Elder David A. Bednar was called a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on October 7, 2004. He has held many prominent positions in the church. Learn more about Elder David A. Bednar.
Called To The Work
In the culture of the Church, we often talk of being called to serve in a country such as Argentina, Poland, Korea, or the United States. But a missionary is not called to a place; rather, he or she is called to serve.
I do not believe that the phrase “it mattereth not” as used by the Lord in this scripture suggests that He does not care where His servants labor. In fact, He cares deeply. But because the work of preaching the gospel is the Lord’s work, He inspires, guides, and directs His authorized servants. As missionaries strive to be ever more worthy and capable instruments in His hands and do their best to fulfill faithfully their duties, then with His help they “cannot go amiss”—wherever they serve. Perhaps one of the lessons the Savior is teaching us in this revelation is that an assignment to labor in a specific place is essential and important but secondary to a call to the work.
Three interrelated words define a pattern of preparation and progression for sons of God: priesthood, temple, mission. Sometimes as parents, friends, and Church members, we focus so extensively upon missionary preparation for young men that we may neglect to a degree the other vital steps along the covenant pathway that must be fulfilled before beginning full-time missionary service. Working as a missionary certainly is one but not the only important building block in the process of creating a strong foundation for a lifetime of spiritual growth and service. Priesthood and temple blessings, both of which precede arriving in an assigned field of labor, also are necessary to fortify and strengthen us spiritually throughout our entire lives.
Young men, as you fulfill your duties in and honor the Aaronic Priesthood, or lesser priesthood, you are preparing to receive and magnify the oath and covenant of the Melchizedek Priesthood, or higher priesthood. Personal worthiness is the single most important requirement for receiving the higher priesthood. A lifetime of selfless priesthood service lies before you. Prepare now by frequently rendering meaningful service. Please learn to love being and remaining worthy. Be worthy. Stay worthy.
After receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood and a call to serve, a young man can be armed with power through the covenants and ordinances of the holy temple. Going to the temple and having the spirit of the temple go through you precedes effective service as a full-time missionary. Personal worthiness is the single most important requirement for receiving the blessings of the temple for you young men and for all members of the Church. As you live in accordance with gospel standards, you can enter the house of the Lord and participate in sacred ordinances throughout your teenage years. Your love for and understanding of temple ordinances will strengthen and bless you throughout your life. Please learn to love being and remaining worthy. Be worthy. Stay worthy.
In our homes and at church, we should give balanced emphasis to all three elements of the Lord’s pattern of preparation and progression for faithful sons of God: priesthood, temple, mission. All three require us to love being and remaining worthy. Be worthy. Stay worthy.
If Ye Had Known Me
The phrases “Ye never knew me” and “Ye know me not” should be a cause of deep spiritual introspection for each of us. Do we only know about the Savior, or are we increasingly coming to know Him? How do we come to know the Lord?
A grand objective of mortality is not merely learning about the Only Begotten of the Father but also striving to know Him. Four essential steps that can help us come to know the Lord are exercising faith in Him, following Him, serving Him, and believing Him.
Hearing God’s word and receiving the spiritual gift of faith in the Savior are closely related, as “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” We become acquainted with Him and His voice as we study and feast upon His word in the scriptures, pray to the Father in His name with real intent, and seek for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. Learning and applying in our lives the doctrine of Christ is a prerequisite to receiving the gift of faith in Him.
The Savior likewise instructs you and me, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” To take up one’s cross is to deny oneself of all ungodliness and every worldly lust and to keep the commandments of the Lord.
The Savior has admonished us to become as He is. Thus, following the Lord includes emulating Him. We continue to come to know the Lord as we seek through the power of His Atonement to become like Him.
We more fully come to know the Lord as we serve Him and labor in His kingdom. As we do so, He generously blesses us with heavenly help, spiritual gifts, and increased capacity. We are never left alone as we work in His vineyard.
We come to know the Savior as we do our best to go where He wants us to go, as we strive to say what He wants us to say, and as we become what He wants us to become. As we submissively acknowledge our total dependence upon Him, He enlarges our capacity to serve ever more effectively. Gradually, our desires align more completely with His desires, and His purposes become our purposes, such that we would “not ask that which is contrary to [His] will.”
