The Gospel of Jesus Christ

CHAUNCEY C. RIDDLE

PRACTICAL APPLICATION OF THE GOSPEL AS PORTRAYED BY DR. CHAUNCEY RIDDLE, CHAIRMAN OF THE DEPARTMENT OF RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY PROFESSOR AT BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY.

AN ADDRESS DELIVERED IN A YOUNG MARRIEDS’ FIRESIDE ON A SUNDAY EVENING IN 1968, INCLUDING QUESTIONS ON PRACTICAL LIVING BY CONCERNED LISTENERS AND WELL CONSIDERED REPLIES WHICH HELP TO ELUCIDATE DOCTOR RIDDLE’S PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE.
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Brother Skousen asked me to talk about living the Gospel. As far as I’m concerned, that isn’t something you lecture about. I would hope that we could just have a conversation about it. So what I would like to do is just make a few statements, then let us all get into the act, because I think that is where the real fruit would come.

First of all, let me say, I don’t think the Gospel is complex. One of its troubles’ is that it’s disarmingly simple and the historic pattern that has been used for the Gospel is the raising up of the brazen serpent in the wilderness. You remember the Children of Israel were being bitten by poisonous serpents, and apparently the bite was deadly. Moses was commanded to make a brazen serpent and to hold it up before them and they were told to look at it, and if they would look at it, they would be healed and if they would not look, they would die. Well, some 30,000 of them, as I remember, thought that was too foolish, that wouldn’t work, that was too simple. So they refused to look and they died and the ones that bothered to look lived. And this was likened unto the Savior, that whoso would look unto him and partake of him would be saved.

So, in that vein then, I would like to give a quote from President McKay in yesterday’s CHURCH NEWS which I think boils the Gospel down quite nicely. He says this:

“The whole purpose of life is to bring under subjection the animal passions, proclivities and tendencies that we might realize the companionship always of God’s Holy Spirit.”

Now if we have a problem in living the Gospel, it’s simply because we have not been able to bring into subjection our animal passions, proclivities and tendencies. And so, it just boils down to that, and if we take care of that, then we have the companionship of God’s Holy Spirit.

Now that’s important because of what we understand of what the mission of the Holy Spirit is. We might read a verse from Nephi tying that down. Nephi commends to men that they come unto the Savior through the gate, which is, faith in him, repentance, baptism and the receiving of the Holy Ghost, and then he says to them:

“Behold my beloved brethren, I suppose that ye ponder somewhat in your hearts concerning that which ye should do after ye have entered in by the way. But, behold, why do ye ponder these things in your hearts? Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels? And now, how could ye speak with the tongue of angels save it were by the Holy Ghost? Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost: wherefore, they speak the words of Christ.”

Christ is the presiding authority over the Holy Ghost and the Holy Ghost’s mission is to bring the Savior’s words to us. So if we receive the Holy Ghost, then we can speak by the power of Christ. We speak the words of Christ.

“Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost, wherefore they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do. Wherefore, now after I have spoken these words, if ye are not brought into the light, but must perish in the dark. For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way; and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do.”
(2 Nephi 38: 1-5)

This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is to repent of giving in to our animal appetites, passions, and tendencies. To stop that. And to listen to the voice of Christ as it comes to us through the Holy Ghost and to do all things that we are thus commanded. That’s all there is to it. Can anyone remember the Mutual theme of, let’s see, was it the year before last? I guess maybe it was. It comes from section 130 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Do you want to say that louder? “There is a law…” All right, can you quote the whole thing? See what you got into?

“There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated. And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated” (D&C 130:20 21).

How many laws is that verse talking about? If you can remember the words in your mind, how many laws is it mentioning? “It says, there is a law.” How many is that? “One.” Just one. There is only one law in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Now lots of people get the idea that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is like having a big computer bank sitting here, and we have a lot of circuitry sets. You know how they work the computer? And the circuitry set would be like a law and when you want a certain blessing, you take the law that’s appropriate and go stick it in the computer and out comes the blessing. You’ve got a big shelf over here of all the thousands of laws you’d want. I think that’s the image some people have of the Gospel, but it doesn’t fit, because in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, there is only one law, and every blessing that comes from God that’s of any eternal significance comes through that one law. What’s the name of the law. Anybody ever heard of it? “The law of Christ?” No, “Obedience, Obedience gets pretty close but it has a very common name, you’ve heard it all your life. The name of the one law from which all blessings come from God is? “The law of the Gospel?” This is the law of the Gospel, but what’s it’s name? “Faith?” No, everybody lives by faith. There isn’t a human being in this world that doesn’t live by faith. What’s the first principle of the Gospel? “Faith?” No, faith isn’t the first principle of the Lord Jesus Christ?” Aha. yes, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And what does that mean? Well, that means to receive his commandments as Nephi says here and do what he says, and he will tell us, if we listen, all things that we should do. And if we do all things that we should do, we get all the blessings. If we don’t, we don’t.

So, when you talk about the Gospel, there aren’t a lot of rules, there aren’t a lot of laws but just ONE law, and the thing that our salvation will depend on is simply this. The Lord will say to us, “What did you do, when I told you what to do?” If we say, “Lord, I obeyed your voice every time it came to me,” no problems you see. but if we say, “Lord, I thought I was smarter than you, you were pretty good most of the time but you missed it a few places and so I had to judge you and decide that I was smarter than you and went off on my own a few times, what kind of salvation is there for that person? Well, he has to make his own salvation. He’s his own God, he made his own judgment, his own choices, he wouldn’t rely upon Christ, so he has to furnish his own salvation. That’s fair enough isn’t it?

