You Can’t Trust Anyone, Except. . .

In politics, you can’t trust anyone. Survey the political landscape as 2022 fades into the past and who do you see that stands out as a beacon of truth, light, and trustworthiness? Who is a true leader? President Trump? President Bolsonaro? Zionist Netanyahu? Tsar Putin? Emperor Xi? Befuddled Biden? Governor DeSantis? Senator Rand Paul? 

There’s not a single man in politics in any nation whom I trust implicitly. There’s no George Washington, John Adams, or Thomas Jefferson to lead from the front with honor; no man that everyone looks up to and can trust. The dearth of real leaders, manly men, and steeled patriots is deafening and is one of the chief reasons we are plunging into the abyss of corruption and chaos. 

Look at President Trump. As the nation burned in 2020, he did nothing to stop the rampaging rioters and Marxist thugs who murdered over 30 people and racked up billions of dollars in property damages. He called Antifa a terrorist organization, but he didn’t crush them. He caved to Establishment cronies and allowed the national economy to be shut down. He was duped into promoting Operation Warp Speed and rushing a genocidal vaccine/bio-weapon into production which is now killing or maiming 7,500 Americans every day

When the 2020 election was obviously stolen, President Trump did nothing but talk about resisting; he didn’t call up troops or request the militia’s assistance. When well over a million of his supporters turned out in Washington, D.C. to support him on January 6, 2021, he asked them to disperse at the first sign of trouble (trouble caused by infiltrators in the crowd). In the end, he gave up with hardly a fight. It is my prediction that he will never be permitted to regain the presidency by the demonic world Marxist Establishment. 

In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro, nicknamed the “Trump of the Tropics,” endured a similar rigged election. In an even more brazen manner, communists stole the election from Bolsonaro and gave it to a convicted criminal and open Marxist named Lula. 

For nearly 60 days, Brazilians in their millions protested this brazen election theft. They held up signs saying “S.O.S. Armed Forces.” They demanded the military intervene to save them from the incoming communist regime. They chanted “Act Bolsonaro.” January 1 is the inauguration, yet, yesterday, December 30, Bolsonaro gave an impromptu video speech about how he couldn’t get enough support from other institutions in the government to act against Lula. He therefore got on a plane and retreated to Florida. Some believe this is part of a grand design and that the military will yet intervene, as it is constitutionally allowed to under the 1988 constitution, to save Brazil from being captured by communists. We’ll see. From where I sit, the “Trump of the Tropics” is following his namesake into cowardly exile. 

Where are the real leaders? Putin certainly doesn’t qualify! A real man doesn’t invade hapless neighbors on spurious claims “justified” by false cries of “genocide.” Russia has been perhaps the world’s leading aggressor for a full century. What about Zelensky of Ukraine? Nope! Apart from being a somewhat foppish actor in the past, he’s corrupt and wants to drag everyone into the war he’s unfortunately in. 

What about Xi Jinping? The murderous communist who enslaves his people and released a bioweapon on the world? No. Israel’s Netanyahu? He’s also corrupt and a trained manipulator who has helped weasel America into senseless wars in the Middle East. He is, however, willing to do hard things unapologetically to further his ideals, which is commendable. The so-called “Royal Family” of England disqualifies itself simply from world respect by claiming to be royalty in the modern world. The Marxist-Jesuit pope who cries about social justice, promotes the climate change hoax, and spouts socialist talking points? No. Are the heads of state who sign onto UN, WHO, and WEF mandates, who lock down their nations, who mandate deadly vaccines, and who bow to international governing bodies true leaders? Of course not. 

There’s not one political leader in any nation that I would feel totally comfortable following. There are a few religious leaders I do feel comfortable following, though even they have shown nearsightedness occasionally on political issues. At the end of the day, the peoples of the earth are waking up to the fact that they can’t trust anyone but themselves. If revolutions are to happen to overthrow tyrants, if communist shackles are to be burst, if Satan is to be pushed back, it will be because the good people in every nation will it so, become better, and trust more in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Repentance is our only remedy. Repentance, and a willingness to risk it all for our God-given rights. Remember, John Adams observed that the true American Revolution was not the war with Britain. Said he: 

“But what do We mean by the American Revolution? Do We mean the American War? The Revolution was effected before the War commenced. The Revolution was in the Minds and Hearts of the People. A Change in their Religious Sentiments of their Duties and Obligations. . . .  

“This radical Change in the Principles, Opinions Sentiments and Affection of the People, was the real American Revolution” (John Adams to Hezekiah Niles, February 13, 1818). 

Echoing the same idea, Founding Father Dr. Benjamin Rush explained: 

“There is nothing more common, than to confound the terms of American Revolution with those of the late American war. The American war is over: but this is far from being the case with the American revolution. On the contrary, nothing but the first act of the great drama is closed. It remains yet to establish and perfect our new forms of government; and to prepare the principles, morals, and manners of our citizens, for these forms of government, after they are established and brought to perfection” (Benjamin Rush, Address to the People of the United States, 1787, in Hezekiah Niles, ed., Principles and Acts of the Revolution, 234). 

According to these esteemed men, the only revolution that really matters is the revolution in a People’s manners, morals, and principles. The shot heard ‘round the world didn’t happen because some people in Lexington were disgruntled; it happened because those same patriots were devout Christians who had turned themselves over to God and had the integrity to fight for their God-given rights against all enemies. 

Thomas Jefferson didn’t write the Declaration of Independence simply because he read political theory from John Locke or Montesquieu. Rather, Jefferson turned his life over to God and swore to defend Liberty which he knew was a gift of Heaven: “I have sworn upon the altar of god eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man” (Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Rush, September 23, 1800). 

George Washington didn’t step forward to lead the Continental Army, fund them at his own expense, make himself public enemy number one, and go through all the hardships of war and politics for the remainder of his life, because of something trivial. He did it because of his firm religious convictions that he was engaged in a divine work. 

On the eve of battle in 1776, the General told his fighting men: 

“The Enemy have now landed on Long Island, and the hour is fast approaching, on which the Honor and Success of this army, and the safety of our bleeding Country depend. Remember officers and Soldiers, that you are Freemen, fighting for the blessings of Liberty—that slavery will be your portion, and that of your posterity, if you do not acquit yourselves like men: Remember how your Courage and Spirit have been dispised, and traduced by your cruel invaders; though they have found by dear experience at Boston, Charlestown and other places, what a few brave men contending in their own land, and in the best of causes can do, against base hirelings and mercenaries—Be cool, but determined; do not fire at a distance, but wait for orders from your officers—It is the General’s express orders that if any man attempt to skulk, lay down, or retreat without Orders he be instantly shot down as an example, he hopes no such Scoundrel will be found in this army; but on the contrary, every one for himself resolving to conquer, or die, and trusting to the smiles of heaven upon so just a cause, will behave with Bravery and Resolution: Those who are distinguished for their Gallantry, and good Conduct, may depend upon being honorably noticed, and suitably rewarded: And if this Army will but emulate, and imitate their brave Countrymen, in other parts of America, he has no doubt they will, by a glorious Victory, save their Country, and acquire to themselves immortal Honor” (George Washington General Orders, August 23, 1776). 

If we do our part in fighting for the “blessings of Liberty,” we receive the “smiles of heaven.” This is the most just cause in the world. It is the battle between Liberty and slavery, good and evil, God and Satan. Faith, Family, Freedom should be our eternal slogan. There is nothing more important for which to fight. 

Our manly efforts to liberate our country from serfdom don’t depend on anyone else. True leaders don’t wait for others to act; they lead the way. They don’t say, “No one else is supporting me”; they say, “I will do what’s right and Heaven will shine on me.” True leaders understand the justice of their cause and act with gallantry, cool determination, bravery, courage, and honor. They don’t run when things get hard; they stand their ground. They don’t fight when it is politically or socially expedient; they resolve to “conquer, or die,” relying on the “smiles of heaven.” 

Our forefathers were real men. They were true leaders. There is nothing today to compare to them on the political stage. Statesman J. Reuben Clark, Jr. once remarked: 

“These were the horse and buggy days as they have been called in derision; these were the men who traveled in the horsedrawn buggies and on horseback; but these were the men who carried under their hats, as they rode in the buggies and on their horses, a political wisdom garnered from the ages. As giants to pygmies are they when placed alongside our political emigres and their fellow travelers of today, who now traduce them with slighting word and contemptuous phrase” (J. Reuben Clark, Jr., Stand Fast by Our Constitution, 137). 

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people gush that President Trump was the greatest president ever. Ever? Better than George Washington? Better than John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison? Better than Andrew Jackson? None of those great men retreated from danger or fled when things got rough. They risked their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to literally fight the enemy and rebel against tyranny. Not Trump, Bolsonaro, or anyone else I’ve seen on the national level has the conviction, inner fire, and integrity to do say, “Give me liberty or give me death!” and really mean it. At least, they haven’t proven their words by deeds. 

It’s up to us to lead ourselves and keep the Revolution going, not to wait for a mortal savior. No white knight on his noble steed is coming to rescue us. There is no George Washington this time; he already showed us the way to go. Our self-appointed “heroes” have failed us. We must each take up the mantle of leadership and do our part. We must make the same covenant that our forefathers made; namely, to “mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor” with a “firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence.” 

In a word, we must each contribute to this fight by repenting and becoming better. By doing better and being better, we change the world. We may not be on billboards or prime time TV. We may not win elections or host massive rallies. However, our influence will have a ripple effect for good now and in the eternities. 

Who did more, Jesus who had no home and only one pair of clothes to His holy name and no earthly Kingdom, or Donald Trump with his billions of dollars and legions of followers? The average person who lives right and who follows in the footsteps of the Master, or even in the footsteps of our noble forebears, will have a more lasting impact than the most renowned politicians of the age. 

Repent or die. “[E]xcept ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish,” is the word of our Master (Luke 13:3). Do we believe Him? He has also promised: 

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). 

Do we believe Him? Do we trust His words? Are we convinced of His power to fulfill His promises? 

A third time, He has told us: 

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. 

“f ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land. . . . 

“I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin: 

“And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city. 

“Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness. (Isaiah 1:18-19, 25-27). 

I ask again, do we believe the Lord? If we do, we must repent. If we don’t repent, we will perish, both as individuals and as a nation. America is a special and a chosen land. God will have a righteous people here. If we are not righteous, we have no guarantee of safety. If we repent and reform our lives, if we have a revolution in our manners, morals, and principles, He will forgive us our sins, heal our land, bless us with righteous leaders, and pour down the smiles of Heaven upon us in many forms, including the blessings of Liberty. What more could a nation ask for? 

As a new year dawns, a new year that portends more misery and suffering and chaos, we must take stock of our individual lives and our collective path. What can we do better? How can we improve? In what ways can we be more faithful, humble, helpful, merciful, loving, kind, and decent? Can we help our neighbors more? Can we bury the hatchet and be peacemakers? Can we educate others and raise the level of enlightenment in the world? Can we pull down the power of Heaven on our behalf and on the behalf of our beloved Republic? 

We need Heaven’s favor. We need greater light. We need Jesus Christ, the Light and Life of the world. But are we willing to sacrifice and fight for it? Are we willing to repent? If not, we are not willing to be saved – and we won’t be. Repentance is the only remedy left to us. Without it, blood will flow in the streets. God’s wrath will continue to be poured out in the form of famines, mobs, economic crashes, plagues, and wars. I promise you, all this will come and more and you will rue the day you procrastinated your repentance. 

America, repent! Today is a new day, a new year, a new opportunity. The Lord is merciful. He loves us. He preached the superlative doctrine of 70×7. Regarding Israel, He once lamented: 

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (Matthew 23:37-38). 

Might He not have been talking to modern America? Have we not, as a nation, cast Him out, rejected those He sent to us, and refused to be healed? Is not our blessed land becoming desolate and overrun by thieves, criminals, and degenerates? Luckily, the Lord’s mercy is available to all of us. 

The Redeemer has said: “[A]s often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me” (Mosiah 26:30). And again He has shown His eternal love for us in these words: 

“Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:15-16). 

And a third pleading promise: 

“[W]ill ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you? 

“Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me” (3 Nephi 9:13-14). 

If we repent and rise up in righteous indignation like the freemen and Christian soldiers we’re meant to be, the Lord will deliver us out of bondage. If we will become God’s Israel – His warriors – He will bless us beyond comprehension. The Lord’s path is not harsh, though it is hard. It is not cruel, though it is calculated to stretch us. The Lord’s path is the “way of holiness” and we are told that “the unclean shall not pass over it” (Isaiah 35:8). What is left to do, then, but to become clean? Let this year, this day, this moment, be the time we decide to follow the Lord. I love you, America. Choose the Lord and live!

I began by saying you can’t trust anyone. That is true; mortals are generally fickle and untrustworthy. Politicians let you down. Our idols and heroes fall by the wayside. Cowards flee from danger. But the Lord Jesus Christ is the Lion of Judah. He has already conquered. His crown and throne are secure. His Kingdom is coming, and quite soon, unless I am terribly mistaken. We can trust Him. 

The Apostle Paul exhorted us: “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised)” (Hebrews 10:23). Do you believe him? Do you believe Him? I do. I know He fulfills His words and that He watches over the faithful. 

“[C]hoose you this day whom ye will serve . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). 

Zack Strong, 
January 1, 2023

Gifts from Father

“God loved us, so he sent his Son. Christ Jesus, the atoning One. To show us by the path he trod. The one and only way to God.” – “God Loved Us, So He Sent His Son,” Hymn No. 187, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints  

Every man, woman, and child on planet earth is a literal spirit child of Heavenly Father. We once knew Him far better than we do now. He raised us in our spiritual infancy and tutored us. From the beginning, He has bestowed countless gifts upon us. Since Christmas is a time for gift-giving, it is fitting that we remember some of the superlative gifts our Father has so graciously given us

The first gift we were each given by Father was life. In a way that has not been fully revealed, He begat us as spirits in the distant eons of the past. We existed as intelligences prior to that, but we became spirits – cognitive beings with spirit bodies – because of Him. We lived, grew, and learned in a place we call the pre-earth, or pre-mortal, realm. It was there that the Gospel Plan was taught to us and where we learned our possibilities; specifically, our possibility, through the intervening power of a divine Mediator, of becoming like our Father. 

