Dr. Chauncey C. Riddle
Talk Radio 1400 AM, May 19, 1991
“Friends and Scholars,” hosted by Dennis Warlaw
And now it’s time for “Friends and Scholars,” made possible by the friends and scholars listeners club. Here’s your friends and scholars host, Dennis Warlaw.
Our guest this evening, our friend and scholar, is Dr. Chauncey Riddle, Professor of philosophy at Brigham Young University. Welcome, we’re pleased to have you here this evening, Chauncey.
By way of introduction to our audience, let me make mention that you studied at Brigham Young University as a student. I understand,
Received your bachelors and Masters there, and then went to Columbia University?
Bachelors at BYU.
Oh, and your masters and Doctorate at Columbia. And that since 1952 you have in the College of Religion first, then served as Dean of the Graduate School, Assistant Academic Vice President, and a Department Chairman in Graduate Studies of Religion. That’s quite a broad area of interest. We would like to ask by further way of introduction, you and your wife Bertha have how many children?
We have eleven living children.
That’s wonderful. And in your church service, by the way, how old is your oldest child now?
Our oldest child just turned forty-five.
Do you have any in the mission-field presently?
Yes, we have one serving as a missionary in the Helsinki, East Mission.
And where is he stationed at present?
He is stationed in Leningrad, in Russia.
Isn’t that exciting?
He is really excited about it. The work is going well there.
We’re pleased to get the reports of such missionary endeavors. Your church service yourself, you’ve served as a bishop, have you?
How many times?
Understand you have had a number of experiences in high council assignment.
You’re presently serving in that capacity, are you Chauncey?
I am, in the Oak Hills Stake.
And have served in the Stake Presidency, previously.
As far as your writings; you’ve published in the BYU Studies?, The Ensign, have you?
I should be letting you tell me more about this. I will turn you loose here in just a minute. Because we’re anxious. You may note that I have in front of me some two tapes I acquired of your presentations over the years. One of them on the subject of “Crown Jewels, and Royal Purple.”
A most interesting tape. By the way, I received this from the media department at BYU. And a presentation you made, my, nearly thirty years ago on the second coming. It was very well done. Significant information and a sound approach. I recommend. And then I one which you apparently gave as the honored lecturer at the Talmage lecture, on the subject of abortion and capital punishment. I wish there might be time tonight, for you approach this, if there isn’t, we may invite you back. Because that’s so intriguing. What is on your heart tonight, Dr. Riddle?
Tonight I would like to talk about “Spiritual Survival of These Last Days.” I think this is a very interesting time to live, and a time to be especially careful about what we do with our time.
Do you think we are approaching the Second Coming of our Savior?
Well, clearly we get closer, one day closer, every day. I don’t wish to make any predictions as to how close we are, but the thing that’s important about these times is the rising tide of opposition, of evil that forces every one of us, to recognize we have to do something. We can’t just be complacent in this situation.
Mary and I serve presently (One of our assignments) as preparedness advisors, helpers, in our ward. And have been doing research and getting materials together. And we were most appreciative when we learned you would be talking about spiritual preparation, or survival, in these days. What is the first step?
Well, my understanding is that we have to understand something about our situation. Our Father in Heaven gives us to start with a good deal of knowledge about who we are, why we are here, and what we are doing here. And from that, we then, have to find our way.
For instance, It’s very important to understand that we are on an eternal journey. We did not begin here. We do not end here. This is one scene in the play. It is as if we were on stage. We don’t see the audience, but there’s a vast, eternal audience that is watching us. But because the lights are dim, we only see ourselves, and those playing parts with us on the stage at the present time. And so it’s important to realize this because we have to see things on an eternal perspective.
One of the great short-comings of so much of the world’s thinking right now is that it’s short run. But if we learn to think in terms of our family, of our whole ancestry, of our whole posterity, and their welfare. And what we do affects them in both directions. Then we begin to have the perspective of eternity.
