FAITH and HOPE in the Lord’s ability to do what He said He will do, must be the lifeline upon which we anchor our souls in these days. There is no other way to endure to the end. This is what we must teach our brothers and sisters, our families and our neighbors. We must help them understand what to do about the things they are seeing. Changing your mind about following the world and choosing to follow God, even in times of tribulation is the essence of repentance. It will result in a change of direction and behavior. It will not matter if our church is the correctly organized one if no one has faith to trust and obey Jesus Christ. Souls are in the balance now.
The year 2020 brought great change to the lives of Saints the world over. That change came with surprising speed and for most it was difficult, unexpected and could not have been imagined or predicted. The coronavirus and the pandemic have been used by governments, even in democracies and republics, to seize greater power over their citizens, closing businesses, banning travel and forcing people to stay in their homes. This has brought greater suffering for much of the world. In addition to the loss of freedom, the loss of employment and income has made it difficult and sometimes impossible for many to feed, clothe and house their families. Public gatherings, even for religious purposes have been banned, with the closing of churches, synagogues, mosques and temples.
While the attention of the world is focused on the pandemic and its fallout, the adversary is able to operate more openly than ever before in our lifetime and those involved in governments are flexing their political muscle and reveling in having greater power over their citizens. Christians in China, Pakistan, Nepal and India have come under new and more deadly opposition, while Christians living in Western countries are subject to increasing persecution. The enemy has operated through secret combinations since the beginning of time, but now, emboldened by their recent success, they are speaking openly about their plans to dominate the world.
For most of its history, the United States has been a beacon of freedom to the world and a bulwark against tyranny. The saints may be shocked to see the adversary’s plans revealed as the current US government openly embraces evil now more than at any time in its history, intent on forcing unholy requirements on its citizens. This drastic change in all areas of US government policy will have a ripple effect on other nations. The US government will now increase taxes on its citizens to provide millions of dollars more for abortions in the US, and in other countries. They will also force other nations to accept homosexuality, same sex marriage and the transgender lifestyle as a condition for receiving aid from the US.
The United States has been a nation protected by the hand of God and blessed with a divinely authored Constitution that requires the government to put the freedom of its citizens first. This once God fearing nation, is now in danger of perishing as those who have come to power are laboring to systematically destroy the Constitution. That same ripple effect will encourage governments everywhere to further squash the liberties of their citizens, push aside lawful measures by edict and do it without the voice of the people.
Sadly, millions of people in the world have lived under harsh conditions for generations. Now the loss of freedom, the economic, emotional and physical hardships those people have known all their lives, has come to those who have never known such suffering. When life suddenly becomes difficult, every day, for those who have never experienced it, one’s faith may falter.
The challenge for us, as Latter Day Saints, is how do we respond to such matters. Is this the time to bow down before our enemies and not resist (such as the newly converted Lamanites) or are we to rise up with the “Title of Liberty” and push back the kingmen and the dissenters and reestablish peace in the land (as under Chief Captain Moroni)? These are serious matters of consideration that cannot be simply decided by our passions and human wisdom but require the coordinated prayer and fasting of the Saints for godly wisdom and guidance upon which we are willing to agree and act.
These are not academic questions for us anymore. This is not a day for theories and speculations because the crisis is real, it is imminent and the entire tenor of the world in which we live can change, is changing, rapidly.
These things should not be unexpected. Section 45 describes a time in the last days that every nation and people will be at war and those who are unwilling to lift his sword against his neighbor must flee to Zion. (D&C 45:13a)
The revelation to Enoch warns us: “And the Lord said unto Enoch, As I live, even so will I come in the last days—in the days of wickedness and vengeance, to fulfill the oath which I made unto you, concerning the children of Noah: and the day shall come that the earth shall rest, but before that day, shall the heavens be darkened, and a veil of darkness shall cover the earth; and the heavens shall shake, and also the earth; and great tribulations shall be among the children of men, but my people will I preserve; and righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of my Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men; and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out my own elect from the four quarters of the earth unto a place which I shall prepare; a holy city, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem” (D&C 36:12c-g).
There is also, if we will hear it, a prominent theme of patient perseverance by the faithful in the midst of the trial. In the passage above, the Lord promises to come again. It will be in the days of wickedness and vengeance that God will fulfill the oath (covenant) He made to Enoch. This is the everlasting covenant. There are dark and difficult days ahead. Yes, tribulation. But Zion is coming back and the Lord with it. He knows how to preserve His people and He will gather us to the place He will prepare.
