Commitment to the Gospel
James D. Gordon III
Ricks College Devotional
April 17, 2001
Thank you for that gracious introduction. I am happy to be here with you today.
I remember when I was a student in college. Like some of you, I had trouble deciding what my major should be. First I thought about majoring in economics. That way, if I couldn't get a job after I graduated, at least I would understand why.
Then I thought I might major in physical education. I went down to the gym to lift weights, but the laughter made it difficult to concentrate.
I sampled some classes, but I didn't always do very well. Once I took a geography test that asked, "What is the capital of Wyoming?" I wrote, "The capital of Wyoming is W."
I also took a photography class. I just about went crazy trying to take a close-up of the horizon. The teacher in that class gave me an F-minus. He said that giving me an F would be unfair to the people who failed normally.
I studied chemistry, but I thought that there were only four elements on the periodic table: earth, air, fire, and water. I thought that fire has three electrons in the outer shell.
I thought about studying a foreign language. Then I thought, if we were intended to learn a foreign language, then how come the Bible was written in English?
Finally I majored in political science and then went to law school. I love lawyer jokes. For example, people say that's how copper wire was invented: two lawyers fighting over a penny.
A recent study reported that if the number of lawyers in the United States continues to grow at the present rate, by the year 2020 there will be more lawyers than people.
It's true that some lawyers are dishonest, arrogant, greedy, venal, amoral, ruthless buckets of toxic slime. On the other hand, I think it's unfair to judge the entire profession by five or six hundred thousand bad apples.
Leonard Arrington's book, Great Basin Kingdom, (2) tells a story about Orderville, Utah, where in the 1870s the Saints lived the law of consecration. It was not easy to live in Orderville. The town was founded in an atmosphere of poverty. By contrast, not far away, at Silver Reef, the coming of the railroad permitted the development of the silver mines. People in surrounding towns suddenly were able to buy imported clothing and other commodities. The Orderville Saints came to be viewed as "old fashioned." Their floppy straw hats and gray jeans became objects of ridicule. Orderville teenagers began to envy their peers in neighboring towns.
One of those teenagers was the father of my wife's great aunt. He was growing quickly, as teenagers do, and his pants became too short. But there were no holes in them, and so his application for a new pair was denied. However, there was a large crop of lambs that spring. When the lambs' tails were docked, he sheared the wool off the tails. When he took a load of wool to Nephi, he quietly traded the lamb's tail wool for a brand new pair of store-bought gentile pants. When he returned, he wore the new pants to the next dance. "His entrance caused a sensation." (3) According to the story, one young woman rushed up to him and kissed him. The president of the Order asked for an explanation, and the young man told the truth. The president said, "According to your own story these pants belong to the Order. You are requested to appear before the Board of Management tomorrow evening at half-past eight, and to bring the store pants with you." (4)
At the meeting, the Board commended the young man for his enterprise, but reminded him that all pants must be made from the same cloth. But to prove its good will, the Board agreed to unseam the store pants and use them as a pattern for all pants made in the future. They told the young man that he would receive the first pair.
The tailoring department was soon overwhelmed with orders for the new pants. It was noticed that the boys' old pants were getting thin, and even holes developed, on the seat of the pants. This was a puzzle. The boys were frequently on their knees when praying or weeding the garden, but they didn't spend much time sitting down. Why were these holes developing? Then the elders saw groups of boys going to the shed where the grindstone was located. They investigated. The boys were wearing out the seat of their pants on the grindstone. The elders protested and then gave in. They sent a load of wool to Washington Mills to trade for cloth, and the tailor shop became a busy place. Thus ended the great pants rebellion of Orderville.
A quick look at our clothes here today reveals that we don't live in Orderville. However, we are expected to consecrate our time, abilities, and material possessions to build up the Kingdom of God. We are expected to be fully committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We recognize that none of us is perfect, and that all of us "come short of the glory of God." Rom. 3:23. However, we should strive to do our best. How can we do that? I would like to discuss four principles that help us to be more fully committed to the gospel. They are: faith, courage, putting the gospel first, and having an eternal perspective.
