Easter is about Jesus Christ: The Atonement of Jesus Christ meaning in Simple Words

Judeo-Christian Worldview

Easter is about Jesus Christ:

The Atonement of Jesus Christ meaning in Simple Words

If the parachute is the atonement, what is the ripcord?

The Atonement of Jesus Christ

By Tad R. Callister

The Savior’s Atonement is not only infinite in scope but also individual in reach.

At this season of the year we particularly rejoice and reflect upon the Savior’s Atonement. It is indeed the most supernal, mind-expanding, passionate doctrine this world or universe has ever known. It is what gives hope and purpose to our lives.

What then is the meaning of the Atonement of Jesus Christ?

In one sense, it is a series of divine events that commenced in the Garden of Gethsemane, continued on the cross, and culminated with the Savior’s Resurrection from the tomb. It was motivated by an incomprehensible love for each of us. It required a being who was sinless; who had infinite power over the elements—even death; who possessed a boundless capacity to suffer the consequences of all our sins and ailments; and who, in fact, descended beneath it all.1 This was the mission of Jesus Christ—this was His Atonement.

What then was its purpose?

It was to make it possible for us to return to God’s presence, become more like Him, and have a fulness of joy. This was done by overcoming four obstacles:

  1. Physical death
  2. Spiritual death caused by Adam and by our sins
  3. Our afflictions and infirmities
  4. Our weaknesses and imperfections

But how can the Savior accomplish this without violating the laws of justice?

Suppose for a moment a man contemplating an exhilarating free fall makes a rash decision and spontaneously jumps from a small plane. After doing so, he quickly realizes the foolishness of his actions. He wants to land safely, but there is an obstacle—the law of gravity. He moves his arms with astounding speed, hoping to fly, but to no avail. He positions his body to float or glide to slow the descent, but the law of gravity is unrelenting and unmerciful. He tries to reason with this basic law of nature: “It was a mistake. I will never do it again.” But his pleas fall on deaf ears. The law of gravity knows no compassion; it makes no exceptions.

Fortuitously, though, the man suddenly feels something on his back. His friend in the plane, sensing the moment of foolishness, had placed a parachute there just before the jump. He finds the rip cord and pulls it. Relieved, he floats safely to the ground. We might ask, “Was the law of gravity violated, or did that parachute work within that law to provide a safe landing?”

When we sin, we are like the foolish man who jumped from the plane. No matter what we do on our own, only a crash-landing awaits us. We are subject to the law of justice, which, like the law of gravity, is exacting and unforgiving. We can be saved only because the Savior, through His Atonement, mercifully provides us with a spiritual parachute of sorts. If we have faith in Jesus Christ and repent (meaning we do our part and pull the rip cord), then the protective powers of the Savior are unleashed on our behalf and we can land spiritually unharmed.

This is possible, however, only because the Savior overcame the four obstacles that can prevent our spiritual progress.

  1. Death. He overcame death through His glorious Resurrection. The Apostle Paul taught, “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”2
  2. Sin. The Savior overcame sin and guilt for all those who repent. So deep and expansive is His cleansing power that Isaiah promised, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”3

On occasion, I have met with good Saints who have had trouble forgiving themselves, who have innocently but incorrectly placed limits on the Savior’s redemptive powers. Unwittingly, they have converted an infinite Atonement to a finite one that somehow falls short of their particular sin or weakness. But it is an infinite Atonement because it encompasses and circumscribes every sin and weakness, as well as every abuse or pain caused by others.

Truman G. Madsen made this comforting observation:

“If there are some of you who have been tricked into the conviction that you have gone too far, … that you have had the poison of sin which makes it impossible ever again to be what you could have been—then hear me.

“I bear testimony that you cannot sink farther than the light and sweeping intelligence of Jesus Christ can reach. I bear testimony that as long as there is one spark of the will to repent and to reach, he is there. He did not just descend to your condition; he descended below it, ‘that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth.’ [Doctrine and Covenants 88:6.]”4

One reason it is so essential to understand the Savior’s Atonement and its infinite implications is that with increased understanding comes an increased desire to forgive ourselves and others.

Even though we may believe in Christ’s cleansing powers, the question often arises: “How do I know if I have been forgiven of my sins?” If we feel the Spirit, then that is our witness that we have been forgiven, or that the cleansing process is taking place. President Henry B. Eyring taught, “If you have felt the influence of the Holy Ghost … , you may take it as evidence that the Atonement is working in your life.”

Some have asked, “But if I am forgiven, why do I still feel guilt?” Perhaps in God’s mercy the memory of that guilt is a warning, a spiritual “stop sign” of sorts that, at least for a time, cries out when additional temptations confront us: “Don’t go down that road. You know the pain it can bring.” In this sense, it serves as a protection, not a punishment.

Is it possible, then, to remember our sins and still be free of guilt?

Alma remembered his sins, even years after he repented. But when he cried unto Jesus for mercy, he said, “I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.”6

How could he remember his sins but have no pain or guilt? Because when we repent, we are “born of God.”7 We become, as the scriptures say, “new creatures”8 in Christ. With perfect honesty we can now say, “I am not the man or woman who committed those past sins. I am a new and transformed being.”

  1. Afflictions and Infirmities. Alma prophesied that Christ “shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind.” Why? “That his bowels may be filled with mercy, … that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.”9

How does He accomplish this? Sometimes He removes the affliction, sometimes He strengthens us to endure, and sometimes He gives us an eternal perspective to better understand their temporary nature. After Joseph Smith had languished in Liberty Jail for about two months, he finally cried out, “O God, where art thou?”10 Instead of providing instant relief, God responded, “My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high.”11

Joseph now understood that this bitter experience was but a dot on the eternal spectrum. With this enhanced vision, he wrote the Saints from that same prison cell, “Dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God.”12 Because of the Savior’s Atonement, we can have an eternal perspective that gives meaning to our trials and hope for our relief.