One of the things that set our Father apart from the rest of us was that He had a perfected, immortal body of flesh and bone. Some people consider flesh and bone inferior to spirit. The reverse is true. This is why the Savior resurrected Himself with a body of flesh and bone as recorded in Luke 24:36-43. Therefore, the second great gift the Eternal Father bestowed upon us was a physical body and a chance to live in a mortal state of testing wherein we could, if we faithfully followed His “way of holiness” (Isaiah 35:8) outlined by the Savior, we could return to Him and receive exaltation. 

Our bodies are not trivial, unimportant, temporary things; they are holy temples! (1 Corinthians 3:16-17) As gifts of God, they must not be defiled with promiscuity and whoredoms, tattooed with graffiti, pierced in strange ways, polluted with drugs and alcohol or harmful foods and chemicals, and so forth. They must be honored, cultivated, and fortified, though not worshiped unduly. Proper health as part of true religion is not a superstition of past ages, but a verity and requirement for all who have been gifted bodies by their All-Wise Father. All of us, like our Lord Jesus and because of Him, will be resurrected with physical bodies and possess them for eternity. 

The next gift our Father in Heaven bestowed upon us is free will. We may call it moral agency or, simply, Freedom. Whatever we call it, it stands only next to life itself in the hierarchy of blessings. In the Father’s Gospel Plan, agency is paramount. We may even say that Jesus Christ’s supreme purpose is to ensure, protect, and extend our agency. The Apostle Paul told us to: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1). 

What Christ offers each of us through His atoning blood is Freedom – Freedom from the damnation of sin, Freedom from the Devil, Freedom from hell, Freedom from the fallen world and natural man, and Freedom from death. The Father’s Gospel, which may rightfully be called the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is a Gospel of Liberty. Agency is so crucial that the Lord has intervened throughout history, and notably in modern times in the creation of the United States and the crafting of its inspired Constitution, to create a situation wherein man might be free and accountable for his own sins (Doctrine and Covenants 101:77-80). 

The next gift we can mention is prophets. From Adam, who was a holy prophet, down through Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Malachi, John, Peter, and others, the Lord has revealed His and the Father’s will through authorized representatives. These prophets give us the essential understanding we need to know about our relationship to God and His Son in every age. They are also the necessary legal administrators of the Gospel and its beautiful saving ordinances. 

Without exception, every time the Gospel has been on the earth, a prophet has stood its head. At no time has the Church of Jesus Christ ever existed without a prophet. Such is a contradiction in terms, for the Church must be headed by a called and authorized prophet (Ephesians 4:11; Amos 3:7; Numbers 12:6). It is through duly-called and ordained prophets that Gospel light and salvation are administered, because of the grace and will of Christ the Lord. 

In modern days, the Father has given a wonderful gift – the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For centuries after the martyrdom of the Apostles, apostasy and confusion were rampant. There were no prophets or legal administrators to perform saving ordinances like baptism. In 1820, Gospel light burst forth again as the Eternal Father and His resurrected Son Jesus Christ appeared from Heaven to the young man Joseph Smith in modern New York state, initiating the fulfillment of numerous ancient prophecies. Joseph Smith had prayed to know which of all the conflicting churches was true. In response, the Lord told him that though professed His name, they had all gone astray and denied His power (Joseph Smith History 1:19). 

Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord’s Church was restored to earth as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. John the Baptist and, later, Peter, James, and John, appeared to confer Priesthood authority on Joseph Smith and a man named Oliver Cowdery. On the sacred date of April 6, 1830, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was formally restored. It was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy that the Lord would do a “marvellous work and a wonder” (Isaiah 29:10-14). The coming forth of The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, which was foretold by Isaiah in the same passage cited and also by Ezekiel and others (Ezekiel 38), joined the Bible in testifying boldly of the divinity of Jesus Christ and of His mission to atone for and redeem all mankind. 

The Book of Mormon contains a prophecy from the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ, after His Ascencion, as He ministered among the ancient inhabitants of America – Israelites descended from Joseph who had been led away from Israel around 600 B.C. just prior to the Babylonian captivity. He told them that their sacred records would be revealed to future generations and that it would be delivered to their posterity by the Gentiles. Said He: 

“And when these things come to pass that thy seed shall begin to know these things—it shall be a sign unto them, that they may know that the work of the Father hath already commenced unto the fulfilling of the covenant which he hath made unto the people who are of the house of Israel. . . . 

“For in that day, for my sake shall the Father work a work, which shall be a great and a marvelous work among them; and there shall be among them those who will not believe it, although a man shall declare it unto them. . . . 

“Therefore it shall come to pass that whosoever will not believe in my words, who am Jesus Christ, which the Father shall cause him to bring forth unto the Gentiles, and shall give unto him power that he shall bring them forth unto the Gentiles, (it shall be done even as Moses said) they shall be cut off from among my people who are of the covenant” (3 Nephi 21: 7, 9, 11). 

The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in its original purity had been foreseen by ancient seers and dreamed of by Reformers and pious men for centuries. It was made reality through the Prophet Joseph Smith, whose birthday we commemorate today on December 23. The Restoration is one of the greatest gifts God has given mankind. With the Restoration came the “restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21). As John foresaw, this “everlasting Gospel” was revealed by an angel from Heaven (Revelation 14:6). 

A depiction of Joseph Smith’s First Vision wherein the Father and Son appeared to Him.

This “marvelous work” that the Father performed was for us, His children. He restored the Gospel with its Priesthood authority and powerfully simple doctrines because He wants us to come to His Son Jesus Christ and be enabled by our faithful obedience and His atoning grace to return to Him. 

This brings us to the most phenomenal of all our Father’s beautiful gifts – the Savior Jesus Christ. In the divine record, we read this testimony of the mortal Messiah: 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 

“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16-17). 

The Father loves us and so He sent His Son. All the prophets past and present have and do testify of Jesus Christ. The entire Gospel Plan points us to Him. Isaiah prophesied of the Savior’s redeeming mission in these words: 

“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:4-6). 

Speaking Messianically, Isaiah foresaw even more about the Lord’s ministry: 

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 

“To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; 

“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified” (Isaiah 61:1-3). 

A third prophecy from Isaiah foretold of the Lord’s miraculous birth and appearance in the flesh: 

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). 

Immanuel means “God with us.” What better promise could the Father, through Isaiah, have offered than that the Divine Son should come to earth and dwell among His people? He would be among them, heal them, teach them, and show them the path back to Heaven. If the Jews had recognized it, they could have truly enjoyed the presence of God among them, for He was literally among them in the flesh showing His power, miracles, mercy, wisdom, and love. 

Another ancient prophet in the Americas named Alma prophesied of the Savior’s mission, giving this eloquent description that complements Isaiah’s prophecies perfectly: 

“For behold, I say unto you there be many things to come; and behold, there is one thing which is of more importance than they all—for behold, the time is not far distant that the Redeemer liveth and cometh among his people. . . .  

“. . . behold, the Spirit hath said this much unto me, saying: Cry unto this people, saying—Repent ye, and prepare the way of the Lord, and walk in his paths, which are straight; for behold, the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and the Son of God cometh upon the face of the earth. 

“And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God. 

“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. 

“And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. 

“Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me. 

“Now I say unto you that ye must repent, and be born again; for the Spirit saith if ye are not born again ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness” (Alma 7:7, 9-14). 

Yes, the Savior is mighty, majestic, and merciful. He can cleanse us every whit and save us from all unrighteousness! He not only figuratively or intellectually suffered our afflictions, but they were literally placed upon Him in the flesh and He bore them. The unimaginable burden caused Him to bleed from every pore of His body (Luke 22:44; Doctrine and Covenants 19:16-24). God was with us, He suffered what we have suffered, and He understands us, our trials, and our heartaches more perfectly than we do. Truly, with His stripes we are healed! 

As His ultimate gift to His children, our loving Father in Heaven gave us His Firstborn Son as the final sacrifice to redeem and liberate the rest of us – to free us from our sins, our sicknesses, and our fallen natures. He sent the Christ to take away our pain, comfort us when we mourn, strengthen us in hard times, and succor us with pure love unsurpassed. He “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38) and fulfilling the will of the Father – to heal, help, serve, lift, and love – in all things. Through Him, and His Atonement, we may receive the highest and holiest of all that God has to offer – eternal life in the Father’s Celestial Kingdom. 

This Christmas season we need more of the light and spirit of Christmas in our lives, which is the light and spirit of Christ. Two thousand years ago, the innkeepers refused to let their Messiah in; they rejected the Light of the world. Do we also refuse Him? Do we turn Him away? He said: 

“I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 

“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Revelation 3:20-21). 

We have the power to open the door and let the Savior in. We can, if we will, let the Light and Life of the world fill our hearts and homes. Is this not a marvelous gift? It is a gift freely given that all can accept, enjoy, and benefit from. We can show our appreciation and love to our Father by accepting His gift. The Lord taught: 

“If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23). 

What more could we want this Christmas, and every day, than for the love of our Heavenly Father and our Savior to fill our lives and for Them to come in unto us? Open the inn doors of your heart this Christmas and see if the Lord won’t verify His promise to come in and stay with you and, with the Father, fill your life with light and love. Merry Christmas! 

Zack Strong, 
December 23, 2022 

Jesus Christ – the Symbol of “Mormonism”

“[I]f it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” – Acts 5:39

I recently saw an angry meme created by virulent, self-proclaimed anti-Mormons who have a very unChristian ministry devoted completely and wholly to supposedly “Leading Mormons to the REAL Jesus Christ.” The meme, like nearly all hostile propaganda past and present that I have seen, is based on lies. It quotes from four different latter-day prophet-presidents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints referring to this or that as symbols of our faith. The meme twisted the words to mean that we exclude Jesus Christ and, therefore, we are fake Christians and that these men are “false prophets.” I take it upon myself today to disabuse the unwitting of this false idea and to rebuke the creators of this ministry for fighting against God. 

Art by Michael Malm – http://www.mikemalm.com/religiousart

Firstly, it is disingenuous to refer to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as “Mormons” or to our Christian religion as “Mormonism.” Yes, it is absolutely true that we have used these terms to refer to ourselves at times, but they have never been the preferred or formally accepted terms. We have used them because they were the only terms that the world knew. To make it easier for them to find and identify them, we were sometimes lackluster in our use of the proper name of the Church.  

The formal name of our Church was given by revelation from the Lord to the Prophet Joseph Smith and is codified in modern scriptures which we happily join to the Holy Bible to form a powerful witness for Jesus Christ’s divinity, love, and redemption. The Lord stated: 

“Verily thus saith the Lord unto you, my servant Joseph Smith, Jun. . . .  

“And also unto my faithful servants who are of the high council of my church in Zion, for thus it shall be called, and unto all the elders and people of my Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, scattered abroad in all the world; 

“For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

“Verily I say unto you all: Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations; 

“And that the gathering together upon the land of Zion, and upon her stakes, may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth” (Doctrine and Covenants 115:1, 3-6). 

The name “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” has always been the correct name of our Church. It is the name which sets us apart and makes us a “light [and] a standard for the nations.” While we have sometimes used “Mormon Church,” it is nevertheless true that this term is more particularly used in a derisive way by detractors and dissenters. I have found it fascinating in my life as I have seen friends become disaffected and apostatize that they begin to deemphasize the correct name of the Church, removing Jesus Christ from the equation and settling on the term “Mormon.” Faithful members, however, hold up the Lord and are willing to take His name upon us and be called Christians. 

In 2018, shortly after President Russell M. Nelson was chosen and ordained as the prophet-president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he gave an address titled “The Correct Name of the Church” wherein he emphasized the need to never compromise on the name revealed by Heaven. He stated: 

“Let me explain why we care so deeply about this issue. But first let me state what this effort is not

“It is not a name change. 

“It is not rebranding. 

“It is not cosmetic. 

“It is not a whim. 

“And it is not inconsequential. 

“Instead, it is a correction. It is the command of the Lord. Joseph Smith did not name the Church restored through him; neither did Mormon. It was the Savior Himself who said, “For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” 

“Even earlier, in AD 34, our resurrected Lord gave similar instruction to members of His Church when He visited them in the Americas. At that time He said: 

““Ye shall call the church in my name. . . . 

““And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church.” 

“Thus, the name of the Church is not negotiable. When the Savior clearly states what the name of His Church should be and even precedes His declaration with, “Thus shall my church be called,” He is serious. And if we allow nicknames to be used or adopt or even sponsor those nicknames ourselves, He is offended. 

“What’s in a name or, in this case, a nickname? When it comes to nicknames of the Church, such as the “LDS Church,” the “Mormon Church,” or the “Church of the Latter-day Saints,” the most important thing in those names is the absence of the Savior’s name. To remove the Lord’s name from the Lord’s Church is a major victory for Satan. When we discard the Savior’s name, we are subtly disregarding all that Jesus Christ did for us—even His Atonement. . . . 

“When we omit His name from His Church, we are inadvertently removing Him as the central focus of our lives. . . . 

“For much of the world, the Lord’s Church is presently disguised as the “Mormon Church.” But we as members of the Lord’s Church know who stands at its head: Jesus Christ Himself. Unfortunately, many who hear the term Mormon may think that we worship Mormon. Not so! We honor and respect that great ancient American prophet. But we are not Mormon’s disciples. We are the Lord’s disciples. 

“In the early days of the restored Church, terms such as Mormon Church and Mormons were often used as epithets—as cruel terms, abusive terms—designed to obliterate God’s hand in restoring the Church of Jesus Christ in these latter days. . . . 

“If someone should ask, “Are you a Mormon?” you could reply, “If you are asking if I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, yes, I am!” 

“If someone asks, “Are you a Latter-day Saint?” you might respond, “Yes, I am. I believe in Jesus Christ and am a member of His restored Church.” 

“My dear brothers and sisters, I promise you that if we will do our best to restore the correct name of the Lord’s Church, He whose Church this is will pour down His power and blessings upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints, the likes of which we have never seen. We will have the knowledge and power of God to help us take the blessings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people and to prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Lord. 

“So, what’s in a name? When it comes to the name of the Lord’s Church, the answer is “Everything!” Jesus Christ directed us to call the Church by His name because it is His Church, filled with His power. 

“I know that God lives. Jesus is the Christ. He leads His Church today. I so testify in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.” 