The first principle of commitment is faith. The Lectures on Faith teach that faith is "the first principle in revealed religion, and the foundation of all righteousness." (5) They explain, "Faith . . . is the first great governing principle which has power, dominion, and authority over all things; by it they exist, by it they are upheld, by it they are changed, or by it they remain, agreeable to the will of God." (6) Joseph Smith said, "By faith the worlds were made." (7) Jesus said, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." Matt. 17:20.
Sometimes we feel overwhelmed, or that the tasks before us are impossible. It is helpful at those times to remember the story of Peter walking on the water. It is found in Matthew 14:25-32:
And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.
Sometimes we feel the wind boisterous, and we are afraid, and we feel that we are sinking. Like Peter, we cry unto the Lord, and Jesus stretches forth his hand, and catches us, and the wind ceases. And then we feel like the disciples in the ship (verse 33): "Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God." Matt. 14:33.
We need to exercise our faith. Just as the Lord was there for Peter, he is there for us, too. If we trust in him, we can, figuratively speaking, walk on the water. We cannot do it by ourselves. We must have faith in him to overcome our fears and feelings of inadequacy. But with his help, we can work miracles.
In D&C 88:64, the Lord said, "Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you; . . . ." Of course, we do not receive everything that we ask for. Before we can receive something, it must also be the Lord's will. The Apostle Paul prayed three times that the thorn in his flesh would be removed. 2 Cor. 12:7-8. The Lord answered Paul's prayer but did not grant the request. The Lord said, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. . . ." 2 Cor. 12:9. The thorn in Paul's flesh was actually a blessing. Paul wrote that it kept him humble, from being "exalted above measure." 2 Cor. 12:7. Although the Lord declined to grant Paul's request, the Lord blessed him greatly. He made Paul into a great missionary and preserved his life until his work was complete.
President Spencer W. Kimball taught,
[J]ust as undaunted faith has stopped the mouths of lions, made ineffective fiery flames, opened dry corridors through rivers and seas, protected against deluge and drouth, and brought heavenly manifestations at the instance of prophets, so in each of our lives faith can heal the sick, bring comfort to those who mourn, strengthen resolve against temptation, relieve from the bondage of harmful habits, lend the strength to repent and change our lives, and lead to a sure knowledge of the divinity of Jesus Christ. Indomitable faith can help us live the commandments with a willing heart and thereby bring blessings unnumbered, with peace, perfection, and exaltation in the kingdom of God. (8)
The second principle of commitment is courage. For most of us, it is hard to have courage. We fear that things will go wrong, and we worry. In the movie The Music Man, Professor Harold Hill said, "A coward dies a thousand deaths; a brave man, only five hundred."
Elder Sterling W. Sill told a story that demonstrated courage. "During the first world war, the captain of a gunboat gave the order for his ship to go to the rescue of a stricken comrade. The mate pointed out the hazards to the captain. Their return would surely be cut off, leaving little chance for them to get back to port. The captain replied, `We have to go out; we don't have to come back.'" (9) Similarly, Nephi said, "I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded . . . ." 1 Ne. 3:7. The hymn that we sing reflects courage as well as submission to the Lord's will: "I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord." Hymns, no. 270.
A powerful example of courage is the story of Drusilla and James Hendricks. The story is found in the Henry Hendricks Genealogy by Marguerite H. Allen. (10) Drusilla and James joined the Church in the 1830s, and in 1836 they moved to Missouri. Drusilla wrote,
"We never missed a meeting, for we loved the Saints and had confidence in them. We read considerable, mainly from the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants; had our children baptized when eight years old, and, in fact, could hardly keep them waiting until they were old enough.
. . . [O]n March 23, 1838, our fifth child was born, and we called his name Joseph Smith Hendricks." (11)
Then the trouble with the mobs began. Drusilla wrote,
"My husband had to stand guard for three months, as the mob would gather on the outside settlements. The brethren had to be ready and on hand at the sounding of a brass drum. At three taps on the drum my husband would be on his horse in a moment, be it night or day, while I and my children were left to weep, for that is what we did at such times.
