Man's salvation is self-dependent
Salvation and exaltation
We gratefully welcome Elder D. Todd Christofferson to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. We wholeheartedly support this wonderful First Presidency and all others who have been called.
Brothers and sisters, when we received the news that President Gordon B. Hinckley had passed away, each of us immediately felt a profound loss. However, because we know that His fate was in the hands of the Lord, our moods have changed from grief to gratitude. We are very grateful for everything we have learned from this great prophet of God.
Today, in this solemn gathering, we have followed the will of the Lord who said: “No one shall be given to preach my gospel or establish my church unless he has been ordained by someone in authority and it is known to the churchthat he has authority and has been duly ordained by the heads of the Church. "1 We have this law of general consent2 applied, and the Church will advance on her marked path.
Members around the world have sustained President Thomas S. Monson and his able counselors. We are “now no longer strangers without citizenship, but fellow citizens of the saints and household members of God.
[We are] built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets; the keystone is Christ Jesus himself. "3
The Lord has revealed why He “gave some the office of apostles and set up others as prophets,” namely, “to equip the saints for the fulfillment of their ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ.
In this way we should all come to unity in faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God. "4
Accordingly, the ministry of the apostles - the First Presidency and the Twelve - is to establish that unity in faith and to proclaim our knowledge of the Lord. Our ministry is to be a blessing to all who wish to learn and follow the Lord's “more excellent way”.5 And we are to help people prepare for their potential salvation and exaltation.
The third article of Faith states that "through the Atonement of Christ all men may be saved by obeying the laws and ordinances of the gospel."
To be saved - or to obtain salvation - means to be saved from physical and spiritual death. Thanks to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, all people will be resurrected and saved from physical death. Thanks to the Atonement of Jesus Christ, everyone who believes in him, lives obediently the laws and ordinances of his gospel, and serves him can be individually saved from spiritual death.
To be exalted - or to attain exaltation - refers to the highest level of happiness and glory in the celestial kingdom. These blessings can come after we leave the fragile life of the earth. The time to prepare for one day that we may be saved and exalted is now.6
Part of this preparation is hearing and understanding the gospel first. It is for this reason that the gospel of Jesus Christ is presented to "all nations, tribes, tongues and peoples"7 proclaimed.
The responsibility of the individual
A few years ago I met a tribal king in Africa. When he realized that he was being taught by an apostle of the Lord, he was deeply moved. He explained that if he so directed, his people would be baptized in droves. I thanked him for his kindness, but explained that the Lord is not doing this.
Everyone must develop faith in the Lord for themselves. The repentance is also up to you. One can only be baptized and receive the Holy Spirit individually. Every human being is born as an individual and as such has to be “born again”.8 Salvation is also an individual matter.
In the family, personal progress is encouraged, which is "central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of his children ...".9 The family is God's laboratory for love and service. There the man should love his wife, the woman her husband, and parents and children should love one another.
All over the world, families are coming under increasing fire. When the family fails, so do many of our political, economic, and social systems. And when the family fails, their glorious eternal potential cannot be realized.
Heavenly Father wants husbands and wives to be faithful to one another, to respect their children, and to treat them like a gift from the Lord.10 With such a family, we study the scriptures and pray together. And we keep our gaze steadfastly on the temple. There we receive the highest blessings God has in store for His faithful children.
Thanks to God's great plan of happiness11 Families can be together forever - as exalted beings. Heavenly Father said, "This is my work and my glory - to bring about immortality and the eternal life of man."12 Both of these goals can be achieved thanks to the Atonement of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. His Atonement made the resurrection a reality for all who should ever live and made eternal life a possibility.
Resurrection or immortality is an unconditional gift to everyone.
The gift of eternal life, celestial glory, or exaltation is conditional. The terms of this gift were established by the Lord who said, "If you keep my commandments and endure to the end, you will have eternal life, and this gift is the greatest of all of God's gifts."13 These conditions include faith in the Lord, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and continued faithfulness to the ordinances and covenants of the temple.
No man in this church can attain the highest degree of celestial glory without a worthy woman sealed to him.14 This temple ordinance ultimately enables both of them to exalt.
We can be discharged from Church callings. As parents, however, we cannot be fired. From the dawn of mankind, the Lord has commanded parents to teach their children the gospel.15 Moses wrote that we should zealously teach our children: "You should speak of [the words of God] when you are sitting at home and when you are walking in the street, when you are going to sleep and when you are getting up."16
In our day, the Lord added that we should raise our "children in light and truth."17 The Church supports parents, but does not absolve them from teaching their children.
In this time of rampant immorality and addictive pornography, parents have a sacred duty to teach their children that they need God.18 These evils are highly destructive to the divine potential and must be avoided entirely by the children of God.
We also need to teach our children to honor their parents. The fifth commandment is: "Honor your father and your mother, that you may live long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you."19
What's the best way to teach our children? The Lord has given us specific instructions:
“By virtue of the priesthood, no power or influence can and should be asserted other than with persuasive speech, with long-suffering, with mildness and gentleness, and with undisputed love, with benevolence and with pure knowledge, which greatly expands the soul, without hypocrisy and without falsehood - immediately rebuking it with all clarity when moved to do so by the Holy Spirit; and afterwards showing more love to the one whom you have rebuked, so that he does not think you are his enemy. "20
When a child needs to change their behavior, ask yourself: what can I say or do to convince them of a better way? If you need to admonish your child, do so quietly, privately, lovingly, and not in public. When you reproach the child, show him more love immediately so that bitterness does not linger and smolder. To be convincing, your love must be sincere, and what you convey must be based on divine teaching and principles.
Do not try to use violence over your children. Instead, listen to them, help them understand the gospel, and guide them towards eternal life. You are God's commissioner for the welfare of the children He has entrusted to you. Always keep His divine influence in your heart as you teach and persuade.
A discussion of the family responsibilities in preparing for exaltation would be incomplete if only parents and children were discussed. What about your grandparents and other ancestors? The Lord has revealed to us that we cannot be made perfect without them or without us.21 The sealing ordinances are essential to exaltation. A woman must be sealed to her husband, children must be sealed to their parents, and we must all be connected to our ancestors.22
What about those who in this life cannot marry or cannot be sealed to their parents? We know that the Lord will judge us according to the desires of our hearts, but also according to our works23 and that the blessings of exaltation be given to all who are worthy24.
We, the children of the covenant, are very privileged. We have been planted in our hearts with the promises made to the fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Lord said:
“You are rightful heirs according to the flesh and with Christ in God you have been hidden from the world. ...
Therefore, if you remain in my goodness, blessed are you, a light to the Gentiles, and through this priesthood a Savior to my people Israel. "25
This life is the time to prepare for salvation and exaltation.26 In God's eternal plan, salvation is an individual matter, while exaltation is a family matter.
As children of the covenant, we gathered solemnly this morning. Our attention was first drawn to the sacred titles Prophet and Apostle. However, the responsibility to prepare for salvation and exaltation ultimately rests with everyone; everyone is responsible for their own decisions; everyone works in his own family and bears another sacred title as mother, father, daughter, son, grandmother or grandfather.
May we move forward in these responsible tasks in faith - led by Jesus Christ, whose Church this is, and by his prophet, through whom he speaks. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
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