There is an old Southern saying that I picked
up as a missionary down in Tennessee–‘I’m proud to be here.’ As I look over you young
people from my point of vantage with my white hair and my aged bones, I do so with envy.
And from my standpoint, I just want you to know that youth is a tremendous thing–it’s
just too bad they have to waste it on kids. I love President Benson. I’ve talked with
him personally on occasions and am good friends with his family–some of his family at least.
One of his sons married a relative of mine. But most of all, I remember as a young man
in Rexburg, Idaho, hearing that President Benson was coming to town to give a special
talk. I was attending Ricks College at the time, and I sneaked out and went over and
listened. I also like his vision of things, particularly
with the youth. I served for many years on the B.Y.U. faculty in the college of religion.
On one occasion our religion faculty invited him to come to B.Y.U. and to meet with us
personally and to give us a talk at a special Christmas dinner that we had in honor of him.
As he stood up to speak, he made the comment, ‘Since I have had this assignment and since
I’ve been driving from Salt Lake here to Provo, I’ve had one overwhelming impression that
I just can’t shake. It just fills my whole mind. That is that there are many young people
in the Church who were among the noble and great ones in the pre-earth life.’
Then he went on to say, ‘There are those of you in the faculty who were among that group,
and you have the responsibility to help them realize who they are, and to help them come
to God and fulfill their foreordained destiny.’ In one of his articles entitled, ‘In His Steps
[Ensign, Sept. 1988],’ President Benson began in the following way. He says, ‘In all ages,
prophets have looked down through the corridor of time to our day. Billions of the deceased
and those yet to be born have their eye on us. Make no mistake about it. This is a marked
generation. There has never been more expected of the faithful in such a short period of
time than there is of us. Never before on the face of the earth have the forces of evil
and the forces of good been so well-organized. Now is the great day of the devil’s power.
But now is also the great day of the Lord’s power, with the greatest number of priesthood
holders on the earth. ‘Each day the forces of evil and the forces
of good enlist new recruits. Each day we personally make many decisions showing the cause we support.
The final outcome is certain. The forces of righteousness will win. But what remains to
be seen is where each of us personally, now and in the future, will stand in this battle,
and how tall we will stand. Will we be true to our last days and fulfill our foreordained
missions?’ Then in another article entitled, ‘Prepare
Yourself For the Great Day of the Lord,’ [New Era, May 1982] he begins, and this is the
opening paragraph again, ‘Every generation, I suppose, sees the time in which they live
as being exceptional. The truth of the matter is that you do live in the most exceptional
time in the history of mankind. You young people will see events transpire which were
prophesied from the beginning of the world. Prophets of old have seen your days and rejoiced
in them. And yet you will be faced with challenges and circumstances, the severity of which has
been unparalleled in generations past.’ Then finally, let me read you a little more
intimate statement from our prophet. He says, ‘President George Albert Smith, when he was
a boy, had these words to say.’ So he is quoting the former Prophet. [Teachings of Presidents
of the Church: The Life and Ministry of George Albert Smith] ‘As a child 13 years of age,
I went to school at the Brigham Young Academy. I cannot remember much of what was said during
the year that I was there, but there is one thing that I will probably never forget. Dr.
Karl G. Maeser one day stood up and said, ‘Not only will you be held accountable for
the things you do, but you will be held responsible for the very thoughts you think.’ Being a
boy, not in the habit of controlling my thoughts very much, I was quite puzzled at what I ought
to do. And it worried me. In fact, it stuck to me like a burr.
‘About a week or ten days after that, it suddenly came to me what he meant. I could see the
philosophy of it then. All at once there came to me this interpretation of what he had said:
Why of course you will Tape ‘ 19 Youth, Repentance And Jesus Christ
3 be held accountable for your thoughts, because
when your life is completed in mortality, it will be the sum of your thoughts. Quite
like the food you eat, you don’t remember every dish, but it becomes part of you.’
He goes on and says, ‘That one suggestion has been a great blessing to me all of my
life, and it has enabled me upon many occasions to avoid thinking improperly, because I realized
that I will be, when my life’s labor is complete, the product of my thoughts.’
