The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn Elder Bednar, Oct 2011
At times it may seem that as Latter-day Saints we place too much emphasis on the Holy Spirit and receiving the Holy Ghost. And it may be that we put too much emphasis on making sure that we feel the Holy Ghost when in reality we should be preaching repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ.
But in all actuality the two are parts of a complete whole, and reception of the Holy Spirit is the choice gift afforded only to the covenant disciples of Jesus Christ. Consider how the law of Moses only afforded the people to get as close to God as a priest offered burnt sacrifices periodically for a remission of their sins. John the Baptist came preaching repentance and baptism by water for a remission of our sins. Jesus Christ came with power to baptize with fire and the Holy Ghost.
While in the former, there is the power to stop doing evil, Jesus Christ brought with him the power to do good, which is wrought through the influence of the Holy Ghost.
Understand then, Brent, that we need to stop doing evil in all its forms, so that we can do more good.
An introduction to membership in this Church can sometime feel like a process of being taken out of the water (upon being baptized) and being thrown straight into the frying pan. Perhaps, we don’t talk about it all that much because we don’t want to discourage people from entering into the Kingdom, but perhaps, we should be warning our good brother and sister converts that Jesus himself said a baptism of fire was surely to follow their baptism by water if they were serious about the covenants that they were to make with God. Perhaps we should be giving them a heads up that the protection and blessing that they hoped to receive by coming into the safety of God’s kingdom will not come without a price of purging more than we had expected.
So those of us that have walked through the fire, will we stand idly by as we watch these our infant brothers and sisters in the discipleship of Christ walking through the fire without a full understanding of why they are doing so. We know, because we’ve been there, that knowledge only comes after faith.
The truth is that serious discipleship to the Lord Jesus Christ is a thorny, rocky, fiery path where our greatest weaknesses will be brought into full light. This reality isn’t just laid out for the new convert, but rather, any one of us who decides that now is the time to “get good with God” will discover that theirs is a difficult road ahead of them. It may from time to time become difficult to watch the natural man enjoying his slice of the pie, when we knowingly are walking away from the pretended picnic of ease that Satan has laid out in front of us in exchange for a much greater hope of qualifying for a seat at that great feast that has already been prepared for us at the marriage supper of the Lamb. (Revelation 19:9, Matthew 22:1-14)
(Post to Facebook after today’s continued study on the topic)
Most of Christianity does a very good job at preaching and understanding faith in Jesus Christ. Some understand the need for and exercise repentance as taught by John the Baptist. But few comprehend that baptism by one who has authority, as did John, is essential for admission into the kingdom of God.
But then John the Baptist takes it even further and says, “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me… shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” (Matt 3:11)
And it is curious how the Savior says “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5) Discipleship is then by design a process of purging and sanctification. When we find God, and then decided to solidify that relationship with God by covenant by those in authority to officiate in the ordinances of the Gospel of Christ, we then become His — entering into a process that will eventually allow us to become “perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matt 5:48)
The mission of John the Baptist to preach only repentance, and of Alma’s directive to preach only faith in the Lord and repentance (Mosiah 18:20), has left me wondering why the exclusive emphasis on these doctrines. Prayerful consideration causes me to believe that without faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and without repentance, there is no point in anything else we do in this Church or in the kingdom of God. If an individual cannot humble themselves and claim the rights of the salvation that are freely extended to all that will believe and repent of their sins, then there is no way to go further. This passage way must be traversed for discipleship to have meaning and significance. The power to leave behind one’s sins lies in the process of repentance and must be centered on faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Only the humble, submissive, and meek can pass through this gate.
(Eyeing, Henry B., April 2013, General Conference, Saturday Morning Session)
I’ve reviewed this talk this morning from last general conference in my quest to follow the Savior. President Eyering talks at great lengths about the Savior, highlighting the exchanges He had with his disciples following His resurrection. This quote best articulates his talk:
Every covenant servant of His within His kingdom on earth and in the spirit world will receive His guidance by the Spirit as they bless and serve others for Him. And they will feel His love and find joy in being drawn closer to Him.
