Day 17 August 26 - John 15-19

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The only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent

(Jesus' Great Intercessory Prayer)

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. - John 17:3

Scripture Reference: John 17

Intercessory prayer is prayer for others. An intercessor is one who takes the place of another or pleads another's case. One study Bible defines intercession as "holy, believing, persevering prayer whereby someone pleads with God on behalf of another or others who desperately need God's intervention."

Jesus Christ is our model for intercessory prayer. Jesus stands before God and between Him and sinful man, just as the Old Testament priests did: For there is one God, and one mediator (intercessor) between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us (Romans 8:34). Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25).

Jesus brings sinful man and a righteous God together at the place of the blood sacrifice for sin. No longer is the blood of animals necessary as it was in the Old Testament. We can now approach God on the basis of the blood of Jesus that was shed on the cross of Calvary for the remission of sins. Because of the blood of Jesus, we can approach God boldly without timidity (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Jesus was an intercessor while He was here on earth. He prayed for those who were sick and possessed by demons. He prayed for His disciples. He even prayed for you and me when He interceded for all those who would believe on Him. Jesus continued His ministry of intercession after His death and resurrection when He returned to Heaven. He now serves as our intercessor in Heaven.

Elder Russell M. Nelson, “Lessons from the Lord’s Prayers,” Ensign, May 2009, 46–49

Other prayers of the Lord are also instructive, especially His intercessory prayers. They are so named because the Lord prayerfully interceded with His Father for the benefit of His disciples. Picture in your mind the Savior of the world kneeling in prayer, as I quote from John chapter 17:

“These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, … glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee. …

“… I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. …

“For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.

“I pray for them.” (John 17:1, 4, 8-9)

From this prayer of the Lord we learn how keenly He feels His responsibility as our Mediator and Advocate with the Father (See 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 John 2:1; D&C 29:5; 45:3; 110:4). Just as keenly, we should feel our responsibility to keep His commandments and endure to the end (See D&C 14:7)

An intercessory prayer was also given by Jesus for the people of ancient America. The record states that “no one can conceive of the joy which filled our souls at the time we heard him pray for us unto the Father” (3 Nephi 17:17). Then Jesus added: “Blessed are ye because of your faith. And now behold, my joy is ful.” (3 Nephi 17:20)

In a later prayer, Jesus included a plea for unity. “Father,” He said, “I pray unto thee for them, … that they may believe in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one” (3 Nephi 19:23). We too can pray for unity. We can pray to be of one heart and one mind with the Lord’s anointed and with our loved ones. We can pray for mutual understanding and respect between ourselves and our neighbors. If we really care for others, we should pray for them (See Matthew 5:44; Alma 34:27; 3 Nephi 18:21). “Pray one for another … ,” taught James, for “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent,” Ensign, Nov 2007, 40–42

By and large any controversy in this matter has swirled around two doctrinal issues—our view of the Godhead and our belief in the principle of continuing revelation leading to an open scriptural canon. In addressing this we do not need to be apologists for our faith, but we would like not to be misunderstood. So with a desire to increase understanding and unequivocally declare our Christianity, I speak today on the first of those two doctrinal issues just mentioned.

Our first and foremost article of faith in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.”2 We believe these three divine persons constituting a single Godhead are united in purpose, in manner, in testimony, in mission. We believe Them to be filled with the same godly sense of mercy and love, justice and grace, patience, forgiveness, and redemption. I think it is accurate to say we believe They are one in every significant and eternal aspect imaginable except believing Them to be three persons combined in one substance, a Trinitarian notion never set forth in the scriptures because it is not true.

So any criticism that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not hold the contemporary Christian view of God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost is not a comment about our commitment to Christ but rather a recognition (accurate, I might add) that our view of the Godhead breaks with post–New Testament Christian history and returns to the doctrine taught by Jesus Himself.

What of Jesus’s prayer to His Father in Heaven that “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent”?

It is not our purpose to demean any person’s belief nor the doctrine of any religion. We extend to all the same respect for their doctrine that we are asking for ours. (That, too, is an article of our faith.) But if one says we are not Christians because we do not hold a fourth- or fifth-century view of the Godhead, then what of those first Christian Saints, many of whom were eyewitnesses of the living Christ, who did not hold such a view either?

We declare it is self-evident from the scriptures that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are separate persons, three divine beings, noting such unequivocal illustrations as the Savior’s great Intercessory Prayer just mentioned, His baptism at the hands of John, the experience on the Mount of Transfiguration, and the martyrdom of Stephen—to name just four.

You can watch Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's General Conference address from the October 2007 General Conference in its entirety by going here.

Edited by KeithLBrown
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John 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you

M. Russell Ballard

“How critical it is that all who serve together in God's kingdom do so from a foundation of love: love for the Lord, love for the work, and love for each other. No matter how intense our effort or how carefully we follow the handbooks and guidelines, if we don't truly love each other we can't possibly hope to convey the full power of the gospel of love. And I can't help but believe that members are more likely to seek counsel from leaders from whom they feel sincere love emanating. Miracles seem to follow after Church leaders who are motivated by a keen feeling of loving devotion to those over whom they preside.” (Counseling with Our Councils: Learning to Minister Together in the Church and in the Family [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 35.)

