Posts Tagged 'Sharing the Gospel'

Conference Questions – Our T-shirt Statement

I think I am going through withdrawals from my Relief Society Declaration question series, because I just had to add a new little series to my posts. This past weekend, I watched the 182nd Semi Annual General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is a televised conference where all people can watch or listen to the counsel of our modern prophets, apostles and other church leaders. General Conference happens twice a year and I look forward to it with great anticipation every time. I am always filled with the spirit and a desire to be a better person and draw closer to the Savior, when I watch conference. 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 this weekend, 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.

So, to kick off this Conference Questions series, I wrote a question down while listening to Sister Ann M. Gibb, the Second Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency of the church. She spoke of seeing a young girl wearing a bold t-shirt that said “I Am a Mormon”. It had caused her to think about what she would want to wear on her own t-shirt. In response I wanted to focus on this question today. What is the (gospel) statement we should proudly wear on our own shirt for others to see? My thought as she spoke was that my own declaration would read: I’m a mormon and a disciple of Jesus Christ. I love Him and I love His gospel. I am happy. There is so much more to be said though and that is why I wanted to look a little further.

This question brings to mind the scripture mastery found in Romans 1:16, where Paul writes, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” Before I can even approach the question, I have to wonder if I am the kind of person willing to make such a bold statement for the world to see. As disciples of Jesus Christ, are we making such a statement of ourselves, or are we ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Do we go to church on Sunday, and then turn around into our daily lives and worry about what others might say about our beliefs and standards? Do we openly share our testimony, or keep it to ourselves? If you wonder about these things, I would suggest you put this theory to the test in some way. I tested this theory in my own life once, when I was going to college right out of high school. I wanted to be like Paul. I wanted to be able to say that I was not ashamed. So, I began to take my scriptures to school with me. Anytime, I had a moment before a class began, I would pull out my scriptures and read them. I would read in the hallways, in the classroom, as I ate lunch and so on. I found that I was happy to show others that I loved the scriptures and as an added blessing, others began to ask me about what it was that I was reading. I was not ashamed of the gospel.

In today’s worldliness, we cannot afford to hide away our beliefs. We need to stand as a light to the world. Another scripture story that this thought reminds me of, is the story of Lehi’s vision of the tree of life. In his vision, found in 1 Nephi 8, Lehi he saw a glorious tree with desirable fruit. He ate the fruit of the tree and was filled with joy. In his desire to have his loved ones also enjoy this fruit, he saw a great number of people making their way towards the tree. Some worked really hard to get to the tree and eat the fruit. Then in verse 25 we read, “And after they had partaken of the fruit of the tree they did cast their eyes about as if they were ashamed.” These people had the truth of the gospel and experienced its joy, but then looked to see what others might think of their acceptance of it. When they looked around, they became ashamed of the gospel and it led to them leaving the tree for the ways of the world. They gave up the reward because of shame. In Mark 8 we read the following words of Jesus Christ:

35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.
36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
37 Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

We give up the glory and honor that the Lord has promised to us, when we choose to turn to the world because we are ashamed of the gospel. So, how do we avoid becoming ashamed of the gospel, so that we can proudly declare it to the world? We trust the Lord, as it says in Psalms 31:1, “In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness.” Developing a love and trust in the words of the Savior, will help us to not be ashamed. In 2 Nephi 6:13 we read, “Wherefore, they that fight against Zion and the covenant people of the Lord shall lick up the dust of their feet; and the people of the Lord shall not be ashamed. For the people of the Lord are they who wait for him; for they still wait for the coming of the Messiah.” We will not be ashamed if we make covenants and look to the Savior. Our hope in Jesus Christ will keep us strong. In Romans 5:5 it says, “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” Hope in Christ, gives us greater love for Him and for all mankind. Additionally, we will not be ashamed if we can become humble and teachable. In Doctrine and Covenants 90:17 we read, “Be not ashamed, neither confounded; but be admonished in all your high-mindedness and pride, for it bringeth a snare upon your souls.” We need to recognize our imperfections, allow the Lord to show us our weaknesses and then teach us the ways in which we can be made stronger and eventually perfect through the atonement.

