Choose the Right

The supreme mission of human existence may be summed up in a single phrase: Choose the right. 

This phrase is popular among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One of our most beloved hymns contains these inspiring, instructive, and hopeful words: 

“Choose the right when a choice is placed before you. 
In the right the Holy Spirit guides; 
And its light is forever shining o’er you, 
When in the right your heart confides. 

“Choose the right! Choose the right! 
Let wisdom mark the way before. 
In its light, choose the right! 
And God will bless you evermore. 

“Choose the right! Let no spirit of digression 
Overcome you in the evil hour. 
There’s the right and the wrong to ev’ry question; 
Be safe thru inspiration’s pow’r. 

“Choose the right! Choose the right! 
Let wisdom mark the way before. 
In its light, choose the right! 
And God will bless you evermore. 

“Choose the right! There is peace in righteous doing. 
Choose the right! There’s safety for the soul. 
Choose the right in all labors you’re pursuing; 
Let God and heaven be your goal. 

“Choose the right! Choose the right! 
Let wisdom mark the way before. 
In its light, choose the right! 
And God will bless you evermore.” 

Fundamental truths are taught by these words. For instance, “there’s the right and the wrong to ev’ry question” reinforces in the mind the facts that truth is not relative and that there is a correct and a wrong path. There is no “all roads lead to Rome” concept in the economy of Heaven. Only one road leads to Heaven, while all others, no matter how worthy in some respects they may be, lead elsewhere. 

During His Ministry, the Savior Jesus Christ taught this doctrine: 

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 

“Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). 

This is at once one of the saddest and most startling of all scriptural declarations. “Few there be that find it” are words that have imprinted themselves on my mind in recent times. I’ve thought of them again and again. They motivate me to work harder to center myself on the covenant path of discipleship.  

Isaiah called this single path that leads to eternal life “the way of holiness” (Isaiah 35:8). A modern prophet of the Lord Jesus Christ, President Russell M. Nelson, has called it the “covenant path,” stating the following in his first address as the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: 

“[T]o each member of the Church I say, keep on the covenant path. Your commitment to follow the Savior by making covenants with Him and then keeping those covenants will open the door to every spiritual blessing and privilege available to men, women, and children everywhere. . . . 

“Now, if you have stepped off the path, may I invite you with all the hope in my heart to please come back. Whatever your concerns, whatever your challenges, there is a place for you in this, the Lord’s Church. You and generations yet unborn will be blessed by your actions now to return to the covenant path. Our Father in Heaven cherishes His children, and He wants each of us to return home to Him. This is a grand goal of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—to help each of us to come back home.” 

The “covenant path,” “way of holiness,” or “narrow way,” is the road of Christian discipleship, sacred covenants, and righteousness. The path leads through Jesus Christ and through Him alone. His Atonement activates righteousness in our lives, rewards obedience, and makes our covenants effective. 

In the ancient Israelite record revealed by the Lord, titled The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, a prophet named Jacob gave a majestic doctrinal sermon on the Atonement of the Savior. In it, he taught of the strictness and narrowness of the path to Heaven: 

“O how great the holiness of our God! For he knoweth call things, and there is not anything save he knows it. 

“And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam. 

“And he suffereth this that the resurrection might pass upon all men, that all might stand before him at the great and judgment day. 

“And he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God. . . . 

“O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name. 

“And whoso knocketh, to him will he open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches—yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them” (2 Nephi 9:20-23, 41-42). 

Truly, the Lord “employeth no servant” at the gate of Heaven. Peter doesn’t stand there. Neither does any other mortal. The Lord Himself stands at the gate. Only by following His narrow path of righteousness, exercising faith in Him, entering into His covenants and ordinances, and knocking on the right door, may we be saved by the Redeemer. 

Jesus is the “keeper of the gate.” Our hope is in Him. Salvation is in Him. Another ancient American prophet-king similarly testified of the Savior’s life, death, and redemption for mankind: 

“For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases. 

“And he shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men. 

“And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people. 

“And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary. 

“And lo, he cometh unto his own, that salvation might come unto the children of men even through faith on his name; and even after all this they shall consider him a man, and say that he hath a devil, and shall scourge him, and shall crucify him. 

“And he shall rise the third day from the dead; and behold, he standeth to judge the world; and behold, all these things are done that a righteous judgment might come upon the children of men. 

“For behold, and also his blood atoneth for the sins of those who have fallen by the transgression of Adam, who have died not knowing the will of God concerning them, or who have ignorantly sinned. 

“But wo, wo unto him who knoweth that he rebelleth against God! For salvation cometh to none such except it be through repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ. 