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John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends

“One of the most beautiful and tender accounts of brotherly love, concern, and devotion took place in Carthage Jail on the afternoon of the martyrdom. ‘The afternoon was sultry and hot. The four brethren [Joseph and Hyrum Smith, John Taylor, and Willard Richards] sat listlessly about the room with their coats off; and the windows of the prison were open to receive such air as might be stirring. Late in the afternoon Mr. Stigall, the jailor, came in and suggested that [in view of threats made by the radical and bloodthirsty mob] they would be safer in the cells. Joseph told him that they would go in after supper. Turning to Elder Richards the Prophet said: If we go into the cell will you go with us?’

“Elder Richards answered, ‘Brother Joseph, you did not ask me to cross the river with you [referring to the time when they crossed the Mississippi, en route for the Rocky Mountains]—you did not ask me to come to Carthage—you did not ask me to come to jail with you—and do you think I would forsake you now? But I will tell you what I will do; if you are condemned to be hung for treason, I will be hung in your stead, and you shall go free.’

“With considerable emotion and feeling Joseph replied, ‘But you cannot,’ to which Brother Richards firmly replied, ‘I will.’ (B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church, vol. 2, p. 283.)” (Henry D. Taylor, “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?” Ensign, July 1972, 75)

Ezra Taft Benson

“[Christ] gave us the perfect model—himself—after which we are to pattern our lives. He said, ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’ ("John 15:13John 15:13). Not only did he lay down before us the perfect example for earthly living, but for our sake he willingly gave us his life. He went through an agony both in body and spirit, of which we cannot comprehend, to bring to us the glorious blessing of the Atonement and the Resurrection (see "D&C 19:15"D&C 19:16"D&C 19:17"D&C 19:18"D&C 19:19D&C 19:15-19).

“Some men are willing to die for their faith but will not fully live for it. Christ both lived and died for us. . . .

“That man is greatest and most blessed and joyful whose life most closely fits the pattern of the Christ. This has nothing to do with earthly wealth, power, or prestige. The only true test of greatness, blessedness, joyfulness is how close a life can come to being like the Master, Jesus Christ.” (I Know That My Redeemer Lives: Latter-day Prophets Testify of the Savior [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1990], 216.)

Joseph Smith

“’Why is it this babbler [Joseph Smith] gains so many followers and retains them?’ Because I possess the principle of love. All I can offer the world [is] a good heart and a good hand. Mormons can testify whether I am willing to lay down my life for a Mormon. If it has been demonstrated that I have been willing to die for a Mormon, I am bold to declare before heaven that I am just as ready to die for a Presbyterian, a Baptist, or any other denomination.” (Kent P. Jackson, comp. and ed., Joseph Smith's Commentary on the Bible [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 139.)

David B. Haight

“A commercial airplane plunged into the Potomac River near Washington, D. C., some years ago, and an unidentified passenger gave his life for his ‘unknown friends.’ Bystanders watched in amazement as he caught the life preserver lowered from the helicopter to rescue those in the water. Rather than save himself, he passed the life preserver over to another person. The helicopter returned, and he again passed the life preserver to another. ‘Why doesn't he hold on and save himself?’ someone shouted. After others near him were saved, people on the shore watched in anguish as he slowly sank and disappeared into the frozen waters.

“’If a single man achieves the highest kind of love,’ wrote Mahatma Gandhi, ‘it will be sufficient to neutralize the hate of millions.’” (A Light unto the World [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 126.)

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John 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you

Matthew Cowley

“We have not chosen him, but he chooses us and calls us. We are sent forth. Now, it was never my plan in life to be a minister of religion. I studied to be a lawyer; and I have been called into doing this business—not of my own choice. No, I would just as soon practice law, but a call came and said, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ (Matt.5:19.) I had to drop my profession. I had a hard time becoming a lawyer. I had to work my way through school. It was a real struggle, and I hadn't practiced law very long until I had to drop the whole thing—give it all up. I was sent to the islands of the sea to do missionary work. When I came back home, I was hoping I could go into the law profession again. I got back home, and I was called into this for life, at least during good behavior. So here I am. I don't have any choice in the matter. Now, wouldn't you think that I was absolutely crazy if I did this without having an inward conviction that what I am doing is right? I certainly think I am crazy if I don't believe this is right.” (Matthew Cowley Speaks [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 96.)

Matthew Cowley

“Down through the centuries following the ministry of Christ here upon the earth somebody started changing the program until finally the ministry became a profession just like the profession of law or of medicine. Men chose the ministry. Men chose Christ rather than Christ choosing the men. So in the restoration of the gospel we have gone back to the old ways because Christ has returned us to his plan and so today he says, ‘Come, follow me.’ And as I think of the men with whom I am associated in the Council of the Twelve and the Presidency of the Church how well I see this exemplified.

“President McKay, for instance, a man who is an educator and whose desire is to be in the field of education, but the voice came, ‘Come, follow me’ and he dropped everything and gave up his life's ambition to be your humble servant!

“President Richards, his first Counselor, a great lawyer and a great financier who loves business, who loves his profession of the law, and right at the peak of his career the call came, ‘Come, follow me,’ and he dropped everything that was dear to his heart as far as this world's activities are concerned and became a servant of the Master!