  1. Weaknesses and Imperfections. Because of His Atonement, the Savior has enabling powers, sometimes referred to as grace,13 that can help us overcome our weaknesses and imperfections and thus assist us in our pursuit to become more like Him.

George Q. Cannon taught: “No man ought to say, ‘Oh, I cannot help this; it is my nature.’ He is not justified in it, for the reason that God has promised to … give gifts that will eradicate [our weaknesses]. … If any of us are imperfect, it is our duty to pray for the gift that will make us perfect.”18

In summary, the Savior’s Atonement gives us life for death, “beauty for ashes,”19 healing for hurt, and perfection for weakness. It is heaven’s antidote to the obstacles and struggles of this world.

In the Savior’s final week of mortality, He said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.20 Because the Savior performed His Atonement, there is no external force or event or person—no sin or death or divorce—that can prevent us from achieving exaltation, provided we keep God’s commandments. With that knowledge, we can press forward with good cheer and absolute assurance that God is with us in this heavenly quest.

I bear my witness that the Savior’s Atonement is not only infinite in scope but also individual in reach—that it can not only return us to God’s presence but also enable us to become like Him—the crowning goal of Christ’s Atonement. Of that I bear my grateful and certain witness in the name of Jesus Christ.

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Judeo-Christian Worldview: Teaching Children about Easter with Object Lessons for Kids

Judeo-Christian Worldview:

Teaching Children about Easter with object lessons for Kids

Teach with an Easter Bag

Object lessons are the best, and this one is a great family home evening for the Monday before Easter. Start with the song “He Sent His Son.” Put the following items in a bag: (1) three coins, (2) small cup, (3) knotted string, (4) soap, (5) small piece of red fabric, (6) small toothpick cross, (7) white cloth, (8) cinnamon stick or other spice, (9) small stone, (10) folded white cloth, (11) picture of Jesus. As you read the scriptures below, have your kids take the matching items out of your Easter bag. It’s a different way to talk about the Resurrection, and it provides yet another opportunity to share your feelings of gratitude and gladness for a Savior.

  1. Matthew 26:14–15
  2. Matthew 26:36, 39
  3. Matthew 27:1–2
  4. Matthew 27:22, 24
  5. Matthew 27:28–29
  6. Matthew 27:31
  7. Matthew 27:59
  8. John 19:40
  9. John 20:1–4
  10. John 20:5–7
  11. John 20:10–20

 

Remember when “Spring Break” was called “Easter Vacation?”

Read Birthright covenant trilogy, help restore Judeo-Christian cultural values

 

Easter Messages: The Living Christ

Easter Messages:

The Living Christ

The Testimony of the Apostles, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , 2000

As we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago, we offer our testimony of the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice. None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth.

He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New. Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth. “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). Though sinless, He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. He “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it. His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come.

He instituted the sacrament as a reminder of His great atoning sacrifice. He was arrested and condemned on spurious charges, convicted to satisfy a mob, and sentenced to die on Calvary’s cross. He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind. His was a great vicarious gift in behalf of all who would ever live upon the earth.

We solemnly testify that His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary. He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world.

He rose from the grave to “become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Cor. 15:20). As Risen Lord, He visited among those He had loved in life. He also ministered among His “other sheep” (John 10:16) in ancient America. In the modern world, He and His Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith, ushering in the long-promised “dispensation of the fulness of times” (Eph. 1:10).

Of the Living Christ, the Prophet Joseph wrote: “His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:

“I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father” (D&C 110:3–4).

Of Him the Prophet also declared: “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!

“For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—

“That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:22–24).

We declare in words of solemnity that His priesthood and His Church have been restored upon the earth—“built upon the foundation of … apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Eph. 2:20).

We testify that He will someday return to earth. “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Isa. 40:5). He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts.

We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son.

Gospel Teachings: Where Should We Go? Follow Jesus Christ

Gospel Teachings: 

Where Should We Go? Follow Jesus Christ

To Whom Shall We Go?

M.Russell Ballard

 

keyIn the end, each one of us must respond to the Savior’s question: “Will ye also go away?”

Several years ago my family and I visited the Holy Land. One of my vivid memories from our trip was a visit to the upper room in Jerusalem, the traditional site of the Last Supper.

Jesus-last-supperPeace-I-Leave-With-You-Walter-RaneAs we stood in that place, I read to them from John 17, where Jesus pleads with His Father for His disciples:

“I pray for them … that they may be one, as we are. …

“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.”1

I was deeply moved while reading these words and found myself praying in that sacred place that I could ever be one with my family and with my Heavenly Father and with His Son.

Our precious relationships with families, friends, the Lord, and His restored Church are among the things that matter most in life. Because these relationships are so important, they should be cherished, protected, and nurtured.

One of the most heart-wrenching stories in scripture occurred when “many of [the Lord’s] disciples” found it hard to accept His teachings and doctrine, and they “went back, and walked no more with him.2

As these disciples left, Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Will ye also go away?”3

JesusChristresizePeter responded:

“Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

“And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.4

In that moment, when others focused on what they could not accept, the Apostles chose to focus on what they did believe and know, and as a result, they remained with Christ.