I was willing for him to go as I always was until he fell in defense of the kingdom of God." (12)
On the night of October 24, 1838, the family had prayer and went to bed. Then Brother Charles C. Rich called at the door. He told James that they had word that the mob was on Crooked River ten miles away. He said that they held two brethren as prisoners and were doing all the damage that they could. Drusilla wrote,
"I got his overcoat and put his pistols in the pockets, then got his sword and belted it on him. He bid me goodnight and got on his horse, and I took his gun from the rack and handed it to him and said, `Don't get shot in the back.' I had got used to his going, so went to bed and went to sleep." (13)
About the time that James was shot, Drusilla awoke suddenly. She awoke the children and watched the road. Finally she saw Brother Emmet coming through the timber. He did not stop at his house but yelled something about Brother Hendricks. Drusilla wrote,
"The [Emmet] children soon came over and told me that their father said that Brother Hendricks was shot. Then I went to the field to give vent to my feelings . . . . I went back to the house and found the children all crying" (14)
Shortly thereafter Mr. Snider came to the house. He wiped his eyes, and Drusilla knew that he was crying. He said, "`Mr. Hendricks wishes you to come to him.'" (15)
"We had four miles to ride, and on reaching there we met nine of the brethren that were wounded and they were pale as death. They were just going to get into the wagon to be taken to their homes. I went into the house. Sister [Ann] Patten had just reached the bed where her husband [David Patten] lay, and I heard him say, "Ann, don't weep. I have kept the faith and my work is done." My husband lay within three feet of Brother Patten, and I spoke to him. He could speak but could not move any more than if he were dead. I tried to get him to move his feet but he could not. This was Thursday, October 25, 1838, and the next Tuesday was the battle of Haun's Mill, where men and boys were slaughtered . . . .
. . . My husband was shot in the neck where it cut off all feeling to the body. It is of no use for me to try and tell how I felt, for that is impossible, but I could not have shed a tear if all had been dead before me. I went to work to try and get my husband warm but could not. I rubbed and steamed him but could get no circulation. He was dead from his neck down.
. . . .We were compelled to stay at Far West until after the surrender, when we went home. The mob had robbed the house of bedding and, in fact, everything but my beds. My husband could not yet move hand or foot. Then we had to settle our business matters and fix to get out of the state. I went to work and sold what I could and gave our land for money to buy two yoke of cattle. Finally we had to leave everything, only what we could put into a little wagon.
We started March 17, 1839, for Quincy, Illinois. . . .
We soon got into a room, partly underground and partly on top of the ground. The room was very close, and he took sick and I had to lift him at least fifty times a day, and in doing so I had to strain every nerve.
We had the cattle which had hauled us here but could not sell them, but could hire them out for a small sum to break prairie, so we hired them. We had one small heifer that the mob did not take that gave us a little milk for twice a day, but in less than two weeks there came a drove of cattle from Missouri and they drove her off with them, so we were like Job of old . . . .
In two weeks we neither had bread or meat so we sent our oldest son, William, three miles out on the prairie to the man who had hired our cattle. We had one spoonful of sugar and one saucer full of cornmeal so I made mush of the meal and put the sugar on it and gave it to my children. That was the last of the vegetables of any kind we had in the house or on the earth. We were in a strange land among strangers. The conflict began in my mind: `Your folks told you your husband would be killed, and are you not sorry you did not listen to them?' I said, No I am not. I did what was right. If I die I am glad I was baptized for the remission of my sins, for I have an answer of a good conscience. But after that a third person spoke. It was a still small voice this time saying, `Hold on, for the Lord will provide.' I said I would, for I would trust in Him and not grumble.'" (16)
Even though the circumstances were dark, Drusilla Hendricks put her faith in the Lord. The Holy Ghost comforted her: "Hold on, for the Lord will provide." I love her courageous answer: "I said I would, for I would trust in Him and not grumble." And the Lord did provide. Drusilla and her family successfully made the trip to the Salt Lake Valley, where they lived long and productive lives. (17)
Faith and courage overcome fear. Paul wrote to Timothy, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord . . . ." 2 Tim. 1:7-8 To the Romans, Paul wrote, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation . . . ." Romans 1:16. When Joseph Smith was in Liberty Jail, the Lord said, "[F]ear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever." D&C 122:9. And so he will be with us.
