We all have our free agency and God holds us accountable for the way we use it in thought and deed. "Kindness, compassion, and love are powerful instruments in strengthening us to carry heavy burdens imposed without any fault of our own and to do what we know to be right." Elder Dallin H. Oaks
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Here we are living in ‘a great and dreadful day’ with higher learning and so many comforts of life. We have access to so much information and can advance so fast in society. Yet, there are still so many who struggle and suffer, especially for knowledge and truth about their origin and destiny. One of the most important needs we have is the knowledge of who we are, why we are here and where we came from; religion.
If people would just stop and think about life and see those that are truly happy, they will find it is because they have searched their hearts with prayer and in their minds with studying and reading good books, have found peace within knowing that God is there; realizing He has provided the way to return as His children with with an eternal plan where marriages and families can be together forever! May I share?
Over the history of this world, there have been many religious leaders who felt inspired and caused many people to follow. Each of us has the right to learn with the freedom and power to choose ’The Way’ we wish to live our lives and believe. That’s why we came here. They also become set and immoveable and will not hear or listen to many truths that have come forth. If the world only knew what they were missing!
Here are 10 facts about 12 major religions.
These pages summarise the main features of the 12 largest world religions, which together are followed by almost 80% of the world’s population. These beliefs are described without passing any judgment on their truth or otherwise. Not included here are so-called “tribal” and African religions (6%), spiritism, the Eastern religions Cao Dai and Juche (less than 1% in total) and non religious (16%). Source for numbers is www.adherents.com.
Baha’i, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism and Islam
K’ung Fu-tzu (Confucius)
Brahmins – the priestly class of the invading Aryans
Place & time
Middle East (Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria), 1860s CE
Nepal, 500 BCE
Palestine, 30 CE
China 500 BCE
India, about 1500 BCE
Arabia, 620 CE
Local religion at the time
Judaism & Roman polytheism
Evolved from more primitive beliefs
Writings of Baha’u'llah & others – principally Kitab-l-Aqdas
Teachings of the Buddha written down much later & not treated as revelation
Bible, especially the New Testament
K’ung Fu-tzu’s writings
Many writings, mainly the Vedas (1000 BCE) & Upanishads (500 BCE)
Qur’an, written down by Muhammed
No. of adherents worldwide
400 million (combined with Taoism)
Nature of religion
Monotheism with revealed teachings – fulfils Judaism, Christianity and Islam
Dharmic. Way of life to achieve enlightenment
Monotheism with revealed teachings – fulfils Judaism
Taoic. Social & political ethics
Dharmic. Devotional rituals & tradition to achieve release from cycle of rebirth.
Monotheism with revealed beliefs – mixture of corporate & personal worship and ethics
Nature of God(s)
Monotheistic, ethical, personal
Pantheistic & impersonal – life force (Brahmin) and many gods/aspects
Monotheistic, personal, ethical
How to please God(s)
Eightfold Path between extremes of asceticism & materialism
Repentance & faith in Jesus
Devotion, good works, knowledge & yoga to reduce karma (caused by bad behaviour) & maya (illusion)
Five Pillars – profession of faith, prayer/worshp, alms, fasting, pilgrimage to Mecca
Rewards & punishments
Life is a preparation for the next life (does this mean everyone enters afterlife?)
Life of acceptance & Nirvana
Life with God in this world and the next (or not)
Cycle of rebirth until karma dissolved & released.
Paradise for believers
Prayer & meditation leading to action – little emphasis on ritual (no churches or priests). Informal meeting every 19 days + festivals
Meditation, disciplined living to reduce suffering (recognising “impermanence, suffering & no-self”)
Weekly meetings, sharing faith & serving others
Respect for ancestors
Temples as homes to deities & shrines,
priests & rituals, individual holy men
Five Pillars, Friday prayers at mosque, ritual washing and prayers
With all of this confusion in the world and deciding what to believe, is there any wonder why there are so many religions today? It is not God’s fault but man’s.
“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” 1 Corinthians 14:33
At some point in each of our lives we will each ask these questions:
Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going?
When God created this world, he gave Adam and Eve all of the knowledge they needed with answers to these questions. He even walked and talked with them in the Garden of Eden. Many of those truths have since been lost, distorted, and misinterpreted over time causing so many people in the world to have no religion at all; athiest.
Many precious parts were taken out of the Bible during the days of Constantine about 300-400 AD and are missing. But are those truths lost? No.
Jesus Christ gave his words to all that would hear. And for that, He was Crucified. But, after Jesus rose from the dead, He ascended into Heaven, which is Paradise; a holding place where we go after death until judgement day. He also returned and visited several peoples (or ‘sheep‘, He being the Shepherd) of various nations around the world and gave them His word and covenants, letting them know that He was also their Savior and Redeemer. He commanded them to write His words as a record to come forth at such a time as this when He knew there would be much confusion.
Some records have come already come forth and several others will soon be coming forth.
Those records or books have and will reveal many of the ‘lost’ promising truths and covenants, and blessings for which many religions have no answers.
God Created all things spiritually BEFORE He created them physically.