So it simply comes back to this. When we’re talking about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it isn’t a matter of living some of the commandments of Christ, it’s a matter of living them all. Living ninety nine percent of the commandments of Christ is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A man might be a very good man. He’s pretty smart if he thinks that ninety-nine percent of the Lord’s commandments are good, but he’s not really very smart, otherwise he would know that a hundred percent of them are good.

And so it just comes down to this. It’s a matter of accepting the commandments of Christ that comes to us in the voice of the Holy Spirit 100 percent, and then there is no blessing that will be withheld from us. So that’s the problem of our lives, it’s just a matter of being able to listen to the voice of our conscience 100 percent.

Our conscience is the Holy Ghost. Now that isn’t true for everybody in the world, but for those of us who are members of the Church and trying to do our duty in the Church, the prophets have plainly told us, our conscience is the Holy Ghost. And if you don’t believe it, just try it. Just try doing whatever your conscience says. It’s an amazing thing. You ask anybody what happens if they go against their conscience. Everybody has the same report, what is it? It’s disastrous. What happens when you do what your conscience tells you to do? It’s good. You have a good feeling. You’re rewarded for it. Why, everybody knows that, why on earth aren’t we smart enough to do just that one simple thing of doing what our conscience says?

Well, it’s because there is an adversary. And he keeps whispering in the other ear saying, You don’t have to live all the commandments, after all the Lord wouldn’t be so narrow minded as to demand absolute obedience of you. And so on with various vagaries of false doctrine and enticement, he tries to get us to go against what we full well know we should do. And unfortunately he succeeds a great amount of the time. So again, the problem is to just quit listening to Satan and start listening to the Lord one hundred percent. I’m talking too long. I’m sorry, I’m just about to quit though, if that’s any help.

The question is you see, what is it that controls our mind. Is it the voice of Satan or is it the voice of the Holy Spirit, in other words, Christ? We can lean either way. Both powers are present in our mind. We can lean towards whichever one we want. If we foster Satan, that means that we’re giving in to the flesh and its proclivities, its tendencies, its appetites. That includes the mind. Or, we can listen to the voice of the Spirit. The Spirit isn’t always a voice, it’s sometimes just a feeling of right and wrong, but the longer one lives with this thing, The more black and white it gets as between the spirit of the Lord and the spirit of the adversary. After a few thousand experiments, it isn’t hard to tell at all. Maybe on the first experiment, but after a few thousand, there’s no problem. Then we’re able you see unerringly to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The word “repentance” means, literally translated form the Greek, “change your mind”. Change from listening to Satan and submitting to the flesh, change to listening to the Lord and submitting to his Spirit. So, if we can become as little children and be reborn again, and let him be our Father in all things, then he can perfect us sufficiently that he can put all his blessings upon us. And like Isaiah says, the Gospel is so plain and so simple that “the wayfaring man, THOUGH A FOOL, cannot err therein.”

Well now, maybe that’s enough. Now the interesting thing is, what about the practical applications? You want to talk about that? What practical applications would you like to talk about?

HOSTESS
“I have a problem that bothers me constantly in distinguishing conscience from something else I experience.”

Dr. Riddle
Let me give you a key. There is never a problem at first. It’s always after you start to argue with it that there’s a problem.

HOSTESS
“Let me describe the situation and see if it’s still a problem.”

Dr. Riddle
O.K.

HOSTESS
“I have a hard time distinguishing between the feeling of right and wrong and the feeling I get when I make a choice about what type of food I should eat, or whether or not I should walk across the grass in the quad or..

Dr. Riddle
You mean there is a question about that?

HOSTESS
“Well, there is a question about the real morality of it. I chose normally to walk on the sidewalk but I feel quite guilty when I put one foot on the grass cutting a corner.”

Dr. Riddle
That’s probably good.

HOSTESS
“But there really is no moral problem of whether I put my foot on the grass.”

Dr. Riddle
Now wait a minute, wait a minute. There’s only one sin. It’s disobeying the Lord, as he speaks to us either through his prophets or through his Spirit. and there’s only one act of righteousness, and that’s obeying as he speaks to us through the voice of his Spirit, so you see, this is where we get fouled up, sometimes we get to thinking that well, there certain things which are in and of themselves right or wrong. but there aren’t. Now you can push that. there are some pretty good cases where you would be hard put to say it otherwise. But for almost anything we contact in our daily life, the only way we really know right or wrong is the voice of the Lord. that’s why Nephi had such a rough time when we was told to kill Laban.

HOSTESS
“Then you really advocate following your conscience and if I have a pudding, putting it back and taking a piece of cake instead?”

Dr. Riddle
If that’s what you’re told to do, you had better do it. (Laughter)

HOSTESS
“Well, I know, but this really is serious. The question comes up constantly of whether or not I should obey to take more or hold back…”

Dr. Riddle
The Lord tells us this. President McKay said this about three conferences ago. If you want to be a steward in the Lord’s kingdom, don’t suppose he is going to test you and try you in big stewardships. You wouldn’t do that if you were testing out a steward would you? You’d test him and try him in little things. That is what President McKay says, It’s the little impulses in our daily life that are a testing ground and are a strengthening ground for learning to live by the Spirit. Should you have the cake and not the pudding? That’s your test. Sounds ridiculous to persons who have never had experience with it, but if you’ve ever battled with it, it’s very real. And there is no better way to destroy the Spirit for the next several hours than just not do what you’re told to do. Then you won’t have it, won’t be bothered with it. Right?