I’d like to talk to you, my brothers and sisters, on the subject of repentance, and not just
repentance per se, or independent of any other consideration, but I’d like to entitle it,
‘Repentance Toward Christ.’ When John the Baptist came in May of 1829, he restored the
keys of the Aaronic priesthood. And many of you here hold that priesthood. The Aaronic
priesthood holds the keys of the gospel of repentance, which gave Joseph Smith and Oliver
Cowdery the responsibility and the right to counsel others to repent and to make that
counsel binding, so that on the day of judgment that which they counselled, they will give
an account of before the bar of God. From the time the priesthood was lost on the
earth until the restoration of the Aaronic priesthood through John the Baptist, no man
had an authoritative right to tell anyone else to repent. As good neighbors, we all
have the right to counsel each other, we all have the right to say, ‘Maybe this would be
a better way.’ But to preach repentance in the sense of holding the keys of the gospel
of repentance, is a matter of much greater importance and significance. It means that
when your bishop, your stake president, counsels you to repent, it’s just as though God himself
did so, and we will be responsible for what they say.
Now, sometimes there are those who need to repent of great sins. But repentance is also
to turn more fully to Christ as a preparation of things to come, and to prepare for the
work that we must do. And when President Benson says the eyes of the Lord and the eyes of
hosts, millions and billions of them from the past and even those who are yet to come
and be born, then we all need to take a look at our lives and see if we can’t be more fully
in harmony, so that we can realize what we’ve been here for and what we are here for. Because
we were all together in the pre-earth state. We lived together as brothers and sisters.
And coming into mortality was the greatest of our interests and the greatest opportunity.
Now we’re here in a state Tape ‘ 19 Youth, Repentance And Jesus Christ
4 of forgetfulness and we kind of bat our eyes
and wonder what life is all about. We need to know that we have a purpose here,
we need to know that this generation is the generation that’s destined to build Zion and
to make the most important decisions that this earth has ever seen.
And you can’t make them in ignorance, and you can’t make them if you haven’t really
turned your heart to Christ. Repentance is a divine process, not just a
human process. We need Christ’s standard of truth and righteousness. That makes it a divine
thing. We need the knowledge of divine law and justice. We need to know how we stand
before the law of God. You all know how you stand before the traffic laws of the city
of Snowflake; you can’t do this and you can’t do that, and if you get caught doing it, you’re
hauled in. Now, you need to know how you stand before the law of God and before the law of
the eternal bar of justice. We are mortal beings in a fallen state. We
need to rely on Christ; we can’t do it alone. It’s like–I think it was Pogo who said, ‘We’ve
met the enemy, and he’s us!’ The greatest enemy I have personally to realizing my ultimate
objectives is me. And I can’t really become what I want to be until I have the humility
and faith to ask the Lord to help me. And then when I do, then there comes into my life
a spiritual light and a strength and a power and a sense of dignity and a sense of purpose
and a sense of design, so that I can do the thing that’s required to be done.
It’s only by seeing our lack of ability that we can resolve to come to Christ as the fountain
of all righteousness. We can’t ourselves fully restore things that we’ve done wrong. There
are just some things that you can’t make up. You can say, ‘I’m sorry,’ but only Christ
can really make the total amends that are necessary.
Then finally, unless we are renewed spiritually, unless there’s a transformation, unless divine
light and truth comes into our lives, we cannot return to God and acquire his righteousness.
We all know that we need sunshine in order to have spring. And when the winter finally
begins to draw to an end, then the earth balances a little more closely toward the sun, that
the light of the sun enlightens and awakens life. And we have this beautiful season we
call spring and summer time. The same is true with us in our lives with
Christ. Until we literally turn Tape ‘ 19 Youth, Repentance And Jesus Christ
5 more fully to him, we can’t realize the things
we want to see. But the point is, his light and his truth, and it’s a living influence,
it’s as real, literally as real as sunlight–in fact, it is more real and literal than sunlight.
And when we turn our lives to him, they are enlightened, they are transformed, they are
changed, we become new creatures. And you have a sense of dignity and of value and an
understanding in your life that you can’t receive in any other way.
Repentance is also a gift of God. God gave us the gift in his standard of righteousness.
