I’m delighted with this experience. When I got home tonight, my young son Lawrence said, “Dad, you know The Wizard of Oz is on at six o’clock, The Ten Commandments is on at eight o’clock, and The Greatest Story Ever Told is on Channel 5. You might not have anyone there.” I’m grateful you’re here. I told one of our great stake presidents here tonight that even more terrifying than speaking in general conference is to address the Church members of the ten stakes here in the Marriott Center.
Well, I’d like to ask you a question as I begin tonight. If you had the great privilege of preparing the message for tonight, what would you talk about? You see, Easter Day is rapidly drawing to a close—another Easter, one after another, through all the years—and again tonight, what would you talk about if this assignment were yours? I’ve thought about that a great deal for the past six weeks. And I’ve added note after note to a little file for the BYU ten-stake fireside. Then, as I prepared the talk, I finally threw most of those items out and started all over again. I feel impressed tonight that we must talk about the Savior, hopefully in a way that might be different and a new experience for you and help you to draw closer to him than you’ve ever been before in your life. This is all I would hope to achieve. I want nothing more than for you to have a spiritual experience tonight with the Savior.
Adam’s Pattern for Life
May we lead off by talking about Adam. When Adam was driven out of the Garden of Eden, he built an altar and offered sacrifice.
And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.
And then the angel spake saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth.
Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore. [Moses 5:6-8]
I’d like to draw your attention to the formula for living in that one statement: “Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son.” Now what if every single man from Adam on down had patterned his life after that simple formula? What a change in life we’d have here tonight, and what a change in life we’d have across the whole earth. Imagine the benefit and the great blessing. Well, as life would have it, men aren’t prone to do those things. But Adam had the formula given to him, lo these many years ago, by an angel of the Lord.
Enoch’s Love and Compassion
I’m impressed with Enoch. I love to read in the book of Moses. I think, of all the sheer pleasure reading I do, the book of Moses probably impresses me about as much as anything. Enoch, you recall, beheld the heavens weep, and then he beheld God weeping. Then Enoch said:
And Enoch said unto the Lord: How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity?
And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations; and thy curtains are stretched out still; and yet thou art there, and thy bosom is there; and also thou art just; thou art merciful and kind forever;
And thou hast taken Zion to thine own bosom, from all thy creations, from all eternity to all eternity; and naught but peace, justice, and truth is the habitation of thy throne; and mercy shall go before thy face and have no end; how is it thou canst weep? [Moses 7:29–31]
Now I’ve thought about this scripture and about this Jesus. I’ve thought that if it were possible to number the particles of the earth, yea millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of his creations. You think about that and think about going down on the beach and letting the sand run through your hand all day and only covering a small part of the beach. Think about this Jesus and the multitudes, yea the number, even the myriads of creations made by him. I don’t believe we understand even in the smallest degree who this great being and soul is.
Then, of course, you recall why the Lord said he wept: “Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands” (Moses 7:32).
Then he talked about their wickedness. He then let Enoch have the privilege of seeing all the men who lived on this earth, who ever would live upon this earth, and Enoch wept, “and his heart swelled as wide as eternity” (Moses 7:32). You know, I’ve had that happen in my life. Not as Enoch did, of course but I’ve been in meetings and had my heart filled with love and compassion for every living soul on the face of the earth. It is just one of those great blessings that comes. It doesn’t come very often, but when it comes I feel as if I couldn’t harm, as I believe Joseph F. Smith said, the smallest insect.
Well, then, let’s talk about Jesus in Moses’ time. Moses beheld the Savior, and he was in his presence, and then the presence withdrew from him. Moses had the privilege, during that day, of seeing all the myriads of beings who had lived upon the earth, who then lived upon the earth, or who ever would live upon the earth. Then Moses made the great statement, “Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed” (Moses 1:10). Just think, there are four billion people upon the earth and approximately 3.4 million Latter-day Saints—one for every 1,100 people on the face of the earth. If just the Latter-day Saints knelt down and prayed to a kind and loving Heavenly Father, who with his discernment and his ability can comprehend every single prayer and answer them in his way, then of course we can begin to understand just a little more about his son and our great Savior, and who he is.