“President Clark, the second Counselor, one of the greatest international lawyers this country has known in a generation, a man who reached the very heights of his profession as an international lawyer! He was a very valuable man in the administration of several Presidents of the United States, a man who later became Ambassador to Mexico and right at the peak of his earning capacity, the peak of his career, of his ambition, the voice, ‘Come, follow me,’ and he dropped everything, and he followed.

“…Now, brothers and sisters, we do not choose this profession. We are only in this work because we are called and for no other reason. Not one of us has aspired to these positions. We chose other professions.” (Matthew Cowley Speaks [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 328.)

Gordon B. Hinckley

“It is not the individual's prerogative to select the field to which he will go or the assignment which he will accept in the Church, nor is it his prerogative to casually reject for insignificant reasons a call that may come to him. None of us, I suppose, who heard President Clark in the general conference of April 9, 1951, will ever forget his words. They are worthy of repetition. He said:

In the service of the Lord it is not where you serve, but how. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one takes the place to which one is duly called, which place one neither seeks nor declines.’” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 63.)

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John 16:13 when he, the spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth

Harold B. Lee

“Any Latter-day Saint who has been baptized and who has had hands laid upon him from those officiating, commanding him to receive the Holy Ghost, and who has not received a revelation of the spirit of the Holy Ghost, has not received the gift of the Holy Ghost to which he is entitled. Therein lies a very important matter. Let me refer to what the Prophet Joseph Smith said about revelation:

“A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation. For instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas so that by noticing it you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon. That is, those things that were presented into your minds by the Spirit of God will come to pass, and thus by learning the Spirit of God, and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.

“On what matters may you receive a revelation? Is it startling to you to hear that you—all members of the Church who have received the Holy Ghost—may receive revelation? Not for the president of the Church, not on how to look after the affairs pertaining to the ward, the stake, or the mission in which you live; but every individual within his own station has the right to receive revelation by the Holy Ghost.

“Listen to what President Joseph F. Smith said about that:

“I believe that every individual in the Church has just as much right to enjoy the spirit of revelation and the understanding from God which that spirit of revelation gives him, for his own good, as the bishop has to enable him to preside over his ward. (Conference Report, April 1912, pp. 9-10.)

“Every man has the privilege to exercise these gifts and these privileges in the conduct of his own affairs; in bringing up his children in the way they should go; in the management of his business, or whatever he does. It is his right to enjoy the spirit of revelation and of inspiration to do the right thing, to be wise and prudent, just and good, in everything that he does.” (Stand Ye in Holy Places [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974], 141-142.)

Elder Delbert L. Stapley

“Revelation is God's plan of instructing his people and guiding his work and kingdom upon earth. The Holy Ghost, as a personage of spirit, has the power and capacity of touching the spirit of man (spirit to spirit) and influencing him for good and righteousness if he is tuned to its spiritual wave length. The Holy Ghost has the power to quicken one's mind and increase one's understanding and comprehension of divine and temporal things. Without it there can be no faith, hope, nor personal assurance of eternal life.

“The Holy Ghost inspires, uplifts, and motivates a sincere person to love truth and pursue righteousness. This feeling and power does not come without effort. One must ask of God after study and meditation if a thing is right. If true, one's bosom shall burn within him; but if it is not right, an individual will have no such feelings but a stupor of thought shall prevail his being. (D&C 9:7-9.)” (Conference Report, October 1966, Third Day—Morning Meeting 113 - 114.)

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John 16:33 in me ye might have peace

Howard W. Hunter

“Peace can come to an individual only by an unconditional surrender to him who is the Prince of peace and who has the power to confer peace.

“One may live in beautiful and peaceful surroundings, yet, because of inner dissension and discord, be in a state of constant turmoil. On the other hand, one may be in the midst of utter destruction and the bloodshed of war, yet have the serenity of unspeakable peace. If we look to the ways of the world, we will find turmoil and confusion. If we will but turn to God, we will find peace for the restless soul. This was made clear by these words of the Savior: ‘In the world ye shall have tribulation’ (John 16:33); and in his bequest to the Twelve and to all mankind: ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth.’ (John 14:27.)

“We can find such peace in a world of conflict if we will but accept his great gift and his further invitation: ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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.’ (Matt. 11:28-29.)

“This peace shelters us from the worldly turmoil. The knowledge that God lives, that we are his children, and that he loves us soothes the troubled heart. The answer to the quest lies in faith in God and in his Son, Jesus Christ. This will bring peace to us now and in the eternity to follow.” (That We Might Have Joy [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 30.)

Harold B. Lee

“To the extent that we can overcome these things that are worldly around us, to that degree we are going to have peace. We can be in the midst of turmoil; we can be a soldier in battle with the imminence of death all about us—the gunfire, atomic threats, and all the rest—and yet if we have overcome the world, we are not concerned whether our time is today, tomorrow, next week, or next month. If we die in Him, we die unto the Lord; if we live in Him, we live unto the Lord, and those who have lived unto the Lord shall not taste of death, for it shall be sweet unto them (D&C 42:46, D&C 63:1.” (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, edited by Clyde J. Williams [salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], 370.)

David O. McKay

“Jesus said, ‘. . . In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.’ (John 16:33.)