Later, on the day of Pentecost, the Twelve received the gift of the Holy Ghost. They became bold in their witness of Christ and began to understand more fully Jesus’s teachings.

 

YouthGoodbyeToday is no different. For some, Christ’s invitation to believe and remain continues to be hard—or difficult to accept. Some disciples struggle to understand a specific Church policy or teaching. Others find concerns in our history or in the imperfections of some members and leaders, past and present. Still others find it difficult to live a religion that requires so much. Finally, some have become “weary in well-doing.”5 For these and other reasons, some Church members vacillate in their faith, wondering if perhaps they should follow those who “went back, and walked no more” with Jesus.

If any one of you is faltering in your faith, I ask you the same question that Peter asked: “To whom shall [you] go?” If you choose to become inactive or to leave the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where will you go? What will you do? The decision to “walk no more” with Church members and the Lord’s chosen leaders will have a long-term impact that cannot always be seen right now. There may be some doctrine, some policy, some bit of history that puts you at odds with your faith, and you may feel that the only way to resolve that inner turmoil right now is to “walk no more” with the Saints. If you live as long as I have, you will come to know that things have a way of resolving themselves. An inspired insight or revelation may shed new light on an issue. Remember, the Restoration is not an event, but it continues to unfold.

Never abandon the great truths revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Never stop reading, pondering, and applying the doctrine of Christ contained in the Book of Mormon.

Never fail to give equal time to the Lord through honest attempts to understand what the Lord has revealed. As my dear friend and former colleague Elder Neal A. Maxwell once said, “We should not assume … that just because something is unexplainable by us it is unexplainable.”6

So before you make that spiritually perilous choice to leave, I encourage you to stop and think carefully before giving up whatever it was that brought you to your testimony of the restored Church of Jesus Christ in the first place. Stop and think about what you have felt here and why you felt it. Think about the times when the Holy Ghost has borne witness to you of eternal truth.

Where will you go to find others who share your belief in personal, loving Heavenly Parents, who teach us how to return to Their eternal presence?

christs-outstreched-hand-lindsleyWhere will you go to be taught about a Savior who is your best friend, who not only suffered for your sins but who also suffered “pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind” so “that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities,”7 including, I believe, the infirmity of loss of faith?

Where will you go to learn more about Heavenly Father’s plan for our eternal happiness and peace, a plan that is filled with wondrous possibilities, teachings, and guidance for our mortal and eternal lives? Remember, the plan of salvation gives mortal life meaning, purpose, and direction.

Where will you go to find a detailed and inspired Church organizational structure through which you are taught and supported by men and women who are deeply committed to serving the Lord by serving you and your family?

Where will you go to find living prophets and apostles, who are called by God to give you another resource for counsel, understanding, comfort, and inspiration for the challenges of our day?

passing-torchWhere will you go to find people who live by a prescribed set of values and standards that you share and want to pass along to your children and grandchildren?

And where will you go to experience the joy that comes through the saving ordinances and covenants of the temple?

Brothers and sisters, accepting and living the gospel of Christ can be challenging. It has always been thus, and it ever will be. Life can be like hikers ascending a steep and arduous trail. It is a natural and normal thing to occasionally pause on the path to catch our breath, to recalculate our bearings, and to reconsider our pace. Not everyone needs to pause on the path, but there is nothing wrong with doing so when your circumstances require. In fact, it can be a positive thing for those who take full advantage of the opportunity to refresh themselves with the living water of the gospel of Christ.

tree-of-life-jim-madsenThe danger comes when someone chooses to wander away from the path that leads to the tree of life.8 Sometimes we can learn, study, and know, and sometimes we have to believe, trust, and hope.

In the end, each one of us must respond to the Savior’s question: “Will ye also go away?9 We all have to search for our own answer to that question. For some, the answer is easy; for others, it is difficult. I don’t pretend to know why faith to believe comes easier for some than for others. I’m just so grateful to know that the answers are always there, and if we seek them—really seek with real intent and with full purpose of a prayerful heart—we will eventually find the answers to our questions as we continue on the gospel path. In my ministry, I have known those who have drifted and returned after their trial of faith.

My sincere hope is that we will invite an increasing number of God’s children to find and stay on the gospel path so they too can “partake of the fruit, which [is] desirable above all other fruit.”10

My heartfelt plea is that we will encourage, accept, understand, and love those who are struggling with their faith. We must never neglect any of our brothers and sisters. We are all at different places on the path, and we need to minister to one another accordingly.

Just as we should open our arms in a spirit of welcoming new converts, so too should we embrace and support those who have questions and are faltering in their faith.

ship-zion2Utilizing another familiar metaphor, I pray that anyone thinking of leaving the “Old Ship Zion,” where God and Christ are at the helm, will pause and think carefully before doing so.

Please know that even though great storms of wind and waves beat upon the old ship, the Savior is on board and is able to rebuke the storm with His command “Peace, be still.” Until then, we must not fear, and we must have unwavering faith and know that “even the wind and the sea obey him.11

Brothers and sisters, I promise you in the name of the Lord that He will never abandon His Church and that He will never abandon any one of us. Remember Peter’s response to the Savior’s question and words:

“To whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

“And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.12

I testify that there is “no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ.”13

I also testify that Jesus Christ has called apostles and prophets in our day and restored His Church with teachings and commandments as “a refuge from the storm, and from wrath” that will surely come unless the people of the world repent and return to Him.14

I further testify that the Lord “inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; … and all are alike unto God.”15

Jesus is our Savior and Redeemer, and His restored gospel will lead us safely back to the presence of our Heavenly Parents if we remain on the gospel path and follow in His footsteps. To which I testify in the name of Jesus Christ.