HOSTESS
“Sometimes I think it’s almost unbelievable, and I’m continually bucking it…” (laughter).

Dr. Riddle
Yea, yea I know, it is sometimes. I’ve heard many people say, and sometimes I’ve found myself in this position of not daring to pray and ask lest we find out the answer. Now you see, that’s…but that’s our choice, you see Do we want Jesus Christ for our God. We just want a Santa Claus, that’s all we want. We aren’t really hungry for righteousness, because when we get hungry enough for righteousness, we don’t care what the Lord says to do, we’re willing to do it. Right? Yes?

HOSTESS
“I’ve wondered in this, how we grow in learning to live by the Spirit. Now, suppose you have a little child, and we have to tell our little children just what to do and how to live, and you know, socialize them and so on, but then we encourage them to try a little on their own. And we’ll approve it or disapprove it and… Could you comment a little bit on how this works with us. Then do we, throughout our mortal state do we have to still be little children and then after our mortal state we’ll grow up, or do we grow line upon line in this learning to live by the Spirit?”

Dr. Riddle
Well, the first requisite in learning to live by the Spirit is to become a little child, come down in the depths of humility and if we think we are wise and learned in any way, to case these things away and consider ourselves fools before God. Now that’s a stiffer medicine than most people can take, but it’s the plain announced requisite for the system. So, if we’re able to do that, then the Lord begins to guide us. and maybe the first day we try, he’ll only give us one or two instructions. If we keep those one or two, we’re perfect. We’ve done everything he said to do and that’s all that counts. If he doesn’t tell us what to do he can’t blame us. But when he does, we had better jump or we’re in trouble. And then the next day he’ll tell us three things to do, and the next day he’ll tell us four things to do. If we don’t do the fourth thing, the next day he’ll tell us three, and so forth. In other words it ebbs and flows according to our faithfulness and obedience. Now there are few people that I have ever encountered who have anywhere near one-hundred percent companionship with the Holy Spirit, and the plain reason is that I haven’t really met very many people that really want it. Now all of us we get baptized ostensibly announce that we want it, but you see, thinking we want it and actually wanting it may be two different things. So what the Lord does, he gives us a chance to try it, and we go to that point where we are comfortable with it and then we stop. And where we stop, that’s where we damn ourselves. We stop, we damn ourselves, he doesn’t do it. If we’re willing to go all the way, he’s willing to go all they way, but if we won’t go all the way, he can’t go all the way, because he’d be putting something on us we couldn’t stand.

It would make us miserable to have too much blessing for too little faithfulness. I think the first thing parents ought to do when little children can understand is to transfer the implicit faith children have in their parents to the Lord. Little children can understand faith in Jesus Christ and they can pray when they are two. And there is no reason why, by the time they are eight they can’t be passed masters at living by the Spirit. Now most people wait until they get to be about twelve. They don’t really understand by the time they get baptized till they get into trouble and then they start explaining the Gospel to them. Well, my experience is that if you wait until someone’s twelve, you might as well forget it for about ten years, or at least until they get into College, then sometimes they begin to settle down a little bit then, but that period in those early teen age years I don’t think you can do much with them if there’s no foundations there. Now that’s a generalization of course, it doesn’t always follow, it’s just my experience.

HOSTESS
“I would like your opinion on the subject of whether we ever come to the point in this life of thinking like the Holy Ghost. My husband and I have had discussions where we have said, the Holy Ghost will tell you every single move to make. Now my contention was, well, if you live by the Spirit and have done this enough, he will. He will be with you all the time. Now, have you ever got to the point where you think like the Holy Ghost and have grown to the point where you make the decisions and he confirms them?” ….

Dr. Riddle
Who’s our model? Our pattern?

HOSTESS
“Christ.”

Dr. Riddle
What did he say about how he acted? He said “I do nothing except that which my Father has told me to do. I think that answers the question. If it was good enough for him. If we are going to be his servants, it ought to be good enough for us. And he doesn’t say this once; this is pounded home again and again. This is his mission, to do the Father’s will. Now as I understand it, this is the order of eternity. The question is simply this, do we want to do what we want to do, or do we want to do what’s right? Now we have no basis, there is no human basis for knowing what is right to do. We can always know what we want to do apart from right, but we can never know what’s right unless we have the knowledge and power of God.

Well, if we’re willing to accept the knowledge of right from one who has the knowledge and power of a God, then we can do what’s right. And if we don’t want that, we can go our own merry way. But the only way you and I can do anything that is considered good in the eyes of God is to do what’s right, and that is to obey him. We have no power on our own to do any good thing in his eyes. And this can be shown, I mean you can just take what is known about human ability to know and prove that. That’s why the Savior says in John 15, “Except ye are in me ye can do nothing.” Moroni keeps hammering home to us that the Savior is the fountain of all righteousness, not just most of it, all of it, and that except we have his Spirit, we cannot do any good thing. Now that’s pretty plain you see. So the way of the world is not going off and doing terrible things like stealing, and murdering and committing adultery and so forth. the way of the world is simply doing what we want to do, which includes these things, but also everything else. But the way of Christ is straight and simple and narrow. It is simply listening to the voice of his Spirit and then doing it. It’s so simple most people can’t stand it.

