Judeo-Christian Scriptures: Keys to Understanding the Book of Revelation, Part3—Lamb of Atonement

Judeo-Christian Scriptures:

Keys to Understanding the Book of Revelation, Part3—Lamb of Atonement

Revelation 7: Jesus as the “Redemptive Lamb”

Christ lamb of atonementIn Revelation 7, the scene shifts to a group of 144,000 (12,000 from each tribe of Israel) who are “sealed” in their foreheads. In conjunction with this scene, John also sees a crowd of people, so many that “no man could number” them (verse 9). This group, clothed in white, stands before the Lamb and collectively praises the Lamb. John is then told that these people represent those “which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (verse 14). Here in Revelation 7 John learns that the blood of the Lamb plays a further important function—namely, to cleanse the innumerable host who stand before the Lamb.

John’s vision again presents its readers with a riddle. When blood touches clothing, the blood typically stains it. An article of clothing that is “washed” in blood should turn red. But, in this case, the blood of the Lamb turns a stained article of clothing white, signifying the redemptive power of the Lamb. This serves as an inspiring and hopeful symbol of Jesus’s Atonement; He is able to take those who repent and transform them into something that they never could be on their own.

Judeo-Christian Scriptures: Keys to Understanding the Book of Revelation, part 2

Judeo-Christian Scriptures:

Keys to Understanding the Book of Revelation,

part 2

Revelation 5: Jesus as the “Conquering Lamb”

lion and lamb-Revelation 5One of the most vivid of these unveilings comes in Revelation 5. Here John stands before the throne of God. The Father, sitting on the throne, holds a sealed book (really a scroll) in His right hand, and a “strong angel” asks the question, “Who is worthy to open the book?”—that is, break the seals (verse 2). John weeps as he beholds that no person is found worthy to open and read the book (see verse 4).

John is informed by one of the elders that “the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof” (verse 5). Yet when John finally sees this “Lion,” it is no lion at all. Rather, what John sees is a “Lamb as it had been slain,” who approaches the throne and takes the book from the Father.

Those gathered round the throne begin to sing praises to the Lamb:

“Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;

“And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (verses 9–10).

Some see in this episode Jesus accepting the divine role of Savior in a premortal setting, while others understand it as Jesus returning to the presence of the Father following His sojourn in mortality.

What fascinates me as a reader of the book of Revelation is the paradox used to represent Jesus as two contrary animals, a lion and a lamb. It is difficult to think of two more different animals to pair together. Lions represent strength and regality, and they had a particular connection with the tribe of Judah (see Genesis 49:9; 1 Kings 10:19–20), from which it was prophesied the Messiah Himself would descend. A lamb, on the other hand, is an animal often associated with docility and meekness, in every way the antithesis of the lion. As if to emphasize the meekness of the Lamb even further, this particular Lamb is slain, or sacrificed, and it is the shedding of the blood of the Lamb that sets in motion the events that John will view next.

Revelation 5, with its images of Jesus as both a “Lion” and a “Lamb,” presents its readers with a riddle of sorts: Can victory be obtained through submission? Can one conquer through meekness? Can life be obtained through death? John’s vision will be, in large part, an attempt to provide answers to these riddles.

Judeo-Christian Scriptures: Keys to Understanding the Book of Revelation

Judeo-Christian Scriptures:

Keys to Understanding the Book of Revelation

The Book of Revelation: A Testament to the Lamb of God

By Nicholas J. Frederick

The key to understanding the book of Revelation is to simply remember why it exists: to testify of the mission, mercy, and majesty of Christ.

When we read about the dragon, the beast, the vials, the trumpets, and so forth, we need to do so within the context of the work and mission of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Christ 2nd comingThe book of Revelation is certainly one of the more daunting books of scripture in our canon. Before they have even finished the opening chapter, readers encounter a blur of cities with strange names, stars and candlesticks, and a mysterious figure variously identified as “the Son of man” (verse 13), “the first and the last” (verse 11), and “Alpha and Omega” (verse 8), out of whose mouth appears “a sharp two-edged sword” (verse 16).

By the time readers cross the finish line of John’s vision 21 chapters later, they will have encountered—among other things—colored horses, a terrifying dragon, beasts from both the land and the sea, and scores of angels blowing trumpets and emptying vials upon the people of the earth.