The Importance of a Physical Body
“Simply stated, there are lessons we must learn and experiences we must have, as the scriptures describe, according to the flesh.”
1 Nephi 19:6, Alma 7:12-13
We are spiritual beings. And if we remained only as spiritual beings we would not have the experiences of living in a mortal body. I ask myself, can I really distinguish between my body and my spirit. Do I know the difference, and do I understand why Christ had to come in the flesh to save us from our sins?
Difference between the Natural Man and the Man of Christ
Helaman 3:29 – The word of God will lead the Man of Christ across that gulf of misery prepared to ensnare the wicked. There is a punishment prepared or affixed for wickedness.
Alma 38:12 – Bridle all your passions (natural man appetites), that ye may be filled with love (spiritual inclinations to do right).
Steps of repentance:
Put gears in a bag. Label each with a name and scripture:
- Recognition: Luke 15:17
- Remorse: Mormon 2:13
- Confession: Ezra 10:11
- Forsaking: Ezekiel 18:30
- Restitution: Leveticus 6:4
This sunday’s quorum instruction need to be focused on missionary work and the long term effort required to do it well.
- Key to that effort is a conversion to daily scripture study.
- Clearly, the Lord has counseled us that if do not make scripture study a part of our lives, we cannot do his work.
- We cannot be counted as faithful disciples of the Christ if we are not daily and regularly feasting upon his words.
- My sheep know my voice.
From “A Discussion on Scripture Study,” Elder Henry B. Eyering, July 2005 Ensign:
How has scripture study benefited you personally?
Elder Eyring: Throughout my life, the scriptures have been a way for God to reveal things to me that are personal and helpful. When I was a little boy, I was given a small Bible. If I remember correctly, it was only the New Testament. For some reason, I was drawn to 1 Corinthians 13 [1 Cor. 13], which is about charity. Somehow, even in my childhood, I knew that for me that chapter was about the family I would have someday. Years later, before I was married, I received a patriarchal blessing. In that blessing, the patriarch described the feeling that would be in the home I would someday have. He described exactly what I had felt years before when I read 1 Corinthians 13 [1 Cor. 13].
The scriptures were one of the ways God spoke to me—even when I was a child—about my needs, my situation, and my life. They still are. Since our needs change over a lifetime, God has different things to tell us at different times.
Sometimes I go to the scriptures for doctrine. Sometimes I go to the scriptures for instruction. I go with a question, and the question usually is “What would God have me do?” or “What would He have me feel?” Invariably I find new ideas, thoughts I have never had before, and I receive inspiration and instruction and answers to my questions.
Why should we read the Book of Mormon on an ongoing basis?
Elder Eyring: The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ, and we learn about Him in its pages. We know that it has great power. It has the power to change lives. It has the power to convert. If you read it with an open heart, you will know that it is the word of God and that it is true.
Through the Book of Mormon the Lord can also teach us about being with and serving people. This book reveals the will of the Lord for family life in a way that the other scriptures don’t even approach. I believe that is largely because of its interesting structure. It’s about families; it’s about people’s relationships. It starts with families, it ends with families, and we come to love these families.
Another reason to study it regularly, for me at least, is that I can pick up the Book of Mormon, open to any page, read, and the Holy Ghost bears personal witness to me that it is the word of God. I know the Lord is speaking. I know the Book of Mormon is what it claims to be.
What have you done to make your own scripture study meaningful?
Elder Eyring: When I came into the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Richard G. Scott suggested I buy an inexpensive set of scriptures and mark the insights and revelations I would gain in my new calling. So I did. But I went a little further.
I asked Heavenly Father what He would have me do as an Apostle. I wrote down what I felt His answers were. I typed, color coded, and pasted those answers in the front of my scriptures. For example, the first one was “I am to be a witness that Christ is the Son of God.” Then I read my scriptures looking for ideas that taught me how to witness that Christ is the Son of God. Every time I came to something, I marked it in blue. Soon I developed my own topical guide around what I thought the Lord wanted me to do. I have learned much through this process.
