Posts Tagged 'Church Membership'

Conference Questions – Doing Our Part

Recently, I watched the 182nd Semi Annual General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. When I watch conference, I am always filled with the spirit and a desire to be a better person and draw closer to the Savior. I love to take notes. When I first started being a note taker for learning in church settings, I would write everything I possibly could down. Including what the speakers said, as well as the little lessons the spirit would teach me during the talks. Once that became a habit, I learned that I should really be focused on writing down the things that I am personally taught by the spirit. So, with that as my focus for note taking, I found myself writing down questions that I should be able to answer. The thought then came to me that these are questions that I could attempt to study on this blog. To view other questions in this series, go here: Conference Questions

Elder M. Russell Ballard spoke in the Saturday afternoon session, about the honeybees from his father’s peach orchard. He talked of how so many of them worked together to make the honey. What Elder Ballard said was that each honeybee only contributed about one-twelth of a teaspoon of honey to its hive. It seems insignificant alone, but put together with the contributions of from all the bees in a hive, it amounted to much more. He related the work of each individual bee and the outcome of the work of the entire hive, to our work as saints in the church of God. My third question in this series, is am I doing my part in the beehive-like community of the church? (See “Be Anxiously Engaged”.)

What is the duty of those who have become a part of the Church of Christ? Our duty is to magnify our callings. Our callings within the church can be many. This is because the purpose of the church is so huge. President Monson said the following:

I would hope that we would not lose the real objective of our cherished opportunities to serve. That objective, that eternal goal, is the same spoken of by the Lord and found in the Pearl of Great Price: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39)

May we ever remember that the mantle of membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not a cloak of comfort but rather a robe of responsibility. Our duty, in addition to saving ourselves, is to guide others to the celestial kingdom of God.

… I pause when I think of the words of President John Taylor (1808–87): “If you do not magnify your callings, God will hold you responsible for those whom you might have saved had you done your duty.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: John Taylor (2001), 164.)

Just as the honeybees, we are all tasked with specific responsibilities within the church. If we have not received any callings, we should seek to have one, so that we can serve as the Lord would have us. Being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ, requires playing an active role in our salvation, as well as the salvation of others. As for myself, I have the calling of being what is called a visiting teacher. This means I have been given specific women to watch over and serve. I have also been given the responsibility to assist the president of our women’s organization, the Relief Society, as her secretary. In addition, all members of the LDS faith, accept the duty of sharing the gospel with others as moved upon by the spirit. I also have the callings that come with being a wife and mother, which are included in my duties as a faithful member of Christ’s church. What should we be doing in those callings to magnify them and truly do our part?

In 3 Nephi 27:21, the Lord taught the people of the Americas, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do;”. What did the Savior do for others? He looked for the needs and then helped to bless and heal them. He taught the gospel to them. He helped others to see the potential they had by giving them opportunities to serve. Most of all, he loved others with the greatest love, the Love of God. The Savior’s call was to do these for all. I believe that we are given specific callings over certain people or groups in the church, so that we can learn how to do these things on a lesser scale than the Savior was called to serve. As the Son of God, He had the power of God, and was physically able to handle serving masses. God will help us to be able to serve those we have been called to serve. When we come to understand and fulfill our callings, we will be given the capacity to reach beyond those specific people, to others who are in need.

We, as disciples of Jesus Christ, need to be doing all that we can wisely do, to look for the needs of those we are called to serve. One of the things that Elder Ballard said related to this teaches us how we can strive to do our part. He said, “In your morning prayer each new day, ask Heavenly Father to guide you to recognize an opportunity to serve one of His precious children. Then go throughout the day with your heart full of faith and love, looking for someone to help. Stay focused, just like the honeybees focus on the flowers from which to gather nectar and pollen. If you do this, your spiritual sensitivities will be enlarged and you will discover opportunities to serve that you never before realized were possible.” Prayer is only the first step. The Lord knows others better than we will ever know them. He also knows us best, and knows what we can handle. He would not ask us to do anything, that He cannot help us to achieve. We can strive to do our part, by honestly asking how we can serve and have a heart that is ready to follow the inspiration that He gives us in answer. Then we show the faith, as we focus our minds on that possibility for inspiration and the results of it.

I think that one of the things this talk really made me think about is how much I serve with a willing heart. It is easier to serve when someone else asks us for help, but the greater service, is to really put my heart into it each day. We need to keep some scriptures in mind related to this. First, Mosiah 2:17 says, “And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” When we serve others, we serve God, because we help Him to fulfill His work. Second, the greatest commandments are given to us in Matthew 22.

