Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Maryville Ward Talk

It was my privilege, some years ago, to fill out a missionary recommendation for Bishop and Sister Udy. Now there are a lot of things I could have said and I did not have much room on the application. I decided to add just one line of recommendation to their application.  Here it is:  "This is the couple every Mission President is praying for."

So, that's all I will say about that.

I trusted those to speak before me to give excellent talks on Fathers and Father's Day, and I was not disappointed. Because I had faith in the preceding speakers, I decided to give a little different Father's Day perspective.  I'd like to talk about returning to Heavenly Father and living with him when we leave this life.    
We recall the earth was created so we could learn -- learn to BE what we need to be to return to God's presence.  His work and his glory is to bring to pass our eternal life.  In order to do this, we have to become something we were not before we came here. 

This is done by attaining Christ-like attributes, which can be read about in Preach My Gospel, chapter 6.  I recommend this highly for your study.  The approach to God, however, is one which requires us to be worthy to partake of his Glory, which is defined in scripture this way:

            The Glory of God is Intelligence, or in other words, Light and Truth. D&C 93:36. 

So, the scriptures teach us we need light and truth in our lives.   This is headline #1, Light and Truth are crucial to our journey home.  "Light and Truth forsake that evil one." Verse 37

In section 130 we are told that we obtain Intelligence, which we know is Light and Truth, through diligence and obedience. This is headline #2, that we obtain this light and truth through diligence and obedience.  This puts the ball in our court.  We cannot blame circumstance or some sort of spiritual Darwinism for our spiritual circumstances.  We become what we become through our choices, through our diligence and obedience.

An example: A priest in the Aaronic Priesthood was having private discussion with his quorum adviser about his future.  Prominent in these discussions was whether or not he should serve a mission.  After much discussion, the young man finally said, "Brother Pearce, I just don't know if the Book of Mormon is true!"  Brother Pearce asked him a question, and I bet you know what is was: "Well, have you read the Book of Mormon?" You also know the answer: "No, I haven't" Hmmmm.  We can see there has been a lack of diligence here, leading to the very unhappy condition that this young man did not know the truth.

Oliver Cowdery had a similar experience when he took a turn trying to translate the Book of Mormon.  He couldn't, and he was very disappointed.  Why Not?  Through Joseph came the answer – "Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me." D&C 9:7

So let's underscore this point – we do not learn Spiritual things without effort on our part.  Your church leaders are not wise and knowledgeable about spiritual things because they are somehow "Like That."  They have, through obedience and diligence, BECOME that.

Let's look at how we can become "Like That."

The Savior taught (John 7: 17) If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

This says that we can learn the truth by doing it. We normally think that we can learn the truth by studying.  And that is helpful.  But not studying alone.  If all we do is study we are among those who are "ever learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth." (2 Tim 3:7) But here the Lord tells us we can learn the truth by living the principles of the gospel – even if we can't read, even if we think we are not smart, we CAN know the truth.

In fact, the things of God are not known at all by the natural man, because they are foolishness unto him.  The things of God cannot be known only by the Spirit of God, or the Holy Ghost. I Cor 2:11-14.

12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth.

In another place (John 8:31-32) the Savior again teaches this principle.
John 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Notice here he was teaching those who "believed on Him," that is, people like you and I.  To us he said we must "continue in his word."  That means we have to be diligent with that which we have received.  If not, we can lose the light we already have.

Don't you know people who have become less active and who, as a consequence "lose their testimonies"?  Of course.  You cannot keep light with you when you walk away from the source of the light. Darkness cannot comprehend light.  When we are choosing darkness we lose even our ability to comprehend light – we become as those to whom the wisdom of God is 'foolishness.'  Then, the Lord says, they "love darkness more than light because their deeds are evil." John 3:19.  By disobedience, people lose light.  This makes perfect sense, because by obedience people gain light and truth. And Light and Truth forsake that evil one.

In section 50:24 we read this: 

That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.

Can we see now why the Gift of the Holy Ghost is such a wonderful, special, sacred and desirable gift?  What is the purpose of the Holy Ghost?  To teach us how to return to Father! That is, how to receive eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.

"But," you may yet protest," I'm just not that way."  But you see, we are put here to BECOME 'that way.'  That is our whole purpose for being here.  Nothing else counts. The only scorecard that matters in the game is what you become in the end – based on receiving light and truth through diligence and obedience.  This means we have to change many of the things we do and many of the things we don't do.  And the first step is to believe this is true and you are capable of it.