Critical Thinking Topics: Judgment and Decision Making

Critical Thinking Topics:

Judgment and Decision Making

Discernment

Sometimes people feel that it is wrong to judge others in any way. While it is true that you should not condemn others or judge them unrighteously, you will need to make judgments of ideas, situations, and people throughout your life.

The Lord has given many commandments that you cannot keep without making judgments. For example, He has said: “Beware of false prophets. . . . Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-16) and “Go ye out from among the wicked” (D&C 38:42). You need to make judgments of people in many of your important decisions, such as choosing friends, voting for government leaders, and choosing an eternal companion.

Judgment is an important use of your agency [free will] and requires great care, especially when you make judgments about other people. All your judgments must be guided by righteous standards.

Remember that only God, who knows each individual’s heart, can make final judgments of individuals. (Revelation 20:12; 3 Nephi 27:14; D&C 137:9)

How to Make Righteous Judgments

Your righteous judgments about others can provide needed guidance for them and, in some cases, protection for you and your family. Approach any such judgment with care and compassion.

As much as you can, judge people’s situations rather than judging the people themselves. Whenever possible, refrain from making judgments until you have an adequate knowledge of the facts. Always be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, who can guide your decisions. True to the Faith, 90-91

How Do We “Judge Righteous Judgment”?

By Tyler J. Griffin

Associate Professor of Ancient Scripture, Brigham Young University

Jesus is not telling us never to judge. He is commanding us to make sure the judgments we make are righteous.

Have you ever been in a situation where somebody tried to correct another person by saying, “Judge not, that ye be not judged”? (Matthew 7:1). Few of Jesus’s teachings are more widely known than this one. Unfortunately, this phrase is not always correctly understood or applied. Our ability to benefit from this command will increase as we examine how Jesus Christ used it in His teachings and how His prophets have reiterated it through time.

In the Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew 7, we read, “Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment” (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 7:2 [in Matthew 7:1, footnote a]).

According to Joseph Smith’s addition to this passage in Matthew, Jesus is not telling us never to judge. He is commanding us to make sure the judgments we make are righteous.

Our Judgments of People

Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught, “God cares a lot more about who we are and who we are becoming than about who we once were.”5

Our own sins and lack of perfect understanding disqualify us from being able to pass final judgments on anyone, including ourselves. We must, however, make constant intermediate judgments. We are to righteously judge actions, not condemn people.

 

Related post:

Critical Thinking Definition: Discernment and Judgment

Judeo-Christian Culture: Change of Heart Theme Quotes

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Change of Heart Theme Quotes

The home is the great laboratory of love. There the raw chemicals of selfishness and greed are melded in the crucible of cooperation to yield compassionate concern and love one for another. ~Russell M. Nelson

Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. ~Isaiah 45:22

Behold, this is a choice land, and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall be free from bondage, and from captivity, and from all other nations under heaven, if they will but serve the God of the land, who is Jesus Christ, who hath been manifested by the things which we have written. ~Ether 2:12

Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men. ~Ether 12:4

This is the last day in which the great consummation of God’s purposes will be made, the only dispensation in which the Lord has promised that sin will not prevail. ~ Ezra Taft Benson

Let not that which I have appointed be polluted by mine enemies, by the consent of those who call themselves after my name. ~Doctrine and Covenants 101:97

We may be bucking a strong tide, but we must teach our children that sin is sin. ~Spencer W. Kimball

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. If ye be willing and obedient… ~Isaiah 1:18

Come, for “he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause.” ~Jacob 3:1

Come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him. ~Omni 1:26

Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings. ~Alma 37:37

The world today speaks a great deal about love, and it is sought for by any. But the pure love of Christ differs greatly from what the world thinks of love. Charity never seeks selfish gratification. The pure love of Christ seeks only the eternal growth and joy of others …

I know the Lord lives. I know that He loves us. I know that apart from Him no one can succeed, but as a partner with Him no one can fail.

I know that God can make a lot more out of our lives than we can.

We must lose ourselves in doing his will.

We need to come unto Christ with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, feasting upon the word of Christ, to look unto Him in every thought, and to always remember Him.

If thoughts make us what we are, and we are to be like Christ, then we must think Christ-like thoughts.

Let our personal lives, our homes, and our work performance reflect our Christ-like character. So live that others will say about you, “There is a true Christian!”

[A temperate person] is restrained in his emotions and verbal expressions. He does things in moderation and is not given to overindulgence. In a word, he has self-control. He is the master of his emotions, not the other way around …

In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost. [Holy Spirit] ~Russell M. Nelson

 

faith-and-freedomFortify your family with the Judeo-Christian Heritage HERE

Gospel Teachings: Parable of the Sower

Dinner Talk Topics for Friday

Gospel Teachings: Parable of the Sower

By Dallin H. Oaks

 

keyIt is up to each of us to set the priorities and to do the things that make our soil good and our harvest plentiful.

parableofsowerThe parable of the sower is one of a small number of parables reported in all three of the synoptic Gospels. It is also one of an even smaller group of parables Jesus explained to His disciples. The seed that was sown was “the word of the kingdom” (Matthew 13:19), “the word” (Mark 4:14), or “the word of God” (Luke 8:11)—the teachings of the Master and His servants.

The different soils on which the seeds fell represent different ways in which mortals receive and follow these teachings. Thus the seeds that “fell by the way side” (Mark 4:4) have not reached mortal soil where they might possibly grow. They are like teachings that fall upon a heart hardened or unprepared. I will say nothing more of these. My message concerns those of us who have committed to be followers of Christ. What do we do with the Savior’s teachings as we live our lives?

