Brother David Frischknecht
Director of the Church Curriculum Department
"Knowing, Remembering and Serving the Lord"
July 13, 2004
In this month’s edition of the Ensign and Liahona magazines, the First Presidency message by President Thomas S. Monson includes an experience he had before becoming a General Authority. President J. Reuben Clark of the First Presidency invited him to his office and asked him to read from the New Testament some touching accounts of the Savior’s love and miracles. From Luke he read of a leper who, seeing the Master, “fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him” (Luke 5:12-13).
Continuing, President Monson read another account to President Clark, in which the Son of God healed a man of his palsy and restored his ability to walk. (See “Miracles of Faith,” Ensign, July 2004, 3-4). Listening to the accounts of those two miracles brought a tear to President Clark’s eye. We often have tender feelings and spiritual impressions when we read of the loving ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. I would like to read another account of the Lord’s kindness and mercy. It starts in John chapter 8 verse 1. You may read along if you wish:
Jesus went unto the Mount of Olives.
And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.
And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more (John 8:2-11).
These and other accounts of the Redeemer touch our hearts. In such accounts we see Him helping and loving people individually, personally. He touches one who to others is untouchable. He rescues another from the hands of her tormenters. He leads a blind man by the hand (see Mark 8:23). He goes out of His way to renew the faith of a grieving parent (see Mark 5:35-42). He lifts a lame man whom most people had ignored (see John 5:2-9). Those He helped seemed helpless and hopeless without Him. When we read of His love and care for individuals, we remember that He knows us individually and will help each one of us. How important it is for us to always remember the Son of God and ponder frequently on who He is and what He has done for us.
President Howard W. Hunter taught:
We must know Christ better than we know him; we must remember him more often than we remember him; we must serve him more valiantly than we serve him. Then we will drink water springing up unto eternal life and will eat the bread of life (in Conference Report, Apr. 1994, 84; or Ensign, May 1994, 64).
This afternoon I would like to speak about how we can come to know Him better, remember Him more frequently and vividly, and serve Him more valiantly.
Know Him Better
How well do you know the Redeemer of mankind? How would you explain to someone else who He is - for you?
Anciently the Israelites were careful not to read the name of God aloud. The Bible Dictionary indicates that, “Jehovah was ‘the covenant or proper name of the God of Israel.’ It denotes the ‘Unchangeable One,’ ‘the eternal I AM’ (Exodus 6:3; Psalms 83:18, Isaiah. 12:2; 26:4). The original pronunciation of this name has possibly been lost, as the Jews, in reading, never mentioned it.” To avoid pronouncing His name in former times, they substituted one of the other names of God, usually Adonai (see Bible Dictionary, “Jehovah,” 710–11).
Can you imagine having so much reverence for the name of the God of Israel that you never, ever pronounced His name aloud? If you could not speak His name, how would you refer to Him? How would you describe who He is? What name or expression would you use?
One way we can come to know the Lord better is through studying the names and titles used for Him in the scriptures. The writers of scripture used many names, titles, and descriptions to refer to the Son of God. In many cases they seemed to use the name or title that reinforced the doctrine they were teaching or the action they were encouraging.
For example, the expression “the Holy One of Israel” emphasizes His sanctity and should inspire our reverence and respect. It also recalls His miraculous deliverance of ancient and modern Israel, His covenant people. Another expression, “the Good Shepherd,” reminds us that He cares for and loves us as a true shepherd does his sheep (see John 10:14-15). The Good Shepherd has a fold - the Church, a safe refuge to which He invites us. The Good Shepherd calls after us in His own name (see Alma 5:38). He commands us to keep ravenous wolves away (see 3 Nephi 14:15).
The title “the Lamb of God” connotes His innocence and sacrifice. The Lamb, “without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19), “taketh away the sins of the world [and] is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness” (Alma 7:14). The use of the term “Lamb” must have been particularly poignant for those who lived the law of Moses and sacrificed their lambs in anticipation of the great and last sacrifice. And the expression “the Lamb of God” reminds us who provided the Lamb for that great and last sacrifice.
There are many other names or images that help us understand the Lord. For example, He said He is the Bread of Life (see John 6:48-51). And that Bread is essential to our eternal soul, like physical food is essential to our physical body. He said He is the vine and we are the branches (see John 15:1-8). How does that image help you know Him better? Does it help you understand that we need to be connected to Him to survive, just as branches must be connected to the vine to live and to bear fruit?