When we find that we are not ashamed to make some bold declaration of who we are and what we believe, we should think about what that statement should say. I thought I would study some of the things the prophets have taught us to declare found in the scriptures. Paul writes of some of the things we may declare in the following verses to the saints, found in 1 Thessalonians 5:

14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
15 See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
16 Rejoice evermore.
17 Pray without ceasing.
18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
19 Quench not the Spirit.
20 Despise not prophesyings.
21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

This declaration could read: I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I see the good in all things. I find joy in life and in the gospel. I love to pray. I am grateful to God for all that I have. I follow the modern prophets. I believe in revelation.

In 1 Chronicles we read the following:

8 Give thanks unto the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.
9 Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works.
10 Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord.
11 Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face continually.
12 Remember his marvellous works that he hath done, his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth;

15 Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations;

23 Sing unto the Lord, all the earth; shew forth from day to day his salvation.
24 Declare his glory among the heathen; his marvellous works among all nations.

I think that this declaration could say: I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I thank Him for all that I have and all that I am. I pray in His name. He is my Savior and Redeemer. I seek for the Lord. He is my strength. I make and keep my covenants.

The resurrected Savior declared his doctrine to the Nephites on the American continent when he said the following found in 3 Nephi 11:

31 Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine.
32 And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.
33 And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.

35 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.

38 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
39 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.
40 And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.
41 Therefore, go forth unto this people, and declare the words which I have spoken, unto the ends of the earth.

This declaration could read: I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I love His gospel. I believe in Christ. I have been baptized in Christ. I believe in the Holy Ghost and revelation. I am saved by Christ through humility and repentance.

The declaration we make, sounds a lot like a testimony and we have a lot of really great examples of testimonies in the scriptures. The prophet Job said, in Job 19:25, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth”. His declaration reads, I know my Redeemer lives and will come again. Alma, the Book of Mormon prophet, said, in Alma 7:13, “Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.” This declaration says, I know Jesus Christ was the Son of God. He suffered and died for mankind. He saves and delivers us all. In Matthew 16:16, Peter, the apostle to the Lord said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” His would have read, I know that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ. He is God’s Son. John, a disciple of Jesus Christ testified, in 1 John 4:14, “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.” His declaration could have said, The Son of God was sent to be our Savior. Joseph Smith (and Sidney Rigdon) bore a testimony in Doctrine and Covenants 76:22, saying, “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!” Joseph’s declaration here says, Jesus the Christ lives. The Savior, Himself, testified in John 17:3 when he said, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” His declaration was, I am Jesus Christ. I have been sent by God. Come unto Me and come unto Him. Through us you can have eternal life.

Besides the blessings that come to us for making them, why else should we want to wear such declarations? In Doctrine and Covenants 11:21 we read, “Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.” We want to seek after the gospel and then share it to convince others of the truth of the gospel and the blessings that come from following it. It is the duty of every disciple of Jesus Christ, who has made covenants of baptism with the Lord, to share the gospel with others. In Doctrine and Covenants 19:29 we read, “And thou shalt declare glad tidings, yea, publish it upon the mountains, and upon every high place, and among every people that thou shalt be permitted to see.” Finding our way and partaking of the fruit of the gospel of Jesus Christ, is only a part of the purpose that we have in this life. Sharing the gospel with those around us, will bring us great joy in this life and in the life to come.

I want to seek all that is good, so that I can be one to make bold declarations for my Savior, Jesus Christ. I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, because I believe in Him and the salvation He has promised to those who follow Him. I delight in the fruit of the gospel and I want to share it with others. I want to check the figurative shirt I wear each day and make absolutely sure that I am portraying those things that Jesus would have me show to others. I hope that others can look to the declarations that I make and see the light of Christ. What would you declare?

To view other questions in this series, go here: Conference Questions

Signs of the Second Coming

To view the entire lesson, go here: Signs of the Second Coming

The Second Coming is something that I personally look forward to with great anticipation. In Matthew 16:27 we read, “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that the Second Coming is the time when Christ will return again to this earth and rule over all the nations of the world. It is a time when great work will be accomplished. It will mark the beginning of the Millennium, when saints will work hard to complete temple work for all who have ever lived on the earth. It will be a time of great peace and joy.

What are some of the signs of the Second Coming?

The scriptures teach us of several known signs of the Second Coming. In Matthew 24, the Lord taught his disciples about the signs of his return.