“On the same occasion, he said, ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth give I unto you. . . .’ (Ibid., 14:27.) All through his life peace was on his lips and in his heart, and when he came forth from the tomb and appeared unto his disciples, his first greeting was, ‘Peace be unto you. . . .’ (Ibid., 20:21.)

“Peace as taught by the Savior is exemption from individual troubles, from family broils, from national riots and difficulties. Such peace refers to the person just as much as it does to communities. That man is not at peace who is untrue to the whisperings of Christ—the promptings of his conscience. He cannot be at peace when he is untrue to his better self, when he transgresses the law of righteousness, either in dealing with himself by indulging in passions or appetites, in yielding to the temptations of the flesh, or whether he is untrue to trust in transgressing the law.

“Peace does not come to the transgressor of law, Peace comes by obedience to law, and it is that message which Jesus would have us establish among men—peace to the individual that he may be at peace with his God; perfect harmony existing between his Creator and himself, perfect harmony existing between himself and law, the righteous laws to which he is subject and from which he never can escape peace in the home, families living at peace with each other and with their neighbors.” (Conference Report, October 1965, First Day—Morning Meeting 10.)

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John 16:33 be of good cheer

Neal A. Maxwell

“As in all things, Jesus is also our attitudinal Exemplar as to cheerfulness.

“When, just prior to the great intercessory prayer in Gethsemane, Jesus told Peter, James, and John to ‘be of good cheer,’ such an attitude was certainly not justified because of immediate circumstances. Instead, it was possible because Jesus had ‘overcome the world.’ Contemplate, however, the grim experiences that then lay immediately ahead, scarcely justifying an attitude of cheerfulness. Gethsemane was imminent. So were Judas's betrayal; the capturing of Jesus, who was Peter, James, and John's beloved leader; Peter's disheartening disavowal; and Jesus' unjust trial. The populace's chilling preference for Barabbas rather than Jesus would soon echo in the air. The Shepherd would be smitten and the sheep scattered. Then there would be those awful, final moments on Calvary.

“Therefore, what, pray tell, was there to be cheerful about? Yet in the face of all of this, Jesus told them to ‘be of good cheer’!

“The glorious, irrevocable, and long-awaited Atonement was about to be accomplished. The adversary had failed to stop it. The resurrection was assured. Death was soon to be done away. Christ had overcome the world—not the reverse. These irrepressible realities, both then and now, give rise to gospel gladness, permitting us to be of good cheer even in the midst of tactical tribulation.” (Even As I Am [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 99.)

Neal A. Maxwell

“Two of the basic things over which we are to be justifiably of good cheer are the transcendent blessings that our sins are forgiven and that Jesus has overcome the world. Additionally, we are assured that He is in our midst, He will lead us along, and He will stand by us. (John 16:33; Matthew 9:2; D&C 61:36;D&C 88:6; D&C 78:18) Therefore, knowing that these major and everlasting things are in place, we can better endure such mundane trials as a frustrating traffic jam. And at those times we can be calm enough to ask ourselves how it can rain on the just and the unjust alike (Matthew 5:45) without occasionally raining on our parade.” (A Wonderful Flood of Light [salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1990], 66.)

Neal A. Maxwell

“For the faithful, there is short-term tribulation but long-term joy.” (Even As I Am [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 91.)

Marvin J. Ashton

“Being of good cheer makes it possible for us to turn all of our sunsets into sunrises. With good cheer, carrying our cross can be our ladder to happiness. When Jesus comes into our lives, cheer lights the way. How powerful and comforting is the Savior's declaration. ‘In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.’ (John 16:33.)

“He promises to stand by us. He invites us to bear record and witness of Him. What a joy and honor it is for me to declare in good cheer and without fear that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God, that He was the Only Begotten of the Father, that He is, and that He will yet come again in God's name. I thank God for the Savior's life, His cheerful love, and His example. ‘There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear.’ (John 4:18.)” (Be of Good Cheer [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 7)

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John 17:3 This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent

Harold B. Lee

“Eternal life is God's life, or life with God. In other words, it seems to me, they are trying to tell us that the worthiness to abide in his holy presence can be obtained only by knowing God and by knowing Jesus Christ whom he has sent.” (Conference Report, October 1956, Afternoon Meeting 61.)

Joseph Fielding Smith

“No man who does not receive the privilege of entering the celestial kingdom and coming face to face with the Father will be able to know what eternal life is, for he cannot know the Father unless he sees him and dwells with him, and partakes of the same life which the Father possesses for that is eternal life.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:7)

Bruce R. McConkie

“It is one thing to know about God and another to know him. We know about him when we learn that he is a personal being in whose image man is created; when we learn that the Son is in the express image of his Father's person; when we learn that both the Father and the Son possess certain specified attributes and powers. But we know them, in the sense of gaining eternal life, when we enjoy and experience the same things they do. To know God is to think what he thinks, to feel what he feels, to have the power he possesses, to comprehend the truths he understands, and to do what he does. Those who know God become like him, and have his kind of life, which is eternal life.” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1: 762.)