Readers of the book of Revelation can come away anxious and fearful as they discern between both the literal and figurative depictions of what awaits those who live in the final days prior to the Lord’s Second Coming.

The Key to John’s Revelation: Jesus Christ

Christ and lamb1It is understandably easy to get caught up in the supernatural frenzy that runs through so much of John’s vision. After all, all of these symbols (wings, horns, eyes) and numbers (3½, 6, 7, 12, 144,000) beckon the reader to “crack the code” and decipher mysterious secrets hidden within John’s lengthy vision. However, to read the text of the book of Revelation as a sort of intricate puzzle that must be solved risks going beyond the mark and missing the vision’s central message. After all, Joseph Smith once said that “the book of Revelation is one of the plainest books God ever caused to be written.”1

A simple “key” that readers can use to understand the book of Revelation comes in the first five words of John’s record: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:1). When we read about the dragon, the beast, the vials, the trumpets, and so forth, we need to do so within the context of the work and mission of our Savior, Jesus Christ. All that comes after verse 1 needs to be read through the lens of “What does this tell me about Jesus?” This mind-set actually goes to the heart of what the term revelation in the title means. In the original Greek, the word for “revelation” is apocalypsis, from which we get our word apocalypse. But unlike the modern use of apocalypse to refer to the end of the world, apocalypsis means “to unveil something that is hidden.” What John’s vision serves to do, then, is to “unveil” Jesus Christ—to reveal his true nature, character, and mission.

Thus the book of Revelation is a vision that gradually “unveils” elements of the Savior and His atoning mission through the use of various images and symbols. One of the most important of these is the image of Jesus as a “Lamb,” a symbol that appears near the beginning of John’s vision and is a continual presence (although not always in the foreground) throughout. By the time John reaches the climactic end of his vision, the true nature and character of the Lamb will be revealed.

Judeo-Christian Scriptures: Symbolism in Book of Revelation

Judeo-Christian Scriptures:

 Symbolism in Book of Revelation

By Nicholas J. Frederick

Assistant Professor of Ancient Scripture, Brigham Young University

symbols in revelationSymbolism in the Book of Revelation

The book of Revelation is filled with symbolism that can be difficult to interpret. The following charts can be used as a tool to help you study and understand John’s vision. The information comes from a variety of sources..

Numbers

  • 7: completion; a number often taken to represent God and His divine Creation (Revelation 5:6).
  • 3½: incomplete; half of 7 (Revelation 11:9); sometimes expressed as 1,260 days (3½ years; Revelation 11:3), 42 months (3½ years; Revelation 11:2), or “a time, and times, and half a time” (Revelation 12:14).
  • 4: pertaining to the earth; four corners/four directions (Revelation 7:1).
  • 6: divine counterfeit; a number that is close to 7 but comes up short.
  • 666: likely representing the counterfeit trinity of the dragon and the two beasts—they are a “false godhead”; historically it likely referred to the Roman emperor Nero (Revelation 13:18).
  • 12: pertaining to Israel; twelve tribes of Israel; New Jerusalem measures 12,000 stadia (Revelation 7:5–8).
  • 1,000: a number signifying “a lot” of something (Revelation 5:11).
  • 144,000: (12 x 12 x 1,000), the number of the elect, perhaps signifying that there are a lot of them (Revelation 7:4).

Beings

Other

Judeo-Christian Worldview: Stress Relief Strategies—Attitude of Gratitude

Judeo-Christian Worldview:

Stress Relief Strategies—Attitude of Gratitude

Strategies of Happy People

Part 1—

Strategy 1: Live the Gospel

christThe gospel of Jesus Christ is also referred to as the “plan of happiness”. The scriptures are full of counsel about righteousness being requisite for true .

It’s simple, it’s powerful, and it’s foundational. Fully embracing and living the gospel of Jesus Christ is the most important step you can take in finding greater joy and happiness in this life and the life to come.

Strategy 2: Spend Your Days “Engaged in a Good Cause”

Inheriting a fortune that allowed you to lounge on the beach forever would almost certainly be detrimental to your happiness—even though worldly logic shouts otherwise. The truth is, we need to stay engaged in meaningful work to be happy.

service quiltingMeaningful work creates a satisfaction we can’t get any other way.