He set the standard, and that’s a gift. As a young person I always used to have the attitude
that commandments were obstructions, that when God says, ‘Thou shalt not,’ it bothered
me, it rubbed against my ego. It seemed to me that that was a fence put around me. I
remember one time I read the 59th Section, verse 4, ‘And they shall also be crowned,’
speaking of the righteous, ‘with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not
a few.’ And as I read that, I said, ‘Hey, that’s a different attitude. I mean, were
going to be `blessed’ with commandments!’ I started pondering on that; what does that
mean? The standards that God gives us are not fences,
they are words of counsel which, if we learn of and apply, lead us to live as the Nephites
did, ‘after the manner of happiness.’ And that’s the purpose of them. A person becomes
‘macho’ and arrogant and authoritative, and that person is destroying his own life. I
can go back when I was your age, and I have memory enough to do so, and I can see those
fellow-youth in that day who got off the track, became arrogant, and what happened to them?
I had one good friend, for example, and I used to play with him all the time. But he
had this attitude. When the bishop finally called him in and gave him some counsel, he
just looked the bishop in the eye and said, ‘Well, I’m going to run my own life the way
I want it run.’ This was a very capable young man, and he finally, after dabbling in things
that were improper, got married. He continued his process, his marriage fell apart and divorce
took place and kids were disrupted in his family. He ended up in some kind of institution
to help him and give him counsel. The last time I heard of him, up in his 60s years of
age, finally learning that he had to keep the commandments of the Lord–after a life
of great potential, but a life that he ruined because he didn’t recognize the gift of repentance
in the standard that God gave. Tape ‘ 19 Youth, Repentance And Jesus Christ
6 Christ paid the debt of divine justice for
man’s sins, so that we can repent. And that’s another part of the gift of repentance. The
Spirit also strives with us to bring us to repentance. If you’ll just ponder and think
about your lives and about that thing you call conscience and about that thing you call
the ‘inner being’ within you, you’ll find that the Spirit prompts you and says, ‘Hey,
don’t do this, and do this.’ Let me just suggest to you that you find a place where you can
sit and meditate and where you can pray. I was born as a tow-headed kid on a farm and
grew up that way and had the ambition to become a cattle rancher when I was a kid. Then the
Lord said, ‘Feed my sheep,’ so I went in a different way. But in those early years on
the farm we had a section of the farm that wasn’t too well cultivated. There was a whole
bunch of briars there, and there was a little path in through those briars into a vacant
center inside, so that you could be there and no one could come in except they came
through that little circuitous path. I used to go in there when I had a few minutes and
sit down and study and think and pray. Those were the most meaningful things in my life.
I began to analyze myself–what am I here for? What am I doing? Who are you, Andrus,
anyway? What’s your purpose? And then respond to the Spirit of the Lord. I didn’t do that
every day, but every once in awhile when I was thinking seriously of things, that was
the pattern I would follow. The blessings of forgiveness that results
in the act of repentance are gifts of God. For example, let me give you an illustration
in the Book of Mormon. Here in the book of Mosiah, we have the story of a group of people–we
call them King Benjamin’s people. King Benjamin decided to give them a very special experience.
He was going to give them the truth and the doctrine by which they could take upon themselves
the name of Christ. He said, ‘I will give unto them a name that will distinguish them
above all other people.’ That name he wanted to give them and have them really receive
and take upon themselves, was the name of Christ. So he got up and talked to them. He
talked to them about mortal people and their weaknesses. One thing he told them was that
the natural man, a person who is unregenerated, is ‘an enemy to God.’ And he is also an enemy
to himself. And he does things by reason of his enemy relationship to harm others as well
as God and himself. And that the only way you can solve this problem is to put off the
natural man and to turn to Tape ‘ 19 Youth, Repentance And Jesus Christ
7 Christ and be renewed by spiritual truth and
power. Then when he preached them this message, the
people responded. And note what it says [Mosiah 4:2]: ‘And they all cried aloud with one voice,
saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness
of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of
God, who created heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children
of men.’ Now, note the effect of that as they turned
honestly and sincerely and conscientiously–‘And it came to pass that after they had spoken
these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having
received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding
faith which they had in Jesus Christ.’ Then King Benjamin wanted to know how they felt
about what he had said, not that he wanted them to compliment him on his sermon, but
he wanted to know whether they had really picked up what he wanted to say to them and
whether they really understood. So they responded, and they said this: [Mosiah
5:2] ‘Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know
of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought
a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but
to do good continually.’ Now that, my brothers and sisters, is the only way you can repent.