PUTTING THE GOSPEL FIRST
The third principle of commitment is putting the gospel first in our lives. Jesus said, "[T]hou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength . . . ." Mark 12:30. It has been said that if we do not put the gospel first in our lives, then at the final judgment it won't matter what it was that we put in its place. Sometimes we want it both ways. Just like the young people in Orderville, we want the blessings that come from consecrating everything we have to the Lord, but we also want to hold things back. We want to worship at the world's altar just a little longer. We want to live the gospel and receive the blessings that it offers, but we also want to wear the pants of the gentiles.
Some people are preoccupied with acquiring material possessions. In the parable of the sower, Jesus spoke about the person who received the seed "among the thorns." Matt. 13:22. The person heard the gospel, but "the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful." Id. Elder Featherstone has said that some people believe that although money can't buy happiness, it at least affords us the particular kind of misery that we most enjoy.
Let me tell you about an experience that I had. When I was in law practice, my law firm had a car leasing program in which each person received a very generous allowance for leasing a car. If you chose not to lease an expensive car, you simply forfeited part of the car allowance. So I went out and leased a beautiful sports car.
The car was the nicest toy I ever owned. It was superbly engineered, and it drove like a dream. When the turbo kicked in, the car would flatten your ears back against the headrest. A voice would tell you when the door was open or the fuel level was low. It would say something like, "Left door is ajar, Excellency." The volume control on the stereo went from 1 to 10, and above 10 it had another setting that said: "Liquify Cerebral Cortex." The night I brought the car home, I sat in it until two a.m., trying out all the buttons and gadgets. My wife Nadine refused to drive the car; it was too ostentatious.
One year later I left law practice and went to law school to teach. I gave up the sports car and bought a 14-year-old sedan. It did not have a turbo-charger; instead, it had a wimpo-charger. There was a picture of my car in the dictionary, next to the definition of "breach of warranty." But I have to give credit where credit is due. My car was voted the car of the year--by the American Association of Tow Truck Drivers.
What surprised me is that I did not miss the sports car at all. Oh sure, the car was fun for a few months. However, after the newness wore off, it was simply transportation. We've all had the experience of wanting a certain material thing. We looked forward to getting it, and it was exciting at first. After a while, however, the thrill wore off, and we began looking forward to acquiring some other material thing, something that was really going to satisfy us. To borrow an image from C.S. Lewis, wealth is like an onion; when you peel off one layer, you simply discover another layer underneath. This process continues until you realize that at the center of the onion there is nothing at all. I learned for myself that wealth does not satisfy; it does not bring joy. Living the gospel brings joy. Feeling the Spirit brings joy. Loving and serving others bring joy.
President J. Reuben Clark, a former member of the First Presidency, said,
I come to see that the things which men give in the way of honor and respect and office and position are really of little worth. They are not worth what sometimes we feel we have to give in order to obtain them. I come to know that worldly goods are of no consequence whatever, save I have enough to eat, and to drink and reasonably to wear, and that to attempt to leave wealth to my children will not only be a futile effort but that it may prove a curse.
I do not mean by this that we should cease to exert our efforts to become influential for good in our communities. I do not mean that we should forget that we are living here and have our lives to live. I do not forget that a reasonable provision for those who come after us is a wise thing. I am only saying that none of these things is worth the sacrifice of a principle. They are not worth the sacrifice of our integrity, of our honor, of our righteous living. (18)
We should use our means to bless others. The prophet Jacob taught,
But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God.
And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted. (Jacob 2:18-19)
President Packer has told the story of Joseph Millett, a pioneer who shared his resources with others. Joseph Millett had a large family, and he was going though hard times. He wrote in his journal,
"One of my children came in and said that Brother Newton Hall's folks was out of bread, had none that day.
I divided our flour in a sack to send up to Brother Hall. Just then Brother Hall came.
Says I, `Brother Hall, are you out of flour?'
`Brother Millett, we have none.'
`Well, Brother Hall, there is some in that sack. I have divided and was going to send it to you. Your children told mine that you was out.'
Brother Hall began to cry. He said he had tried others, but could not get any. He went to the cedars and prayed to the Lord, and the Lord told him to go to Joseph Millett.
