1 Nephi 20:12
Jesus Christ, the Creator
You have a calling as a chosen people. You are called to serve. I am Jesus Christ, I was there at the creation and will be there at the final judgement.
Jesus is identifying himself as the God of the Old Testament and a member of the Godhead and the final judge.
3 Ne. 11:14
We cannot afford to have our testimonies of the Father and the Son become confused and complicated by stumbling blocks. We cannot fall into that trap. Our testimonies of Them need to remain pure and simple like my father’s simple defense of the power pole on the ranch where he grew up.
What are some of the stumbling blocks that confuse and complicate our pure and simple testimony of the Father and the Son and keep us from being valiant in that testimony?
We are committed to knowledge of every kind and believe “the glory of God is intelligence.”6 But we also know that the preferred strategy of the adversary is to lead people away from God and cause them to stumble by emphasizing the philosophies of men over the Savior and His teachings.
The Apostle Paul was a sure witness of Jesus Christ because of a miraculous and life-changing experience with the Savior.7 Paul’s unique background prepared him to relate to people of many cultures. He loved the “frank simplicity” of the Thessalonians and the “tender sympathy” of the Philippians.8 He initially found it more difficult to relate to the intellectual and sophisticated Greeks. In Athens on Mars’ Hill, he attempted a philosophical approach and was rejected. To the Corinthians he determined to simply teach “the doctrine of Christ crucified.”9 To use the Apostle Paul’s own words:
“And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
In our day, the influence of Christianity in many countries, including the United States, is significantly reduced. Without religious beliefs, there is no feeling of accountability to God. Accordingly, it is hard to establish universal values about how to live. Philosophies which are deeply held often conflict with each other.
In line with Heber C. Kimball’s prophecy, Elder Neal A. Maxwell said in 1982: “Much sifting will occur because of lapses in righteous behavior which go unrepented of. A few will give up instead of holding out to the end. A few will be deceived by defectors. Likewise, others will be offended, for sufficient unto each dispensation are the stumbling blocks thereof!”15
One of the unique and troubling aspects of our day is that many people engage in sinful conduct but refuse to consider it sinful. They have no remorse or willingness to acknowledge their conduct as being morally wrong. Even some who profess a belief in the Father and the Son wrongfully take the position that a loving Father in Heaven should exact no consequences for conduct that is contrary to His commandments.
The prophet Jacob referred to ancient Jews as “a stiffnecked people [who] despised … plainness, … killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall.”24
While there are many examples of looking beyond the mark,25 a significant one in our day is extremism. Gospel extremism is when one elevates any gospel principle above other equally important principles and takes a position that is beyond or contrary to the teachings of Church leaders. One example is when one advocates for additions, changes, or primary emphasis to one part of the Word of Wisdom. Another is expensive preparation for end-of-days scenarios. In both examples, others are encouraged to accept private interpretations. “If we turn a health law or any other principle into a form of religious fanaticism, we are looking beyond the mark.”26
If we are to be valiant in our testimony of Jesus, we must avoid the stumbling blocks that entrap and impede the progress of many otherwise honorable men and women. Let us determine to always be in His service. While seeking knowledge, we need to avoid the philosophies of men that lessen our commitment to the Savior. We must see sin in its true light and accept the Savior’s Atonement through repentance. We need to avoid looking beyond the mark and focus on Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, and follow His doctrine.
For us, being valiant in our testimony of Jesus is a stepping-stone toward qualifying for the Savior’s grace and the celestial kingdom. Jesus Christ is the only name under heaven by which we may be saved.32 I bear my sure witness of both His divinity and His supernal role in the Father’s plan. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.