3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
23 Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Some of the signs include false Christs who deceive, wars and rumors of wars, famines and earthquakes, killing of the saints who stand for truth and righteousness, offenses, betrayals, and hatred, false prophets, and great amounts of sin and cold-heartedness. A great sign will be that the gospel will be preached to all the world, which is only made possible by the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. Then there will be great destruction through all the world both physically and spiritually. Then at the time of His coming, the sun and moon will be dark, the stars will fall from their places, and those who remain will see Christ coming again, with the elect of heaven at his sides. It may seem like a lot of doom and gloom, but the hope and excitement come in the outcome of these signs. In particular, the spreading of the gospel will bring great joy and happiness to people all over the earth, and even more to those who have already died and are waiting for work to be done on their behalf. As the gospel spreads, testimonies of Christ will be strengthened and faith will displace the fear of the awful destruction that is to come.

Another sign of the second coming, was foretold by the prophet Malachi. In Malachi 4:5-6 we read the following:

5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:
6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

This has happened already. Elijah appeared to the prophet Joseph Smith and to Oliver Cowdery, in the temple. He restored necessary keys for the sealing powers of the priesthood. This sign has been fulfilled and we are now preparing for the Savior’s coming by doing work in the temple.

We also believe that before the Lord comes again, the city of Zion will be built upon the American Continent (see Article of Faith 10). This is a sign that the saints of the latter-days have been anticipating since the restoration began.

What evidence do you see that the signs are being fulfilled?

It doesn’t take much effort to see the calamities of the world getting worse and causing more destruction and casualties than they have in years past. Natural disasters are happening often all throughout the world. Transgressions and sins are becoming popular culture and those things that are good are painted as wrong by the world. It is becoming increasingly difficult to be a righteous individual without ridicule and hardship from others. On a more pleasant note, temples are being built more frequently and in more places around the world. The church continues to grow and the gospel is being taken to most of the world. I truly believe that the Second Coming is not far from us.

How can we remain calm and at peace even when some of the signs are terrifying and dreadful?

In Doctrine and Covenants 38:30 we read, “I tell you these things because of your prayers; wherefore, treasure up wisdom in your bosoms, lest the wickedness of men reveal these things unto you by their wickedness, in a manner which shall speak in your ears with a voice louder than that which shall shake the earth; but if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.” There was a time, when thinking of the signs of the Second Coming, brought me fear and discomfort. I have learned now, that this was because I was living in a way that caused me to fear what would happen for the things I was doing wrong in my life.

Faith is a Sunrise

Faith cannot coexist with fear. When we work to strengthen our testimonies and focus on preparing ourselves, fear is wiped away and faith takes its place in our hearts. I believe that this is true. In simpler terms, I think about how it feels to take a test when I am unprepared and have little faith in my own abilities. I am fearful that I will not do well, and I struggle greatly. When I study and become confident in my knowledge of the material, I do much better and I have a faith that I will do the best I can. This principle is the same for the feelings that come when we think about the Second Coming and the signs that precede it. We remain calm and at peace, when we try to follow the commandments, study the gospel, attend the temple, and follow the counsel of preparation given to us by the church leaders. In 1 Thessalonians 5 we read the following:

1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

We would do well to use wisdom in all that we do. We should not be wasting away our days, thinking that we can do whatever we want and prepare later. We need to be prepared for the signs that are negative, because something will effect everyone of us. We also need to prepare for those positive signs as well, because it is the duty of every disciple and follower of Christ to do their part in the work. It is through this preparation and active participation, that we will find a sense of security and peace.

The Tenth Article of Faith

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,

We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

We believe that the Lord promised the Children of Israel that they would be scattered if they failed to keep his commandments and live righteously. In Deuteronomy 28:64 we read, “And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone.” Then we learn of the outcome of this promise in 2 Kings, chapter 17:

6 In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.
7 For so it was, that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods,
8 And walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made.
9 And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the Lord their God, and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city.
10 And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree:
11 And there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the heathen whom the Lord carried away before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger:
12 For they served idols, whereof the Lord had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing.
13 Yet the Lord testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets.
14 Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the Lord their God.
15 And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the Lord had charged them, that they should not do like them.
16 And they left all the commandments of the Lord their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal.
17 And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger.
18 Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only.
19 Also Judah kept not the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made.
20 And the Lord rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of spoilers, until he had cast them out of his sight.