I don’t believe that the attitude we should have toward life is really any different in these last days than it would be at any time since the fall of Adam. Because the basic problems have always been the same. It’s true that the physical problems have changed. We aren’t in a war right now, we don’t have a famine right now. There are places on the earth where there is war, there is famine. Where people are suffering. And in any of these circumstances, the real key to survival, spiritual survival, is the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. And it pleases me to discuss this issue in that frame, this evening.
We appreciate the preparation you have made.
I would like to suggest, first of all, there are some ages and stages of life that are important to comprehend. I speak now from the perspective of the Latter-Day-Saint. And what Latter- Day Saints should accomplish in this journey. While we act on the stage in this time. And my belief is that if we fulfill these stages successfully, we will be well prepared for anything that will come in eternity.
The first age and stage of life is to be as a little child before our Father in Heaven. That is to say, to learn from Him. Especially, to learn to receive spiritual signals from Him. The nice thing about a little child is that little children are teachable. And if we can become teachable, in the Spirit of the Lord. And learn the truths from our Heavenly Father that He would have us know, Then we have a sure foundation for every other thing we might do with our lives. Little children who are acquainted with the Spirit of the Lord from the time of their birth are fortunate indeed. Children can grow up in the homes of Latter-Day Saints, and be taught to pray, be taught to feel the spirit, taught to live by its guidance in their lives, well before they are eight years old. Before Satan gets a chance at them. If parents wait until after they are eight or ten to start telling them about those things, it’s very late. The little children are especially sensitive to spiritual things, and can learn that well.
My belief is that the first ten years of a person’s life, I don’t mean to say just the chronological years. If you are born in the Church, that does mean chronological years. But if you are converts the Church, the first stage of life is always to be as a little child. To learn the language of the Spirit of the Lord. And we want to learn to govern our lives under the influence of that Spirit. The basic problem that we have in this life is simply to choose between good and evil. And our Heavenly Father gives us the Light of Christ, and for members of the Church, the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is limited to members of the Church, but we have the special opportunity to have Him as a constant companion. And if we receive those gifts from our Heavenly Father, then we can make un-erring choices between good and evil. That’s the business of life. And the time to learn that is right at the first. You need to learn what is good to eat, and what is not good to eat. With whom we should associate, and those with whom we should not associate. How to spend our time, how not to spend our time. What’s good music, what’s bad music. And so forth. As we learn to discriminate in all things between good and evil, between good and bad, we lay the foundation of spirituality which makes it possible to be a Latter- Day Saint in every other thing we do.
The second age and stage of life that I understand, is our youth, as it were, having learned to discern the will of our Father. Then we need to learn much about this world. Now chronologically, for members of the Church, this would be ages eleven through twenty. Most of us, in those years, spend our whole time in school, learning. But learning is not enough. I believe, that though we learn good things in our schooling, the essential thing we need to learn as we are going through those time is to learn to serve. If we see that our learning in Mathematics, in Science, in Physical Education, or Drama, or whatever we do, is to help others, to bless other’s lives, to render service, then we are indeed on our Father’s pathway, on the strait and narrow. If we use the Spirit of the Lord that we have gained in the first decade, to learn how to serve in each capacity we find ourselves in. We live in an age where the concern of most people is: “What are we going to get out of this situation, how can this profit me?” Whereas, servants of the Lord come from a situation that’s very different. We have a Father that as unlimited resources. We have a Father that is kind and good. Our job is to learn how to share all that He has given us with others. And to learn to do it willingly, and in a friendly way, not begrudging, and to do it well, in the spirit of excellence as we give this service. Now if every person could learn this as the second stage of life, to find that their happiness consists in serving others, in doing good. I remember President Lee used to say all the time, “It’s amazing how much good you can do in this world if you don’t care who gets the credit.” And I think that’s a profound saying. If we do, behind the scenes, many good for others, simply delighting in the opportunity to serve our Father in Heaven, and benefit His Children, then we are mastering this second stage of life. The culmination of this second stage should be a full time mission for most young LDS people.