The parable of the sower warns us of circumstances and attitudes that can keep anyone who has received the seed of the gospel message from bringing forth a goodly harvest.

I. Stony Ground, No Root

parable-sower6Some seed “fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: but when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away” (Mark 4:5–6).

Jesus explained that this describes those “who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness,” but because they “have no root in themselves, … when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended” (Mark 4:16–17).

What causes hearers to “have no root in themselves”? This is the circumstance of new members who are merely converted to the missionaries or to the many attractive characteristics of the Church or to the many great fruits of Church membership. Not being rooted in the word, they can be scorched and wither away when opposition arises. But even those raised in the Church—long-term members—can slip into a condition where they have no root in themselves. I have known some of these—members without firm and lasting conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we are not rooted in the teachings of the gospel and regular in its practices, any one of us can develop a stony heart, which is stony ground for spiritual seeds.

Spiritual food is necessary for spiritual survival, especially in a world that is moving away from belief in God and the absolutes of right and wrong. In an age dominated by the Internet, which magnifies messages that menace faith, we must increase our exposure to spiritual truth in order to strengthen our faith and stay rooted in the gospel.

Young people, if that teaching seems too general, here is a specific example. If the emblems of the sacrament are being passed and you are texting or whispering or playing video games or doing anything else to deny yourself essential spiritual food, you are severing your spiritual roots and moving yourself toward stony ground. You are making yourself vulnerable to withering away when you encounter tribulation like isolation, intimidation, or ridicule. And that applies to adults also.

II. Thorns: The Cares of This World and the Deceitfulness of Riches

parable-sower5 Jesus taught that “some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit” (Mark 4:7). He explained that these are “such as hear the word, and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful” (Mark 4:18–19). This is surely a warning to be heeded by all of us.

I will speak first of the deceitfulness of riches. Wherever we are in our spiritual journey—whatever our state of conversion—we are all tempted by this. When attitudes or priorities are fixed on the acquisition, use, or possession of property, we call that materialism. So much has been said and written about materialism that little needs to be added here.2 Those who believe in what has been called the theology of prosperity are suffering from the deceitfulness of riches. The possession of wealth or significant income is not a mark of heavenly favor, and their absence is not evidence of heavenly disfavor. When Jesus told a faithful follower that he could inherit eternal life if he would only give all that he had to the poor (see Mark 10:17–24), He was not identifying an evil in the possession of riches but an evil in that follower’s attitude toward them. As we are all aware, Jesus praised the good Samaritan, who used the same coinage to serve his fellowman that Judas used to betray his Savior. The root of all evil is not money but the love of money (see 1 Timothy 6:10).

The Book of Mormon tells of a time when the Church of God “began to fail in its progress” (Alma 4:10) because “the people of the church began to … set their hearts upon riches and upon the vain things of the world” (Alma 4:8). Whoever has an abundance of material things is in jeopardy of being spiritually “sedated” by riches and other things of the world.3 That is a suitable introduction to the next of the Savior’s teachings.

parable-sower1The most subtle thorns to choke out the effect of the gospel word in our lives are the worldly forces that Jesus called the “cares and riches and pleasures of this life” (Luke 8:14). These are too numerous to recite. Some examples will suffice.

On one occasion Jesus rebuked His chief Apostle, saying to Peter, “Thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (Matthew 16:23; see also D&C 3:6–7; 58:39). Savoring the things of men means putting the cares of this world ahead of the things of God in our actions, our priorities, and our thinking.

We surrender to the “pleasures of this life” (1) when we are addicted, which impairs God’s precious gift of agency; (2) when we are beguiled by trivial distractions, which draw us away from things of eternal importance; and (3) when we have an entitlement mentality, which impairs the personal growth necessary to qualify us for our eternal destiny.

parable-sower4We are overcome by the “cares … of this life” when we are paralyzed by fear of the future, which hinders our going forward in faith, trusting in God and His promises. Twenty-five years ago my esteemed BYU teacher Hugh W. Nibley spoke of the dangers of surrendering to the cares of the world. He was asked in an interview whether world conditions and our duty to spread the gospel made it desirable to seek some way to “be accommodating of the world in what we do in the Church.”4

quote-oaks-sowerHis reply: “That’s been the whole story of the Church, hasn’t it? You have to be willing to offend here, you have to be willing to take the risk. That’s where the faith comes in. … Our commitment is supposed to be a test, it’s supposed to be hard, it’s supposed to be impractical in the terms of this world.”5

This gospel priority was affirmed on the BYU campus just a few months ago by an esteemed Catholic leader, Charles J. Chaput, the archbishop of Philadelphia. Speaking of “concerns that the LDS and Catholic communities share,” such as “about marriage and family, the nature of our sexuality, the sanctity of human life, and the urgency of religious liberty,” he said this:

“I want to stress again the importance of really living what we claim to believe. That needs to be a priority—not just in our personal and family lives but in our churches, our political choices, our business dealings, our treatment of the poor; in other words, in everything we do.”

“Here’s why that’s important,” he continued. “Learn from the Catholic experience. We Catholics believe that our vocation is to be leaven in society. But there’s a fine line between being leaven in society, and being digested by society.”6

The Savior’s warning against having the cares of this world choke out the word of God in our lives surely challenges us to keep our priorities fixed—our hearts set—on the commandments of God and the leadership of His Church.

parable-sower2The Savior’s examples could cause us to think of this parable as the parable of the soils. The suitability of the soil depends upon the heart of each one of us who is exposed to the gospel seed. In susceptibility to spiritual teachings, some hearts are hardened and unprepared, some hearts are stony from disuse, and some hearts are set upon the things of the world.