You can make the effort to live as you ought to live and you can kind of reach for the
ideal up here. And if you don’t know it takes this kind of program to reach it, you reach
for it, maybe hesitantly a little, maybe with firm resolve, but not turning to Christ, and
you find that you’ll fall on your face. And you don’t attain it.
Then you’ll do it again, and you’ll do it again, and finally you’ll get discouraged
and you’ll get the sour grapes attitude, and you’ll turn and go the other way. Repentance
is not a process that you can carry out in and through and by yourself. Repentance is
toward Christ, and it’s a gift of God, and it results in his power and his Spirit being
given to us as we truly repent. And as we come unto him, there is a transformation,
and we feel that in our lives and in our souls. True repentance can be identified under the
letter ‘R’. ‘R’ stands for Tape ‘ 19 Youth, Repentance And Jesus Christ
8 repentance. But there are 6 ‘Rs’, true scriptural
‘Rs’ of repentance. Let me give them to you, and you think them over. These are not humanistic
‘Rs’, these are the scriptural ‘Rs’ of repentance that the Lord has taught us in his holy word.
First of all, Recognition of Christ. That is the first ‘R’ of repentance– Recognition
of Christ. For example, let me turn to a comment that may be helpful here. Here’s Alma as he
was preaching to the people of his day–here’s what he said [Alma 33:22]: ‘Begin to believe
in the Son of God, that he will come to redeem his people, and that he shall suffer and die
to atone for their sins; and that he shall rise again from the dead, which shall bring
to pass the resurrection, that all men shall stand before him, to be judged at the last
and judgment day, according to their works.’ Now, the point of the matter is that whether
we like it or not, this is one of the absolutes. The day is going to come when I and when every
person here stands before the Lord, and he has a superior video camera. It is so superb
that it catches not only what we do and portrays it visually, it also reflects the inner feelings
of our hearts. It can also and will also show how you felt and what you did, and the emotion
will all come out. And we will stand before God. and the video tape will be played. That
is as true as it is that the sun will come up tomorrow morning, if there’s no clouds
in the sky. In fact, it’s more true than that. We will meet the challenge of the divine video
tape. And then we’d better recognize that the Lord has said that those who truly repent
are going to have a little editing done on that tape, because he said, ‘I, the Lord,
will forgive them and remember it no more.’ When the righteous stand on the day of judgment
to be judged, they are not judged by the standard of justice, they are judged by the standard
of grace and of mercy. And Christ remits their sins. The thing he merely says is, ‘Well done,
thou good and faithful servant,’ and embracing us in the arms of his love, he invites us
to come in. Others who don’t repent listen to the video tape and see it in all its hues
and colors, and then give an account for what they did.
Recognition of Christ, then, is the first great principle of repentance. Christ as the
Son of God had great glory and power given to him by being the Son of God. When I was
conceived and born in my father and mother’s family, I was a skinny rascal. Mom used to
say I looked like a jack-rabbit. As I grew up and got my feet under the table for
Tape ‘ 19 Youth, Repentance And Jesus Christ 9
three square meals a day and raided the ice box and all of those things, I developed characteristics
where I looked like my Dad and my Mother. As one good person told me once, ‘You look
like your Mom and you act like your Dad.’ And there are certain traits of the Andrus
blood that center and converge in me. Some of them are good, and some of them I would
just as soon not have. I’ve got a sister who says, ‘I’d rather be an Andrus than be married
to one!’ I think that’s the classic statement that you have to say about the Andrus tribe.
I mean, there’s a lot of dynamics and a lot of drive there, and sometimes that dynamics
and drive is a little inconsiderate, so she said, ‘I’d rather be an Andrus than be married
to one and have to put up with all that junk!’ That’s the way it is, and my wife can tell
you a little more about that, but I hope you don’t talk to her on the subject!
But when Christ was conceived, he had centered in him divine attributes. He was the Son of
God, and those divine attributes are more than just personality attributes and more
than physical attributes. Let me tell you what I mean. Over here in the Pearl of Great
Price, we have an account of what we call the first vision of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Remember that time he went into the sacred grove, and as he knelt and prayed and struggled
with the powers of darkness, he said [Joseph Smith 2:16]: ‘I saw a pillar of light exactly
over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell
upon me.’ And he watched it come down, as Orson Pratt used to explain.