We believe that it is truth that Israel will be gathered again. In 1 Nephi 10:14 we read, “And after the house of Israel should be scattered they should be gathered together again; or, in fine, after the Gentiles had received the fulness of the Gospel, the natural branches of the olive tree, or the remnants of the house of Israel, should be grafted in, or come to the knowledge of the true Messiah, their Lord and their Redeemer.” We believe that this gathering will literally be fulfilled. In Deuteronomy 30:3 we read, “That then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee.” The tribes of Israel will be gathered together from all the earth, where they were scattered. Moreover, we believe that this gathering has already begun. In Doctrine and Covenants 110:11, we learn when this gathering started. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery had the keys of the priesthood restored to them, which gave them the authority from God to do this work. “After this vision closed, the heavens were again opened unto us; and Moses appeared before us, and committed unto us the keys of the gathering of Israel from the four parts of the earth, and the leading of the ten tribes from the land of the north.”

We believe that the tribes of Israel will be restored to the knowledge of the truth, which has long since been denied and forgotten. In 3 Nephi 20 we learn what the Savior taught the Nephites of this:

30 And it shall come to pass that the time cometh, when the fulness of my gospel shall be preached unto them;
31 And they shall believe in me, that I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and shall pray unto the Father in my name.

We believe that this restoration started with the gospel being taken to the gentiles, or those who were not of the house of Israel. This started with the translation of the Book of Mormon and the missionaries being sent out to the world to preach of the gospel. We believe that as the gentiles have received the gospel, they have made covenants with God, which has allowed us to be adopted into the house of Israel. We believe that it is our responsibility to take the fullness of the gospel to the rest of the world, which will bring the scattered tribes back together.

We believe that along with the gathering and restoration of the ten tribes of Israel, that Zion will be built. We believe that this Zion will also be knows as the New Jerusalem and it will exist as a partner to Jerusalem, which will be built again by the gathering of the tribes. We believe further, that the New Jerusalem will be upon the American continent. In Doctrine and Covenants 45 we read the following:

66 And it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the Most High God;
67 And the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion.

In another modern revelation, the Lord revealed that Zion, the New Jerusalem, would be built in the state of Missouri (see D&C 84:3). We believe that this will be the center of Zion, but that Zion as a whole will exist throughout the world, in the hearts of the righteous and covenant people of the Lord.

We also believe that Christ, the Lord and Savior of mankind, will come again and will reign as Lord over the earth. In Matthew 16:27 we read, “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” Then in Doctrine and Covenants 76:63 we read, “These are they whom he shall bring with him, when he shall come in the clouds of heaven to reign on the earth over his people.” He will bring all the nations under his reign, and all people will know that He is the Christ. I think one of the things I look forward to most, is that all laws will be the laws of God, and all governments will be under his rule. This means that all those things that are wicked and unrighteous about governments today, will no longer exist.

Finally we believe that at the second coming of Christ, the earth will be cleansed of all wickedness. In Malachi 4:1 we read, “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” We believe that the earth will be renewed to its perfect state and then it will receive its proper glory, which is paradisiacal. In Isaiah 51:3 we read, “For the Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.” Then later in Isaiah 65:17 we read, “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” That paradisiacal condition will be like the Garden of Eden that existed for Adam and Eve. Then it will have the glory and be prepared for the righteous to dwell upon the face of it.

These beliefs bring me such great joy and excitement. I believe that the work of the Lord is going forth and that the tribes of Israel are indeed being gathered, because the gospel is spreading across the earth. I know that wether I am alive or not, I will rejoice at the second coming of the Lord. I know that the earth will be prepared for his reign, and therefore it must be pure of all wickedness. This will be the beginning of the millennium, and I am so excited for the great work and blessings that will come from that time.

Inclining Our Hearts to God

In the October 2011 General Conference, President Uchtdorf spoke about inclining our hearts to God. When he said this, I wondered what exactly that phrase meant to me. The word incline has a handful of different meanings to it. I am focusing on those that I found online which are in reference to an action, because the phrase inline our hearts implies an action being applied to our hearts.

The first definition I found said to “feel willing or favorably disposed toward”. In this sense we should be having a favorable disposition in our hearts towards God. This means that we should naturally be content in consented to God and His will for us. Our character, mind and behaviors should naturally fall in line with the will of God by our own choice, and should not be something that we struggle and fight against. If we inline our heart to God, we will find true happiness in following his commandments and serving Him.

