Bishop Keith B. McMullin
CEO, Deseret Management Corporation
Keith Brigham McMullin has been the Chief Executive Officer of Deseret Management Corporation since April 2012. He served in the Presiding Bishopric of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1995 to 2012 with worldwide ecclesiastical and business responsibilities.
Previously, he served as managing director of the Church's Welfare Services activities. He had earlier been with Ford Motor Company and also managed several small businesses. He is a banking and finance graduate of the University of Utah.
He married Carolyn Jean Gibbs and they are parents of 8 children and 26 grandchildren.
Several weeks ago, I awoke early and began preparing for a meeting that was to take place in a distant city. While preparing, the most unusual thought came into my mind. It was this: "Judah and Joseph are going to meet today." The thought caused me to wonder, "What did it mean?" Then, as is so often the case with us mortals, the press of time overwhelmed the "thought for the day," and I was soon on a plane winging to my appointment.
Upon landing, my colleagues and I made our way through the airport to the car and driver that had been arranged for. As we approached the vehicle, our driver, Eric (not his real name), greeted us, helped with our bags, and made certain we were comfortably situated. I was in the passenger seat next to him, and as he prepared to pull away from the curb I asked: "Eric, are you a believer?"
It was obvious that the question took him by surprise, but he was polite, thought for a moment, then somewhat awkwardly began to answer: "Well," he said, "I am Jewish, and suppose..." Sensing his discomfort, I continued: "You see, Eric, we are going to an important meeting, and we are believers. With your permission, we would like to pray. Is it alright with you if, before you pull away from the curb, we have a prayer together here in your car?" Eric readily agreed, a dear friend of mine said the prayer, and we proceeded on our way.
Later that day, Eric drove some of us back to the airport. In the course of the return trip we learned about him, his work, his wife and family, and some of his hopes in life. Then the conversation went something like this: "Eric, you must have really wondered about us this morning when I asked if you are a believer."
Eric replied: "I have thought about that question throughout the day. As I said, I am Jewish. Some days I believe there is a God. Other days, I am not sure."
He was genuine and open in his answer. My heart was deeply moved. I explained to him the impression that had come over me earlier that morning about Judah and Joseph. "Eric," I said, "you are from Judah, we are from Joseph, and we have met as described. We want you to know there is a God in Heaven. He is our Heavenly Father, and we are all His sons and daughters. On this truth you can rely." At parting, Eric accepted my business card and the invitation to come to Utah and allow us to show him some of the things he might otherwise not see.
We are all a bit like Eric—sometimes we act as we know; on other occasions we are uncertain. Mortality is the time to cure this problem, for every accountable mortal faces three certainties: death, resurrection and judgment. We make a huge mistake if we allow the forces of time and circumstance to crowd from our consciousness these three inevitable happenings. As one beloved apostle observed: "Truly, of all the errors mortals could make, God's plan of salvation is the wrong thing to be wrong about! No error could be more enormous or more everlasting in its consequences!"1
We acknowledge the irrevocable truth that each of us will die. Smart lifestyle choices may postpone it for some, while for others it may come in budding infancy or the prime of life. But come it will. Regardless of time or circumstance there is no uncertainty for any of us about death. Whether protracted or in the "twinkling of an eye"2, it will happen to each of us. And while there is no need to worry about it, there is ample reason to prepare for it.
There is nothing more central to our faith and future than the holy resurrection. It "is the center point of hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most glorious of all messages to mankind."3
From the Prophet Joseph Smith we have this declaration: "The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it."4
Of this sacred event, President Thomas S. Monson has said, "The most glorious, comforting, and reassuring of all events of human history [is Christ's] victory over death. The pain and agony of Gethsemane and Calvary had been wiped away. The salvation of mankind had been secured. The Fall of Adam had been reclaimed.
"The empty tomb that first Easter morning was the answer to Job's question, 'If a man die, shall he live again?' To all within the sound of my voice, I declare, if a man die, he shall live again. We know, for we have the light of revealed truth."5
The evidences of this sacred event are numerous and unassailable. There is the witness of ancient scripture, setting forth with clarity what would occur, and Christ's resurrection happened as scripturally attested.6 Our Lord died publicly, undeniably, and mercilessly upon the cross. It took place under the public gaze of family, disciples, and perpetrators alike. He gave up the ghost—into our Father's hands He commended His spirit. His body hung lifeless for all to see.
His body was then removed from the cross, carried and reverentially placed in a rock hewn tomb owned by one Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the Sanhedrin, a senator of some repute. The burial is a matter of public record.7 The entry to the tomb was sealed by a stone, heavy and solid, and presumably impossible for woman or man to move. Even a Roman guard of several soldiers was posted to further ensure that all would know—Jesus of Nazareth was dead and buried.