The Faith of the Brother of Jared
I am impressed as I read in Ether about how Jared, his brother, and their families gathered around the Tower of Babel. You recall the confusion of tongues. Jared asked his brother to kneel down and ask the Lord that their tongues might not be confused, and the blessing was granted to them and their families. Then you recall the great trek they made through the wilderness, and how they finally arrived on the shores of the great waters, and how they built barges. Then Jared told his brother to go back again before the Lord, which the brother of Jared did, and to ask, “how will we have air?” The barges, as you recall, were tight, and the Lord showed him how to have fresh air. Then the brother of Jared said, “I have prepared the vessels for my people, and behold there is no light in them. Behold, O Lord, wilt thou suffer that we shall cross this great water in darkness?” (Ether 2:22).
And the Lord talked about windows, saying “for behold, ye cannot have windows, for they will be dashed in pieces; . . . for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come” (Ether 2:24–25). So he left the problem with the brother of Jared.
The brother of Jared went up into the mountain and made sixteen stones, transparent as crystal or glass, and then he brought these molten stones down out of the mountain and laid them before the Lord. Once again he knelt down before the Lord and I guess in the greatest depth and understanding of prayer, he said things to the Lord in his weakness and lack of understanding. “Now behold, O Lord, and do not be angry with thy servant because of his weakness before thee. . . . Therefore touch these stones, O Lord, with thy finger, and prepare them that they may shine forth in the darkness” (Ether 3:2, 4). And the Lord reached forth his finger and touched the stones one by one, and they became light. The brother of Jared beheld the finger of the Lord, and he fell to the earth. “And the Lord said unto him: Arise, why hast thou fallen? And he saith unto the Lord: “I saw the finger of the Lord . . . I knew not that the Lord had flesh and blood” (Ether 3:7, 8).
And then the Lord said, “Sawest thou more than this?” (Ether 2:9).
And the brother of Jared said, “Nay; Lord, show thyself unto me” (Ether 2:10)
The Lord said, “Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence” (Ether 2:13). And the Lord showed himself unto the brother of Jared in that hour, and the brother of Jared beheld the Lord and was redeemed from the fall. And the personage with whom he had that experience was Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was prepared before the foundation of the earth. Now think about this great being, the God of the Old Testament, the God of the brother of Jared, who assisted in the building of the ship, who was there to reach forth his hand and touch each of the stones, who helped the brother of Jared with his great faith and caused the Jaredites to cross the great waters and to become a great and mighty people insomuch that they covered the entire land. We read of the feeling which the brother of Jared must have felt toward him, because the brother of Jared was might in writing, and his writings are mighty.
Then let us look down to Enos, the son of a prophet. Jacob, his father, had beheld the Savior. “I have beheld my redeemer,” he said. Then Enos, having had these words come into his heart as never before in his life, went out as a young man to hunt beasts in the forests. He wrote:
The words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.
And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.
And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.
And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away.
And I said: Lord, how is it done?
And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. [Enos 3–8]
Now because of faith in Christ we can have our guilt swept away. That’s an impressive thing. To think that transgression comes into the life of every man—to some in a great degree and to some in a lesser degree. I have had many great privileges, these past three years, of interviewing hundreds and hundreds of people—many prospective missionaries, many who were unworthy, many who sought repentance, some who had repented and some who had not repented. Some to whom I had to say, “No. You’re not ready to go on a mission yet.” And there were others that I could feel were at total peace with the Spirit and to whom I could say, “Yes. You may go.” I have had opportunity to visit with men in high places in the Church who have transgressed and to counsel with them and feel the varying degrees of repentance.
When you think that each one in this congregation tonight has some great or lesser transgression, and that the Lord our god, even Jesus Christ, has the power to take sin from our hearts—what manner of man is he? What manner of being is this Jesus we worship?
Then, of course, we have the great conversion of Alma. His father was a prophet and a just man who had a wayward son. I guess he prayed and fasted that his son might have a spiritual experience. The Lord heard the prayers of the elder Alma. Alma relates this story, about how he and the sons of Mosiah went about seeking to destroy the church of God, to his son Helaman:
Behold, God sent his holy angel to stop us by the way.
And behold he spake unto us, as it were the voice of thunder, and the whole earth did tremble beneath our feet; and we all fell to the earth, for the fear of the Lord came upon us.
But behold, the voice said unto me: Arise. And I arose and stood up, and beheld the angel.
And he said unto me: If thou wilt of thyself be destroyed, seek no more to destroy the church of God.
