Brothers and sisters, I would like to visit with you for a few moments this afternoon about the resurrection and the importance of going home to our Heavenly Father in a clean condition. Surely there is not much known by the living about the resurrection because neither prophets nor resurrected persons have explained the process to mortals. Only this much: that the atonement of Jesus Christ “bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead” (Alma 42:23), death being the separation of the spirit from the body.
The resurrection has to do with the restoration of the spirit to the body and the body to the spirit. In the words of Alma, “Yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame.” (Alma 40:23.) And why is this done? Again in the words of Alma, “The resurrection of the dead bringeth back men into the presence of God; and thus they are restored into his presence, to be judged according to their works, according to the law and justice.” (Alma 42:23.)
Jacob gives us some idea of what resurrection will be like:
“O how great the plan of our God! For … the paradise of God must deliver up the spirits of the righteous, and the grave deliver up the body of the righteous; and the spirit and the body is restored to itself again, and all men become incorruptible, and immortal, and they are living souls, having a perfect knowledge like unto us in the flesh, save it be that our knowledge shall be perfect.
“Wherefore, we shall have a perfect knowledge of all our guilt, and our uncleanness, and our nakedness; and the righteous shall have a perfect knowledge of their enjoyment, and their righteousness, being clothed with purity, yea, even with the robe of righteousness. …
“And assuredly, as the Lord liveth, for the Lord God hath spoken it, … they who are righteous shall be righteous still, and they who are filthy shall be filthy still; wherefore, they who are filthy are the devil and his angels.” (2 Ne. 9:13–14, 16.)
It seems, then, there is good news and bad news about the resurrection. The good news is that everyone will be resurrected. All will live again! And all who have been righteous (have repented) will still be righteous. The bad news is that he that is filthy (which means the devil and those who have chosen to associate with him) shall be filthy still. Others will receive a lesser glory than the celestial because they have not repented while in the flesh. Therefore, in the resurrection men will be judged. Judgment tells how well we have kept the commandments in the flesh. (See Alma 5:15.)
Then, looking forward to what condition we will be in when we are resurrected, probably the most important commandment is, in the words of the Father, “Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son” and then endure to the end. (2 Ne. 31:11; see also 2 Ne. 31:15.)
In fact, the Master has indicated we should say nothing but repentance to this generation. (See D&C 6:9; D&C 11:9; D&C 14:8; D&C 19:21.) Repentance seems to be the most important experience we can have on this earth to prepare for the resurrection, because “none but the truly penitent are saved.” (Alma 42:24.)
So the question of questions is: What makes people repent? As near as I have been able to determine, once a person has sufficient faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that he believes Christ has paid for his sins, then he will repent. And it seems that very few, if any, will repent until they believe this truth. Therefore, it is vital to teach the truth about Jesus Christ as the literal son of God and our Lord and Savior and Redeemer in order to bring souls to repentance. Faith in Jesus Christ unto repentance is the saving power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. (See Alma 34:16.)
When we experience repentance, we are permitted to make a sacred covenant with God in the waters of baptism. Baptism is for the remission of sins (see D&C 13:1; D&C 68:27), and further, it is a witness before God the Father that we will be obedient unto Him hereafter in keeping His commandments (see 2 Ne. 31:6–7).
Once baptized, we then receive the Holy Ghost, a special gift from God, which is priceless beyond expression. The Holy Ghost bears witness of the Father and the Son and guides us to all truth and comforts us and gives us peace for the rest of our lives. The Holy Ghost is received by the laying on of hands of an elder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the same time we are received into the Church and become “born again”—sons and daughters of Jesus Christ. (See John 1:12; Ether 3:14; Alma 5:49.)
According to the Father, all that is required thereafter is that we endure to the end. (See 2 Ne. 31:15), which means that we will hereafter:
Continue to repent. (See Moses 5:8.)
Continue to forgive others (see D&C 64:9–10) for the rest of our lives.
Perhaps there is one other thing we must do:
We must be nice!
“To be nice” means much more than just to be good. For instance, probably the nicest thing that parents can do for their children is to give them birth under the temple covenant or to be sealed to them thereafter. There is probably nothing of greater value than this. Why? Because it guarantees to the children eternal life—if they remain faithful. And this is true irrespective of what happens to the parents.
The nicest thing that children can do for their parents is to be obedient unto them. (See Col. 3:20.) The nicest gift a father can give to his children is to love their mother and be true to her. Conversely, the nicest gift that a mother can give her children is to love their father and be true to him. Why is this such a nice gift? Well, basically, it assures the children that they will never have to choose between their parents.