HOSTESS
“What about the part in the Doctrine and Covenants where it says study it out for yourself?”

Dr. Riddle
That’s good. The Lord is trying to build us, he’s trying to get us to grow and so he will not usually give us information and direction until we have done all that we can. And as he instructed Oliver Cowdery, so he’s going to deal with us. You must study. it out in your mind, then you must ask me if it be right, you see. There is no supposition that his studying will come to the right answer. He has to determine whether it’s right or not by revelation from God. But nevertheless he has to do all he can. And for my money, and the experience I’ve had, living by the Spirit and searching the mind and will of the Lord in all things is about the most demanding intellectual activity that I have ever heard of. And of course that’s what the Lord wants him to do. He’s trying to create Gods, and that’s a pretty stiff undertaking and the principle thing he needs to make a God is not a person who is very keen as a thinker. The principle thing he needs is a person of sound character. I think that simply means the ability to recognize and follow truth. So lots of the brilliant people in this world will never make it. But those who have the ability, when they know something is right, to stick to it, they’re the ones who will make it. That’s why we go out looking for the honest in heart, not for the sharpies.

HOSTESS
“The real question in my mind is how lazy… it might appear sometimes to be lazy.”

Dr. Riddle
Aha! Just the opposite you have to work hard to live by revelation. The lazy man doesn’t want it, he’d rather do what he feels like doing, which is an animal proclivity.

HOSTESS
“Maybe I don’t get much revelation. I feel lots of times, even though I try to follow… what David was saying about choice. The other day I walked through the Y center and out the North doors walking to the Library, and I got about half way across the patio and thought to myself, ‘Go through the bookstore.’ I thought well that’s… there’s no reason why I should go through the bookstore. And I kept walking and I… ‘Go through the bookstore.’ So I went through the bookstore. (laughter) I wonder how many times a thing like this happens. It happens to me sometimes when I’m driving. I’ll be driving along and say, well I go down this street, so I go down that street. And maybe something would happen if I didn’t go down that street.. I don’t know. But the things like that plus also some of the major decisions I’ve had to make, even though, granted, I may be a wicked man, I really still strive to ask the Lord to guide me and to discern this feeling of right, you know.”

Dr. Riddle
Ahem.

HOSTESS
“And sometimes it is a real struggle, and I think that in my own thinking, sometimes in order to reach this decision, sometimes it seems like I don’t have the Spirit guiding me at least for a period of time such as I would be now. And so this would signify to me, at least in part that the Spirit isn’t always there. Maybe because of my own unrighteousness.”

Dr. Riddle
Well, I’m sure. I certainly have to testify that I don’t always have it, but I always know why I don’t have it now. I can remember what I did that I got rid of it with.

HOSTESS
“But at the particular time, sometimes you are not aware of it.”

Dr. Riddle
If I think back usually it will come to me what it was that I went against. I have the same experience of being told to do funny things so to speak. In fact, I’ve been told to say very peculiar things in front of audiences that people couldn’t understand. How come I said that? Awfully foolish thing to say. But when you know when you have to say, then you have to say it.

HOSTESS
“Well, I’ve had experiences like that. Probably every missionary probably had experiences like that sometime or another.”

Dr. Riddle
Ahem.

HOSTESS
“But I mean, some of these things, we’re told that we always have the… a lot of us don’t realize it in our…”

Dr. Riddle
Oh, I’ll say! It is, and that’s why you see we need to be masters at distinguishing. If you were a musician and you couldn’t quite tell whether you were on pitch or not, you wouldn’t be much of a musician. And so you have to develop that skill. Or if you’re a brick mason and you can’t quite tell whether or not your wall is plumb and square or not, you haven’t learned the trade yet. And after you’ve worked at it for some time, you can tell pretty much just by looking at the thing, you don’t even have to use any instruments. You can tell by looking at it whether it’s square and plumb. You develop that as kind of a sixth sense. Now you see, the same thing is true of the Spirit. It isn’t a matter of all of us being born experts. Saints are, not born. It’s a matter of struggling with the thing until you’ve made enough experiments that you can get very fine discriminations. I don’t know any way to do it except by trying

HOSTESS
“I realize that that’s the ideal way to be but you have to have determination. Like for instance, if I go out through the bookstore a number of times and nothing ever happens, even though I had a real strong feeling I should walk through the bookstore, I think that after a while I wouldn’t walk through the bookstore any more. And maybe there would be sometimes when I should walk through the bookstore. How do you distinguish that? What I’m saying is that I realize the perfect situation to be aware of this revelation from the Lord, but some of it will not be from the Lord and distinguishing meanwhile, until we get to that point when we can discern it as revelation.”

Dr. Riddle
I’ve had that experience, and then only to discover years later, someone come along and told me the rest of the story and discover what it was I steered out of by that. ???? Yea, you just never know. I’ve tried it both ways. I’ve stubbornly gone against that voice when it says ‘Go through the bookstores,’ and I know what happens when you try that.

HOSTESS
“Another example is when I have been driving along the highway and a voice has said to me to get into another lane, presumably because some traffic was just about to come around the corner, and when I did so, I came to the corner and there was no traffic there. So what do you do?”