And it came to pass that I fell to the earth; and it was for the space of three days and three nights that I could not open my mouth, neither had I the use of my limbs. . . .
But I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the great degree and racked with all my sins.
Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments.
Yea, and I had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction; yea, and in fine so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror.
Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds.
And now, for three days and three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul.
And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.
Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.
And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.
And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!
Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.
Yea, methought I saw, even as our father Lehi saw, God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praising their God; yea, and my soul did long to be there. [Alma 36:6–10, 12–22]
Someone has said that nighttime demands from the overburdened soul the things which daylight denies. Many of you have sat through the long, dark hours of the night with a lonely, heavy heart, and you know how long a night can be. Think about suffering to the greatest degree for three days and three nights, and then remember one Jesus Christ. Catch hold of this thought, as Alma did when he cried within him. When he did that, the transgression was taken from his heart, his repentance was complete, and joy and light filled his soul.
Well, again, let’s consider the maker and creator of all, who has such power over us that after three days and nights of torment our minds can be released of this terrible burden of sin. I think we must never forget that fact, for every one of us will use this power during our lifetime, to a great or lesser degree.
The Lamanites’ Conversion
One of the greatest stories in the Book of Mormon, to me, one with which I thrill, is the story of Ammon and King Lamoni, who he converted, as they are on their way to free Ammon’s brethren from prison. They meet Lamoni’s father, the king over all of the Lamanites. I won’t go through all of the details, but finally an arrangement is made whereby Ammon or his representative can teach Lamoni’s father, and Aaron is selected. So Aaron meets with the king of all the Lamanites and teaches him all day long, from the beginning to the end, or at least through a great period of gospel history. And the scriptures say:
After Aaron had expounded these things unto him, the king said: What shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken? Yea, what shall I do that I may be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may not be cast off at the last day? Behold, said he, I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy.
But Aaron said unto him: If thou desirest this thing, if thou will bow down before God, yea, if thou wilt repent of all thy sins, and will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest.
And . . . the king did bow down before the Lord, upon his knees; yea, even he did prostrate himself upon the earth, and cried mightily, saying:
O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a god, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day. [Alma 22:15–18]
In the Church we are called upon to do many things, but this king said, “I’ll give away my kingdom; I’ll forsake all my sins.” We have the gospel of Jesus Christ, and yet many of us hang onto our sins—however slight, however devious—some greater and some lesser. We read the kinds of material that we never should read. We think thoughts that a Latter-day Saint never ought to think. We see the kinds of movies that a Latter-day Saint never ought to see, and so these things come into our hearts, and yet we have the truth. If we could just gain the Spirit to the smallest degree that this great king had when he said, “Behold . . . I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy.” I think we ought to renew our effort in living the gospel. In the New Testament we read, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). And then the verse that we hear President Romney quote so beautifully and then so powerfully relate to it: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). He said many people talk about knowing God, but do they reallyknow him? Do they really know God?
Well, we have heard a lot today in different meetings, I am sure, about Easter and the many things that transpired at the garden tomb. I guess one of the most beautiful was when the ten apostles were gathered together, as recorded in Luke: “Jesus himself stood in the midst of them. . . . But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? 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” (Luke 24:36-39). Here we see the great God of heaven coming back once again as the resurrected Savior of this world.
Samuel’s Prophecies Fulfilled
Now I believe that one of the most thrilling stories of all is in the last part of the book of Helaman, when Samuel, the Lamanite prophet, climbs upon the high wall and talks about the signs that were going to take place at the time of Jesus’ coming into the world, and the signs at the time of his crucifixion and death. He said, “There shall be one day and a night and a day, as if it were one day and there were no night; . . . there shall be many signs and wonders in heaven . . . signs of his coming” (Helaman 14:4, 6, 12).
Then he gave a great discourse and went on to say “But behold, . . . in that day that he shall suffer death the sun shall be darkened and refuse to give his light unto you; and also the moon and the stars; and there shall be no light upon the face of this land, even from the time that he shall suffer death, for the space of three days, to the time that he shall rise again from the dead” (Helaman 14:20). He then told of terrible destructions that would take place. All of these things he prophesied, and many of the Nephites believed and sought Nephi and were baptized. Others tried to throw stones at him and shot arrows. But God, I am sure, withheld the arrows, for they could not touch him. Then Samuel, you remember, jumped down from the wall and retreated into his Lamanite country, and there he prophesied. And we hear no more about Samuel the Lamanite.