He wondered, ‘Here I’m in the line of fire, and it’s like the sun, the ball of the sun–it’s
light coming down, and I’m going to be burned up like a bedbug in a bonfire!’ He had those
things racing through his mind. Then as the light rested on the top of the trees, and
it was in the springtime and the leaves were just coming out, he noticed that it didn’t
burn the trees. That gave him a little hope–‘If that doesn’t burn them, maybe it won’t burn
me!’ Finally as it rested upon him, he said, ‘I
saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in
the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other–`This
is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!’ Now, just think for a moment. If that divine
Being, the senior of those two Beings who appeared to the Prophet was to have a Son,
what would a Son be like? You know the statement, ‘Like father, like
Tape ‘ 19 Youth, Repentance And Jesus Christ 10
son.’ What kind of a Son would such a Being beget? Would he be just physical, or would
he be divine and have glory and power? That’s the way Jesus was. And Joseph Smith makes
it clear that a person who has those divine powers can either turn them on or shut them
off. Remember when Jesus was resurrected and walked
along the road to Emmaus with two disciples, he had glory and power in its fulness, but
he shut it off, and they didn’t see it. Jesus had that kind of glory in him, and that glory
is life, it’s power, it’s intelligence, it’s truth!
…..ality, until eventually he acquired that in its fulness. In the Prophet Joseph Smith’s
Inspired Revision of the Bible, we have an interesting insight into the life of Christ
as a teenage boy. We know about his visit to the temple at 12 years of age; this is
after that. Note what it says [Matt. 3:24-26]: ‘And it came to pass that Jesus grew up with
his brethren, and waxed strong, and waited upon the Lord for the time of his ministry
to come. And he served under his father, and he spake not as other men, neither could he
be taught; for he needed not that any man should teach him.’
He had a principle of revelation in him of power and of life that revealed to him the
knowledge of the Father, the will of the Father, and he lived with the responsibility of coping
with that. When people derided him and spit on him, he could have zapped them into eternity
with just one flick of the finger. (Gap in tape)
…and then when he went to Gethsemane, he went not just to ponder on whether he should
go on to the cross like some people and Christian ministers I’ve heard say, he went to Gethsemane,
and when he got there the experience just hit him and he fell to his knees and to his
face, because he was really bombarded. The thing that happened is that he consented to
have that divine power withdrawn from him. And when it was withdrawn, the power of the
adversary also bombarded him in an effort literally to disintegrate him back to native
element. And that agony of the withdrawal of his glory and the bombarding power of Satan
was such that he literally began to disintegrate inside. And blood came from every pore of
his body in great drops. This is the blood of atonement. This is what he shed, so that
we could have the gift of repentance. When a person sins, the most important thing
that happens to that person is that there is a withdrawal of the Spirit. You think about
it– Tape ‘ 19 Youth, Repentance And Jesus Christ
11 when you’ve done something stinkin’ dirty
wrong, what happens? You know you’ve done it. At least that’s been my experience. And
I’ve been through this process. I’m not trying to preach to you, I’m just trying to counsel
with you. I’ve been through this process. I’ve seen times when I’ve had to get down
on my knees and just literally beg the Lord for mercy and just literally beg him for the
powers of his Spirit so that I could feel an inner strength and an inner peace.
The thing that happens is that the Spirit withdraws. That’s the result of sin. Jesus
paid the debt of sin. And in order to do that, he had to be a God, he had to have these divine
powers like Joseph Smith saw in the first vision. Then when he went to Gethsemane, he
allowed the withdrawal of the Spirit from him to the degree that he paid the debt for
every person. He suffered withdrawal of the Spirit for me. And on that basis, then, he
opened the door of repentance so that he can say to the Father, ‘Yes, these people have
sinned, and yes they should be cast out, and yes they should have a withdrawal of the Spirit.
But I suffered that for them; therefore, I’ve opened the door of repentance if they will
have faith in me. A second ‘R’ of repentance–the first is Recognition
of Christ. You’ve got to recognize these things; you’ve got to know them. You have to recognize
them. The next one is Remorse for Sin. God gave us conscience. Conscience is not the
light of Christ, conscience is the effect of the light of Christ. The light of Christ
is a light like the sunlight, only it’s more pure and more refined and more intelligent.