Harold B. Lee

“How can you know the Father and the Son? Well, how can you come to know Abraham Lincoln? How will one become acquainted with the poet Longfellow, or the great composer Mozart or with Hofmann, the artist? You can come to know them by their works they have left with us, by a review of their lives, by an understanding of environment and circumstances that prompted their acts, and finally, by acquiring through practice the ability to produce similar works by a study of the techniques they employed. Just so, we can come to know God and his Son, our Savior. We begin to acquire that knowledge by study. The Savior counseled us to ‘Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.’ (John 5:39.)” (Decisions for Successful Living [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1973], 39 - 40.)

Ezra Taft Benson

“We cannot know God and Jesus without studying about them and then doing their will. This course leads to additional revealed knowledge that, if obeyed, will eventually lead us to further truths. When we follow this pattern, we will receive further light and joy, eventually leading into God's presence where we, with Him, will have a fullness.” (Come unto Christ [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 32.)

Joseph Smith

“There are very few who understand rightly the character of God. . . . What kind of a being is God? I again repeat the question. What kind of a being is God? Does any man or woman know? Have any of you seen him, heard him, communed with him? Here is the question that will peradventure from this time henceforth occupy your attention. The apostle says this is eternal life, to know God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent. That is eternal life. If any man inquire what kind of a being God is, if he will search diligently his own heart, [he will know] that unless he knows God he has no eternal life.

“…If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves. What kind of a being is God? Eternal life [is] to know God. If man does not know God, [he] has not eternal life.” (Kent P. Jackson, comp. and ed., Joseph Smith's Commentary on the Bible [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 141.)

Orson Pratt

“It is not enough merely to have a knowledge of the existence of the Father and Son; but to know them aright is to understand their character—their attributes—their glory—and the nature of the laws which they have ordained for the government of all happy, glorified, and intelligent beings. Such knowledge, when once obtained, is eternal life. Eternal life is not merely to believe on the testimony of others in the existence and attributes of God, but it is to obtain something more than a belief; it is to obtain a certain knowledge. Such knowledge can only be obtained by direct and immediate revelation. ‘No man knoweth the Son but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.’ (Matt. 11:27.) All men can believe in the existence of God on the testimony of others; but no man can know God only by revelation.” (Orson Pratt's Works [salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1945], 104 - 105.)

Marion G. Romney

“Such knowledge is essential to exaltation. It is more than a mental concept. It comes only through personal two-way communication with the Lord. It can be appreciated only by those who have experienced it.

“I bear you my witness that I do know with certainty, by the witness of the Holy Ghost, that the Prophet's teachings concerning the form and character of God are true; and that in the same way and by my own experience, I know with certainty that we may converse with him as one man converses with another.” (Learning for the Eternities [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977], 9.)

Gordon B. Hinckley

“Such knowledge is the very foundation of spiritual strength. This is the great basic purpose of the restoration of the gospel in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times—to declare the living reality of God the Eternal Father and of His Beloved Son, the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. To know them, to love them, to obey them is to have life eternal. It is our mission to declare with words of soberness and truth that God is our Eternal Father, the God of the universe, the Almighty One; and that Jesus Christ is his firstborn, the Only Begotten in the flesh, who condescended to come to earth; who was born in a stable in Bethlehem of Judea, lived the perfect life, and taught the way of salvation; who offered Himself a sacrifice for all, enduring pain and death on the cross; and who then came forth in a glorious resurrection, the firstfruits of them that slept. (See 1 Cor. 15:20.) Through Him, and by Him, and of Him, all are assured salvation from death and are offered the opportunity of eternal life.

“This is the great undergirding truth of our faith. It is the overarching canopy under which we find our spiritual strength. With this knowledge we grow spiritually, our spirits in kinship with the Spirit of God. It is the way out of darkness. It affords the strength needed to rise above sin.” (“Come and Partake,” Ensign, May 1986, 47)

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John 17:16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world

Joseph Fielding Smith

“If we are living the religion which the Lord has revealed and which we have received, we do not belong to the world. We should have no part in all its foolishness. We should not partake of its sins and its errors—errors of philosophy and errors of doctrine, errors in regard to government, or whatever those errors may be—we have no part in it.

“The only part we have is the keeping of the commandments of God. That is all, being true to every covenant and every obligation that we have entered into and taken upon ourselves…If I sometimes, and once in a while I do, go to a football game or a baseball game or some other place of amusement, invariably I will be surrounded by men and women who are puffing on cigarettes or cigars or dirty pipes. It gets very annoying, and I get a little disturbed. I will turn to Sister Smith, and I will say something to her, and she will say, ‘Well, now, you know what you have taught me. You are in their world. This is their world.’ And that sort of brings me back to my senses. Yes, we are in their world, but we do not have to be of it.” (Conference Report, April 1952, Afternoon Meeting 28.)

David O. McKay

“This question of being in the world but not of it, is a question of increasing concern—because, in effect, the world is ever shrinking in size—and we come ever closer to the influence and attitudes of others—and there is ever more compelling pressures to be as others are, to do as others do, with questions of compromise and of preserving principles—how far to go, how different to be, how to live comfortably among men. One of life's most important problems is learning to get along with the people with whom we live in the world, without compromising principles, and one of the plausible ways of getting along with people is to make concessions pertaining to principle—to go the way of the world, whatever way that is…

“…abandoning principles is no solution to the problem of getting along with people. Indeed, it is false and foolish to suppose that compromising principles will win the respect or acceptance of anyone. Compromising principles isn't getting along with people; it is simply surrender; it is simply self-betrayal. And he who betrays himself is never solidly accepted or respected anywhere by anyone.” (Conference Report, April 1959, Afternoon Meeting 123 - 124.)

