Chapter 26 Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Fielding Smith
President Smith prayed for the end of the world and that makes some of us apprehensive. Perhaps that is because we are not prepared. We should each ask ourselves what I need to do to get prepared and what is my plan to move toward being prepared.
Interesting to think of Joseph Smith as an Elias. He began the preparation for Christ’s return similar to John the Baptist preparing the way for Christ’s ministry.
"Joel promised that the Lord would pour out his spirit upon all flesh: the sons and daughters should prophesy, old men should dream dreams, and young men should see visions [see Joel 2:28–29]."
My lesson on How can I understand the symbols used to teach about the Second Coming?
Have you had any spiritual conversations or experiences with friends this week?
We are going to talk today about parables and symbols in the scriptures that help us understand the second coming.
Have you had anything in your spiritual studies that has made something else make sense that you hadn’t previously understood?
Facts about the Second Coming
Elder Oaks expressed four facts about the Second Coming:
“Four matters are indisputable to Latter-day Saints: (1) The Savior will return to the earth in power and great glory to reign personally during a millennium of righteousness and peace. (2) At the time of His coming there will be a destruction of the wicked and a resurrection of the righteous. (3) No one knows the time of His coming, but (4) the faithful are taught to study the signs of it and to be prepared for it. I wish to speak about the fourth of these great realities: the signs of the Second Coming and what we should do to prepare for it.”(General Conference
We talked the last time I taught, about who are the wicked that will be removed from the earth and who are the righteous that will remain with the Savior.
The righteous are those who are holding to the iron rod and becoming more like Father all the time. They are those who pray always.
Being righteous is about actively finding the ways that we are not obedient to God's instructions and commandments and actively working to change our character so that we are more obedient each day.
In our morning prayers we can assess how we are going to be better today. Throughout the day we pray for strength when we are struggling to be better as we intended and repent and try again. At the end of the day we pray and review how the day went. We repent of where we fell short and determine how we can succeed tomorrow.
We are obedient not just because God said so, but because that is how life works. If we don't prepare in the ways God has shown then we are not prepared to function in the Millennium.
God gives us instructions on how to live, so we will be successful. There are laws of the universe which are just how things work and that is what he tries to show us with the commandments.
Parables and Symbols
The Savior shared simple stories, parables, and real-life examples that made sense to those He taught. He helped them discover gospel lessons in their own experiences and in the world around them.
We could use the real life example of gravity to help us to understand spiritual laws and God's love manifested by giving us commandments.
A temporal example of a natural law of how things work is the law of gravity.
Parents lovingly try to protect their children from potential negative effects of gravity by setting rules. Rules like don't climb on that, don't run on the stairs, and get off the roof.
A person that does not learn to live within the constraints of gravity will likely be unprepared for adulthood and to live unsupervised. Even astronauts that appear to break away from gravity cannot live as though gravity does not apply to them or that it is an old notion from a time long past.
If they ignore the earth and moon's gravity's effect on them or their effect on each other they will likely end up where they do not want to go. The effect of gravity can pull you off just the slightest and as Elder Uchtdorf has pointed out before, being of our course by just a little bit can over time and distance be a large distance off our target.
Does that make sense that God's commandments are explaining how things work and not just a bunch of arbitrary rules to keep us from what we want?
“In teaching the gospel, we do not re-create the material world around us; we deal with the intangible world within us, and there is a big difference. None of the ordinary tools are available to us. To convey to a youngster the idea of a cat is much simpler than to convey the idea of faith; faith is very difficult to describe.
“For instance, how big is faith? We soon learn that size is not helpful. Only vaguely can we talk to a youngster who knows nothing about faith by talking about an amount, such as much faith, or little faith. We can’t tell him what color it is. We can’t tell him what shape it is. We can’t tell
him what texture it is.” (Elder Boyd K Packer, Teach Ye Diligently, rev. ed. , 31–32).
Gravity is a symbol that we can use to understand God's laws. Jesus and others have used the symbols of parables to help us to understand the mysteries of God.
The Ten Virgins
Someone tell the parable of the ten virgins.
Who are the ten virgins? Who are the five foolish?
Elder Oaks explained a little bit about the ten virgins.
“The arithmetic of this parable is chilling. The ten virgins obviously represent members of Christ’s Church, for all were invited to the wedding feast and all knew what was required to be admitted when the bridegroom came. But only half were ready when he came.” (April 2004 General Conference, “Preparation for the Second Coming”)
President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency said:
“If we become casual in our study of the scriptures, we will become casual in our prayers.
“We may not cease to pray, but our prayers will become more repetitive, more mechanical, lacking real intent. Our hearts cannot be drawn out to a God we do not know, and the scriptures and the words of living prophets help us know Him” (“Prayer,” Ensign, Nov. 2001, 17).
Part of the preparation of the wise virgins, the righteous, is to prepare by making a meaningful relationship with God in their prayer and scripture time, rather than just rushing through.
“I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball , 67)
“What if the day of His coming were tomorrow? If we knew that we would meet the Lord tomorrow—through our premature death or through His unexpected coming—what would we do today? What confessions would we make? What practices would we discontinue? What accounts would we settle? What forgivenesses would we extend? What testimonies would we bear?” (Elder Dallin H Oaks, April 2004 General Conference, “Preparation for the Second Coming”)
The wise virgin, the righteous, do their best to not wait to do away with bad habit, to forgive people, and to confess their sins and repent.
“The movies and magazines and television that shape our attitudes are filled with stories or images that portray the children of God as predatory beasts or, at best, as trivial creations pursuing little more than personal pleasure. And too many of us accept this as entertainment.”