Dr. Riddle
The best clue I’ve had in solving this problem is the strong sense that has come to me that I must not embark on any day’s activity until I have received my errand from the Lord. And sometimes that takes some doing. I find when I get up in the morning and I work through my plan of the day and get a confirmation of it or correction of it from the Lord, then as I’m busily about his errand, this kind of problem seldom comes up and if it does come up, I find that it’s immediately apparent almost always why I have been given a certain instruction. So I find that it’s just not enough to be always on the defensive, trying to keep from not doing what the Lord says, but to be seeking what he says and to get the instruction.

I got the instruction a week ago today to pay off a mortgage, and it didn’t seem quite intelligent because it was a very low interest rate and I knew I was going to need some money again soon, but there was no question I got it. So Monday I paid it off. Today I found out I have to have the money probably this next week. Now I’m really wondering how the Lord’s going to make this thing come out right. But I have this comforts I’ve tried this thing before, and I know that it always works, he’s never let me down once before, so here we go. And it’s going to be fun to see how it comes out. Maybe a week from now, I’ll know, but I don’t right now. I just… I’m really wondering. But I’m not wondering about the Lord. I’m just wondering how he’s going to pull it off. (laughter)

But I trust him and that’s the greatest comfort that I have ever had in my life. Just the comfort of knowing that having done what I should do, I have got nothing to fear. If I have to take it out again at a higher interest rate, I’m not going to worry because I know he can make up that difference very readily. A few years ago I had an impulse to pay off that same mortgage or put some money on it and I didn’t do it and I lost the money. So, having been burned, once burned twice shy you know.(laughter) And I could have used that money and I can see now looking back in my life, I can go over time and time again: things just like that. So I’m just down to the point where I know for myself, there is only one intelligent thing to do and that’s when you know the Lord’s told you something, do it, and do it just as quickly as you can.

Speed is important. That’s what Peter says. Let’s see, what’s the wording in Second Peter? The english is “diligence.” With all diligence, add to your faith, virtue, it says. Well, the word in the Greek is “prouday”. I don’t know how you pronounce it but anyway it means speed. With all “speed” This is essential. It’s a matter of getting to the Lord early, not late. With all speed add to your faith virtue. What does virtue mean, anybody know Latin? What’s “vir?” Man. So, what’s virtue?. Virtue is manliness or strength. Now we use it in a special narrow sense relative to sexual purity, but it takes strength to stay pure, a real strength and it’s not inappropriate to link those two together. With all speed, add to your faith strength.

And it takes strength to live by the Spirit. That’s the next thing we need. Once you’ve got the Holy Ghost, so you have a little bit of faith, then we’ve got to become strong in living by the spirit so that nothing will shake us off the course. And then he gives the rest of the steps to take. Once you get the strength, there’s another step to take, and once you get that, there’s another one. Pretty soon you’ll wind up with the goal. And the goal is to have charity, or the pure love of Christ, for Christ and for all men. You see, then we’re in good shape, but down here at this faith end we’re just barely beginning to go in through the gate. Did you have another comment?

HOSTESS
“I have trouble with this concept, maybe because of my upbringing, that the Lord will tell you everything you should do, I mean everything.”

Dr. Riddle
All right, he’ll give you your choice. He’ll let you go off and experiment on your own to see if you can improve on the system. I’m just here saying this, because I’ve tried both systems.

HOSTESS
“This is probably something I ought to keep to myself, but… sometimes I’ve had a feeling the Lord was there but haven’t been able to reach him. I can look back and…”

Dr. Riddle
Well, I have to admit that there have been a lot of times in my life when I have prayed for answers and haven’t gotten them, and I’ve found out the reason is this. Many times when I want an answer to a problem, that isn’t what the Lord wants me to worry about. He’s got some other thing he wants me to do now, and if I’ll pay attention to what he says, and go do the thing he wants me to do, eventually he’ll come around to the thing I want. But only after these other things are taken care of. And then I discover that if I had got the answer in the first place, I couldn’t have coped with it because I hadn’t made this preparation. So when I want an answer, the principle thing that I’m concerned about now when I get down on my knees, is Lord, what would you have me do? And if it’s something else, I go do it.

HOSTESS
“Is there a type of evaluation we can make of our lives? I know we’re not all miserable because we don’t follow the promptings of the Spirit, but I don’t know sometimes I think I should be.”

Dr. Riddle
All we have to do is ask ourselves, ‘Are you growing in the gifts of the Spirit.’ If we can say that to ourselves honestly, you see, that’s test. Certain signs follow those that believe, and the signs follow because they have the gifts of the spirit. Can you heal the sick? Can you foretell the future? Can you discern spirit’s? You see, if you can do these things you’re on the road. If you can’t, then that just means that your heritage has yet to be claimed, and if we if we’ll ask ourselves those things, it might get a little embarrassing, but at least we will know where we stand.

The question is, what would we like to be doing? One of the biggest problems we have, you see, is this thing that Lehi saw in the vision. He saw people go up to the tree of life and partake of it, and taste the pure love of God through his Spirit. And then they looked over and saw the people in the big spacious building pointing the finger of scorn at them. They were saying in essence, are you so simple minded as to listen to your conscience? Don’t you have any intelligence of your own? Are you just a puppet? Do you have to be told every move to make? Why don’t you grow up and be a man? Well that gets pretty powerful you see and people begin excluding you from their society, and from their professional areas because you rely on the Spirit. Most people can’t stand that pressure, so they kick it over and start doing it the way the world does. We lose a lot that way. But that’s their choice. If they’d rather have the way of the world and the salvation it can offer as compared to the blessing and gifts of the Lord. They are the ones that have to make the choice. They have to lie in their beds, so let them make it.