Going to the scriptures to learn what to do makes all the difference. The Lord can teach us. When we come to a crisis in our life, such as losing a child or spouse, we should go looking in the scriptures for specific help. We will find answers in the scriptures. The Lord seemed to anticipate all of our problems and all of our needs, and He put help in the scriptures for us—if only we seek it.
How can Latter-day Saints make scripture study a priority?
Elder Eyring: The only way you can be sure that a busy schedule doesn’t crowd out scripture study is to establish a regular time to study the scriptures. I have found that the beginning of the day and the end of the day are mine. Those are times I can usually control. So my pattern since I was a boy has been to read my scriptures at the beginning and end of the day. I read the Book of Mormon many times before I was 18 because of that pattern.
When I am in situations where I break out of the pattern, it’s hard on me. Once you get used to regular scripture study, you miss it if you don’t have it. It’s like food—you have to have it. I know that I need the scriptures like I need food. I don’t miss a regular meal, and I don’t miss regular scripture study.
From “The Blessing of Scripture,” Elder D. Todd Christofferson, April 2010 General Conference :
The Scriptures Are the Standard for Distinguishing Truth and Error
God uses scripture to unmask erroneous thinking, false traditions, and sin with its devastating effects. He is a tender parent who would spare us needless suffering and grief and at the same time help us realize our divine potential. The scriptures, for example, discredit an ancient philosophy that has come back into vogue in our day—the philosophy of Korihor that there are no absolute moral standards, that “every man prosper[s] according to his genius, and that every man conquer[s] according to his strength; and whatsoever a man [does is] no crime” and “that when a man [is] dead, that [is] the end thereof” (Alma 30:17–18). Alma, who had dealt with Korihor, did not leave his own son Corianton in doubt about the reality and substance of a divine moral code. Corianton had been guilty of sexual sin, and his father spoke to him in love but plainly: “Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost?” (Alma 39:5).
In a complete reversal from a century ago, many today would dispute with Alma about the seriousness of immorality. Others would argue that it’s all relative or that God’s love is permissive. If there is a God, they say, He excuses all sins and misdeeds because of His love for us—there is no need for repentance. Or at most, a simple confession will do. They have imagined a Jesus who wants people to work for social justice but who makes no demands upon their personal life and behavior. 2 But a God of love does not leave us to learn by sad experience that “wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10; see also Helaman 13:38). His commandments are the voice of reality and our protection against self-inflicted pain. The scriptures are the touchstone for measuring correctness and truth, and they are clear that real happiness lies not in denying the justice of God or trying to circumvent the consequences of sin but in repentance and forgiveness through the atoning grace of the Son of God (see Alma 42).
Scripture tutors us in principles and moral values essential to maintaining civil society, including integrity, responsibility, selflessness, fidelity, and charity. In scripture, we find vivid portrayals of the blessings that come from honoring true principles, as well as the tragedies that befall when individuals and civilizations discard them. Where scriptural truths are ignored or abandoned, the essential moral core of society disintegrates and decay is close behind. In time, nothing is left to sustain the institutions that sustain society.
The Scriptures Bring Us to Christ, Our Redeemer
In the end, the central purpose of all scripture is to fill our souls with faith in God the Father and in His Son, Jesus Christ—faith that They exist; faith in the Father’s plan for our immortality and eternal life; faith in the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which animates this plan of happiness; faith to make the gospel of Jesus Christ our way of life; and faith to come to know “the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom [He has] sent” (John 17:3).
The word of God, as Alma said, is like a seed planted in our hearts that produces faith as it begins to grow within us (see Alma 32:27–43; see also Romans 10:13–17). Faith will not come from the study of ancient texts as a purely academic pursuit. It will not come from archaeological digs and discoveries. It will not come from scientific experiments. It will not even come from witnessing miracles. These things may serve to confirm faith, or at times to challenge it, but they do not create faith. Faith comes by the witness of the Holy Spirit to our souls, Spirit to spirit, as we hear or read the word of God. And faith matures as we continue to feast upon the word.