`Well Brother Hall, you needn't bring this back. If the Lord sent you for it you don't owe me for it.'"
That night Joseph Millett wrote in his journal, "`You can't tell me how good it made me feel to know that the Lord knew there was such a person as Joseph Millett.'" (19) The Lord does know us, and he knows our hearts. He expects us to share our resources with those in need.
President Hinckley told a more recent story of sacrifice and unselfishness:
Some time back a small, bent, elderly woman came to my office. For the purpose of this talk I shall call her Mary Olsen, although that is not her name and she would not wish her identity disclosed. She said she had just come over from the temple. She took from her purse her checkbook. She said that she had been a widow for many years, that life had not been easy for her. She had a great love for the Lord and his Church. She had faithfully paid her tithing all her life. She felt she would not live much longer. Now, she said, she felt she ought to be doing more to help than she had done. In a hand shaky with age, she wrote a check for $5,000. She handed it to me. I noted the address where she lived. It was in a poor neighborhood. I confess that as I looked at that check tears came into my eyes. I have held many larger checks than that in my hands. But as I held the check of this widow woman, I was almost overcome by her faith and the seriousness of the trust that was mine in the expenditure of her consecrated contribution. (20)
How do we keep our priorities straight and not set our hearts on the things of the world? It is important to pray and to read the scriptures every day. Reading the scriptures helps us to feel the Holy Ghost. It reminds us of the Lord's commandments, the covenants that we have made to keep them, and the blessings of the gospel. President Marion G. Romney, a former member of the First Presidency, told this story:
A few years ago as I began to practice law, members of my family were a little uneasy. They were afraid I would lose my faith. I wanted to practice law, but I had an even greater desire to keep my testimony, and so I decided upon a little procedure which I recommend to you. For thirty minutes each morning before I began the day's work I read from the Book of Mormon--I also read from all the other standard works of the Church, but I am talking now about the Book of Mormon--and in just a few minutes a day I read the Book of Mormon through, every year, for nine years. I know that it kept me in harmony, so far as I did keep in harmony, with the Spirit of the Lord. (21)
We also need to keep our minds focused on the gospel. We should try to control our thoughts. We should make sure that the videos we watch, the music we listen to, and the posters on our walls are in harmony with the gospel. The Lord said,
Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter and unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever. (D & C 121:45-46)
Praying, reading the scriptures, and keeping our minds focused on the gospel help us to put the gospel first in our lives. The Lord has commanded, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Ex. 20:3. President Ezra Taft Benson said, "We must put God in the forefront of everything else in our lives. . . . When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives." (22) In Doctrine and Covenants 88:67, the Lord said, "And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things."
HAVING AN ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE
The fourth principle of commitment is having an eternal perspective. The Plan of Salvation was presented to us when we lived with our Heavenly Father in the premortal existence. The Proclamation on the Family says,
In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshiped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize his or her divine destiny as an heir of eternal life. (23)
When the foundations of the earth were laid, "the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy." Job 38:7. We rejoiced over the Plan of Salvation and the opportunity to come to earth.
Brigham Young said,
We talk about our trials and troubles here in this life: but suppose that you could see yourselves thousands and millions of years after you have proved faithful to your religion during the few short years in this time, and have obtained eternal salvation and a crown of glory in the presence of God; then look back upon your lives here, and see the losses, crosses, and disappointments, the sorrows . . ., you would be constrained to exclaim, "But what of all that? Those things were but for a moment, and we are now here. We have been faithful during a few moments in our mortality, and now we enjoy eternal life and glory . . . ." (24)
What are the blessings that come from committing ourselves to the gospel? The most important blessing is Eternal life, the kind of life that God lives. We give everything we have to our Heavenly Father, and in return he gives everything he has to us. In the Doctrine and Covenants 84:38, the Lord said, "And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father's kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him."
What makes this possible is the atonement. We say that we are "redeemed." The word "redeem" comes from a Latin word meaning "to buy back." For example, when a mortgage has gone into default, we redeem (or buy back) the property to save it from loss. Through the atonement, the Savior has bought us back and saved us from loss. We belong to him. This means that it is our obligation to do as he asks and to keep his commandments. We commit ourselves to him because he has first committed himself to us. We try to submit ourselves to his will. Job suffered devastating trials and losses. But his commitment to the Lord was unchanged. Job said, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him . . . . He also shall be my salvation . . . ." (Job 13:15-16).
