Defending the Faith
The Lord needs a people willing and able to humbly yet firmly defend Christ and the kingdom of God.
War in Heaven
In the premortal existence we possessed agency, reasoning powers, and intelligence. There we were “called and prepared … according to the foreknowledge of God” and were initially “on the same standing” with our brothers and sisters (Alma 13:3, 5). Opportunities for growth and learning were widely available.
However, equal access to the teachings of a loving heavenly home did not produce a uniform desire among us—Heavenly Father’s spirit children—to listen, learn, and obey. Exercising our agency, as we do today, we listened with varying degrees of interest and intent. Some of us eagerly sought to learn and obey. With war in heaven on the horizon, we prepared for graduation from our premortal home. Truth was taught and challenged; testimonies were borne and ridiculed, with each premortal spirit making the choice to either defend or defect from the Father’s plan.
Ultimately, retreating indecisively to neutral ground was not an option in this conflict. Nor is it today. Those of us armed with faith in the future Atonement of Jesus Christ, those energized by testimonies of His divine role, those possessing spiritual knowledge and the courage to use it in defense of His sacred name fought on the front lines of this war of words. John taught that those valiant spirits, and others, have overcome Lucifer “by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11; emphasis added).
Yes, the promise of a Savior and of a bloodstained Gethsemane and Calvary won the premortal war. But our premortal courage and testimony, our willingness to explain, reason with, and persuade other spirits also helped stem the tide of falsehoods from spreading unopposed!
Having successfully completed a premortal tour of duty in His defense, we became witnesses of His holy name. Indeed, having proven us in battle and being thus assured of our hearts and courage, the Lord later said of us—members of the house of Israel—“Ye are my witnesses” (Isaiah 43:10). Let us ask ourselves: Is this declaration still true of us today?
Our Current Battle
A conflict for the minds, hearts, and souls of our Father’s children still rages today in anticipation of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. While many in the world are sincerely curious about the teachings of the Church, an ever-widening gulf between the wicked and the righteous separates a world in moral free fall from restored gospel truths.
“We live in a time when we are surrounded by much that is intended to entice us into paths which may lead to our destruction. To avoid such paths requires determination and courage.”
“As we go about living from day to day, it is almost inevitable that our faith will be challenged. … Do we have the moral courage to stand firm for our beliefs, even if by so doing we must stand alone?”1 ~Thomas S. Monson
Are we both willing and able to engage in polite discussion with those who have honest questions?
“Even as we seek to be meek … , we must not compromise or dilute our commitment to the truths we understand.”3~Dallin H. Oaks
How many of us are proactive, valiant defenders of the faith?
He needs a people “ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh … a reason of the hope that is in [them]” (1 Peter 3:15).
You may ask, “Can someone as weak as I am be a valiant defender of Christ and His restored gospel?” Your perceived weakness can be made strong as you accept that all the Lord initially requires is “[your] heart and a willing mind” (D&C 64:34). Endowed with a courageous spirit, the “small and simple” of the world are His favorite recruits. Remember that by “very small means,” He delights to “confound the wise” (see Alma 37:6, 7). If you are willing to share and defend the restored gospel and its leaders and doctrines, you may consider the following suggestions.
- Know whom and what to defend.
A solid defensive strategy is the foundation for a solid offense. While you can’t effectively defend that which you know nothing or little about, you won’t defend it if you don’t deeply care. Just as a hireling, who is paid to care for the sheep, will retreat or flee at the first sign of trouble, so you will not hold your defensive lines very long unless you have a spiritual conviction that your cause is just and true.
Those who know and live the gospel are filled with both understanding and a burning conviction kindled from worthiness and personal experience.
- Evaluate your fortifications.
Honestly evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your gospel understanding. Are you setting a good example by living a Christlike life?
Could it be that diligent study will help you gain the confidence and courage you seek?5
- Strengthen your fortifications.
Prayerfully read the scriptures, again and again.
“When scriptures are used as the Lord has caused them to be recorded, they have intrinsic power that is not communicated when paraphrased.”6 ~Richard G. Scott
As you become increasingly prepared, you will “wax stronger and stronger” in your confidence as a witness of Christ (see Helaman 3:35). Start with brief and simple answers. They will be adequate in most situations. But you can also strengthen your defenses even more by studying related scriptures and connecting various doctrines.
- Seek opportunities.
Remember, “discouragement is not the absence of adequacy but the absence of courage.”7
Stand as a Proactive Witness
As you continue defending the gospel of Jesus Christ, “faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify [you] for the work” (D&C 4:5). As a wicked world continues violating the moral and doctrinal standards of God, Christ depends on even the least of us to be living witnesses of His name.
Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) reminded us that
“it is not enough just to be good. You must be good for something. You must contribute good to the world. The world must be a better place for your presence. … In this world so filled with problems, so constantly threatened by dark and evil challenges, you can and must rise above mediocrity, above indifference. You can become involved and speak with a strong voice for that which is right.”8
May your gospel living and your defense of that same gospel be a reflection of the depth of your conversion to Jesus Christ.