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Love for God and love for fellowmen will give us the drive to do our part. We need to develop a Christ-like love for others, so that our care and concern for them, both physically and spiritually, will give us the desire to serve them. I think that if we can keep these principles in mind, and truly ask with a sincere desire in our hearts, we will be doing our part. I know that there are a lot of times in my life, when the business of everyday gets in the way and I loose this focus. It’s a good thing that this is a life of progressing line upon line and not reaching perfection in a moment. I am grateful for the mercy of a loving Heavenly Father, who has afforded me the opportunity to repent of my selfishness and turn back to doing His work. I know that it is a blessing to live a life of commitment to doing our part. I am grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and for his church. I am so glad that I have the opportunity to serve within the church. I know that I grow the most, when I am devoted to doing my part and being mindful of others. I know that my little acts may not amount to much on their own, but that if I continue faithful, the work of the Lord will move forward as the great and marvelous work it is.

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D&C Section 4

Historical Background

This was a revelation that Joseph Smith received for his father. The manual says that it is for the benefit of all people who “desired to embark in the service of God.” It was given to the prophet in February of 1829.

The Great and Marvelous work Is Predicted

“NOW behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men (v. 1).” The church was organized on April 6, 1830. This revelation was given before its organization. There truly was a marvelous work about to be started. And the church has grown amazingly since its humble beginning, because it a marvelous work of the Lord.

“Serve Him with All Your Heart, Might, Mind and Strength”

“Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day (v. 2).” When receive a call from the Lord, to assist him in His work going forward, we have to be entirely committed to it. We cannot be half-way there. In 3 Nephi 13:24 we read, “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon (also Matt 6:24 or Luke 16:13). Our entire heart and mind must be in it. We need to use all of our might and strength to accomplish the things that are asked of us.

I think that this is why sometimes, those who accept the gospel as truth, may fall away. It can be really difficult to put our own desires and appetites aside, for the work of the Lord. We are blessed when the will of the Lord becomes our will.

“If Ye Have Desires to Serve God Ye Are Called”

“Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work (v. 3);” I am sure, that although this revelation seems to apply mostly to missionaries who would want to serve throughout the world, that this applies to all members of this gospel. In the church, we often hear the term “member missionary” used. We are all called by the Lord to do his work. We are all expected to serve our neighbors and others we meet, by teaching them the gospel. We can do this by our examples or by showing them what the gospel is through our service we give to them. If we desire to serve the Lord, we can.

“The Field Is White Already to Harvest”

“For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul (v. 4);” The time of harvest is now. In D&C 101:64 we read, “That the work of the gathering together of my saints may continue, that I may build them up unto my name upon holy places; for the time of harvest is come, and my word must needs be fulfilled.” It is the time for the words of the Lord to be fulfilled. As we spread the gospel, we are blessed with greater faith and strength in the testiomonies of others. Our souls are stronger and we can stand firm against temptations. As we do the Lord’s work, we keep ourselves worthy of salvation.
Since this revelation, the church has grown so much. It started with a handful of people in 1830 and now in 2010, the church membership is over 13 million. The gospel will continue to go forward and grow because it truly is the work of the Lord.

Attributes to Develop for the Service of God

“And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work (v. 5). Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence (v. 6). Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen (v. 7).” These are all God-like characteristics that we should develop, so that we may gain exaltation, and help others to come unto Christ. This revelation was specifically to say what things are necessary to qualify for the priesthood, but it really applies to us all. We can all be blessed by the priesthood, even if we do not hold it ourselves. If we are blessed through the priesthood to be worthy to make sacred covenants, then we need these attributes to continue to be worthy of them. These virtues are developed over lifetimes. They require constant work and may be difficult, but they will bring us the greatest blessings we can ever hope for.

Moroni, Chapter 6

Teaching and assisting new members

Baptism

This chapter of Moroni gives a guide of how to teach and assist new members through the transition into the church. First, we see what things will determine if someone is ready for baptism.  “And now I speak concerning baptism. Behold, elders, priests, and teachers were baptized; and they were not baptized save they brought forth fruit meet that they were worthy of it (v. 1).”  A person must be worthy of baptism by their actions.  “Neither did they receive any unto baptism save they came forth with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and witnessed unto the church that they truly repented of all their sins (v. 2).”  A person must repent of the things they have done wrong and have a broken and contrite spirit.  “And none were received unto baptism save they took upon them the name of Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end (v. 3).”  A person must have the desire to serve Christ and to do His will.  In order to know these things, a missionary needs to teach that person what it means to be worthy and to repent.  They need to understand what having a broken heart and a contrite spirit means.  Before being baptized, a person needs to understand how they can serve the Lord and how they can understand His will for them.

After being baptized, church members and missionaries have a responsibility to new converts.  “And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith (v. 4).”  Our responsibility is to fellowship them into the church, give them callings and other ways to learn how to serve, teach them the scriptures, guide them, and pray for them.