Within but a few hours of this very public event, women of faith approached the tomb, "found the stone rolled away...and two angels standing by it in shining garments.
And they entered into the sepulcher, and not finding the body of the Lord Jesus, they were much perplexed thereabout;
And were affrighted, and bowed down their faces to the earth. But behold the angels said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?
He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you ...Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.
And they remembered his words.8
Jesus Christ was resurrected. He had burst the fetters of the grave. He had passed from mortality to immortality.
In the days and weeks to come, this would be affirmed again and again by thousands of people in different hemispheres. They would see Him, touch Him, listen to Him, eat and drink with Him, be blessed by Him. The Only Begotten of God the Eternal Father in the flesh, became "...the first begotten of the dead."9 Thereafter, as further witness, "the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept [or who had died] arose, and came out of the graves...and appeared unto many."10
Because of our Lord, Jesus Christ, we are all going to get out of this life alive. The scriptures, ancient and modern, are replete with testimonials and evidences affirming the truth that all of us will resurrect. There is no end to this experience called life. There is no "nothingness" we can go to and be unaccountable for anything or untroubled by truth or severed from tomorrow's opportunities. Quite the opposite! In the words of the Psalmist:
I will extol thee, O Lord; for thou hast lifted me up...thou hast healed me...thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. For his anger kindleth against the wicked; they repent, and in a moment it is turned away, and they are in his favor, and he giveth them life; therefore, weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.11
As we have noted, the scriptures and personal witnesses affirm the resurrection of Christ and the truth that all men and women, boys and girls, will also resurrect. It seems to me, a point of great importance to note, that in many such accounts, the absolutely certain events of resurrection and judgment are linked. Here are some examples:
"...the atonement bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead; and 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..."12
"...the bodies and the spirits of men will be restored one to the other; and it is by the power of the resurrection of the Holy One of Israel."And . . . when all men shall have passed from this first death unto life, . . . they must appear before the judgment-seat of the Holy One of Israel; and then cometh the judgment, and then must they be judged according to the holy judgment of God."13
"...the power of the redemption and the resurrection, which is in Christ, will bring you to stand...before the bar of God..."14For us all, resurrection is the time of restoration—a restoration of body and spirit and a restoration to the mental and spiritual acquirements and attitudes attained in this life.15 The scriptures say: "O, my son...the meaning of the word restoration is to bring back again evil for evil, or carnal for carnal, or devilish for devilish—good for that which is good; righteous for that which is righteous; just for that which is just; merciful for that which is merciful.
"Therefore, my son, see that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually; and if ye do all these things...ye shall have mercy restored unto you again; ye shall have justice restored unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you again; and ye shall have good rewarded unto you again."For that which ye do send out shall return unto you again, and be restored..."16
The day of judgment is the moment when what we desired most, what we worked for most, what we loved most, we receive in measured fullness. And the final day of judgment inexorably follows the resurrection.
"It is requisite with the justice of God," said Alma, "that men should be judged according to their works; and if their works were good in this life, and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be restored unto that which is good."And if their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil...for behold, they are their own judges, whether to do good or do evil."17
It should be evident, however, that we needn't wait until the day of final judgment—the formal occasion when every soul will stand before the judgment bar—to learn what the verdict is. We can know that bit-by-bit, day-by-day by the behavior we choose. Therefore, the prospects of resurrection and judgment day can and should guide the daily realities of our lives.
One day, while reflecting upon this subject, the notion flooded over me—"Make an appointment!" This is not as curious as at first it may seem. We are accustomed to making appointments for everything. An appointment is little more than deciding to do something at a certain time. Consciously or subconsciously, formally or informally, we do it daily with ourselves and others. In many ways appointments govern our lives, and the more important they are to us, the more attentive we are to them.
Moved by this prompting, I made an appointment—I decided: on resurrection morning, I am going to be there!
After making this appointment in my mind, I became aware I did not want to be there without Carolyn. So I said to her: "I have made an appointment. On the morning of the first resurrection I have decided to be there. Will you join me?" She readily agreed and made a similar entry into her calendar of life.
This is an appointment over which each of us has complete control. Such are the divine workings of agency, accountability and the atonement of our Savior. In fact, no one else is going to make this appointment for us. We alone have the power to make this most crucial decision. And time's a wasting.
The fullness of all good things, the substance of which an eternal, exalted life is made, come to those present on the morning of the first resurrection. I ask you, therefore, this question: Where will you be on resurrection morning?