Let's read an important scripture, Section 93, verses 38 and 39:

38 Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God.
39 And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers.

This scripture says you and I, in the beginning, were innocent before God.  Then when we cam to earth we were again innocent because Christ had redeemed us from the Fall of Adam. He also gave us the gift of the Light of Christ, which is sufficient, if we follow it, to take us to all truth; that is to take us to the gospel and the saving ordinances. (D&C 84:45-47) Now pay attention here, because verse 47 says, "And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father."

This is the true Father's Day Gift – that Father has given us the power to return to him.  Every one of us.  It is His intention that every person in this room return to him to live His kind of life and he has given us the spiritual tools to do so.  We have the light we need.  We have the truth. Every one who hearkens unto that light cometh unto God.  And he who receives the light and continueth in God, receives more light and that light grows brighter and brighter until the perfect day – the Perfect Fathers Day when we all return to Father, as He has planned for us.

D&C 6:10 "Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee about in the arms of my love."

May we, through our diligence and obedience, receive these marvelous gifts is my prayer.

1 Cor 2:  11 For what man aknoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God bknoweth no man, cbut the dSpirit of God.
 12 Now we have received, not the aspirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s awisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost bteacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
 14 But the anatural man breceiveth not the things of the cSpirit of God: for they are dfoolishness unto him: neither can he eknow them, because they are fspiritually gdiscerned.

Alma 27:18 Now was not this aexceeding joy? Behold, this is joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of bhappiness.

Helaman 3: 35 Nevertheless they did afast and bpray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their chumility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the dpurifying and the esanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their fyielding their hearts unto God.

John 7:  17 If any man will ado his bwill, he shall cknow of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

D&C 50:  24 That which is of God is alight; and he that breceiveth clight, and dcontinueth in God, receiveth more elight; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.

D&C 130:  19 And if a person gains more aknowledge and intelligence in this life through his bdiligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the cadvantage in the world to come.

D&C 93:  36 The aglory of God is bintelligence, or, in other words, clight and truth.
 37 Light and truth forsake that aevil one.
 38 Every aspirit of man was binnocent in the beginning; and God having credeemed man from the dfall, men became again, in their infant state, einnocent before God.
 39 And that awicked one cometh and btaketh away light and truth, through cdisobedience, from the children of men, and because of the dtradition of their fathers.
 40 But I have commanded you to bring up your achildren in blight and truth.

John 8:  31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye acontinue in my word, then are ye my bdisciples indeed;
 32 And ye shall aknow the btruth, and the ctruth shall make you dfree.

D&C 64: 33 Wherefore, be not aweary in bwell-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of csmall things proceedeth that which is great.
 34 Behold, the Lord arequireth the bheart and a cwilling mind; and the willing and dobedient shall eeat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.

D&C 84: 45 For the aword of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is blight, and whatsoever is light is cSpirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
 46 And the aSpirit giveth blight to cevery man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.
 47 And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit acometh unto God, even the Father.

Alma 12:And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to aknow the bmysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart conly according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him.
 10 And therefore, he that will aharden his heart, the same receiveth the blesser portion of the word; and he that will cnot harden his heart, to him is dgiven the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.
 11 And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser aportion of the word until they bknow nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the cchains of dhell.

TPJS p. 151
A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith p. 151)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

This is my journal entry for August 1, 1978.  It might be of interest, as a window on the past.

On July 30, 1978 the Bloomington Ward was divided into the Bloomington 1st and 2nd Wards. I was ordained Bishop of the 1st Ward by the Stake President Hollis R. Johnson.  I had been aware for some time that the ward would be divided because of my calling on the Stake High Council (Nov. 1977).  However, Bishop Mark Martinez was to remain Bishop.  However, 3 or 4 weeks before the division, President Johnson asked me to come to his home (this was a Friday night).  He went over many names for callings in the new wards, especially the 1st Ward, as the 2nd Ward retained all the auxiliary heads except the Sunday School President.  After getting my opinion on several names, he told me (as I left) that Bishop Martinez was leaving.  The entire selection process I had been going through suddenly became infinitely more relevant to me than it had been.  This especially hit me the following day as I brushed my teeth.

On Saturday, President Johnson and I rode up to the stake meetings in the back of his car while his wife drove. (She had, sensing something was up, put cotton in her ears.)  President Johnson told me that day that he would submit my name to SLC as Bishop.  I was sustained that day by the High Council.