III. Fell into Good Ground and Brought Forth Fruit

parable-harvest-wheatThe parable of the sower ends with the Savior’s description of the seed that “fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit” in various measures (Matthew 13:8). How can we prepare ourselves to be that good ground and to have that good harvest?

parable-sower3Jesus explained that “the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15). We have the seed of the gospel word. It is up to each of us to set the priorities and to do the things that make our soil good and our harvest plentiful. We must seek to be firmly rooted and converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ (see Colossians 2:6–7). We achieve this conversion by praying, by scripture reading, by serving, and by regularly partaking of the sacrament to always have His Spirit to be with us. We must also seek that mighty change of heart (see Alma 5:12–14) that replaces evil desires and selfish concerns with the love of God and the desire to serve Him and His children.

I testify of the truth of these things, and I testify of our Savior, Jesus Christ, whose teachings point the way and whose Atonement makes it all possible.

Judeo-Christian Culture: Finding Jesus in Types in the Bible

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Finding Jesus in Types in the Bible, Part 2

Part 1

Judeo-Christian Culture: Finding Jesus in the Old Testament

 

Defining Moment

type— a person, object, ritual, or event that represents or symbolizes truths about the eternal plan of God

 

Searching for and Finding Jesus Christ in the Old Testament

The prophets, including those in the Old Testament, can be seen as “types and shadows of their Messiah,” wrote Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “It is wholesome and proper to look for similitudes of Christ everywhere and to use them repeatedly in keeping him and his laws uppermost in our minds” (The Promised Messiah [1978], 453).

KJV BibleThe Old Testament was not designed simply to preserve a narrative history of God’s covenant people. The stories themselves, along with their accompanying surface-level messages and morals, are of secondary importance to disciples of Christ. Consistently, the primary subject of the prophets’ writing—and therefore the most worthy object of our study—is Jesus Christ!

Here are a few principles to keep in mind when searching for truths about Jesus Christ in the Old Testament:

  1. All things created by God are like Jesus Christ (see Moses 6:63).
  2. All things given from God to mankind typify Jesus Christ (see 2 Nephi 11:4).
  3. All prophets are types, or symbols, of Jesus Christ (see Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah, 451).
  4. Repentance opens the door to learning about Jesus Christ through types (see Alma 26:21–22).

“I Am That I Am”: Symbols of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament

By Stephen P. Schank, continued

I Am … the Lamb Slain for You

Animal Sacrifice and the Coat of Skins

Adam and Eve Offering Sacrifices, by Keith Larson

Adam and Eve Offering Sacrifices, by Keith Larson

Before Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, the Lord clothed them in the skins of an animal to provide a covering for them. In the Old Testament, the word atonement, in its various forms, appears 81 times. In 73 of those occurrences, the original Hebrew word is kaphar, which literally means “to cover.”

After their expulsion from the garden, Adam and Eve were commanded to offer the firstlings of their flocks for an offering unto the Lord. An angel later instructed them that this practice was “a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father” (Moses 5:7).

Animal sacrifices continued under the law of Moses, along with the ritual covering of those participating in priesthood ordinances.

When we covenant with the Lord and receive His holy ordinances, His Atonement covers us so that we are no longer exposed to the full effects of the Fall of Adam. Jesus Christ is truly the Lamb of God who was sacrificed for us so that we no longer have to be subject to the effects of sin and death.

Genesis 3:21; 37:3; Exodus 40:14–15; Ezekiel 16:1–12; Matthew 22:11–12; Galatians 3:26–29; 1 Nephi 11:21, 32–33; Alma 34:14–16; Moses 5:5–8; 7:47

I Am … the Bread of Life

Manna

Fresco of Israelites gathering manna, by Leopold Bruckner

While Moses and the children of Israel journeyed from Egypt toward the promised land, they relied upon the mercies of the Lord for daily bread. The Lord provided them with a sweet “bread from heaven,” which the people called “Manna” (interpreted as “What is this?”). Those who gathered the bread daily and remained faithful to the Lord and His prophet had life continually throughout their journey in the wilderness.

Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life; He came down to earth from heaven to bring us life every day of our mortal journey. As we gather His words every day, we will experience the sweetness and vitality available through Him throughout our mortal journey.

Exodus 16:4, 12–21, 31; Deuteronomy 8:2–3; John 6:26–35, 48–58, 66–68; 3 Nephi 20:8

I Am … the Source of Living Water

Water from the Rock at Horeb

Fresco of Moses getting water from the rock, by Leopold Bruckner

As the children of Israel thirsted for water in the wilderness, Moses turned to the Lord. Moses was instructed to smite a certain rock at Horeb (Mount Sinai) with the rod given him by the Lord. When he did, water gushed forth from the rock to sustain life for the millions of journeying Israelites.

Jesus Christ is the Rock of Israel; when He was smitten at Calvary, blood issued forth from His body. The blood of Christ brings us life! We can access the life found in the atoning blood of Christ as we follow prophets who have been given keys to bring forth living water from Him.

Exodus 17:1–6; Numbers 20:8, 11; John 4:10–15; 1 Corinthians 10:1–4; Doctrine and Covenants 28:2

I Am … Your Healer

Serpent Raised Up on a Pole

Moses and the Brass Serpent, by Judith Mehr

The difficulties of their journey caused the children of Israel to complain, murmuring against the prophet and the Lord. As a result, the Lord allowed poisonous serpents to bite them, bringing death to many. Moses prayed to the Lord to take away the serpents; instead, the Lord provided a way for the people to escape death when they had been bitten. The action required for them to be healed was to look upon a brass serpent that was affixed to a pole.

