Yesterday at Jonah’s baptism, I was blessed with the chance to give a talk on the Holy Ghost. In the moment, I decided to read these verses from JS-H:
Immediately on our coming up out of the water after we had been baptized, we experienced great and glorious blessings from our Heavenly Father…
Our minds being now enlightened, we began to have the scriptures laid open to our understandings, and the true meaning and intention of their more mysterious passages revealed unto us in a manner which we never could attain to previously, nor ever before had thought of.
In the moment what I felt like emphasizing for Jonah was that here were two men who already cared about the scriptures and keeping the commandments, and being baptized was a way to tell Heavenly Father they really meant it and to make a covenant (we have talked about how a covenant is like promising to do what you are all ready doing – a stronger promise that you’re really in). Then when they were baptized, they learned more from the scriptures than they had before — things they hadn’t even thought of before. I think the Holy Ghost is that kind of influence in our lives generally. We want to serve and do good, and the Holy Ghost will help us do that in ways we hadn’t thought of before. We want to learn about the gospel and the Holy Ghost will teach us things we hadn’t thought of.
I enjoyed teaching Jonah (he’s so good and happy!) and I also just enjoyed the experience of trying to teach by the Spirit again. This past week Joe and I edited through my old paper on teaching by the Spirit from the D&C 42 project. It was a good paper, and helped me see what I’ve been missing for the past few years! I prepared differently, I prayed differently, and I taught differently. I hadn’t thought to use this scripture in this way until I was standing up in front of Jonah. I loved it.
We are working out a really interesting reading during study group tonight.
We looked up fulness in an 1828 dictionary and the first definition talked about something that isn’t vacant; nothing in it is vacant. For whatever reason, this made us think about how perhaps fulness means no person is left out. That is, rather than fulness of the gospel meaning all principles are restored, what if it means all the people are gathered?
We are looking at 3 Nephi 16:10 tonight. Notice that when the Gentiles reject the fulness of the gospel, they are full instead of pride and hypocrisy. One reading is that rather than full of gospel they are full of pride. Another reading is that when they reject the fulness — that not just Gentiles are saved but also Israel is redeemed — when they reject this, then they are (or it’s because they are) full of pride.
What if it means fulness as in the Abrahamic Covenant — no one is meant to be left out. This gospel is for everyone. Or this gospel is strong enough for everyone.
Notice how the Gentiles are critiqued in 2 Nephi for not caring about the Israelites (What thank ye the Jews?) and also they don’t want more scripture from another Israelite people: A Bible! A Bible!
The gospel plan was meant for everyone. The Abrahamic Covenant gave Abraham’s seed the job of teaching everyone else. The gospel was meant to save everyone who would be saved: fulfilling that potential, that promise, is fulness of the gospel. Fulness of the plan.
Abraham 2! That connects Abrahamic Covenant and the Gospel.
Tangents: Nice jokes here about A Bible! A Bible! and what we might say: Book of Mormon! We need no Bible! or A manual! A Manual!
Another reading might be that the gospel is the good news of faith repentance baptism Holy Ghost, and in the Book of Mormon those things are filled up more fully than in the general Christian understanding. So it’s not that the Book of Mormon is more “complete” but rather it is more “abundant.”
A few parts of the partner-talk to the one I just worked on. This one was given to women 6 months earlier. I need to read both of them several more times:
Thirty-six years ago, in 1979, President Spencer W. Kimball made a profound prophecy about the impact that covenant-keeping women would have on the future of the Lord’s Church. He prophesied: “Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world … will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the Church are seen as distinct and different—in happy ways—from the women of the world.”5
My dear sisters, you who are our vital associates during this winding-up scene, the day that President Kimball foresaw is today. You are the women he foresaw! Your virtue, light, love, knowledge, courage, character, faith, and righteous lives will draw good women of the world, along with their families, to the Church in unprecedented numbers!6
We, your brethren, need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices. The kingdom of God is not and cannot be complete without women who make sacred covenants and then keep them, women who can speak with the power and authority of God!7
President Packer declared:
“We need women who are organized and women who can organize. We need women with executive ability who can plan and direct and administer; women who can teach, women who can speak out. …
“We need women with the gift of discernment who can view the trends in the world and detect those that, however popular, are shallow or dangerous.”8
Today, let me add that we need women who know how to make important things happen by their faith and who are courageous defenders of morality and families in a sin-sick world. We need women who are devoted to shepherding God’s children along the covenant path toward exaltation; women who know how to receive personal revelation, who understand the power and peace of the temple endowment; women who know how to call upon the powers of heaven to protect and strengthen children and families; women who teach fearlessly.