Serving Him requires all of our heart, might, mind, and strength. Consequently, selflessly serving others counteracts the self-centered and selfish tendencies of the natural man. We grow to love those whom we serve. And because serving others is serving God, we grow to love Him and our brothers and sisters more deeply. Such love is a manifestation of the spiritual gift of charity, even the pure love of Christ.
Is it possible to exercise faith in Him, follow Him, serve Him, but not believe Him?
I am acquainted with Church members who accept as true the doctrine and principles contained in the scriptures and proclaimed from this pulpit. And yet they have a hard time believing those gospel truths apply specifically in their lives and to their circumstances. They seem to have faith in the Savior, but they do not believe His promised blessings are available to them or can operate in their lives. I also encounter brothers and sisters who fulfill their callings dutifully but for whom the restored gospel has not yet become a living and transforming reality in their lives. We come to know the Lord as we not only believe in Him but also believe Him and His assurances.
We often testify of what we know to be true, but perhaps the more relevant question for each of us is whether we believe what we know.
Believing Him is trusting that His bounteous blessings are available and applicable in our individual lives and families. Believing Him with our whole soul comes as we press forward along the covenant pathway, surrender our will to His, and submit to His priorities and timing for us.
Always Retain A Remission of Your Sins: By the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost as our constant companion, we can always retain a remission of our sins.
In mortality we experience physical birth and the opportunity for spiritual rebirth. We are admonished by prophets and apostles to awake unto God, be “born again,” and become new creatures in Christ by receiving in our lives the blessings made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
The “merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah” can help us triumph over the self-centered and selfish tendencies of the natural man and become more selfless, benevolent, and saintly. We are exhorted to so live that we can “stand spotless before [the Lord] at the last day.”
The Prophet Joseph Smith summarized succinctly the essential role of priesthood ordinances in the gospel of Jesus Christ: “Being born again, comes by the Spirit of God through ordinances.” This penetrating statement emphasizes the roles of both the Holy Ghost and sacred ordinances in the process of spiritual rebirth.
The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. He is a personage of spirit and bears witness of all truth. In the scriptures, the Holy Ghost is referred to as the Comforter, a teacher, and a revelator. Additionally, the Holy Ghost is a sanctifier who cleanses and burns dross and evil out of human souls as though by fire.
The ordinances of salvation and exaltation administered in the Lord’s restored Church are far more than rituals or symbolic performances. Rather, they constitute authorized channels through which the blessings and powers of heaven can flow into our individual lives.
Ordinances received and honored with integrity are essential to obtaining the power of godliness and all of the blessings made available through the Savior’s Atonement.
The baptismal covenant includes three fundamental commitments: (1) to be willing to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, (2) to always remember Him, and (3) to keep His commandments. The promised blessing for honoring this covenant is “that [we] may always have his Spirit to be with [us].” Thus, baptism is the essential preparation to receive the authorized opportunity for the constant companionship of the third member of the Godhead.
As members of the Lord’s restored Church, we are blessed both by our initial cleansing from sin associated with baptism and by the potential for an ongoing cleansing from sin made possible through the companionship and power of the Holy Ghost—even the third member of the Godhead.
To sanctify is to make pure and holy. The sacramental emblems are sanctified in remembrance of Christ’s purity, of our total dependence upon His Atonement, and of our responsibility to so honor our ordinances and covenants that we can “stand spotless before [Him] at the last day.”
The ordinance of the sacrament is a holy and repeated invitation to repent sincerely and to be renewed spiritually. The act of partaking of the sacrament, in and of itself, does not remit sins. But as we prepare conscientiously and participate in this holy ordinance with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, then the promise is that we may always have the Spirit of the Lord to be with us. And by the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost as our constant companion, we can always retain a remission of our sins.
The blessings of obtaining and always retaining a remission of our sins through gospel ordinances help us understand that baptism is a point of departure in our mortal spiritual journey; it is not a destination we should yearn to revisit over and over again.