The third age and stage of life is the post mission opportunity to marry, to find our companion, and marry in the correct way and begin to found an eternal family. My belief is that this is probably the most important single thing we do in our lives. No, let me back up on that, it is the second most important. The most important thing we do is to commit ourselves to the Savior Jesus Christ. And having committed ourselves to Him, then the most important thing we do is to find our companion. And then in the Savior, build a bond with that companion that will see us through hell, through heaven, through all eternity, as best friends and good cooperators. So I think this exciting challenge in mortality has as one of its main features first to learn to love the Lord, and then to learn to love our husband and wife. With such a sure and wonderful bond, that nothing can break it. No temptation, no strain, no opportunity for service will ever come between. But we together, working, will forge this bond, and cooperatively be much stronger than either one of us would be separately. Because we serve the Lord and we serve together.
Latter-Day Saints should be particularly responsive to these thoughts and this counsel because of what we have been taught with reference to covenants. That we, of all people, should keep covenants, above all decisions, above all commitments and responsibilities. We should keep our covenants, especially marriage. Is that your feeling?
Indeed, the covenants sort of outline the path, the strait and narrow path for us. And the first stage of life, zero to ten, is when we make the covenant of baptism, and there receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. So we can be surely on the path, not in doubt as to what Father would have us do. The second stage of life, we receive the Priesthood, and learn to serve. In this third stage of life we are married in the temple. And receive that binding, that opportunity for binding, that can become an eternal union.
We’re visiting with Dr. Chauncey Riddle, Professor of Philosophy, at Brigham Young University. Our Friend and Scholar on tonight’s program. What is the next stage?
Well the next stage of life is a combination of three decades, roughly from the ages from thirty to sixty. And I see that there are three main things that must go on simultaneously in this particular age and stage of life. The first of these three, is (this is our adult life now) once we have laid the foundation and established our marriage, then the main responsibilities of this load-bearing stage of our lives, is first of all, to raise a family in the Lord. To bear children, but most especially, to bring those children up in the nurture of the Lord. To teach them to know Jesus Christ and His Spirit, and Father, and the Holy Ghost. And to treasure the opportunities and responsibilities of the Restored Gospel. We are told that if no other success can compensate for failure in the home. That is to say, failure to establish this bond in marriage, and failure to nourish our children in the good word of God. So that’s the first responsibility in the load-bearing responsibility of this adult stage.
The second is being a stalwart in the Church and Kingdom of God. Now I have a little different understanding of the Church I guess than some people do. It is my understanding that the Church is not here to save us. But that we are here to serve in the Church. And through that service, we show our love for our Father in Heaven, and for our Savior. It is true, the Church can give us many things, especially at first. And it does help us. But the thing that is going to save us is our personal relationship with the Savior. The Church cannot save us. It makes available to us the ordinances. And in that respect is a great benefactor to us.
This approach applies also, does it not, to our responsibilities with reference to government. There are those who feel government is here to take care of us. When really, we’re here to be good citizens. To do what needs to be done in our communities, and in our homes and even more broadly. Not expecting to be waited upon, but to be a servant in that area.
Indeed. And if we have learned to serve, that will be our natural course of life. To do that. Yes, being a pillar of the community, to foster good government, with sound civil practice in our society is the third load-bearing activity that I envision should consume our mature years. So, if you’ll notice I haven’t mentioned earning a living so far. It’s understood that we must earn a living as we go. We must support ourselves and our families and the Church and the government. They should not support us, unless of course, we are incapable, totally incapable of doing so. But nevertheless, we have the opportunity to give this service, to render this support. And I see this period of thirty-forty-fifty years we have as a load-bearing adult as the prime of life in a sense. Where we are raising our family, working in the church, strengthening our local and national government, contributing to the welfare of everyone, everywhere we can. This is a great load to bear.