“And I, God, created man in mine own image, in the image of mine Only Begotten created I him; male and female created I them.”Moses 2:27
“… And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew. For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth. For I, the Lord God, had not caused it to rain upon the face of the earth. And I, the Lord God, had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground; for in heaven created I them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air;” Moses 3:5
“And I, the Lord God, formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul, the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also; nevertheless, all things were before created; but spiritually were they created and made according to my word.”Moses 3:7
Many ‘Plain and precious truths and doctrines’ of the gospel have been restored:
‘We are NOThuman beings having Spiritual experiences.
We ARESpiritual beings having human experiences.’
It is my testimony that God lives and that He created this world with its Creation, Fall and Atonement of Jesus Christ, and worlds without number along with God-given laws, ordinances and doctrines. His plan makes it possible for all people to be exalted and live forever with God (2 Ne. 2:9), a glory of the celestial, which excels in all things – where God, even the Father, reigns upon his throne forever and ever. D&C 76:92. The scriptures also refer to this plan as the plan of salvation, the plan of happiness, and the plan of mercy.
We lived before as spirit children of God and battled in heaven over good and evil. One third of those spirit children followed Satan and were cast out of heaven with Satan into everlasting darkness. Those that won that war chose to come to this earth, to progress and become more like our Heavenly Parents by gaining a physical body and becoming creators of life ourselves.
We are here on earth to be tested as a ‘natural man’ (which is an enemy of God), to gain intelligence (which is the Glory of God), and to be tempted by Satan once again over good and evil and to make choices that will directly effect one’s future; and mansion in heaven where one goes to live after we die, and are judged on condition of living forever in a resurrected state, not subject to physical death. Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. 1 Corinthians 3:13
This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, John 17:3 (D&C 132:24). We must fight the good fight of faith and lay hold on eternal life. (1 Tim. 6:12) People are free to choose liberty and eternal life, (2 Ne. 2:27) (Hel. 14:31). To be spiritually minded is life eternal. (2 Ne. 9:39) Then are ye in the narrow path that leads to eternal life. (2 Ne. 31:17–20) God gives eternal life to the obedient, (Moses 5:11).
To believe in Christ and endure to the end is life eternal,2 Ne. 33:4 (3 Ne. 15:9). He that hath eternal life is rich, D&C 6:7 (D&C 11:7). Eternal life is the greatest of all the gifts of God, D&C 14:7 (Rom. 6:23). The righteous will receive peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, D&C 59:23 Those who endure to the end shall have a crown of eternal life, D&C 66:12 (D&C 75:5). If the marriage of a man and a woman has been sealed in the house of the Lord, they and their offspring will be together eternally as a family.
All who die without the gospel who would have received it had they lived are heirs of the celestial kingdom, D&C 137:7–9. This is all a part of God’s eternal Plan of life for His children because “God’s work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man, Moses 1:39; ’man’ refers to all mankind, both male and female. All men and women are the literal, spiritual offspring of a Heavenly Father. When they are born into mortality, they receive physical, mortal bodies. These bodies were created in God’s image (Gen. 1:26–27). Men and women who are faithful in receiving the necessary ordinances, keeping their covenants, and obeying God’s commands will enter into their exaltation and become as God. And if thou art faithful unto the end thou shalt have a crown of immortality, and eternal life in the mansions which I have prepared in the house of my Father. D&C 81:6.
Have you ever seen a baby chick that didn’t become a chicken? A pony always becomes a horse? We as children become like our parents. ”Like Father like son; like Mother like daughter”.
I hope this has made you think about what you might be missing and that you will reach within for answers that are real. Again remember, ‘God is NOT the author of confusion’. I invite you to pray with real intent that you may enter into the rest of the Lord. The Spirit of Christ can be with you and enable you to know good from evil. Satan persuades men to deny Christ and do evil. The prophets manifest the coming of Christ with faith, miracles are wrought and angels will minister unto you. All mankind shoud hope for eternal life and cleave unto charity always doing good.
This I know to be true,
Strengthening The Family – Spiritually
You were entrusted to come to the earth in these last days to do again what you did before—to once again choose good over evil.
The flood of pornographic filth, the inordinate emphasis on sex and violence are not peculiar to North America. The situation is as bad in Europe and in many other areas. The whole dismal picture indicates a weakening rot seeping into the very fiber of society.
Legal restraints against deviant moral behavior are eroding under legislative enactments and court opinions. This is done in the name of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of choice in so-called personal matters. But the bitter fruit of these so-called freedoms has been enslavement to debauching habits and behavior that leads only to destruction. A prophet, speaking long ago, aptly described the process when he said, “And thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell” (2 Ne. 28:21).
Good Versus Evil
You and I have come into the world at a most significant time. We are entering the final stages of a great war. This war commenced before the foundations of the world and has been pursued with awful consequence throughout the world’s history. I speak of the war between the followers of Christ and all those who deny Him as their God. 1
John the Revelator wrote concerning this war:
“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
“And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
“And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”2
It was Satan who instigated this premortal war. He did so by rebelling against our Father’s plan of salvation for His children and rejecting the Christ, who was designated to effectuate the plan. Tragically, a third of our Father’s children followed Satan.3Yet two-thirds did not. You were among these, and with them have come to earth to pursue the Father’s plan of happiness.
Unfortunately, Satan’s war did not end with his expulsion from heaven. As John observed, Satan and his followers were “cast out into the earth”4and have come here with “great wrath.”5The evidence of their wrath can be seen in the blood and horror that has afflicted man from the beginning of time.
