Speak, p.278)

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Moses 7:30 yet thou art there

‘Enoch, to whom the Lord revealed so much, praised God amid His vast creations, exclaiming reassuringly, “Yet thou art there”  (Moses 7:30 see also  Jer. 10:12)

This same special assurance can see each of us through all the seasons and circumstances of our lives. A universal God is actually involved with our small, individual universes of experience! In the midst of His vast dominions, yet He numbers us, knows us, and loves us perfectly’ (see  Moses 1:35  John 10:14)’ (Neal A Maxwell, General Conference, October 1987)

Posted in atonement, Foreordination, Jesus Christ, LDS Doctrine

Old Testament Lesson 2: “Thou Wast Chosen Before Thou Wast Born”

1. Abraham learns that in the premortal life many spirits were foreordained to their mortal missions.

Abraham 3:23 These will I make my rulers

‘Remember, in the world before we came here, faithful women were given certain assignments while faithful men were foreordained to certain priesthood tasks. While we do not now remember the particulars, this does not alter the glorious reality of what we once agreed to.’ (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 316)

‘Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council in heaven before this world was. I suppose that I was ordained to this very office in that Grand Council.’ (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 365)

‘Just as certain men were foreordained from before the foundations of the world, so were certain women appointed to certain tasks. Divine design—not chance—brought Mary forward to be the mother of Jesus. The boy prophet, Joseph Smith, was blessed not only with a great father but also with a superb mother, Lucy Mack, who influenced a whole dispensation.’ (Neal A Maxwell, “The Women of God,” Ensign, May 1978, p.10)

“During the ages in which we dwelt in the pre-mortal state we not only developed our various characteristics and showed our worthiness and ability, or the lack of it, but we were also where such progress could be observed. It is reasonable to believe that there was a Church organization there. The heavenly beings were living in a perfectly arranged society. Every person knew his place. Priesthood, without any question, had been conferred and the leaders were chosen to officiate. Ordinances pertaining to that pre-existence were required and the love of God prevailed. Under such conditions it was natural for our Father to discern and choose those who were most worthy and evaluate the talents of each individual. He knew not only what each of us could do, but also what each of us would do when put to the test and when responsibility was given us. Then, when the time came for our habitation on mortal earth, all things were prepared and the servants of the Lord chosen and ordained to their respective missions” (Joseph Fielding Smith,  The Way to Perfection [1970], 50–51 ).

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2. Jesus Christ was chosen in the Council in Heaven to be our Savior; we chose to follow him. Lucifer (Satan) and the spirits who followed him were cast out of heaven.

The first step in salvation of man is the laws of eternal and self-existent principles.  Spirits are eternal.  At the first organization in heaven we were all present, and saw the Savior chosen and appointed and the plan of salvation made, and we sanctioned it. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.181)

Abraham 3:27 Here am I, send me

‘Jesus Christ, our great Exemplar, gave His life to His Father’s work. In the Grand Council before this world was organized, Jesus, chosen and anointed from the beginning, volunteered, “Here am I, send me.”  Abraham 3:27 In so doing, He literally became the servant of us all. Through Jesus Christ and the power we receive through His Atonement, we can also serve. He will help us.’ (Carl B Cook, General Conference, October 2016)

Image result for 1. Abraham learns that in the premortal life many spirits were foreordained to their mortal missions.

Moses 4:1-2 Satan

‘In the premortal existence, Satan was called “Lucifer,” which means “the Shining One” or “Lightbringer.” He was a “son of the morning” (see Isaiah 14:12D&C 76:25–27) and had potential to do much good. But Lucifer sought to obtain the throne, honor, power, and glory of Heavenly Father (see D&C 29:3676:28Moses 4:1). To do so, he proposed to “redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost” (Moses 4:1). However, his proposal was based on compulsion and would therefore eliminate the agency of Heavenly Father’s children and the need for a Savior to suffer and redeem them.’ (Institute Pearl of Great Price Student Manual)

Abraham 3:26 First estate

“Abraham was shown the eternal nature of the plan of salvation and was taught that the earth was purposely created as a schooling and testing ground in ‘all things’ (Abr. 3:25), and learned that rich and everlasting rewards (“glory added upon their heads for ever and ever”) are reserved for those who remain faithful to the plan of the Father (Abr. 3:26). It is on this point that Abraham’s record makes another singular contribution to our understanding of premortality, clarifying what otherwise would be an obscure phrase found elsewhere in one verse of the New Testament. Only Abraham and Jude speak of our premortal condition as the ‘first estate’ (Jude 1:6, Abr. 3:26).

“In that one verse, Jude speaks of certain angels not keeping their ‘first estate’ and thus leaving ‘their own habitation.’ But only from Abraham do we learn that these angels were in fact spirit children in the presence of God, that the habitation they left was God’s presence, that they departed because they chose to follow Satan rather than God and Jesus Christ, and that in this ‘first estate’ God’s children lived as independent identities, exercising moral agency in the Father’s presence. Were it not for the book of Abraham, much of our basic understanding of the structure, sociality, and history of our premortal existence would be missing. Only Abraham’s remarkable record speaks of mortality’s probationary period as the ‘second estate,’ given as an endowment to all those who kept their first estate (Abr. 3:26).” (“The Book of Abraham: A Most Remarkable Book,” Ensign, Mar. 1997, 21)

Abraham 3:28 many followed after him

‘When the great council was held in heaven, in which all of us were involved, the Father presented his plan for peopling the earth, and for the salvation of man. Lucifer wanted to amend the plan. He proposed to destroy the agency of man and to save all mankind, that not one soul would be lost. This he would accomplish through outright force and coercion, denying all persons the right of choice.

Satan’s proposal of compulsion was rejected by the Father, and Lucifer “was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, … many followed after him.”  Abr. 3:28

We must have witnessed that tragic scene when Lucifer—brilliant, capable, yet lacking in intelligence to properly apply his knowledge (along with one-third of the hosts of heaven)—rose in hateful rebellion against God. And they were expelled from heaven, retaining the malignant powers to tempt and to persuade men to disobey God.’ (Elray L Christansen, General Conference, October 1974)

Image result for Jesus Christ was chosen in the Council in Heaven to be our Savior; we chose to follow him. Lucifer (Satan) and the spirits who followed him were cast out of heaven.

Moses 4:4 to deceive and to blind men

President Brigham Young said: “Every person who desires and strives to be a Saint is closely watched by fallen spirits that came here when Lucifur [sic] fell, and by the spirits of wicked persons who have been here in tabernacles and departed from them. … Those spirits are never idle; they are watching every person who wishes to do right, and are continually prompting them to do wrong” (in Journal of Discourses, 7:239).