Then we come to the final age and stage of life.
We aren’t quite ready for that are we?
Well, it depends on how we conceive it. If we conceive it in the correct way, we will hardly be able to wait to get there. I’m talking about the period after retirement from our earning years. And to my mind this age and stage of life means that we go into full time service of the Lord.
And we spend the rest of our lives on missions, doing genealogy and temple work, family history, on working with our families, enjoying and teaching our grandchildren, being a strength to our community, being a good neighbor. Now that we have accomplished many of the great works of life, now without reservation we can turn our time fully to the service of our fellow man. Now all of the activities up to this time have been geared, by Father, to shape and polish us into accomplished servants in his sight. One of the interesting things about the concept of Priesthood in the Restored Gospel is that the words Priest and King as I understand them in the restored gospel, mean literally, servant. The world turns that upside down. The world believes that the priest and the king are the one that runs things, the ones who preside over all, who call the shots.
One in the area of religion, the other in the area of civil government.
Correct, and it’s the mission of Latter-Day Saints to be both Kings and Priests, but to be King and Priests unto God. Or, to administer for Him.
What you’ve brought to my mind is the great example and message of King Benjamin.
Indeed, King Benjamin is a good role model in this respect. He who labored with his own hands to support himself so that he would not burden the people with taxes. Who sought diligently all the days of his life to bring to them civil order and spiritual prosperity. And he accomplished a mighty work, he did so well, that the Lord was able to instruct him in what to teach his people in a special way that goes beyond what we have yet enjoyed in this dispensation. And so I enjoy thinking of him as a role model.
Now this retirement stage of life I think should be the crowning experience of life. This should be a time of glory, some people call them the “Golden Years.” They should be golden because of our living the golden rule and doing the golden deeds, cramming everything we have attempted in our lives with this wonderful, good service to others. As we go into the temple and look at the people who are serving there, the ordinance workers, I think we can catch a glimpse of this. These people have a special spirit, a willingness to serve, a desire to be pure, a desire to be holy. Now, if we can attain that, and we can, then we will do well, and we will find the true happiness. The purpose in life is to be happy. The Lord did not give us the strait and narrow as a strait jacket. He gave it to us as an enabling principle. That we might, through him, have a fullness of life. And if we stay on his path, which I think these ages and stages outline, then we will indeed have a fullness of life.
I am enjoying this marvelous presentation, Chauncey Riddle, we will pause here for a Church produced home-front message, and be back with more of the wisdom and counsel that you might bring us.
We are visiting with Dr. Chauncey Riddle on “Friends and Scholars” this evening. He’s discussing the subject of “Spiritual Survival in the Last Days” and I might say that this man has been to me and exemplar, one who has not only studied deeply, taught with the spirit, but has also endeavored to live the gospel, both in his family, (I might mention that I tried to reach you here about a week ago, Chauncey, and one of your children indicated you were out in the yard doing some plowing. Is that correct?
Yes, I believe that one of the commandments was that we subdue the earth. I believe in that very literally. I believe that part of the tutelage that Father gives us, part of the training, for His work, is to be an efficient and an effective workman. To subdue the earth, to produce something of value. And I think as we pursue that, Father can bless us and help us. I don’t believe that everyone has to follow exactly the same path in doing that. Not everyone has to do what I do. But I believe that everyone should spend some time working with his or her hands.
We have encouraged (my wife and I) in our preparedness assignment even those who live in condos such as ourselves to get a little plot or have some miniature trees, as well as flowers. With some vegetables along in that row of flowers.
That not only we maintain that closeness to the soil, which I might confess my wife does better than I, but also that we are still preparing. And in an event of more dire circumstances, be prepared physically as well as spiritually.