“Achieving happiness typically involves a long-sustained effort for something more important in life.10 Ulisses Soares Such meaningful work may extend beyond a sort of job or career. It includes raising kids, serving in the Church, or volunteering your time and talents.

Strategy 3: Choose Gratitude

The power of choosing to live with gratitude is so transformative to everyday thinking that the practice is often referred to as a way to “rewire your brain.”

Let’s be honest—even when life is running smoothly, a piercing eye can still detect something to complain about. The reverse, however, is also true: no matter how hard things become, we can always find something to be thankful for.

And that’s where something beautiful happens.

gratitude journalHere’s a simple but powerful experiment: try keeping a gratitude journal. Every day for at least three weeks, write down three things you’re grateful for that happened that day. In addition, feel free to add a few general things you’re thankful for such as flowers, family, or food.

Soon you’ll find that you not only notice more easily those things you can add to your list, but you actually start expecting to find them. Living with more gratitude helps you better find joy in your current circumstances, which has a significant and direct effect on your happiness.11

Forbes magazine reports, “Cultivating gratitude doesn’t cost any money and it certainly doesn’t take much time, but the benefits are enormous.”12

What are you thankful for today?

Gallery

Judeo-Christian Worldview: Parable Lessons with a Warning for Rising Generations—Do Not Be Deceived

This gallery contains 7 photos.

Judeo-Christian Worldview: Parable Lessons with a Warning for Rising Generations—Do Not Be Deceived Deceive Me Not By Gary E. Stevenson As we obey God’s commandments, we will always be led in the right way and will not be deceived. Today, I … Continue reading

Critical Thinking: Biblical History, Moral Compass, Why the Bible Matters

Critical Thinking:

Biblical History, Moral Compass, Why the Bible Matters

Why the Bible Matters: Defining Right and Wrong

keyThere is a right and wrong to every question—Paying attention to your conscience is what helps you develop good character.

Do what is right; be faithful and fearless.

right-wrongsignOnward, press onward, the goal is in sight.

Eyes that are wet now, ere long will be tearless.

Blessings await you in doing what’s right!

Do what is right; let the consequence follow.

Battle for freedom in spirit and might;

and with stout hearts look ye forth till tomorrow.

God will protect you; then do what is right!

~Anonymous; The Psalms of Life, Boston, 1857

 

See More Defining Moments

 

 Birthright Covenant Series

Birthright Covenant Series-Young Adult Christian Books

Culture War GamesExcerpt from Book 2, coming in October

picnicwyouthIn this excerpt from the historical  Birthright Covenant series , book 2,  college history professor Jacob Nobles uses discovery teaching and ancient ruins at a historic site to lead his students in a discussion of truth, and discerning right from wrong.

      “Okay—” Preston spoke with caution. “I’ll give you that the Bible is actually a history. But why does it matter?

                “That is the million-dollar question …” Jacob smiled. “And you can find the answer here—for free!

                Jacob held up the Bible. “Now, Preston, you have asked why the Bible matters. Would you agree that the Bible is a history of God’s dealings with man?”

creationhands                “I guess you could say that. Apparently, somehow God’s version of the creation was given to Moses, and Moses wrote it down,” Preston commented carefully.

                “It makes sense to take God’s word for it,” Allison remarked with her usual bluntness. “After all, He was there when it happened—a distinction the rest of us cannot claim.”

                Preston shook his head. “Still, none of us were there for the creation process—not even Moses.”

                “That’s true.” Jacob chewed thoughtfully on his ham sandwich and inclined his head. “Hmm. So we have here two explanations for the Creation process—to keep it simple, we’ll call them two different stories. Since we were not present for the event, we’re forced to accept either one story or the other—on faith.”

                Puzzled, Preston tilted his head.

“What is faith, anyway?”

  “Well now, faith is to hope for things which are not seen but which are true,”[1] Josiah Bianco said.

 shepherdboy               Folding his arms across his chest, Preston surveyed the surrounding hills and glimpsed a boy leading a few sheep. “Are you saying that everybody just blindly follows …” He paused. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to offend.”