Elder Maxwell has said,
[T]he submission of one's will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God's altar. The many other things we "give," brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God's will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!
Consecration thus constitutes the only unconditional surrender which is also a total victory! (25)
We need to pace ourselves. King Benjamin counseled, "See that all things are done in wisdom and order, for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength." Mosiah 4:27. We can't do everything at once, but most of us can do more to fulfill our missions here on earth. As it says in the play, Shenandoah, "If we don't try we don't do, and if we don't do, what are we on this earth for?" (26) The Lord blesses us as we strive to serve him. With his help, we can succeed far beyond our natural abilities. As Nephi said, "If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them." 1 Ne. 17:50.
By doing as the Lord asks, we receive Eternal life. In addition, in this life we become better, stronger, and happier people. We feel more joy in our lives. We are not here on earth to satisfy our pride or our greed. We are not here to wear the pants of the gentiles. We are here to serve God and to prepare ourselves and those around us for Eternal life.
President Faust has said,
If we believe and are faithful, we are promised all that the Father has. If we receive all that the Father has, there is nothing more for us to receive in this life or the life to come. We should remember that in our challenges and struggles against the powers of evil and darkness, "they that be with us are more than they are be with them." (2 Kings 6:16.) We belong to the greatest cause on earth. We are the pioneers of the future. Let us go forth like the armies of Helaman and build the kingdom of God. Like the royal army let us be "united, bold, and strong, . . . marching forth to conquer on life's great battlefield." (See Hymns, no. 251.) All of these hopes, blessings, and opportunities will come to us if we will only believe, and be not afraid. (27)
President Hinckley has said,In this work there must be commitment. There must be devotion. We are engaged in a great eternal struggle that concerns the very souls of the sons and daughters of God. We are not losing. We are winning. We will continue to win if we will be faithful and true. We can do it. We must do it. We will do it. There is nothing the Lord has asked of us that in faith we cannot accomplish. (28)
I have a testimony of the gospel. I testify that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world. This is his Church and his work. Through faith, courage, putting the gospel first, and having an eternal perspective, we can increase our commitment to the gospel and become better disciples of our Savior. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
1. Professor of Law, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University. Apologies and thanks to Vern Baugh, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, John Tanner, Steven Wright, and others.
2. Leonard J. Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom 335-36 (1958) (quoting Mark A. Pendleton, The Orderville United Order of Zion, VII Utah Historical Quarterly 153-54 (1939).
3. Id. at 336.
5. Lectures on Faith 7 (N.B. Lundwall, ed.).
6. Id. at 10.
7. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith 270 (Joseph Fielding Smith, ed. 1972).
8. Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle 12 (1975).
9. Sterling W. Sill, Leadership 118-19 (1958).
10. Kenneth W. Godfrey, Audrey M. Godfrey, & Jill Mulvay Derr, Women's Voices: An Untold History of the Latter-day Saints, 1830-1900 84-96 (1982) (quoting Marguerite H. Allen, Henry Hendricks Genealogy (1963)).
11. Id. at 88-89.
12. Id. at 89.
13. Id. at 90.
14. Id. at 91.
16. Id. at 91-96.
17. Id. at 85.
18. Conference Report, Oct. 1948, at 77-78.
19. Boyd K. Packer, A Tribute to the Rank and File of the Church, Ensign, May 1980, at 63, 63 (quoting Diary of Joseph Millett, holograph, Archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City).
20. ' -
21. Conference Report, Apr. 1949, at 35, 36.
22. Ezra Taft Benson, The Great Commandment--Love the Lord, Ensign,
May 1988 at 4, 4.
24. Brigham Young et al., 7 Journal of Discourses 275 (1860).
25. Neal A. Maxwell, Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father, Ensign, Nov. 1995, at 22, 24.
26. Richard Evans' Quote Book 46 (Richard L. Evans, ed., 1971).
27. James E. Faust, Pioneers of the Future: "Be Not Afraid, Only Believe," Ensign, Nov. 1997, at 42, 45.