So profound and extensive have been the wounds suffered among men that God Himself wept as He surveyed man’s condition.6
We now find ourselves in the last days of this earth’s temporal history. In a coming day, our Father’s Son will return to the earth from which He was rejected and reclaim it as His own.7In that day, He will subdue Satan and his legions and usher in a thousand years of peace and righteousness.8In anticipation of that day, God has restored His kingdom to the earth one last time.
While God’s kingdom has been established on the earth in times past, the people to whom the kingdom was previously committed were unable to keep it. This time, however, is different. The prophetic promise is that this time God’s kingdom will not be lost but will overcome the world.10
To ensure its ultimate success, the final restoration of God’s kingdom has been commenced with unprecedented spiritual power11and is being sustained by that same spiritual power and something more. Reserved to come forth in these last days and labor for our Father and His Son are some of the most valiant and noble of our Father’s sons and daughters. Their valiance and nobility were demonstrated in the pre-earth struggle with Satan. There, “being left to choose good or evil,” they “[chose] good” and exhibited “exceedingly great faith” and “good works.”12Such are the traits that are now needed to sustain the work of God in the earth and to save the souls of men from the intensifying wrath of the adversary.
You are the strength of the Lord’s house, His warriors!
You are those who chose good over evil and who exhibited “exceedingly great faith” and “good works.” And because of your personal history, you were entrusted to come to the earth in these last days to do again what you did before—to once again choose good over evil, exercise exceedingly great faith, and perform good works—and to do so in behalf of the kingdom of God on the earth and your fellowman!
Satan knows that “he hath but a short time.”14Therefore, Satan is marshalling every resource at his disposal to entice you into transgression. He knows that if he can draw you into transgression, he may prevent you from marrying and securing your future children in the faith. He knows that nothing can overthrow God’s kingdom “save it [be] the transgression of [his] people.”15Make no mistake about it—the focus of his war is now on you—you who seek to “keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”16
The days that lie ahead are “perilous.”17In this regard, President Boyd K. Packer has observed:
“I know of nothing in the history of the world to compare with our present circumstances. Nothing happened in Sodom and Gomorrah which exceeds in wickedness and depravity that which surrounds us now.”18
In referring to the perils of our day, I do not intend to inspire fear, but soberness. Being sober means being earnest and serious in assessing your circumstances and careful and circumspect in weighing the consequences of your actions. Soberness therefore yields good judgment, as well as measured conduct.
So, as we enter the final climactic stages of the war against Satan, be sober. Understand that you cannot partake of drugs, alcohol, or tobacco. You cannot participate in pornography or other immoral activity. You cannot lie, cheat, or steal. You cannot use false, demeaning, or dirty language. You cannot deface your body with tattoos and other piercings. You cannot do these things and be victorious in the battle for your own soul, let alone be a valiant warrior in the great struggle for the souls of all the rest of our Father’s children.23
Understand that there is only one way to win the war against Satan, and that is to win it in the same way it was won in the beginning.
When victory was finally achieved in the War in Heaven, a loud voice was heard to declare:
“Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ. …
“For they [referring to Michael and his angels] have overcome him [referring to the devil] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; for they loved not their own lives, but kept the testimony even unto death.”24
Do not miss the significance of this declaration. Satan was overcome in the beginning by (1) faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice, (2) testimony of Him that was steadfastly kept to the very end, and (3) consecration of oneself to the Lord and His work. If this was the means for defeating him in the beginning, you can be sure that this is the one sure way to defeat him now.25
These are your days! Do not squander them! Be sober! Take “the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall … quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”31Then “fight the good fight of faith.”32And when you have done all, “stand”33still and “see the salvation of the Lord.”34I assure you that His salvation will come, delivering you and yours from every evil.
The Lord has said that in the last days there will be “wars and rumors of wars, and the whole earth shall be in commotion, and men’s hearts shall fail them” (D&C 45:26). As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are a people of peace. We follow the Savior, who is the Prince of Peace. We look forward to His millennial reign, when wars will end and peace will be restored to the earth (see Isaiah 2:4). However, we recognize that in this world, government leaders sometimes send military troops to war to defend their nations and ideals.
Latter-day Saints in the military do not need to feel torn between their country and their God. In the Church, “we believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law” (Articles of Faith 1:12). Military service shows dedication to this principle.
If Latter-day Saints are called upon to go into battle, they can look to the example of Captain Moroni, the great military leader in the Book of Mormon. Although he was a mighty warrior, he “did not delight in bloodshed” (Alma 48:11). He was “firm in the faith of Christ,” and his only reason for fighting was to “defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion” (Alma 48:13). If Latter-day Saints must go to war, they should go in a spirit of truth and righteousness, with a desire to do good. They should go with love in their hearts for all God’s children, including those on the opposing side. Then, if they are required to shed another’s blood, their action will not be counted as a sin.
There is a war happening right now over good and evil! We must be prepared and protect our families and loved ones. We must also protect our rights and freedoms and maintain the right to bear arms as our forefathers warned us in the Second Ammendment of the Constitution.
Have you ever thought about the amount of light and energy generated by our sun? The amount is almost beyond comprehension. Yet the heat and light that we receive come as a free gift from God.