                “No offense taken.”

                “Don’t worry,” Ben said. “We all have done the same thing.”

                “Really?”

                “Of course. It’s called academic freedom.”

  “Sure. Bring it on!” Allison took a sip out of her can of grape juice. “Only frauds and liars are afraid to answer questions.”

                “Why is Dr. Marlow so afraid of other points of view?” Nola asked.

                “He doesn’t want to lose the debate!” Allison interjected.

“Yes. Debate is an important part of academic freedom, but anyone can win an argument without teaching truth. A friendly discussion with free exchange of ideas is more effective in discovering truth.” Jacob chuckled. “However, when you prefer to control what others say and think, truth can get in your way.

   “Now that we are away from the university, we can actually look at more than one point of view! We will look at two stories of the Creation—one, in the Bible, and the other, Dr. Marlow’s version.”

                “The Bible version seems too simple,” Preston said.

                “Well, what is Dr. Marlow’s version called?” Nola inquired.

                “Dr. Marlow believes in a theory called Natural Selection which, simply put, proposes that everything somehow creates itself by chance,” Jacob replied.

                “That doesn’t make sense.” Nola frowned in disagreement. “The human body—and mind—are complicated. Something can’t be produced by nothing.[2] My experience has shown me that nothing worthwhile happens by chance. Everything takes work, and effort, and planning.

                “Yes, Nola. That’s why some scientists say that the Bible history discloses an intelligent design, a purpose, or an orderly plan.”

                “Aren’t Bible stories for children?” Preston wondered.

                “Men struggle to explain their philosophy. The Bible explains the Creation so a child can understand—so that parents can teach their children through the ages. Who is more intelligent?” Jacob shrugged. “Anyway, the important thing is, who is telling the truth—Man, or God?”

                “Can you just assume there is a God?”

Preston asked.

Jacob laughed. “We can look at some evidence. Where is evidence of chance?”

            No one answered for a moment.

            Josiah Bianco chortled. “Shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not?” he quipped, quoting Isaiah.[1]

[1] Isaiah 29:16

“What about evidence of design?”

                “The ability to think, for one thing,” Allison said, “ …one of many.”

                “As I said, the human body,” Nola added, “and life itself. I know many very intelligent scientists and doctors, but no one can earimageduplicate an eye or an ear.”               

  Preston’s gaze rested momentarily upon Nola’s face—round blue eyes, delicate sculpted features like a work of art. “All right,” he said. “Let’s say God is the intelligent Creator. Couldn’t He have made man out of apes?”

“Of course, He could, but would He? He is a God of order. As Creator of earth and all living things, He set up the rules for justice and science. Why would He violate His own laws?”[3]

         “What do you mean?”

                “Okay, if the Bible is really a history, and if it is true that we humans are created in the image of God, how are we different from animals?”

                “We can reason, while animals use instinct,” Preston said. “You’ve already established that.”

teotihuacanserpent               “Humans can draw, read, and write,” Allison said. “I have yet to see an animal who could carve something like this creature.” She poked her finger into the big teeth of the dragon carving, but withdrew her hand quickly. “Yikes! I don’t think an animal would make something this weird, even if it could!”

Free Will

  Jacob grinned. “True. Also, you chose to come here today, others did not. Ruben left early; the rest of you stayed. What does that mean?”

                “People have the power to choose,” Ben said.

                “Yes, that’s called Free Will. We have no empirical evidence of such a thing, but let’s suppose we have here a creature who is half man and half ape—by whose laws would this creature live—by the laws of man or nature? You’re the law student here, Preston. What do you think?”

   “Uh …”

                “If the creature is half man, would it be fair to make him live like an animal? Or if he is half animal, and cannot reason fully as a man, would it be just to impose upon him the laws of men?”

                “This is really getting confusing!”

   “Yes, Preston, it is confusing. But when He had completed the creation, God blessed human beings and all living things to multiply, each after their own kind.[4] There is nothing confusing about that.”

                A flutter of wings announced the arrival of a dove which lit next to his mate upon a limb of the tall tree.

How Do You Know What Is True and Right?

“The human soul can never die. So you see, it is created, not evolved, because God is not the author of confusion.[5] Therefore, to avoid confusion, would you agree we need some kind of law to bring order and justice to our lives?”