For some months prior to this I have had some interesting experiences.  Especially noticeable were several manifestations of the Spirit – often during a church meeting.  They took the form of tearfulness, coming on suddenly, and what is usually described as swelling motions within my breast.  It was almost as if the tree of seed Alma was talking about was actually in my breast, and I could feel enlargening motions moving up and out from my sternum in smooth arcs.

I told Alzina, after this had been going on for some months, that something was happening to me.  Either I was going crazy and losing my grip on things or I was being prepared for something. I am now inclined toward the latter. I hope this continues and the Lord continues to be gracious in this regard.  The result has been a keener focus on church and gospel issues.  They seem much more important now – truly the center of what's important.

Subsequent to being ordained, I had the privilege of setting apart Shirley L. (Hank) Wankier as my First Counselor. His blessing centered upon his love for others and the fact that he would be able to reach and help people that others could not. 

I ordained Roy Samuelson a High Priest and set him apart as my 2nd Counselor. He was urged to read the scriptures and learn the gospel.  He was told the Lord was pleased with the job he and his wife had done in raising three fine boys. 

My blessing said I should get and organized scripture study program (I had been reading haphazardly lately). I was told that while studying the scriptures I would find answers to ward problems I had been contemplating. Also I was told to give the job the time it needed.  That, yes, I was a father and yes I had to earn a living, but devote the necessary time to the Bishop's calling.

I set apart Macauley Ferguson as the Ward Clerk.  He was very pleased and I feel that he will be loyal and faithful to me.  His blessing told him to walk in the light he currently possessed, and then he would get more light.  He was admonished to be faithful in every particular.

Some Editorial Notes:  Travelling in the car with President Johnson involved a trip from Bloomington to Indianapolis, about 45-50 minutes in duration.

My counselors succeeded me as Bishop in turn, first Brother Wankier and then Brother Samuelson.  This is a source of real satisfaction for me, as I truly loved working with them.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


And that every man should take righteousness in his hands and faithfulness upon his loins,
and lift a warning voice unto the inhabitants of the earth; and declare both by word and by
flight that desolation shall come upon the wicked.  Doctrine & Covenants 63:37

Pres Hinckley read D&C 43:17 – 35 to the general authorities in February of 2004.

A local Area 70 returned from general authority training and told of the discussions among the brethren of the nearness of the Second Coming.  Speaking of things which are to come to pass, the brethren noted that as far as the prophecies are concerned, “All the boxes have been checked.”

Suppose the forces of evil reach their zenith in the next year or two.

Suppose the monetary systems in the world collapse in the next year or two – that we all go the way of Greece and Italy. 

Suppose social and economic chaos results.

If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear. (D&C 38:30)

Why not fear?  Because when the Savior comes he will heal the earth, it will be spiritually reborn and all evil will be done away.  It will indeed be a paradise! (See Article of Faith #10.)

Make no mistake, the time are perilous.  There are some interesting scriptures which outline the social, spiritual and economic conditions before the savior’s first coming.  The revelations outline similar circumstances for His second coming.

We each need to look into ourselves and ask “Am I prepared?”  Imagine the Savior appearing to the world – would you run out to meet him?  Would you hide in the closet?  When the disasters hit the Nephite world at the time of the Savior’s death and they were enshrouded in thick impenetrable darkness for three days (i.e., the Spirit, the Light of the World, was withdrawn) and they lamented mightily having put off their repentance, both of attitude and deed. (3 Ne 8:23-25)

In our times the prophets have given great warnings.  I think none so vivid and chilling as a message from the First Presidency, read in conference By David O. McKay in 1942. 

No Heart He Would Not Break
David O. McKay, General Conference Report, October 1942, p. 13

These days through which we are now passing present many problems which are new to all of us but are particularly strange to the younger generation -- those who have little background of experience and whose knowledge is limited and immature. Infidelity, atheism, unchastity, intemperance, civil corruption, greed, avarice, ambition -- personal, political, national -- are more powerful today than at any other time in the lives of us now living. They are pulling and thrusting us almost at will into new fields of action, new lines of thought. They are shaking the faith, undermining the morals, polluting the lives of the people. They have thrown many so far off balance in all of their activities, economic, social, political, and religious, that they stand in real danger of falling. Satan is making war against all the wisdom that has come to men through their ages of experience. He is seeking to overturn and destroy the very foundations upon which society, government, and religion rest. He aims to have men adopt theories and practices which he induced their forefathers, over the ages, to adopt and try, only to be discarded by them when found unsound, impractical, and ruinous. He plans to destroy liberty and freedom -- economic, political, and religious, and to set up in place thereof the greatest, most widespread, and most complete tyranny that has ever oppressed men. He is working under such perfect disguise that many do not recognize either him or his methods. There is no crime he would not commit, no debauchery he would not set up, no plague he would not send, no heart he would not break, no life he would not take, no soul he would not destroy. He comes as a thief in the night; he is a wolf in sheep's clothing. Without their knowing it, the people are being urged down paths that lead only to destruction. Satan never before had so firm a grip on this generation as he has now.