 

 

Posted in Book of Mormon, Gospel Doctrine 2018, Jesus Christ, LDS Doctrine, Old Testament

Old Testament Lesson 1: “This Is My Work and My Glory”

Introduction

The Book of Moses records experiences from the life of Moses that are not found in the book of Genesis. This should be the first chapter of the Bible.

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The vision recorded in Moses 1 took place after Jehovah spoke to Moses at the burning bush but before Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt and through the Red Sea (see Moses 1:17, 25–26).)

Rodney Turner – We cannot read this chapter in the spirit with which it was written and not know that it is pure revelation from on high.

1. God teaches that Moses is a son of God.

How does God describe Moses? How do you think that made Moses feel? Because all men and women are spirit children of our Heavenly Father we are capable of becoming like him.

Moses 1:6 Moses, my son

‘Did you know that Heavenly Father knows you personally—by name? The scriptures teach us that this is true. When Enos went into the woods to pray, he recorded, “There came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.”  Enos 1:5 Moses not only prayed but also talked to God face-to-face, and God said to Moses, “I have a work for thee, Moses, my son.”  Moses 1:6. The Lord knew Jacob’s name and changed it to Israel to more accurately reflect his mission on the earth. [See Bible Dictionary, “Israel,” 708. Similarly, He changed the names of Paul and Abraham and Sarah. In Doctrine and Covenants, section 25, Emma Smith is given a blessing for her comfort and guidance in life. The Lord begins this blessing by saying, “Hearken unto the voice of the Lord your God, while I speak unto you, Emma Smith, my daughter.”  D&C 25:1 

You may not have heard the Lord call you by name, but He knows each one of you and He knows your name. Elder Neal A. Maxwell said: “I testify to you that God has known you individually … for a long, long time (see  D&C 93:23) He has loved you for a long, long time. He not only knows the names of all the stars (see  Ps. 147:4  Isa. 40:26) He knows your names and all your heartaches and your joys!” [“Remember How Merciful the Lord Hath Been,” Liahona and Ensign, May 2004, 46.]'(Elaine S dalton, General Conference, April 2005)

“I want to tell you, each and every one of you, that you are well acquainted with God our heavenly Father, or the great Eloheim. You are all well acquainted with Him, for there is not a soul of you but what has lived in His house and dwelt with Him year after year; and yet you are seeking to become acquainted with Him, when the fact is, you have merely forgotten what you did know ….

“There is not a person here to-day but what is a son or daughter of that Being. In the spirit world their spirits were first begotten and brought forth, and they lived there with their parents for ages before they came here. This, perhaps, is hard for many to believe, but it is the greatest nonsense in the world not to believe it. If you do not believe it, cease to call Him Father; and when you pray, pray to some other character.” (Brigham Young, in Journal of Discourses, 4:216.)

Moses 1:10 man is nothing

Elder Neal A. Maxwell wrote that Moses’ statement “surely was not a reflection on man, ‘God’s greatest miracle,’ but a placing of man in the vast perspective of God’s creations and a realizing, even so, that we are God’s exclusive work and his greatest glory” (Notwithstanding My Weakness [1981], 75).

2. Satan confronts Moses; Moses casts him out.

Read: Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence – Jeffrey R Holland, BYU Devotional March 1999

Moses 1:12-13 Moses, son of man, worship me

Satan came tempting – because of Moses’ weakened condition Satan chose this moment to reveal himself in an effort to turn Moses from the path that the Lord had set him on.

“Moses seemed bothered when Satan addressed him as a ‘son of man.’ He retorted, ‘I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten.’ (Moses 1:12-13.) Knowing that he was created in the image of God strengthened Moses to overcome Lucifer’s temptations. Sons of men are sons of the world, and they give heed to worldly things. Not realizing their divine heritage, they give up their birthright to worship the images of the world. Sons of God, however, know that they are heirs to a celestial future and can thus envision heavenly riches. This vision helps them to worship only God and to follow his path.” (Dennis Largey, “Refusing to Worship Today’s Graven Images,” Ensign, Feb. 1994, 13)

What did Satan call Moses?

What did God call him?

What difference does it make whether you think of yourself as a son or daughter of God rather than a son or daughter of men?

Moses 1 :16 Get thee hence, Satan

‘Knowing who we really are prepares us to use that knowledge to face temptations, to resist them, and then to act righteously. Moses, knowing he was a son of God, as revealed to him, told Satan, “Get thee hence, Satan; deceive me not; for God said unto me: Thou art after the similitude of mine Only Begotten” ( Moses 1:16) The result did not wait, as the Lord called him, saying, “Blessed art thou, Moses, for I, the Almighty, have chosen thee, and thou shalt be made stronger than many waters; for they shall obey thy command as if thou wert God”  (Moses 1:25) The spiritual security becomes evident as the Lord added, “I am with thee, even unto the end of thy days” (Moses 1:26)’ (Charles Didier, General Conference, April 1987) 

“This arch enemy of God and man, called the devil, the ‘Son of the Morning,’ who dwells here on the earth, is a personage of great power; he has great influence and knowledge. He understands that if this kingdom, which he rebelled against in heaven, prevails on the earth, there will be no dominion here for him. He has great influence over the children of men; he labors continually to destroy them. He labored to destroy them in heaven; he labored to destroy the works of God in heaven, and he had to be cast out. He is here, mighty among the children of men. There is a vast number of fallen spirits, cast out with him, here on the earth. They do not die and disappear; they have not bodies only as they enter the tabernacles of men. They have not organized bodies, and are not to be seen with the sight of the eye. But there are many evil spirits amongst us, and they labor to overthrow the Church and kingdom of God. There never was a prophet in any age of the world but what the devil was continually at his elbow.” (Wilford Woodruff, in Journal of Discourses, 13:163.)

Moses 1:18-21 Depart hence Satan

‘Moses recognized the deception and saw the power of darkness and the “bitterness of hell”  (Moses 1:20) Here was a force not easily reckoned with nor evicted. Terrified, he called upon God, then commanded with new power: “I will not cease to call upon God . . . for his glory has been upon me, wherefore I can judge between him and thee” ( Moses 1:18)

“. . . In the name of the Only Begotten, depart hence, Satan”  (Moses 1:21)

Not even Lucifer, the Star of the Morning (Isa. 14:12) the arch-enemy of mankind can withstand the power of the priesthood of God. Trembling, quaking, cursing, weeping, wailing, gnashing his teeth, he departed from the victorious Moses.’ (Spencer W Kimball, General Conference, April 1964)

Elder Neal L Anderson: The choice between good and evil is at the very heart of our experience on earth. In the final review of our lives, it will not really matter if we were rich or poor, if we were athletic or not, if we had friends or were often forgotten. We can work, study, laugh and have fun, dance, sing, and enjoy many different experiences. These are a wonderful part of life, but they are not central to why we are here. The opportunity to choose good over evil is precisely why we are here.