                “Absolutely,” Preston said. “We must have justice.”

 KJV Bible              “Let’s think for a moment about the two kinds of laws—which law provides true justice? Dr. Marlow makes no distinction between humans and animals. His law is simple: those who are strong rule and prevail over everything and everyone else.” Jacob placed his right hand firmly upon the rock and continued. “The law of Nature requires animals to kill other animals for food. In the law of the Bible, on the other hand, God tells us not to kill or eat other people. Why not?”

“It’s wrong!” The students exclaimed indignantly, in vigorous unison.

                “How do you know it’s wrong?”

                Jacob waited.

                “Well,” Preston began slowly. “There simply is no justice in murder and cannibalism. I don’t know why … Somehow I just know that.”

compass liahona   “Men often create laws to try to change God’s commandments,” Jacob continued, “but God’s laws never change. When He created our eternal souls, He planted those unchangeable moral laws in our minds and hearts. It’s called—”

                “Our conscience.” Preston nodded. “Of course! I see that now.”

                “Yes. The Bible contains our true moral compass in writing. And that, Preston, is why the Bible matters.”

More About Birthright Covenant series

[1] Isaiah 29:16

[2] John Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding; Great Books of the Western World, vol.35

[3] These are the eternal, immutable laws of good and evil, to which the Creator Himself in all His dispensations conforms. William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, 1:59-60

[4] Genesis 1:22,24

[5] 1 Corinthians 14:33

Bible Stories: Enoch, Zion, Holy Spirit, and Journey of Faith

Bible Stories:

Dinner Topics for Monday

Enoch, Zion, Holy Spirit, and Journey of Faith

Walk with Me

Behold, my Spirit is upon you. (Moses 6:34)

And it came to pass that Enoch journeyed in the land, among the people; and as he journeyed, the Spirit of God descended out of heaven, and abode upon him.  And he heard a voice from heaven. (Moses 6:26-27)

What is it like to hear a voice from heaven? What is that voice like, and how can we hear it?  Elijah learned that the Lord was not in a great and strong wind, not in an earthquake, not in a fire, but in a still small voice.

So this still small voice said to Enoch, “Enoch, my son, prophesy unto this people, and say unto them—Repent, for thus saith the Lord: I am angry with this people, and my fierce anger is kindled against them; for their hearts have waxed hard, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes cannot see afar off.”(Moses 6:27)

The Lord spoke to Enoch, because Enoch heard Him, and the people did not.  What can cause people’s hearts to wax hard, and their ears to become dull of hearing, and their eyes unable to see?  The Lord is not in the shriek of cell phones, not in the din of TV, not in the fake social media, not in the roar of the crowd, but in a still small voice.

And the Lord told Enoch, “Say unto this people: Choose ye this day, to serve the Lord God who made you. Behold my Spirit is upon you . . . and thou shalt abide in me, and I in you; therefore walk with me.(Moses 6:33-34)

And Enoch walked with God, and built a great city, and it was called Zion.

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.(Moses 7:16)

And all the days of Zion, in the days of Enoch, were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch and all his people walked with God, and he dwelt in the midst of Zion; and it came to pass that Zion was not, for God received it up into his own bosom; and from thence went forth the saying, ZION IS FLED. (Moses 7:68-69)

 

Dinner Talk Topic:

Enoch accepted the invitation to walk with God.  Will we?

 

Copyright © 2010 C.A. Davidson

 

Quotes on Foundation of Faith: Key to Peace

Dinner Topics for Wednesday

Quotes from Christian Leaders on Foundation of Faith:

Prayer and Scripture Study: Key to Peace

 

Boyd K. Packer: Scripture Study—Key to Protection

ScripturePoetryMake scripture reading a part of your regular routine, and the blessings will follow. There is in the scriptures a voice of warning, but there is also great nourishment.

If the language of the scriptures at first seems strange to you, keep reading. Soon you will come to recognize the beauty and power found on those pages.

Paul said, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”5

You can test this promise for yourself.

We live in perilous times; nevertheless, we can find hope and peace for ourselves and for our families. Those living in sorrow, despairing at the possibility of children being rescued from where the world has taken them, must never give up. “Be not afraid, only believe.”6 Righteousness is more powerful than wickedness.

