“The Rewards, the Blessings, the Promises,” Ensign, Jan. 1974, 14
Beloved brothers and sisters:
Again we meet in a glorious conference.
In the sessions of this impressive conference we have had exhortation, instructions, and warning. The sermons were each mighty and sobering. We were instructed quite fully in the ways of the Lord. Very prominent in the sermons were the words like this: Walk uprightly. Keep my commandments. Live my laws. We were reminded about marriage—proper marriage—about repentance and forgiveness, about building self-esteem, and walking in the ways of righteousness. We have heard of the “troubled seas” and that “wickedness is never happiness.”
A story is written by Roy H. Stetler, publisher of a religious journal in the East:
“It occurred outside the Crimean Castle of Livadia. The castle was aglow with lights. A soldier was pacing in carefully measured steps back and forth, guarding the castle, which, at the moment, housed within its walls a most momentous conference of world men. The soldier appeared proud of his task, for what soldier would not like to tell his children, and grandchildren, that he had once done guard duty for the momentous meeting of the ‘Big Three.’
“Suddenly, out of the darkness, like a phantom, a figure appeared on the path that led to the entrance of the castle. As the figure approached, the guard commanded, ‘Halt! Who goes there? Come hither and make yourself known!’ And with that the guard quickly took his gun from his shoulder and poised it for any emergency.
“The stranger spoke. ‘I wish to meet with the men who are in the castle.’
“‘Preposterous!’ exclaimed the guard. ‘You cannot enter the castle. Do you not know that the “Big Three” are meeting to decide the course of the whole world? No one is permitted to enter.’
The man replied, ‘You say it is the “Big Three”? Why are they called the “Big Three”?’
“‘They are they,’ said the guard, ‘who shall say how this world shall be ruled.’
“The stranger looked intensely at the guard. His eyes flashed as he said, ‘That is why I must be with them, because I can help them. I have a plan that will really work, and will keep the peace of the world, if they will only adopt my plan.’
“The soldier laughed. ‘Go on your way, man; you have no credentials.’
“The man replied, ‘Credentials? Perhaps not—here.’ And he raised his hand in salute as he left. The guard saw an ugly scar in his hand. Then he looked at the other hand, and it, too, had a scar.
“‘You were in battle?’ he asked, a little more gently. ‘I see wounds in your hands.’
“The stranger turned again. ‘No, I did not think you would notice,’ he replied. ‘No, I did not receive these wounds in battle.’ With that, he disappeared suddenly, as if the darkness had enveloped him.
“The guard looked after him, and marveled. ‘I should have known!’ he exclaimed. ‘If only I had let him in!’ And he slumped to the ground in dismay.”
This was he who brought blessings to all the inhabitants of the earth. This was he who spoke of those who would ask the stranger this question:
“What are these wounds in thine hands and in thy feet? Then shall they know that I am the Lord; for I will say unto them: These wounds are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. I am he who was lifted up. I am Jesus that was crucified. I am the Son of God.” (D&C 45:51–52.)
And remembering that life is a time of rewards and punishments, may we consider the positive side today for a while, the rewards which come from him for obedience.
“And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
“And he said unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
“And they straightway left their nets and followed him.” (Matt. 4:18–20.)
And two others, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, followed him.
And two sets of brothers became apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ.
And I assure you that is one of the greatest blessings of all blessings that can come to any man, and honor, too. Exactly 30 years ago today, October 7, 1943, almost to the hour, I knelt at the feet of President Heber J. Grant and I was ordained an apostle of Jesus Christ.
In the 76th revelation called The Vision, blessings are promised:
“That by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power;
“And who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.
“They are they who are the church of the Firstborn.
“They are they into whose hands the Father has given all things—
“They are they who are priests and kings, who have received of his fulness, and of his glory;
“And are priests of the Most High, after the order of Melchizedek, which was after the order of Enoch, which was after the order of the Only Begotten Son.
“Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God—
“Wherefore, all things are theirs, whether life or death, or things present, or things to come, all are theirs and they are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
“And they shall overcome all things.” (D&C 76:52–60.)
“These shall dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever.
“These are they who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just.
“These are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood.” (D&C 76:62, 65, 69.)
“Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing …
“And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee. …” (Matt. 4:23, 25), and other places,
“And seeing the multitudes he went up into a mountain … his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
“Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven. …” (Matt. 5:1–12.)
It seems that Jesus’ heart was always filled with blessings.