Scriptural accounts of the faith of others serve to strengthen our own. We recall the faith of a centurion that enabled Christ to heal his servant without so much as seeing him (see Matthew 8:5–13) and the healing of a Gentile woman’s daughter because that humble mother would accept, as it were, even the crumbs from the Master’s table (see Matthew 15:22–28; Mark 7:25–30). We hear the cry of suffering Job: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15)—and professing, “I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: … [and] yet in my flesh shall I see God” (Job 19:25–26). We hear and take courage from the determination of a tender boy prophet, hated and bitterly persecuted by so many adults: “I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it” (Joseph Smith—History 1:25).
Because they expound the doctrine of Christ, the scriptures are accompanied by the Holy Spirit, whose role it is to bear witness of the Father and the Son (see 3 Nephi 11:32). Therefore, being in the scriptures is one way we receive the Holy Ghost. Of course, scripture is given through the Holy Ghost in the first place (see 2 Peter 1:21; D&C 20:26–27; 68:4), and that same Spirit can attest its truth to you and me. Study the scriptures carefully, deliberately. Ponder and pray over them. Scriptures are revelation, and they will bring added revelation.
From “The Tradition of Light and Testimony”:
We must be bold in our declarations and testimony of the divinity of Jesus Christ. We want others to know that we believe He is the central figure in all human history. His life and teachings are the heart of the Bible and the other books we consider to be holy scriptures. The Old Testament sets the stage for Christ’s mortal ministry. The New Testament describes His mortal ministry. The Book of Mormon gives us a second witness of His mortal ministry. He came to earth to declare His gospel as a foundation for all mankind so that all of God’s children could learn about Him and His teachings. He then gave His life in order to be our Savior and Redeemer. Only through Jesus Christ is salvation possible. This is why we believe He is the central figure in all human history. Our eternal destiny is always in His hands. It is a glorious thing to believe in Him and accept Him as our Savior, our Lord, and our Master.
-Elder L. Tom Perry, January 2012, BYU-I
Build on this thought. Make a special invitation to be in Elder’s Quorum this Sunday.
Prepare juice to share with the children. Read Pres. Smith’s story about giving lemonade to the workers.
Point out how kindness is the power that God has given us to change hearts. I have never seen anyone decide to be good when someone else was being mean to them.
Point out how kindness help someone feel better.
-Emma had a hard day on Saturday. Her dance instructor gave her very nice compliment and the young women gave her a heart attack. Both of these things helped Emma to feel better because someone else showed her kindness.
Prepare three examples of situations where kindness is better than.
From President Hunter:
A man who holds the priesthood accepts his wife as a partner in the leadership of the home and family with full knowledge of and full participation in all decisions relating thereto. Of necessity there must be in the Church and in the home a presiding officer (see D&C 107:21). By divine appointment, the responsibility to preside in the home rests upon the priesthood holder (see Moses 4:22). The Lord intended that the wife be a helpmeet for man (meet means equal)—that is, a companion equal and necessary in full partnership. Presiding in righteousness necessitates a shared responsibility between husband and wife; together you act with knowledge and participation in all family matters. For a man to operate independent of or without regard to the feelings and counsel of his wife in governing the family is to exercise unrighteous dominion….
You who hold the priesthood must not be abusive in your relationship with children. Seek always to employ the principles of priesthood government set forth in the revelations (see D&C 93:40; D&C 121:34–36, 41–45).
President George Albert Smith wisely counseled: “We should not lose our tempers and abuse one another. … Nobody ever abused anybody else when he had the spirit of the Lord. It is always when we have some other spirit” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1950, p. 8).
A man who holds the priesthood leads his family in Church participation so they will know the gospel and be under the protection of the covenants and ordinances. If you are to enjoy the blessings of the Lord, you must set your own homes in order. Together with your wife, you determine the spiritual climate of your home. Your first obligation is to get your own spiritual life in order through regular scriptural study and daily prayer. Secure and honor your priesthood and temple covenants; encourage your family to do the same.