Children taught an understanding of the scriptures early in life will come to know the path they should walk and will be more inclined to remain on that path. Those who stray will have the ability to return and, with help, can find their way back.

If you are set on a course of faith and activity in the Church, stay on course and keep your covenants. Continue forward until the time when the Lord’s blessings will come to you and the Holy Ghost will be revealed as a moving force in your life.

If you are presently on a course that points away from the one outlined in the scriptures, let me assure you there is a way back.

Jesus Christ has prescribed a very clear method for us to repent and find healing in our lives. The cure for most mistakes can be found by seeking forgiveness through personal prayer. However, there are certain spiritual illnesses, particularly those dealing with violations of the moral law, which absolutely require the assistance and treatment of a qualified spiritual physician.

Repentance is individual, and so is forgiveness. The Lord requires only that one turn from their sin, and “[He] will forgive their iniquity, and … remember their sin no more.”10

As the repentance process is completed, you will come to understand the meaning of Isaiah’s promise about the Atonement: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”11

Just as chalk can be removed from a blackboard, with sincere repentance the effects of our transgression can be erased through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. That promise applies in every case.

The gospel teaches us to be happy, to have faith rather than fear, to find hope and overcome despair, to leave darkness and turn toward the light of the everlasting gospel.

Paul and others warned about the trials of our time and the days yet to come. But peace can be settled in the heart of each who turns to the scriptures and unlocks the promises of protection and redemption that are taught therein. We invite all to turn to the Savior Jesus Christ, to His teachings as found in the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.

I bear certain witness of the scriptures as a key to our spiritual protection. I also bear witness of the healing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, “that through him all might be saved”12 who will be saved. The Lord’s Church has been established on the earth once again. Of the truthfulness of the gospel I bear witness. Of Him I am a witness, in the name of Jesus Christ.

Thomas S. Monson: Faith and Prayer Key to Peace—We Never Walk Alone

family6prayingThere will be times when you will walk a path strewn with thorns and marked by struggle. There may be times when you feel detached—even isolated—from the Giver of every good gift. You worry that you walk alone. Fear replaces faith.

When you find yourself in such circumstances, I plead with you to remember prayer. I love the words of President Ezra Taft Benson concerning prayer. Said he:

“All through my life the counsel to depend on prayer has been prized above almost any other advice I have … received. It has become an integral part of me—an anchor, a constant source of strength, and the basis of my knowledge of things divine. …

“… Though reverses come, in prayer we can find reassurance, for God will speak peace to the soul. That peace, that spirit of serenity, is life’s greatest blessing.”2

The Apostle Paul admonished:

“Let your requests be made known unto God.

“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”3

What a glorious promise! Peace is that which we seek, that for which we yearn.

We were not placed on this earth to walk alone. What an amazing source of power, of strength, and of comfort is available to each of us. He who knows us better than we know ourselves, He who sees the larger picture and who knows the end from the beginning, has assured us that He will be there for us to provide help if we but ask. We have the promise: “Pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good.”4

Of course, prayer is not just for times of trouble. We are told repeatedly in the scriptures to “pray always”7 and to keep a prayer in our hearts.8 The words of a favorite and familiar hymn pose a question which we would do well to ask ourselves daily: “Did you think to pray?”9

Allied with prayer in helping us cope in our often difficult world is scripture study. The words of truth and inspiration found in our four standard works are prized possessions to me. I never tire of reading them. I am lifted spiritually whenever I search the scriptures. These holy words of truth and love give guidance to my life and point the way to eternal perfection.

As we read and ponder the scriptures, we will experience the sweet whisperings of the Spirit to our souls. We can find answers to our questions. We learn of the blessings which come through keeping God’s commandments. We gain a sure testimony of our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ, and of Their love for us. When scripture study is combined with our prayers, we can of a certainty know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true.

Said President Gordon B. Hinckley, “May the Lord bless each of us to feast upon his holy [words] and to draw from [them] that strength, that peace, [and] that knowledge ‘which passeth all understanding’ (Philip. 4:7).”10

As we remember prayer and take time to turn to the scriptures, our lives will be infinitely more blessed and our burdens will be made lighter.