Next, to incline means to “tend toward holding a specified opinion”. In other words, our opinions will tend towards those of God. Our desires and feelings will be the same as our Father in Heaven. The feelings of our hearts, especially those that we commonly share with our friends and family, should have a tendency to be what God would have us share, because they are what He would share. I think mostly this means that if we have our hearts inclined to God, we will want to share His message, the gospel, with others.

Another meaning is to “have a specified talent”. I think that with this definition, we should seek for the gifts or talents that will bring us closer to God in our hearts. When I think of this, mostly I think of gaining a strong testimony of Him and his gospel. A strong and firm testimony of God, inclines our hearts to Him.

The next definition says, “Lean or turn away from a given plane or direction, esp. the vertical or horizontal. This reminds me of a talk by Mary Ellen Edmunds, where she talks about the arrow we want to be on. If we live our life on the horizontal track, we never progress or grow, we remain stagnant instead. It may not mean that we are doing things that God would not have us do, but it does mean that we are not living up to our potential. We should raise ourselves above the flat line and incline ourselves to a higher level. That level will bring us closer to God. In our hearts we should be seeking for the ways to improve, grow, and progress to the person that God knows that we can be.

In his talk, President Uchtdorf said that we incline our hearts to God through service, loving Him, and becoming His disciple in word and deed. I think that this explanation goes right along with the understanding that I am gaining. We incline our hearts by faithfully keeping the commandments, desiring to share the gospel through our actions and words, seeking to gain a strong testimony, and striving to improve and progress to become like Him. I hope that through the choices of my life, I am on the path to having my heart fully inclined to God.

D&C Section 71

Historical Background

The prophet, Joseph Smith, was translating the Bible with the help of Sidney Rigdon as his scribe. He received this revelation and they stopped the translation in order to do what the Lord told them to do. Ezra Booth was an apostate man who had published newspaper articles against the Church and the men were called to preach to the people to calm the bad feelings towards the church.

Expound the Mysteries According to the Spirit

“BEHOLD, thus saith the Lord unto you my servants Joseph Smith, Jun., and Sidney Rigdon, that the time has verily come that it is necessary and expedient in me that you should open your mouths in proclaiming my gospel, the things of the kingdom, expounding the mysteries thereof out of the scriptures, according to that portion of Spirit and power which shall be given unto you, even as I will (v. 1).”

The prophet and Sidney Rigdon were called to teach people the things that had been revealed as the mysteries of God. These things were unknown before this dispensation and had been revealed through the prophet.

“Verily I say unto you, proclaim unto the world in the regions round about, and in the church also, for the space of a season, even until it shall be made known unto you (v. 2). Verily this is a mission for a season, which I give unto you (v. 3). Wherefore, labor ye in my vineyard. Call upon the inhabitants of the earth, and bear record, and prepare the way for the commandments and revelations which are to come (v. 4). Now, behold this is wisdom; whoso readeth, let him understand and receive also (v. 5); For unto him that receiveth it shall be given more abundantly, even power (v. 6).” This calling to preach was only for a little while. They were meant to prepare the way for the Book of Commandments, which were going to be published.

The Place of Debate in Preaching the Gospel

“Wherefore, confound your enemies; call upon them to meet you both in public and in private; and inasmuch as ye are faithful their shame shall be made manifest (v. 7). Wherefore, let them bring forth their strong reasons against the Lord (v. 8 ). Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you—there is no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper (v. 9); And if any man lift his voice against you he shall be confounded in mine own due time (v. 10). Wherefore, keep my commandments; they are true and faithful. Even so. Amen (v. 11).” We normally do not consider debate when preaching the Gospel. The prophet was not told here to debate the gospel principles, but to preach and even when they came to them to debate, the Lord would confound them.

“If Any Man Life His Voice against You”

The Lord is there to support, strengthen and defend us when others come against us. He will confound our enemies if we are righteous and faithful. I know the gospel is true. I know that there are some people out there who have not allowed their hearts to be open to the spirit, so that they could gain a testimony of the truth. These people would rather argue and debate over principles of the gospel, instead of learning what is right and true. I know that it is not my place to argue with these people, but I will bear my testimony as prompted by the spirit and maybe when they are not expecting it, the truth will break through and bring them happiness the way it has brought it to me.