Can it be any clearer? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true and correct name of the Lord’s restored Church. I declare by the Holy Spirit, which has given me a personal and independent witness, that this Church is in fact the Lord’s. I testify that Joseph Smith was a righteous man chosen by the Lord as a prophet and instrument in His holy hands to restore His Church. I also know this because the Lord taught that “every good tree bringeth forth good fruit” (Matthew 7:17). 

I witness sincerely and plainly that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints fulfills numerous ancient promises, including that the Lord would do a “marvellous work and a wonder” (Isaiah 29:14), that He would give the Gospel to mankind in the last days through an angel (Revelation 14:6), that He would gather “together in one all things in Christ” in the “dispensation of the fulness of times” (Ephesians 1:10), and that He would make the Bible and The Book of Mormon one in His hand to establish His Gospel truth (Ezekiel 37:19). 

It is a misrepresentation to call the Lord’s restored Church anything but The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Often, the name “Mormon” is used maliciously like a scoffing epithet by those attempting to distance us from our Redeemer Jesus Christ and paint us as something we are not. They don’t mind calling people of a hundred different denominations – Baptists, Methodists, Seven-Day Adventists, Lutherans, Anglicans, Episcopalians, etc. – “Christians,” so why is it so hard to call members of The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints “Christians”?  

Calling ourselves “Christians,” or even “Saints,” links us to the Lord’s primitive Church and it is something we happily and gladly do. When people join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they do so through baptism, which is conducted in these words by the officiator: “Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen” These words come from a revelation given in 1830. I quote a few lines from it: 

“Wherefore, the Almighty God gave his Only Begotten Son, as it is written in those scriptures which have been given of him. 

“He suffered temptations but gave no heed unto them. 

“He was crucified, died, and rose again the third day; 

“And ascended into heaven, to sit down on the right hand of the Father, to reign with almighty power according to the will of the Father; 

“That as many as would believe and be baptized in his holy name, and endure in faith to the end, should be saved. . . . 

“And we know that all men must repent and believe on the name of Jesus Christ, and worship the Father in his name, and endure in faith on his name to the end, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God. 

“And we know that justification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true; 

“And we know also, that sanctification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, to all those who love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength. . . . 

“And again, by way of commandment to the church concerning the manner of baptism—All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:21-26, 29-31, 37). 

I won’t tell you how many references there were to Jesus Christ in these few verses, but I challenge you to go back and count them. Everything we do in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints relates back to our Savior. The Prophet Joseph Smith once remarked that: “The fundamental principles of our religion is the testimony of the apostles and prophets concerning Jesus Christ, “that he died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended up into heaven;” and all other things are only appendages to these, which pertain to our religion” (Joseph Smith, Elders’ Journal, July, 1838, 44). 

Jesus Christ is the focus of our faith. He is our Lord and Master. He is our hope and our Mediator. He is matchless in His might and majesty. He is the One we are waiting for to return to earth in glory, cleanse the wicked, and build Zion. Everything we do, everything we hope, everything we are, is because of, through, and for, Jesus Christ. 

The resurrected Lord ministering to Nephite children, as recorded in 3 Nephi 17 of The Book of Mormon

One of our most beloved verses of scripture from The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, which is a tree that produces the sweetest fruit, comes from the ancient Israelite prophet Nephi, writing around 580 B.C. He bore an endearing testimony that all Latter-day Saints joyfully echo: 

“Behold, they will crucify him; and after he is laid in a sepulchre for the space of three days he shall rise from the dead, with healing in his wings; and all those who shall believe on his name shall be saved in the kingdom of God. Wherefore, my soul delighteth to prophesy concerning him, for I have seen his day, and my heart doth magnify his holy name. 

“And behold it shall come to pass that after the Messiah hath risen from the dead, and hath manifested himself unto his people, unto as many as will believe on his name, behold, Jerusalem shall be destroyed again; for wo unto them that fight against God and the people of his church. 

“Wherefore, the Jews shall be scattered among all nations; yea, and also Babylon shall be destroyed; wherefore, the Jews shall be scattered by other nations. 

“And after they have been scattered, and the Lord God hath scourged them by other nations for the space of many generations, yea, even down from generation to generation until they shall be persuaded to believe in Christ, the Son of God, and the atonement, which is infinite for all mankind—and when that day shall come that they shall believe in Christ, and worship the Father in his name, with pure hearts and clean hands, and look not forward any more for another Messiah, then, at that time, the day will come that it must needs be expedient that they should believe these things. 

“And the Lord will set his hand again the second time to restore his people from their lost and fallen state. Wherefore, he will proceed to do a marvelous work and a wonder among the children of men. . . . 

“For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after [i.e. not withstanding] all we can do. . . . 

“And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. . . . 

“And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out” (2 Nephi 25:13-17, 23, 26, 29). 

The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, which is so hated and reviled by those who have never read it and who know precious little about it besides what detractors have written in anger, speaks of Christ on nearly every page. Of the 6,607 verses in the record, 3,925 speak of the Savior. It is a Christian book if ever there was one. 

A depiction of the Savior’s visit to ancient America, as recorded in 3 Nephi 11

The ancient Israelite prophets who wrote and compiled the record foretold Jesus’ virgin birth, His ministry and the healings He would perform, His crucifixion and Atonement for the sins of the world, His resurrection from the dead, and His eventual appearance in the New World. When He appeared in ancient America, He repeated the Sermon on the Mount and gave other teachings regarding the House of Israel and the last days that are precious. He explained, for instance, that this branch of Israel was among those He called “other sheep” when He said in His ministry: “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (John 10:16). 

The Book of Mormon does not preach some other or mysterious Christ, it preaches the same Christ who is Alpha and Omega, the Word, Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, the Messiah, the King of kings, the Lord of Hosts, the Bread of Life, the Only Begotten Son of God, the Redeemer. I am personally grateful for this extra flood of knowledge that shines such a powerful beam of light on my Lord and His Gospel, confirming their meaning and helping me walk more faithfully and precisely the path of Christian discipleship. 

I bear my witness, for whatever it is worth to you, that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Jesus Christ’s Church. It is, as He said it is, “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:30). It was restored by angels who conferred their Priesthood authorities and keys and powers on Joseph Smith and his associates, many of whom witnessed of these truths. At least twelve separate men signed their names to documents and published them throughout the world witnesses that they saw the metallic records upon which The Book of Mormon account was recorded. Three of these men, apart from Joseph Smith, stated that an angel showed them to them: 

“And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true. And it is marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things.” 

We don’t need angels to minister to us to know in the depth of our soul that The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is a true witness for Christ. I know it. The Holy Ghost has given me a firm testimony of its authenticity. And the Savior’s words confirm its goodness, for it points our souls to Him, teaches us to do good, speaks harshly against error and the Devil, and has a distinct ring of truth.  

I know that from the Prophet Joseph Smith’s day to our own, the Lord has called prophets to oversee His “marvellous work and a wonder.” The Lord’s current mouthpiece is President Russell M. Nelson. He is a watchman on the wall. He is a witness of Jesus Christ. 

To conclude, the chief symbol of this thing that scoffers and the unknowing call “Mormonism,” is none other than Jesus Christ. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is His organization restored to the earth. In it is His Priesthood authority. In it shines His Gospel light. In it are true Christians who humbly serve the Lord, love others, and attempt to follow the Lord’s instruction to “go . . . into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). 

Art by Michael Malm

To any who may have sincere questions about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Restored Gospel of the Savior, I encourage you to either write to me, to search on the Church’s website, or to have an in-person or virtual meeting with missionaries. I also urge you to pray to the Father in the name of Jesus Christ for inspiration. He will not fail you if you are sincere in your searching. Anyone can know the truth of these things if they will but pay the price for an answer from the Lord. God bless you. 

Zack Strong, 
October 18, 2022

Calling All Saints

What is a saint? I favor the definition given by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which explains: 

“The word saint is a translation of a Greek word also rendered “holy,” the fundamental idea being that of consecration or separation for a sacred purpose; but since what was set apart for God must be without blemish, the word came to mean “free from blemish,” whether physical or moral. In the New Testament the saints are all those who by baptism have entered into the Christian covenant (see Acts 9:13, 32, 41; Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2; Philip. 1:1; 1 Pet. 1:14–15).” 

A saint is one who is striving to be holy and who has consecrated his life to God. In the primitive Church, saints were not considered to be extraordinary or unusual. Everyday members of the Church of Jesus Christ were referred to as Saints. The passages cited above shows the regular, almost casual, way that members of the Lord’s Church were called “Saints.” 

Luke wrote of “the saints which dwelt at Lydda.” The Apostle Paul addressed his epistle to the Philippians “to all the saints in Christ Jesus.” And so on. Peter gave us an interesting passage when he encouraged us all – the weakest among us – to be holy like Jesus Christ. Said he: 

“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 

“As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 

“But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 

“Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:13-16). 

The word “holy” in this last line comes from the Greek αγιος, or agios (also hagios). It is the same Greek word, in the singular, for the plural Greek word translated “saints” in Acts, Philippians, and elsewhere. Therefore, Peter may have just as readily encouraged us to be “saints” or “saintly,” as Christ is the head Saint or is saintly. 

The injunction to be like our Savior was issued by Him during His ministry. The final command of the Sermon on the Mount states: 

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). 

Why, then, should we single out only some individuals as “saints” when it is clearly the will of our Master that we all become saints – holy and righteous – like Him? Roman Catholics are the most well-known group to venerate people as “Saints.” Catholics usually revere only certain people as “Saints,” yet they acknowledge that all Christians are intended by their Maker to be saints. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has said

“All Christians are called to be saints. Saints are persons in heaven (officially canonized or not), who lived heroically virtuous lives, offered their life for others, or were martyred for the faith, and who are worthy of imitation.” 

Despite this noble sentiment, the statement continues with an exclusive viewpoint about how one becomes a big-S canonized “Saint,” seemingly ignoring its own acknowledgement that all Christians are supposed to be Saints and are referred to as such in the New Testament: 

“In official Church procedures there are three steps to sainthood: a candidate becomes “Venerable,” then “Blessed” and then “Saint.” Venerable is the title given to a deceased person recognized formally by the pope as having lived a heroically virtuous life or offered their life. To be beatified and recognized as a Blessed, one miracle acquired through the candidate’s intercession is required in addition to recognition of heroic virtue or offering of life. Canonization requires a second miracle after beatification. The pope may waive these requirements. A miracle is not required prior to a martyr’s beatification, but one is required before canonization.” 

There is nothing about canonizing anyone as “Venerable” or “Blessed” or “Saint” in the Bible. These are man-made, artificial honors. In the scriptures, no miracles or recognition from the Church are required for anyone to be called a “Saint.” Being a “Saint” is the default definition of one who follows the Lord Jesus Christ and enters into His Church by the covenant path of baptism. 

We can, however, appreciate the idea of living a “heroically virtuous” life. We find this explanation of what being “heroically virtuous” is all about to Catholics: 

“This definition includes the four “cardinal” virtues: prudence, temperance, fortitude and justice; as well as the “theological” virtues: faith, hope and charity. A saint displays these qualities in a consistent and exceptional way.” 

While one may call this type of pious life “heroically virtuous,” the standards listed here are the bare minimum for every Christian disciple. Paul was not writing to an elite group among members of the Church in Corinth when he told them to have “faith, hope, [and] charity” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Paul was not writing to a small clique among the Galatians when he said that the “fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22-23). 

All of these qualities are supposed to be exemplified by Christ’s followers; not merely by an elite group. Those who embody these characteristics truly are Saints, but they are not somehow distinct from the normal body of the Church of Jesus Christ. There is nothing miraculous, in and of itself, about a person becoming holy and saintly; it is expected! 

Yet, on the other hand, it is something of a miracle to be a true and humble follower of the Lord in our sin-sick world with the “beat of Babylon’s band” reverberating around us. Even few among self-professing Christians ever measure up to the Lord’s lofty standards. However, in Heaven’s hopeful manner, we are all designated as the Lord’s “Saints.” I believe this was done as a deliberate and continual reminder that each day we need to strive for holiness and to be holy as our Lord is holy. 

A synonym of the word “saint” is the archaic word “hallow.” J.K. Rowling’s masterwork Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows resurrected a term that, for a long time, had been used primarily at the end of October. I refer, of course, to the wonderful holiday Halloween (or Samhain, in the original Celtic tradition). In 609 A.D., Catholics designated November 1st as All Saints’ Day, or All Hallow’s Day. In 837 A.D., the feast became generally observed. The night, or eve, before All Saint’s Day, October 31st, is, naturally, All Saint’s Eve. Or, if you use the term hallow instead, it is All Hallows’ Eve. Today, we know it as Halloween. 

The word hallow is an interesting one. Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines it thus: 

“1. To make holy; to consecrate; to set apart for holy or religious use. Exodus 28:38. 1 Kings 8:64. 

“2. To devote to holy or religious exercises; to treat as sacred. 

“Hallow the sabbath day, to do no work therein. Jeremiah 17:22. 

“3. To reverence; to honor as sacred. 

“Hallowed be thy name.” 

When we take upon ourselves the mantle of Christian discipleship, we set ourselves apart for the Lord. We repent, reform our behavior, and make ourselves holy through the Savior’s atoning grace. We devote ourselves and commit our hearts to the sacred, the beautiful, the lovely, the true. Becoming a saint is not about performing miracles or being canonized by any earthly organization, it’s about humbly following the Lord, getting to know Him, and becoming like Him. 

There are not many references to “hallow” in scripture. The most famous is, no doubt, the Lord’s Prayer, wherein Christ prayed: “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name” (Matthew 6:9). We are told to “hallow the sabbath day” (Jeremiah 17:21-24). Ancient Israelite priests were to be hallowed before ministering in the tabernacle (Exodus 29:1). Perhaps the most interesting passage is this one in Leviticus which mirrors Peter’s words quoted earlier: “I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the Lord which hallow you” (Leviticus 22:32). 

We can see from this latter statement that the Lord expects us to revere Him and, as we do so and faithfully follow His commandments, He sanctifies us. We become saints not through performing extraordinary miracles, but by performing ordinary tasks like praying daily, reading the scriptures, exercising faith in the Savior, being charitable, loving one another, forgiving people their trespasses 70×7, remaining chaste and virtuous except in covenant marriage, paying tithes and offerings, ministering to others, preaching the Gospel, and so forth. 

