The Gadianton Robbers were ferocious and were winning the war and the Nephites and Lamanites were seriously threatened with destruction. War stinks!
Jesus mission was to save souls from spiritual destruction.
My grandmother was promised that if she would keep her covenants and stay close to God, Satan could have no power over her. She would find comfort and help in her trials. These promises were fulfilled in her life.
Today I want to talk about (1) the importance of cleaving unto covenants and (2) the joy and protection that come from keeping our covenants.
The Bible Dictionary tells us that a covenant is a contract made between God and man. “God in his good pleasure fixes the terms, which man accepts. … The gospel is so arranged that principles and ordinances are received by covenant placing the recipient under strong obligation and responsibility to honor the commitment.”3 In the phrase “cleave unto covenants,” the word cleave means “to adhere firmly and closely” to something.4
In the scriptures we learn of men and women who have made covenants with God. God has given instructions on what to do to honor those covenants, and then as those covenants have been kept, the promised blessings have followed.
In the Book of Mormon we read King Benjamin’s sermon. He taught the people about Jesus Christ, that He would come to the earth and suffer all manner of afflictions. He taught the people that Christ would atone for the sins of all mankind and that His name was the only name by which man could obtain salvation.11
Once again: “Lift up thy heart and rejoice, and cleave unto the covenants which thou hast made.”23 Keeping covenants is true joy and happiness. This is comfort and peace. This is protection from the evils of the world. Keeping our covenants will help us in times of trial.
For six thousand years civilizations have risen, flourished, declined, and passed away pursuant to the same cycle of events.
Civilizations rise as their people comply with the laws upon which prosperity, success, and happiness depend. These laws God revealed in the beginning and, through His prophets, He has repeated them in every dispensation since.
Civilizations have flourished as long as these laws are obeyed. Civilizations decline to the extent such laws are disobeyed. Civilizations pass away when these laws are completely disregarded.
Beginning in the days of Adam, and in every gospel dispensation since, the Lord has warned the inhabitants of the earth that their continued violation of the laws of righteousness, which He has revealed, would bring on their destruction.
All history, sacred and profane, testifies to the accuracy of this prediction....Now my beloved brothers and sisters, I realize that these predictions are not pleasing, but nevertheless they speak the truth. They are the words of the true and living God, who said:...
“I tell you these things, even as I also told the people of the destruction of Jerusalem; and my word shall be verified at this time as it hath hitherto been verified.” (D&C 5:20.)
You know and I know that the inhabitants of the earth are steeped in sin and iniquity and that they are sinking deeper into the mire every day.
But—and this is the glorious message—the Lord not only gave the warnings; He also revealed anew the means by which the ominous calamities may be averted.
He has revealed anew the same simple truths He taught Adam and Eve in the beginning. Collectively, these teachings constitute the principles, doctrines, and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which begins with a knowledge of and faith in God our Eternal Father in heaven and Jesus Christ His Only Begotten Son in the flesh, our Savior and Redeemer. They include the truth that the inhabitants of the earth, God’s offspring, are in mortality for the purpose of being proved to see if they will keep the commandments of God.
The closing of the tragic cycle by the coming of the foreboding calamities can be averted if the inhabitants of the earth will repent, believe, and have faith in God as our Heavenly Father, in His Son Jesus Christ as our Redeemer, and will conform to their teachings. A good beginning would be to obey the commandments God gave to the children of Israel through Moses, the ones President Kimball has already quoted from this pulpit this day. The Lord said then and it is still true:
“Thou shalt not covet.” (Ex. 20:2–3, 7–8, 12–17.)
If the inhabitants of the earth will obey these commandments and, in addition, strive with full purpose of heart to comply with the words of Jesus to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” and “love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matt. 22:37, 39) the predicted calamities can be prevented. But only in this manner can the closing of the tragic cycle in our day be averted.
That it will be so I do not say. I do know, and I say, that as there was a Zion in the days of Enoch in which those who complied with God’s laws were saved, so there shall be a Zion in this last dispensation in which all those who live God’s revealed laws will be saved.
To all of these things which the Lord has spoken, I bear my solemn witness in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
OCTOBER 2009 | Safety for the Soul
Jeffrey R. Holland Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Prophecies regarding the last days often refer to large-scale calamities such as earthquakes or famines or floods. These in turn may be linked to widespread economic or political upheavals of one kind or another.
But there is one kind of latter-day destruction that has always sounded to me more personal than public, more individual than collective—a warning, perhaps more applicable inside the Church than outside it. The Savior warned that in the last days even those of the covenant, the very elect, could be deceived by the enemy of truth.1 If we think of this as a form of spiritual destruction, it may cast light on another latter-day prophecy. Think of the heart as the figurative center of our faith, the poetic location of our loyalties and our values; then consider Jesus’s declaration that in the last days “men’s hearts [shall fail] them.”2
The encouraging thing, of course, is that our Father in Heaven knows all of these latter-day dangers, these troubles of the heart and soul, and has given counsel and protections regarding them.
In light of that, it has always been significant to me that the Book of Mormon, one of the Lord’s powerful keystones3 in this counteroffensive against latter-day ills, begins with a great parable of life, an extended allegory of hope versus fear, of light versus darkness, of salvation versus destruction—an allegory of which Sister Ann M. Dibb spoke so movingly this morning.
In Lehi’s dream an already difficult journey gets more difficult when a mist of darkness arises, obscuring any view of the safe but narrow path his family and others are to follow. It is imperative to note that this mist of darkness descends on all the travelers—the faithful and the determined ones (the elect, we might even say) as well as the weaker and ungrounded ones. The principal point of the story is that the successful travelers resist all distractions, including the lure of forbidden paths and jeering taunts from the vain and proud who have taken those paths. The record says that the protected “did press their way forward, continually [and, I might add, tenaciously] holding fast” to a rod of iron that runs unfailingly along the course of the true path.4 However dark the night or the day, the rod marks the way of that solitary, redeeming trail.
“I beheld,” Nephi says later, “that the rod of iron … was the word of God, [leading] … to the tree of life; … a representation of the love of God.” Viewing this manifestation of God’s love, Nephi goes on to say:
“Hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, … and they teach all men that they should do good.
“And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day.”14
Brothers and sisters, God always provides safety for the soul, and with the Book of Mormon, He has again done that in our time. Remember this declaration by Jesus Himself: “Whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived”15—and in the last days neither your heart nor your faith will fail you. Of this I earnestly testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
As we read about the nearing complete physical destruction of the Nephites and the Lamanites, we might realize that an even worse destruction would be spiritual destruction. We are always at war with Satan. There are always people who follow him and try to cause our spiritual downfall. We have much to loose if we loose our testimonies and our faith in God an all that is good. We can loose our happiness on earth and also our eternal happiness and the great privilege of living with God, our loving father and our children as families in the eternal realms. Our spiritual armor is in our daily actions of learning of Him and being a strong advocate to bless the lives of others through our families and our Church and communities. With personal righteousness, we can grow until our faith becomes a spiritual knowledge that God lives and has a plan for our salvation and the the devil has a plan for our destruction. It is our choice which it will be. “I can follow God's plan for me. Holding fast to the iron rod.”