In addition to the figurative language that helps us know the Messiah better, we can study the titles that describe His place and service in the plan of happiness. King Benjamin declared that He is “the Creator of all things from the beginning” (Mosiah 3:8), “both in heaven and in earth” (Mosiah 4:9). Lehi referred to Him as “the great Mediator of all men” (2 Nephi 2:27). The Father gave Him “power to make intercession for the children of men,” to stand “betwixt them and justice” (Mosiah 15:8–9), to be our Advocate with the Father and plead our cause before Him (see Doctrine and Covenants 45:3).
The Savior of the world is called the Messiah, the Anointed One, because He was chosen and prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem His people (see Ether 3:14). With each name or image, we learn something more about who He is. Each name or image expresses specific aspects of His character or mission. As we study and ponder His many names, we can learn more about Him and come to know Him better.
Today we pray to the Father in the name of His Son, and perform priesthood ordinances and preach and teach and worship in His name. But, if you were not allowed to pronounce His name aloud, what expression would you use to speak of Him? How would you refer to the Lord God Omnipotent (Mosiah 3:5), the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8), the Author and Finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), the Keeper of the gate (2 Nephi 9:41)?
Remember the Rock of Our Salvation
The names and titles used to describe the Lord not only help us come to know Him better, they also help us remember Him more frequently and more vividly. To demonstrate this I would like to explore how the image of a rock helps us remember Him as our foundation and source of strength, safety, and happiness. This image is especially rich because it helps us call to mind several ways in which the chief cornerstone has helped us. Here are five examples:
- He is called the Rock of our salvation, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation. As a cornerstone provides the principal foundation of a building, the Creator is the foundation or basis of our life here and hereafter. The Psalmist exclaimed,“He only is my rock and my salvation . . . ; I shall not be moved”(Psalm 62:6).
- A rock may be used to provide physical strength to a structure for our safety and refuge; so too the Master and His teachings provide us with spiritual safety and refuge. The Psalmist continued,“In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God”(Psalm 62:7).
- Just as a house built on a rock does not fall in a storm, a person who builds his or her life on faith in the Son of God and on obedience to His word will not fall, regardless of trials, temptations, and troubles. Helaman said,
Remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall (Helaman 5:12).
- The water that poured out of the rock in the desert at Horeb preserved the lives of the ancient Israelites (see Exodus 17:6); the God of Israel is the fountain of all righteousness and grants us living water“springing up into everlasting life”(John 4:14). Paul explained to the Corinthians, “And [they] did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4).
- A rock in a pathway can cause the careless to stumble and fall; the disobedient stumble and fall when they disregard the“Word, even the Son”(JST John 1:16). Peter warned, “[He is] a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient” (1 Peter 2:8).
At the Church Printing Center in Salt Lake City, we have a physical reminder of the importance of building on a rock-solid foundation. Recently a new press was installed at the printing center. It is a web press - a huge machine whose total weight is more than 275,000 pounds. It is called a web press because paper is fed through the five-color printing process from huge rolls rather than in individual sheets. As the paper winds through the process, each primary color is applied one at a time: first yellow, then cyan or blue, then magenta or red, then black, then a final color as necessary. The accurate combination of these colors produces images in full color.
Picture the scene: paper 38 inches wide, fed from huge rolls, traveling through a complex system of printing at a speed of 2,250 feet per minute (about 25 miles per hour). That is fast enough to print 760,000 copies of the monthly edition of the Ensign in just under three days. A crucial factor in the process is that the registration, or alignment, of the paper and the ink must be precise, to tolerance levels of much less than one millimeter. Any external vibration can foil the entire process. The only way such a web press can function properly is if it is planted on a firm base, a sure foundation.
When the current press was installed, construction workers first had to remove the previous floor because it was not strong enough to support the new press. The new base consists of 36 inches of thick, heavily reinforced concrete. On such a solid foundation, the web press stands firm and produces clear, high quality, full-color publications. Without a solid foundation, the output would be, at best, a blur of colors in unfocused images.
We learn two important things from the installation of the Church’s new press: (1) the foundation must be put in place first, and (2) the foundation is the source of strength and support ever after.
In our Heavenly Father’s plan for our eternal life and happiness, One had to be chosen “from the beginning” to provide the foundation of our faith and hope and to be the source of our strength and support: “Behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me - Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever” (Moses 4:2). “Here am I, send me” (Abraham 3:27). The foundation of our faith is captured in this teaching of Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the Restoration: “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” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith , 121).