Elder Quentin L. Cook, one of the Lord’s current apostles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, once reminisced on what it means to be a Saint. He made these remarks

“The word saint in Greek denotes “set apart, separate, [and] holy.” If we are to be Saints in our day, we need to separate ourselves from evil conduct and destructive pursuits that are prevalent in the world. 

“We are bombarded with visual images of violence and immorality. Inappropriate music and pornography are increasingly tolerated. The use of drugs and alcohol is rampant. There is less emphasis on honesty and character. Individual rights are demanded, but duties, responsibilities, and obligations are neglected. There has been a coarsening of dialogue and increased exposure to that which is base and vulgar. The adversary has been relentless in his efforts to undermine the plan of happiness. If we separate ourselves from this worldly conduct, we will have the Spirit in our lives and experience the joy of being worthy Latter-day Saints. . . . 

“If we are to be worthy Saints, we should minister to others and adhere to the Savior’s admonition to love God and our fellowmen. 

“Separation from the evils of the world needs to be accompanied by holiness. A Saint loves the Savior and follows Him in holiness and devotion. Evidence of this kind of holiness and devotion is exemplified by consecration and sacrifice. President Hinckley has taught, “Without sacrifice there is no true worship of God.” Sacrifice is the crowning test of the gospel. It means consecrating time, talents, energy, and earthly possessions to further the work of God.” 

Being a Saint means being different than the world. Saints don’t live in Babylon. They don’t do what Babylon does. They don’t think like Babylon thinks. They keep themselves pure and righteous even though they may be surrounded with evil influences. Saints avoid what they ought not to do and they do what they ought to. They live up to their obligations as disciples of Jesus Christ – as Saints of the Most High God. 

An intriguing element of discipleship is sacrifice. True religion requires us to sacrifices things – bad habits, hard hearts, stubbornness, sin, corrupting allegiances, flawed principles, and so on. When we choose to follow the Savior and to become a Saint, we leave Babylon forever. There is no turning back. Those who turn back are not holy like their Lord – they are not true Saints. He taught: “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). 

Another modern apostle of the Lord, Elder Delbert Stapley, gave us a piercing checklist that all aspiring Saints should review and answer honestly. After recounting the marvelous promises the Lord has decreed for the righteous, Elder Stapley said

“In the light of these glorious promises, it is difficult to understand how any of our Heavenly Father’s children would voluntarily choose anything less than the best our God has to offer. Perhaps it would be well for each of us to reassess ourselves to determine where we presently stand in relation to the fundamental law of the celestial kingdom—the law of obedience. The results should reveal to us which kingdom we have chosen as our goal. For instance: 

“Do I study and ponder the scriptures in an effort to know the will of God and understand His commandments regarding His children? 

“Do I follow the counsel of God’s living prophet, or do I merely select those things with which I agree, disregarding the others? 

“Do I seek the advice and counsel of my bishop and stake president on matters of concern to me and my family? 

“Am I earnestly striving to discipline myself, placing my physical appetites under the subjection of my will? 

“Am I making every effort to repent of past or present wrongdoings and correct them by doing right? 

“Do I have an attitude of faith in God even though I experience trials, adversity, and affliction? And do I bear my burden without a complaining spirit? 

“Keeping the commandments of God is not a difficult burden when we do it out of love of Him who has so graciously blessed us. The Savior has implored us to “take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 

““For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:29–30.) 

“Our willingness to comply with the commandments of God is a witness of our faith in Him and our love for Him. A rebellious disposition cannot inherit the celestial kingdom.” 

If you are honest and search your soul thoroughly, you may find that you have areas that must be mended, flaws that should be blotted out, and things that you can do better. Being a Saint on paper is as easy as getting baptized. But being a Saint in reality is the work of a lifetime and requires introspection, self-examination, and constant correction. 

Yet, the Lord’s burden, though tremendously exacting, is light. It is a burden that does not weigh us down, but lifts us up. It does not cause our head to droop in despair, but causes our eyes to lift Heavenward. If the desire of our heart is to be like the Savior and to show our love for Him and our Eternal Father, then it is not an oppressive thing to leave behind our sins and to do what is right. Yes, it may be difficult, but it is not heavy or burdensome. The Lord’s way is always ennobling, enriching, and empowering! 

I pray that no one within the sound of my voice will “voluntarily choose anything less than the best our God has to offer.” Why settle for less than exaltation with the Lord? Why settle for less than that perfection which the Lord invited and commanded us to reach? Why settle for less than sainthood? 

Being a Saint is not an impossible task; being a Saint is what the Lord expects of those who follow Him. Does the Lord give commandments that are too hard to follow? Does He require more than we can bear, do, or become? Of course not! 

The ancient followers of the Savior were called Saints because they were holy or striving so to be. They were also called holy by Peter because the One who called them, sanctified them, and redeemed them is called Holy. How can we ever become like Christ, which we will in due time through His power, unless we walk His path of holiness and adopt his saintly nature? 

Nothing can stop us from achieving victory over Satan, death, and hell if we take the Lord’s yoke upon us. A yoke is an interesting device. It is a wooden piece that fits over two animals, enabling them to pull together and lighten a workload. 

If you are one of the two in the Lord’s yoke, who is the other? It is the Lord Himself. If the Lord is pulling for you, with you, and beside you, can you fail? Never! You can voluntarily remove the yoke and go in a different direction by yourself, but you can never fail, though you may falter and progress slowly, if you are yoked to the Lord Jesus Christ who has overcome all things and who is Master of Heaven and earth. 

The Prophet Joseph Smith, through whom the Lord restored much of His Gospel light to earth in what was foreseen by the ancients as the “dispensation of the fulness of times” (Ephesians 1:10) and as the Gospel which an angel flying in Heaven would deliver to the earth (Revelation 14:6), said the following about the Lord’s work in these last days before the His glorious return: 

“Our missionaries are going forth to different nations, and in Germany, Palestine, New Holland, Australia, the East Indies, and other places, the Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done” (Joseph Smith, Documentary History of the Church, Volume 4, 540). 

No unhallowed hand can prevail against the hallowed and holy ones of God – His Saints. Are you one of His Saints? Are you voluntarily and joyfully yoked to the Lord? Are your feet firmly planted on the covenant path of discipleship? If not, or if your feet have strayed, I invite you to come and see what miracles the Lord Jesus Christ can do in your life. 

Zack Strong, 
October 16, 2022 

Find a Church or Find the Church? 

I often hear pastors and parishioners of all stripes encourage people to “find a church” they like. I want to take a moment today to ask these doubtless honest Christians if perhaps they should not instead be encouraging folks to “find the Church” of Jesus Christ

One of the major flaws I see in Christendom is the unscriptural idea that it doesn’t matter which church you belong to so long as you believe in Christ. One denomination is as good as the next for the believer who has Christ in his heart – this is the attitude. Arguably, more Christians have been lulled to sleep or led into crooked paths by this false doctrine than by any other.

I sometimes wonder how an “any-denomination-is-fine” Christian feels when he reads scriptural declarations like the following: 

“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 

“One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 

“One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:4-6). 

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 

“Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:6-8). 

“I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 

“For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4). 

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 

“Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:19-20). 

“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 

“For the body is not one member, but many. 

“If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? . . . . 

“. . . God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. . . . 

“Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 

“And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues” (1 Corinthians 12:13-15, 18, 27-28). 

“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). 

“Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. 

“And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. 

“And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece. 

“And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart. 

“And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them” (Luke 9:1-6). 

“After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. . . . 

“And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. . . .  

“Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” (Luke 10:1, 17, 19). 

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11). 

“Surely the Lord God will do nothing, abut he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). 

“Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. 

“And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, 

“Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. 

“But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money” (Acts 8:17-20). 

“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon fa rock: 

“And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 

“And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 

“And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:24-27). 

“Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 

“That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one call things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him” (Ephesians 1:9-10). 

“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every enation, and kindred, and tongue, and people” (Revelation 14:6). 

“[A]t the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 

“And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:10-11). 

“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 

“And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 

“I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me” (John 17:21-23). 

“He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad” (Matthew 12:30). 

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 

“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 

“And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:21-23). 

There is nothing in these rather straightforward verses that suggests that the Lord’s Church is divided into numerous opposing denominations with contradictory doctrines, leaderships, priesthoods, translations and interpretations of scripture, and ordinances. There is nothing that implies one church is as good as the next, that multiple churches may exist and be equally valid at the same time, or that it doesn’t matter which church you belong to. 

Instead, I see nothing but unity – unity of leadership, authority, organization, doctrine, and membership. I see the word “one” several times, not only implying unity of spirit and intention, but unity of doctrine, structure, and Church body. 

In these prophetic passages, I see references to prophets, apostles, seventies, approved Priesthood authority, and ordinance work carried out by those holding said Priesthood authority. I see citations stating clearly that the Lord will not accept everyone just because they claim to be His followers. I see clear reference to certain ordinances, like baptism, that are required to enter Heaven. I see order, unity, and oneness. 

In light of the fact that the Lord’s Church was not divided in His day or in the time of the Twelve Apostles, is it reasonable to think it should be divided today? If baptism was necessary in Christ’s day, why would it not be necessary today? If the Savior called apostles, prophets, and other authorized servants to preach His Gospel and perform ordinances, are we so arrogant to toss out this system today? If the ancient apostles said there is only “one faith” and described all Christian believers as being linked together in “one body” under prophets and apostles, how can we honestly subscribe to anything different and yet still claim to be Biblical Christians? 

This brings up another problem – the Bible itself. The Bible is the word of God. There is no doubt about it. However, there are myriad translations of that holy book. And there are even more interpretations of its passages, each different from the next. It is utterly impossible, then, to simply read the Bible and use our own reason to comprehend which of all the 45,000 different sects is the “one.” We need a higher and holier witness. 

That witness comes only from God through the Holy Spirit. Recall that when Jesus asked His Apostles who they thought He was, Peter responded: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God;” to which the Lord responded: “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:15-17). 

It was not enough for Peter to walk with the Savior and witness His miracles, hear His teachings fall from His lips, or feel His divine presence. Peter needed to gain a witness from the Holy Ghost. All of us must also receive a witness from the Holy Spirit or we remain in ignorance and can never testify that we know the truth. 

Through the Holy Spirit, we can learn not only that Jesus is the Christ, the Redeemer of mankind, but which church of all the thousands that exist is His Church containing His authority, ordinances, and doctrines that are necessary for salvation through His blood. 

Most of my friends and acquaintances are not members of the Church I belong to. Some are not members of any church and are not religious at all. I still love them and treat them the same as anyone. We are all at different points on our journey of finding the Lord’s one true path or working our way down it. That said, I can’t close this article without sharing my personal witness and testimony of what I have come to know through the same Spirit that confirmed to Peter that Jesus is the Christ. 

I know by virtue of the Holy Ghost that Jesus of Nazareth was the premortal Jehovah, the Creator of earth, and the Lord of lords. I know that He lived a sinless life, that He atoned for my sins and for yours, and that He was crucified as the final sacrifice to fulfill the ancient law He gave to Israel. I know that He rose from the tomb three days later and stands today with a resurrected body at the right hand of God the Father. 

I also testify that I know through the Holy Spirit that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s “one” Church. While we can learn many things from many churches, and while numerous good and upright believers exist in other organizations, only The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the Priesthood authority to officiate in saving ordinances. 

I witness that this Church was revealed from Heaven by an appearance of the Father and Son to the Prophet Joseph Smith and that numerous angels subsequently brought additional knowledge, Bible-supporting scripture, and keys of authority. I testify that three of these divine figures were the Apostles Peter, James, and John, who conferred their keys, rights, and authority of the Lord’s Priesthood to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery in 1829 and that it has continued in unbroken succession to President Russell M. Nelson who presides as prophet, seer, and revelator over the Lord’s Church. 

I give my personal, sacred witness that the “everlasting gospel” that John saw being delivered to men on earth (Revelation 14:6) was this same Gospel of Christ restored through the instrumentality of Joseph Smith in these last days. I witness that The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is a volume of holy scripture that substantiates the Bible’s testimony of Jesus and points people’s souls to Him, calling them to repentance, faith, and good works. 

I know that Jesus is the Christ, my Savior, Master, and King. I invite all to come to Him, to seek knowledge from the Holy Spirit, and to investigate the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ which has brought so much conviction and satisfaction to my soul. It is time to not only find a church, no matter how lovely and enlightened it may be, but to find and join ourselves to the Church of Jesus Christ. 

Zack Strong, 
June 12, 2022

What Does Your Faith Ask You to Do?

This past Sunday, in Sunday School, the teacher set us a small assignment at the beginning of class. He asked us to take five minutes and write down what we thought were the most important things the Gospel of Jesus Christ asks us to do as members of the Lord’s Church. We were asked to also write down scripture references to support these ideas. I thought I would take the time to share the scriptures I jotted down in those five minutes. Perhaps they will inspire, help, or lift someone in the audience. 

The first thing that came to mind is what we call in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the “Four-Fold Mission of the Church.” The four planks include: Proclaim the Gospel; Perfect the Saints; Redeem the Dead; and Serve the Poor and Needy. An entire book could be written about this Four-Fold Mission statement. The first scriptural reference that came to me, however, is found in The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus ChristF 

I testify that The Book of Mormon is indeed a witness for Christ and was inspired by God. It is a companion scripture to the Bible that proclaims the divinity of Christ. In fact, 3,925 verses in that holy book talk of Jesus Christ, meaning that the Lord’s name is mentioned an average of once every 1.7 verses. It is a clear, direct, and powerful testimony that Jesus is the Son of God, that He died for our sins, that He rose from the dead and showed Himself to humble disciples on multiple continents, that He stands as the Redeemer of mankind, and that His name is the only name by which salvation comes. 

The first verse that came to me that, broadly speaking, supports the Four-Fold Mission detailed above is the following declaration of an ancient Hebrew prophet named Alma. To a group of new converts who desired to enter into a covenant to serve the Lord, Alma said: 

“Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; 

“Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life— 

“Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?” (Mosiah 18:8-11). 

Bearing each other’s burdens, comforting those who stand in need, taking upon you the name of Christ, and standing as a witness of Jesus at all times, in all things, and in all places – this is the essence of Christian discipleship. 