HOSTESS
“When you are feeling bad and low spiritually, what’s the best way to purge that out?”

Dr. Riddle
You mean when you’ve got a bad feeling because you’ve done something wrong?

HOSTESS
“Yes, but not anything really bad”. (laughter)

Dr. Riddle
I know what you mean. The thing I’ve found that works is to just go someplace where I can be alone and get down on my knees and just really confess. The Lord says he wants a broken heart and a contrite spirit, he means it. And I know that it works. Whenever we don’t do what he says, it is because our heart is not broken and our spirit is not contrite. And occasionally when I get a little too uppity, the Lord just brings to my mind a few of some of the rather large errors I have committed in the past. And he lets me see that of myself I have nothing. I’ve done things that are sufficiently grievous that without his grace I’d just better die right now. So he’s very kind to me in that kind of reproof. And if I’m willing to take the chastening, well, it’s kind of overwhelming. The sad part of my life is that sometimes it doesn’t last very long. I get uppity again and begin to think that I can counsel the Lord and tell him what to do, and when he says go and do that, I say Lord, couldn’t it be some other way? It would be more convenient if it were this way, and so forth. And he’ll say, yes you can do it that way if you want, go ahead. So I go ahead and it turns out to be disastrous.

HOSTESS
“Sometimes you feel like you get almost too much chastening, more than you can take…”

Dr. Riddle
The problem is keeping it when you get it, isn’t it?

HOSTESS
“But it’s not wise to ask for…”

Dr. Riddle
You don’t have to pray for tribulation, you’ll get plenty of that. (laughter) No. But the Savior’s given us the keys to how to hang on to this thing. If we ever get it and get in the right mood, there is one simple key to hanging on to it. Anybody know what it is? Remember him always. Now we promise to do that twice a Sunday, if we do it, we’d have it made.

HOSTESS
“Tomorrow morning we’re all going to wake up, and the week will come crashing in on our consciousness. There will be a number of things that we are not thinking about now because we are at a high spiritual plane. Now my question is, do. you have some good specific suggestions to help us keep from being weighed down when the cares of the world do come crashing in upon us, and we find ourselves losing our spiritual power almost within hours…?”

Dr. Riddle
Well I find in my own experience, and as I watch others I think it’s true, there is a one to one correlation between sin and fear. When people are afraid of anything it’s because they are not keeping the commandments of Christ. And when we keep the commandments of the Lord, there is nothing to worry about because nothing will happen to us then but what it’s for our good. Now the only reason we get into pickles where we really have to sweat is because we haven’t kept the commandments of Christ.

Sometimes I get into a day when I’ve got meetings and lectures and conferences scheduled right through the day and I just honestly haven’t had time to get ready for them. And it isn’t because I didn’t want to, its just that I couldn’t. And I find that whenever I am in that kind of a box, if I will just go to the Lord and talk it over with him and let him know that I’m trapped, and if he wants this work done it will have to be him that pulls me through. If I’m humble enough, he’ll do it. And I can go to the meeting I’m supposed to conduct that I haven’t prepared for and the agenda will come to my mind, and I give the agenda and away we go and it works. I go to the lecture, and I am able to give it. But if I have been slothful or have let my stomach get control of me and I’ve eaten the wrong things or the wrong time or the wrong place, or if I haven’t gotten up early enough that morning, or something like that. If I’ve let the animal part take over. I go through the day, and just like Coach Watts says, its one of those days when you might just as well stay in bed, everything goes wrong.

But I’ve found too, there is something to that. I’ve found that when I’m in the middle of that kind of a day, it’s really kind of refreshing to have everything so bad. (laughter) Because as the blows reign upon my head, I realize that the Lord is just letting me reap the consequences of my own acts, and if I bear it patiently, it will help me to be humble, and come out again and start over.

That’s the beautiful thing about having a new day every day.

HOSTESS
“How do you start your day?”

Dr. Riddle
A chance to start over, Prayer is the only way I know to start. Prayer and meditation. Have you ever read President McKay’s conference talk on meditation. This was about three conferences ago again. That is a masterpiece. And that’s the basis upon which every spiritual life is built. it’s taking enough time… it’s almost just like charging a battery. You can’t do it in a short time, it takes time to do it. Now you can put a fast charge on sometimes. But you know a fast charge is always dubious.

It takes some time… Sometimes in the work of the university I’ve had situations come up when I had very serious pressures on me, where I’ve been under pressure to do something that’s wrong. And people with considerable power, able to get at me, if I don’t do what they want. And I find that whenever I have a situation like this, if I will just take the time to fast and pray and take it to the Lord and get his counsel, if I pray, the Spirit just kind of wells up and gives me enough strength to go and do the right thing and tell them that they can inflict their punishment on me if they want and I’ll take it. And every time I’ve done that, I’ve never had to take the punishment. The Lord has seen me through it. But if I ever compromise and don’t get his help and don’t do what he says I get set back a year or two in growth and accomplishment.