My dear sisters, whatever your calling, whatever your circumstances, we need your impressions, your insights, and your inspiration. We need you to speak up and speak out in ward and stake councils. We need each married sister to speak as “a contributing and full partner”10 as you unite with your husband in governing your family. Married or single, you sisters possess distinctive capabilities and special intuition you have received as gifts from God. We brethren cannot duplicate your unique influence.
Attacks against the Church, its doctrine, and our way of life are going to increase. Because of this, we need women who have a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and who will use that understanding to teach and help raise a sin-resistant generation.12 We need women who can detect deception in all of its forms. We need women who know how to access the power that God makes available to covenant keepers and who express their beliefs with confidence and charity. We need women who have the courage and vision of our Mother Eve.
My dear sisters, nothing is more crucial to your eternal life than your own conversion. It is converted, covenant-keeping women—women like my dear wife Wendy—whose righteous lives will increasingly stand out in a deteriorating world and who will thus be seen as different and distinct in the happiest of ways.
So today I plead with my sisters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to step forward! Take your rightful and needful place in your home, in your community, and in the kingdom of God—more than you ever have before. I plead with you to fulfill President Kimball’s prophecy. And I promise you in the name of Jesus Christ that as you do so, the Holy Ghost will magnify your influence in an unprecedented way!
I missed the priesthood session of conference this year, and I’m really loving President Nelson’s talk this morning:
We need to pray from our hearts. Polite recitations of past and upcoming activities, punctuated with some requests for blessings, cannot constitute the kind of communing with God that brings enduring power. Are you willing to pray to know how to pray for more power? The Lord will teach you.
Are you willing to search the scriptures and feast on the words of Christ—to study earnestly in order to have more power? If you want to see your wife’s heart melt, let her find you on the Internet studying the doctrine of Christ or reading your scriptures!
Are you willing to worship in the temple regularly? The Lord loves to do His own teaching in His holy house. Imagine how pleased He would be if you asked Him to teach you about priesthood keys, authority, and power as you experience the ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood in the holy temple.
And if you truly want more priesthood power, you will cherish and care for your wife, embracing both her and her counsel.
Now, if all of this sounds excessive, please consider how different our relationships with our wife, children, and associates at work would be if we were as concerned about gaining priesthood power as we are in progressing at work or increasing the balance in our bank account.
War is one of the most horrible things I can imagine. I am amazed that so many people have to deal with war and all of its effects. What hatred! What violence! What fear! What greed, to kill to have control — or what fear, to have to kill to maintain control — or whatever. I am immensely glad that so many families have fled even thought it is so disorienting and sad for them. I am glad to know they have gotten out. I guess it’s because I hope that if I were them, I could get out too.
But when I think of so much war I often think of D&C 45’s description of Zion. It is not just a place full of good people, it’s a place where there is no war. And the people there — somehow — are feared so that no one comes to war against it. I know that in the Book of Mormon and Bible there are times when God asks His people to defend themselves. But I long for and love the idea of a city where war isn’t necessary.
Here are the words from D&C 45:
63 Ye hear of wars in foreign lands; but, behold, I say unto you, they are nigh, even at your doors, and not many years hence ye shall hear of wars in your own lands.
64 Wherefore I, the Lord, have said, gather ye out from the eastern lands, assemble ye yourselves together ye elders of my church; go ye forth into the western countries, call upon the inhabitants to repent, and inasmuch as they do repent, build up churches unto me.
