As young parents, Brother and Sister Samad learned the gospel of Jesus Christ in their simple two-room home in Semarang, Indonesia.1 Seated around a small table, with a dim light that seemed to provide more mosquitoes than illumination, two young missionaries taught them eternal truths. Through sincere prayer and the guidance of the Holy Ghost, they came to believe what they were taught and chose to be baptized and become members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That decision, and their pattern of living since, has blessed Brother and Sister Samad and their family in every aspect of their lives.2
They are among the early pioneer Saints in Indonesia. Later they received the ordinances of the temple, and Brother Samad served as the branch president and then district president, driving throughout Central Java to fulfill his responsibilities. For the past decade, he has served as the first patriarch of the Surakarta Indonesia Stake.
As one of the missionaries in that humble, faith-filled home 49 years ago, I have witnessed in them what King Benjamin taught in the Book of Mormon: “I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual.”3 The blessings that flow into the lives of those who follow the example and teachings of Jesus Christ, who choose to be counted among His disciples, are numerous, joyful, and eternal.4
Alma’s baptismal covenant invitation to those gathered at the Waters of Mormon begins with this phrase: “Now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God.”5
A fold, or sheepfold, is a large enclosure, often constructed with stone walls, where the sheep are protected at night. It has only one opening. At the end of the day, the shepherd calls the sheep. They know his voice, and through the gate they enter the safety of the fold.
The people of Alma would have known that shepherds stand at the narrow opening of the fold so that when the sheep enter, they are numbered6 and their wounds and ailments noted and cared for one by one. The safety and well-being of the sheep depend on their willingness to come into the fold and to stay in the fold.
Among us there may be some who feel they are at the edge of the flock, perhaps thinking they are less needed or valued or that they don’t belong in the fold. And, as in the sheepfold, in the fold of God we sometimes step on one another’s toes and need to repent or forgive.
But the Good Shepherd7—our true shepherd—is always good. Within the fold of God, we experience His watchful, nurturing care and are blessed to feel His redeeming love. He said, “I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.”8 Our Savior has graven upon His palms our sins, pains, afflictions,9 and all that is unfair in life.10 All are welcome to receive these blessings, as they “are desirous to come”11 and choose to be in the fold. The gift of agency is not simply the right to choose; it is the opportunity to choose the right. And the walls of the fold are not a constraint but a source of spiritual safety.
Jesus taught that there is “one fold, and one shepherd.”12 He said:
“He that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. …
“And the sheep hear his voice … ,
“… and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.”13
Jesus then stated, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved,”14 teaching clearly that there is only one way into the fold of God and only one way to be saved. It is by and through Jesus Christ.15
We learn how to come into the fold from the word of God, which is the doctrine taught by Jesus Christ and His prophets.16 When we follow the doctrine of Christ and come into the fold through faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism and confirmation, and continuing faithfulness,17 Alma promised four specific, personal blessings. You may (1) “be redeemed of God,” (2) “be numbered with those of the first resurrection,” (3) “have eternal life,” and (4) the Lord will “pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you.”18
After Alma taught about these blessings, the people clapped their hands for joy. Here’s why:
First: To redeem means to pay off a debt or obligation or to free from what distresses or harms.19 No amount of personal improvement on our part can make us clean from the sins we have committed or whole from the wounds we have suffered without the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He is our Redeemer.20
Second: Because of Christ’s Resurrection, all will be resurrected.21 After our spirits depart our mortal bodies, we will undoubtedly look forward to when we can again with a resurrected body embrace those we love. We will eagerly look forward to being among those of the First Resurrection.
Fourth: The companionship of a member of the Godhead, the Holy Ghost, provides much-needed guidance and comfort during this mortal life.24
Consider some causes of unhappiness: misery comes from sin,25 sadness and loneliness from the death of a loved one, and fear from the uncertainty of what happens when we die. But when we enter the fold of God and keep our covenants with Him, we feel the peace of knowing and trusting that Christ will redeem us from our sins, that the separation of our body and spirit will end more quickly, and that we will live eternally with God in a most glorious manner.
Brothers and sisters, the scriptures are filled with examples of the Savior’s majestic power and His compassionate mercy and grace. During His earthly ministry, His blessings of healing came to those who trusted Him and acted in faith. For example, the infirm man at the pool of Bethesda walked when, with faith, he followed the Savior’s command to “rise, take up thy bed, and walk.”26 Those who were sick or afflicted in any manner in the land of Bountiful were healed when “with one accord” they “did go forth.”27
Similarly, to receive the marvelous blessings promised to those who come into the fold of God requires us to do just that—we need to choose to come. Alma the Younger taught, “And now I say unto you that the good shepherd doth call after you; and if you will hearken unto his voice he will bring you into his fold.”28
Several years ago a dear friend passed away from cancer. When his wife, Sharon, first wrote about his diagnosis, she said: “We Choose Faith. Faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ. Faith in our Heavenly Father’s plan, and faith that He knows our needs and fulfills His promises.”29
I have met many Latter-day Saints like Sharon who feel the inward peace of being securely within the fold of God, especially when temptation, opposition, or adversity comes.30 They have chosen to have faith in Jesus Christ and to follow His prophet. Our dear prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, has taught, “Everything good in life—every potential blessing of eternal significance—begins with faith.”31
My great-great-great-grandfather James Sawyer Holman came to Utah in 1847, but he wasn’t among those to arrive in July with Brigham Young. He came later that year and, according to family records, was responsible to bring the sheep. He didn’t reach the Salt Lake Valley until October, but he and the sheep made it.32
Figuratively speaking, some of us are still on the plains. Not everyone arrives in the first group. My dear friends, please continue the journey—and help others—to come fully into the fold of God. The blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ are immeasurable because they are eternal.
I am profoundly grateful to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I bear witness of the love of our Heavenly Father and our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, and of the peace that comes only from Them—the inner peace and the blessings found in the fold of God. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.