I was the first speaker today. The youth speaker and first speaker did not make it to church today. After I finished the bishop shared a few thoughts with us.
One of my favorite scriptures from the life of the Savior is a conversation Jesus had with Peter after many people were leaving the Savior because of being offended by the truths that he shared with them. It is found in John 6:67-68 and it reads - “Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.”
I again thought of this scripture when listening to the following story from a talk in General conference by Elder Douglas L. Callister Of the Seventy.
“Years ago I presided over a mission headquartered in the Midwest. One day, with a handful of our missionaries, I spoke with an esteemed representative of another Christian faith. This gentle soul spoke of his own religion's history and doctrine, eventually repeating the familiar words: 'By grace ye are saved. Every man and woman must exercise faith in Christ in order to become a saved being.'
“Among those present was a new missionary. He was altogether unfamiliar with other religions. He had to ask the question, "But, sir, what happens to the little baby who dies before he is old enough to understand and exercise faith in Christ?" The learned man bowed his head, looked at the floor, and said, 'There ought to be an exception. There ought to be a loophole. There ought to be a way, but there isn't.'
“The missionary looked at me and, with tears in his eyes, said, 'Goodness, President, we do have the truth, don't we!'”
After I listened to Elder Callister's story I thought to myself as I have many times before, “If I believe the critics of the Church or cave to my own weaknesses and I left the Church where else would I go? The Lord has already given me the words of eternal life.”
Purpose of the Life of the Savior
I would now like to talk about the purpose of the Savior's life. Two purposes of the life of the Savior that I would like to present are to be an example and to give us life.
The Savior Give Us Life
-Resurrection – He gives us life by His resurrection, which gives us redemption from physical death. This gift is free and we do not have to do anything to obtain it.
Acts 26:23 - “That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.” (See also Col 1:18 and Rev 1:5)
The resurrection comes to all, whether good or evil. There will however be a division between when we will be resurrected. The righteous will come forth in the first resurrection and the unrepentant sinners will come forth in the last resurrection.
I have heard some people question that the resurrection is a reuniting of the body and spirit. They propose that the body is changed into spirit or something like that. Luke 24:42-43 talks of Jesus eating fish and honeycomb after his resurrection. Luke 24:39 specifically says, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” Other places in the scriptures tell that the people touched him and these are listed in the Bible Dictionary.
-Exaltation – Another way The Savior gives us life is through exaltation or the bestowing upon us of Eternal Life. This gift requires our effort to obtain it.
Hebrews 5:9 - “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;”
Note: It says to all them that obey Him and not the ones that simply say a prayer and ask Him to save them. Although praying to Him and asking His forgiveness when we sin is one of the things He has asked us to do, it is not the only thing. We must obey Him.
Mark 16:16 - “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
Note: Believing alone is not enough. One must also be baptized.
Matthew 6:14-15 - “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
We ourselves must do something, which is to forgive, in order to be forgiven or saved from our sins.
Revelation 22:14 - “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”
Matthew 19:16-17 - “And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.”
Sometimes people miss this, so I want to say it one more time. “if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.”
Occasionally people present to me that I am not a Christian because I am a member of this church because we believe that we have to work to be saved. Ignoring the very clear scriptural evidence that keeping the commandments the way we give our heart to Jesus.
There is no question that we could give our all and still not have enough to gain salvation. That is where our faith in Christ comes in and He saves us. But without our effort that faith is dead and profits us nothing (See James 2:14-26).
I think Nephi explains what we are talking about the best in 2 Nephi 25:23 – “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”
Be an Example – Another purpose of Jesus's life was to be an example. Jesus taught us by his example in several areas.
-He showed us How to Love - “As I have loved you, love one another.” When I was in the Missionary Training Center this was one of our favorite hymns, because if you chose to sing that for the closing song you got to lunch a lot quicker than if you chose to sing, say, A Poor Wayfaring Man Of Grief.
But setting aside me always thinking with my stomach, the Savior is a great example of love. “By this shall men know, ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” The savior showed us “love your neighbor”, “love your enemies”, and as previously mentioned “love one another”.
-Baptism – Jesus taught us of the necessity of baptism in John 3:4-5 - “Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
It could be interpreted by looking at this scripture that being born of water means being born of a woman based on the conversation he was having with Nicodemus. Yet, the example of Christ we see is that He sought out John who was baptizing with water.