A little more than a year ago, my father passed away. The day after his passing, my mother, brothers, sister, and I made the necessary visit to the mortuary to make the funeral arrangements and choose a casket and a vault into which the casket would be placed. You may know that our practice today is not to place the casket directly into the bare ground but to put it first in a vault made of concrete or fiberglass. As we considered the options, I noticed a sales pamphlet promoting a certain vault. Among other things, it claimed the vault was self-sealing and that the seal was guaranteed for 75 years. That guarantee amused me. I wondered who would check on the seal 75 years later. And if someone did check on the seal, and it had failed, who would have the right to collect on the guarantee? Later on I continued to wonder, “What are the chances the seal would really hold?”
In a thoughtful moment, my mind was directed to a vault described in Matthew chapter 27, beginning with verse 62. This vault, a sepulchre in a distant time and place, had an opening that was covered by a great stone:
Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,
Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.
Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.
Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.
So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch (Matthew 27:62–66).
Of all the commands ever given in the history of mankind, Pilate’s command to keep the sepulchre sure must have been the very most futile. Ask yourself, “What chance did that sepulchre have of remaining sealed?” There was absolutely no way for the soldiers to carry out that order, because there was absolutely no way that the sepulchre would not open. And it did open: “And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door” (Matthew 28:2). And all the vaults and tombs and sepulchres that have ever been sealed will surely open, guaranteed, because the Rock of our salvation is our deliverer from death and from hell. He is “the resurrection, and the life” (John 11:25). Because of Him “hell must deliver up its captive spirits, and the grave must deliver up its captive bodies, and 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” (2 Nephi 9:12).
How then is the Savior the Rock of our salvation? The Atonement through God’s Beloved Son gives us “strength, that [we] should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it [be] swallowed up in the joy of Christ” (Alma 31:38). Through this Atonement we can “hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works” (Ether 12:4).
Indeed, an image as simple as a rock helps us understand and remember the Redeemer’s foundational saving work in the plan of salvation. We could consider other images and titles that, although related to our everyday experience, remind us of Him who “inhabiteth eternity” (Isaiah 57:15). How is He the Light of the World? How is He the Word, the way, the truth, the life, the King of Kings, the Master, the Servant? Each expression deserves many study sessions; each helps us know Him better and remember Him more frequently and vividly.
Serve Him More Valiantly
On February 4, 1976, at approximately 3:00 a.m., the country of Guatemala was devastated by an earthquake rated 7.5 on the Richter scale. Approximately 25,000 people were killed, most of them when the unreinforced adobe walls of their small homes fell on them in their sleep. The Church’s meetinghouse in the town of Patzicia was well built, not of adobe, but of reinforced concrete footings and reinforced cinder block walls. Painted white, it, like many of our church buildings, stood as a symbol of purity and truth and strength. Yet even though this meetinghouse appeared to be stable, it too was destroyed by the earthquake. Although the foundation was firm and the reinforced walls did not fall, the roof split down the middle, the full length of the building, and caved in. A missionary who had been sleeping on the stage was trapped beneath the fallen roof for more than five hours. Through a heroic rescue, the faith and prayers of many, and the miraculous fulfillment of priesthood blessings, the elder survived the earthquake and eventually stood again to preach the gospel.
Why, do you suppose, did that building made of excellent materials collapse? Careful examination later showed that the roof had not been anchored or tied adequately to the supporting walls. Because of this, the violent movements of the earthquake caused the roof to shift from the supporting walls and crash to the ground.
Like the roof of the Patzicia chapel, many of us may give the outward appearance of being built on a sure foundation. However, if we are not firmly bound to that foundation - the Son of the living God - we do not feel secure and at peace in good times, nor do we have the confidence to stand firm when troubles befall. Some of you have already experienced such troubles: perhaps death has separated you from your father or mother, or you may have suffered the agony of a brother or sister gone astray or met with temptation or illness or disability or some other of a thousand trials. For others, your personal earthquakes still await. Those whose faith in the Lord is firm and whose lives are in order He gladdens with this hope: “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
The prophet Jacob exhorts, “Cleave unto God as he cleaveth unto you” (Jacob 6:5). We cleave to the Lord by serving Him. The Lord explained this in these terms: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). King Benjamin asked rhetorically, “For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served?” (Mosiah 5:13). He pleaded with his people to “be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven” (Mosiah 5:15).
The Saints who built the original Nauvoo Temple are an example of cleaving to the Lord through serving Him valiantly. The principal building material used in the construction of the temple was native grayish-white, fine-grained limestone. It resembled marble and was of excellent quality. Stones varied in size, depending on their use. Some may have weighed as much as two tons.
After the city of Nauvoo was divided into 10 wards, each ward sent a crew to work on the temple once every 10 days. Thousands of Latter-day Saints sacrificed for approximately six years to complete the Nauvoo Temple. (See Don F. Colvin, Nauvoo Temple: A Story of Faith , 52–53, 57.)