Jesus Christ was nailed to a pole—the cross—so that we might look to Him in our sufferings and not be overcome by them. Jesus Christ does not always take away our trials, but as our Healer, He can take the poison out of them through the blessings of His Atonement.

Numbers 21:4–9; John 3:14–16; 1 Peter 2:24; Alma 33:18–22; Helaman 8:14–15; 3 Nephi 27:13–15

 

Fortify your family with the Judeo-Christian Heritage HERE

Judeo-Christian Culture: Finding Jesus in the Old Testament

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Finding Jesus in the Old Testament

“I Am That I Am”: Symbols of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament

By Stephen P. Schank

In this ancient record particularly, Jesus Christ must be sought or He might not be found.

As Moses hid his face, the Lord’s merciful words issuing forth from the burning bush must have rung with the echoes of eternity:

“I have surely seen the affliction of my people … ; for I know their sorrows;

“And I am come down to deliver them. …

“And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?

“And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you” (Exodus 3:7–8, 13–14).

Known to ancient Israel as the Lord Jehovah, the premortal Jesus Christ identified Himself as the source to which His people should look for redemption. Thousands of years later, the resurrected Jesus Christ reconfirmed His promise of deliverance to modern Israel with these words: “Be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come” (Doctrine and Covenants 68:6; emphasis added).

The scriptures, the words of life, are designed to point the children of God in every generation to Jesus Christ for deliverance from sin and death and all our earthly problems. The Old Testament is no exception; as with every volume of scripture, it is intended to turn our hearts and minds to our Deliverer, the Lord Jesus Christ. But in this ancient record particularly, He must be sought or He might not be found.

When searching for Christ in any book of scripture, it helps to constantly remind ourselves what we are looking for. Jesus Christ is the source of life! To the fatal problems of spiritual and physical death introduced by the Fall, Christ is Israel’s eternal solution. Lehi declared, “He offereth himself … to answer the ends of the law” (2 Nephi 2:7; emphasis added). It is that answer—the Redeemer of Israel, the Great “I Am”—that we seek when searching the scriptures. Within the poetic and often archaic language of the Old Testament, however, the eternal problems—and Jesus Christ, the solution—are not always readily identifiable. Even so, Jesus Christ is there beneath the surface, waiting to be found in the ancient narratives.

As you keep in mind the name of the Lord shared with Moses on Mount Sinai—“I Am”—consider the many things that Jesus Christ is to those who put their trust in Him. The following examples are symbolic teachings from the Old Testament designed to turn our hearts and minds to the Lord Jesus Christ for deliverance.

Fortify your family with the Judeo-Christian Heritage HERE

Judeo-Christian Culture: Search for Truth, Plan of Salvation, Cautionary Advice

Judeo-Christian Culture:

Search for Truth, Plan of Salvation, Cautionary Advice

Truth and the Plan

By Dallin H. Oaks

 

When we seek the truth about religion, we should use spiritual methods appropriate for that search.

Modern revelation defines truth as a “knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:24). That is a perfect definition for the plan of salvation and “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”

We live in a time of greatly expanded and disseminated information. But not all of this information is true. We need to be cautious as we seek truth and choose sources for that search. We should not consider secular prominence or authority as qualified sources of truth. We should be cautious about relying on information or advice offered by entertainment stars, prominent athletes, or anonymous internet sources. Expertise in one field should not be taken as expertise on truth in other subjects.

We should also be cautious about the motivation of the one who provides information. That is why the scriptures warn us against priestcraft (see 2 Nephi 26:29). If the source is anonymous or unknown, the information may also be suspect.

Our personal decisions should be based on information from sources that are qualified on the subject and free from selfish motivations.

I.

When we seek the truth about religion, we should use spiritual methods appropriate for that search: prayer, the witness of the Holy Ghost, and study of the scriptures and the words of modern prophets. I am always sad when I hear of one who reports a loss of religious faith because of secular teachings. Those who once had spiritual vision can suffer from self-inflicted spiritual blindness. As President Henry B. Eyring said, “Their problem does not lie in what they think they see; it lies in what they cannot yet see.”1

The methods of science lead us to what we call scientific truth. But “scientific truth” is not the whole of life. Those who do not learn “by study and also by faith” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:118) limit their understanding of truth to what they can verify by scientific means. That puts artificial limits on their pursuit of truth.

President James E. Faust said: “Those who have been [baptized] put their eternal soul at risk by carelessly pursuing only the secular source of learning. We believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the fulness of the gospel of Christ, which gospel is the essence of truth and eternal enlightenment.”2

We find true and enduring joy by coming to know and acting upon the truth about who we are, the meaning of mortal life, and where we are going when we die. Those truths cannot be learned by scientific or secular methods.

II. There is a God; Gender is Eternal

I will now speak of restored gospel truths that are fundamental to the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Please consider these truths carefully. They explain much about our doctrine and practices, perhaps including some things not yet understood.

·         There is a God, who is the loving Father of the spirits of all who have ever lived or will live.

·         Gender is eternal. Before we were born on this earth, we all lived as male or female spirits in the presence of God.

Plan of Salvation

We have just heard the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square sing “I Will Follow God’s Plan.”3 That is the plan God established so that all of His spirit children could progress eternally. That plan is vital to each of us.