3 Nephi, Chapter 11

Stand in holy places

If I had survived all the destruction that the Nephites had experienced, I would look to see if I could find any of my family first.  I think that is what most would have done and I am sure the people would talk about how they felt as they experienced it and how amazing it was to hear the voice of the Lord.

“And now it came to pass that there were a great multitude gathered together, of the people of Nephi, round about the temple which was in the land Bountiful; and they were marveling and wondering one with another, and were showing one to another the great and marvelous change which had taken place (v. 1).  And they were also conversing about this Jesus Christ, of whom the sign had been given concerning his death (v. 2).”  Many gathered around the temple.  I think one reason would be because the temple is a house of the Lord and they may have been anticipating Him coming there.  The temple is also a place of refuge and peace to many.  I am sure that being there with people who had all just experienced what they had, brought the spirit very strongly.

In D&C 45:32 we read, “But my disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved; but among the wicked, men shall lift up their voices and curse God and die.”  The disciples of Jesus Christ will stand in holy places, while the wicked will think of their own misery, cursing God, and die.  In D&C 87:8 we read, “Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh quickly, saith the Lord. Amen.”  We should remain in holy places until the Lord comes.  In D&C 101:22 we read, “Behold, it is my will, that all they who call on my name, and worship me according to mine everlasting gospel, should gather together, and stand in holy places;”  Those disciples who pray to the Lord and worship the gospel of Christ should stand in holy places.  These scriptures teach us that we should be constantly striving to remain in holy places.  We can make wherever we stand holy as long as we have the spirit guiding us.  We need to be firm in our commitment to Jesus Christ and His gospel.  These things will prepare us for His second coming in these last days.

The Savior appears at the temple in Bountiful

“And it came to pass that while they were thus conversing one with another, they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven; and they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn (v. 3).  And it came to pass that again they heard the voice, and they understood it not (v. 4).  And again the third time they did hear the voice, and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came (v. 5).”  Even in the temple of the Lord, we can find ourselves not listening with our spiritual ears.  We may not truly be paying attention to the still small voice, when it tries to speak to us.  It wasn’t until the people opened their ears and focused on the voice, that they realized where it was coming from.

“And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them (v. 6):  Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him (v. 7).”  The voice was that of Heavenly Father.  When I think of this, I think of the times when I have something important to say to my daughter.  I will try to get her attention, and until I know she is listening to me, I will continue to try.  Heavenly Father was trying to get their attention, because what he had to say was of the most importance.  There are times in my life, when the spirit has had to repeat something multiple times before I have realized what it was and that I should follow it.  This is how the Lord communicates with me directly, and sometimes I am not listening well enough to understand it.  If we want to hear the spirit more in our own lives, we need to live righteously, recognize the voice, and be prepared for it by having our spiritual ears open, often.

What would it be like to hear the voice of God?

God has spoken to children at other times than this.  In footnote 7a, it tells of the time when Jesus was baptized and the voice of God was heard, the time when Jesus was transfigured before his disciples and they heard the voice of God, and also when Joseph Smith was in the grove of trees and the voice of God spoke to him.  In all of these times, God introduces his Son, Jesus Christ, and tells them to listen to him.  It shows that Heavenly Father feels the words of His Son are important for us and that He loves and respects His Son.

“And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them; and the eyes of the whole multitude were turned upon him, and they durst not open their mouths, even one to another, and wist not what it meant, for they thought it was an angel that had appeared unto them (v. 8 ).”

I think in a time like this, it would be easy to wonder why I would have been chosen to experience something like this.  To have heard the voice of the Savior already, to hear the voice of God, and then to see a man coming from heaven to where I was, would have been absolutely wonderful and amazing.  I would hope that I have lived my life in a way that if the Savior came tomorrow, that I would recognize him as my Savior.  I am so grateful for all that He has done for me personally in my life.  I am so grateful that He has made it possible for all of us to return to our Father in Heaven, and especially that through Him, I have the opportunity to be with my family, whom I love, forever.

A most important event / What was the Savior’s initial message when he appeared to the Nephites?

“And it came to pass that he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying (v. 9):  Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world (v. 10).”