The nicest gift that you can give to nonmember friends or acquaintances is to share the gospel with them. This is probably most easily done by having a copy of the Book of Mormon delivered to them by the missionaries. Why the Book of Mormon? Because it is, in the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith, “the most correct … book on earth.” (History of the Church, 4:461.) Why is the Book of Mormon so great? Probably because the “plain and precious” truths that were lost or taken from the Bible were put back or restored in the Book of Mormon. (See 1 Ne. 13:40.) In my opinion, a man can learn more about Jesus Christ by reading the Book of Mormon than any other book.
The nicest thing we can do for a less-active member of the Church is to reach out to them with love and tenderness and kindness and bring them back into activity in the Church so that they can go to the temple, which they must do to prepare for a glorious resurrection.
The nicest thing we can do for the poor is, in the words of King Benjamin, to “impart of [our] substance to [them], … every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.” (Mosiah 4:26.)
When the Lord invites us to return unto him (see Mal. 3:7), He means, in essence, that we repent and return to His commandments, for they are calculated to make us happy and prepare us for the resurrection.
Well! Which commandments do we have to keep? After baptism, let’s start with the Ten Commandments and add the Word of Wisdom and the law of tithing.
Well, what is so important about the Word of Wisdom? If we do not live the Word of Wisdom, we run the risk of killing ourselves. And that’s contrary to the sixth commandment. Here is a statement I took from a package of cigarettes, one of the most popular brands in America: “Surgeon General’s Warning: Smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and may complicate pregnancy.” Sounds like it might kill us, doesn’t it?
What is so important about tithing? If you don’t pay tithing, you are stealing from the Lord (see Mal. 3:8), and that’s contrary to the eighth commandment, and no one has ever prospered doing that. On the other hand, when we pay our tithes and offerings, the Lord gives it all back to us “good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over.” (Luke 6:38.) How is that for a promise?
The Ten Commandments are eternal laws that have not changed from Sinai until now. They are timeless, eternal laws that will never change.
Keeping the Ten Commandments plus paying tithes and keeping the Word of Wisdom after baptism is the standard or guide to continue to repent or, in the words of Nephi, to “feast upon the words of Christ.” (2 Ne. 32:3.) Therefore, if you are not paying tithing, repent and start paying it. If you are not living the Word of Wisdom, repent and start living it. If you are not morally clean, repent and become clean.
Repentance means to confess and forsake sins (see D&C 58:43) and partake of the sacrament, where we renew our baptismal covenant. Then we are clean because we have a Savior who has paid for our sins, but only on condition of our repentance. (See D&C 18:12.)
If you are not keeping the Sabbath day holy, repent and start doing it. If you are not truthful, repent and start telling the truth. If you are not honoring your parents, repent and start honoring your parents. If you are worshipping false gods—such as football, baseball, golf, tennis, or money or technology or automobiles or houses or gold or silver—and you can tell what a man worships by what he does on Sunday—repent and start worshipping the true and living God, the maker of heaven and earth and all things that in them are.
Brothers and sisters, the gospel is easy to live. All we have to do is stay everlastingly at it.
We are here upon the earth to learn how to be happy eternally as we prepare for a glorious resurrection, because man is that he might have joy (see 2 Ne. 2:25), and we receive our blessings from him whom we list to obey (see Alma 3:27; D&C 29:45).
Isn’t it just smart to follow the Lord? In fact, there is no other way, for the Lord God hath spoken it, and He never doth vary from that which He hath said. (See Mosiah 2:22.)
My brothers and sisters, I am a witness before God that He lives and hears and answers prayers. I bear witness that He sent His Son Jesus Christ to pay the price for sin, which He did, and to break the bands of death, which He also did. I know that it is only through Him that we live and move and have our being, that His is the only name given under heaven among men whereby we must be saved or made clean. (See 2 Ne. 31:21; Mosiah 3:17; Acts 4:12.) I know that this church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is the only true church on earth, with which the Lord is well pleased—speaking collectively and not individually. These things I don’t just believe—I know them. I also bear record that Ezra Taft Benson is a living, breathing prophet of God.
If I have done anything or said anything that has offended anyone within hearing today, I am truly sorry and I humbly beg your forgiveness, for surely the central truth of the gospel is “none but the truly penitent are saved” (Alma 42:24), to which I bear witness and express to you my love, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.