Nephi, the son of Helaman, had a son named Nephi. The elder Nephi turned the records, the brass plates, over to his son and went off and was heard of no more. His son now had charge. There was a day set aside by the unbelievers when, if the signs prophesied by Samuel the Lamanite did not take place, all the believers would be put to death. You will recall that Nephi knelt before the Lord and prayed all the day long and finally heard the words of the Savior: “Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfill all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets” (3 Nephi 1:13). And the sign was given, and “the more part of the people did believe, and were converted unto the Lord” (3 Nephi 1:22).
It was only for a short period—as oftentimes we go through a troublous period, and then return to our rebellious ways and rationalize, as those people did—until many of them fell back into their evil ways. But the believers continued to look for the promised signs of the Savior’s crucifixion. In the thirty-fourth year, on the first month and the fourth day, a great storm arose, as had never been seen before in the Land, a tempest beyond anything they had known. As this tempest rose, there were also whirlwinds and earthquakes which caused great destruction and covered many cities. People were buried, and many were burned, Solid masses of rock were in seams and fragments, and there become new high places and new low places. It is recorded in 3 Nephi 8 that sixteen cities were burned or buried in the depths of the sea. Then after this terrible destruction that lasted for about three hours, you recall that a darkness settled upon the land.
It was so dark that even the finest of kindling could not be lighted. No candle or torch could be lighted which would penetrate the darkness.
The Savior’s Appearance to the Nephites
Then the words of Jesus Christ came out of the heavens declaring the extent of the destruction. He said, “Behold the city of Zarahemla have I caused to be burned, and the city of Moroni have I buried in the depths of the sea, and the city of Moronihah have I caused to be buried and in its place is a high mountain.” He went on to list all the destructions that had taken place. Then he was quiet for a period of time, and the people were quiet. Then again the voice came back and declared many more things.
On the fourth morning the sun came up, and great changes had taken place across the land (see 3 Nephi 9). Approximately six weeks later, according to James E. Talmage’s Jesus the Christ, the saints were gathered around the temple in the land which is called Bountiful. They talked about Jesus and the great change that had taken place in the land, and suddenly they heard a voice out of the heavens saying, “Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him” (3 Nephi 11:7).
As they looked from whence the voice came, they saw a man descending out of heaven in their midst, and they thought it was an angel. As he descended he said, “Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world . . . and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me” (3 Nephi 11:10, 11). Then he commanded that every person there—about 2,500—come forth and feel the prints in his hands and in his side, so each would have an absolute witness and testimony that this was Jesus the Christ. Then they all fell at the feet of Jesus and worshiped him.
This next thing is thrilling to me. The Lord commanded that Nephi should come forth—2,500 people, and he selects one man to come forth. And Nephi came forth and bowed and kissed the feet of the Savior. And you will recall he then called others forth, and they were given power. And Jesus taught them many things. Let me refer to the fifth chapter of Matthew and the Sermon on the Mount. He taught these same things, only in a much fuller degree, to the Nephites, and he gives them in 3 Nephi, chapters 12 and 13.
And in chapter 15 he says, “And verily I say unto you, that ye are they of whom I said: Other sheep I have which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (3 Nephi 15:21). He told them other things. And finally the compassionate, sweet, loving Jesus, whom I adore, said:
I perceive that ye are weak, that ye cannot understand all my words which I am commanded of the Father to speak unto you at this time.
Therefore, go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again.
But now I go unto the Father, and also to show myself unto the lost tribes of Israel, for they are not lost unto the Father, for he knoweth whither he hath taken them.
And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus spoken, he cast his eyes round about again on the multitude, and beheld they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them.
And he said unto them: Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you.
Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.
For I perceive that ye desire that I should show unto you what I have done unto your brethren at Jerusalem, for I see that your faith is sufficient that I should heal you.
And it came to pass that when he had thus spoken, all the multitude, with one accord, did go forth with their sick and their afflicted, and their lame, and with their blind, and with their dumb, and with all them that were afflicted in any manner; and he did heal them every one as they were brought forth unto him.
And they did all, both they who had been healed and they who were whole, bow down at his feet, and did worship him; and as many as could come for the multitude did kiss his feet, insomuch that they did bathe his feet with their tears.
And it came to pass that he commanded that their little children should be brought.