A man after my own heart. Very good. Well, we have talked about the ages and stages of life. I would like to talk now about how we do these things. Because knowing what we do is fairly simple. Doing it is rather difficult. In fact, I don’t know any more demanding task that there is in this world than to be a faithful Latter-Day Saint. It takes everything we have. The Lord tells us that we must serve and love Him with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength.
The first problem that we have is to learn to discern His voice. And I think this is the number one intellectual problem for every Latter-Day Saint. How do we know when it is the voice of the Lord as separated from the temptations of Satan, as separated from our own thoughts and desires.
Many of our listeners may picture the audible voice of the Lord to be expected, which of course, is not impossible, but you perceive something even beyond that or other than that, don’t you Doctor?
I perceive that we should search for the Lord, I believe that, even as we search for food, and very carefully prepare it to nourish ourselves many times a day, we should search for the very best spiritual nourishment, and learn to discern what is Grade A.
Where do we turn in that search?
The thing that we are given to guide us is our own spirit. We have a spirit within us, and that spirit registers. Now our physical body registers things. Our physical body registers light waves, sound waves, and chemicals, and touch, and so forth. But none of these things can save us. That is to say that the information we need to be saved will never come through the physical senses. The information we need to be saved comes by becoming alive spiritually. So if we will become conscious of our inner experience, we will then discern that there are within our heart and mind, different influences.
Now our job is to sort out the good from the evil. That’s the business of life. That’s what makes a truly intelligent person. We see some people who are fairly intelligent about the physical things. The things they hear and touch and smell. But it’s important to be spiritual about the things we feel on the inside. The light of Christ comes into the life of every human being who reaches normal mentality. And the light of Christ witnesses to us of truth and of good. But Satan is there for every one of us, and unless we can tell the difference we may be greatly fooled. And then people tell us things. Now the traditions of the world say “Don’t pay much attention to those voices within you, just listen to human beings. And let them be your guide.” And that’s why most people get most of what they believe from other human beings. We call that authoritarianism. But we are told in section one of the Doctrine and Covenants that the restored gospel was brought to earth specifically for the purpose that man would not counsel his fellow man. That each of us could speak in the name of God.
So our job is simply to go work and pay enough attention to these spiritual influences that we will be able to separate them out very carefully just like you would separate out the poisonous from the good mushrooms when you are hunting for food in the forest. Or we want to make sure that you separate out the kinds of herbs that are beneficial from those that are poisonous. So are the ideas that come into our mind, some are good and some are evil. Now, if we have any clue as to which is good, the thing which we must do is to follow that clue, and test the spirit that’s saying something and see if the result is good and beneficial.
If our hearts are good we will be able to find that there are some good spirits that come and tell us good things to do. And as we do what they say, and draw ourselves closer to that spirit, we engender the good spirit in ourselves until it comes brighter and brighter and stronger in our lives. Eventually, of course, if we go all the way, if fills our lives. The scriptures say the light becomes brighter and brighter until the perfect day. But we are the ones that have to make the selection and the search. And as we do that very carefully, making it the most important business of our life, that enables us to fill stage one that we talked about. Then, through that light… Oh, before I lose that topic, let me say there are some places and things we can do to foster that good spirit. We go to church because the spirit of the Lord is there. We go to the temple because the spirit of the Lord is there. We associate with good people because they carry the spirit with them. We read the scriptures because they foster the Spirit of the Lord in us. Now it’s true we can read the scriptures with an evil spirit telling us what to believe about it. But you see, we eventually have to contradict what the words say if we listen to the evil spirit. There are intellectual clues that we can receive. But the main problem is that our heart must tell us which is the good spirit and which is the evil. As we foster the good spirit it will begin to teach us what’s true about ourselves. To realize, that precious bit of knowledge that we are literal children of the Gods. We did not evolve from so lower form, or animal.
This is true not only of our intelligence or spirit, but where did Adam come from, who was his father?