This was truly the moment that the righteous had been waiting for.  This was fulfillment of the most important prophecy that all the prophets had talked about.  The Savior was appearing to the Nephites.

“And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning (v. 11).”  The Savior was willing to drink from the bitter cup, because of His love for His Father and for His love for each of us.  In D&C 19:16 we read, “For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent”.  I think the Savior wanted the Nephites to know that He had done all that the Father had asked him to do, being completely obedient, so that they could understand what was expected of them.  The only way for the Lord to expect us to live righteously, is by having lived it himself.

“Thrust your hands into my side”

What an awesome blessing it must have been to stand in the presence of the resurrected Jesus Christ.  “And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words the whole multitude fell to the earth; for they remembered that it had been prophesied among them that Christ should show himself unto them after his ascension into heaven (v. 12).”  The Nephites fell to the earth in worship of the Lord, Jesus Christ.  In the past, this has always been a sign of respect, reverence, and worship.  We see it a lot less today, but I can see myself bowing down before the Savior, if he were to come at this time.

“And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto them saying (v. 13):  Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world (v. 14).”  I think the Savior invited them to feel the prints in his hands and feet and the wound in his side so that they would have the physical proof that he had been crucified and that he had been resurrected and was real.  I am sure that I would have done as he said, if I had been there then.

“And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come (v. 15).  And when they had all gone forth and had witnessed for themselves, they did cry out with one accord, saying (v. 16):  Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him (v. 17).”  All the Nephites who were there at the temple, felt his prints and wound, so that they could be a witness of his coming.  In 3 Nephi 17:25 we learn that there were about 2,500 people there to witness this.  I imagine that it would have taken a long time to have that many people personally touch the Savior.  This shows that the Savior truly loved these people and was willing to allow all of them to touch him, so that they would believe in him.  I know that this is the way he loves each of us as well.

Baptism

The ordinance of baptism

The Savior them called Nephi to come forward, and Nephi bowed and kissed the feet of the Lord (v. 18-19).   The Lord told him to arise and then said, “I give unto you power that ye shall baptize this people when I am again ascended into heaven (v. 20-21).”  He then gave others the power to baptize also and then taught them how to baptize (v. 22).  “Verily I say unto you, that whoso repenteth of his sins through your words, and desireth to be baptized in my name, on this wise shall ye baptize them—Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name shall ye baptize them (v. 23).  And now behold, these are the words which ye shall say, calling them by name, saying (v. 24):  Having aauthority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen (v. 25).  And then shall ye immerse them in the water, and come forth again out of the water (v. 26).  And after this manner shall ye baptize in my name; for behold, verily I say unto you, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one; and I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one (v. 27).”

I think that baptism was the second thing the Savior taught because it is the the first ordinance of the gospel.  “… and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me (v. 32).  And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God (v. 33).  And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned (v. 34). . . and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost (v. 35).”  Baptism is the first ordinance that we must do in order to live with God again, this is why it is so important.  Those who are not baptized will be damned.  Those who are baptized will be able to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

“And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things (v. 37).  And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God (v. 38).”  The Savior focused on repentance next, because without repentance we also cannot return to God.

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them (v. 39).”  It is the gospel of Jesus Christ that those who repent and are baptized will be able to stand strong against the adversary.  “And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them (v. 40).  Therefore, go forth unto this people, and declare the words which I have spoken, unto the ends of the earth (v. 41).”  Now the Savior wants Nephi and the other people there, to teach these principles to all people.  This applies to us as well.  When we learn the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are expected to share with others, so that more souls can be brought into His gospel.

The Savior commands the Nephites not to contend

When my family is getting along and we are enjoying being around each other, there is true joy in my home.  When there is fighting and quarreling, it is hard to feel the spirit, and it is hard to be around one another.  Contention is obviously not a good thing, but something that Satan enjoys instead.

“And according as I have commanded you thus shall ye baptize. And there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been (v. 28 ).  For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another (v. 29).  Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away (v. 30).”  Just before the Savior’s coming to the Nephites, they were fighting about the doctrines of the church, and consequently many had fallen away from the gospel.  Here the Savior was telling them that they were not to fight over these things any longer.  When we have the spirit of contention, we are choosing to follow Satan.  The Savior’s gospel is that contention should be “done away”.  Any contention, even when we feel we are right, is of the devil.  We need to remember this, instead of allowing ourselves to get caught up the emotions of defending ourselves to the point of arguments.