As an investigator interested in baptism, or a baptized member, it is important to understand what is expected of us.  “And the church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls (v. 5).”  We need to attend church often.  It is set up now for us to go to church once a week.  While at church, we need to fast and pray with one another.  We can gain great strength if we pray together and become one in purpose.  We also need to meet the needs of others through discussing welfare of other members.  It is our duty to help one another stay on the path to returning home to our Father in Heaven.

“And they did meet together oft to partake of bread and wine, in remembrance of the Lord Jesus (v. 6).”  We are responsible for taking the sacrament each time we attend sacrament meeting.  It needs to be often, because we have made a commitment to remember the Savior always.  Without this reminder, it is completely natural to forget.  We cannot allow ourselves the chance to forget Jesus Christ and all He has done for us.

“And they were strict to observe that there should be no iniquity among them; and whoso was found to commit iniquity, and three witnesses of the church did condemn them before the elders, and if they repented not, and confessed not, their names were blotted out, and they were not numbered among the people of Christ (v. 7).  But as oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven (v. 8 ).”  In addition to making sure that we personally follow the commandments of God, we need to make sure that there is not sinning among one another.  We are held accountable to those who have stewardship over us.  If we choose to openly deny the gospel or things such as that, we may be excommunicated from the church.  Those who are not worthy to remain members of the church, will not be allowed to do so.  We all sin.  This does not mean that we have to be perfect to be a member.  There are specific things that lead to being removed from the records of the church.  Things such as knowingly teaching false doctrine, which could lead people away from God.  When church members are sinning and then repent, they will be forgiven.  We all have the opportunity to come back from sin and be numbered in the church.

“And their meetings were conducted by the church after the manner of the workings of the Spirit, and by the power of the Holy Ghost; for as the power of the Holy Ghost led them whether to preach, or to exhort, or to pray, or to supplicate, or to sing, even so it was done (v. 9).”  All things in the church should be led by the spirit.  Callings should be given by the direction of the spirit, meeting should be led by the spirit, even songs should be sung with the spirit of God.  The Holy Ghost is our constant companion if we are worthy after we have been baptized.  The Spirit will be there to guide and teach us as long as we are worthy to have it with us.

Becoming a member of the church is a lifestyle change for all.  It means to put away selfish desires and devote ourselves to serving the Lord.  It can be very difficult to be an investigator or a new convert.  Long-time members can be a great help in finding the way to be a good member of the church.  I hope that as someone who has been a member for a long time, that I can find more ways to help those who need guidance.

Mosiah, Chapter 18

How important is baptism?

Baptism

My baptismal covenants are important to me because they are a promise that I have made to God.  I want to keep them, so that I can have the blessings that He promises to give me.

“And now, it came to pass that Alma, who had fled from the servants of king Noah, repented of his sins and iniquities, and went about privately among the people, and began to teach the words of Abinadi (v. 1)—Yea, concerning that which was to come, and also concerning the resurrection of the dead, and the redemption of the people, which was to be brought to pass through the power, and sufferings, and death of Christ, and his resurrection and ascension into heaven (v. 2).  And as many as would hear his word he did teach. And he taught them privately, that it might not come to the knowledge of the king. And many did believe his words (v. 3).  And it came to pass that as many as did believe him did go forth to a place which was called Mormon, having received its name from the king, being in the borders of the land having been infested, by times or at seasons, by wild beasts (v. 4).  Now, there was in Mormon a fountain of pure water, and Alma resorted thither, there being near the water a thicket of small trees, where he did hide himself in the daytime from the searches of the king (v. 5).  And it came to pass that as many as believed him went thither to hear his words (v. 6).  And it came to pass after many days there were a goodly number gathered together at the place of Mormon, to hear the words of Alma. Yea, all were gathered together that believed on his word, to hear him. And he did teach them, and did preach unto them repentance, and redemption, and faith on the Lord (v. 7).”

Alma taught the words that he had heard from Abinadi.  He taught them in secret to any who would hear them.  He had to teach in secret so that the king would not find out and have him put to death as well.  Then those people chose to listen to all that he taught.  The people had great faith and belief in the words of Alma because they were willing to put their own lives at risk to hear them.

Alma explained the covenant of baptism to the people.

We covenant…

  • 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 (v. 8 );”
  • to be “… 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 (v. 9)…”
  • to “… serve him and keep his commandments (v. 10)…”

That we may…

  • “… be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life (v. 9)—”
  • be blessed that God “… may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you (v. 10)…”

How did Alma’s people feel about the covenants they would make with the Lord?  “And now when the people had heard these words, they clapped their hands for joy, and exclaimed: This is the desire of our hearts (v. 11).”  When we are willing to keep the covenants we made with the Lord, we show that we have faith in Him.  We show our desire to live with Him and to have His help to get their.  I think that as we are active members of His church, we are given many opportunities to mourn with, comfort, share a witness with, and bear the burdens of other people.  The key is to learn what being an active member truly is.

