Last Sunday at Regional Conference, we had the opportunity to hear from some of our General Authorities. President Beck, the Young Men’s General President, Sister Dalton, the Young Women’s General President, Elder Craig Christensen of the Seventy, and Elder David Bednar of the Quorum of The Twelve Apostles spoke to us.
They all had really good messages, but the one that stood out and had the greatest impact for me was Elder Bednar’s talk. Which if you have heard Elder Bednar speak, you know that this is a common occurence with his talks.
He spoke about Testimony, Conversion to Christ, the Character of Christ and the strength that comes through the Atonement.
Elder Bednar stated plainly that “In this world today, a testimony alone is not enough to save us.” He repeated this 3-4 times throughout his talk. A testimony is knowing what is true by the witness of the Holy Ghost. He talked about how a testimony is a starting point for us to move on to conversion to the Gospel. Conversion is consistently being true to what you know due to your testimony.
Elder Bednar shared a scripture regarding becoming converted, Alma 23:5-7 :
5 And thousands were brought to the knowledge of the Lord, yea, thousands were brought to believe in the traditions of the Nephites; and they were taught the records and prophecies which were handed down even to the present time.
6 And as sure as the Lord liveth, so sure as many as believed, or as many as were brought to the knowledge of the truth, through the preaching of Ammon and his brethren, according to the spirit of revelation and of prophecy, and the power of God working miracles in them—yea, I say unto you, as the Lord liveth, as many of the Lamanites as believed in their preaching, and were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away.
Elder Bednar pointed out that those Lamanites who were converted unto the Lord never did fall away and that they did lay down their weapons of rebellion. He asked us to think about what our personal weapons of rebellion were and what we could do to set these things aside in order to help us to become fully and truly converted unto the Lord.
Elder Bednar also discussed the parable of the ten virgins and how the five virgins that were prepared for the coming of the bridegroom, were the ones who had been truly converted. He pointed out that the lamp was representative of those who had a testimony of the Gospel and that all ten had a lamp with oil when they went out to meet the bridegroom. However, not all ten had enough oil. The oil was representative of one’s conversion to the Gospel. Elder Bednar stated that the oil of conversion must be obtained by obedience to the commandments of God and cannot be shared or given, that it must be earned drop by drop. We must earn each drop over time. When one is fully converted to the Gospel, we will have no more disposition to do evil.
Elder Bednar went on to teach about how imperative it is that we understand the character of Christ. He went on to share about how he had listened to a talk given by Elder Maxwell and how that Elder Maxwell taught that except for the character of Jesus Christ, there would have been no atoning sacrifice made. This was the difference between Christ and everyone else, His character is unmatched. Elder Bednar said that he thought long and hard about this statement and wondered how he could learn more about the character of Christ. He said that he turned to the scriptures and more specifically, the New Testament.
Elder Bednar gave some examples of the character of Christ from the New Testament. When Jesus was fasting for 40 days in the wilderness, He was tempted three different times by Satan. After the temptations and fasting He was physically and spiritually spent, and angels came to comfort Him and to minister unto Him. Through the JST, we learn that instead, Christ sent these angels to minister unto John the Baptist, who had been cast into prison. Now, why would Christ do that? Instead of thinking inward, Christ thought outward, he thought of others who were in need of comfort too.
Another example – at the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ had asked His disciples to stay awake and support him. However, they fell asleep three different times due to the lateness of the hour. In one of His greatest times of suffering, His most trusted friends were sleeping. Eventually, Judas came with Roman soldiers to have Him arrested. One of His own had betrayed Him, even though He knew that this is how it must be, it had to be disheartening. Peter then cut the ear off of one of the Roman soldiers. What did Christ do? He healed the man’s ear. Elder Bednar pointed out that after all that Christ had been through that night in the Garden of Gethsemane, after His trusted disciples fell asleep when He could’ve definately used the their help; after another disciple betrayed Him to be arrested; He again showed His true character – He healed a man’s ear. Once again, instead of thinking inward, Christ was thinking of others and their needs.
A final example – Christ had been nailed to the cross and was nearing the end of His mortal life and He asks His disciples to care for His mother. In His final moments, after hours and hours of pain, suffering and humilliation, Christ again is not thinking inward of His pain and suffering, but of others and their pain and suffering.
Elder Bednar points out that this is the character of Christ. This is the example that we must strive to emulate.
Elder Bednar went on to talk about how through the atonement of Christ we can seek and obtain strength to overcome our own individual trials. Some lessons that we need to learn in life can only be learned by bearing those burdens that are placed upon us. We all have burdens to bear throughout our lives, we cannot avoid them.
Elder Bednar shared a scripture about Alma when he and his followers, after being baptized in the waters of Mormon, had escaped into the wilderness and had founded their own community. They were discovered by the Lamanites and were then forced to live under the rule of Amulon and his fellow unrighteous priests. In Mosiah 24:13-16 we read:
13 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.
14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.
16 And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage.
From these scriptures we read that a group of people who had just been baptized by the proper authority, lead by a righteous priest (if not Prophet by this time), Alma; who also had been forced to leave their homes and perhaps family members under duress and threat of life; and who had finally found a peaceful place to rest and build a home of their own (sound familiar?); now were being ruled over and persecuted by the very people they had fled from. For me this doesn’t sound too enticing, and I would probably be wondering when the blessings of being righteous were supposed to kick in. But we learn that these early Christians had a different view.
After exercising much faith and praying (even under threat of death if caught praying) unto the The Lord for deliverance, He promised them that due to their righteousness and due to the covenant (baptism) they had recently made with Him, that He would deliver them from bondage. Now, He didn’t magically make the burdens disappear, but instead made the burdens seem light on their backs. The burdens were still there, the hard things were still present and they had to live with that, but the Lord eased their burdens and made them (the people) stronger. As a result “they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.” These early Christians were committed to obeying the will of the Lord, even though it was rough. Are we able to say that we have cheerfully submitted with patience to ALL the will of the Lord in our trials?
Elder Bednar taught that we must be committed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we cannot be complacent. Through our commitments to the Lord and our covenants we have made with the Lord, we will be strengthened through His Atonement, allowing us to learn the lessons we need to learn. There is no other way.
These ideas and teachings are from a talk given by Elder David A. Bednar on October 23rd 2011 at a Regional Conference at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. I attended this Conference via satellite in our Stake Center in West Jordan, Utah. I have paraphrased some statements and referred to my notes that were taken during the talk. These teachings are Elder Bednar’s, with a little bit of my understanding of the Gospel mixed in. Other than writing this post, I take no credit for these teachings, but support them wholeheartedly.
I bear witness that Elder Bednar is an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ in these latter days. The Holy Spirit of God was present as Elder Bednar taught us these principles, and I bear witness that these things are true and we will be greatly blessed to follow Elder Bednar’s counsel, as this is what the Lord would have us do. – Justin Brady