As we seek our Heavenly Father through fervent, sincere prayer and earnest, dedicated scripture study, our testimonies will become strong and deeply rooted. We will know of God’s love for us. We will understand that we do not ever walk alone.

Gospel Teachings: Foundation of Faith

Gospel Teachings:

Foundation of Faith

By Quentin L. Cook

My plea is that we will make the sacrifices and have the humility necessary to strengthen the foundations of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

If there is one preeminent objective of general conference, it is to build faith in God the Father and our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

My remarks address the foundations of that faith.

Personal foundations, like many worthwhile pursuits, are usually built slowly—one layer, one experience, one challenge, one setback, and one success at a time. A most cherished physical experience is a baby’s first steps. It is magnificent to behold. The precious look on the face—a combination of determination, joy, surprise, and accomplishment—is truly a seminal event.

In our family, there is one event of a similar nature that stands out. When our youngest son was about four years old, he came into the house and gleefully announced to the family with great pride: “I can do everything now. I can tie, I can ride, and I can zip.” We understood he was telling us that he could tie his shoes, he could ride his Big Wheel tricycle, and he could zip his coat. We all laughed but realized that for him they were monumental achievements. He thought he had truly arrived and was grown up.

Physical, mental, and spiritual development have much in common. Physical development is fairly easy to see. We begin with baby steps and progress day by day, year by year, growing and developing to attain our ultimate physical stature. Development is different for each person.

When we watch a great athletic or musical performance, we often say that the person is very gifted, which is usually true. But the performance is based upon years of preparation and practice. One well-known writer, Malcolm Gladwell, has called this the 10,000-hour rule. Researchers have determined that this amount of practice is necessary in athletics, musical performance, academic proficiency, specialized work skills, medical or legal expertise, and so on. One of these research experts asserts “that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert—in anything.”1

Most people recognize that to obtain peak physical and mental performance, such preparation and practice are essential.

Unfortunately, in an increasingly secular world, less emphasis is placed on the amount of spiritual growth necessary to become more Christlike and establish the foundations that lead to enduring faith. We tend to emphasize moments of sublime spiritual understanding. These are precious instances when we know the Holy Ghost has witnessed special spiritual insights to our hearts and minds. We rejoice in these events; they should not be diminished in any way.

But for enduring faith and to have the constant companionship of the Spirit, there is no substitute for the individual religious observance that is comparable to physical and mental development. We should build on these experiences, which sometimes resemble initial baby steps.

We do this by consecrated commitment to sacred sacrament meetings, scripture study, prayer, and serving as called. In one recent obituary tribute for the father of 13 children, it was reported his “loyalty to daily prayer and scripture study profoundly influenced his children, giving them an immovable foundation of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”2

An experience I had when I was 15 years old was foundational for me. My faithful mother had valiantly tried to help me establish the foundations of faith in my life. I attended sacrament meeting, Primary, then Young Men and seminary. I had read the Book of Mormon and had always prayed individually. At that time a dramatic event occurred in our family when my beloved older brother was considering a potential mission call. My wonderful father, a less-active Church member, wanted him to continue his education and not serve a mission. This became a point of contention.

In a remarkable discussion with my brother, who was five years older and led the discussion, we concluded that his decision on whether to serve a mission depended on three issues: (1) Was Jesus Christ divine? (2) Was the Book of Mormon true? (3) Was Joseph Smith the prophet of the Restoration?

As I prayed sincerely that night, the Spirit confirmed to me the truth of all three questions. I also came to understand that almost every decision I would make for the rest of my life would be based on the answers to those three questions. I particularly realized that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ was essential. In looking back, I recognize that, primarily because of my mother, the foundations were in place for me to receive the spiritual confirmation that evening. My brother, who already had a testimony, made the decision to serve a mission and ultimately won our father’s support.

Spiritual guidance is received when needed, in the Lord’s time and according to His will.3 Just as repetition and consistent effort are required to gain physical or mental capacity, the same is true in spiritual matters.

Faith is a Principle of Power

Faith is a principle of power. Let me illustrate: When I was a young missionary, a great mission president6 introduced me in a profound way to the scriptural account found in Luke 8 of the woman who had an issue of blood for 12 years and had spent everything she had on physicians who could not heal her. It has remained to this day one of my favorite scriptures.