The second scripture I wrote on my list was Matthew 18:21-22

“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 

“Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” 

In conjunction with this famous passage, I included Doctrine and Covenants 64:8-11. The Doctrine and Covenants is a compilation of revelations and counsel given to the Lord’s disciples in modern times. Though not as well-known as The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants is rich with doctrinal treasures and inspired clarifications that benefit anyone seeking to live more like the Master. The verses in question state: 

“My disciples, in days of old, sought occasion against one another and forgave not one another in their hearts; and for this evil they were afflicted and sorely chastened. 

“Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin. 

“I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.” 

Have you ever considered that if you don’t forgive another, you stand condemned and that in you lies the greater sin? Having a forgiving heart, then, is one of the chief attributes of a real Christian. 

Earlier this year, I wrote an article bearing the simple name “70×7.” I love the doctrine of forgiveness and repentance! As one who has recognized that I fall short on a daily basis, I know that I need forgiveness frequently from my fellow man and from my God. I may be guilty of various things in life, but I’m not guilty of denying anyone forgiveness. I readily forgive others and I quickly apologize and ask for forgiveness when I have done a wrong or hurt someone.  

he idea of 70×7 – a chance to repent, change, and do better the next time, and a chance to give others that same opportunity – is indescribably precious to my soul. It would revolutionize the world if Christians would embrace “70×7.” 

Next, on my Sunday School assignment, I quoted from the resurrected Redeemer. After appearing to His disciples in the Old World, He appeared to other disciples in the New World – the “other sheep” He had spoken of during His mortal ministry (John 10:16). While there, He repeated His Sermon on the Mount and expounded various teachings, including the following taken from 3 Nephi 27:27

“[W]hat manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.” 

Being like Christ is what it’s all about. It is the answer to the questions “What should I do?” or “What should I say?” or “What should I think?” in 100% of cases. “What Would Jesus Do?” is more than a pithy slogan on bumper stickers – it’s the injunction of the Master Himself. 

The next passage I scribbled on my paper in Sunday School was Luke 18:1, which instructs: 

“[M]en ought always to pray, and not to faint.” 

It’s a simple statement, but one that contains such power. Prayer is the heart of a sincere Christian life. Prayer allows us to talk to our Heavenly Father and tap into His divine power. Through it, we may bless ourselves, our families, and those around us. In my own life, I have had too many experiences with immediately and specifically answered prayers to deny the reality and power of prayer and the fact that Heavenly Father listens to and loves His children. 

The next scriptural passage I cited comes from Moroni 10:32-33. These are essentially the final words of the final prophet who closed the scriptural record that was translated and published as The Book of Mormon. What did this ancient seer want us, his future readers, to know and do? Said he: 

“Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. 

“And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.” 

Wise words that no Christian of any denomination can reject. They point us to Christ. They plead with us to become righteous that we may receive the Savior’s grace and mercy. Jesus has power to give this grace by virtue of His Atonement. We access His grace by entering into covenants and ordinances, by self-sacrifice, and by righteous living. Christ’s mercy may wash away our sins and redeem us, if we will fully and sincerely turn our hearts to Him. 

The next verses that I cited involve the importance ordinances. This comes from Doctrine and Covenants 84:19-22

“And this greater priesthood ministereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God. 

“Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest. 

“And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; 

“For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live.” 

Too many Christians deny the importance of ordinances. Yet, the Bible is clear that ordinances are part of the salvation process. The Savior taught, for instance, that no man can get to Heaven unless he enters through the door of baptism (John 3:3-5). The New Testament also makes it clear that the ordinance of baptism, to be efficacious, must not only be performed by proper authority, but must be followed by the giving of the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands of those holding proper Priesthood authority (Acts 8:14-20). Without these types of sacred ordinances, we cannot access the full power of God and, in the end, we will not return to our Father in Heaven. 

To clarify, though it is Christ’s grace that save us because of His atoning redemption for us and His pure goodness is advocating our cause, He requires ordinances. There is order and careful calculation in Heaven. No one sneaks into Heaven; there is a proper door. That door is ordinances, beginning with baptism by proper authority and proceeding along the course outlined by the Lord and His prophets. 

In modern times, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught the same doctrine in a simple phrase: “Being born again, comes by the Spirit of God through ordinances” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 162). Most consider the Prophet to be a charlatan, yet a tree is known by its fruits. A corrupt tree cannot produce good fruit (Luke 6:42-49). The succulent fruit of Joseph Smith’s works has been to lead millions – myself included – to the Savior Jesus Christ. And, in this example, he merely reworded the words of ancient seers relative to the critical place of ordinances in the Gospel Plan. 

The final two passages I jotted down deal with a topic often seen as taboo at Church – politics. Then again, it’s not really politics; it’s the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the Gospel of Liberty. We cannot, in good faith, divest the religious side of the Gospel from the political. They are both essential parts that make up the whole. As Elder Hans Verlan Andresen once put it: 

“There are those who undertake to keep their “politics” completely separated from their “religion.” This is logically impossible for one who accepts the scriptures as the word of God” (Hans Verlan Andersen, The Great and Abominable Church of the Devil, 47). 

With that necessary introduction out of the way, the first of the two final “political” passages comes from The Doctrine and Covenants, Section 98, Verses 4-10

“And now, verily I say unto you concerning the laws of the land, it is my will that my people should observe to do all things whatsoever I command them. 

“And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me. 

“Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land; 

“And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil. 

“I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law also maketh you free. 

“Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn. 

“Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil.” 

This is a remarkable declaration by the Savior. He put His divine stamp of approval on the U.S. Constitution. In another passage not cited here but equally valid, the Lord confirmed that the Founding Fathers of the United States were “hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:76-80). 

Furthermore, we see that He encouraged His Saints to uphold the inspired Constitution and all principles harmonious with it. These principles support “the principle of freedom” and help us “in maintaining rights and privileges.” These are not American rights, but “belong to all mankind.” They are part of the “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” that the Declaration of Independence referred to. Anything more or less than these constitutional principles of Freedom are not merely wrong, different, or misguided, but come of evil. 

Such a knowledge should make us think twice before supporting policies, parties, and people who find themselves opposed to the U.S. Constitution. This is so important because, in the final equation, we can’t support or uphold – whether knowingly or unwittingly – Satan’s political program, which destroys agency, and suppose we are worthy before God. Therefore, if the Savior stamped the U.S. Constitution with His seal of approval, it becomes a tenet of our faith to defend its principles with the same ferocity we would defend His other teachings and revelations. 

The last verse cited in the above passage is a sermon in itself. It shows us how to vote. Have you ever considered that the Lord will judge you based, in part, on how you voted in life? Doesn’t the Bible make it clear that we will be judged for all our acts? (Romans 2:6; 1 Peter 1:17-23; Revelation 20:12). 

Voting is a major act because it demonstrates our principles on matters involving human agency, life and death, property, public values, war and peace, etc. It shows whether we sanction or reject evil, force, and injustice. It also shows what we would do if we personally possessed the power to judge and punish. Is our judgement just or unjust? Remember, we are to “judge righteous judgement” (John 7:24) and that “with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” (Matthew 7:2). Our votes are forms of judgment that will come back to us at the Judgment Day. 

The Lord revealed here that to be in harmony with His will we must only support honest, wise, and good men – those who befriend constitutional principles of Freedom. If we don’t do this, our vote “cometh of evil.” And nothing evil will enter the Kingdom of God. 

The concluding passage I wrote down last Sunday comes from the ultimate handbook on Freedom – The Book of Mormon. On my paper, I simply copied the book and chapter: Ether 8. There is so much in the chapter that is of great importance. I cite just a few of the verses that discuss Luciferian secret societies and the grave threat they pose to God’s work and the Freedom of mankind. Speaking to those whom he knew would one day read his writings, the ancient prophet Moroni relayed the Lord’s will and mind thus: 

“And it came to pass that they [i.e. the ancient Jaredite people] formed a secret combination, even as they of old; which combination is most abominable and wicked above all, in the sight of God; 

“For the Lord worketh not in secret combinations, neither doth he will that man should shed blood, but in all things hath forbidden it, from the beginning of man. 

“And now I, Moroni, do not write the manner of their oaths and combinations, for it hath been made known unto me that they are had among all people, and they are had among the Lamanites. 

“And they have caused the destruction of this people of whom I am now speaking, and also the destruction of the people of Nephi. 

“And whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed; for the Lord will not suffer that the blood of his saints, which shall be shed by them, shall always cry unto him from the ground for vengeance upon them and yet he avenge them not. 

“Wherefore, O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, and suffer not that these murderous combinations shall get above you, which are built up to get power and gain—and the work, yea, even the work of destruction come upon you, yea, even the sword of the justice of the Eternal God shall fall upon you, to your overthrow and destruction if ye shall suffer these things to be. 

“Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you; or wo be unto it, because of the blood of them who have been slain; for they cry from the dust for vengeance upon it, and also upon those who built it up. 

“For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people, for it is built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies; even that same liar who beguiled our first parents, yea, even that same liar who hath caused man to commit murder from the beginning; who hath hardened the hearts of men that they have murdered the prophets, and stoned them, and cast them out from the beginning. 

“Wherefore, I, Moroni, am commanded to write these things that evil may be done away, and that the time may come that Satan may have no power upon the hearts of the children of men, but that they may be persuaded to do good continually, that they may come unto the fountain of all righteousness and be saved.” 

Powerful words! This command – for it is a commandment – never fails to impress upon me how dire our modern situation is and my own personal duty in respect to Freedom. We are not merely encouraged, but commanded, to “awake” to the “awful” reality of Satanic secret societies “which shall be among [us]” and which “seeketh to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries” and which, if not checked, “bringeth to pass the destruction of all people.” 

These frightful passages confirm that the “conspiracy theorists” are not so crazy after all. There is indeed a global cabal “built up by the devil” that wants to subjugate the entire world, destroy Freedom, and exterminate mankind. It engages in murder, war, and deception. The Book of Mormon illustrates the wicked workings and rotten fruit of these Devilish combinations. I also detailed this monstrous, malevolent secret conspiracy in my book Red Gadiantons: What the Prophets Have Taught about the Communist Secret Combination that Threatens Mankind

The threat is very real. In fact, this wicked conspiracy is in its endgame and world events are rising to a crescendo of carnage and oppression surpassing anything we have ever seen. We are presently witnessing the attempt foretold by Moroni to destroy the Freedom of all lands. What will you personally do about it? Will you heed the command to awake and arise in opposition to Satan’s schemes? Will you stand in favor of the Lord’s political program and all just and universal constitutional principles of Freedom? I pray you will. 

Despite this evil cabal’s attempts to dethrone God and overcome His people, they will ultimately fail and evil will “be done away.” The Devil will be dragged down to hell and all will know how impotent and pathetic he always was (see Isaiah 14). It won’t happen in Washington, however. Congress won’t legislate away the evil, being part of it. We won’t vote our way to deliverance, though voting right is a command and duty and will help us deliver our own souls. No, salvation from tyranny and Satan will only happen when we individually and collectively “come unto the fountain of all righteousness,” who is Jesus Christ. Only Jesus saves

And there you have the verses I jotted down in Sunday School and the rationale behind why I chose them. To me, these are imperative duties and parts of my faith in Christ. I consider all of these things – prayer, standing as a witness of Christ, ordinances, rising in defense of Freedom, etc. – to be highly important. Had I had more time, I would have written many more verses that have impacted me, such as John 15:12 which states: “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you”. 

I would have also certainly added the testimony and plea of the Book of Mormon prophet Nephi, which is one of the sweetest passages of holy writ I know: 

“And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. . . . 

“. . . And the words which I have spoken shall stand as a testimony against you; for they are sufficient to teach any man the right way; for the right way is to believe in Christ and deny him not; for by denying him ye also deny the prophets and the law. 

“And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out” (2 Nephi 25:26, 28-29). 

Dear reader, may God bless you! May you ask yourself what is important to you in your faith. May you ask what is important for you to do, what sacrifices your faith asks you to make, and then do it. May you have the courage and fortitude to follow the Savior and be like Him. 

Reader, you will fail, as I have, to measure up to Christ’s perfection. Yet, you can, as I have, taste of His power, goodness, and grace and receive strength to overcome Satan, to wade through affliction with faith, and to be a light to the dark world around you. Please accept my sincere prayer for your personal faith to increase and become a flame of inspiration inside you forever. 

Zack Strong, 
May 27, 2022

70×7

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” – Isaiah 1:18 

The older I grow and the more cognizant of my weaknesses and thorns in the flesh I become, the more precious the Savior’s admonition to forgive one another “seventy times seven” is to me. Giving people second, third, fourth, and umpteen chances to change, repent, and improve is what Jesus is all about. 

The Lord repeatedly taught that His hands are outstretched and that He is eagerly waiting for us to turn to Him that we may be healed, strengthened, and redeemed. He said: 

“They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. 

“I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32). 

When we recall that Paul taught we “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” we realize that the Savior was talking about all of us (Romans 3:23). He encourages all of us to repent, change, and progress. He lamented that the people of His day would not accept His generous invitation to repent and be saved: 

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37

Hens are protective. They run around herding their chicks and warding off danger. But if the chicks resist the hen’s efforts and run away, the hen can’t do anything about it. Yet, the Savior is more than a hen. He will search for and find the stray and bring it back to safety so long as the stray wishes to be found. The Messiah taught: 

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 

“That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 

“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:14-17). 

God is all about second chances – dozens and dozens of them. He desires us to accept His offer to come to His Son, Jesus Christ, to be lifted up and healed and saved. Jesus explained His profound joy in saving those who are lost, who have sinned, or who are broken beyond human repair: 

“For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. 

“How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? 

“And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray” (Matthew 18:11-13). 

The Lord loves a person who repents! Repentance is not a scary idea. It doesn’t mean whipping yourself or living in a monastery or renouncing a normal life. Rather, it simply means to turn away from that which is wrong, harmful, and bad to that which is right, uplifting, and good. President Russell M. Nelson, a modern prophet of Jesus Christ, explained: 

“Too many people consider repentance as punishment—something to be avoided except in the most serious circumstances. But this feeling of being penalized is engendered by Satan. He tries to block us from looking to Jesus Christ, who stands with open arms, hoping and willing to heal, forgive, cleanse, strengthen, purify, and sanctify us. 

“The word for repentance in the Greek New Testament is metanoeo. The prefix meta- means “change.” The suffix -noeo is related to Greek words that mean “mind,” “knowledge,” “spirit,” and “breath.” 