-Prayer – One example He gave on praying was in the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 8 and Luke 11. The Lord's Prayer is not a prayer to be recited as many do. Wikipedia stated that, “On Easter Sunday 2007 it was estimated that 2 billion Protestant, Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox Christians read, recited, or sang the short prayer in hundreds of languages in houses of worship of all shapes and sizes.” I know the scholars out there are going to cringe at me siting Wikipedia as an authoritative source, but it looks like they got their information from the Los Angeles Times, which I am sure thoroughly researched and footnoted their article.
Nonetheless, He cautions us before showing us the example, about praying with vain repetitions. It is the Lord's prayer, not ours. So follow his example and then make your own.
-Truth by Example –
The Members of the Godhead being Separate beings - One of the truths that he taught us by example was that He and His Father are two separate beings. His Father was at his baptism and He frequently prayed to his Father.
-Elder Jefferey R. Holland in his conference talk sited several examples of Jesus teaching this principle
I will paraphrase a few of these, but refer you to the footnotes in his conference talk for the entire list.
John 17:3 – Tells us that we may know the only true God AND Jesus who He has sent.
John 12:26 – States that if any man serves Christ, then His Father will honor them.
Romans 8:34 – Makes reference to Jesus being on the right hand of God.
Elder Holland states, "...we believe [The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost] are one in every significant and eternal aspect imaginable except believing Them to be three persons combined in one substance..."
He Teaches Us the Truth that We Can Be Like Christ – Christ showed us how to live a perfect life. He even gave us the command to, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” in Matthew 5:48. Some say perfect means complete and united and that it is not possible for us to be completely obedient. Yet Matthew 19:26 states, “When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” Luke 1:37 declares, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” And Luke 18:27, “And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.”
-The Savior also Showed us examples of Forgiveness/Compassion – The Savior was mocked, spat upon, beaten, and crucified and yet in Luke 23:34 we read that He plead with the Father on their behalf, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
As He was betrayed He still had compassion and restored the ear of the servant of the high priest which Peter had smote off (See John 18:10).
-He Showed us Example of Obedience – Sensing the weight that was about to be placed upon him the Savior plead with His Father in Luke 22:42, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me”. He then shows us how to be obedient and accept that the Father can see more perfectly than we can by saying, “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”
-He showed us how to Teach – The Savior was always teaching. He taught in parables using things that the people were already familiar with in order to teach truth.
I know that this is Christ's Church and that there is nowhere else that has all of the doctrine that completely works if we do it. This is the vehicle through which Christ is giving us the words of Eternal Life. I can't explain in words that make sense to everyone, but I when I ponder what I see everyday I know that Christ lives and that this is His Church?
I leave these thoughts and my testimony with you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.The Bishop's Talk
He made a point that I hadn't thought of before. He stated that sometimes the spirit withdraws from us through no fault of our own to test us. To make us stretch ourselves. Making decisions in the dark without the Holy Ghost telling us to can help us to reinforce good habits or make right choices out of reflex and not just when we are prompted.
The instructor introduced what we are going to be studying this next year. This year we studied the New Testament. Next year we will be studying The Book of Mormon.
Jaredites - Came to America at the time of the Towel of Babel. They had destroyed themselves through wars by about the time the other peoples arrived.
Lehites - Descendants of the tribe of Joseph. They left Jerusalem around 600BC.
Mulakites - The descendants of the last son of King Zedekiah, the final King of Judah. Possibly arrived in the Americas around 586 BC.
In order to seriously study one must do more than just come to Sunday school each week. We should study the scriptures during the week on our own and thus resist temptation, avoid deception, and stay on straight and narrow path
We talked about hungering for the scriptures. I had trouble envisioning myself hungering, but I think I have had moments of feasting. I would've more described it as getting on a roll. Where things are flowing and finding more things to take notes on. Maybe there is a difference between hungering and being hungry.
Joint Priesthood and Relief Society
The bishop gave us an update on the status of the ward. He gave some statistics. He talked about our progress on getting everyone in the ward to pray every day. He asked us to imagine the progress we could make as a ward if we could get all of the inactive members to pray every day. He then asked us to imagine if we could get the active members to pray every day.
He said, "It is my view that the seriousness with which one takes their HT/VT assignments is a strong indicator of the seriousness with which one is pursuing the pathway to the Celestial Kingdom."