(Elder Dallin H Oaks, April 2004 General Conference, “Preparation for the Second Coming”)
The righteous wise virgins, are careful about their entertainment. The righteous wise virgins do their best to not put their pleasure above the things of God. They do their best to understand the commandments like the sabbath and set aside their own pleasures and in place do their best to understand what Father would have them participate in on Sunday, even in the privacy of our own homes and rooms.
“While we are powerless to alter the fact of the Second Coming and unable to know its exact time, we can accelerate our own preparation and try to influence the preparation of those around us.” (Elder Dallin H Oaks, April 2004 General Conference, “Preparation for the Second Coming”)
The righteous wise virgins raise their bar of acceptable behavior and accelerate their preparation to meet the Savior.
Doctrine and Covenants 88:88-90
88 And after your testimony cometh wrath and indignation upon the people.
89 For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her, and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand.
90 And also cometh the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds.
He sent prophets and apostles, special witness, to testify that Jesus was returning soon. He then began to send natural disasters to humble the people and get their attention that His return is soon.
Jst Matthew 1:49-50 - the Second Coming
49 Who, then, is a faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
50 Blessed is that servant whom his lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing; and verily I say unto you, he shall make him ruler over all his goods.
The righteous are those that are found doing their duty.
Stake theme for the month: Seek the blessings of the temple by studying about the covenants.
Elder Richard J. Maynes, The Christmas Story Is a Family Story
“The Christmas story is a family story. “
“The Christmas story is a story of a family that connects heaven and earth. Each member of Jesus’s earthly family—Mary, Joseph, and Jesus—stands as supernal examples of God’s Christmas gift to all mankind. The Christmas story should spiritually motivate us to emulate the attributes of this holy family. This family was unified in seeking God’s glory; unified in serving one another; unified in fulfilling God’s will; and unified in sacrifice, obedience, and love. This holy family provides us a pattern of attributes that, when emulated by our own families, will enable us to enjoy the same blessings of unity and love they enjoyed.”
“Mary teaches us the importance of trusting in the Lord.”
“Joseph was a man of humility and complete integrity.”
“Now the example of Jesus Christ—Jesus fulfilled with perfect obedience His role as the Christ. He offers us the example of obedience, pure love, sacrifice, and loyalty to His Heavenly Father’s plan.”
“Brothers and sisters, this holy family—Jesus Christ, Mary, and Joseph—provides a loving pattern of celestial attributes that, when emulated by us, will surely lead us back into the presence of God..”
Sister Bonnie Oscarson, Christmas Is Christlike Love
“When God wants a great work done in the world or a great wrong righted, he goes about it in a very unusual way. He doesn’t stir up his earthquakes or send forth his thunderbolts. Instead, he has a helpless baby born. … And then God waits. The greatest forces in the world are not the earthquakes and the thunderbolts. The greatest forces in the world are babies.”(In Charles L. Wallis, ed., The Treasure Chest (1965), 53, as quoted by Gordon B. Hinckley in “These, Our Little Ones,” Ensign, Dec. 2007, 5–6)
“A few years ago we had a daughter living in Connecticut. She attended a Relief Society meeting one evening at which everyone was invited to share a story from the life of one of their ancestors. She listened to a sister named Donna tell a story which has had a great deal of meaning to her family through the years and which involved a simple act of kindness shown at Christmastime. Our daughter was amazed to hear that the name of the person who had shown kindness was her own great-great-grandfather. It was a sweet experience as our daughter and Donna shared notes after and realized how their ancestors had touched each other’s lives.”
"As we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ this season, let us also celebrate all that His birth symbolizes, especially the love. When we see shepherds, may we remember to be humble. When we see wise men, may we remember to be generous. When we see the star, may we remember the Light of Christ, which gives life and light to all things. When we see a tiny baby, may we remember to love unconditionally, with tenderness and compassion. "
Elder D Todd Christofferson, The Condescension of God and of Man
“We find it remarkable that the very Son of God, the great Jehovah of old, should be born into this mortal world in the humblest of circumstances. An inn would have been lowly enough, but it was not even an inn. Rather it was a stable, and the babe was laid on the hay of a manger where common animals fed. Even so, the greater condescension is that Jesus should have submitted to mortality at all, even if He were to be born in the best and most elegant of circumstances. With Paul, we marvel at ‘God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh’2—that He should have become a baby; that He should have been a child and then a man, suffering ‘temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue’3 and even death.”
8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.
“And so at Christmas, the stories of sacrifice and ministering multiply across the world. Our gifts and service gladden hearts; the kindness of others pours healing balm into our own wounds. It is living the Savior’s way of life. And since, as He, we came down from heaven to do the will of the Father, it must not be only an annual event, but rather the pattern of our lives.”
President Henry B Eyring, The Light and the Life of the World
“Tonight our hearts have been drawn to the Savior, and our commitment to follow Him has been strengthened. The beautiful lights placed in this Conference Center are a symbol of the joy we have felt.”
“They were drawn, on that sacred night, to go to the Savior. What they saw with their physical eyes, in the stable, was a tiny baby. What they went to verify was visible only through spiritual feelings. We know that the Light of Christ is an influence that we can recognize by its effects.”
“Every soul who walks the earth, wherever he lives, in whatever nation he may have been born, no matter whether he be in riches or in poverty, had at birth an endowment of that first light which is called the Light of Christ, the Spirit of Truth, or the Spirit of God—that universal light of intelligence with which every soul is blessed.” (Stand Ye in Holy Places: Selected Sermons and Writings of President Harold B. Lee (1974), 115)
“With all the strength of my soul, I testify that God lives, that his Beloved Son is the firstfruits of the resurrection, that the gospel of Jesus Christ is that penetrating light that makes of every hopeless dawn a joyful morning.” (Thomas S. Monson, “Hopeless Dawn—Joyful Morning,” Ensign, May 1976, 12)