As the Prophet Joseph records:
“And thus we saw the glory of the celestial, which excels in all things—where God, even the Father, reigns upon his throne forever and ever;
“Before whose throne all things bow in humble reverence, and give him glory forever and ever.” (D&C 76:92–93.)
“And the glory of the celestial is one, even as the glory of the sun is one.” (D&C 76:96.)
“But great and marvelous are the works of the Lord, and the mysteries of his kingdom which he showed unto us, which surpass all understanding in glory, and in might, and in dominion.” (D&C 76:114.)
“Neither is man capable to make them known, for they are only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit, which God bestows on those who love him, and purify themselves before him;
“To whom he grants this privilege of seeing and knowing for themselves.” (D&C 76:116, 117.)
The revelation of 1832, known as The Vision, begins thus:
“Hear, O ye heavens, and give ear, O earth, and rejoice ye inhabitants thereof, for the Lord is God, and beside him there is no Savior.
“Great is his wisdom, marvelous are his ways, and the extent of his doings none can find out.
“His purposes fail not, neither are there any who can stay his hand.
“From eternity to eternity he is the same, and his years never fail.
“For thus saith the Lord—I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end.
“Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory.” (D&C 76:1–6.)
And when be gives a blessing, he fulfills it; when he makes a promise, it comes to pass. In 1831 the Lord said:
“What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” (D&C 1:38.)
The message of the Lord was love and peace.
As the Lord began to prepare his apostles for his crucifixion, he said, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” (John 14:12.)
And we remember the story of Abraham, when three persons came to him in the Plains of Mamre, and Abraham bowed himself to the ground. They asked, “Where is Sarah, thy wife?” and continued:
“Lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.
“Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.
“Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?
“And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?
“Is any thing too hard for the Lord? … Sarah shall have a son.” (Gen. 18:9–14.)
Certainly nothing is impossible with the Lord. His promises are fulfilled.
In 1833 the Lord made promises which we should never take lightly:
He said, “… the destroying angel shall pass by them … and not slay them,” bringing back to our memory the days of Egypt.
They shall have good health, he said, and strength and power with marrow in their bones and health in their navel.
And perhaps even greater promises than those: “And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures.” (See D&C 89:18–21.)
All these blessings to all of us who remember the sayings and walk in obedience.
“If ye love me, keep my commandments,” he told his people constantly. (John 14:15.)
There are depths in the sea which the storms that lash the surface into fury never reach. They who reach down into the depths of life where, in the stillness, the voice of God is heard, have the stabilizing power which carries them poised and serene through the hurricane of difficulties.
There are so many beautiful promises. To read the scriptures and turn the pages, and it seems that it is almost all rewards, evidence of living the commandments of the Lord.
And another solemn promise came from the Lord:
“And [he that liveth in righteousness] shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye. …” (D&C 101:31.)
“Hearken ye to these words. Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Treasure these things up in your hearts, and let the solemnities of eternity rest upon your minds.
“Be sober. Keep all my commandments.” (D&C 43:34, 35.)
Another blessing promised:
“For in mine own due time will I come upon the earth in judgment, and my people shall be redeemed and shall reign with me on earth.” (D&C 43:29.)
From the Psalms we have this promised blessing. He said:
“The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. …
“Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?
“He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; … He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” (Ps. 24:1–5.)
Then in our own dispensation comes this great reward:
“For all who will have a blessing at my hands shall abide the law which was appointed for that blessing.” (D&C 132:5.)
Then he speaks about the blessings of eternity. He said of those who keep the commandments and live worthily:
“… and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.
“Then shall they be gods, because they have no end … then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them …
“… if ye receive me in the world, then shall ye know me, and shall receive your exaltation; that where I am ye shall be also.” (D&C 132:19, 20, 23.)
To the children of Israel he spoke. He promises this to us today.
“For I will have respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you.
“And ye shall eat old store, and bring forth the old because of the new.
“And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you.
“And I will walk among you, and be your God, and ye shall be my people.” (Lev. 26:9–12.)
And as he left them, he promised:
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27.)
All this—what more could be desired or asked for? All these blessings and numerous others to every one of us who is willing to live the commandments and be truthful and honorable in our dealings.
I bear witness that God has given us conditionally all these and thousands of other good things. He has organized his true church upon the earth. This is his church. He has given us the total program which will carry us forward toward perfection; and he has given us prophets to lead and guide us. And President Harold B. Lee today is the leader of this kingdom and this people, and he is a prophet of God. This I know. To this I bear solemn witness in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.