I am grateful for the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ as he gives it here to the Nephites.  There is no gray areas, but only black and white.  If we want to inherit the Kingdom of God, we need to believe in Him, repent of our sins, be baptized and build on the rock of his gospel in our lives.  When we build on this rock we can avoid the temptations of Satan that try to drag us down away from God with things such as contention, because we will have the guidance of the Holy Ghost in our lives.  (see also Article of Faith 4)

1 Nephi, Chapter 22

“What meaneth these things which ye have read?”

Nephi’s brothers wanted to know what the words of Isaiah meant.  Chapter 22 is an explanation given by Nephi of Isaiah’s words found in chapters 20-21.  For example, in chapter 21 we read, “Then shalt thou say in thine heart: Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, and removing to and fro? And who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where have they been (v. 21)?

“Thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people; and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders (v. 22).

“And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers; they shall bow down to thee with their face towards the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord; for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me (v. 23)”

Then in chapter 22, Nephi explains this, “And it meaneth that the time cometh that after all the house of Israel have been scattered and confounded, that the Lord God will raise up a mighty nation among the Gentiles, yea, even upon the face of this land; and by them shall our seed be scattered (v. 7 ).

“And after our seed is scattered the Lord God will proceed to do a marvelous work among the Gentiles, which shall be of great worth unto our seed; wherefore, it is likened unto their being nourished by the Gentiles and being carried in their arms and upon their shoulders (v. 8 ).”

In other words, once the Children of Israel were scattered, there would be a mighty nation (America) who would scatter the seed of Lehi’s family.  Then the Gentiles, would bring the gospel to the seed of his family.

What marvelous work would the Lord do for the Gentiles and all the house of Israel?  The Lord would allow the gentiles to have scriptures, the bible and then the restoration of the Gospel through Joseph smith. We would have the ability to make sacred covenants with God.

Henry B. Eyring said, “The fruit of keeping covenants is the companionship of the Holy Ghost and an increase in the power to love.  That happens because of the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ to change our very natures.”  The covenants we make to god are so sacred and special.  They show god our willingness to do all we can.  It is so important to honor those covenants.  When we do not, then we cannot received the promised blessings and we loose the guidance of the Holy ghost.

Scattered Israel is to be gathered

“Make bare his arms” can be thought of as pushing up our sleeves to get to work.  In these verses (v. 10-12), the Lord is preparing to bring about His covenants and gospel to the House of Israel.  We, as members of the church, need to be the Lord’s instruments in this work, by sharing the Gospel with others.  We must “make bare” our arms and work to help spread the gospel.  I feel like the faithful members of the church are working hard, baring our arms, to spread the word about Prop 8 right now.  The discussion of why we support this prop is giving awesome opportunities to share the gospel with others who do not share our beliefs.  They may not accept what we have to say, but our testimonies are out there and some day they will understand.

How can we survive the coming destructions?

In the last days the wicked will fight each other and will fall into their own pits.  They will be destroyed and the abominable church will fall.  Satan will have no more power and the wicked will burn.  The righteous will be saved and preserved by God.  They will have no need to fear.  They will not perish.  A prophet, Jesus Christ, will raise up and declare the full gospel of God.  God will protect those who are doing their best to live the gospel.  Even if it means they may die, they will be saved in the eternities.

If we are doing what is right we need not fear.  I believe this to be true.  As I work to support the sacred bond of marriage, I am clinging to this belief.  I know I am on the right side of this issue.  I know that those who are trying to pervert the sacred nature of marriage will be judged and should fear God.  If the second coming happened today, I feel secure in my knowledge and I do not fear.

What will the Millennium be like?

When Jesus comes again, he will reign over the righteous.  He will gather all the children of Israel together.  Satan will have no power and will be captive for many years.  The righteous will be safe.  Jesus will care for us like “calves of the stall”, meaning those that are owned, not wild.  Those that are “of the stall” are given shelter and food, where the wild must take care of themselves.  I think the best part of living during the millennium will be working side by side with the Lord.  Being allowed to make gospel work the focus instead of worldly things (i.e. making enough money to make ends meet) and not having the negative influences of Satan polluting the world.  I hope I live to be worthy of this wonderful work to come.


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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