“And the Lord God hath sent his holy prophets among all the children of men, to declare these things to every kindred, nation, and tongue, that thereby whosoever should believe that Christ should come, the same might receive remission of their sins, and rejoice with exceedingly great joy, even as though he had already come among them. . . . 

“And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent” (Mosiah 3:5-13, 17). 

Through the Lord Jesus Christ, all who exercise faith, repent of their sins, and walk in His footsteps by keeping the commandments, “might receive remission of their sins, and rejoice with exceedingly great joy.” Salvation is in Christ. The missionary Amulek once taught: 

“[T]he word is in Christ unto salvation. . . . 

“And now, behold, I will testify unto you of myself that these things are true. Behold, I say unto you, that I do know that Christ shall come among the children of men, to take upon him the transgressions of his people, and that he shall atone for the sins of the world; for the Lord God hath spoken it. . . . 

“And now, my beloved brethren, I desire that ye should remember these things, and that ye should work out your salvation with fear before God, and that ye should no more deny the coming of Christ; 

“That ye contend no more against the Holy Ghost, but that ye receive it, and take upon you the name of Christ; that ye humble yourselves even to the dust, and worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you. 

“Yea, and I also exhort you, my brethren, that ye be watchful unto prayer continually, that ye may not be led away by the temptations of the devil, that he may not overpower you, that ye may not become his subjects at the last day; for behold, he rewardeth you no good thing. 

“And now my beloved brethren, I would exhort you to have patience, and that ye bear with all manner of afflictions; that ye do not revile against those who do cast you out because of your exceeding poverty, lest ye become sinners like unto them; 

“But that ye have patience, and bear with those afflictions, with a firm hope that ye shall one day rest from all your afflictions” (Alma 34:6, 8, 37-41). 

Yes, salvation is in Christ! The right way is to follow Him. We do that, in part, by believing in Jesus Christ, being baptized, receiving the Holy Ghost as our guide, praying continually, resisting the Devil, enduring the afflictions of this life with hope and faith in Christ, and constantly expressing our gratitude to Him for His mercies and blessings. Doing all this is part and parcel of choosing the right. 

Choosing the right means choosing the Christ. He is the Keeper of the gate. He is the only way and means to salvation and exaltation. He came to earth, gave us a perfect example of perfect obedience to divine law, atoned for our sins, bled horrifically from every pore of His mortal body, died a cruel death on the cross, and rose again triumphantly to shatter death forever. His Atonement also can free us from the chains of sin, hell, and the Devil. This is contingent upon our faithfulness in following the covenant path of holiness. 

The hymn quoted at the beginning tells us “there’s safety for the soul” in choosing the right. The Holy Spirit guides us in choosing the right, which is why we must be baptized by authorized servants of God and choose to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost that they bestow by the laying on of hands (Acts 8:14-20). The hymn tells us to make “God and Heaven . . . your goal.” When we do, and when we choose to walk the covenant path and approach the strait gate where the Lord Jesus stands as the sole Keeper, we are promised to be blessed “evermore.” 

I know, and testify, that the times in my life when I have carefully walked the path of holiness and have circumspectly kept the commandments with my eyes fastened firmly on my Savior, have been the best and happiest times of my life. As glamorous as sin sometimes looks, and as popular as the selfish paths of hedonism and me-centered living may be, they lead to spiritual death and, ultimately, misery. 

There is only one path to Heaven, and “few there be that find it.” Most Christians, despite professing the name of Jesus, are out of the way and off the path. The path is narrow and strict and does not admit error, sanction sin, or permit false doctrines and man-made creeds. It does not accept ordinances performed without authority. You can be baptized a hundred times and none of them will count unless the one performing the act has been authorized by the Lord, through the proper channels of His Priesthood, to do so. The Lord cannot be deceived; He is the One who keeps the gate. 

The way to find the path, then, is to want to find it and walk it more than anything; to not be content with the “you do you” buffet style of salvation preached by most of Christendom. You should not merely find a church, but the true Church of Jesus Christ. There is only one (Ephesians 4:4-6). And I testify to you with all the fervor of my soul that it is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and that its officers hold the Lord’s Priesthood authority to properly officiate in saving ordinances that keep us on the covenant path that leads to the Savior who saves us. 

Choose the right? Yes! In the end, it is the only thing that matters. We must choose the right and follow the commandments of God. This is the “whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). I challenge you to use your agency more boldly to come to Christ and follow Him, for choosing the Christ is choosing the right (Hebrews 4:16).  

I close with the words of the chorus of the hymn that is this article’s namesake. I know they are true: 

“Choose the right! Choose the right! 
Let wisdom mark the way before. 
In its light, choose the right! 
And God will bless you evermore.” 

Zack Strong, 
April 14, 2023

One thought on “Choose the Right

  1. Pingback: “American Communist” – An Oxymoron | The American Citadel

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