The light from the sun breaks through space, bathing our planet as it encircles the sun with life-giving warmth and light. Without the sun, there could be no life on this planet; it would be forever barren, cold, and dark.
As the sun gives life and light to the earth, a spiritual light gives nourishment to our spirits. We call this the Light of Christ. The scriptures teach us that it “lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” Thus, all mankind can enjoy its blessings. The Light of Christ is the divine influence that allows every man, woman, and child to distinguish between good and evil. It encourages all to choose the right, to seek eternal truth, and to learn again the truths that we knew in our premortal existence but have forgotten in mortality.
The Light of Christ should not be confused with the personage of the Holy Ghost, for the Light of Christ is not a personage at all. Its influence is preliminary to and preparatory to one’s receiving the Holy Ghost. The Light of Christ will lead the honest soul to “hearkeneth to the voice”.
The Holy Ghost is a personage of Spirit, a separate and distinct member of the Godhead. He is a witness or testifier of the power of God, the divinity of Christ, and the truth of the restored gospel. Many throughout history in all nations have sought diligently to commune with the heavens and gain the light of gospel truth. They have felt the influence of the Holy Ghost confirm the truth of the gospel.
“There is a difference between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before he was baptized, which was the convincing power of God unto him of the truth of the Gospel, but he could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after he was baptized. Had he not taken this … ordinance upon him, the Holy Ghost which convinced him of the truth of God, would have left him.”
The Lord calls the gift of the Holy Ghost “the unspeakable gift.” It is the source of testimony and spiritual gifts. It enlightens minds, fills our souls with joy, teaches us all things, and brings forgotten knowledge to our remembrance. The Holy Ghost also “will show unto us all things what we should do.”
It is the greatest guarantor of inward peace in our unstable world.
How great a blessing it is to have the ministering influence of a member of the Godhead.” Think of what this means, the ability and the right to receive the ministrations of a member of the Godhead, to commune with infinite wisdom, infinite knowledge, and infinite power!
As with all gifts, this gift must be received and accepted to be enjoyed. Scriptures warn us that the Spirit of the Lord will not always strive with man. The Holy Ghost will warn us of danger, and it will inspire us to help others in need. We watch. We wait. We listen for that still, small voice. When it speaks, wise men and women obey. Promptings of the Spirit are not to be postponed.”
I once had the opportunity to tour a large cave. While there, the guide turned off the lights for a moment to demonstrate what it was like to be in total darkness. It was an amazing experience. I put my hand an inch from my eyes and could not see it. It was frightening in a way. I was relieved when the lights were turned back on.
As light penetrates the darkness and makes physical things visible, so does the Holy Ghost penetrate the spiritual darkness that surrounds us and make plainly visible spiritual things that once were hidden. The Apostle Paul taught that the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Some are distracted by the things of the world that block out the influence of the Holy Ghost, preventing them from recognizing spiritual promptings. This is a noisy and busy world that we live in. Remember that being busy is not necessarily being spiritual. If we are not careful, the things of this world can crowd out the things of the Spirit.
Some are spiritually deadened and past feeling because of their choices to commit sin. Others simply hover in spiritual complacency with no desire to rise above themselves and commune with the Infinite.
If they would open their hearts to the refining influence of this unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, a glorious new spiritual dimension would come to light. Their eyes would gaze upon a vista scarcely imaginable. They could know for themselves things of the Spirit that are choice, precious, and capable of enlarging the soul, expanding the mind, and filling the heart with inexpressible joy.
More than ever before we need to keep the spirit of the Lord and it will lead us right. Be careful and not turn away the small still voice; it will teach you what to do and where to go. Keep hearts open to conviction, so that when the Holy Ghost comes to them, their hearts will be ready to receive it.
Do we turn away the still, small voice? Do we do things that offend the Holy Ghost? Do we allow influences into our homes that drive the Spirit from our homes? The type of entertainment that we permit into our homes will certainly have an impact on the power of the Holy Ghost. Much of the entertainment of the world is offensive to the Holy Ghost. Surely we should not watch movies or television shows that are filled with violence, vulgar language, and immorality.
I invite you to ponder individually in a humble and prayerful manner and ask yourself: “Do I have the Spirit in my life? Am I happy? Am I doing anything in my life that is offensive to the Spirit and preventing the Holy Ghost from being my constant companion?” Have the courage to repent, if needed, and again enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost.
Do we enjoy the influence of the Holy Ghost in our homes? Are we doing anything as a family that is offensive to the Spirit? Can we more effectively invite the Holy Ghost into our homes?
Our homes need to be more Christ-centered.
We should spend less time in the pursuit of pleasure. We should lower the noise level in our homes so that the noise of the world will not overpower the still, small voice of the Holy Ghost. One of our greatest goals as parents should be to enjoy the power and influence of the Holy Ghost in our homes. We should pray and study the scriptures. We could sing the hymns to invite the Holy Ghost into our home. Regular family home evening together will also help.
In these perilous times, we need this unspeakable gift in our lives. We need not live in fear of the future. We have every reason to rejoice and little reason to fear. If we follow the promptings of the Spirit, we will be safe, whatever the future holds. We will be shown what to do.
We can distinguish the gift of the Holy Ghost from all other spirits, for “it will whisper peace and joy to their souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife and all evil from their hearts; and their whole desire will be to do good, bring forth righteousness and build up the kingdom of God.”