So, each of you face the reality of a wicked world, where Satan has convinced many that the things which are wrong are, in reality, right.  And vice versa, Satan has convinced many that truth is error.  Much of it is just Korihor revisited.  After telling the people that the traditions of their fathers, their religion, was a product of a frenzied mind and designed to put them in bondage, he said preached that there was no such thing as sin, that “Every man fared according to the management of the creature . . . and whatsoever a man did was no crime.”  He later admitted the devil had taught him these things and sent him out to teach others, which he did because these things are “Pleasing to the carnal mind.”

“And I taught them, even until I had much success, insomuch that I verily believed they were true; and for this cause I withstood the truth, even until I have brought this great curse upon me.” (See Alma 30)

President Heber C. Kimball was well known throughout the church for his gift of prophecy.  He was bold and humble, but he spoke the truth by the spirit.  He warned the church in the 1800’s that they would face some fearsome trials.  His words were fulfilled.  Yet today they sound equally as important and ever more relevant. They are words for us today.

The time is coming when we will be mixed up in these now peaceful valleys to that extent that it will be difficult to tell the face of a saint from the face of an enemy to the people of God. Look out for the great sieve, for there will come a great sifting time and many will fall. For I say unto you there is a test, there is a test. There is a test coming and who will be able to stand?  You imagine that you what would have stood by the Prophet Joseph Smith, for many have said they would have liked to have been associated with him. If you would have stood by him when persecution raged and he was assailed by foes within and without, you would have defended him and been true to him in the [mi[d]st of every trial. You think you would have been delighted to have shown your integrity in the days of mobs and traitors. Let me say to you, that many of you will see the time when you will have all the trouble, trial and persecution that you can stand and plenty of opportunities to show that you are true to God and his way. This Church has before it many close places through which you will have to pass, before the work of God is crowned with victory.    

To meet the difficulties that are coming it will be necessary for you to have a knowledge of the truth of the work for yourselves. The difficulties will be of such a character that the man or woman who does not possess this personal knowledge or witness will fall. If you have not got the testimony, live right and call upon the Lord and cease not until you obtain it. If you do not you will not stand. The time will come when no man nor woman will be able to endure on borrowed light. Each will have to be guided by the light within himself.     (See The Life of Heber C. Kimball by Orson F. Whitney, pp. 449-450.)

Many of us will live to see the day when these prophesies and pronouncements will be fulfilled so clearly that each of us will recognize it.  We will say, “the prophets were right!”  Indeed, it may be on our very doorstep!

What are we to do?  Each of us needs to look within himself or herself and assess where we are. 
Are we moving toward the light?  Do we stand for truth and righteousness?  Are we willing to do what the Lord desires of us? [And he only desires for us what we would want for ourselves if we had a perfect knowledge of things.] We know enough, however, to live by faith and understand that the Lord has done all things, from the creation to the atonement to the restoration, so we could live with Him again in His kind of life!!!  I testify of this to each of you!!!  Soften your hearts and be believing and obedient and you shall receive the greatest of the gifts of God!

One of my favorite songs is to hear the children sing:

            I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
            I KNOW WHO I AM.  I know God’s plan.
            I’ll follow Him in faith.
            I believe in the Savior Jesus Christ.  I’ll honor His name.
            I’ll do what is right; I’ll follow His light.
            His truth I will proclaim.  (Children’s Songbook, 77.)

You know who you are.  Most don’t.  Remember who you are and remember your destiny and the blessing of the covenant under which you were born.

Parents, please have a Family Home Evening on this topic as a start to the new year.

