“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me.” —John 5:39
Today youth and many adults have questions for which they are earnestly seeking true answers in order that they might give direction to their lives and find peace, success, and the happiness for which all men yearn. Some of these questions have been asked by mankind through the ages, such as: “Where did I come from?” “Why am I here?” “Where am I going?”
The questions seem to multiply as individuals join groups or move on to college and university campuses, where new questions constantly arise and doubts are increased. The uninformed turn to learned men and women who are employed to teach and help answer the needs of their students. But too often it seems that many professors strive only to find the answers to scientific questions, devoting their whole time to the material side of life and ignoring the spiritual, accepting nothing that cannot be proven by scientific methods or that cannot be seen or felt or proven through experience.
Too often these pseudo-intellectuals tend to ignore or ridicule anything of a spiritual or religious nature. They seem to feel as though it were beneath their dignity to find answers to questions pertaining to man’s relationship to God, the purpose of his mission here upon the earth, how he can be most happy, and how he can prepare himself to go back into the presence of God and enjoy eternal life. It is sad but true that all too often the intellectuals to whom our youth turn and listen have never been taught or have never bothered to learn for themselves the complete truth or the right answers to the questions of life. Because of their lack of interest in spiritual things, they give false information and often ridicule those who have spirituality and a belief in God. They say one should keep an open mind and learn all the truth one can, yet they close their minds when it comes to the subject of religion.
I want to emphasize too that a scientist who is trained in one field of science is not always an authority in another field. How ridiculous it is, then, for one who is learned in the things of this world to consider himself an authority in religion, or to think that his lack of learning in religion or understanding of the gospel is justification for him to claim that it is not true and to ridicule those who believe.
Jesus, when asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” called a little child and said, “Verily, I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
“Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
“And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matt. 18:1–6.)
Let none of us be guilty of offending or destroying the faith of any of God’s children.
If teachers only knew it, they could find enlightenment in the scriptures on any subject they might be teaching. Through accepting and living the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ, they would be entitled to the additional light and knowledge that comes through the Holy Ghost and the Spirit of God by which a man may know the truth of all things. Their learning would be enhanced and their ability to impart and instruct would be greatly increased as the gifts of the Spirit worked upon them. These gifts are enumerated in the scriptures.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has always taught that the glory of God is intelligence and that a man can be saved no faster than he gains knowledge. It also encourages its members to “seek … first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:33), with the understanding that all things for their good will be added unto them.
The scriptures tell us: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Prov. 3:5–6.)
The Savior has assured us that if we ask, it shall be given; if we seek, we shall find; and if we knock, it shall be opened unto us. (Matt. 7:7.) This is an open invitation to all people to call upon him in prayer. For answers in the field of science, go to the best authority in the field in which you are interested; but for answers to such vital questions as “Who am I and why am I here?” go to an authority in the field of religion and study the word of the Lord as recorded in the scriptures. Go to God through prayer, and listen to the prophet’s voice.
As President Lee has explained, “Within the revealed gospel of Jesus Christ, and from the teachings of our Church leaders, may be found the answer to every question and the solution of every problem essential to the social, temporal, and spiritual welfare of human beings who are all the children of God, our Eternal Father.”
The most important need in the world today is faith in God and in his Son, Jesus Christ. It is the most basic of all motivating forces. One eminent Ph.D. who had recently lost his mother in death is reported to have admonished his students to keep their faith. He said: “Those of you who have discarded faith in God will live to regret it. There are times such as this when science is entirely inadequate. I commend you to think seriously about these matters. Faith gives comfort and solace which can be obtained in no other way. Many have discarded religion because it appears unscientific. I believe you will find in the last analysis that faith is scientific.”
Scientists who acknowledge God as a personal God and who accept the scriptures as the word of God may enjoy all scientific principles and scholastic training and progress as rapidly and as far as any other scientist. At the same time they can enjoy another and more important side of life that adds greatly to their peace of mind. With this added dimension, their progress and success and happiness will be even greater. You have heard of the man who always scoffed at the idea of God and prayer but who, when rescued from threatened destruction, cried, “Thank God!” And another who, when disaster struck, involuntarily prayed, “God help us!” There is no atheist in a foxhole.
The scriptures have been given to us as our guide, the blueprint of life. They give us a clear understanding that man is made in the image of God and that he has been placed here upon the earth as a mortal being with a body, to learn and prepare and prove himself to be worthy to go back into the presence of our Heavenly Father. We must accept and live according to the teachings of the scriptures if we want the promised blessings, or we can reject them and suffer the promised consequences.
It is most difficult for me to understand why a man refuses to accept the word of God, the Creator of the world, and has the temerity to discourage the faith and belief of others. Surely no one has the authority, the knowledge, the understanding and ability, or the facts that the Creator himself has. Any scientist acknowledges that science does not have all the answers and that there must have been some organizing intelligence, and further, more and more scientists are reconciling science and religion. Why not then accept the scriptures on faith alone, or on the evidence of their correctness by the prophecies that have been and are being fulfilled so completely?
One graphic illustration of this is found in the Book of Mormon account of the prophetic utterances and happenings concerning the birth of the Savior. For many years the prophets had been telling of the signs and conditions that would usher in this great event until the unbelievers began to say that the time was past for the words of the prophets to be fulfilled. They finally set a day that all who believed in the traditions should be put to death “except the sign should come to pass, which had been given by Samuel the prophet.” (3 Ne. 1:9.)