A friend of mine once told me about his experience in coming to know and understand the gift of the Holy Ghost. He had prayed often and longed to know the truth.
Although he felt at peace with his beliefs, he had never received the certain knowledge for which he hungered. He had reconciled himself to the fact that he might be one of those who would have to walk through this life relying upon the faith of others.
One morning, while pondering the scriptures, he felt something surge through his body from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. “I was immersed in a feeling of such intense love and pure joy,” he explained. “I cannot describe the measure of what I felt at that time other than to say I was enveloped in joy so profound there was no room in me for any other sensation.”
I urge you with all the tenderness of my heart—do not resist the truth any longer. Give place in your hearts to this heavenly light. Have faith, repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and you too shall receive this unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost.
If we would open our hearts to the refining influence of this unspeakable gift, a glorious new spiritual dimension would come to light.
The Spirit can prompt you and protect you . . . but you have to LISTEN!
The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. He is a personage of spirit, without a body of flesh and bones. He is often referred to as the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of the Lord, or the Comforter.
He is the Comforter (John 14:26). As the soothing voice of a loving parent can quiet a crying child, the whisperings of the Spirit can calm our fears, hush the nagging worries of our life, and comfort us when we grieve. The Holy Ghost can fill us “with hope and perfect love” and “teach [us] the peaceable things of the kingdom” (Moroni 8:26; D&C 36:2).
He is the Holy Spirit of Promise (see Ephesians 1:13; D&C 132:7, 18–19, 26). In this capacity, He confirms that the priesthood ordinances we have received and the covenants we have made are acceptable to God. This approval depends on our continued faithfulness.
In this ever trying world, may we choose well and listen to that “still small voice” or the Spirit and be led to safety, success, answers to your questions, and eventually to The Way of Everlastin g life with our Heavenly Parents once again.
The Lord has said that in the last days there will be “wars and rumors of wars, and the whole earth shall be in commotion, and men’s hearts shall fail them” (D&C 45: 26). As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are a people of peace. We follow the Savior, who is the Prince of Peace. We look forward to His millennial reign, when wars will end and peace will be restored to the earth (see Isaiah 2: 4). However, we recognize that in this world, government leaders sometimes send military troops to war to defend their nations and ideals.
Latter-day Saints in the military do not need to feel torn between their country and their God. In the Church, “we believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law” (Articles of Faith 1: 12). Military service shows dedication to this principle.
If Latter-day Saints are called upon to go into battle, they can look to the example of Captain Moroni, the great military leader in the Book of Mormon. Although he was a mighty warrior, he “did not delight in bloodshed” (Alma 48: 11). He was “firm in the faith of Christ,” and his only reason for fighting was to “defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion” (Alma 48: 13). If Latter-day Saints must go to war, they should go in a spirit of truth and righteousness, with a desire to do good. They should go with love in their hearts for all God’s children, including those on the opposing side. Then, if they are required to shed another’s blood, their action will not be counted as a sin.
Bless Those Of Our Military and Those Who Gave The Ultimate Price.
Reaching out to others in love and compassion
is essential to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
President George Albert Smith said, “I do not have an enemy that I know of, and there is no one in the world that I have any enmity towards. All men and all women are my Father’s children, and I have sought during my life to observe the wise direction of the Redeemer of mankind—to love my neighbor as myself. … You will never know how much I love you. I have not words to express it. And I want to feel that way toward every son and every daughter of my Heavenly Father.”
President Smith demonstrated his love for others through countless acts of compassion. One observer noted: “It is characteristic of President Smith to go out of his way on errands of personal comfort and blessing to many who are sick, who are down-hearted, and who have cause to be grateful for his cheerful encouragement. It is not uncommon to see him, before and after office hours, walking hospital halls, visiting room after room, blessing, encouraging, and cheering with his unexpected appearances in those places where his comforting and reassuring presence is so gratefully welcome. … It is characteristic of him to go wherever he feels that he can give help and encouragement.”
A story about President Smith who was going out of his way to show love for someone in need:
“On a cold winter morning, the street cleaning crew [in Salt Lake City] was removing large chunks of ice from the street gutters. The regular crew was assisted by temporary laborers who desperately needed the work. One such wore only a lightweight sweater and was suffering from the cold. A slender man with a well-groomed beard stopped by the crew and asked the worker, ‘You need more than that sweater on a morning like this. Where is your coat?’ The man replied that he had no coat to wear. The visitor then removed his own overcoat, handed it to the man and said, ‘This coat is yours. It is heavy wool and will keep you warm. I just work across the street.’ The street was South Temple. The good Samaritan who walked into the Church Building to his daily work and without his coat was President George Albert Smith. His selfless act of generosity revealed his tender heart. Surely he was his brother’s keeper.”
All people are our brothers and sisters, children of our Heavenly Father.
We look upon all men as our brothers, all women as our sisters; we look upon the face of every human being that is in the world as a child of our Father, and believe that as each is in the image of the Father, so also each possesses a spark of divinity that if developed will prepare us to return to His presence.