You will remember that she had faith that if she could but touch the border of the Savior’s garment, she would be healed. When she did so, she was healed immediately. The Savior, who was walking along with His disciples, said, “Who touched me?”

Peter’s answer was that all of them, walking together, were pressing against Him.

“And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.”

The root word for virtue could easily be interpreted as “power.” In Spanish and Portuguese, it is translated as “power.” But regardless, the Savior did not see her; He had not focused on her need. But her faith was such that touching the border of the garment drew upon the healing power of the Son of God.

As the Savior said to her, “Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.”7

I have contemplated this account all my adult life. I realize that our personal prayers and supplications to a loving Father in Heaven in the name of Jesus Christ can bring blessings into our lives beyond our ability to comprehend. The foundations of faith, the kind of faith that this woman demonstrated, should be the great desire of our hearts.

However, initial foundations of faith, even with spiritual confirmation, do not mean that we will not face challenges. Conversion to the gospel does not mean all our problems will be solved.

Like the ancient Apostles on the day of Pentecost, many members experienced marvelous spiritual experiences in connection with the dedication of the Kirtland Temple.8 But, as in our own lives, this did not mean they wouldn’t face challenges or hardships going forward. Little did these early members know they would be faced with a United States financial crisis—the panic of 1837—that would test their very souls.9

One example of the challenges related to this financial crisis was experienced by Parley P. Pratt, one of the great leaders of the Restoration. He was an original member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In the early part of 1837, his dear wife, Thankful, died after delivering their first child. Parley and Thankful had been married almost 10 years, and her death devastated him.

A few months later, Elder Pratt found himself in one of the most difficult times the Church has experienced. In the midst of the national crisis, local economic issues—including land speculation and the struggles of a financial institution founded by Joseph Smith and other Church members—created discord and contention in Kirtland. Church leaders did not always make wise temporal decisions in their own lives. Parley suffered significant financial losses and for a time became disaffected with the Prophet Joseph.10 He wrote a stinging criticism to Joseph and spoke in opposition of him from the pulpit. At the same time, Parley said he continued to believe in the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants.11

Elder Pratt had lost his wife, his land, and his home. Parley, without telling Joseph, left for Missouri. On the road there, he unexpectedly met fellow Apostles Thomas B. Marsh and David Patten returning to Kirtland. They felt a great need to have harmony restored to the Quorum and persuaded Parley to return with them. He realized that no one had lost more than Joseph Smith and his family.

Parley sought out the Prophet, wept, and confessed that what he had done was wrong. In the months after his wife, Thankful’s, death, Parley had been “under a dark cloud” and had been overcome by fears and frustrations.12 Joseph, knowing what it was like to struggle against opposition and temptation, “frankly forgave” Parley, praying for him and blessing him.13 Parley and others who remained faithful benefited from the Kirtland challenges. They increased in wisdom and became more noble and virtuous. The experience became part of their foundations of faith.

Adversity should not be viewed as either disfavor from the Lord or a withdrawal of His blessings. Opposition in all things is part of the refiner’s fire to prepare us for an eternal celestial destiny.14 When the Prophet Joseph was in Liberty Jail, the words of the Lord to him described all manner of challenges—including tribulations and false accusations—and conclude:

“If the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.

“The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?”15

The Lord, in this instruction to Joseph Smith, also made it clear that his days were known and would not be numbered less. The Lord concluded, “Fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever.”16

What, then, are the blessings of faith? What does faith accomplish? The list is almost endless:

Our sins can be forgiven because of faith in Christ.17

As many as have faith have communion with the Holy Spirit.18

Salvation comes through faith on Christ’s name.19

We receive strength according to our faith in Christ.20

None enter the Lord’s rest save those who wash their garments in Christ’s blood because of their faith.21

Prayers are answered according to faith.22

Without faith among men, God can do no miracle among them.23

In the end, our faith in Jesus Christ is the essential foundation for our eternal salvation and exaltation. As Helaman taught his sons, “Remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation … , which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”24

My plea is that we will make the sacrifices and have the humility necessary to strengthen the foundations of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.