3. God appears again and teaches of his work and glory.

Moses 1:24 The Holy Ghost

President Joseph Fielding Smith said: “The fact is all the prophets had the Holy Ghost. They were led and directed by him. And without this power they would not have been prophets. Peter said that prophecy itself ‘came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost’ [2 Peter 1:21]. The Book of Moses, which is the original and perfect record of a part of Genesis, speaks of the Holy Ghost; so do the Nephite prophets, including those who lived in the era before Christ” (Doctrines of Salvation,1:46–47).

Moses 1:35 There are many worlds

President Brigham Young said: “How many earths are there? I observed this morning that you may take the particles of matter composing this earth, and if they could be enumerated they would only be a beginning to the number of the creations of God; and they are continually coming into existence, and undergoing changes and passing through the same experience that we are passing through” (in Journal of Discourses, 14:71).

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Bruce R. McConkie: “When the prophets speak of an infinite atonement, they mean just that. Its effects cover all men, the earth itself and all forms of life thereon, and reach out into the endless expanses of eternity….Now our Lord’s jurisdiction and power extend far beyond the limits of this one small earth on which we de\well. He is under the Father, the creator of worlds without number (Moses 1:33). And through the power of his atonement the inhabitants of these worlds, the revelation says, ‘are begotten sons and daughters unto God’ (DC 76:24), which means that the atonement of Christ, being literally and truly infinite, applies to an infinite number of earths.” (Mormon Doctrine)

President Joseph Fielding Smith:  “Not only was this earth planned as an architect plans his building but its entire destiny and the destiny of its inhabitants was considered and known to the great Architect, before its foundation stones were laid. Our Eternal Father was not experimenting when this world came into existence. It did not come by chance. It is not the first of his creations. Millions upon millions of worlds such as this had rolled into existence before our earth was born. Every step taken was according to the divine plan, and that plan was an eternal one, which had been followed in the construction of other worlds without number unto man. In other worlds the plan of salvation had been given. Here we are enacting familiar scenes; scenes which are new to all mortal men, but which are well known to the Father and also to the Son.” (The Way to Perfection, pp35-36)

Moses 1:39 My work and my glory

‘We are all in this great endeavor together. We are here to assist our Father in His work and His glory, “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). Your obligation is as serious in your sphere of responsibility as is my obligation in my sphere. No calling in this church is small or of little consequence. All of us in the pursuit of our duty touch the lives of others. To each of us in our respective responsibilities the Lord has said: “Wherefore, be faithful; stand in the office which I have appointed unto you; succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees” (D&C 81:5).’ (Gordon B Hinckley, “This Is the Work of the Master,” Ensign, May 1995, 71)

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Boyd K Packer: Every law and principle and power, every belief, every ordinance and ordination, every covenant, every sermon and every sacrament, every counsel and correction, the sealings, the calls, the releases, the service—all these have as their ultimate purpose the perfection of the individual and the family, for the Lord has said, “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

Posted in atonement, Jesus Christ, LDS Doctrine, New Testament, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley: Lesson 24 – The Atonement of Jesus Christ: Vast in Its Reach, Intimate in Its Effect

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

Watch: Testimony of Gordon B Hinckley

President Gordon B. Hinckley testifies of Jesus Christ and his love for the Master. (2:39)

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1. Our Heavenly Father’s love is expressed in the gift of His Only Begotten Son.

‘I feel, and the Spirit seems to accord, that the most important doctrine I can declare, and the most powerful testimony I can bear, is of the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.

His atonement is the most transcendent event that ever has or ever will occur from Creation’s dawn through all the ages of a never-ending eternity.’ (Bruce R McConkie’s final testimony).

‘Our Heavenly Father loves each one of us because we are actually his children, not merely one of his creations. Because of his love, he sent us to earth to grow and progress. But on earth he knew there would be many dangers. By sinning we would cut ourselves off from our heavenly home and by dying we would be separated from our physical bodies. Heavenly Father, in his great love, sent his Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to rescue us from sin and death and to make it possible for us to return to him (see Abraham 3:27).

Imagine how hard it must have been for Heavenly Father to see Jesus suffer so terribly. But he allowed it because of his love for us and his desire for us to progress.’ (Family Home Evening Resource Book, Lesson 9)

From the manual:

My heart is subdued when I think of the great love of my Heavenly Father. How grateful I am to know that God loves us. The incomprehensible depth of that love found expression in the gift of His Only Begotten Son to come into the world to bring hope into our hearts, to bring kindness and courtesy into our relationships, and above all to save us from our sins and guide us on the way that leads to eternal life.

What are your thoughts and feelings as you read President Hinckley’s summary of what the Savior has done for us?

2. Through the Savior’s redeeming sacrifice, all people will rise from the grave.

See: The Infinite Atonement

‘What He did could only be done by Deity. As the Only Begotten Son of the Father in the flesh, Jesus inherited divine attributes. He was the only person ever born into mortality who could perform this most significant and supernal act. As the only sinless Man who ever lived on this earth, He was not subject to spiritual death. Because of His godhood, He also possessed power over physical death. Thus He did for us what we cannot do for ourselves. He broke the cold grasp of death. He also made it possible for us to have the supreme and serene comfort of the gift of the Holy Ghost.24 [See  John 15:26

The Atonement and the Resurrection accomplish many things. The Atonement cleanses us of sin on condition of our repentance. Repentance is the condition on which mercy is extended. [See  Alma 42:22–25 After all we can do to pay to the uttermost farthing and make right our wrongs, the Savior’s grace is activated in our lives through the Atonement, which purifies us and can perfect us. [See  2 Ne. 25:23  Alma 34:15–16  Alma 42:22–24  Moro. 10:32–33 Christ’s Resurrection overcame death and gave us the assurance of life after death. Said He: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”  John 11:25 The Resurrection is unconditional and applies to all who have ever lived and ever will live. [See  Acts 24:15 It is a free gift. President John Taylor described this well when he said: “The tombs will be opened and the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and they shall come forth, they who have done good to the resurrection of the just, and they who have done evil to the resurrection of the unjust.”‘ (James E Faust, General Conference, October 2001)

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From the manual:

Whenever the cold hand of death strikes, there shines through the gloom and the darkness of that hour the triumphant figure of the Lord Jesus Christ, He, the Son of God, who by His matchless and eternal power overcame death. He is the Redeemer of the world. He gave His life for each of us. He took it up again and became the firstfruits of them that slept. He, as King of Kings, stands triumphant above all other kings. He, as the Omnipotent One, stands above all rulers. He is our comfort, our only true comfort, when the dark shroud of earthly night closes about us as the spirit departs the human form.