Under that plan, God created this earth as a place where His beloved spirit children could be born into mortality to receive a physical body and to have the opportunity for eternal progress by making righteous choices.

To be meaningful, mortal choices had to be made between contesting forces of good and evil. There had to be opposition and, therefore, an adversary, who was cast out because of rebellion and was allowed to tempt God’s children to act contrary to God’s plan.

The purpose of God’s plan was to give His children the opportunity to choose eternal life. This could be accomplished only by experience in mortality and, after death, by post mortal growth in the spirit world.

In the course of mortal life, we would all be soiled by sin as we yielded to the evil temptations of the adversary, and we would eventually die. We accepted those challenges in reliance upon the plan’s assurance that God our Father would provide a Savior, His Only Begotten Son, who would rescue us by a universal resurrection to an embodied life after death. The Savior would also provide an atonement to pay the price for all to be cleansed from sin on the conditions He prescribed. Those conditions included faith in Christ, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and other ordinances performed by priesthood authority.

God’s great plan of happiness provides a perfect balance between eternal justice and the mercy we can obtain through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It also enables us to be transformed into new creatures in Christ.

A loving God reaches out to each of us. We know that through His love and because of the Atonement of His Only Begotten Son, “all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of [His] Gospel” (Articles of Faith 1:3; emphasis added).

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is properly known as a family-centered Church. But what is not well understood is that our family-centeredness is focused on more than mortal relationships. Eternal relationships are also fundamental to our theology. “The family is ordained of God.”4

Under the great plan of our loving Creator, the mission of His restored Church is to help the children of God achieve the supernal blessing of exaltation in the celestial kingdom, which can be attained only through an eternal marriage between a man and a woman (see Doctrine and Covenants 131:1–3). We affirm the Lord’s teachings that “gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose” and that “marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan.5

Finally, God’s love is so great that, except for the few who deliberately become sons of perdition, He has provided a destiny of glory for all of His children. “All of His children” includes all who are dead. We perform ordinances for them by proxy in our temples. The purpose of the Church of Jesus Christ is to qualify His children for the highest degree of glory, which is exaltation or eternal life. For those who do not desire or qualify for that, God has provided other, though lesser, kingdoms of glory.

Anyone who understands these eternal truths can understand why we members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints think as we do and do as we do.

III.

I will now mention some applications of these eternal truths, which can be understood only in light of God’s plan.

First, we honor individual agency. Most are aware of the restored Church’s great efforts to promote religious freedom in the United States and across the world. These efforts do not promote just our own interests but, according to His plan, seek to help all of God’s children enjoy freedom to choose.

Second, we are a missionary people. We are sometimes asked why we send missionaries to so many nations, even among Christian populations. We receive the same question about why we give many millions of dollars of humanitarian aid to persons who are not members of our Church and why we do not link this aid to our missionary efforts. We do this because we esteem all mortals as children of God—our brothers and sisters—and we want to share our spiritual and temporal abundance with everyone.

Third, mortal life is sacred to us. Our commitment to God’s plan requires us to oppose abortion and euthanasia.

Fourth, some are troubled by some of our Church’s positions on marriage and children. Our knowledge of God’s revealed plan of salvation requires us to oppose current social and legal pressures to retreat from traditional marriage and to make changes that confuse or alter gender or homogenize the differences between men and women. We know that the relationships, identities, and functions of men and women are essential to accomplish God’s great plan.

Fifth, we also have a distinctive perspective on children. We look on the bearing and nurturing of children as part of God’s plan and a joyful and sacred duty of those given the power to participate in it. In our view, the ultimate treasures on earth and in heaven are our children and our posterity. Therefore, we must teach and contend for principles and practices that provide the best conditions for the development and happiness of children—all children.

Finally, we are beloved children of a Heavenly Father, who has taught us that maleness and femaleness, marriage between a man and a woman, and the bearing and nurturing of children are all essential to His great plan of happiness.

Our positions on these fundamentals frequently provoke opposition to the Church. We consider that inevitable. Opposition is part of the plan, and Satan’s most strenuous opposition is directed at whatever is most important to God’s plan. He seeks to destroy God’s work. His prime methods are to discredit the Savior and His divine authority, to erase the effects of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, to discourage repentance, to counterfeit revelation, and to contradict individual accountability. He also seeks to confuse gender, to distort marriage, and to discourage childbearing—especially by parents who will raise children in truth.

IV.

The work of the Lord is going forward despite the organized and constant opposition that confronts us as we strive to practice the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For those who falter under that opposition, I offer these suggestions.

Remember the principle of repentance made possible by the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell urged, don’t be among those “who would rather try to change the Church than to change themselves.”6

As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland urged:

“Hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes.

In this Church, what we know will always trump what we do not know.”7

Exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, which is the first principle of the gospel.

Finally, seek help. Our Church leaders love you and seek spiritual guidance to help you. We provide many resources such as you will find through LDS.org and other supports for gospel study in the home. We also have ministering brothers and sisters called to give loving assistance.

Our loving Heavenly Father wants His children to have the joy that is the purpose of our creation. That joyful destiny is eternal life, which we can obtain by pressing forward along what our prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, often calls “the covenant path.” Here is what he said in his first message as President of the Church: “Keep on the covenant path. Your commitment to follow the Savior by making covenants with Him and then keeping those covenants will open the door to every spiritual blessing and privilege available to men, women, and children everywhere.”8

I solemnly testify that the things I have said are true, and they are made possible by the teachings and the Atonement of Jesus Christ, who makes it all possible under the great plan of God, our Eternal Father.