That is our understanding of the purpose of our existence in the world, and explains our interest in our fellowmen. Many have supposed that we were exclusive in our lives, and some have thought that we were clannish. The fact is, we look upon every child that is born into the world, as a son or daughter of God, as our brother or our sister, and we feel that our happiness will not be complete in the kingdom of heaven unless we enjoy the companionship of our families and those of our friends and associates with whom we have become acquainted and in whose interest we give so much of our time on earth.
As I think of my regard and my affection for my Father’s family, the human family, I remember something my earthly father said, and I think probably I inherited that in part from him. He said, “I have never seen a child of God so deep in the gutter that I have not had the impulse to stoop down and lift him up and put him on his feet and start him again.” I would like to say I have never seen one of my Father’s children in my life that I have not realized he was my brother and that God loves every one of his children.
What a happy world it would be if men everywhere recognized their fellowmen as brothers and sisters, and then followed that up by loving their neighbors as themselves.
The gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us to love all of God’s children.
The gospel teaches us to have charity for all and to love our fellows. The Savior said:
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, this is the first and great commandment.
“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” [Matthew 22:37–40.]
Brethren and sisters, if the gospel of Jesus Christ, as delivered to you, has not planted that feeling of love in your hearts for your fellow men, then I want to say that you have not enjoyed the full fruition of that wonderful gift.
Our ministry is one of love. Our service is one which enriches our lives. … If we are living as God intends that we should live, if we are ministering as he desires that we should minister, every day of our lives is enriched by the influence of his Spirit, our love of our fellowmen increases and our souls are enlarged until we feel that we could take into our arms all of God’s children, with a desire to bless them and bring them to an understanding of the truth.
As members of the Church of Christ, we should keep His commandments and love one another. Then our love should pass beyond the border lines of the Church with which we are identified, and reach out after the children of men.
Let us evidence by our conduct, by our gentleness, by our love, by our faith, that we do keep that great commandment that the Savior said was like unto the first great commandment, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
We exercise charity by reaching out to those who need help and encouragement.
The measurement of the result of what love and charity may bring into the world is impossible. Opportunity is offered in every branch and ward and mission field to go about radiating sunshine, developing happiness and lifting up those who are discouraged, and bringing joy and comfort to those who are in distress.
The Lord says this:
“See that ye love one another; cease to be covetous; learn to impart one to another as the gospel requires. …
“And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace.” [D&C 88:123, 125.] …
… Are you following his advice with reference to charity? I want to say that at this particular period of our lives we need to exercise charity, not only in imparting of our substance to those who are in need, but we need to have charity for the weaknesses and failures and mistakes of our Father’s children.
If we find a man or a woman who has not succeeded in life, one who is weakening in his faith, let us not turn our backs upon him; let us make it a point to visit him, and go to him in kindness and love, and encourage him to turn from the error of his way. The opportunity to do individual work among us as a people is present everywhere; and there are few men and few women in this Church who could not, if they would, reach out a little farther from the circle with which they are identified, and say a kind word, or teach the truth to some of our Father’s children. … This is our Father’s work. It is the most important thing that we will be identified with in this life.
I have only good will in my heart for mankind. I haven’t any animosity in my heart toward any living human being. I know some that I wish would behave themselves a little better than they do, but that is their loss, not mine. If I can get my arm around them and help them back on the highway of happiness by teaching them the gospel of Jesus Christ, my happiness will be increased thereby. … You cannot drive people to do things which are right, but you can love them into doing them, if your example is of such a character that they can see you mean what you say.
True happiness comes from loving and serving others.
Do not forget no matter how much you may give in money, no matter how you may desire the things of this world to make yourselves happy, your happiness will be in proportion to your charity and to your kindness and to your love of those with whom you associate here on earth. Our Heavenly Father has said in very plain terms that he who says he loves God and does not love his brother is not truthful [see 1 John 4:20].
It isn’t only what we receive that makes us happy; it is what we give, and the more we give of that which is uplifting and enriching to our Father’s children, the more we have to give. It grows like a great fountain of life and bubbles up to eternal happiness.
When our life here is ended and we return home, we will find credited to us there every good act we have performed, every kindness we have done, every effort we have put forth to benefit our fellows. …
… Let us evidence our appreciation of what the Lord has given us by serving Him, and we are serving Him when we do good to His children. Freely we have received, now freely give [see Matthew 10:8]. With hearts warmed with love and kindness for our fellow men, let us press steadily on until the final summons shall come, and we shall meet our record. Then, if we have improved our talents, if we have been honest, true, chaste, benevolent, and charitable, and have sought to uplift every soul with whom we have associated, if we have lived up to the light we have received, and disseminated that light whenever opportunity has presented, how happy we will be and how our hearts will swell with gratitude when we receive from the Maker of heaven and earth that welcome plaudit: “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” [Matthew 25:21.]
In our eternal pursuit of perfection, we must be wary of the adversary’s counterfeit.
We are all familiar with the New Testament scripture “Be ye therefore perfect” (Matt. 5:48). The pursuit of perfection is holy, and those who center their lives on this pursuit are blessed. But, as with every good and holy thing, Satan is on hand to sabotage our efforts. Because becoming perfect through Christ is a powerful and important doctrine, Satan . . . comes up with a counterfeit. The counterfeit is often set up to look very much like the real thing, but it differs in important ways. . . . Perfectionism is a counterfeit of real spirituality and is easily confused. 1
Satan’s counterfeit promotes the belief that everything must be done perfectly right now. Such an expectation runs counter to the whole purpose of God’s eternal plan—which purpose is for us to gain experiences, to learn from them, and to grow. God’s counsel to the early Saints was to “continue in patience until ye are perfected” (D&C 67:13). Satan’s deceptive and cunning approach is to convince us that if we want God’s approval, we must do more than we know how or are prepared to do. That naturally sets the stage for developing feelings of being overwhelmed and discouraged—by ourselves and often by those around us. In this and other areas, Satan’s strategy does not require that we commit great sins. He just needs to keep us distracted from things of eternal consequence.