How have you found comfort at times of loss?

3. Through the Savior’s atoning sacrifice, we are offered the opportunity of exaltation and eternal life.

Watch: The Priesthood and the Savior’s Atoning Power (Dale G Renlund, General Conference, October 2017)

‘We can never fully repay our Savior for his sacrifice made to help us achieve salvation and exaltation. It would behoove each of us to search our hearts and lives and consider how good and gracious our Lord has been. George Herbert said, “Thou that has given so much to us, give us one thing more … a grateful heart.”’ (Delbert L Stapley, General Conference, April 1974)

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From the manual:

When all is said and done, when all of history is examined, when the deepest depths of the human mind have been explored, nothing is so wonderful, so majestic, so tremendous as this act of grace when the Son of the Almighty, the Prince of His Father’s royal household, He who had once spoken as Jehovah, He who had condescended to come to earth as a babe born in Bethlehem, gave His life in ignominy and pain so that all of the sons and daughters of God of all generations of time, every one of whom must die, might walk again and live eternally. He did for us what none of us could do for ourselves.

What are your feelings as you ponder the Savior’s sacrifice for you? 

Posted in LDS Doctrine, Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley, Temples

Teachings of Gordon B Hinckley: Chapter 23 – The Blessings of the Holy Temple

From the Life of Gordon B. Hinckley

Watch: Ministry of Gordon B Hinckley: Temple Building

Image result for Temples are expressions of our testimony, and they represent the ultimate in our worship.

1. Temples are expressions of our testimony, and they represent the ultimate in our worship.

President Howard W Hunter: Let us truly be a temple-attending and a temple-loving people. We should hasten to the temple as frequently, yet prudently, as our personal circumstances allow. We should go not only for our kindred dead but also for the personal blessing of temple worship, for the sanctity and safety that are within those hallowed and consecrated walls. As we attend the temple, we learn more richly and deeply the purpose of life and the significance of the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us make the temple, with temple worship and temple covenants and temple marriage, our ultimate earthly goal and the supreme mortal experience.

‘Ordinances that are received worthily and remembered continually open the heavenly channels through which the power of godliness can flow into our lives. Covenants that are honored steadfastly and remembered always provide purpose and the assurance of blessings in both mortality and for eternity.’ David A bednar, General Conference, October 2017)

From the manual:

These unique and wonderful buildings, and the ordinances administered therein, represent the ultimate in our worship. These ordinances become the most profound expressions of our theology.

What are some blessings you have received through these ordinances?

2. Through temple ordinances, we receive the crowning blessings of the gospel.

In the ‘Church News’ on the 26th April 2008, President Monson announced that two temples were to be built in Arizona.  His remarks during that announcement were significant for us all.  He said:

“It is my personal priority to make sure members of the Church have access to the blessings of the temple.  It is here where members learn of their divine origin and destiny; where they are strengthened spiritually as individuals and as families.  Temples are sanctuaries from the storms of life.”

‘Until you have entered the house of the Lord and have received all the blessings which await you there, you have not obtained everything the Church has to offer. The all-important and crowning blessings of membership in the Church are those blessings which we receive in the temples of God.’ (Thomas S Monson, General Conference, April 2011)

From the manual:

Small wonder, my brethren and sisters, that with the opening of … temples I have seen the tears of strong men who have embraced their wives at the altars in these sacred houses. I have seen the tears of fathers and mothers as they have embraced their children at these same altars. Through the power here exercised they have come to know that neither time nor death can destroy the bonds which bind them together.

From your experience, why do temple ordinances stir such deep feelings?

3. The temple is a sanctuary of service where we receive saving ordinances in behalf of those who have died without receiving the gospel.

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From the manual:

Boys and girls in large numbers have … been reminded that these temples are not only for their parents but also for them. When 12 years of age, they may enter the house of the Lord and stand as proxies in baptisms for those beyond the veil of death. What a great and unselfish service this is. What a wonderful thing for our youth to be involved in this totally selfless act in behalf of others who are powerless to help themselves.

What can parents and youth do to work together in this service?

4. Great blessings await us as we keep ourselves worthy and go to the temple frequently.

We often think of the temple as a place where we carry our ordinances for the dead. This is true and is important but the temple is not just for the dead but also for the living. I am talking not only about the ordinances performed for the living which enable us to return to live with our Heavenly Father but also to the spiritually uplifting, strengthening influence in individual lives that results from regular temple attendance.

The temple truly is the House of the Lord and if we go there in the right spirit we can find him there. Temple work helps us to focus our thoughts on the Father and on His son. When we attend the temple regularly we find that we draw closer to Heavenly Father and to the Saviour.

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‘In the temple the Spirit is the teacher. It instructs us, most frequently, through the symbols that comprise the endowment. We must be alert and pay attention to all that we see and hear, thus allowing the Spirit to teach us and to bring us understanding. If we go to the temple and just sit, without making an effort to learn, we will miss some of the greatest blessings the temple has to offer.’ (S Michael Wilcox, House of Glory.)

‘Finally, let me share with you one more experience among the Saints of the Pacific that remains deeply and spiritually rooted in my soul. Some years ago I was a young counselor to a bishop in a new ward in American Samoa. We had 99 members, consisting of subsistence farmers, cannery workers, government employees, and their families. When the First Presidency announced in 1977 that a temple was going to be constructed in Samoa, there was joy and thanksgiving expressed by all of us. Going to the temple from American Samoa at that time required traveling either to Hawaii or New Zealand. This was a costly journey that was beyond the reach of many faithful Church members.

During this period of time members were encouraged to donate to a building fund to assist in the construction of temples. In this spirit, our bishopric asked the ward members to prayerfully consider what they could give. A date was set for families to gather to offer their donations. Later, as these donations were opened in private, our bishopric was humbled and touched by the faith and generosity of our wonderful ward members.

