BYU Easter Conference: “He Is Risen”
Contributed By Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News staff writer
“Everything about life is manageable—especially the painful parts—because of Him,” Sister Sheri Dew told hundreds of students and community members during the 41st annual BYU Easter Conference on March 25.
Held in the Joseph Smith Building on the Brigham Young University campus on the evening of Good Friday, religious scholars discussed the conference’s theme, “He Is Risen.” In addition to Sister Dew, Daniel K Judd, and Eric D. Huntsman, both professors of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University, spoke during the conference.
“I can stand as a witness of [Christ] because I have received a witness—again and again,” said Sister Dew.
Sister Dew, who is executive vice president of Deseret Management Corporation and CEO of Deseret Book Company and a former general auxiliary leader in the Church, spoke on the topic “Standing as a Witness,” and encouraged listeners to develop an “unyielding spiritual witness that Jesus is the Christ.”
“Intellect alone cannot produce a testimony,” Sister Dew said. “You cannot convince the mind what the heart doesn’t feel.”
Oftentimes that knowledge comes through an “ongoing spiritual wrestle,” she said.
“The Lord can open the eyes of our understandings, he can reveal all mysteries of the wonders of eternity, but He isn’t likely to do any of those unless we ask, seek and ponder,” she said. “He will not force us to progress spiritually.”
Sister Dew shared personal experiences from her life to illustrate her own quest for understanding. Important to her understanding was inspired questions and direction from the Spirit.
“Questions are good because they lead to revelation and they lead to knowledge,” Sister Dew said, adding that “not asking questions of God is far more dangerous than asking them.”
Sister Dew encouraged listeners to ask “enlightened questions” that draw from the Spirit and doctrine. She warned of seeking answers from “likeminded doubters in the bloggersphere” or sources that block revelation.
Questioning can be a great opportunity to strengthen testimony and receive revelation and faith. A foundation of faith that helps a person understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ often comes during or after a struggle. The struggle is where a person gains understanding and becomes a witness of Christ.
“The Savior changed everything for all who are willing to make covenants with Him,” Sister Dew said.
That witness can change a person’s life, she declared. “Everything is possible because of Him.”
Brother Judd spoke of becoming new creatures in Christ, and encouraged listeners in their own “process of becoming.”
He began with a story from his own life when he was a boy who made a wrong choice. He had taken a magazine from a local store without paying and years later while serving a mission felt he needed to apologize and make proper restitution. He decided to write the store owner and send more money than what the magazine would have cost.
A short while later he received a letter from the store owner who forgave him, and explained how he had been disappointed when he saw the young boy take the magazine. In addition to forgiveness from the store owner, the letter contained a check for much more than what Brother Judd had sent to repay his debt.
Just as the store owner had forgiven Brother Judd and offered him more in return, so does Christ in a person’s life. As every person strives to “repent of their sins and be buried with Christ by baptism into death,” they are able to walk in a newness of life, he taught.
“We join with other disciples from around the world and all across time as witnesses of the Atonement, death and the Resurrection of our beloved Savior,” said Brother Judd. “The Atonement of Jesus Christ makes this change possible and has meaning for each of us no matter the degree and nature of our sins.
Although one of the great gifts of the Atonement is forgiveness from sin, a person doesn’t have to sin to feel the redeeming love from the Savior, Brother Judd taught. Feelings of anxiety and despair, any hardship or misfortune can be made right “by His grace.”
The Atonement of Christ is enabling and strengthening, and brings remarkable peace and stability even in difficult times.
Brother Huntsman spoke on the topic “Preaching Jesus Christ, and Him Crucified.”
Recognizing the day as Good Friday—a day commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and His death at Calvary—Brother Huntsman spoke of the significance of that day for all Christian religions.
While members of the Church historically and culturally have not featured the cross in its iconography in a way to focus on the Resurrection—rather than the death—of the Lord, the cross is a crucial element to Easter, Brother Huntsman noted.
“The signs of the crucifixion were so significant that Jesus kept them after the Resurrection,” Brother Huntsman said.
It is through the Savior’s death on the cross that all can find peace, be forgiven and healed through the power of Christ’s grace.