65 And with one heart and with one mind, gather up your riches that ye may purchase an inheritance which shall hereafter be appointed unto you.
66 And it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land ofpeace, 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.
68 And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety.
69 And there shall be gathered unto it out of every nation under heaven; and it shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another.
70 And it shall be said among the wicked: Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion areterrible; wherefore we cannot stand.
71 And it shall come to pass that the righteous shall be gathered out from among all nations, and shall come to Zion, singing with songs of everlasting joy.
Enoch’s Zion city was not only a place of the pure in heart, it was also a similarly war-less city:
10 And the Lord said unto me: Go to this people, and say unto them—Repent, lest I come out and smite them with a curse, and they die.
11 And he gave unto me a commandment that I should baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, which is full of grace and truth, and of the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of the Father and the Son.
12 And it came to pass that Enoch continued to call upon all the people, save it were the people of Canaan, to repent;
13 And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him.
14 There also came up a land out of the depth of the sea, and so great was the fear of the enemies of the people of God, that they fled and stood afar off and went upon the land which came up out of the depth of the sea.
15 And the giants of the land, also, stood afar off; and there went forth a curse upon all people that fought against God;
16 And from that time forth there were wars and bloodshed among them; but the Lord came and dwelt with his people, and they dwelt in righteousness.
17 The fear of the Lord was upon all nations, so great was the glory of the Lord, which was upon his people. And the Lord blessed the land, and they were blessed upon the mountains, and upon the high places, and did flourish.
18 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.
19 And Enoch continued his preaching in righteousness unto the people of God. And it came to pass in his days, that he built a city that was called the City of Holiness, even Zion.
In the “last days” we know the world will see lots of war and physical natural disasters. In the Book of Mormon’s time right before Christ came to see them, that was the case too, but there was no city of refugee. No Zion. (Zion came later — after destruction.) But in Enoch’s time, and as D&C 45 projects the “last days,” the major destruction will occur around and outside of a city of safety and peace. There will come a day when anyone who doesn’t care to fight for their stuff and their rights will have to flee to Zion. There will come a day when the rest of the world will persist in war but Zion will be immune. In Enoch’s day, his city was on the earth for a few hundred years and then taken into heaven. At that point he had gathered out all the righteous in his land, so everyone who was left, except one family, was wicked. Noah was the descendant of Enoch, and his parents and grandparents were not taken up to heaven in Enoch’s city. By the time Noah is building a boat and preaching, there is no one righteous left. Thus, God had command Noah to build a boat, and flood the rest of the land and start over. When we hear about the earth being cleansed by fire at the end of the world, I think the process must be similar. There will be a long, final gathering into a Zion, the rest of the world will fight and fight and fight, and when it is clear that we have gathered all who want to be gathered, then God could allow the earth to be “renewed and receive its paradisaical glory.” And even those not in the city, even those destroyed, even those who chose not to join Zion, even those would only be across the veil, in the world of spirits, being taught to repent and enter into God’s rest there. What an interesting work this is…
God created you; you’re in His debt
God gives you breath and agency, so everything you do is because of Him; you’re in his debt
All he wants is for you to serve Him, and if you do He keeps taking care of you; you’re still in His debt
Also you’re “unprofitable servants”; you’ll never make God a profit over what He expends on you
It’s impossible to pay the debt back.
He doesn’t create you and lend you breath because of what you’ll do for Him, but because He loves you!
He’s not asking for you to pay Him back, or to worry about messing things up and being unprofitable or “not good enough.”
What does God want?
Bless others. And not because it will release us from debt, or prove we’re “good enough.” It can’t, it won’t!
Rather than paying God, pay it forward!
Share the love that God gives to you with others:
“Don’t injure one another, live peaceably.
Don’t let your children go hungry, or naked;
Don’t let them transgress the laws of God, or even fight and quarrel one with another, .
Also, take care care of those that stand in need
Don’t have the beggar petition you in vain, and turn him out to perish.”
And in doing in that we become more than God’s servants, we become the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters.
Or as is said elsewhere in scripture, we are not just servants, we are God’s friends.