Knowing each family and their circumstances, I felt a deep and abiding sense of awe, respect, and humility. These were, in every way, modern-day widow’s mites given freely from their “want,” with a joy in the promised blessing of the construction of a holy temple of the Lord in Samoa. These families had consecrated all that they could to the Lord, with the faith that they would not be left wanting. Their gift manifested their widow’s hearts. All who gave did so willingly and joyfully because the widow’s heart within them could see with the eye of faith the great crowning blessings in store for their families and for all of the people of Samoa and American Samoa for generations to come. I know that their consecrated offerings, their widow’s mites, were known and accepted by the Lord.’ (O Vincent Haleck, General Conferemce, October 2017)

From the manual:

I urge our people everywhere, with all of the persuasiveness of which I am capable, to live worthy to hold a temple recommend, to secure one and regard it as a precious asset, and to make a greater effort to go to the house of the Lord and partake of the spirit and the blessings to be had therein.

What can we do to make time to serve and worship in the temple? 

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Church History, LDS Doctrine, Obedience, Temples

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 46: “Zion—The Pure in Heart”

1. The word Zion has several meanings.

D&C 97:21 The pure in heart

‘God has given us the perfect definition: Zion is the pure in heart-the pure in heart, not merely the pure in appearance. It is not a society or religion of forms and observances, of pious gestures and precious mannerisms: it is strictly a condition of the heart. Above all, Zion is pure, which means “not mixed with any impurities, unalloyed”; it is all Zion and nothing else. It is not achieved wherever a heart is pure or where two or three are pure, because it is all pure-it is a society, a community, and an environment into which no unclean thing can enter. “Henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean” (3 Nephi 20:36). It is not even pure people in a dirty environment, or pure people with a few impure ones among them; it is the perfectly pure in a perfectly pure environment. “I . . . will contend with Zion . . . and chasten her until she overcomes and is clean before me” (D&C 90:36).

This makes it so different from our world that it almost begins to sound distasteful. But a moment’s reflection will show that Zion cannot possibly be other than wholly pure. For Zion is the eternal order; it has existed elsewhere from the eternities and will someday be permanently established on this earth. Even the smallest impurity or flaw in anything designed to continue forever would, in the course of an infinite stretching of time, become a thing of infinite mischief. The most perfect structures men have been able to erect have been short-lived because of tiny, all-but-imperceptible flaws. Hence, any flaw, no matter how small, must be removed from a system designed to be timeless; otherwise, there will be no end of trouble.’ (Hugh Nibley, Approaching Zion, edited by Don E. Norton [Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1989], 27)

D&C 82:14 Stakes

‘Zion is to increase in size, beauty, and holiness. Think upon that challenge as if we spoke of a tent. Stakes must be added, but this is not to be a common tent. The curtains must be more beautiful. The activities within this tent are not to be common or profane. A larger, more beautiful, and holier tent sounds like a description of the ancient tabernacle. Reflect upon the words of President Howard W. Hunter, who invited the Church to “look to the temple of the Lord as the great symbol of your membership.”

Why the call for beauty? Perhaps Zion will need to expand because its beauty will serve as an attraction to those it seeks to gather. Similarly, the call for increased holiness may be to ensure the Lord’s protecting hand upon the Church. Just as each component in a tent interacts with the other components to accomplish its purposes, perhaps the growth, beauty, and holiness of Zion interact to fulfill its destiny.’ (Richard W Hall, Her Stakes Must Be Strengthened)

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D&C 45:66-67 The New Jerusalem

‘The city has yet to be built, and it will not be built and cannot be built except by a people who are living a celestial law. And after it is built, the fear and dread of the Lord will rest upon the wicked as they see how and in what manner the Lord preserves its righteous inhabitants.’ (Bruce R McConkie, The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 303.)

2. Zion has existed in previous dispensations.

Watch or read: Israel, Israel, God is Calling Jeffrey R Holland CES Broadcast

3. The Saints of our dispensation have been commanded to establish Zion.

Read: Revelations in Context – Newel K Whitney and the United Firm

D&C 6:6 Establish the cause of Zion

“The commandment to reestablish Zion became for the Saints of Joseph Smith’s day the central goal of the Church. But it was a goal the Church did not realize because its people were not fully prepared. In the wisdom of God, who comprehends the end from the beginning, the redemption of Zion will assuredly come as promised, but not until he has a prepared people who can live by Zion’s laws.” (William O. Nelson, “To Prepare a People,” Ensign, Jan. 1979, 18)

D&C 57:1-3 Independence

‘Let Israel gather to the stakes of Zion in all nations. Let every land be a Zion to those appointed to dwell there. Let the fullness of the gospel be for all the saints in all nations. Let no blessing be denied them. Let temples arise wherein the fullness of the ordinances of the Lord’s house may be administered….

But still there is a center place, a place where the chief temple shall stand, a place to which the Lord shall come, a place whence the law shall go forth to govern all the earth in that day when [Christ] reigns personally upon the earth. And that center place is what men now call Independence in Jackson County, Missouri, but which in a day to come will be the Zion of our God and the City of Holiness of his people. The site is selected; the place is known; the decree has gone forth; and the promised destiny is assured.’ (Bruce R McConkie, New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 595)

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D&C 105:9 Wait for a little season

‘We must live God’s laws if we desire to reap his promises. The Latter-day Saints of Jackson County were a far better people than those who mobbed them and drove them from their homes; but a lack of preparedness hindered them from playing their full part in the great work that God had designed. The mighty event, however, was only postponed. Zion, in due time, will be redeemed; Israel will be gathered; and the preparation made that is necessary to precede the advent of the King of kings.’ (Orson F Whitney, Conference Report, October 1919, Afternoon Session 73.)

D&C 101:6-8 They polluted their inheritances

‘This great tribulation would not have come upon Zion had it not been for rebellion: Firstly, there were rebellions against the one to whom were entrusted the keys, & from thence it has spread down to the lowest & least member! not this alone, but those who were void of understanding were continually telling that which was not true, & putting false coloring to the things of  God! I mean those whose mouths are continually open, & whose tongues cannot be stayed from tatling! & the church will never have peace while such remain in her, therefore, brethren purge them out, & have no confidence in any except such as will lay down their lives for this sacred cause for none others are worthy of it. It was necessary that these things should come upon us: not only justice demands it, but there was no other way to cleanse the church.’ (Oliver Cowdery, Letter to Missouri, 10 August 1833; josephsmithpapers.org)

D&C 38:27 If ye are not one ye are not mine

“If we are not united, we are not his. Here unity is the test of divine ownership as thus expressed. If we would be united in love and fellowship and harmony, this Church would convert the world, who would see in us the shining example of these qualities which evidence that divine ownership. Likewise, if in that Latter-day Saint home the husband and wife are in disharmony, bickering, and divorce is threatened, there is an evidence that one or both are not keeping the commandments of God.