My understanding that Adam was born, just as you and I are. And that he traces his lineage to the Gods. Now, I don’t know just exactly how that tracing is done. But the scriptures tell us that he was the son of God.
Now, once we have gotten the spirit, then we learn these great truths. And they provide the framework, or the backdrop of our lives. All of our understanding is against a backdrop. And, as the backdrop gets truer and truer, the significance of our daily lives becomes truer and truer to us. You can put any act, and against different backdrops it looks very different. And so, we need to get the right backdrop. Then we will know what to do. Knowing what to do, of course, is the bottom line of the whole thing. Because what we do, the choices we make, the acts we carry out in this life determine our eternal destiny. My image of eternity is something like this: That we’ve been on a journey since the beginning, that is to say, we have always been on a journey. There was no beginning, but we talk about a beginning because the story has to start somewhere. And we have been on a path, we will be on a path forever after this world. The peculiar nature of this mortal existence is that we get to adjust the path while we’re in mortality. So, should we wake up and find that we aren’t as pure a spirit as we would like to be. In mortality we can repent and change. And our Savior Jesus Christ has wonderful things that he can do to help us. He tells us that His goal for us is that we learn to love Him with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength.
Now, we can’t do that by ourselves. That is an impossibility for we human beings, as I understand it, to achieve any one of those four. But there is a program called salvation. And the Savior saves us from ourselves. He saves our heart, mind, our strength (which is our physical body) and our might (which is our influence in the world). He saves each of them beginning with our heart. If we enter into His New and Everlasting Covenant, and become faithful servants to Him. We are told that the day comes when we have done all that we can. That we may apply for a new heart. This is what King Benjamin got his people to do before he died. In that last great sermon he asked them to ask for a new heart. And they did, they wanted to. They were prepared, and not only did they ask, but they received it. And the marvelous they reported then was that they no longer had any desire to do evil. Now this is how we overcome the world. By receiving from our Savior a new heart. The scriptures call this the process of purification.
Is the reference to a broken heart in the scripture of a point here?
A broken heart is the preparation for the pure heart. Until we are willing to break our own hearts because of our sins, and admit before our Father in Heaven that we are nothing, that is to say, there is not enough good in us that we can claim anything from Him. Until we can come to that point of broken hearted-ness, we will not be sufficiently humble before our Savior to do His works and to be able to receive that new heart from Him.
The second thing he does is He is willing to go with us through our minds by the help of the Spirit and check each idea that we have, each of our beliefs. He will check us to see if we believe what is true. Satan’s great weapon is lies. And all it takes is a few lies in a system. Think of a great computer system, just throw a few bad commands into it, it doesn’t have to be more than a half of one percent, it destroys the whole functioning of the whole program. Similarly with the work of Satan. Only when we serve God with all of our mind can we be sure of doing what’s right. So the Savior is willing to go through our minds with us. Combing our minds, getting rid of every false idea that has its source from Satan, leaving only the truth.
Then He’s willing to save our bodies. First in this life by helping us to have those practices of life which lead to health and strength. But secondly, to give us in the resurrection a perfected body, like His. So His resurrection is a way of saving us.
It’s interesting you’ve mentioned deception being a tool of Satan, and mentioned also the importance of us caring for our bodies. One thinks of the eighty-ninth section and the fact that deception is mentioned there as a primary introduction to that whole subject. In consequence of evils and designs …
From conspiring men who wish to make money off of us, so we let people dictate to us certain fads and fashions of food and drink which are not good for us. And we need to go back to the fundamentals which Father has given us. That’s why I say that first stage is being a little child, and getting the spirit of the Lord so that we eat and drink by the spirit. Not according to our physical appetites, not according to the ways of men, but according to the ways of God.
Let us introduce you again, for those who may have missed the earlier introduction. Our guest tonight on “Friends and Scholars” is Dr. Chauncey Riddle of the faculty of Brigham Young University. Go right ahead Chauncey.