Quoting Marion G. Romney, Elder Dallin H. Oaks (BS ’54) noted that “Satan is a skillful imitator” and added that he “uses every possible device to accomplish his purpose to degrade and enslave every soul.”2 Satan is adept at robbing us of our courage, confusing us, making us believe that we are not good or capable enough, that our lives are out of control. In contrast to God’s counsel, he wants us to be pushed beyond our strength, to be weary in well doing. He wants us to believe that we must bargain with the Lord for His blessings and that we may not be helped or guided unless we continue in a driven frenzy.
Satan is a wretched soul, and he wants us to be as unhappy as he is. And, if he succeeds, if we give in to what he wants instead of what we truly want, we can miss some of life’s most valuable learning experiences and be diverted from our journey back home. The result, as Nephi said, is that “the devil cheateth their souls and leadeth them away carefully down to hell” (2 Ne. 28:21) as he seeks “the misery of all mankind” (2 Ne. 2:18).
“Peace be unto thy soul” (D&C 121:7) is an important message for us to remember. We are living in a day of harsh competition and unreasonably high expectations coming from many directions. Inherent in the message of peace is one of wisdom to not run faster than we have strength (see D&C 10:4). It is good to have plans, goals, and high expectations for ourselves. But when we experience tears, exhaustion, and feelings of depression, it may mean that we are self-imposing unrighteous expectations.
As we come to accept that perfection is a developmental process, something we learn “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” (2 Ne. 28:30), we can let go of guilt trips and over-complication of our lives. We can better understand the truly wondrous gift of the Atonement, which as Elder Bruce C. Hafen (BA ’66) has said, is not just to erase our mistakes, but to provide a way for us “to learn from our mistakes without being condemned by them.”3
1.“There Is Hope and Help: Dealing with Depression” (presentation, BYU Women’s Conference, Provo, April 30, 2010).
2.“Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall,” in Brigham Young University 1991–92 Speeches (Provo: BYU, 1992), pp. 107–8.
3.“A Disciple’s Journey,” in Brigham Young University 2007–08 Speeches(Provo: BYU, 2008), p. 300.
This essay is adapted from an October 2010 address by Janet S. Scharman,BYU vice president of student life. The full text is included in Virtue and the Abundant Life: Talks from the BYU Religious Education and Wheatley Institution Symposium (Deseret Book).
Answering Our Accusers In The Savior’s Way – It Takes Christian Courage
Kept From The Truth Because They Know Not Where To Find It
That Is Christian Courage
Recently I have been getting some of my really good blog and internet followers and friends on my websites and social networks that wonder why I don’t speak out and defend myself more actively when accusations that are made against me or my beliefs by those who don’t agree, can’t live moral standards, or are just trying to upset me when I post my feelings and various articles about certain values and principles and those religious truths that I believe and know to be true. Yes, sometimes I have had to block someone from my various sites who are trouble makers or have a personal agenda and are so blunt or who curse, and others that I have tried to just ignore or reason with and try to explain my thinking, my beliefs and those values in which I believe.
To their inquiry I would say that one of mortality’s great tests comes when our beliefs are questioned or criticized. In such moments, we may want to respond aggressively—to “put up our dukes.” But these are important opportunities to step back, pray, and follow the Savior’s example. Remember that Jesus Himself was despised and rejected by the world. And in Lehi’s dream, those coming to the Savior also endured “mocking and pointing … fingers” (1 Nephi 8:27). “The world hath hated [my disciples],” Jesus said, “because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:14). But when we respond to our accusers as the Savior did, we not only become more Christlike, we invite others to feel His love and follow Him as well.
Responding in a Christlike Way
To respond in a Christlike way cannot be scripted or based on a formula. The Savior responded differently in every situation. When He was confronted by wicked King Herod, He remained silent. When He stood before Pilate, He bore a simple and powerful testimony of His divinity and purpose. Facing the moneychangers who were defiling the temple, He exercised His divine responsibility to preserve and protect that which was sacred. Lifted up upon a cross, He uttered the incomparable Christian response: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Some people mistakenly think responses such as silence, meekness, forgiveness, and bearing humble testimony are passive or weak. But to “love [our] enemies, bless them that curse [us], do good to them that hate [us], and pray for them which despitefully use [us], and persecute [us]” (Matthew 5:44) takes faith, strength, and, most of all, Christian courage.
Our Prophet Joseph Smith demonstrated this courage throughout his life. Though he “suffer[ed] severe persecution at the hands of all classes of men, both religious and irreligious” (Joseph Smith—History 1:27), he did not retaliate or give in to hatred. Like all true disciples of Christ, he stood with the Savior by loving others in a tolerant and compassionate way.That is Christian courage.