“If we, in our wards and our branches, are divided, and there are factions not in harmony, it is but an evidence that there is something wrong. If two persons are at variance, arguing on different points of doctrine, no reasonable, thinking persons would say that both were speaking their different opinions by the Spirit of the Lord. …

“If it is so important, then, that this people be a united people, we might well expect that upon this principle the powers of Satan would descend for their greatest attack. We might well expect, also, that if there be those of apostate mind among us, they would be inclined to ridicule and to scorn this principle of oneness and unity as being narrow-minded or as being unprogressive. We would likewise expect that those who are enemies would also seek to fight against that principle.” (Harold B Lee, In Conference Report, Apr. 1950, pp. 97–98.)

Image result for The Saints of our dispensation have been commanded to establish Zion.

D&C 64:34 The Lord requires the heart and a willing mind

‘It doesn’t say that the Lord requires competence, or a Ph.D. or immaculate housekeeping, or professional success. But it doesn’t say that he’ll be satisfied with a half-hearted you, either. He wants your whole heart, and for good reason. Real power does not lie in external forces, but in the heart’. (Chieko Okazaki, Lighten Up! [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1993], 69.)

D&C 105:3 They have not learned to be obedient

‘In the early 1830’s, the Lord directed the Saints to implement the “royal law” by living the United Order. In this they failed. Because they did not learn to impart of their substance as becometh Saints to the poor and afflicted among them  D&C 105:3 the Lord permitted them to be driven from Missouri, and the requirement that they live the United Order was withdrawn. But the “royal law” was not withdrawn. It remained in full force. At least partially to fulfil it, the Saints, since then, have been bound by the law of tithing and the “fast.”‘ (Marion G Romney, General Conference, October 1954)

D&C 97:13-14 A place of instruction

“Temple work … gives a wonderful opportunity for keeping alive our spiritual knowledge and strength. … The mighty perspective of eternity is unraveled before us in the holy temples; we see time from its infinite beginning to its endless end; and the drama of eternal life is unfolded before us. Then I see more clearly my place amidst the things of the universe, my place among the purposes of God; I am better able to place myself where I belong, and I am better able to value and to weigh, to separate and to organize the common, ordinary duties of my life, so that the little things shall not oppress me or take away my vision of the greater things that God has given us.” (John A Widtsoe, In Conference Report, Apr. 1922, pp. 97–98.)

D&C 105:10 That my people may be taught more perfectly

‘The modern Church even today is instructed to “wait for a little season” to build up central Zion. Why? So that we “may be prepared … and have experience.” (D&C 105:9-10.) We gain knowledge through particular experiences, but only incrementally, “in that thing.” (Alma 32:34.) Hence the ongoingness of it all, and perhaps we can be forgiven for wondering, “Is there no other way?” Personal, spiritual symmetry emerges only from the shaping of prolonged obedience. Twigs are bent, not snapped, into shape.

Without patient and meek endurance we will learn less, see less, feel less, and hear less. We who are egocentric and impatient shut down so much of our receiving capacity.

In any case, brothers and sisters, how could there be refining fires without enduring some heat? Or greater patience without enduring some instructive waiting? Or more empathy without bearing one another’s burdens-not only that others’ burdens may be lightened, but that we may be enlightened through greater empathy? How can there be later magnification without enduring some present deprivation?

The enlarging of the soul requires not only some remodeling, but some excavating. Hypocrisy, guile, and other imbedded traits do not go gladly or easily, but if we “endure it well” (D&C 121:8), we will not grow testy while being tested.

Moreover, we find that sorrow can actually enlarge the mind and heart in order to “give place,” expanded space for later joy.

Thus, enduring is one of the cardinal attributes; it simply cannot be developed without the laboratory time in this second estate. Even the best lectures about the theory of enduring are not enough. All the other cardinal virtues-love, patience, humility, mercy, purity, submissiveness, justice-they all require endurance for their full development.’ (Neal A Maxwell, “Endure It Well,” Ensign, May 1990, 34)

4. The scriptures include glorious promises about the future of Zion.

D&C 97:18 If Zion do these things she shall prosper

“The Saints did not build the temple in Jackson County. The command to build one ‘speedily’ must have sounded to them like a strange demand in light of their situation. Their leaders had been tarred and feathered. Their press had been destroyed and their homes ransacked and burned. Yet the Lord was counseling them to walk into the center of Independence and start laying the foundation of a temple.

“I have often wondered what would have happened if all the Saints in Missouri had dropped whatever they were doing, picked up their tools, and marched, en masse, to Independence and started digging foundations. It would have taken tremendous courage, but the history of the Church might have been much different. Let us never underestimate the protective power of the temple. ‘Every time a temple is dedicated to the Lord,’ Spencer W. Kimball said, ‘the darkness pushes farther back, . . . and light comes into the world.’ (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 534.)” (S. Michael Wilcox, House of Glory: Finding Personal Meaning in the Temple[Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1995], 65 – 66)

D&C 97:25 Zion shall escape

‘My brethren and sisters, why should we hope to escape, who have been baptized into this Church, yet ignore the commandments of the Lord? For there are among us those who do not keep the Word of Wisdom, some of us do not pay our tithing; we do not sanctify ourselves by adding unto our faith, virtue: to virtue, knowledge, to knowledge, temperance, and patience, and godliness, and brotherly kindness. Why should we claim exemption-we who know the truth, we who have been warned, we who will testify that we believe God has spoken-why should we escape if we do not keep the commandments of the Lord? And I say this with a feeling in my heart of deep appreciation that the Latter-day Saints are, notwithstanding all this, the best people in the world…  The Lord is speaking… to the whole Church, crying repentance unto us, calling us to set our houses in order, to keep the commandments of the Lord.’ (Melvin J Ballard, Conference Report, June 1919, Second Day-Morning Session 89.)

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Family, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Doctrine, Priesthood, Temples, virtue

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 45: “The Family Is Ordained of God”

1. The family is central to God’s plan.

A mother and father sit down with their six children.