So, I hope you realize that I’m just telling you what I think. This doesn’t do you a bit of good really, except that it might encourage you to try your own experiments because that is the only way you will ever find out. Nobody can transfer this to anybody else. It doesn’t matter if you sat at the feet of President McKay twenty-four hours a day for a year, he couldn’t transfer it to you, because all he could do is bear his testimony to you and tell you how he is doing it. But this is what preserves our agency, this is why we have integrity as an individual because nobody else can do this for us. Satan cannot control us if we don’t want him to, if we have the Spirit of the Lord, and the Lord will not control us. It is up to us to make the difference, and if we will just work on. it we can. Well, that’s about enough.

HOSTESS
“I would just like you to comment on what you said a little while ago about things coming up in the work of the University which you thought would make you compromise a basic principle. Has it ever been revealed to you through the Spirit that it would be better to go along with the will of the authorities rather than upsetting the boat? According to how you feel, would your principles direct you to do it? In other words, the only reason that… I think of Nephi when he was commanded to kill Laban. Naturally he wouldn’t have done it. The only reason he went against ingrained principles commanded of the Lord was because the Spirit had directed him to do that.”

Dr. Riddle
He knew the Spirit. He knew Christ personally, he had seen him.

HOSTESS
“Right, now when you know by basic principles that you are not supposed to do something, have you ever gone to the Spirit and prayed and meditated about it and somehow found that you were to do it, after you had prayed? You know what I mean?”

Dr. Riddle
Ahem, yes.

HOSTESS
“You have done this?”

Dr. Riddle
Ahem. Not a real compromise of basic principle, but something that looked to others like a compromise of basic principle. That’s the really rough part, when your friends come to you and say to you, How could you do that? The friends you have who are servants of the Lord, they know why you did it. So, that’s the kind of friend you want anyway, so that’s what counts. I’ve never been told to compromise a basic principle in my own life. I’ve been told to do things that were giving on small things to gain large things. And I’ve found that if you’re not able to give on small things, you become so brittle that people can’t work with you. But if you can give on where it’s unimportant, then you can work with people and help them come along.

One thing I discovered when I first became bishop. I thought to myself unrighteously, now we’re really going to set this thing in order. (laughter) And there were two big lessons I learned in a hurry. I changed some programs that were standard program in the Church, and frankly they weren’t very good.. But the thing that I found out was that the Lord didn’t want me fixing it. And it took me a few months before I was back to all the Church programs just as they should be.

Now where the Church hadn’t said, I moved out in some areas, and that was fine. But where specific instruction was given, I found out that you get the help of the Lord for all of your programs only when you do what he says, or what his servants say.

So I learned that one, and I also learned that when you’ve got a Sunday School Superintendent working under, as Bishop, you don’t run the Sunday School. You have to let him exercise his personality, and if he has the kind of personality that makes a certain kind of mistake, as long as you are willing to leave him as the Superintendent, you’ve got to be willing to let that mistake be made, until you can convert him. In other words you have to work with people.

And this is what looks like compromise sometimes you see. But the great thing about the Church is that it provides an opportunity for each of us to become perfected, and the work of administration in the Church is converting those who are immediately under us to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Because if a man is not doing exactly right in his job, it is because he is not living the Gospel. And so the only way to do it is not to go to the Sunday School Superintendent and say, Look, you’re not handling these Sunday School classes and these teachers just right. The thing to do to him, is to go to him and read the scriptures with him and pray with him, and entice him to submit everything he does to the Lord in prayer, and do nothing, except he does it that way.

And then, you see, once that’s accomplished, you never have to worry about him ever after. He’ll do what’s right whether you’re there or not. That’s the beauty of the system, you see. A man becomes self-actualized, self generated, and you can turn him loose Oh what a wonderful feeling it is to have people that are that way that you can trust. You can give them an assignment and you don’t have to worry that they will make foolish mistakes of judgement and sink the system, because they will go out, and they will pray about it and if they get a little off the track, the Spirit will tell them, and they will know it and they will be sorry and they will get back in line. Oh what a great comfort that is to know that the Lord is running the Church and not us.

Well, I don’t know how long you want to go here.

HOSTESS
“Do you have a definition of meditation?”

Dr. Riddle
The difference between praying and meditation is that meditating is waiting for the answer. Lots of people pray and then get up and run and don’t wait for the answer. So, meditating is praying and then weighing things back and forth, thinking, considering, almost as a conversation with the Lord.

And there is one more clue I’d like to give you. When the Lord tells you to do something, if its anything other than an immediate instruction to do something now, if he gives you any general or general insight, write it down. That’s what a book of remembrance is for. It’s a place to treasure the precious things the Lord gives us. That’s why Adam kept a book of remembrance. Genealogy is an incidental to a book of remembrance. But when the Lord give us a jewel, he expects it to put it in a jewel box, not just to stick it in our pocket to be pulled out when we pull out our handkerchief or something. He wants us to take care of it, and it’s so easy to forget the things that the Lord gives us. It’s like the seed that falls on the beaten path, and if we don’t do something with it the birds come and carry it away. Pretty soon we have forgotten that lesson. The next time the Lord isn’t quite as ready to give us that revelation. It’s terrible to have to learn things twice and three times. But if we’ll treasure them, what a great treasure house we can soon have. And what could you pass on to posterity better than these kinds of gems. Nothing you could give them in any other way could equal your testimony and a record of your dealings with the Lord. Can you think of anything else that would even touch it? I can’t. One more.