When we do not retaliate—when we turn the other cheek and resist feelings of anger—we too stand with the Savior. We show forth His love, which is the only power that can subdue the adversary and answer our accusers without accusing them in return. That is not weakness. That is Christian courage.
Opportunity in Opposition
Through the years we learn that challenges to our faith and family values are not new, and they aren’t likely to disappear soon. But true disciples of Christ see opportunity in the midst of opposition.
Experience shows that seasons of negative publicity about the Church or principles of belief can help accomplish the Lord’s purposes. In 1983 the First Presidency of our Church wrote to our leaders, “Opposition may be in itself an opportunity. … These criticisms create … interest in the Church. This provides an opportunity [for members] to present the truth to those whose attention is thus directed toward us.”1The same goes for those principles that are good for The Family.
We can take advantage of such opportunities in many ways: a kind letter to the editor, a conversation with a friend, a comment in an email, a blog, or a reassuring word to one who has made a disparaging comment. We can answer with love those who have been influenced by misinformation and prejudice—who are “kept from the truth because they know not where to find it” (D&C 123:12). I assure you that to answer our accusers in this way is never weakness. It is Christian courage in action.
As we respond to others, each circumstance will be different. Fortunately, the Lord knows the hearts of our accusers and how we can most effectively respond to them. As true disciples seek guidance from the Spirit, they receive inspiration tailored to each encounter. And in every encounter, true disciples respond in ways that invite the Spirit of the Lord.
One should never become contentious when discussing their faith. The Savior has said, “He that hath the spirit of contention is not of me” (3 Nephi 11:29). More regrettable than the Church being accused of not being Christian is when Church members react to such accusations in an un-Christlike way! May our conversations with others always be marked by the fruits of the Spirit—“love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, [and] temperance” (Galatians 5:22–23). To be meek, as defined in Webster’s dictionary, is “manifesting patience and longsuffering: enduring injury without resentment.”2Meekness is not weakness. It is a badge of Christian courage.
This is not to suggest that we compromise our principles or dilute our beliefs. We cannot change the doctrines of the restored gospel, even if teaching and obeying them makes us unpopular in the eyes of the world. Yet even as we feel to speak the word of God with boldness, we must pray to be filled with the Holy Ghost (see Acts 4:29, 31). We should never confuse boldness with Satan’s counterfeit: overbearance (see Alma 38:12). True disciples speak with quiet confidence, not boastful pride.
As true disciples, our primary concern must be others’ welfare, not personal vindication. Questions and criticisms give us an opportunity to reach out to others and demonstrate that they matter to our Heavenly Father and to us. Our aim should be to help them understand the truth, not defend our egos or score points in a theological debate. Our heartfelt testimonies are the most powerful answer we can give our accusers. And such testimonies can only be borne in love and meekness.
True disciples avoid being unduly judgmental of others’ views. My family and I have cultivated strong friendships with those who are not members of our Church. We need them, and they need us. As President Thomas S. Monsonhas taught, “Let us learn respect for others. … None of us lives alone—in our city, our nation, or our world.”3
Staying on the High Ground
As the Savior demonstrated with Herod, sometimes true disciples must show Christian courage by saying nothing at all. Some may try to provoke us and engage us in argument. In the Book of Mormon, we read about Lehonti and his men camped upon a mount. The traitorous Amalickiah urged Lehonti to “come down” and meet him in the valley. But when Lehonti left the high ground, he was poisoned “by degrees” until he died, and his army fell into Amalickiah’s hands (see Alma 47). By arguments and accusations, some people bait us to leave the high ground. Sometimes others want us to come down off the high ground and join them in a theological scrum in the mud. These few contentious individuals are set on picking religious fights, online or in person. We are always better staying on the higher ground of mutual respect and love.
In doing so, we follow the example of the prophet Nehemiah, who built a wall around Jerusalem. Nehemiah’s enemies entreated him to meet them on the plain, where “they thought to do [him] mischief.” Unlike Lehonti, however, Nehemiah wisely refused their offer with this message: “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:2–3). We too have a great work to do here at TheFamily.com and in spreading the love of Jesus Christ, which will not be accomplished if we allow ourselves to stop and argue and be distracted. Instead we should muster Christian courage and move on. As we read in Psalms, “Fret not thyself because of evildoers” (Psalm 37:1).
To my inquiring friends and all who seek to know how we should respond to our accusers, I reply, we love them. Whatever their race, creed, religion, or political persuasion, if we follow Christ and show forth His courage, we must love them. We do not feel we are better than they are. Rather, we desire with our love to show them a better way—the way of Jesus Christ. His way leads to the strait and narrow path of righteous living, and the temple of God. He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Only through Him can we and all our brothers and sisters inherit the greatest gift we can receive—eternal life and eternal happiness. To help them, to be an example for them, is not for the weak. It is for the strong. It is for you and me as friends and believers who pay the price of discipleship by answering our accusers with Christian courage.
We must never become contentious when we are discussing our faith or values.
When we respond to our accusers as the Savior did, we not only become more Christlike, we invite others to feel His love and follow Him as well.
Like all true disciples of Christ, they stood with the Savior by loving others in a tolerant and compassionate way. That is Christian courage.
True disciples of Christ see opportunity in the midst of opposition.
“For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only keptfromthetruth because they know not where to find it.”D&C 123: 12