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John 17:21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee

The traditional Christian doctrine of the Trinity, that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one personage, is not supported by the scriptures. The more one studies the Bible the more absurd that assumption becomes. After a while, the whole concept is just plain ridiculous. Joseph Smith took an incredulous tone with respect to this doctrine when he said, ‘Many men say there is one God; the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost are only one God! I say that is a strange God anyhow—three in one, and one in three! It is a curious organization…‘Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one as we are.’ All are to be crammed into one God, according to sectarianism. It would make the biggest God in all the world. He would be a wonderfully big God—he would be a giant or a monster.” (History of the Church, 6:476)

Joseph Smith says the sectarians believe in a god who is a giant or a monster, but if their interpretations are true they also believe in a god who is a schizophrenic acrobatic ventriloquist. There are three landmark scriptures which prove the falseness of the popular theology. First, in John 17, Christ is praying to his Father as if his Father is in heaven. But if the Trinity doctrine is true, Christ is really talking to himself, a characteristic commonly seen in schizophrenia. Secondly, we have the stoning of Stephen in which Stephen looks into the heavens to see ‘Jesus standing on the right hand of God’ (Acts 7:55). But if Jesus and the Father have the same personage, then Jesus is actually standing on his own right hand—an act which requires such balance that one would have to be an acrobat to do it. Third, we have Christ’s baptism in which the Holy Ghost is present and the Father’s voice is heard from the heavens saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’ (Matt 3:17). If Jesus and the Father are the same personage, how can Jesus be in the water with John while another voice is heard from the heavens? Jesus must have been acting as a ventriloquist, one who could “throw his voice” such that it sounded as if it were coming from the heavens. Such is the Trinity doctrine. It believes in a god who is a giant monster, an acrobat, and a schizophrenic ventriloquist.

James E. Talmage

“The Godhead is a type of unity in the attributes, powers, and purposes of its members. Jesus, while on earth and in manifesting Himself to His Nephite servants, (See 3 Ne. 11:27,36; 28:10) repeatedly testified of the unity existing between Himself and the Father, and between them both and the Holy Ghost. This cannot rationally be construed to mean that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one in substance and in person, nor that the names represent the same individual under different aspects. A single reference to prove the error of any such view may suffice: Immediately before His betrayal, Christ prayed for His disciples, the Twelve, and other converts, that they should be preserved in unity, ‘that they all may be one’ as the Father and the Son are one. We cannot assume that Christ prayed that His followers lose their individuality and become one person, even if a change so directly opposed to nature were possible. Christ desired that all should be united in heart, spirit, and purpose; for such is the unity between His Father and Himself, and between them and the Holy Ghost.

“Godhead/This unity is a type of completeness; the mind of any one member of the Trinity is the mind of the others; seeing as each of them does with the eye of perfection, they see and understand alike. Under any given conditions each would act in the same way, guided by the same principles of unerring justice and equity. The one-ness of the Godhead, to which the scriptures so abundantly testify, implies no mystical union of substance, nor any unnatural and therefore impossible blending of personality. Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are as distinct in their persons and individualities as are any three personages in mortality. Yet their unity of purpose and operation is such as to make their edicts one, and their will the will of God.” (The Articles of Faith, 36-37)

Brigham Young

“The Father and I are one, you disciples and I are one; it is quite a curiosity, but it is as true as it is curious. It is nothing more than a key-word to exaltation, glory, power, and excellency, by which principalities, kingdoms, dominions, and eternal lives will surround us.” (Journal of Discourses, 1: 272.)

Gordon B. Hinckley

“I believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

“I was baptized in the name of these three. I was married in the name of these three. I have no question concerning their reality and their individuality. That individuality was made apparent when Jesus was baptized by John in Jordan. There in the water stood the Son of God. His Father’s voice was heard declaring His divine Sonship, and the Holy Ghost was manifest in the form of a dove (see Matt. 3:16–17).

“I am aware that Jesus said that they who had seen Him had seen the Father. Could not the same be said by many a son who resembles his parent?

“When Jesus prayed to the Father, certainly He was not praying to Himself!” (“The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 51)

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John 18:36 My kingdom is not of this world

John Taylor

“Will God's kingdom be a literal or a spiritual kingdom? It would be almost unnecessary to answer such a question as the above, were it not for the opinions that are entertained in the world concerning a purely spiritual kingdom.. . . . But I have introduced this merely to meet some questions that exist in the minds of many, relative to a spiritual kingdom, arising from certain remarks of our Savior's, where he says, ‘My kingdom is not of this world’; (John 18:36) and again, the ‘kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost’; (Romans 14:17) and again, ‘the kingdom of God is within [or among] you.’ (Luke 17:21.)