Watch: The Plan and the Proclamation (Dallin H Oaks, general Conference, October 2017)

Watch: The Family is Ordained of God Women from around the world testify of the blessings of the family in God’s plan. (5:30)

Watch: The Family is Central to the Creator’s Plan Various people express their thoughts on the importance of the family. (3:21)

Watch: The Home is a Divine Institution

D&C 131:2 A man must enter into this order of the priesthood

‘No man receives the fulness of the priesthood without a woman at his side. For no man, the Prophet said, can obtain the fulness of the priesthood outside the temple of the Lord.  And she is there beside him in that sacred place. She shares in all that he receives. The man and the woman individually receive the ordinances encompassed in the endowment. But the man cannot ascend to the highest ordinances-the sealing ordinances-without her at his side. No man achieves the supernal exalting status of worthy fatherhood except as a gift from his wife. ‘(Boyd K Packer, “The Relief Society,” Ensign, May 1998, 73)

2. Sacred ordinances make it possible for families to be together eternally.

In the temple we receive the ordinances that will enable us to return to the presence of God. We also make covenants to live the laws of the gospel.

An ordinance is a sacred ceremony that has a spiritual meaning and effect.Ordinances in the Church include naming and blessing of babies, baptism, confirmation, the sacrament, ordination to the priesthood, and temple ordinances.)

Ordinances performed by the power of the priesthood are essential to our exaltation. It is through these ordinances that we receive the power of God in our lives.

Image result for 2. Sacred ordinances make it possible for families to be together eternally.

“How important are the ordinances to us as members of the Church?

“Can you be happy, can you be redeemed, can you be exalted without them? Answer: They are more than advisable or desirable, or even than necessary. More even than essential or vital. They are crucial to each of us.” (Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple page 29)

‘The Lord always has commanded His people to build temples, holy places in which worthy Saints perform sacred gospel ceremonies and ordinances for themselves and for the dead. Temples are the most holy of all places of worship. A temple literally is the house of the Lord, a sacred space specifically set apart for worshipping God and for receiving and remembering His great and precious promises.

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The Lord has directed in this dispensation, “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.” The principal focus of temple worship is participating in ordinances and learning about, receiving, and remembering covenants. We think, act, and dress differently in the temple than in other spaces that we may frequent.

A principal purpose of the temple is to elevate our vision from the things of the world to the blessings of eternity. Removed for a short time from the worldly settings with which we are familiar, we can “look to God and live” by receiving and remembering the great and precious promises whereby we become partakers of the divine nature.

Please note that the Sabbath day and the temple, respectively, are a sacred time and a sacred space specifically set apart for worshipping God and for receiving and remembering His exceeding great and precious promises to His children. As instituted by God, the principal purposes of these two divine sources of help are exactly the same: to powerfully and repeatedly focus our attention upon our Heavenly Father, His Only Begotten Son, the Holy Ghost, and the promises associated with the ordinances and covenants of the Savior’s restored gospel.’ (David A Bednar, General Conference, October 2017)

3. The power to create mortal life is sacred.

‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a single, undeviating standard of sexual morality: intimate relations are proper only between a man and a woman in the marriage relationship prescribed in God’s plan. Such relations are not merely a curiosity to be explored, an appetite to be satisfied, or a type of recreation or entertainment to be pursued selfishly. They are not a conquest to be achieved or simply an act to be performed. Rather, they are in mortality one of the ultimate expressions of our divine nature and potential and a way of strengthening emotional and spiritual bonds between husband and wife. We are agents blessed with moral agency and are defined by our divine heritage as children of God—and not by sexual behaviors, contemporary attitudes, or secular philosophies.’ (David A Bednar, General Conference, April 2013)

4. Parents have a sacred duty to care for each other and teach their children.

‘We plead with fathers and mothers to teach personal purity by precept and example and to counsel with their children in all such things. We ask parents to set an example of righteousness in their own lives and to gather their children around them and teach them the gospel, in their family home evenings and at other times.’ (Joseph Fielding Smith, General Conference, April 1970)

D&C 68:25-28 Teaching children

‘We are to teach our children the principles and doctrines of the gospel. We need to help them have faith in Jesus Christ and prepare them for baptism when they are eight years old. [See  Doctrine and Covenants 68:25–28 We must be faithful ourselves so that they can see our example of love for the Lord and His Church. This helps our children feel joy in keeping the commandments, happiness in families, and gratitude in service to others.’ (David F Evans, General Conference, April 2012)

D&C 93:40 Bring up your children in light and truth

“The spirit of the times is worldliness. Hoodlumism is common. Supposedly good youth from recognized good families express their revolt in destructive acts. Many defy and resist the law-enforcing officers. Respect for authority, secular, religious, and political, seems to be at a low ebb. Immorality, drug addiction, and general moral and spiritual deterioration seem to be increasing, and the world is in turmoil. But in our time the Lord has offered his ageless program in new dress and it gives promise to return the world to sane living, to true family life, family interdependence. It is to return the father to his rightful place at the head of the family, to bring mother home from social life and employment, the children away from unlimited fun and frolic. The home teaching program with its crowning activity, the family home evening, will neutralize the ill effects only if people will apply the remedy.” (Spencer W Kimball, “Home: The Place to Save Society,” Ensign, Jan. 1975, pp. 3–4.)

5. Successful marriages and families are based on righteous principles.

D&C 121:43-44 Righteous principles

‘This, my brethren and sisters who stand at the head of families, is the key to government in the home directed by the Holy Spirit. I commend those words to every parent and do not hesitate to promise that if you will govern your families in the spirit of those words, which have come from the Lord, you will have cause to rejoice, as will those for whom you are responsible.’ (Gordon B Hinckley, “Feed the Spirit, Nourish the Soul,” Ensign, Oct. 1998, 5)

Watch: Earning the Trust of the Lord and Your Family (Richard G Maynes, General Conference, October 2017)

See: P.A.T.R.I.A.R.C.H.

6. Strengthening families is everyone’s responsibility.

Watch: The Needs Before Us (Bonnie L Oscarson, General Conference October 2017)

‘As a journalist for the Saturday Evening Post in the 1930s Dorothy Thompson witnessed Hitler’s rise to power. Speaking in 1941 she said:

“Before this epoch is over, every living human being will have chosen. Every living human being will have lined up with Hitler or against him. Every living human being will either have opposed this onslaught or supported it. For if he tries to make no choice, that in itself will be a choice. If he takes no side, he is on Hitler’s side. If he does not act, that is an act – for Hitler”

I don’t want to talk about Hitler’s onslaught but I want to talk about Satan’s onslaught on the family. Sheri Dew recast Dorothy Thompson’s words but relating them to the family:

“Before this era is over, every living human being will have chosen. Every living human being will have lined up in support of the family as we know it and as God intended it, or against it. Every living human being will either have opposed the onslaught against the family or supported it. For if we make no choice, that in itself will be a choice. If we do not act in behalf of the family, that in itself will be an act in opposition to the family.”’ (Sheri Dew, No One Can Take Your Place  p 157)

“The family is falling apart all over the world. The old ties that bound together father and mother are breaking everywhere. Can we not do better? Of course we can. It is selfishness that brings about most of these tragedies. As I look to the future, I see little to feel enthusiastic about concerning the family in America and across the world. The situation will get worse unless there is an underlying acknowledgement, yes, a strong and fervent conviction, concerning the fact that the family is an instrument of the Almighty. It is His creation. It is also the basic unit of society”(Gordon B Hinckley,  Look to the Future p 69.)