Ordinances invite spiritual purpose and power into our lives as we strive to be born again and become men and women of Christ.
Chosen To Bear Testimony of My Name: It is wonderful to have older men of great spiritual maturity and judgment serving in the senior leadership positions of the restored Church of Jesus Christ.
At one point I asked Elder Hales, “You have been a successful husband, father, athlete, pilot, business executive, and Church leader. What lessons have you learned as you have grown older and been constrained by decreased physical capacity?”
Elder Hales paused for a moment and responded, “When you cannot do what you have always done, then you only do what matters most.”
The limitations that are the natural consequence of advancing age can in fact become remarkable sources of spiritual learning and insight. The very factors many may believe limit the effectiveness of these servants can become some of their greatest strengths. Physical restrictions can expand vision. Limited stamina can clarify priorities. Inability to do many things can direct focus to a few things of greatest importance.
Serving with these representatives of the Lord, I have come to know their greatest desire is to discern and do the will of our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son. As we counsel together, inspiration has been received and decisions have been made that reflect a degree of light and truth far beyond human intelligence, reasoning, and experience. As we work together in unity on perplexing problems, our collective understanding of an issue has been enlarged in marvelous ways by the power of the Holy Ghost.
The Savior declared, “Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38). May we hear and heed the eternal truths taught by the Lord’s authorized representatives. As we do so, I promise our faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ will be fortified, and we will receive spiritual guidance and protection for our specific circumstances and needs.
With all the energy of my soul, I witness the resurrected and living Christ directs the affairs of His restored and living Church through His servants who have been chosen to bear testimony of His name. I so testify in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Therefore They Hushed Their Fears: Unlike worldly fear that creates alarm and anxiety, godly fear is a source of peace, assurance, and confidence.
Chosen to Bear Testimony of My Name: It is wonderful to have older men of great spiritual maturity and judgment serving in the senior leadership positions of the restored Church of Jesus Christ.
Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease (One of my favorites): The unique burdens in each of our lives help us to rely upon the merits, mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah.
Come and See: The Church of Jesus Christ always has been and always will be a missionary church.
We Believe in Being Chaste: Obedience to the law of chastity will increase our happiness in mortality and make possible our progress in eternity.
The Windows of Heaven: Spiritual and temporal blessings come into our lives as we live the law of tithing.
The Powers of Heaven: Priesthood holders young and old need both authority and power—the necessary permission and the spiritual capacity to represent God in the work of salvation.
Converted unto the Lord: Knowing that the gospel is true is the essence of a testimony. Consistently being true to the gospel is the essence of conversion.
The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn: "I invite the young people of the Church to learn about and experience the Spirit of Elijah."
The Spirit of Revelation: The spirit of revelation is real—and can and does function in our individual lives and in the Church.
Receive the Holy Ghost: These four words—“Receive the Holy Ghost”—are not a passive pronouncement; rather, they constitute a priesthood injunction—an authoritative admonition to act and not simply to be acted upon.
Honorably Hold a Name and Standing; "The fire of the covenant will burn in the heart of every faithful member of this Church who shall worship and honorably hold a name and standing in the Lord’s holy house." Listen.
Ye Must Be Born Again: "Through faith in Christ, we can be spiritually prepared and cleansed from sin, immersed in and saturated with His gospel, and purified and sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise."
Clean Hands and a Pure Heart: "Our spiritual purpose is to overcome both sin and the desire to sin, both the taint and the tyranny of sin."
That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us: "We should endeavor to discern when we “withdraw [ourselves] from the Spirit of the Lord” … [and] attend to and learn from the choices and influences that separate us from the Holy Spirit."
And Nothing Shall Offend Them: "Through the strengthening power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, you and I can be blessed to avoid and triumph over offense."
The Tender Mercies of the Lord: "I testify that the tender mercies of the Lord are available to all of us and that the Redeemer of Israel is eager to bestow such gifts upon us."
Becoming a Missionary: "You and I, today and always, are to bear witness of Jesus Christ and declare the message of the Restoration. … Missionary work is a manifestation of our spiritual identity and heritage."