At the end of his life, Lehi he called his children and grandchildren around him.  He gave them encouragement and instruction as well as blessings.  His heart was very tender toward them and he pled with them: “Remember the words of thy dying Father.”  I feel the same urgency to tell you all these things in love and pray they will go deep into your hearts.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Scott and Scotty

I want to share some family things which need to be kept, even kept closely, and not be lost.  As many of you know, my sister Christine had four children.  The second was a boy named Scott.  He was one of those sparkly kids who had great promise for the future.  He exhibited kindness and thoughtfullness beyond his years.  He contracted Leukemia at about age 8, which was aggressively treated, and many of us thought the treatments were successful.  Christine, however, knew from the start that this disease would be final, even though he seemingly recovered.  Just at the 5-year mark of remission, it came roaring back and subsequent treatments helped but did not cure.

During his final illness, Christine and my brother Terry went to the hospital in Salt Lake City to visit Scott.  When they left the hospital and were walking to the car, another car stopped and inquired, "Terry, what are you doing here."  The driver was Elder Neal A. Maxwell. Terry introduced Chris and explained Scott's situation.  Elder Maxwell said all the appropriate things, bid them goodnight, rolled up his window and started to leave.  He stopped his car, however, and the window came back down.  HE addressed Chris and said, "You know, sometimes the Lord drafts the best."

I thought of that as I pondered the death of Adam Acosta.  We know so little while here on earth.  We truly see "Through a glass darkly."  But we have been given enough and, with study and contemplation, will be given more.  Even to understanding or feeling enough to make sense of things and find peace amid the turmoil.  I thought of Adam, his willingness to serve and the great imapct Keith Pearce had upon his life.  How he willingly served a mission, even though his personality tended more to introversion than to knocking on peoples' doors.  and I though of Elder Maxwell's remark in conjunction with Section 138 of the Doctrine and Covenants.

29 And as I wondered, my eyes were opened, and my understanding aquickened, and I perceived that the Lord went not in person among thebwicked and the disobedient who had rejected the truth, to teach them;
  30 But behold, from among the righteous, he aorganized his forces and appointed bmessengerscclothed with power and authority, anddcommissioned them to go forth and carry the light of the gospel to them that were in edarkness, even to fall the spirits of men; and thus was the gospel preached to the dead.
  31 And the chosen messengers went forth to declare the aacceptable day of the Lord and proclaim bliberty to the captives who were bound, even unto all who would crepent of their sins and receive the gospel.
  32 Thus was the gospel preached to those who had adied in their sins, without a bknowledge of the truth, or in ctransgression, having drejected the prophets.
  33 These were taught afaith in God, repentance from sin, bvicarious baptism for the cremission of sins, the dgift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands,
  34 And all other principles of the gospel that were necessary for them to know in order to qualify themselves that they might be ajudged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

I encourage reading the whole section to get a fuller view of our lives shortly after we pass through the veil.

So to me, Adam and Scott are now part of that great force taking the gospel to those who so desperately need its redemptive power.  Should the accept it, they then get very anxious to receive the vicarious saving ordinances which are performed int he temples.  The best way to maintain a connection with those who have passed through the veil is to do the family history and temple work for those to whom they preach the gospel!

So, my Dad was very close to young Scott, who was named for him.  He really felt deeply Scotty's struggles and pain.  He talked about it a bit at a family reunion and he broke down in public, not something which was usual for him.

When my Dad died, his body went to the same mortuary which handled Scotty's burial.  In fact, the same man who prepared Scott's body also did the work for my Dad.  When Terry and I went there he told us a story I do not want to have lost.  But it is a sacred story and should not be widely told.  Anyway, he said that as he prepared Dad's body, he was very distinctly aware of the presence of both Dad and Scott.  In fact, he said, they were standing side-by-side and he was impressed with the spirit which accompanied them.

My Dad was buried on the day Jacob Scott Warner was born.  Jacob carries the name of both of these relatives In Memoriam.  This is a great responsibility and I am confident Jacob can live up to it.

We are all tied together by ordinances involving covenants and promises.  So important are they -- important enough to give our lives for.  I don't necessarily mean dying for them, as happens to a few, but giving our lives in the sense of living for the fulfillment of these covenants.  I know that this period of reflection has given me a stronger sense of commitment to be more like what I ought to be.  I love you all!  God Bless. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

An Unprofitable Servant

Paul begins the letter to the Romans with an interesting introduction. There is more going on here in Romans 1:1 than we might think. By knowing a bit about what went on in that time in that part of the world, we find some interesting things about Paul's view of his role as a servant in the work of the Lord and about our own relationship to Deity. By understanding better where we stand in relation to God, we are better able to understand what God wants of us and what he expects us to be.