“Thus, when Jesus asks you and me to “repent,” He is inviting us to change our mind, our knowledge, our spirit—even the way we breathe. He is asking us to change the way we love, think, serve, spend our time, treat our wives, teach our children, and even care for our bodies. 

“Nothing is more liberating, more ennobling, or more crucial to our individual progression than is a regular, daily focus on repentance. Repentance is not an event; it is a process. It is the key to happiness and peace of mind. When coupled with faith, repentance opens our access to the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. . . . 

“When we choose to repent, we choose to change! We allow the Savior to transform us into the best version of ourselves. We choose to grow spiritually and receive joy—the joy of redemption in Him.8 When we choose to repent, we choose to become more like Jesus Christ!” (President Russell M. Nelson, “We Can Do Better and Be Better,” General Conference, April, 2019). 

Repentance is empowering and freeing! The Atonement of Jesus Christ, His redemption for all who will believe in Him and follow His laws, is the greatest event that has ever or will ever transpire. Because the Savior voluntarily laid down His sinless life, He gained the power to pardon sinners. Because He lived perfectly and obeyed every celestial law, He gained the right to forgive those who lived imperfectly and who broke heavenly law. His blood, His grace, His love is what saves us from ourselves. If we show Him a willing heart, He takes it, mends it, and molds us into who we should be. 

The Easter season which we are in is special because it focuses on forgiveness, divine love, and the possibility for renewal. 70×7 is the Lord’s pattern. Peter anciently asked the Redeemer: “Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?” He benevolently responded: “I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22). 

Of course, the Lord was not saying that we should keep score and forgive only 490 times. Rather, He was illustrating the we need to have a forgiving heart and to continuously forgive. When people make mistakes, forgive them – even if they don’t apologize or beg for forgiveness. It is our duty to forgive everyone; God will forgive whom He chooses based on their actions, desires, and knowledge. But we should willingly, lovingly, mercifully forgive everyone, understanding that we ourselves are imperfect and stand in need of constant forgiveness. 

How many of us can make it through even a single day without offending someone, getting angry, saying a coarse word, feeling pride, thinking something improper, making fun of others, or any number of a thousand other sins? We have need of daily repentance and reformation. Most of us would make it only a matter of weeks or months before we used up our 490 chances if that was in fact the real number. Fortunately, 70×7 is a way of being – a lifestyle of forgiveness, mercy, and love. 

An ancient scripture contains one of the most beautiful phrases. Micah 6:8 asks rhetorically: 

“[W]hat doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” 

He deals justly, lovingly, mercifully, and humbly with us and expects us to do the same to others. Did not the Lord say; “Follow me” (Matthew 4:19)? Can we truly follow Him without doing our best to be like Him, emulate His perfect example, and do the things He would if He were in our shoes? If the Lord is so willing and anxious to forgive us hundreds upon hundreds of times for the stupid, and sometimes malicious, mistakes we make and sins we commit, they why are we so quick to close the doors of forgiveness and change to our fellow sojourners here in mortality? 

An ancient Hebrew prophet once asked his people a question that referred to the sharing of physical possessions with those less fortunate than ourselves, but which can easily be applied to spiritual things, including forgiveness and mercy: 

“For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind? 

“And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy. 

“And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another” (Mosiah 4:19-21). 

We are all beggars. We have all fallen short. We have all sinned. Because we are in the same situation of needing the Savior to redeem us, we have no right to deny forgiveness, mercy, love, renewal, and repentance to those who are equally dependent, fallen, and needy. 70×7 should be our slogan. We must forgive! We must learn to quickly relinquish our grudges and let go of our anger, hate, and haughtiness. 

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught

“Ever keep in exercise the principle of mercy, and be ready to forgive our brother on the first intimations of repentance, and asking forgiveness; and should we even forgive our brother, or even our enemy, before he repent or ask forgiveness, our heavenly Father would be equally as merciful unto us” (Joseph Smith, Documentary History of the Church, Vol. 3, 383, July 2, 1839). 

Imagine a world where people forgave those who committed wrongs against them, or who offended them, or who said horrid things about them, before they asked for it! Imagine what such a willingness to forgive would do to a person’s heart. He would be filled with the pure love of Christ, charity, mercy, kindness, understanding, meekness, and honor. Such a person would be, in a word, like the Savior. 

In the parable of the prodigal son, you will recall, the father saw his rebellious son in the distance coming towards him. Before the son arrived, before the son asked forgiveness, before the son could do anything to make amends for his wrongs and his pride and his stupidity, the father ran to him, hugged him, and extended his tender mercy. 

This is how forgiveness ought to work. If someone wrongs you, forgive them straight away without hesitation or qualification. Don’t let their sin canker your soul. You are not their judge, so you must forgive regardless of whether the offender deserves or desires it. 

Likewise, if you are the one who has wronged another, wouldn’t you feel greater love toward that person if they forgave you immediately? Would not that willingness to extend undeserved mercy work upon your heart and mind and make you, in turn, more willing to forgive others in your life? Forgiveness can melt icy hearts, break down barriers, erase grudges, cause fresh understanding between opposing parties, and bind people together with cords of love. 

Easter should turn our hearts to Christ. Specifically, it should remind us of His unmatched sacrifice. That sacrifice, called the Atonement, makes all the difference. We can be saved, redeemed, healed, renewed, and exalted if we trust in Christ and follow His commandments. He offers us this priceless gift if we will but follow Him, repent, and apply His Atonement: 

The Lord gave this definitive word to the prophet Alma in ancient times: 

“Therefore I say unto you, Go; and whosoever transgresseth against me, him shall ye judge according to the sins which he has committed; and if he confess his sins before thee and me, and repenteth in the sincerity of his heart, him shall ye forgive, and I will forgive him also. 

“Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me. 

“And ye shall also forgive one another your trespasses; for verily I say unto you, he that forgiveth not his neighbor’s trespasses when he says that he repents, the same hath brought himself under condemnation” (Mosiah 26:29-31). 

If we do our part, the Lord will forgive us – even if we sin 491 times. If we confess to Him, and to His constituted authorities if our sins are serious enough, we may graciously be forgiven, cleansed, and redeemed! The Israelite prophet Lehi declared: 

“And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free. . . . 

“Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth. 

“Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered. 

“Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise. 

“Wherefore, he is the firstfruits unto God, inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved. . . . 

“And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given. 

“Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and call things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself. 

“And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life” (2 Nephi 2:4, 6-9, 26-28). 

I repeat that the purpose of the Savior’s Atonement is to save! He wants to save all of us – me and you both. Think of the worst person you know, or the worst person you’ve read about in history; Jesus wants to save that person because his or her soul is precious in His sight. It was for him or her, and for you, dear reader, that He died. 

Jesus is the Mediator who grants you the opportunity to choose eternal life and salvation rather than a fallen state and eternal separation from God. Only His blood washes away sins. Only His grace heals. Only Jesus saves

The son of the same Alma just mentioned, also named Alma, revealed these precious sentiments about the Atonement, which I cherish: 

“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. 

“And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. 

“Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me” (Alma 7:11-13). 

Do you see how strongly He loves you? Do you see that He took upon Himself your sins, transgressions, mistakes, sicknesses, pains, depression, sadness, loneliness, and everything dark, wicked, and horrible you’ve ever experienced. Do you see that He suffered and died for you in order to give you the opportunity to follow Him into the Kingdom of Heaven? 

The best thanks you can give to your Savior for reaching out to rescue and redeem you is to repent of your own failings and to forgive others who have wronged you. Let this Easter, and every day, be a day of forgiveness, mercy, and love. Learn to forgive quickly. Learn to ask for forgiveness right away. Apply mercy liberally and plead for it consistently. Make 70×7 your slogan this holiday and turn to the only One who can save, your Savior, Redeemer, Advocate, Priest, and King, Jesus Christ. 

Zack Strong, 
April 14, 2022 

*If anyone is interested, I created a shirt with the 70×7 logo. If ever you’ve wanted to support me and my work, this is one way to do it and also spread the message of forgiveness to a society that is in particular need to forgive and be forgiven.* 

You Lived Before

A tremendous truth, and the lynchpin of Gospel understanding, is that you lived before this life! You once lived as a son or daughter of God in a pre-earth state of existence where you were trained and prepared for your current mortal test. You have always existed as intelligence, but your Father in Heaven took that intelligence and clothed it with spirit, begetting you as one of His special spirit children. Since He is your literal spirit Father, He endowed you with a part of Himself, including His awesome potential. As in mortality children grow to become like their parents, so, too, may you become like your Father in Heaven. 

Think of it, you are the literal offspring of God! He is your Father! He did not merely create you out of nothing for arbitrary purposes. He has nourished and loved you, raising you from spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity in His holy presence. 

Fix this in your mind: You once knew God, your Father, lived with Him, and may become like Him! What truth could be more soul-stretching and satisfying? You share your Eternal Father’s DNA. You are part of His family. Because of your divine lineage, have untapped potential that will take eons to realize. But realize it you may. Indeed, it was Jesus Christ, your spirit Brother who has ascended to become your Savior, Lord, and King, who commanded us: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). 

Our Father is not stingy or jealous. He wants us to become like Him just as His perfect Son Jesus did. Achieving the Father’s level of perfection is, as we have just seen, a commandment for every true follower of Christ. Because of Jesus’ perfection, our Father appointed Jesus to stand as an intermediary to help the rest of us climb the ladder back to Heaven, which is our true home and destiny. 

Elder Neal A. Maxwell once observed: 

“The pattern of calling, blessing, expanding, reassuring, and endowing are reflective of the generosity as well as the gentleness of God our Father and his son, Jesus Christ! 

“Astonishingly, to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, it is clear that the Father and the Son are giving away the secrets of the universe! If only you and I can avoid being offended by their generosity” (Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “Meek and Lowly,” BYU Address, October 21, 1986). 

Do you want the secrets of the universe? Do you want to be like God? You can, if you will follow the path outlined by Christ and rely upon His saving grace and salvific power. 

It is one of Satan’s greatest lies that you can become like God through your own effort without the redemption of Jesus Christ or obedience to eternal law. This is flagrantly false. It is a twisted counterfeit of true Christian doctrine. This teaching is had among occultists in all parts of the earth. When Satan told Eve she would be like God, he did not lie. His lie was that she could do it on her own without the Savior. 

I repeat: It is true that we may become like God, for we are commanded to do just but, but it is wrong that we may do it on our own without Jesus Christ. We cannot sit on a mountain meditating and hope to achieve enlightenment. We cannot join ourselves to occult Theosophy and think it will allow us to rise. We cannot achieve deification through study, physical effort, or any agency on our part. We simply cannot do anything of our own free will that will cause us to evolve into a god. 

From Adam and Eve to the present, the only way we can overcome the effects of the Fall and come off conqueror is through Christ the Redeemer. If we follow Him in faith and obedience, we are told by scripture that we will indeed become like God and be His heirs. The Apostle Paul taught: 

“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 

“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:16-17). 

Those who choose Christ, enter into the gate of baptism by proper authority, who receive all ordinances appointed in the Gospel, and who endure to the end of their lives in faithful obedience and bringing forth good works, will be “glorified together” with God and are appointed as His “heirs” and “joint-heirs with Christ.” This is not pagan doctrine; this is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Even more strongly than “heirs,” Jesus called us “gods,” confirming a teaching given by Him to the ancient Hebrews. When confronted by the wicked Jewish leaders about His claim to be the Son of God, Jesus responded: 

“Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? 

“If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; 

“Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?” (John 10:34-36). 

I ask my fellow Christians, was Jesus mistaken? Is the Bible wrong? Of course not! The Lord said “the scripture cannot be broken.” Jesus was in fact quoting scripture that He had personally given as Jehovah. It taught: “Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High” (Psalm 82:6). 

The words are there in black and white, plain as day, clear as crystal. But most who have read the Bible have interpreted these passages incorrectly, being blinded by the false creeds of man designed to stunt spiritual growth and shackle us to Satan. Alternatively, many Christians have never read the Bible and rely wholly upon the word of their pastor, priest, or bishop. And how many pastors preach this Biblical doctrine that fell from the lips of Jesus and His apostles that we are literal children of God, that we may be “gods” like Him, and that we lived before? 

It is liberating to know we are the literal spirit children of the God of the universe and that He wants us to be like Him! It is empowering to know our potential as His heirs and as His beloved children. We hail from His lineage, which is the lineage of the Gods. Elder Delbert Stapley once proclaimed: 

“Regardless of man’s claims to the contrary, God is still God; Christ is His son – His Only Begotten Son in the flesh. He is in the express image of His Father’s person, and is our Redeemer, Savior, Lord, and King. The scriptures teach us that we are descended from the lineage of the Gods; therefore, we are created in their likeness and image, in both spirit and body, and we are endowed with like character traits, qualities, and powers. We are not the product of evolution from some lower organism of life as man speculates and would have us believe.” 

True words. Each syllable reverberates with power. They have the ring of truth and all who possess discernment feel it in their bones and know deep inside themselves that they were made for so much more than the fallen world tells them. 

The Bible affirms that we were there with God, our Father, before the world was created. Wise Solomon wrote: 

“The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before the works of old. 

“I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. 

“When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. 

“Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: 

“While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. 

“When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: 

“When he established the clouds above: When he strengthened the fountains of the deep: 

“When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: 

“Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; 

“Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men” (Proverbs 8:22-31). 

I personally don’t know how it could be any plainer. You lived “before the works of old,” “before the mountains were settled,” and when the Lord “had not made the earth.” When the seas and the heavens were created, you were there. You rejoiced to learn of the Father’s Plan of Happiness and you were “by him” and “rejoicing always before him.” 

The Lord also explained to Jeremiah that before he was conceived in his mother’s womb, He knew him and had ordained him to great works (Jeremah 1:5). How did He know him? You can’t know what has not been created yet, but you can know what is and was. He knew Jeremiah because Jeremiah was there with Him in pre-mortality, just as Solomon was. You were there, too, and God knows you perfectly. 

Dear reader, you lived before! Your pastor won’t tell you this. Your bishop would call it a lie. Your priest would tell you to stop believing in fables. They are like the pharisees who condemned the Christ and crucified Him on a tree. They rejected plain doctrine, too. They did not want to believe in their potential. They did not want the abundant life that Christ promised them, which abundance begins with a correct knowledge of God and our real relationship to Him. 