We are told that Nephi “cried mightily unto the Lord,” and that very night the sign was given; and when there was no darkness at the going down of the sun, as had been prophesied, the unbelievers fell to the earth in great fear, knowing that the Son of God must shortly be born, as indeed he was.
Such episodes have been numerous in ecclesiastical and secular history. When the people fail to heed the word of the Lord and the prophets, disaster comes to those who scoff and fail to prepare according to the warnings that are given.
No one has ever been able to refute the testimonies of all the recorded instances where prophets, individuals, and groups have testified of hearing and seeing the Savior himself, and often under miraculous circumstances, giving further evidence of his power and glory.
Daniel, one of the Old Testament prophets, records a most forceful and vivid account of his testimony of the reality of God and his concern for and dealings with his children. We recall that King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that none of his wise men or astrologers or magicians could interpret, and in his anger the king decreed that they should all be put to death. This included Daniel, who sought the Lord in earnest prayer, and God revealed to him the dream and the interpretation. In his relief, Daniel exclaimed:
“Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his:
“And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:
“He revealeth the deep and secret things: he knoweth what is in the darkness, and the light dwelleth with him.” (Dan. 2:20–22.)
Daniel went to the king and told him the dream and interpretation as it had been revealed to him by God. Then the king humbly said: “Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.” (Dan. 2:47.)
We have the scriptures, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the experiences and testimonies of thousands of faithful people of integrity and unquestionable character. We have the priesthood of God; we have a prophet of God in our midst through whom the Lord speaks today. “And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.” (D&C 68:4.)
I challenge anyone to give better answers or better solutions to life’s problems or to give sounder doctrines than are found in the scriptures and the revelations of God through his prophets. The best-trained mind in the world and the keenest student of science will never be able to answer or explain the relationship of man to God without accepting the teachings of Jesus Christ, who, under the direction of God, was the Creator of the world.
There is suddenly a plea echoing across the land from many disillusioned young people who are earnestly searching for the truth and a solid foundation on which to base their hopes, their dreams, and their aspirations for a peaceful world in which they can establish their own families and give their children a security that many of them have not known. These are the words of one young girl, Cherry Boone:
“I’m 18 years old and I am in my freshman year at a well-known California university. I’m terribly concerned because I’ve suddenly become aware, from firsthand experience, of the millions of kids who, like myself, are being bombarded by philosophies that are 180 degrees from the teachings of Jesus.
“Students by the hundreds of thousands are confused and bewildered—they don’t know where to turn. Even the campus ministers, many of whom participate in campus disruptions, tell them the traditional gospel of Jesus Christ is out of date—today’s religion must be ‘relevant.’
“How has this happened? How can such a turnabout take place in a nation that was founded on Christian principles?
“I’m afraid the answer is painfully simple—too many of us Christians have neglected our responsibility. We’ve forgotten that Christians are to be ‘doers of the Word,’ and not hearers only.
“Members of my ‘generation’ are drowning hopelessly in the barrage of unchristian ideologies. Somebody’s got to take the initiative and provide them with the help they so desperately need!”
The following are excerpts from an article in the May 23, 1973, Daily Utah Chronicle at the University of Utah, entitled “Swan Song,” by Bill Marling:
“Four years ago I arrived on this campus as, more or less, a child. I believed in a great many abstractions; like freedom, the basic good of man, like leaders, democracy, America, definitely in education imparted by institutions of higher learning, even perhaps in a God. I think now that I was very naive and hopeful then. …
“Nowadays I find that, for myself, my loyalties have become all twisted around. If asked to choose between my country and my friend, I’d choose my friend without a moment’s hesitation, no matter how short the time I knew him or how high the stakes. I feel infinitely more loyal to immediate concrete things—like the redbud tree in my father’s yard, or the Escalante Canyon—than to any giant abstraction like Democracy, God, America, Freedom or Religion.
“I find myself with this un-American set of values because of the things I learned in the last four years.”
With all the evidence about us, how can anyone question the need for the teaching of sound doctrine, for a return to Christian ethics and principles, for teachers who are inspired by the Spirit of God to know and understand the truth of what they are teaching? But we must begin in the home. Parents must themselves read and then encourage their children to read and study the scriptures and seek for the right answers in the right places. Youth must be fortified in the home in order to meet the challenges and opposition they will face as they go out into the world. The word of the Lord is clear on this point: “… I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.” (D&C 93:40.)
Anyone who, with an open mind and a prayerful heart, will give as much attention to the teachings of Jesus Christ as to scientific and academic studies will keep his faith. Doubt, skepticism, and unbelief are weapons of the adversary, enemies of righteousness, and barriers that stand in the way of growth and progress. Do not be afraid or ashamed to learn of God and the teachings of Jesus Christ.
But reading and knowing the scriptures is not sufficient. It is important that we keep the commandments—be doers of the word and not hearers only. The great promise that the Lord has given us should be sufficient incentive for us to acknowledge him and do his will:
“And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones;
“And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;
“And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.
“And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them.” (D&C 89:18–21.)
May this glorious promise be fulfilled in our behalf as we search the scriptures and find the way to eternal life.
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