HOSTESS
“Just for a summary, I get the feeling that as we all listen to you, we feel like ‘Oh we are not on the ball at all,’ you know. We feel like we have a long ways to go to get up to the true path. I know that that is not true. But we feel like we’re sinners, and we’re not doing all that we should do.”

Dr. Riddle
We are all sinners.

HOSTESS
“I mean, that’s true (laughter). The only thing I want you to do, in summary, is to maybe give us a few steps of say,… we’ve already started to do it once… but maybe a few steps to take us from where we are to get back on the path. You mention prayer. Prayer and meditation, could you give us a few specific steps that we could perhaps take to break ourselves down, to humble ourselves so that we can start clean tomorrow morning You know what I mean? A summary in a way to take us from where we are to where you are claiming we should be.”

Dr. Riddle
Yes, I’m talking about ultimates.

“Behold I say that ye must pray always and not faint., that ye must not perform anything unto the Lord, save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee. That thy performance may be for the welfare of thy. soul. That’s one (II Ne 32:9).

Now let’ s try another one. Here is a kind of a good general instruction. Alma to Shiblon:

“See that ye are not lifted up unto pride, see that ye do not boast in your own wisdom, nor of your much strength. Use boldness, but not overbearance; and also see that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love; see that ye refrain from idleness (Alma 38:11 12).

“Oh, remember, my son, and learn wisdom in they youth; yea, learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God. Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support. Let all thy doings be in the Lord, and withersoever thou goest, let it be in the Lord. Yea, let thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord, yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever. Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good. Yea, when thou liest down at night, lie down unto the Lord that he may watch over you in your sleep. And when thou risest in the morning, let they heart be full of thanks unto God. And if ye will do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.” (Alma 37:35-37).

President McKay has said recently, “Make Christ the center of your life.” If he is the center, if we see ourselves as his covenant servants every moment of our life, sleeping or waking, it matters not; if we are thinking of him, conversing with him, praying to him, counseling with him in all things, working mathematics problems with him, buying groceries with him, – it may sound ridiculous, but it isn’t. This is the way of the Lord. I don’t know how to put a summary on it better than to say that just repeat some of these phrases we know so well. We should have our eye single to the glory of God. We should serve him with all of our might, mind, and strength. The world will count us fools, and the worst opposition we will have will come from other members of the Church, other members of our own family. But that’s simply part of the test. We are Christ’s, we are bought with a price, and we cannot do anything else without dishonoring him who has bought us.

Well, Brothers and Sisters, I hope you understand that I am not putting myself above you. If I have made you feel, as this brother has said, that you are sinners. I only intend that I would recognize that I am. I’m talking about the ideal. But I glory in the ideal. It’s beautiful. Not only that, it’s true. And it works, I know that. And I know that you and I are part of a great work.

We’re not here; members of this Church at this time and at this place, simply for our blessing. There are two very important reasons. To raise up righteous children unto the Lord first of all. That’s our most important responsibility in this life. And secondly, to raise up Zion through our work in the Church. Oh what a privilege to be in this. What a privilege to be able to conduct our professions, our civic life, our home life under the tutelage of Jesus Christ. To have his power and his Priesthood in everything we do. Why, there is no more blessed people that have ever lived on the earth than we are, and no people have a greater responsibility than we have.

John the Baptist had a great charge, and there had never lived a greater prophet before him, because his mission was to prepare the way and make the path straight before the second coming of the Savior. And we have exactly the same opportunity: to prepare the way and make the path straight so that the Savior will have a kingdom when he comes. I pray that we might be as faithful as was John, even to the sacrifice of our lives if necessary as he did. That we will stand for the principles of truth. That we will in all humility bear witness, especially through our living each day, that we might be servants of Christ. This indescribable privilege is so pure and so holy. We should recognize that every moment of our lives is a holy opportunity. An opportunity to do the will of Jesus Christ, and thereby to promote real good in this world. The world has so much misery and so much evil in it, so many people languishing in ignorance and squalor and disease, and all because the light of the Gospel doesn’t bless their lives. And what a great chance we have to do something about it. Now the world has many programs to do something about it, but the nominal fact is that they all fail. But the Lord’s program does something about it. It gets at all of the problems in a unified, sufficient way, and that’s how people get their blessings.

The Church is going to become sufficiently a light unto the world that people from all nations will see it, but you and I have some work to do before it gets to that point. I hope we’ll do it. I hope we will be faithful and not ashamed of the crosses of the world, that we might truly keep our covenants and serve the Lord with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength. And I ask this as a prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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One Response to The Gospel of Jesus Christ

  1. Eric N. Skousen says:

    I am the “brother Skousen” of the “1965 young marrieds fireside” (it was actually given in 1968). From my journal:

    ** November 17, 1968 – … Tonight at 8:30 p.m. we had a fireside which I had arranged and it was sponsored by the Elders Quorum. Chauncey Riddle spoke on “Living the Gospel.” It was truly great. How wonderful to sit at the feet of a true master teacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Though not members of our Ward, Mike and Heather Smurthwaite came to it, too, and Jerr Gallacher recorded it. (Note: We have listened to this tape dozens of times over the years!) **

    I have been saying to myself for more than four decades, “I’ve got to transcribe his speeches that we recorded so we can share a printed copy, not just the recording” and Lo! and Behold! you have done this one (and perhaps others) for us already. I can’t thank you enough for this treasure in print.

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