So they brought their little children and set them down upon the ground round about him, and Jesus stood in the midst; and the multitude gave way till they had all been brought unto him.
And it came to pass that when they had all been brought, and Jesus stood in the midst, he commanded the multitude that they should kneel down upon the ground. . . .
And after this manner do they bear record: The eye hath never seen, neither hath the ear heard, before, so great and marvelous things as we saw and heard Jesus speak unto the Father;
And no tongue can speak, neither can there be written by any man, neither can the hearts of men conceive so great and marvelous things as we both saw and heard Jesus speak; and no one can conceive of the joy which filled our souls at the time we heard him pray for us unto the Father.
And it came to pass that when Jesus had made an end of praying unto the Father, he arose; but so great was the joy of the multitude that they were overcome.
And it came to pass that Jesus spake unto them, and bade them arise.
And they arose from the earth, and he said unto them: Blessed are ye because of your faith. And now behold, my joy is full.
And when he had said these words, he wept, and the multitude bare record of it, and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them.
And when he had done this he wept again;
And he spake unto the multitude, and said unto them:
Behold your little ones.
And as they looked to behold they cast their eyes towards heaven, and they saw the heavens open, and they saw angels descending out of heaven as it were in the midst of fire; and they came down and encircled those little ones about with fire; and the angels did minister unto them.
And the multitude did see and hear and bear record; and they know that their record is true for they all of them did see and hear, every man for himself; and they were in number about two thousand and five hundred souls; and they did consist of men, women, and children. [3 Nephi 17:2–13, 16–25]
Joseph Smith’s Revelation
Finally, in this last day, the Prophet Joseph said:
However, it was nevertheless a fact that I had beheld a vision. I have thought since, that I felt much like Paul, when he made his defense before King Agrippa, and related the account of the vision he had when he saw a light, and heard a voice; but still there were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. . . all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise; and though they should persecute him unto death, yet he knew, and would know to his latest breath, that he had both seen a light and heard a voice. . . .
So it was with me. I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; . . . and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision: I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation. [Joseph Smith 2:24, 25]
To me that is so thrilling. I was there. I knew the Prophet Joseph had those experiences. It isn’t hard for me to believe, without one particle of doubt, that the Prophet Joseph Smith saw our Heavenly Father and his Son Jesus Christ, and that this great God referred Joseph Smith to Jesus Christ. “This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Joseph Smith 2:17). I would think, as President Kimball said, that if all we could tell the world was the Joseph Smith story, we could convert the world. We have so much to offer in this Church.
We have those in the Church who think if they only could understand more about the Adam-God theory—or they ask if Jesus Christ was married. You know, what a great thing it is if we understand what faith is. What is faith? How does it work? Do you have total faith? When we come to a full and total understanding of faith, then I think we ought to move on to repentance. When we understand that totally, then we should move through the principles. But I doubt we will ever really get through an understanding and complete knowledge of faith in a lifetime. I don’t care how intellectual you are, or how long you study, I doubt you will ever come to an end of the study of faith, the first principle of the gospel. The gospel is so simple that a fool will not err therein, but it is so beautiful and so sophisticated that I believe the great intellectual can make a study of faith and never come to an end of understanding.
Our Experience with the Savior
I think, in our day, section 45 of the Doctrine and Covenants thrills me because it talks about the Redeemer. The Lord says:
Hearken, O ye people of my church, to whom the kingdom has been given; hearken ye and give ear to him who laid the foundation of the earth, who made the heavens and all the hosts thereof, and by whom all things were made which live, and move, and have a being.
And again I say, hearken unto my voice, lest death shall overtake you; in an hour when ye think not the summer shall be past, and the harvest ended, and your souls not saved.
Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him.
Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified;
Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life. [D&C 45:1–5]
Would you think of anyone you’d rather have as an advocate than our beloved Savior?
Finally, in the most glorious testimony of all, Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith had this great experience open to them. They said:
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 world are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God. [D&C 76:22–24]
I bear my solemn witness to you tonight that I know he is the Lord of Lords, the God of heaven and earth, the great “I AM”—God. I know that he is my Redeemer, Emmanuel. I know that he is the lover of my soul, the great Atoner, and I know that he is my beloved Savior.
I pray that each one of us might be nearer to him tonight, nearer and dearer to him than we’ve ever been, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
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Vaughn J. Featherstone was second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when this fireside address was given at Brigham Young University on 30 March 1975.