Louisa Decker, a young girl, was impressed that her mother sold her china dishes and a fine bed quilt as her temple contribution. Other Latter-day Saints gave horses, wagons, cows, pork, and grain to aid in the temple’s construction. The women of Nauvoo were asked to contribute their dimes and pennies for the temple fund.
Caroline Butler had no pennies or dimes to contribute, but she wanted very much to give something. One day while going to the city in a wagon, she saw two dead buffalo. Suddenly she knew what her temple gift could be. She and her children pulled the long hair from the buffaloes’ manes and took it home with them. They washed and carded the hair and spun it into coarse yarn, then knitted eight pairs of heavy mittens that were given to the rock cutters working on the temple in the bitter winter cold.
Mary Fielding Smith, wife of Hyrum Smith, wrote to Latter-day Saint women in England, who within a year gathered 50,000 pennies, weighing 434 pounds, that were shipped to Nauvoo (Our Heritage: A Brief History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , 59).
Much of the perseverance of our pioneer ancestors can be traced to the blessings they received through serving the Lord of Hosts valiantly by building the temple, then making the covenants and receiving the ordinances in it.
“Erastus Snow summarized the feelings of many as he testified: ‘The Spirit, Power and wisdom of God reigned continually in the Temple and all felt satisfied that during the [short time] we occupied it in the endowments of the Saints, we were amply paid for all our labor in building it’” (Nauvoo Temple: A Story of Faith, 106).
Sarah Rich expressed what the temple blessings meant to her:
The work of giving endowments commenced. President Young chose many brothers and sisters to come to the Temple and assist in giving endowments. Among those chosen was Mr. Rich and myself. We were to be there in the morning and remain until work was done at ten or twelve o’clock at night if necessary. . . . We helped in the House of the Lord to give endowments . . . until the house was closed and we as a people commenced to prepare ourselves to depart to the Rocky Mountains.
Many were the blessings we had received in the House of the Lord which has caused us joy and comfort in the midst of all our sorrows, and enabled us to have faith in God, knowing He would guide us and sustain us in the unknown journey that lay before us. For if it had not been for the faith and knowledge that was bestowed upon us in that Temple by the influence and help of the spirit of the Lord, our journey would have been like one taking a leap in the dark, to start out on such a journey in the winter as it were, in our state of poverty, it would seem like walking into the jaws of death. But we had faith in our Heavenly Father and put our trust in him feeling that we were his chosen people and had embraced his gospel and instead of sorrow we felt to rejoice (in Nauvoo Temple: A Story of Faith, 107–8).
The Saints of all ages who have served their Lord and God have felt this joy. It is the exceeding joy “which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness” (Alma 27:18). It is “the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God” and are “received into heaven [to] dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness” (Mosiah 2:41). It is the joy granted by “him that bringeth good tidings, that is the founder of peace, yea, even the Lord, who has redeemed his people; yea, him who has granted salvation unto his people” (Mosiah 15:18).
Will you please ponder these questions?
- Which names of the Lord are most meaningful to me?
- What am I doing now to anchor my faith and my hope in the Son of God, the Rock of our salvation?
- When the earthquakes of life—the trials and temptations, the sorrows and grief—come upon me and shake me to the core, will I stand firm?
- What shall I do that I may be filled with joy? (See Alma 22:15)
- And finally, what can I do to know Him better than I know Him, remember Him more often than I remember Him, serve Him more valiantly than I serve Him?
I know that the Lord and Savior lives and that He is our Good Shepherd, our rock, our hope, our Redeemer, our all. Let us close with a scripture chain from John, Alma, 3 Nephi, and Doctrine and Covenants section 50. Rather than following along in your own scriptures, perhaps you could listen to the words as if the Savior were saying them to you alone. If you are very quiet inside, you will feel the witness from the Holy Ghost testify to your soul that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He knows you and remembers you and serves you.
“I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
“The good shepherd doth call you; yea, and in his own name he doth call you” (Alma 5:38).
“Will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?
“. . . If ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive. . . .
“. . . I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified his name. . . .
“And as many as have received me, to them have I given to become the sons of God; and even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name, for behold, by me redemption cometh. . . .
“I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end” (3 Nephi 9:13-18).
“I am in your midst, and I am the good shepherd, and the stone of Israel. He that buildeth upon this rock shall never fall” (Doctrine and Covenants 50:44).
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Knowing, Remembering, and Serving the Lord
Audio of Brother David Frischknecht's BYU-Idaho devotional address, spring 2004