Bearing one another’s burdens

Verse 8 reads, “And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as 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;”  When we stand together with others of our faith, we become stronger than we our alone.  The stronger we are, the harder it is for Satan to influence us with his temptations.  When we work together in the church, the church becomes stronger and can influence more for good.  In Moses 7:18 we read, “And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.”  We can become more christlike, when we are active in working together in the church.  We become one in purpose with each other and with the gospel.

Did Alma baptize himself?

“And now it came to pass that Alma took Helam, he being one of the first, and went and stood forth in the water, and cried, saying: O Lord, pour out thy Spirit upon thy servant, that he may do this work with holiness of heart (v. 12).  And when he had said these words, the Spirit of the Lord was upon him, and he said: Helam, I baptize thee, having authority from the Almighty God, as a testimony that ye have entered into a covenant to serve him until you are dead as to the mortal body; and may the Spirit of the Lord be poured out upon you; and may he grant unto you eternal life, through the redemption of Christ, whom he has prepared from the foundation of the world (v. 13).  And after Alma had said these words, both Alma and Helam were buried in the water; and they arose and came forth out of the water rejoicing, being filled with the Spirit (v. 14).”

The manual explains the answer to this question in this way.  Alma, being a priest, was already baptized and had the priesthood.  He had just gone astray as he served King Noah.  When he was at the waters of Mormon, he did not need to be baptized, but was baptizing Helam and recommitting himself to God.  He was “buried in the water” as a symbol of his repentance.

How do we become the children of God?

It is the job of members of the church to help others find Jesus.  This is the way that we can take Christ’s name upon us and become the children of God.  We can help others find Jesus by bringing them into the church (v. 17), teaching them the gospel (v. 18 ), teaching them repentance and faith (v. 20), by loving one another (v. 21), keeping the sabbath day holy and giving thanks to God for everything (v. 23), working for ourselves and not burdening others for our benefit (v. 24), gathering together often to worship (v. 25), working in the Church without pay so that we can have the spirit to teach others (v. 26), and by giving what we can afford to the church so that others in need can be helped (v. 27-28).  These are the things that the people who followed Alma did and we can follow their example today to become children of God.

Alma once again escapes King Noah

“And these things were done in the borders of the land, that they might not come to the knowledge of the king (v. 31).  But behold, it came to pass that the king, having discovered a movement among the people, sent his servants to watch them. Therefore on the day that they were assembling themselves together to hear the word of the Lord they were discovered unto the king (v. 32).  And now the king said that Alma was stirring up the people to rebellion against him; therefore he sent his army to destroy them (v. 33).  And it came to pass that Alma and the people of the Lord were apprised of the coming of the king’s army; therefore they took their tents and their families and departed into the wilderness (v. 34).  And they were in number about four hundred and fifty souls (v. 35).”

King Noah noticed his people changing their ways and sent his servants out to find out why.  When he found that they were getting together to be taught, he wanted them destroyed.  But Alma and his people learned of his plan and escaped into the wilderness.  The footnote in verse 34 references Mosiah 23:1 which reads, “Now Alma, having been warned of the Lord that the armies of king Noah would come upon them, and having made it known to his people, therefore they gathered together their flocks, and took of their grain, and departed into the wilderness before the armies of king Noah.”  This is a reoccurring thing in the scriptures.  The righteous are in danger and the Lord makes the leader aware, so that they can escape.  For example, Lehi was warned by the Lord that people were after him, so he escaped with his family into the wilderness.  The Lord’s work will not be stopped.  If we are righteous, we will be doing the Lord’s work and he will protect us if it is his will because He loves us.

And now, it came to pass that Alma, who had fled from the servants of king Noah, arepented of his sins and iniquities, and went about privately among the people, and began to teach the words of Abinadi—
2 Yea, concerning that which was to come, and also concerning the resurrection of the dead, and the aredemption of the people, which was to be brought to pass through the power, and sufferings, and bdeath of Christ, and his resurrection and ascension into heaven.
3 And as many as would hear his word he did teach. And he taught them privately, that it might not come to the knowledge of the king. And many did believe his words.
4 And it came to pass that as many as did believe him did go forth to a aplace which was called Mormon, having received its name from the king, being in the bborders of the land having been infested, by times or at seasons, by wild beasts.
5 Now, there was in Mormon a fountain of pure water, and Alma resorted thither, there being near the water a thicket of small trees, where he did hide himself in the daytime from the searches of the king.
6 And it came to pass that as many as believed him went thither to hear his words.
7 And it came to pass *after many days there were a goodly number gathered together at the place of Mormon, to hear the words of Alma. Yea, all were gathered together that believed on his word, to hear him. And he did ateach them, and did preach unto them repentance, and redemption, and faith on the Lord.

About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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