Consider the ministry of Enoch and his fathers. In Genesis of the Inspired Version we read: “And this is the genealogy of the sons of Adam, who was the son of God, with whom God himself conversed. And they were preachers of righteousness, and spake and prophesied, and called upon all men everywhere to repent. And faith was taught unto the children of men.” (Genesis 6:23-24)
Faith comes by hearing the gospel call to repentance. Nothing short of this can cause a righteous people to come into being. The preaching of repentance calls people to reconsider their thinking and behavior. It presents to them the holiness of God, His justice, His mercy, His goodness and His truthfulness. It lays before them the promise and hope of the kingdom of God and eternal life.
They were preachers of righteousness. Righteousness was the subject matter of their preaching. Jesus Christ is the Lord, our Righteousness. (Jeremiah 23:6) The only way to preach about righteousness is to teach faith on the name of the righteous Lord and repentance of all of our sins.
Later in Genesis we also read this about Enoch: “And Enoch continued his preaching in righteousness unto the people of God. And it came to pass in his days, that he built a city that was called the city of Holiness, even Zion.” (Genesis 7:24-25)
Note how Enoch preached. His subject was righteousness and the manner of his ministry was righteousness. Enoch preached in righteousness. This becomes our model of ministry.The apostle Paul reminds us that the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel. (Romans 1: 16-17) Evidently, when Enoch preached righteousness he declared the gospel.
Enoch’s ministry led to the first community on earth called Zion. The ministry which is able to lay down their own agendas, their own wisdom, their own desires and preaching righteousness in righteousness will help to bring about Zion. Everyone who approaches the ministry in another way is fighting against Zion. (see 1 Nephi 3:187-188)
The battle lines are more clearly drawn, and visible, because of the events of last year. In the US there is now a clear line between those who obey law and honor the Constitution and those who honor lawlessness. These are battles not fought with swords and guns but with faith, hope, charity and revelation. It is our turn to be led by God through the wilderness.
We must understand that nothing in this world will be like it was before March 2020. It is not COVID that has changed things, but it is how we have responded and how the enemy has responded that finds us where we are today. Ultimately, we must understand that God, the Lord of Hosts, is moving His mighty hand to stir the nations, to sift the people of the earth and put all things in motion for the purpose of testing and proving all people and fulfilling all of His covenants. Neither the wickedness of the enemy nor our righteousness are driving these events. This is the work of God. Everyone will need to make a choice because there will be no neutral ground as this work of God pushes on.
Many saints and the church in general, have suffered significant wounding of spirit this past year. As a result of the many great tragedies we have experienced, we have learned many things about the needs and desires of our brothers and sisters and we have considered how to address those needs, both temporal and spiritual. The Saints throughout the world need to know these things. We must minister to them and strengthen them or many will be lost in the days to come.
We have also had to face the reality of our general inability as representatives of the Restoration, to bring unity to the greater body of Restoration saints. Such division hinders the ability of all Restorationists to labor for the cause of Zion and may, in the end, exclude us from Zion altogether. Without the unity of brothers and sisters in the Restoration, without being one as the Lord has said,”Be one; and if ye are not one, ye are not mine” (D&C 38:6a), then “the cause of Zion” is just a catch phrase in our lives and we cannot be a part of bringing it to fruition. We must repent of our division and contention, of rejecting brothers and sisters over disagreements concerning the “points of the law”.
“And now I say unto you mine elders, apostles and high priests of my church, Continue ye in the ministry unto which you have been called; and if ye cannot fully agree on all the points of the law, be patient and be not contentious; so far as you can agree work together without heat, confusion, or malice.” (D&C 122:16a)
If we cannot follow these instructions from our heavenly Father we will not be there when Zion comes down to meet the saints gathered here in Zion. And as Jesus told Enoch, “Then shall you and all your city meet them there, and will receive them into our bosom, and they shall see us, and we will fall upon their necks and they shall fall upon our necks, and we will kiss each other”. (D&C 36:13a)
Do we really want to be there for that glorious reunion? Saints, we must not lose faith, or falter in our mission. We must love one another and not contend with one another. We need each other now, more than ever! There is no time for self-justification. There is no place for making excuses, nor for discouragement or weariness. Today is the day of the Lord’s march. Shall we go with Him? God is marching to Zion, are we?
The mission of God’s church and God’s people has not changed since the beginning of time. God’s plan will not be frustrated by man. God has called us to establish the cause of Zion. He says it will be right in the heart of America, and He will gather His people from the four quarters of the earth, and bring them to Zion. The Saints throughout the world need to know this. We must minister to one another and strengthen one another for the coming tribulation, or many will be lost for lack of hope. Our hope remains in Christ. Others will do what they will do. Their unfaithfulness cannot change the truth. Zion, the Second Coming, Eternal Glory are all everlasting truths.
We, Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, are praying for your faithful stand for His truth.
We are entering the most exciting days in the history of the world. Everything, every jot and tittle, is moving toward the completion of all of God’s promises. Let us embrace one another as we embrace His call to mankind!
Quorum of Restoration Apostles
Note: The full message is available for download in PDF.