Standing at this historic pulpit with memories of those men and women who have stood here before me filling my thoughts, I am reminded of the admonition given to Moses when he was told, “Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” (Ex. 3:5.)
I pray that as I stand upon this holy ground I may do so with my shoes from off my feet.
I desire to teach you concerning matters of eternal significance. In doing so I shall speak allegorically, which simply means that I will teach by using a story which has symbolic meanings.
In an allegorical sense, I am here today as a member of the trial team assembled by your chief advocate. We have now received the legal action in which each of you has been named as a party defendant. I and others of the trial team have reviewed the pleadings carefully and have confirmed that the real purpose of opposing counsel is to prove that you are not eligible to receive your ultimate inheritance. Our adversary’s trial team is even now working tirelessly to assemble the facts necessary to bring about your defeat.
By virtue of motions made, heard, and previously decided, we have been compelled to produce, on behalf of each of you, all records relating to your business and personal transactions. These include a schedule of your neighbors, friends, and business acquaintances. Additionally, full disclosure concerning your spouse, your children, your parents, and members of your extended family has been made.
You should know that our adversary is prepared to spend such time, effort, and money as is necessary to deprive you of your inheritance. They have already expended untold millions of dollars in preparing their case against each of you. They have hired gifted, talented, and experienced people to work for them. They intend to win!
Fortunately, you are represented by the most skilled, capable, and diligent counsel I have ever seen. It’s amazing to watch him as he argues on your behalf before the Supreme Judge.
For example, our adversary brought a motion seeking an order that some of you have already forfeited your rights to your ultimate inheritance and therefore a summary judgment should be entered against you. I must admit he was brilliant in his presentation. For a time it seemed to me that he would prevail. Many of the court personnel were nodding their heads in seeming agreement with him. His argument was powerful.
Citing several of you by name, he said, “If these defendants have lived this long and have not yet taken serious steps to qualify for their ultimate inheritance, why should we waste further time of the court? Let us simply enter judgment against them now and be done with it.” So powerful was his presentation that many in the public gallery applauded when he concluded.
You could have heard a pin drop when your chief advocate arose. The suspense in the courtroom was electrifying. What arguments could he possibly make that would overcome those just presented? I wish you could have been there.
In contrast to the bombastic and cynical arguments of opposing counsel, your advocate began your defense as a trickle and built to the force of a mighty river. Humbly, softly, meaningfully, and compellingly, he pled your case. I knew the impact he was having when I saw tears streaming down the cheeks of many in the courtroom. I don’t remember all of his arguments and logic, but I do remember him saying that man is a little lower than the angels (see Ps. 8:5) and that the worth of souls is great (see D&C 18:10). In one of the most majestic moments, his eyes filled with compassion and his voice quivering with indignation, he admonished, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.” (John 8:7.)
He went on to argue that “this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God” (see Alma 34:32) and closed with a breathtaking summary in which he said no one has the right to judge the sum total of a man’s life until that life has been lived.
There was silence in the room when he finished, silence broken only by the voice of the Supreme Judge announcing his decision: “Motion of counsel for the plaintiffs is denied. The issues sought to be summarily decided here are better left until trial of this matter on the merits,” he said.
Now, in preparation for your appearance on the witness stand, you should be advised that, in the law, we have what are known as threshold questions. These are simply questions that are the point of beginning, or the starting place. The threshold question in your trial is, Do you love the Lord God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind? (See Matt. 22:37.) If the answer is no, there will be a motion for judgment against you. That motion will be granted.
On the other hand, if you answer yes, opposing counsel will immediately test the validity of your answer with the question, Do you keep his commandments? (See John 14:15.) A negative response will reveal your fraud, and you will stand judged by your own testimony. If your answer is in the affirmative, there will then follow hours, perhaps days, of questions, each designed to prove that you do not, in fact, keep his commandments. Among those questions will be the following:
Do you love your neighbor as yourself? (See Matt. 22:39.)
Do you place worldly pursuits or personal pleasures above your service to God? (See Ex. 20:3.)
Do you take the name of the Lord God in vain? (See Ex. 20:7.)
Do you keep the Sabbath day holy? (See Ex. 20:8.)
Do you honor your father and mother? (See Ex. 20:12.)
Do you commit adultery or fornication? (See Ex. 20:14.)
Do you steal? (See Ex. 20:15.)
Do you bear false witness? (See Ex. 20:16.)
Do you covet? (See Ex. 20:17.)
Remember, opposing counsel and his trial team will be fully conversant with your conduct and behavior. Witnesses will have been subpoenaed by them to testify against you. Your neighbors will present their testimony concerning your conduct with them. Those who have observed your Sabbath day activity will be called to the stand. On each point where you are vulnerable, witnesses will be produced to contradict your sworn testimony.
As your counsel we will, of course, be equally well prepared. Your chief counsel will produce every witness favorable to you and elicit from them every fact which may be used on your behalf.
However, one thing is clear—the ultimate outcome of your case is dependent upon the facts which you provide. There’s an old adage among trial lawyers that says, “We don’t make the facts, we only present them.” The facts which represent your life are the facts that will ultimately determine your victory or your defeat.
That is one of the reasons I have come today. I have been asked to see that you are clearly informed concerning this matter and to urge you, where necessary, to create facts which will allow the Supreme Judge to find on your behalf. Fortunately for you, your life’s facts can still be created. No matter how long you have lived, no matter how many mistakes you have made, your life’s story can still be changed. It can still be written. It is not too late. Please, I plead with you, help him to help you win your ultimate inheritance.
Now before closing, I should like to express my deep love to Ila, who is my sweetheart and my heartbeat. I honor her and the womanhood which she so elegantly represents. I love our five children, who are my best friends, and our twelve grandchildren, who regularly teach me the joy of unconditional love.
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.