And it enlightens our minds. When we get a little off base, it begins to say, ‘Uh, uh,
don’t do that.’ Then when we do go ahead and just shut our minds to it and go ahead and
do it anyway, then that light withdraws and there is an aching void within, and there’s
a darkness within. And the Heavens seem like they are brass over our heads.
We need to have Remorse for sin. Note, for example, how Alma put it when he talks about
the great conversion experience he went through. He was a young guy with a lot of vim and vitality,
and he joined the hippie cult of his day and the drug addicts and all of that, and the
sex perverters. He went out to really do the thing in and really enjoy the world and really
oppose the kingdom. He did all that. He did about everything there was in the book. Then
he had the hearse back up and was given the privilege of smelling the roses to see what
eternity was all about. An angel of the Lord came down and said, ‘I’ve
come here to tell you Tape ‘ 19 Youth, Repentance And Jesus Christ
12 to repent!’ And he had the authority to tell
him to repent, too. Alma said, ‘I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed
up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins. Yea, I did remember all my sins
and iniquities for which I was tormented with the pains of hell…And now, for three days
and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul’ [Alma 36:12-16].
He had remorse for sin. And then under that kind of situation he finally heard something
his Dad had said. His father was Alma, the great prophet. And somehow a message that
he had heard and picked up along the way finally got through. He says [verse 17], ‘I remembered
also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus
Christ. I remembered that. ‘As my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my
heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and
am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death. And now, behold, when I thought
this,’ and see, this is the next ‘R’– Reliance upon Christ. He began to rely, he began to
turn, he began to move. He said, ‘And now, behold, when I thought
this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins
no more. And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled
with joy as exceeding as was my pain! Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be
nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my
son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.’
He had remorse, and it’s a god-like remorse and not just a Mickey- Mouse thing, an alligator
tear kind of thing. He had genuine remorse, and then he relied on Christ. See, Christ
paid the debt so that we can be forgiven. He paid the debt and he opens his arms and
he says, ‘Hey, I’ve paid your debt! I love you! I love you, I want you to be the finest
person you can be! Now, you turn and you come to me, and I’ll take all that guilt away.
I’ll take all that remorse away. And I’ll fill you with my love,’ and you’ll have a
sense of dignity and of manhood and of womanhood that you can’t otherwise have.
All right now, a person having Remorse and having Reliance on Christ, must now Resolve
to come unto Christ. You have to take matters, because it’s your agency. God is not going
to violate our agency. So we have to Resolve. For example, Moroni wrote of the
Tape ‘ 19 Youth, Repentance And Jesus Christ 13
people in his day. He says, ‘And none were received unto baptism, save they took upon
them the name of Christ, having a determination,’ and that’s Resolve, ‘a determination to serve
him to the end.’ [Moroni 6:3] The Prophet Joseph Smith made it clear that
before baptism, a person must take upon him the name of Christ, having a determination,
he said, to serve him to the end. So stand up and be a man! On one occasion–it used
to be that the B.Y.U. faculty used to go out with the General Authorities on stake conferences.
I was assigned–I was one of those selected to do that and to have that privilege–and
I was assigned to go with Marion D. Hanks down to the little town of Ely, Nevada, on
this particular weekend. There is one thing that I remember out of
that whole conference experience. That was something that he said. He said, ‘You know,
when I pray to the Lord for myself, I don’t really pray for a lot of things. But I do
pray consistently for one thing. And that is, `Lord, bless me with the backbone to stand
up and be a man.’ Bless me with backbone enough to stand up and be a man. A person who comes
to Christ is not some milktoast personality. The person who comes to Christ is a man and
a woman, or a woman in the greatest sense of dignity. And that life that Christ gives
enhances your manhood and enhances your womanhood; it enhances your beauty, your personality.
So it’s not like joining some kind of a queer group of people. It’s like sunlight to the
plants in springtime–that’s what Christ does. And he makes a man out of us!