Take seriously your responsibility to teach the gospel to your family through regular family home evening, family prayer, devotional and scripture-reading time, and other teaching moments. Give special emphasis to preparation for missionary service and temple marriage. As patriarch in the home, exercise your priesthood through performing the appropriate ordinances for your family and by giving blessings to your wife and children. Next to your own salvation, brethren, there is nothing so important to you as the salvation of your wife and children.
(You’ve got a chalk board presentation to figure out in connection with this lesson.)
On the chalkboard, Write up the subject of the lesson and then the outline of the course in which we will pursue:
Have prepared Quotes to print off (#?) from talks by Elder Holland, President Packer, and others if need be:
- Introduction on the importance of the topic, Three reasons for the discussion:
- Failure to understand the seriousness of the issue
- This is manifested in our willingness to allow entertainment that makes light of sexual intimacy.
- Why we need to teach our children to be morally clean,
- To encourage complete moral fidelity within marriage, this is perhaps the most important reason for the discussion.
- Failure to understand the seriousness of the issue
- The significance of sanctity:
- Why Sexual Sin is So Serious to the Lord?
- Scriptures: Proverbs 6:27-28, 32-33; Alma 39:5
- #2 in life’s most serious sins
- God wants to be in control of this power as much as possible.
- Sexual sin destroys the soul.
- Why Sexual Sin is So Serious to the Lord?
- The Eternal Nature of the Soul
- Unique doctrine of the Soul: Body and Spirit. D & C 88:15, 93:34
- Use both quotes from James E. Talmage and Paul about the sanctity of the body in God’s plan for us.
- Talmage is in the book.
- Paul is 1Cor. 6:13-20
- Sexual sin is nothing less than toying with the soul of another.
- The symbolic purpose of human intimacy
- Discuss its true purpose in the marriage relationship
- outside of marriage, conterfeited experiences of the real thing.
- inside of marriage, the dangers of rushing into marriage solely for the purpose of permitted sex.
- A warning against priesthood brethren in matters of counterfeit intimacy.
A lesson on moral cleanliness and sexual purity is a difficult subject to address primarily because of its sacred nature. Indeed, its difficulty in addressing it also demonstrates the importance of having this discussion, because there are so few aside from apostles and prophets who will discuss sexual purity for what it is. Given that our inspired church leaders are the ones who have best articulated reasons for sexual purity and why it is so important in God’s eyes that we be morally clean, we will be studying their words.
My hope is at the end of this discussion you will be able to understand why moral cleanliness is at the very core of true discipleship and how to make these principles more fully a part of your life.
The objective of the class then is to prepare the class to understand Pres. Hunter’s remarks. Save President Hunter’s quote for the very end of the discussion:
Keep yourselves above any domineering or unworthy behavior in the tender, intimate relationship between husband and wife. Because marriage is ordained of God, the intimate relationship between husbands and wives is good and honorable in the eyes of God. He has commanded that they be one flesh and that they multiply and replenish the earth (see Moses 2:28; Moses 3:24). You are to love your wife as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for it (see Eph. 5:25–31).
Tenderness and respect—never selfishness—must be the guiding principles in the intimate relationship between husband and wife. Each partner must be considerate and sensitive to the other’s needs and desires. Any domineering, indecent, or uncontrolled behavior in the intimate relationship between husband and wife is condemned by the Lord.
Any man who abuses or demeans his wife physically or spiritually is guilty of grievous sin and in need of sincere and serious repentance. Differences should be worked out in love and kindness and with a spirit of mutual reconciliation. A man should always speak to his wife lovingly and kindly, treating her with the utmost respect. Marriage is like a tender flower, brethren, and must be nourished constantly with expressions of love and affection.
Questions to be asked:
- What purpose does intimacy play in marriage?
- What is the connection between the intimate relationship in marriage and the general overall relationship in marriage?