Paul announces himself as a servant of Jesus Christ. The word he uses for servant is the Greek doulus. I am told that if you or I were Greek scholars and were translating this, we would be tempted to translate it as “slave” instead of servant. Certainly the servants in the Roman world were very close to what we would call slaves.

Paul was a Roman citizen and as such a high ranking member of society. He voluntarily identifies himself as a servant – one of the lowest classes in society. He wants to make a strong point about the gospel and our relationship to God. By submitting ourselves to Him we become his servants. We must do His will. Masters in the Roman world had life and death power over servants.

We Are His Servants Because:

  1. We voluntarily submit to His will. This is a renewal of our pre-mortal covenant to come into this world and to do the “will of the Father.” He sent us to “Prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God will command them.” [Abraham 3:25] So obedience is the ultimate test. We renewed our commitment to obey when we were baptized. I see a similitude of this as missionaries are called on their missions. They ask for and receive a call to go to a certain mission. They return a letter to the the Prophet accepting the mission call on the terms offered – laying aside “every other concern.” They send back a letter which answers affirmatively the questions, “Will you always obey all mission rules?”

    Then the Prophet, through their priesthood leaders, approves entering the temple, where they, like us, make additional covenants -- including, among other things, obedience. Here we have three witnesses to our willingness to obey; pre-mortally, at baptism and in the temple. Some of the most treasured of scripture affirms the Savior's understanding of the importance of obedience.

And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. [Mark 26:39]

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; [Hebrews 5:8-9]

Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning. [3 Nephi 11:10-11]

The Savior accomplished all He did through obedience to the Father and became the author of salvation. Similarly, we are saved by faithful obedience.

  1. We are His servants because we are bought with a price. We are owned by him.

Servants or slaves are not owed anything by their masters. They are owned and kept and they owe their masters their works. So we work for God without any expectation of earning a nything. We cannot earn our way to heaven. We have nothing to bargain with because we are already owned. And we already owe all we have. We can never repay [Mosiah 2:24] and we are always unprofitable servants.

Any gift from the master is by grace, not works. Hence we are saved by grace, not by works. Work we must, because it is our duty as bondsmen. Paul understood this and so did his readers In Rome, Ephesus, Corinth, etc. they knew as servants of Christ they were obligated to serve Him with all their hearts. Paul's point is that this is not enough to save us. Mercy and grace come to us through faith – after all we can do.

  1. We are his servants because He created us. Our physical creation is more than a single event. We owe our physical lives to the Savior not for just the creation of our bodies some time in the past. We owe him our ongoing existence. “In Him we live and move and have our being,” says Paul. [Acts 17:28] King Benjamin says that God “has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another . . .” [Mosiah 2:21].

So the upshot is we are threefold his. By creation, by redemption and by our voluntarily accepting him as our master. Jus as in Paul's day, the servant is sustained in life by the master and therefore owes all. We can earn nothing. We cannot be exalted by our works, because we can never overcome the debt which grows each day. King Benjamin explains it this way [Mosiah 2:20-25 paraphrased.]

If we serve with our whole souls we are still unprofitable, because it is only through Him that we have the power to do anything. But yet, if we do “any good thing,” He immediately blesses us and we remain yet in His debt. All he requires of us is that we keep His commandments – but yet we have not earned but are blessed by grace, because He is gracious.

So then, what do we have to offer? We offer ourselves, but we have done that already and we execute that promise so imperfectly that he gave His life for us so our shortcomings in keeping that promise could be expiated. He has given us something which He does not claim and will not take back from us, and that is our agency. We can offer that back to Him in all humility. Which then brings us back to obedience.

There is one other thing we can offer Him. We can offer Him others. We can bring others to Him, by thrusting in our sickles with our might. In doing so, we “Lay up in store that we perish not, but bring salvation to our souls.” [D&C 4:4]

Behold, I say unto you that it is my will that you should go forth and not tarry, neither be idle but labor with your might— Lifting up your voices as with the sound of a trump, proclaiming the truth according to the revelations and commandments which I have given you. And thus, if ye are faithful ye shall be laden with many sheaves, and crowned with honor, and glory, and immortality, and eternal life. [D&C 75:3-5].

And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father. Amen. [D&C 16:6]

So, in the continuing saga of learning while serving, we look at serving as the key to drawing closer to the throne of grace. Finally, Paul tells Timothy that by teaching in the kingdom he will both save himself, and them that hear him. [1 Timothy 4:16]