So you Resolve, then, to come to Christ. Then you have to be Reconciled to Christ. That’s
the next ‘R’, the fifth ‘R’. Reconciliation to Jesus Christ. We must make things right;
we cannot lie to God. You just can’t do that. On B.Y.U. campus, there in the Joseph F. Smith
Family Living Center, they have an interesting room. It’s about this big, but it’s not quite
this shape. But over here on one side of it, it looks like, from the inside, a whole row
of mirrors. Yet, they are not mirrors, they are see-through glasses so that the people
in the room see their expression in the mirror, but back of that room there is about a four
foot room back of it, with places to stand. You can go in the back of that room, and the
students do, and look through. They have all the kids, they have actually a kind of kindergarten
program, and a bunch of kids are in the room. The students study the family, and they study
these kids without the kids knowing it. They look through
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the glass into there and the kid will come up and think that he’s looking at himself,
and those on the other side of the mirror are looking through at him and watching him.
Those kids, little children, act uninhibited. There is no one to see them, they think; no
one to see them. So they act that way. Then you study them.
This is very much like God. God continually sees us as real and as literally as those
students studying those children could see them, how they acted without inhibitions,
etc. For example, note what Section 38:1 says, as it speaks on this particular point. It
begins with this statement: ‘Thus saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, the Great
I Am, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the same which looked upon the wide expanse
of eternity, and all the seraphic hosts of heaven…The same which knoweth all things,
for all things are present before mine eyes.’ All things are present.
The Lord can see me now better than you can, and he has the capacity of mind to do so.
When Moses was given a little of the power of the Lord and the glory, he looked at the
earth and he could see every particle of it and discern it intelligently. And he could
see every person. The Lord can do that. And we can’t lie to him. Not only can he see,
he can discern and feel the thoughts of our hearts. I wonder how that kind of experience
would be for him. I’ll leave that up to him. But the point of the matter is that you can’t
get behind the woodshed and get out of sight. And you can’t even in your heart think things
and be out of the knowledge of the Lord. It can’t be done!
We are here in a probationary state. We are here like those children in that little room.
And mortality is probation. Joseph Smith says that past, present and future are and were
to God, one eternal now. That’s the way it is. He is omniscient. He knows all things.
He is omnipresent. He is everywhere present by the power of his glory. And we aren’t fooling
anyone. So when it comes to Reconciliation to Christ, let’s be honest. We have to be
honest. Wasn’t it Tom Sawyer who said, ‘Hey, you just can’t fool Him.’ You’ve got to be
honest, and when you’re not, you know you’re not honest.
It’s also an important point that before we can be reconciled to Christ, we can be reconciled
to those whom we have harmed. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made this clear. He said,
‘Therefore, if ye shall come unto me or shall desire to come unto me, and rememberest that
thy brother hath aught against thee, go thy way
Tape ‘ 19 Youth, Repentance And Jesus Christ 15
unto thy brother and first be reconciled to thy brother. And then come unto me with full
purpose of heart, and I will receive you.’ There have been times in my life when I’ve
had to just screw up my courage and put away my pride, and go to a person and say, ‘Hey,
I have done you harm, and I’m here to make amends. I apologize; I’m sorry, and whatever
I can do that needs to be done, I will do.’ I’ve done that over and over at times. And
when I get through the process, as humbling as it is, there is a cleansing. I feel good,
and there’s a bond of union between me and that person that I’ve offended. But I’ve done
that, apologize. Then you go to the Lord and say, ‘Lord, I’ve
made as much amends as I can make. Now, will you forgive me?’ And he will forgive you and
fill you with his Spirit. The last ‘R’ of repentance, then, is Renewal
of man in Christ. Repentance is not just to quit something. Repentance carries with it,
when it is repentance toward God or toward Christ, it carries with it a renewing spirit
and a renewing power. And that renewing spirit not only washes our souls clean, that renewing
spirit fills us with truth and light and love. For example, when Alma taught the people in
his day, he said, ‘They awakened unto God and they entered into a newness of life.’
Finally, let me just say that all this is tied in with faith. You can’t repent without
faith. Repentance is the fruit of faith, and repentance leads to other blessings. Like
the Book of Mormon says, the first fruit of repentance is baptism. And baptism ‘cometh
by faith unto the fulfilling of the commandments. And the fulfilling of the commandments bringeth
remission of sins. And remission of sins brings meekness and lowliness of heart. And because
of meekness and lowliness of heart,’ note the formula, ‘cometh the visitation of the
Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence
unto prayer until the end shall come when all the saints shall dwell with God.’ [Moro.
