Sunday, February 7, 2016

Christ, Conversion, Covenants, Commandments, and Common Sense

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The following talks were given during the Saturday afternoon session of the October 1971 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
I read them.  Interestingly enough, the testimonies, doctrines and principles contained in these messages are still true today, even after almost 45 years.  I'll spare you the most of the commentary, but here are a few highlights:

Elder LeGrand Richards tells the following story in relation to the unique doctrine of eternal marriage:

"A few years ago while I was president of the Southern States Mission, I delivered a sermon one night in Quitman, Georgia, on the eternal duration of the marriage covenant and the family unit. I read from Brother Rulon S. Howells’ book Do Men Believe What Their Church Prescribes? (Deseret Book Co., 1932.) He has a chart there where he lists all the major churches and then their statement and attitude toward the major doctrinal principles, including this one about the eternal duration of the marriage covenant, and not one believes this.

I just cannot understand how they could read the Bible and yet not believe, and how marriages could be performed in the churches all over the world until death do you part. What a flimsy concept! Why don’t they go back to the time when God had finished the creation of this earth, and looked upon it and found it good, and placed Adam here, at which time he said: “It is not good that the man should be alone. …” (Gen. 2:18.) He made a helpmeet for him, saying, “… and they shall be one flesh.” (Gen. 2:24.) Now what God joins together and makes one flesh, you couldn’t separate without having two halves instead of two wholes. Jesus repeated that statement when he said:

“For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

“… what therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Matt. 19:5–6.)

At the close of that meeting, I stood at the door to shake hands with the people as they left, and a man came up and introduced himself to me as a Baptist minister. I said, “Did I misquote you here tonight?” “No, Mr. Richards,” he said; “it is just like you say. We don’t all believe all the things that our churches teach.” And I said, “And you don’t believe them either. Why don’t you go back and teach your people the truth? They will take it from you and they are not ready to take it from the Mormon elders yet.” He said, “I’ll see you again,” and that is all I could get from him that night.

The next time I went to that branch to hold a conference, about four months later, my coming was announced in the newspaper because I was the mission president. As I walked up to that little church, there stood that Baptist minister waiting for me. As we shook hands I said, “I would certainly be interested to know what you thought of my last sermon here.” He said, “Mr. Richards, I have been thinking about it ever since. I believe every word you said.” Then he said, “But I would like to hear the rest of it.” How could any man who has a true love for his wife and his children not want to believe that principle?

I like the little verse written by Anderson M. Baten, “To His Wife Beulah,” in which he said:

“I wed thee forever, not for now,
Not for the sham of earth’s brief years,
I wed thee for the life beyond the tears,
Beyond the heart pain and clouded brow.
Love knows no grave and it shall guide us dear
When life’s spent candles flutter and burn low.”

There are people like that who believe that marriage ought to be eternal, but there is no other church in all this world, outside of our church, as far as I know, that believes in the eternal duration of the marriage covenant."

He also shares the following story:

"While I was president of the Southern States Mission, a schoolteacher loaned a book to one of our Mormon children; and when the book came back, in it was an Articles of Faith card, and that schoolteacher read it. She went to her minister and said, “Why can’t our church have something like this?” The minister could not give her any satisfactory explanation, and so she wrote a letter to the Bureau of Information here in Salt Lake City. They sent her literature, they sent us her name, the missionaries called on her, and she joined the Church."

Elder James A. Cullimore speaks clearly on the elements of genuine repentance, including confession and forsaking of sin:

"Confession and forsaking, then, are the two important elements of repentance. After one has been brought to realize his transgression and made his determination to turn from it, he must humble himself to make his confession. It would be much easier to simply cease doing the wrong, in the case of serious sin, and say nothing to anyone. But to humble himself to confess it to the ones offended and to the bishop is a more sobering matter and takes real humility."

Elder Victor L. Brown relates a few beautiful stories of repentance and conversion from prison.  But the lesson for us is this:

"There are many who find themselves in circumstances similar to those of Jim and Ed—not necessarily confined to a correctional institution, but nevertheless in prison, a prison from which legal authorities cannot release them, a prison of personal habits such as alcohol, drugs, immorality, selfishness, dishonesty, laziness, aimlessness; yes, these can be more confining and damning than any state prison. Yet there is a way to escape to a freedom that surpasses anything designed by man—the kind of freedom Jim and Ed have found."

Elder A. Theodore Tuttle reminds us of the things that matter most.

"The world is full of foolish schemes. They contravene and hinder the purposes of the Lord. Some seek to change the God-given roles of the sexes. Some invite mothers to leave the home to work. Others entice fathers to find recreation away from their families. These questionable practices weaken the home!"

What matters most?  Elder Tuttle explains:

"We must learn, before it is too late, the truth spoken by Elder Richard L. Evans: “There never was a tonic that would cure more social ailments than a healthy, happy home. There never was a greater source of social stability than an affectionate and understanding family. There never was a better way of helping children to happiness than the close confidence of wise and loving and responsible parents.” (From Within These Walls [New York: Harper & Bros., 1959], p. 191.)"

(Fast forward from Elder Tuttle's talk, or rewind from now to 2010 when Elder Uchtdorf gave a talk on a similar topic: Of Things That Matter Most):

Elder Sterling W. Sill reminds us that the ten commandments are not just helpful suggestions.  The ten commandments are still the same, even after all these years, and they're still commandments:

"1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
5. Honour thy father and thy mother.
6. Thou shalt not kill.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
8. Thou shalt not steal.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness.
10. Thou shalt not covet."

Elder Delbert L. Stapely teaches of our responsibility to save the world.  Here are a few important points to consider:
  • "Surely if the transgressions of men continue in an upward trend, and the world becomes ripe in iniquity, the judgments of God will be poured out in great measure upon the wicked of the earth. Our only hope of heavenly protection is in establishing righteousness and humility in the hearts of men everywhere. The Lord has promised that he shall have power over his saints and shall reign in their midst. It takes real courage and purpose to live a saintly life."
  • "I believe The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can save the world if its members will live as saints of God should. Each time we let down in living gospel principles, someone is sure to observe our conduct and form an unfavorable opinion about us and the spiritual values of the Church. Our faithfulness gives meaning to the doctrines we teach. The Savior emphasized this statement by saying: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16.)
  • "A recent convert wrote a letter in which he stated that he found the Mormon religion “a breath of sweet fresh air,” and then he gave eight reasons for leaving his former church and joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I will list them and comment briefly on each."
Here are the eight reasons, without the commentary (you can refer to the talk itself for the commentary):

"1. Wholesome family life.

2. Self-reliance and responsibility. 

3. Moral and physical discipline.

4. Obedience of children to parents.

5. Striving for perfection and excellence in all things.
6. Chastity and holy observance of the marriage covenant.

7. High standards in education. 

8. “Last, but not least,” this recent convert said, “is common sense.”"

To read what others have written on these talks, consult the following links:

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