“The kingdom of God, as I have already stated, is the government of God, whether in the heavens or on the earth. Hence Jesus taught his disciples to pray, ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.’ And when the kingdom of God is established on the earth, and prevails universally, then will the will of God be done on earth, and not till then; then will the reign of God exist on the earth, as it now does in heaven. It is this reign we are speaking of, a reign of righteousness. But whenever God's laws are established, or his kingdom is organized, and officers selected, and men yield obedience to the laws of the kingdom of God, to such an extent does God's kingdom prevail…

“I have demonstrated…that the kingdom of God would be literally established on the earth. It will not be an aerial phantom, according to some visionaries, but a substantial reality. It will be established, as before said, on a literal earth, and will be composed of literal men, women, and children; of living saints who keep the commandments of God, and of resurrected bodies who shall actually come out of their graves, and live on the earth. The Lord will be king over all the earth, and all mankind literally under his sovereignty, and every nation under the heavens will have to acknowledge his authority, and bow to his sceptre. Those who serve him in righteousness will have communications with God, and with Jesus; will have the ministering of angels, and will know the past, the present, and the future; and other people, who may not yield full obedience to his laws, nor be fully instructed in his covenants, will, nevertheless, have to yield full obedience to his government. For it will be reign of God upon the earth, and he will enforce his laws, and command that obedience from the nations of the world which is legitimately his right. Satan will not then be permitted to control its inhabitants, for the Lord God will be king over all the earth, and the kingdom and greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven will be given to the saints.” (The Gospel Kingdom: Selections from the Writings and Discourses of John Taylor, selected, arranged, and edited, with an introduction by G. Homer Durham [salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1941], 207 - 208.)

Ezra Taft Benson

“When Jesus stood before Pilate, the Roman governor asked him whether or not He was a king. It was a political question. The Savior replied: ‘My kingdom is not of this world.’ (John 18:36.) His answer is apropos today: The work of His kingdom is preeminently spiritual. The economic, political, and social problems facing this nation, as well as other nations, will be solved only with the help of God.

“The days ahead will be sobering and will test the faith of the Saints. But we may obtain strength from the Lord’s assurances found in modern revelation. I quote:

‘…Great tribulations shall be among the children of men, but my people will I preserve.’ (Moses 7:61; italics added.)

“The kingdom of God will not fail; it shall not be destroyed; it will not be left to other people; it will stand forever until ‘the kingdoms of this world [will] become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ.’ (Rev. 11:15.)

“Hear the prophecy of the Prophet Joseph Smith:

‘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.’ (HC, 4:540.)

“Christian denominations the world over have prayed for centuries for the kingdom of God to come. We earnestly and publicly declare: that day is now here!” (“May the Kingdom of God Go Forth,” Ensign, May 1978, 33–34)

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John 19:1 Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him

“Flogging was a preliminary to every Roman execution, and only women and Roman senators or soldiers (except in cases of desertion) were exempt. The usual instrument was a short whip (flagrum or flagellum) with several single or braided leather thongs of variable lengths, in which small iron balls or sharp pieces of sheep bones were tied at intervals. Occasionally, staves also were used. For scourging, the man was stripped of his clothing, and his hands were tied to an upright post…As the Roman soldiers repeatedly struck the victim’s back with full force, the iron balls would cause deep contusions, and the leather thongs and sheep bones would cut into the skin and subcutaneous tissues. Then as the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscles and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh. Pain and blood loss generally set the stage for circulatory shock. The extent of blood loss may well have determined how long the victim would survive on the cross.

“At the Praetorium, Jesus was severely whipped…The Roman soldiers, amused that this weakened man had claimed to be a king, began to mock him by placing a robe on his shoulders, a crown of thorns on his head, and a wooden staff as a scepter in his right hand. Next, they spat on Jesus and struck him on the head with a wooden staff. Moreover, when the soldiers tore the robe from Jesus back, they probably reopened the scourging wounds.

“The severe scourging, with its intense pain and appreciable blood loss, most probably left Jesus in a preshock state. Moreover, hematidrosis (bleeding from the pores of the skin) had rendered his skin particularly tender. The physical and mental abuse meted out by the Jews and the Romans, as well as the lack of food, water, and sleep, also contributed to his generally weakened state. Therefore, even before the actual crucifixion, Jesus’ physical condition was at least serious and possibly critical.” (Edwards, et al, “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ,” Journal of the American Medical Association, Mar. 21, 1986, Vol. 255, No. 11, pp. 1457-58)

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John 19:18 they crucified him

“The major pathophysiologic effect of crucifixion, beyond the excruciating pain, was a marked interference with normal respiration, particularly exhalation. The weight of the body, pulling down on the outstretched arms and shoulders, would tend to fix the intercostals (rib) muscles in an inhalation state and thereby hinder passive exhalation. Accordingly, exhalation was primarily diaphragmatic, and breathing was shallow. It is likely that this form of respiration would not suffice and that hypercarbia (elevated blood levels of carbon dioxide) would soon result. The onset of muscle cramps or tetanic contractions, due to fatigue and hypercarbia, would hinder respiration even further.

“Adequate exhalation required lifting the body by pushing up on the feet and by flexing the elbows and adducting the shoulders. However, this maneuver would place the entire weight of the body on the tarsals (feet) and would produce searing pain. Furthermore, flexion of the elbows would cause rotation of the wrists about the iron nails and cause fiery pain along the damaged median nerves (in the wrist). Lifting of the body would also painfully scrape the scourged back against the rough wooden stipes. Muscle cramps and paresthesias (numbness) of the outstretched and uplifted arms would add to the discomfort. As a result, each respiratory effort would become agonizing and tiring and lead eventually to asphyxia (suffocation).

