This is the fifth in a series of articles that will offer counsel and encouragement to people everywhere as we face the pandemic currently sweeping the earth.
Commended to God! (continued)
By Apostle Gary R Whiting
The idea of walking by the vision of God and not by what we can see with our eyes was discussed in the previous article in this series. Faith involves the idea of gaining God’s vision for the future. There is another element of faith that permitted the Jaredites to cheerfully climb into the boats they had built for a journey across the sea. It is the assurance that the vision you have seen and the hope you are nurturing is valid and proper.
How can we gain this assurance? Let us start with the word of King Jesus and then move on to King Benjamin. From the testimony of John:
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:31-32).
Jesus said that if a person continues in his word, that person will know the truth. Continuing in the word of God brings the assurance of truth. Jesus was giving the same counsel to the Jews who questioned him, and that Alma gave to the humble Zoramites on the hill Onidah. The experiment on the word brings the evidence of its goodness (see Alma 16:152-154).
King Benjamin elaborated the point in his final discourse to his people:
Believe in God; believe that he is and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; Believe that he has all wisdom and all power, both in heaven and in earth; Believe that man doth not comprehend all things which the Lord can comprehend. And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins, and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God, and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you. And now, if you believe all these things, see that ye do them …
Even so, I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you unworthy creatures, And humble yourselves, even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel. (Mosiah 2:13-17, 20-21).
King Benjamin called his people to the reality of life. God is everything to us. He is huge. It is not enough to believe that, you must also accept that the converse is true. We are nothing compared to him. We are not the brightest and the best in any comparison with God. We must, therefore, humble ourselves before him.
Ultimately, when we talk about a saving vision, we are speaking of obtaining and retaining the vision of God. It is trusting God in his plan. This is where our sight fails us. We cannot see tomorrow very well and are essentially blind to years, generations and centuries ahead of us. To God, however, everything is in the present. He sees it with the same ease with which we see both pages of an open book.
This humility is described by King Benjamin as doing what we believe. Jesus called this “continuing in my word.” To do what we believe means we will do humility. We will do worship of our God with our whole being. Humility is not hopeless helplessness, it is hopeful helplessness. Benjamin said we should call on the name of the Lord daily as an act of worship and for the things we need.
Hope arises out of faith which is active belief. King Benjamin described what doing these things leads to:
And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this, ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; And ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true (Mosiah 2:22-23).
This is the promise of assurance. You will find out that God keeps his word. You will learn to understand and appreciate the ministry of the Holy Spirit in your midst. You will feast on the words of eternal life, the word of God. You will see with the vision of God.
Returning to D&C 38:
I am the same which have taken the Zion of Enoch into mine own bosom; and verily I say, even as many as have believed on my name, for I am Christ, and in mine own name, by virtue of the blood which I have spilt, have I pleaded before the Father for them (D&C 38:1b-c).
Take care to see what the Lord is saying to the church. He says, “I am calling you on a journey to a place you do not know, but I know it.” For the church in 1830-1831 God was leading them to the land prepared for Zion, the Center Place. It was more than a physical journey. It was, and remains, a journey of faith and a celestial vision.
Many today will protest, “We know where God led those Saints. We have been on the Temple grounds. I know where Independence, Missouri is.” Some will say, “I live there.”
Yes, but have you been to Zion? This is not a geographical question, it is a spiritual question. Has anybody in this generation been to God’s Zion? How can Zion exist in a fallen city which is riddled with crime. We know some things about Zion, but are we willing to be led to Zion?
It will happen for those who allow the Lord to teach us his vision and let the word and the Spirit set our feet on the exodus to the city. The trip was outlined by King Benjamin when he said, “Do what you believe.”
What did King Benjamin tell the people just before the passages we studied? He gave them the gospel and the plan of atonement. Then he said:
And there is none other salvation, save this which hath been spoken of; neither are there any conditions whereby man can be saved, except the conditions which I have told you (Mosiah 2:12).
The Lord spoke to the church through D&C 38:1-4 and said:
1. I am in your midst
2. The kingdom is yours and the enemy shall not overcome
3. You are not all clean
4. Powers of darkness prevail on the earth
5. You do not know the dangers of the secret chambers
Therefore, be ye strong from henceforth; fear not for the kingdom is yours: and for your salvation I give unto you a commandment, for I have heard your prayers (D&C 38:4).
Be strong and of good courage, is a common word from God before he leads people into promised lands.
Moses told Israel (Deuteronomy 31:1-6)
Moses told Joshua (Deuteronomy 31:7)
The Lord told Joshua (Joshua 1:1-9)
God has a plan through and beyond COVID-19. He has one for every trial and affliction of life. As did the Jaredites, so we ought to do today, that is, commend ourselves into the keeping of God and get into the boat. When it eventually runs ashore again we will see the fulfillment of God’s vision in us.
Quoting from the first article in this series;
One thing will remain the same, the God who designed and directs our lives does not change. We can be sure we will be closer to the coming of Christ at that time than we are now. Remember to commend yourselves, your family, your friends to the Lord each day and thank him when this crisis is over by worshiping our God in the name of Jesus Christ and then get back to the kingdom work in the new landscape where we find ourselves.