“Choose you this day whom ye will serve: … but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Josh. 24:15.)
My purpose in this message is to emphasize the fact that this life is, for us mortals, a day of decisions, and to point out the need for us to make the right choices, and to make them now.
The earth was made and man placed upon it for this purpose.
Men are eternal beings, spirit children of God. They were born to Him in the spirit world. There they dwelt with Him before the earth was. Their destiny is to continue to live on eternally after mortal death.
We are endowed by our creator with agency. While in mortality, we live between powerful forces—the force of good and the force of evil. Between the two we must choose. There is no escape.
The Spirit of Christ enlightens “every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.
On the other hand, everyone who reaches the age of accountability is tempted of the devil and his angels to reject the guidance of the Spirit of Christ and follow them.
The conflict began in Eden and still rages.
Following their expulsion from the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were taught the gospel by heavenly beings and were instructed by the Lord to teach their children. This they did. Then “Satan came among them, saying: … Believe it not; and they believed it not, and they loved Satan more than God. And men began from that time forth to be carnal, sensual, and devilish.” (Moses 5:13.)
This has been the pattern now for nearly 6,000 years. In each gospel dispensation, men have rejected the gospel and as a consequence have sunk into apostasy, debauchery, and darkness. In each dispensation, the true nature of the Godhead—the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—has been revealed anew. The fundamental principles and ordinances have also been revealed anew and emphasized. The importance of complying with gospel teachings has been stressed.
The blessings that follow obedience to gospel teachings have been revealed and the consequences of disobedience have always been foretold. The predictions have always been fulfilled.
The one society through all human history which has continued to “hearken to the voice of [the] Spirit” (D&C 112:22), never yielding to the temptations and power of Satan, has been the people of Enoch. They were taken into heaven and now await another like-society to which they shall return and unite.
The rest of the inhabitants of the earth during the first 16 1/2 centuries of human history were taught the gospel, foretold the blessings that would follow obedience, and warned of destruction that would result from disobedience by such prophets as Adam, Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, and Noah. Rejecting these prophets and choosing to follow the counsel of Satan to “believe it not,” they finally ripened in iniquity, which brought on the flood, which none but Noah and his family survived.
A similar example of the consequences of making wrong decisions is revealed in the record of the Jaredite nation, which inhabited America for some 2,000 years following the building of the great tower of Babel.
From the confusion of tongues at that tower, the Lord led a colony of people to America. He told them that Jesus Christ was the God of the land, and that if they would follow Him, He would make of them a great nation. “And there shall be none greater … upon all the face of the earth.” (Ether 1:43.) This they became.
In their prosperity they forgot the Lord and ignored His teachings. As they ripened in iniquity, the prophets repeatedly warned them that they would be swept off the land if they did not repent and serve the Lord. This they refused to do. They chose to follow the lusts of the flesh until they were, in a fratricidal war, completely wiped off the land.
They were succeeded in America by the Nephites, descendants of the Lehi colony which the Lord led to America about 600 years B.C. During the six centuries preceding the birth of Christ, they were, by the prophets, repeatedly told of the blessings which would follow their living the teachings of Christ and of the destruction which would come as a consequence of rejecting and disobeying His teachings. Finally, however, about A.D. 421, they ripened in iniquity and suffered the fate of the Jaredites.
For a thousand years, however, they oscillated between righteousness and wickedness.
Their prophets told them about the mortal ministry of Christ in the land of Jerusalem, that they in America would be advised of His birth and of His crucifixion, and that He would visit them after His resurrection.
They were told by the prophet Nephi as early as 592 B.C. that at the time of His crucifixion there would be “darkness on the face of the land of [America] … lightnings, … thunderings, and earthquakes”; that many cities would be sunk, others “burned with fire” (1 Ne. 12:4); that the resurrected Christ would appear among them following the great destruction (see 1 Ne. 12:6).
These prophecies were literally fulfilled.
All prophecies are fulfilled in the due time of the Lord.
The prophet Amos spoke the truth when he said:
“Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7.)
Now, the events we have been reviewing testify to the truth of this statement. I have called them to mind as a background for, and to give meaning to, what I want to now say about our present situation, and to stress the importance of our choosing to follow the light of Christ.
We live in the dispensation of the fulness of times, the last dispensation of the gospel before the Millennium.
This dispensation will not end as former dispensations have ended, in apostasy and loss of the gospel; it will be terminated by the second advent of the Lord Jesus Christ and the ushering in of His 1,000-year peaceful reign, as has been prophesied in all dispensations since the world began.
“The great Millennium … shall come. … Satan shall be bound.” (D&C 43:30–31.)
Christ will reveal Himself “from heaven with power and great glory, with all the hosts thereof, and dwell in righteousness with men on earth a thousand years, and the wicked shall not stand.” (D&C 29:11.)
As Nephi envisioned our day, he wrote:
“The time cometh speedily that Satan shall have no more power over the hearts of the children of men; for the day soon cometh that all the proud and they who do wickedly shall be as stubble; and the day cometh that they must be burned.
“For the time soon cometh that the fulness of the wrath of God shall be poured out upon all the children of men; for he will not suffer that the wicked shall destroy the righteous.
“Wherefore, he will preserve the righteous by his power, even if it so be that the fulness of his wrath must come, and the righteous be preserved, even unto the destruction of their enemies by fire. Wherefore, the righteous need not fear; for thus saith the prophet, they shall be saved, even if it so be as by fire.
“Behold, my brethren, I say unto you, that these things must shortly come; yea, even blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke must come; and it must needs be upon the face of this earth; and it cometh unto men according to the flesh if it so be that they will harden their hearts against the Holy One of Israel.
“For behold, the righteous shall not perish; for the time surely must come that all they who fight against Zion shall be cut off.” (1 Ne. 22:15–19.)
We do not know just when the climax will come. We do know, however, that it approaches. We know that the peoples of the earth are ripening in iniquity. We know that every one of the Ten Commandments is being disregarded. We know that God is being defied, that dishonesty, immorality, Sabbath-breaking, and even killing are on the increase.
We know that in opening this last dispensation the Lord said:
“Hearken, O ye people of my church, saith the voice of him who dwells on high, and whose eyes are upon all men; yea, verily I say: Hearken ye people from afar; and ye that are upon the islands of the sea, listen together. …
“Prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to come, for the Lord is nigh;
“And the anger of the Lord is kindled, and his sword is bathed in heaven, and it shall fall upon the inhabitants of the earth.
“And the arm of the Lord shall be revealed; and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people;
“For they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant;
“They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own God, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall.” (D&C 1:1, 12–16.)
The hour is late. If we are to stand when Babylon falls, we must choose now. As Amulek said, “This life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.” (Alma 34:32.)
“Choose ye this day.” (Moses 6:33.)