Yay! I had the opportunity to talk in Church on Sunday!
I think it went pretty good. I was speaking with the guy from the High Council, so I had to keep it short – I came in at about 12 minutes – perfectly within my allotted time.
For your reading enjoyment – here it is: (Without my comments about Ma Hen being a hottie)
Some topics give you so many different directions you can take. And I started down a number of them in preparing this talk. With the subject I was given I could talk about Mosiah 2:17 – And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. (And I will expand on this a little bit later).
Or maybe I could talk about home teaching, or loving our neighbors in a generic sence.
To me, almost every topic the bishopric gives you can be used to talk about the Atonement, Agency the Holy Ghost, and the best talks include all of them!
What direction did I end up with? Well, let’s find out.
President Brigham Young taught, [And so you know for the next little while, I’ll be quoting extensively from President Young] “The purpose of our life should be to build up the Zion of our God. We have no business here other than to build up and establish the Zion of God.[And,]it must be done according to the will and law of God [see D&C 105:5], after that pattern and order by which Enoch built up and perfected the former-day Zion”
…[W]e have been commanded to gather ourselves together, to come out of Babylon, and sanctify ourselves, and build up the Zion of our God, by building cities and temples, redeeming countries from the solitude of nature, until the earth is sanctified and prepared for the residence of God and angels (DBY, 407).
When we conclude to make a Zion we will make it, and this work commences in the heart of each person. When the father of a family wishes to make a Zion in his own house, he must take the lead in this good work, which it is impossible for him to do unless he himself possesses the spirit of Zion. Before he can produce the work of sanctification in his family, he must sanctify himself, and by this means God can help him to sanctify his family (DBY, 118).
We have come here to build up Zion. How shall we do it? … We have got to be united in our efforts. We should go to work with a united faith like the heart of one man; and whatever we do should be performed in the name of the Lord, and we will then be blessed and prospered in all we do. We have a work on hand whose magnitude can hardly be told (DBY, 284).
Everything connected with building up Zion requires actual, severe labor. It is nonsense to talk about building up any kingdom except by labor; it requires the labor of every part of our organization, whether it be mental, physical, or spiritual, and that is the only way to build up the Kingdom of God (DBY, 291).
If we are to build up the Kingdom of God, or establish Zion upon the earth, we have to labor with our hands, plan with our minds, and devise ways and means to accomplish that object (DBY, 291).
…[I]f every man and woman would live their religion, and enjoy the light and glory of the Gospel for themselves, be passive, humble and faithful; rejoice continually before the Lord, attend to the business they are called to do, and be sure never to do anything wrong (DBY, 119).
All would then be peace, joy, and tranquility, in our streets and in our houses. Litigation would cease, there would be no difficulties before the High Council and Bishops’ Courts, and courts, turmoil, and strife would not be known (DBY, 119).
Then we would have Zion, for all would be pure in heart (DBY, 119).
So Brothers and Sisters of the Doña Ana ward, will Zion be built in a land that doesn’t honor God’s principles? The answer is of course, “No.” In D&C 105:5 we are told: And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself.
What are the laws of the Celestial Kingdom?
First of all the New and Everlasting Covenant of Eternal Marriage between a man and woman. Fidelity in that marriage is of course part of the celestial law.
The Law of Obedience to God’s commandments is a celestial law.
To expand on this I want to return to Mosiah Chapter 2 and King Benjamin for a second.
And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.
He doesn’t just remind the people that when they are serving each other that they are serving God, but that even everyone needs to serve the people. Benjamin doesn’t say give me (i.e. the government) all of your money so I can serve the people, he tells them to go serve the people. Then he tells them not to thank him or give him praise for his service but to thank our Heavenly Father. And how do we thank him?
In verse 22 he says:
And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.
The Law of Sacrifice and the Law of Consecration are of course celestial laws. Elder McConkie defined these as follows:
The law of sacrifice is that we are willing to sacrifice all that we have for the truth’s sake—our character and reputation; our honor and applause; our good name among men; our houses, lands, and families: all things, even our very lives if need be.
The law of consecration is that we consecrate our time, our talents, and our money and property to the cause of the Church: such are to be available to the extent they are needed to further the Lord’s interests on earth.
He also emphasized that we might not be called upon to act on these things, but we must be able to do it. (Not just “willing”). Are we living our lives such that if called upon we could turn over everything to the cause of building Zion?
Can we give the Lord our time? Are we able? Are we willing?
Elder Hales taught that Tithing is part of the Celestial law. In the end it’s just a little reminder of the law of consecration, but one that we must not ignore.
Another celestial commandment is that we must be united as a people. I already quoted D&C 105:5, but you might study D&C 78:11-15 for a little more on that, and you might also read in Section 104:47-53 where the Lord tells the Saints that although they failed to live the United Order, they were still commanded to be united in our Stakes of Zion.
Brothers and sisters, building up the kingdom of God on the Earth, establishing Zion in our own lives, in our families, in our ward, our stake, our community and eventually as far as we can have influence is part of the celestial law.
Sometimes people read D&C 4:2 Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day. And think it only applies to full time missionaries, but we are all commanded to be missionaries.
In D&C 59: 5 the Lord commands us: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy might, mind, and strength; and in the name of Jesus Christ thou shalt serve him.
We must commit ourselves, our time or talents our energy, everything the Lord has blessed us with to creating a Zion for all of our brothers and sisters to live in. We must serve, and teach others to serve. We must be self-reliant and teach others to be such. We must love God and teach others to love God.
What is your duty? What is your role in building Zion? You personally? Because in the end we know we can’t do everything? That’s is what the Atonement is for. Christ will make up for the areas we fall short as long as we do the best we can. But how do you know you are doing the best you can?
Listen to the Spirit! We take the sacrament every when so the spirit may be with us. Live worthy of the Spirit, listen to the Spirit and follow the Spirit. Build Zion in yourself. Build Zion in your family. Help the families you teach build Zion in their homes. Help make our ward a Zion, then help Las Cruces become a true Stake of Zion.
Zion will be a place where not only will people live the celestial law but they will do it while exercising their agency. We need to help the people understand that living the gospel will truly make them free.
We must become accurately informed on the issues of the day and then let others know how we feel. Our society is under attack from more sides than many of us realize and we need to stand up against the moral decline going on all around us. Standing by on the sidelines and watching our country implode is not acceptable. We need to put our hearts, might mind and strength into preserving our freedoms and preparing the people to be a Zion people.
The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “It is our duty to concentrate all our influence to make popular that which is sound and good, and unpopular that which is unsound. ‘Tis right, politically, for a man who has influence to use it. … From henceforth I will maintain all the influence I can get”
[By the way, every great talk will also quote President Benson!]
I testify to you that God’s hand has been in our destiny. I testify that freedom as we know it today is being threatened as never before in our history. I further witness that this land…must be protected, its Constitution upheld, for this is a land foreordained to be the Zion of our God. He expects us as members of the Church … to do all we can to preserve our liberty.
Listen to the Spirit. If the Holy Ghost has given you a prompting as to what role you can play in building up God’s kingdom on the earth – Do it! Serve the Lord as you improve the lives of the people of our community and country.
If you think you’ve done enough to preserve liberty, read Jacob 2:19.
And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good — to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.
We need to use our resources to restore God’s intentions to this land. We need to liberate the captives in our own land. There are people all around us who are enslaved by sin, who are enslaved by dependency, people who are enslaved by ignorance. If we love God with all of our heart, might, mind and strength, we will seek to free them in the name of Jesus Christ. It is service in a righteous cause. Of this I testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.