It was the Savior who taught: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent” (John 17:3). That same Savior, who urged us to know Him and God, called God, “my Father, and your Father; and . . . my God, and your God” (John 20:17). Was Jesus wrong? Is God not truly our Father? If He’s not really our Father, then why did He teach this? He plainly taught that the Creator is our Father and God and His Father and God. If we follow Christ, we must believe these core verities. 

There is nothing to fear in believing Jesus’ words and in taking them at face value. Why not believe that His Father is also your Father? Why not trust that knowing Jesus is knowing the Father? Why not simply have faith that God is our Father and that we are intended to become like Him? Is there any harm or danger in believing what Jesus believed, taught, and lived? 

Again, I say, there is nothing to fear in believing the Bible. False priests may oppress you and revile you and tell you that you are going to hell, but they did the same thing to our Savior for teaching these very same doctrines. Satan always uses religious authorities who have clouded minds and hardened hearts to castigate truth-tellers and to conceal the real meaning of God’s word. 

Yet, God’s word is plain and easy to understand. It proclaims that we are the children of God, that He is our Father, that we are His heirs with Christ, and that we lived before and will live again after this life. What powerful ideas! What motivation! What a thrill it is to know who we really are and that we are properly sons or daughters of the greatest Being in the universe! 

There is nothing more life-changing than to comprehend our true origin, our Parent-child relationship to God, and our divine potential. Because these truths burn so brightly in my soul, I wrote a book called The Lineage of the Gods to testify of and expound them. The Lineage of the Gods is replete with quotations from men more inspired than I who have testified in soberness that we lived before, that we have something of God’s divinity in embryonic form inside us, and that, if we give ourselves completely to Christ, His atoning grace will bring us back to our Father where we will embark on an even greater journey of upward progression. 

The following statements are just a few found in my book. A prophet of God, President Lorenzo Snow, once said: 

“I believe that we are the sons and daughters of God, and that He has bestowed upon us the capacity for infinite wisdom and knowledge, because He has given us a portion of Himself. We are told that we were made in His own image, and we find that there is a character of immortality in the soul of man. There is a spiritual organism within this tabernacle, and that spiritual organism has a divinity in itself, though perhaps in an infantile state; but it has within itself the capability of improving and advancing, as the infant that receives sustenance from its mother. Though the infant may be very ignorant, yet there are possibilities in it that by passing through the various ordeals of childhood to maturity enable it to rise to a superiority that is perfectly marvelous, compared with its infantile ignorance. Why and how is it that this is accomplished? Because it possesses the susceptibilities and the capabilities of its father. So in regard to ourselves. There is a divinity within ourselves that is immortal and never dies. Thousands and thousands of years hence we will be ourselves, and nobody else, so far as our individuality is concerned. That never dies from all eternity to all eternity” (President Lorenzo Snow, General Conference, April 10, 1898; The Lineage of the Gods, 73). 

Who can argue with this logic? It’s as simple as 2 + 2 = 4. And, more importantly, it is scripturally substantiated. 

The fact that we may eventually progress to become like God is not only perfectly reasonable, it’s the very path that Jesus Christ followed to become the Redeemer. He did not begin His life in full perfection; though, because of His unique situation of being begotten by the Father in the flesh, He had greater immediate capacity than the rest of us, including power over death which was indispensable to fulfilling the Atonement. And, yet, Jesus attained His mortal perfection and confirmed His pre-mortal titles of Lord and King through the same perfect obedience He commands us to have (Hebrews 5:8-9). Elder Bruce R. McConkie once explained: 

“Though [Jesus] has now attained unto that exalted state in which he is described as being “from everlasting to everlasting” (D&C 61:1) and “from all eternity to all eternity” (D&C 39:1) – as will eventually be the description and state of all those who gain exaltation (D&C 132:20) – yet, as a conscious identity, he had a beginning. He was born, as were all the spirit children of the Father. God was his Father, as he is of all the rest. For him, as for all men – and he is the Prototype – the eternal spirit element that has neither beginning nor end, and is self-existent by nature, was organized into a spirit body. He was one of “the intelligences that were organized before the world was.” (Abr. 3:22.) He was and is the Firstborn of the Father. 

Jesus commands us to follow Him and be like Him. Why do we refuse to believe we can become like Him when He commands us to do just that? 

President Ezra Taft Benson affirmed the reality of our divine origin and potential: 

“We believe God to be the personal Heavenly Father to all mankind, that all mortal beings are literally His spirit offspring. We worship God as a personal, all-knowing, all-powerful being, endowed with all the attributes of perfection. As God’s literal offspring, we believe man to be His only creation blessed with His image and His likeness” (Ezra Taft Benson, This Nation Shall Endure, 126; The Lineage of the Gods, 76). 

Think of it – we are “God’s literal offspring”! How incredible! And how truly comforting. Another time, President Benson said: 

“Our doctrine of God is clear. He is our Heavenly and Eternal Father. We are His literal children. Through righteous living according to His plan we can see God and become like Him” (Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 4-5; The Lineage of the Gods, 79). 

President Gordon B. Hinckley further stated: 

““We sing, “I am a child of God” (Hymns, no. 301). That isn’t just a figment, a poetic figment—that is the living truth. There is something of divinity within each of us that needs cultivation, that needs to come to the surface, that needs to find expression. You fathers and mothers, teach your children that they are, in a very literal way, sons and daughters of God. There is no greater truth in all the world than that—to think that we have something of divinity in us” (President Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley, 77; The Lineage of the Gods, 77-78). 

Again, I ask, why did Jesus continually refer to God as His “Father” if it is not true? Why does the Bible say we are the children of God if it is a lie? Why did Malachi say “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?” if it is false (Malachi 2:10)? It’s time to take the Bible at face value and follow our Lord in believing that God is really our Father. 

The great scholar and religious authority, President Joseph Fielding Smith, remarked: 

“Man is the greatest of all the creations of God. He is his offspring. We are all his children. It was made known through the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, who saw it in vision, that the inhabitants of this earth and other worlds are begotten sons and daughters unto God. That ought to put an end – so far as Latter-day Saints are concerned – to all this nonsense prevailing in the world regarding the origin of man. 

“Man, I say, as the offspring of God, is the greatest of all his creations. He is greater than the moon, the sun, and the stars, which are the work of the fingers of God, and are made for the benefit of man. It is man’s place to rule, and stand at the head of all other dominions, powers, creations, and beings, which the Lord our God has created” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 1, 62-263; The Lineage of the Gods, 84-85). 

Nothing compares to man because man is in the image of God, the greatest of all, and comes from His direct lineage. We would be His mere playthings – arbitrary creations – if He simply snapped us into existence one day. But logic refutes this demeaning idea. It lessens both man and God. Instead, the truth beckons us to embrace our Parent-child relationship with our Eternal Father and reach upward to the heavens. 

Finally, I quote from President Lorenzo Snow again. He testified: 

“[T]he Spirit of God fell upon me to a marked extent, and the Lord revealed to me, just as plainly as the sun at noonday, this principle, which I put in a couplet: “As man now is, God once was; As God now is, man may be.” That fulfilled Father Smith’s declaration. Nothing was ever revealed more distinctly than that was to me. Of course, now that it is so well known that it may not appear such a wonderful manifestation; but when I received it, the knowledge was marvelous to me. This principle, in substance, is found also in the scriptures. The Lord said to John, as recorded in the third chapter of his Revelation: “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne”” (President Lorenzo Snow, in Clyde J. Williams, ed., The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, 2; The Lineage of the Gods, 71-72). 

It is marvelous indeed! We have a Lord and a God who, through experience, know what mortality is like. Through experience, They have overcome and stand before us showing the way to perfection and eternal life. It is a black mark upon Christendom that they have largely rejected the Lord’s teachings regarding man’s origin and glorious potential to become just like Him and our Heavenly Father. I urge you to embrace the Bible in its fulness, accepting with joy the fact that you are a literal son or daughter of God Almighty and that you may, through the redeeming grace of Jesus Christ, become like Him and be a joint-heir of Heaven with your Lord Jesus Christ. 

This article is not a commercial for my book, though it is a unique volume that I wish every human alive would read. It is, rather, a fervent witness from the bottom of my soul of the special station of man. We are the literal children of God! You are His son or daughter. You lived with Him before you came to earth. Yes, you lived before! 

You have eons of glorious memories to unlock one day. You have countless friends whom you have forgotten that you need to become reacquainted with after this mortal life ends and you graduate into eternity. You have your true self to find, comprehend, and embrace. And, one blessed day, you will comprehend God and acknowledge Him as your literal Father in whose arms you were once held and raised and loved. 

The Lord loves you. Your Father loves you. You once knew Them personally and lived in their holy presence in preparation for this very moment in which you would prove that you would follow them in the face of opposition. If you follow Christ’s injunction to “come unto me” (Matthew 11:28) and become “even as I am” (3 Nephi 27:27), you will inherent eternal glory alongside your Savior

Zack Strong, 
April 9, 2022 

Watch two video presentations on man’s origin and potential here and here

Enough and to Spare

An insidious myth has been propagated throughout the world – the myth of overpopulation and the scarcity of earth’s resources. Both points of this monstrous myth are flagrantly false. The earth is not overpopulated and our planet’s resources are not finite. 

The website https://overpopulationisamyth.com/ debunks the overpopulation hokum through and through. I won’t rehash all of their terrific information. Suffice it to say, however, that overcrowding, not overpopulation, is the real problem. Cities are indeed overcrowded. For the life of me, I don’t understand the appeal of large cities with their corruption, concrete impersonality, decadence, smog, high prices, high crime, unbearable traffic, turmoil, and leftist politics. 

Yet, according to 2018 U.N. estimates, 55% of people worldwide live in cities. That number is expected to rise to 68% soon. In North America, 82% of people supposedly live in cities. 74% of Europeans do likewise. The number is 50% in Asia. 

People have lost their connection to the land and soil. They no longer know how to produce their own food or have their own homes and property. Instead, they’re dependent and nearly helpless, living in cities that can’t sustain themselves and in metropolises that can’t offer more than overcrowding, noise, commotion, rampant disease and crime and immorality, and learned helplessness. 

There is so much land available to live on and to farm! No one should be without. Yet, the problem is that people have willingly congregated in cities where there is no possibility of self-sufficiency and staying close to the soil. They’ve urbanized themselves. They became statistics when they joined the jumbled mass of city-dwellers. 

But why should everyone live in cities? There’s so much more space available. I often get pushback on technicalities from people, but a fact you can look up is that the world’s population could all live in Texas. The density wouldn’t be desirable, but they roughly could fit. Think, then, of how much land truly exists in this world of ours! 

So much for not having enough space. Let’s talk about resources. It’s common to say that earth’s resources are finite and that eventually they will run out. This is a malicious falsehood supported by no facts and spread by genocidal social engineers who are actively trying to vaccinate, sterilize, poison, and starve us into extinction. It’s the type of perverse thinking, drawing from pop culture, that led the Mad Titan Thanos to exterminate half of the universe in the name of making life better for the survivors. While Thanos may have said it’s “simple calculus,” his math and logic, to say nothing of morality, could not have been more incorrect.

Before his passing, Professor Julian L. Simon wrote

“And why do they believe that commodities will grow more scarce? For many people, the idea that resources are finite is at the source of this belief. But the idea of finiteness is a prejudice and it is not supported by available facts. 

“Incredible as it may seem, the term “finite” is not only inappropriate, it is downright misleading when applied to natural resources. The mathematical definition of “finite” is quite different from a useful economic definition. . . . 

“The first auto‐ engine parts made of silicon and carbon (water‐ pump seal rings) are being installed in Volkswagens. Engines could soon be made of silicon carbide, cutting weight and emissions in addition to replacing metals. 

“Palladium instead of platinum can now be used in auto‐ exhaust emission systems. Ceramics engineering is exploding with new knowledge, putting an end to past generations’ worries about running out of metals. 

“Organic plastics can now be blended with glass to yield a material as strong as concrete, but flexible and much lighter. And a feasible way to make heat‐ resistant plastics using gallium chloride has been found. Plastics are now made only from fossil fuels or the oils from plants grown in fields. But researchers have recently found ways to convert agricultural products, like potatoes and corn, into direct sources of plastics by inserting plastic‐ producing genes into them. 

“In light of these developments, concern about running out of commodities seems ever less sensible. Just as the number of points in a one‐ inch line can never be counted, the quantity of natural resources that might be available to us, and the quantity of services that they can give us, can never be known.” 

A prejudice not supported by facts is right! Consider oil, for instance. Will we ever run out? All the “experts” said we would – and many still say we will. Yet, amazingly, oil deposits that were once depleted have now refilled naturally! It’s as if the earth pumps it out in as high a quantity as we need it.  

Let’s be clear – there are no natural oil shortages. The earth has given us more than we can use. There is, though, a man-made agenda to shut down the global economy and turn humanity into serfs in a high-tech feudal system. The conspirators in this global plot have turned down, and sometimes off entirely, the oil spigots. 

Alaska could be producing unimaginably more oil than it currently does. What about the Keystone Pipeline shut down by Beijing Biden? What about the Gulf of Mexico where the oil deposits continue refilling themselves as if by magic? Venezuela, Israel, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Saudia Arabia, UAE, Nigeria, Russia, China, and other nations, are loaded with black gold. The world is gushing with oil and can’t possibly run out any time soon unless it is through deliberate tampering and greed. 

Beyond basic facts about the replenishing nature of earth’s resources, there’s another source I feel to turn to. Scoffers scoff, but truth is truth. In 1834, the Lord Jesus Christ gave a revelation wherein He shattered the myth that the earth has limited resources. He stated: 

“It is wisdom in me; therefore, a commandment I give unto you, that ye shall organize yourselves and appoint every man his stewardship; 

“That every man may give an account unto me of the stewardship which is appointed unto him. 

“For it is expedient that I, the Lord, should make every man accountable, as a steward over earthly blessings, which I have made and prepared for my creatures. 

“I, the Lord, stretched out the heavens, and built the earth, my very handiwork; and all things therein are mine. 

“And it is my purpose to provide for my saints, for all things are mine. 

“But it must needs be done in mine own way; and behold this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low. 

“For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves. 

“Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment” (Doctrine and Covenants 104:11-18). 

According to the Lord, the earth has “enough and to spare.” The earth is the Lord’s and it was built to sustain the Father’s children during their mortal tests. There was no galactic oversight. God didn’t forget to give us enough resources to live. Such an idea is preposterous. The truth is that “the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare.” 

What, then, causes starvation, thirst, homelessness, want, and need? The answer is simple: Unrighteousness. In the revelation just cited, the Savior said that all things must be done “in mine own way.” If we follow the Lord’s way, His Gospel, the “poor shall be exalted.” 

The Gospel of Jesus Christ works by changing people from the inside out. It doesn’t say, we’ll give you a new car and a great house, but, rather, it teaches you to be industrious and thrifty and faithful. It doesn’t offer welfare trucks driving the streets to hand out food; that’s the task of the individual Christian disciple who is inspired by His Savior’s example. It doesn’t dictate x amount of land for each person, but relies upon the goodness and compassion of people to share, help, and lift each other. 

Ezra Taft Benson once observed

“The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature. . . . 

“Yes, Christ changes men, and changed men can change the world. 

“Men changed for Christ will be captained by Christ. Like Paul they will be asking, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6.) Peter stated, they will “follow his steps.” (1 Pet. 2:21.) John said they will “walk, even as he walked.” (1 Jn. 2:6.) 

“Finally, men captained by Christ will be consumed in Christ. To paraphrase President Harold B. Lee, they set fire in others because they are on fire.” 

The world’s resources may seem finite, but only because people lack the infinite love of Christ. There’s no reason that people in India and Africa – and some in our own homeland – need to die of hunger. Only a sin-sick world would allow that. Only wicked governments would put a cap on valuable resources, all in the name of “saving the environment,” while people perish as a result. Only corruption would criminalize free enterprise, individual ingenuity, and personal stewardship over resources, thus suffocating free will, personal charity, and an opportunity to serve. 

In the revelation above, the Lord spoke of every man being “accountable” and having a “stewardship” over earthly things. This is a reference to the sacred importance of personal property. The Lord’s system is not a utopian collectivist scheme. It doesn’t rely on government forcing people to share. It doesn’t take away private property, but is based upon it. 

The Lord’s system is called the “law of consecration.” To consecrate may be defined as “to make or declare sacred; set apart or dedicate to the service of a deity.” Under the Lord’s system, the individual voluntarily sets apart a portion of his surplus to the Lord’s Church and to his fellow members of this system. 

What he gives up is his choice. The bishop or authority can’t force him to consecrate more or less. Whatever the individual retains is his stewardship and he is accountable for it directly to God. This could be a large tract of land intended for farming. It could be the wise use of a talent God has given the person. Whatever it is, it’s an individual, not a collective, stewardship. Yet, there are collective dividends and the Church may help those who fall on hard times or who need extra help. 

In this sort of system, everyone’s needs are met. It’s all voluntary. Each family owns its own property or has its own stewardship. Each is autonomous, yet enjoys the benefits of unity and collective strength. The system incentivizes and rewards hard work. It allows for growth and ingenuity. It doesn’t shackle man’s innate cleverness or ability to innovate. Here, the individual and individual family matters and is not merely a cog in a collective machine ruled from on high. It’s a beautiful, inspired system! 

The Devil has counterfeited the Lord’s system, however. Incapable of ingenuity of his own, Satan twists and mauls what Jesus gives in its pristine manner. Instead of the law of consecration, Satan has offered us communism and socialism. The communists, atheists that they are, have in fact sometimes said that they are the true heirs of New Testament teachings. After all, don’t we read in Acts chapter 4: 

“And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. 

“And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. 

“Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 

“And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need” (Acts 4:32-35). 

Those of limited light and narrow understanding think this means that everyone gave up their right to own and manage their own property. Not so. They merely dedicated, or consecrated, everything they didn’t need for their own upkeep, to the Lord and to the support of their fellow believers. But, you say, what about Ananias and Sapphira? Didn’t God smite them for holding back their property? No. He enacted justice upon them for lying and for setting their hearts upon riches – the very thing that the Redeemer had taught was the root of all evil. 

The Lord is eager to give all of us a stewardship. He wants us to be accountable directly to Him. He wants us to have our Independence and our autonomy. He wants us to voluntarily show Him how little value we place on the material world and how much more we love Him and our fellow man. He wants to know what sacrifices we are willing to make – how much we’re willing to truly put on the altar of discipleship. 

This system of consecration is designed to enhance feelings of love and service and to make us more Christlike towards others. It’s designed to make us faithful to Him as little children are to their parents. It’s meant to raise the poor and lower the rich until all have their just needs and wants met. But this voluntary system only works when the Gospel of Christ has penetrated the heart and cleansed it of greed, unjust ambition, selfishness, vainglory, pride, and covetousness.

Worldly people will never implement it. Churches decked in gold will never inspire their followers to consecration. In a word, fake Christians can never achieve the Zion-like beauty of the consecrated life. The greatest need, therefore, is for society to repent and turn to Christ. Repentance is the only remedy we possess that can save us from ourselves. 

The Savior Jesus Christ stands with open arms to forgive and uplift, to cleanse and crown, both nations and individuals. And, before long, He will stand here again upon the earth and beckon all to live the law of consecration and enjoy the bounties of the earth He created. Truly, there’s enough and to spare in the earth and in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When we finally have enough and to spare of His love and goodness in our hearts, we will have enough and to spare of everything else. 

Zack Strong, 
March 23, 2022

Torn Pages and Eternal Truth

Recently, my one-and-a-half-year-old daughter found my copy of the holy scriptures and tore out a page. She then ripped that page into smaller pieces. Out of curiosity, I wanted to know what message a tiny piece of holy writ, devoid of all other context, would have for me. One side of the torn piece began in the middle of a sentence, declaring: 

“. . . salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord omnipotent. 

“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble. . .” 

The list of Christlike attributes was cut off by the rip in the page. The other side of the page picked off a few verses later and neatly contained two complete verses which read: 

“And now I have spoken the words which the Lord God hath commanded me. 

“And thus saith the Lord: They shall stand as a bright testimony against this people, at the judgment day; whereof they shall be judged, every man according to his works, whether they be good, or whether they be evil.” 

I was so struck with how perfect and succinct this little sermon was that I immediately put pen to paper to share the message. It’s fitting that the first thing you read if you chance to rip a page out of the divine word is the proclamation that Jesus is the Christ and the centrality of His redemptive Atonement in the Gospel Plan. Nothing is more important in eternity than Christ’s Atonement, except, perhaps, our individual decision to accept or reject it in our lives. 

Thankfully, the prophetic word just quoted explained exactly what we can do to accept the Savior, follow Him, and become His Saints: We must listen to the Holy Spirit’s promptings and become humble, meek, and submissive like little children. This is the recipe for salvation. 

In the end, we will each be judged according to our actions, thoughts, and desires, whether they were good or evil. And those who have the prophetic record containing this powerful witness of Jesus Christ and the true points of His Gospel, will be judged according to an even higher standard. It’s a blessing to have this information so that we may look inward and correct our errors, humble ourselves, and draw closer to the Lord. 

Some may be racking their minds trying to identify the part of the Bible where the above passage is found. Which book was this little page torn from? Would it surprise you to learn that this tremendous witness of our Redeemer is not in the Bible? Instead, the passage is part of a sermon delivered by a Hebrew prophet-king named Benjamin around 124 B.C. (Mosiah 3:17-24). His sermon, and the record of numerous other holy prophets of God, is found in The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

The resurrected Lord appearing to the Nephites in ancient America, 34 A.D.

 In 2020, I wrote an article titled “The Book of Mormon Speaks of Christ.” I encourage you to read it. I reiterate the essence of that testimony now. The Book of Mormon is and does exactly what its inspired introduction says: 

“The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God’s dealings with ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains the fulness of the everlasting gospel. . . . 

“The crowning event recorded in the Book of Mormon is the personal ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ among the Nephites soon after His resurrection. It puts forth the doctrines of the gospel, outlines the plan of salvation, and tells men what they must do to gain peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come.” 

This is not a fairy tale. It’s not the whimsical imagination of man. It’s history. It’s truth. I witness of the veracity of The Book of Mormon, the one who brought it forth, and the Lord of whom it teaches. 

Despite the uplifting, enlightening, powerful message of Christ found in the sacred volume, Christendom flinches and recoils when the Lord offers them more of His word. Why? Why wouldn’t a Christian want to have more of Jesus’ words? Why wouldn’t they want to know more of His miracles, judgements, and revelations to holy Israelite prophets – the lost sheep He talked about during His ministry (John 10:16; see also 3 Nephi 15:12-24)? 

It’s a falsehood to claim that the Bible says there will never be more revelation or scripture. It simply doesn’t say it. It warns against adding to specific books, such as John’s Revelation and the book of Deuteronomy, but nowhere in the Bible does it say that revelation, prophets, and scripture would cease. Nowhere. That is an apostate view created by uninspired creed-followers. In fact, it is directly refuted by multiple passages, several of which I cite here and leave you to search out and ponder: Acts 2:16-21; Amos 3:7; Revelation 19:10; John 14:26

In The Book of Mormon, the Lord directly addressed those Christians who would one day reject the record and the great light it shines on Him. He said: 

“Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. . . . 

“Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth? 

“Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also. 

“And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever. 

“Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written. 

“For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written. 

“For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it” (2 Nephi 29:6-12). 

Strong words, but they are the words of the living Lord. I testify that they are true and that you will account for them one day. 

The Bible is the stick of Judah and The Book of Mormon is the stick of Joseph that the prophet Ezekiel prophesied would “become one” (Ezekiel 37:15-17).

The logic is also flawless. It is pharisaical to believe you have the only truth, or the only book, and that God can’t speak to whomever He pleases and bring forth whatever ancient or modern records He wants. He led away the lost tribes of Israel, did He not? He has also prophesied of their return, hasn’t He? How will all of that happen without continuing, modern revelation? Why did He promise to pour out visions and dreams if He didn’t intend for revelation to continue? Why would God change now when He has plainly said that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever? 

God always adapts His teachings to people in their circumstances. He gave the hosts of Israel the law of Moses because they weren’t prepared to receive His higher law. But, later, after apostasy and a period of cessation of revelation, He sent John the Baptist to prepare the way for Him. Then, He came into the world to give a higher law. When His apostles were later murdered and the churches went astray after false doctrines, another period of darkness prevailed and necessitated a Restoration – the “marvellous work” that Isaiah foretold of in the last days (Isaiah 29:14). 

We should all be able to admit that God doesn’t abandon His children. He loves them. He doesn’t cease speaking to them. He doesn’t ignore them because something He said to another group will suffice any more than parents stop teaching a younger child because they already taught it all to the older sibling. The times that revelations have stopped for a season have been times when people have embraced wickedness, rejected the Lord, and chased away the Holy Spirit. Yet, still, God continuously reveals His word through the Holy Spirit to people in all corners of the map who are humble and prepared to receive it. This is good logic. 

If you think about it, Ezra Taft Benson’s statement on revelation is pure truth: 

“God’s revelation to Adam did not instruct Noah how to build the Ark. Noah needed his own revelation. Therefore the most important prophet so far as you and I are concerned is the one living in our day and age to whom the Lord is currently revealing His will for us.” 

Who can deny this? The man to whom Christians looked for counsel in Peter’s day was Peter. He was their authorized prophet and the one to whom the Lord gave revelations and guidance. Ancient Israelites, however, looked to Moses or Isaiah or Jeremiah, depending on when they lived. The Lord always speaks through prophets, brings forth additional revelations to add upon what He has previously given, and leads His followers by the voice of His Spirit if they let Him

The problem is that Christians are like the wicked Hebrews of old who, when the Lord came down to the mountain to speak with them with His own voice, feared, distanced themselves, and “stood afar off” (Exodus 20:18-21). They could have had so much more, but they chose not to receive it. It’s the same today with people who are content to have only the Bible, rejecting both continuing prophetic revelation that adds to the scriptural canon and the personal manifestations of the Holy Spirit. 

The Lord’s words are applicable here: 

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37

At a time when the Bible and Christian precepts are under sustained attack on every side, The Book of Mormon’s confirmation and clarification of core Biblical tenets and of the hope of victory over evil should be a breath of fresh air to Christendom. Christian disciples should rejoice that the Lord has given them another book that teaches of Him, that glorifies His name, that bolster’s the Bible’s validity, and that proclaims pure truth. I thank God from the bottom of my soul for The Book of Mormon

I know for myself through the unmistakable manifestations and power of the Holy Ghost that The Book of Mormon is true and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was divinely restored by the Lord through the instrumentality of a modern prophet, Joseph Smith. Another angel really did fly through the heavens “having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on earth” as the Apostle John prophesied would happen preceding the Savior’s return in glory (Revelation 14:6). 

From the long-awaited Restoration in 1830 to the present, the Lord has continued to call men to serve as prophets, seers, and revelators, giving here and there His word and will to mankind. The core of what these men have taught and are teaching is found in the Bible and established, elucidated, and expanded in The Book of Mormon

I close with a serious invitation. Read The Book of Mormon. Study it. Bask in its light, which is from the Lord. Let it strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ, which is its purpose, as explained by the prophet Nephi: 

“And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. . . . 

“And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out” (2 Nephi 25:26, 29). 

Finally, I invite you to put the book’s internal challenge to pray to God for your own independent witness of its truthfulness to the test (see Moroni 10:3-5). I’ve put this challenge to the test and I have my answer from the Spirit. It’s true! It’s from God, not from the mind of Joseph Smith. It was penned by ancient Hebrew prophets who inhabited ancient America. Their stories are contained in this sacred record. Their miracles are therein recorded. Their warnings, prophecies, and counsel to us, their future readers, are precious beyond description. They were brought to light by an angel and translated by the Prophet Joseph Smith through God’s power. It truly is a “marvellous work.”  

Neither hell nor the Devil can ever make me deny my testimony of The Book of Mormon and of Jesus Christ who is the central figure of that volume. I’d be lying to myself and to my God were I to reject what the Holy Ghost has imparted to my heart. It really is true! And if this written witness of Jesus Christ and The Book of Mormon was the last testimony I ever had the chance to share, I’d be satisfied. 

Zack Strong, 
February 19, 2022