 

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Doctrine, Obedience

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 44: Being Good Citizens

1. Participating in government

D&C 134:1 he holds men accountable

‘No member of the Church can be true to his country, true to his Church, true to his God, who will violate the laws which relate to the moral welfare and spiritual advancement of mankind. Members of the Church should uphold the law everywhere. And it is time all of us-the leaders of this country, the politicians, the statesmen, the leaders in civic affairs in the state and in the cities, as well as parents and private citizens-should so speak of and so uphold the constitutional law of the land that everywhere there will be a renewal of respect for it and a revival of the virtues of honor, honesty, and integrity.’ (Man May Know for Himself: Teachings of President David O. McKay, compiled by Clare Middlemiss [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1967], 100)

D&C 134:7 Religious freedom

‘There is one thing I wish to say to the congregation, and I would say the same to the whole world if I had the power—it is this: I have heard the Prophet Joseph Smith say on several occasions when speaking on the agency of man, and the liberty and rights of men, that if he were emperor of the earth, having control of the whole human family, he would give every man, woman and child the right to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience, leaving them to be responsible alone to their Creator for their individual acts. These are my sentiments, and they are the sentiments of this people today, and have been from the beginning of the organization of this Church, and I trust will be to the end of time. And this we believe to be a principle emanating from heaven; and while we accord this right to our fellow men, and while we declare it to be a heaven-born right guaranteed unto all American citizens through the Constitution of our country, we claim the exercise of the same right ourselves; and we claim this right and privilege under the Constitution under which we live, and we claim it by the laws of God to man. And whenever any people rise up and attempt to make war upon the rights of men because of their religion, they go beyond their right, they transcend their own powers, whether their power be derived either from God or man.’ (Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses, 23:76-77)

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D&C 98:10 honest and wise men

‘The Church maintains a policy of strict political neutrality, favoring no party or candidate, but every member should take an active part in the political process. We should study the issues and the candidates to be sure our votes are based on knowledge rather than hearsay. We need to pray for our public officials and ask the Lord to help them in making momentous decisions that affect us. Our beliefs regarding earthly governments and laws are summarized in section 134 of the Doctrine and Covenants and the twelfth article of faith. We should support public policy that coincides with these moral beliefs.’ (Joseph B Wirthlin, “Seeking the Good,” Ensign, May 1992, 87-88)

Obeying the laws of the land

D&C 134:6 Laws

“Abraham Lincoln once observed: ‘Bad laws, if they exist, should be repealed as soon as possible; still, while they continue in force, they should be religiously observed.’

“This is the attitude of the Church in regard to law observance. …

“There is no reason or justification for men to disregard or break the law or try to take it into their own hands.

“It is the duty of citizens of any country to remember that they have individual responsibilities, and that they must operate within the law of the country in which they have chosen to live.” (N Eldon Tanner, In Conference Report, Oct. 1975)

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D&C 58:22 let no man break the laws of the land

‘”The law of Christ” is all-inclusive. It concerns not only rules that shall govern beyond the grave, but also the law of nature here and now-local, national, and international.

Latter-day Saints should strictly obey the laws of the government in which they live. By our own declaration of faith we are committed to do so, for we declare to the world that “we believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” (A of F 1:12.)

This we do in harmony with the Lord’s command:

Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land.

Wherefore, be subject to the powers that be, until he reigns whose right it is to reign, and subdues all enemies under his feet. (D&C 58:21-22.)

“Civil authority is of divine origin. It may be more or less adapted to the needs of man; more or less just and benevolent, but, even at its worst, it is better than anarchy. Revolutionary movements that aim at the abolition of government itself are contrary to the law of God. …” (Doctrine and Covenants Commentary [Deseret Book Co., 1954], p. 339.)

When the “rule of law” breaks down in a family, a community, a state, or a nation, chaos reigns.

The kingdoms of heaven are to be free from chaos, because no one will be in any one of them who does not by his own free will obey the laws thereof.

A Latter-day Saint should strictly obey every law of God, including the constitutional laws of the land in which he lives, and do it with a good and honest heart.’ (Marion G Romney, “The Rule of Law,” Ensign, Feb. 1973, 3)

D&C 98:4-6 The laws of the land

“All the laws of God and the laws of nature and the laws of the land are made for the benefit of man, for his comfort, enjoyment, safety, and well-being; and it is up to the individual to learn these laws and to determine whether or not he will enjoy these benefits by obeying the law and by keeping the commandments. My whole purpose … is to show that laws exist for our benefit and that to be happy and successful we must obey the laws and regulations pertaining to our activities; and these laws will function either to our joy and well-being or to our detriment and sorrow, according to our actions” (N Eldon Tanner, in Conference Report, Apr. 1970, p. 62; or Improvement Era, June 1970, p. 31).

3. Strengthening the community

D&C 58:27 anxiously engaged

‘The Church is a relatively small minority even when linked with people who are like-minded. It will be hard to change society at large, but we must work to improve the moral culture that surrounds us. Latter-day Saints in every country should be good citizens, participate in civic affairs, educate themselves on the issues, and vote.’ (Quentin L Cook, General Conference, October 2013)

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‘We are a global church, brothers and sisters. Our membership is found throughout the world. May we be good citizens of the nations in which we live and good neighbors in our communities, reaching out to those of other faiths, as well as to our own. May we be men and women of honesty and integrity in everything we do.

There are those throughout the world who are hungry; there are those who are destitute. Working together, we can alleviate suffering and provide for those in need. In addition to the service you give as you care for one another, your contributions to the funds of the Church enable us to respond almost immediately when disasters occur anywhere in the world. We are nearly always among the first on the scene to provide whatever assistance we can. We thank you for your generosity.’ (Thomas S Monson, General Conference, October 2008)

Read: Gospel topic – Citizenship