In a cemetery near our home, there stands a head stone designating the burial spot of a beloved father. In addition to the name and dates of birth and death are also engraved the words: "Goodnight. See you in the morning." Can you see the profound, stirring message of this simple epithet?
Decide today that you will be present on the morning of the first resurrection. Write it down in the calendars of your heart and mind. Make it guide your daily routines. Do not question, postpone, or change the appointment. Keep it and you, with the Lord's help, will make up any deficiencies that may exist. After all, you do have a lifetime to get ready.
There is a pathway that leads to this appointment. Put your feet on that path and you will arrive on time. In the words of Elder Bruce R. McConkie, it works this way:
You get on the path that's named the 'straight and narrow.' You do it by entering the gate of repentance and baptism. The straight and narrow path leads from the gate of repentance and baptism, a very great distance to a reward that's called eternal life. If you're on that path and pressing forward, and you die, you'll never get off the path. There is no such thing as falling off the straight and narrow path in the life to come, and the reason is that this life is the time that is given to men to prepare for eternity. Now is the time and the day of your salvation, so if you're working zealously in this life—though you haven't fully overcome the world and you haven't done all you hoped you might do—you're still going to be saved...
What you have to do is stay in the mainstream of the Church and live as upright and decent people live in the Church—keeping the commandments, paying your tithing, serving in the organizations of the Church, loving the Lord, staying on the [strait] and narrow path. If you're on that path when death comes—because this is the time and the day appointed, this is the probationary estate—you'll never fall off from it, and, for all practical purposes, your calling and election is made sure. Now, that isn't the definition of that term, but the end result will be the same.18
Said President Brigham Young:
There is no spirit but what was pure and holy when it came here from the celestial world... He is the Father of our spirits; and if we could know, understand, and do His will, every soul would be prepared to return back into His presence. And when they get there, they would see that they had formerly lived there for ages, that they had previously been acquainted with every nook and corner, with the palaces, walks, and gardens; and they would embrace their Father, and He would embrace them and say, 'My son, my daughter, I have you again;' and the child would say, 'O my Father, my Father, I am here again.'19
Mortal life is like unto the traveler on a homeward journey. The miles seem long, the minutes slow, the events of the day protracted and tedious. Eventually, however, familiar scenes come into view. They may be hills or valleys, country landscapes or towering buildings, a teeming thoroughfare or a quiet neighborhood street. Whatever the scene, its familiarity quickens the traveler's step, invigorates his wearied soul, and restores sweet feelings of anticipation, hope and peace.
The resurrection is the sure and certain destination of every creature. Our Eternal Father wants us home, and the way to the resurrection is through Christ the Lord. Though the resurrection is the same for all, time and judgment and eternal blessings are as varied as we mortals are.
With all the power of which I am capable, I bear witness to the truthfulness of these things. The fullness of all good things, the substance of true joy, exaltation, and eternal life, come to those present on the morning of the first resurrection. So make your appointment today and keep it. Let this journey take you back where you belong. Recalling a familiar refrain, I leave with you with this testimonial:
O my Father, thou that dwellest
In the high and glorious place,
I do yearn to once again be
With Thee, and behold Thy face.
Then shall I, in adoration,
Bow before my Savior dear,
Thank Him for His great Atonement,
Wash His feet with many tears.
And with grateful heart a-swelling,
Seeing I am not alone,
Will feel Thy love and hear Thy greeting—
Sons and daughters, welcome home!20
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
1. Neal A. Maxwell, "The Great Plan of the Eternal God," Ensign, May 1984, p.22
2. D&C 43:32, see also 3 Nephi 28:8
3. Bible Dictionary, p. 761
4. History of the Church, 3:30; from an editorial published in Elder's Journal, July 1838, p. 44; Joseph Smith was the editor of the periodical
5. He Is Risen, Thomas S. Monson, Ensign, May 2010
6. Acts 3:18; Luke 24:27
7. Luke 23:50-53
8. JST 24:2-4, Luke 24:6-7
9. Revelation 1:5
10. Matthew 27:52-53; see also 3 Nephi 23:9-14
11. JST Psalm 30:1-5
12. Alma 42:23
13. 2 Nephi 9:12, 15
14. Jacob 6:9
15. Mormon Doctrine, p. 641
16. Alma 41:13-15, 42: 27-28; see also Alma 40 and D&C 130:18-19
17. Alma 41:3-4, 7
18. Elder Bruce R. McConkie, "The Probationary Test of Mortality," Salt Lake Institute of Religion Devotional, Jan. 10, 1982, 12.
19. Journal of Discourses; 4:268