The next thing the Savior does for us is to save our might. Our might is the power or influence we have over others or with others in the universe. Now the thing that destroys might is sin. And as we sin, Father must take away our might, and cause us to be less and less mighty, until such time as we repent. But if we repent, and start doing good instead of evil, then he can give us more and more might. Now the process by which he cleanses our might is called in the scriptures sanctification. Or, the forgiveness of sins. And if we are forgiven of our sins, and are on the right track. Then the Savior can give us great power, because He knows we will not abuse it. We will use it only for good.
Now the overall of this whole thing is what the scriptures call, justification. The world has a justification that is a false justification. The false justification says, “Well, so-and-so isn’t very good, but we’ll pretend that his efforts are sufficient.” That’s the world’s justification. The Savior’s justification is different, the Savior’s justification says, “We will take this man and give him every opportunity to rise to the full measure of righteousness, and if he is willing to learn, and to repent, then we will make him fully righteous.” The scriptures call this a just man, made perfect. Now, through all of these processes, the Savior saves us. That is to say, he makes a new creature out of us. Our problem is, are we willing? Some of us say, “No, I’m quite content the way I am. I wish to feel my feelings, think my thoughts, do my deeds, and have my affect in the Universe, and I do not wish to change.”
Is that referred to as a “law unto oneself?”
Exactly, that is what the scriptures call selfishness. And selfishness is the great enemy. But on the other hand there is righteousness, which is selflessness. Those who have a hunger in their hearts and minds to be righteous, find in the Savior Jesus Christ a great delight. Because He not only sets the model for complete righteousness, but has the wherewith to help each of us become fully righteous even as He is. And that’s what salvation is. My understanding is that salvation is to be saved from ourselves, from our selfishness, by the combination of our own efforts. To hear, and to believe, and do the works of Christ. In His saving power, His grace. We are saved by grace, but only after all we can do. We must do our part. He will do His part, if we will just do ours.
Now the way that the Savior signals these things to us, and gives them to us is through the New and Everlasting Covenant. That precious opportunity to bind ourselves to Christ. I envision the New and Everlasting Covenant as, if I may use a homely example, as sort of a wrapping. Most of us are so spineless, we don’t have bones in our body that we can stand up straight. And so what we do is we come to the Savior and use His frame, His strength, His skeleton. And we come to Him and try to assume His stature. And we use these covenants to bind ourselves to Him. So that He becomes the framework in which our life is then spent. And He becomes our strength, He becomes our skeleton, He becomes the power of our words. We become His words, He becomes our words, and thus we are saved. Now this through the New and Everlasting Covenant.
First the covenant of baptism. We make three marvelous promises in the covenant of baptism. We promise first of all that we will take upon ourselves His name. My understanding is that the word “name” in this usage is a code word for the glory, the power, the honor, of God, which is received through the fullness of the New and Everlasting Covenant. So what we essentially promise is that we are willing to endure to the end and receive all that Christ has to give us. I don’t know of a greater promise that anyone could make than that.
Secondly we promise that we always remember Him. We will never forget that He is our new Father under this covenant. And that we are His covenant servants. And that we dedicate ourselves fully and wholly to Him, to serve Him, day and night, summer and winter, young and old, all of our lives. That we might bring to pass His righteousness.
Thirdly we promise that we will keep every commandment that He gives us. And He is willing to give us commandments from time to time. At first it may be only one or two a day. But as our faithfulness increases, and our power to do His will increases, He gives us more and more. Until eventually, the scripture says, “He will tell us all things that we should do.” Then we have risen to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
In the words of Paul. In the words of Paul. I love that passage. Well, now, that is the first part of the New and Everlasting Covenant.
We then are privileged to receive the Holy Ghost. As a gift. Hands are laid upon our head. It is said unto us, “receive the Holy Ghost.” That does not mean we have it. That is a command to seek it and to receive it into our lives as a constant companion. As we do that then we have been, indeed, born of the water and of the spirit. And have fulfilled that essential step the Savior told Nicodemus that we must do to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. But then we must continue on the path.