“The actual cause of death by crucifixion was multifactorial and varied somewhat with each case, but the two most prominent causes probably were hypovolemic shock and exhaustion asphyxia. Other possible contributing factors included dehydration, stress-induced arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms), and congestive heart failure with the rapid accumulation of pericardial and perhaps pleural effusions (fluid buildup around the heart and lungs)…Death by crucifixion was, in every sense of the word excruciating (Latin, excruciates, or ‘out of the cross’).” (Edwards, et al, “On the Physical Death of Jesus Christ,” Journal of the American Medical Association, Mar. 21, 1986, Vol. 255, No. 11, pp. 1461)

S. Dilworth Young

“There are many events in the life of the Lord in which I experience exquisite joy as I read of them, and there are others which bow me down with the tragedy of his suffering and of his sacrifice.

“Many of us know what it is to suffer physically for ourselves, and we suffer mentally and emotionally for our friends and loved ones in their sorrows and afflictions. I am not capable of fully understanding the suffering of this great firstborn Son of God for the sins of the world…I read that he was hung on a cross. I look at my own hands and feet and try to imagine the pain of such torture—to hang there in the heat of the day, the weight of his body on those tearing nails, every muscle and nerve drawn tight in agony. No stopping, no escape until he, having said, ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30), gave up the ghost. I realize that this was endured for me and for you; I bow my head; it is hard to hold back the tears. Even now, 1900 years later, it is as poignant as though it occurred yesterday.” (“When I Read, I Am There,” Ensign, July 1973, 114)

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John 19:26-27 he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother!

Thomas S. Monson

“From his tortured position on the cruel cross he sees his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing by. He speaks: ‘Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother!’ (John 19:26-27.)

“From that awful night when time stood still, when the earth did quake and great mountains were brought down—yes, through the annals of history, over the centuries of years and beyond the span of time, there echoes his simple yet divine words, ‘Behold thy mother.’

“As we truly listen to that gentle command and with gladness obey its intent, gone forever will be the vast legions of ‘mothers forgotten.’ Everywhere present will be ‘mothers remembered,’ ‘mothers blessed,’ and ‘mothers loved’; and, as in the beginning, God will once again survey the workmanship of his own hand and be led to say, ‘It is very good.’

“May each of us treasure this truth: ‘One cannot forget mother and remember God. One cannot remember mother and forget God.’ Why? Because these two sacred persons, God and mother, partners in creation, in love, in sacrifice, in service, are as one.” (Pathways to Perfection [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1973], 230.)

Matthew Cowley

“You see, John knew what the Master wanted. ‘Behold your son; son, behold your mother.’ I don't think we're doing much of that in our Church. Mothers are not beholding their sons. They're beholding some agency or government organization which has nothing to do with their sons. And the sons are not beholding their mothers. And so, as a result we break down the integrity of the family.

“I was in Canada one day about five years ago. And I went to a home of a bishop for dinner. He wanted me to stay at his home, but he didn't have room. Well, I went to dinner. When the dinner was all set he went into a little room and carried out a little woman: a lovely little soul, with white hair, and he took her over and placed her down gently in a chair at the table. Then he took a serviette and put it around her neck, pushed the chair up close, and then he went back to the room and came out with his arms around an elderly man: a little whitehaired man, and then he took him over and gently placed him at the side of the woman. Then he took a serviette and put it around his neck. And then we all sat down. And then he said, ‘Brother Cowley, this is the reason we don't have room for you. These are the parents of my wife, and we're trying to get even with them, while they're so helpless, for what they did for my wife when she was a helpless child.’ And before that man and his wife took a spoonful of food, they fed the lovely parents, who couldn't feed themselves. ‘Woman, behold thy son; son, behold thy mother.’ Did you ever hear anything more beautiful than that?

“In contrast, I went to a home in Salt Lake City to see a relative of mine. It was a home for aged women. When I called on her, she broke down and wept, pleading with me to call on her children to see if one of them wouldn't take her to his home. She died in that home for aged women. She had been a woman of considerable wealth but had given most of what she had acquired to her children.

“Is there any way we can live better as sons than by accepting the vocation, the call, the summons that John did—to bless those who are near to us, to whom we owe so much?” (Matthew Cowley Speaks [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 306-307.)

Henry D. Moyle

“We cannot as children ignore our obligations to our parents by passing responsibility for their care to others. Inherent in the welfare program of the Church is this fundamental teaching. And through its facilities provision is made so that no child need ignore his or her sacred obligation, and no aged parent need be shunted or put on public assistance.

“We seek to avoid the need for public charity for those whom we love, and to whom we are deeply obligated. We endeavor to refrain from indebtedness and obligations we cannot meet. We aim to meet fully every commitment made. Through consecration of our labors, through individual initiative and effort, through mutual consideration and helpfulness, motivated by the spirit of the Christ, we have sought to assist one another. The fruits have been faith, independence, self-reliance, pride in self-accomplishment, family solidarity, love, and appreciation one for another.” (Conference Report, April 1948, 7.)

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