8:25-26] That’s one of the most marvelous statements–just bing, bing, bing, right down
through on how we come to the Lord and the benefits and the love that we get.
You’ve all read the book of Alma, chapter 32 on planting the seed, haven’t you? You
plant the seed of faith, and there’s a principle of life associated with a seed. You put a
seed into the ground in the springtime and enough fertilizer around and some water, and
the next Tape ‘ 19 Youth, Repentance And Jesus Christ
16 thing you know things begin to percolate and
grow. If you’ll take the word of the Lord, if you’ll take the words of your bishops and
your teachers and your stake presidency, if you’ll do that and plant that in your heart
and say, ‘I’m going to accept that stuff! I’m going to receive it!’ you’ll find that
that word will begin to unfold. It will begin to manifest itself in a very, very beautiful
way. Alma, as he talks about it, says, [Alma 32:35]
‘O then, is not this real? I say unto you, Yea, because it is light; and whatsoever is
light, is good, because it is discernible, therefore you must know that it is good.’
And you will feel the growth inside, and it will change you and make you a new creature.
What is the seed? In Alma 33, and most of us never read Alma 33, we just read Alma 32.
In Alma 33, it begins and says this: ‘Now after Alma had spoken these words, they sent
forth unto him desiring to know whether they should believe in one God, that they might
obtain this fruit,’ this blessing of the seed you’ve planted in your life.
He says, ‘…fruit of which he had spoken, or how they should plant the seed, or the
word of which he had spoken.’ Then he talked to them about Christ. A whole chapter of stuff
on their scriptures, showing that Christ was real and that the prophets had talked to him.
Then he gives this counsel, and this is the seed that you plant. He says, [Alma 33:22]
‘Cast about your eyes and begin to believe in the Son of God, that he will come to redeem
his people, and that he shall suffer and die to atone for their sins.’ Believe in Gethsemane,
it’s the most real thing that’s ever happened in eternity. Believe in the cross, it’s the
most real thing that’s happened. Secondly, ‘That he shall rise again from the
dead, which shall bring to pass the resurrection, that all men shall stand before him, to be
judged.’ And we’re all going to be brought up there and the divine video is going to
be in operation. Believe in that! Accept that, that’s true! I bear you my testimony in the
sacred name of Christ, that’s true! That’s an absolute truth.
And he says, ‘And now, my brethren, I desire that ye shall plant this word in your hearts.’
You plant this word about Christ and him crucified–what he has done–you plant this word in your hearts.
‘And as it beginneth to swell even so nourish it by your faith. And behold, it will become
a tree, springing up in you unto everlasting life.’ And you’ll have joy and peace and strength
for the boys and womanhood for the girls, and it will make you people that you’ll be
thankful to God to be, by and through his mercy and by and through his grace.
Now, I bear you my testimony, my brothers and sisters, that God does live. I’ve been
through the academic processes. I’ve got 4 college degrees, one of them a Ph.d. I know
what the academic processes are. I know what it is for sophisticated intellectuals to look
at you, and if they even think you even believe in God, they think there’s something wrong
with your belfry, your ticker, you soul. I know what that is. And I know also what that
is to meet that kind of onslaught and let them know that isn’t quite the fact.
I know what it is also, having been through the academic process, to study the scriptures,
to curl up Sunday afternoon with the Book of Mormon and find Christ. And I suggest you
do that. Just cuddle up somewhere by yourself and the Book of Mormon. Don’t read all the
bear stories, find Christ. Read the doctrine of Christ and find your relationship to him.
And feel the flow of his Spirit. And that truth that you get through the Holy Spirit
is far superior to anything that you can get in the world. It’s far superior to anything
you can receive in the academic world. And it’s more real. It’ll transform your souls,
it’ll change you, it’ll make you new creatures. It’ll make you beautiful people. It’ll make
you happy, it’ll make you feel good. So get reconciled to Christ and get reconciled to
each other. I bear you my testimony that he lives. I’ve
had those experiences, and I’ve also had spiritual experiences that have elevated me above the
veil, so that I have seen, and I know. I know by personal experience that Christ lives.
I know that he is our Savior. I know that he is our God. I know that! And I can’t deny
it. I bear you this testimony to this effect, in the sacred and holy Name of Jesus Christ,
our Lord and our Savior, amen.