The other part of the New and Everlasting Covenant is to receive the Holy Priesthood. Again, keeping in mind, what the priesthood is for: The priesthood is to become a servant. Not to be a Lord, not the master, but a servant. And as we are ordained to the priesthood then we begin our service to others.
There are three basic stages to receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood as I understand it. The first stage is to be ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood. Incidentally, I like that word Melchizedek, In the Hebrew, it means “King of Righteousness.” Mel-chi-ze-dec, I take it that is actually one of the names of Christ. He is the King of Righteousness. And when we take upon ourselves the Melchizedek Priesthood, we are receiving that special power that belongs and pertains to our Savior.
Of course, that great King of Salem was himself a great and honored man.
And he was a disciple of Christ. My guess is that he was given the name Melchizedek in honor of Christ.
Others have similarly been given the names of Christ for key roles that are under and through the authority of Christ.
As Abraham, “Father of Many People.” I take also to be a name of Christ. And there are many others of course. But coming back to this receiving the priesthood.
The second stage of receiving the priesthood is to go into the temple and receive our endowments.
The third stage of receiving the priesthood is to be married in the temple. And then we have, basically, all the priesthood that there is. Our Heavenly Father is a husband and father. And these are the things that we receive the power to do in the temple.
And these things are received also by, and shared in, wives with husbands.
Indeed, there is a marvelous statement in the Book of Mormon that I think is the key to the whole book and perhaps to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I’d like to bring that in at this point. Moroni 10, verses 24 and 25. “Now I speak unto all the ends of the earth, that if the day cometh that the power and gifts of God shall be done away among you, it shall be because of unbelief. Wo be unto the children of men if that be the case. For their shall be none that doeth good among you, no, not one. For if their be one among you that doeth good. He shall work by the power and gifts of God.” I don’t know many more fundamental things to know than that. The basic problem in our lives is this difference between good and evil. If we’re going to do good it is only by the gifts and power of God that we can do it. That’s why Father sends the Light of Christ, the Light of His Son, to lighten every man that comes into the world. Then those people can do good. He also sends Satan so they can do evil. And thus we have a choice. Thus we are agents. And thus when we come to the New and Everlasting Covenant it is because we have hearkened to the good spirit. And the purpose of the covenant is then to give us more and more of these gifts.
We start with the gift of the Light of Christ. Which is the spirit of excellence, the spirit of truth, the spirit of good, that all men enjoy. Some partake of it and follow it and foster it, and they are ready then for the Holy Ghost which comes to witness of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. If they profit by the Light of Christ then they will profit also from the Holy Ghost. And they will accept the Gospel, and take the Covenant.
Now, one of the precious gifts is the gift of the Holy Ghost. And it brings in it’s train the special gifts of the spirit. The gift of understanding, the gift of knowledge of the mysteries, the gift of speaking in tongues, the gift of healing, the gift of the knowledge of operations, and so forth. Then in the temple we receive further gifts. The word endowment means, “gift”. And the gifts of God that come there are the special gifts we need for our marriage, for our missions, to truly be servants to all mankind. Israel is called to be servants of the rest of the earth. Not to be the Kings and Rulers, but to be the servants of all mankind. It is our mission to go to each and every nation, in the spirit of the Lord, using the gifts and powers we have received, through the New and Everlasting Covenant to minister righteousness, and salvation, and hope, to every nation, kindred tongue, and person on earth. And that is the glory and opportunity to be a Latter-Day Saint, and to know of Jesus Christ through the Restored Gospel.
Chauncey Riddle, we appreciate this marvelous presentation you given us on the subject of “Spiritual Survival in the Last Days.” We wish there were more time, I think we will take time on another occasion, if we might, and have you extend your remarks on these most significant areas.