Sunday, November 29, 2020

President Joseph Fielding Smith’s Experience with Weak Members and Apostates

 (Presented by Dennis B. Horne)

             It takes two things to keep church members from being sucked into the fad of having a “faith crisis” and apostatizing—gospel knowledge and testimony—and both of these result from exercising faith. President Smith explains all of this in a general conference talk from 1958. And one of the finest things he teaches, that most people don’t realize, is that the gospel is simple. Intellectuals, dissidents, dissenters, and anti-Mormons try to make it complicated either for self-aggrandizement or to cause doubt in others. Some scholars/academics are also guilty of this. Yet, if people exercise faith enough to follow this counsel, they can be fortified and inoculated against the doctrines of men and devils. I have placed a few editorial notes in brackets to update the general principles being taught by President Smith below:

             It is my judgment that there are many members of this Church who have been baptized for the remission of their sins, who have had hands laid upon their heads for the gift of the Holy Ghost, who have never received that gift, that is, the manifestations of it. Why? Because they have never put themselves in order to receive these manifestations. They have never humbled themselves. They have never taken the steps [hard spiritual work] that would prepare them for the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Therefore they go through life without that knowledge [testimony], and they have not the understanding. Therefore when those cunning and crafty in their deceit [anti-Mormons and dissenters] come to them they disturb them in their faith, if they have faith left.

            They [anti-Mormons, intellectuals, and dissenters] criticize the Authorities of the Church. They criticize the doctrines of the Church, and these weak members do not have understanding enough, information enough, and enough of the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord, to resist the false doctrines and teachings of those who come to them, the wolves in sheep's clothing, and they listen to them. They think that perhaps after all they have made a mistake, and first thing you know they find their way out of the Church, because they do not have understanding.

            I get letters frequently from people, members of this Church, who have been disturbed principally by those of two organizations [anti-Mormon websites] which seem to have dedicated their lives to the destruction of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These people [use websites to] go into the homes of our weak members, disturb them in their faith, get them all riled up, and they do not know whether they did the right thing when they were baptized, or whether they did not, but if they had lived as they should and had received the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they would not be moved. They would not be influenced by the false teachings and the false statements regarding our doctrines that these people [on their evil websites] present to them.

            The gospel is simple. There is nothing difficult about it. There are mysteries, no doubt. We do not need to bother about the mysteries, but the simple things pertaining to our salvation and exaltation we can understand.

            Now let me refer to another passage of scripture.

            But ye are commanded in all things to ask of God, who giveth liberally; and that which the spirit testifies unto you even so I would that ye should do in all holiness of heart, walking uprightly before me, considering the end of your salvation, doing all things with prayer and thanksgiving, that ye may not be seduced by evil spirits, or doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men; for some are of men, and others of devils.

            So the Lord has given us a warning.

            Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived; and that ye may not be deceived seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given;

            For verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do; and all may be benefited that seek or that ask of me, that ask and not for a sign that they may consume it upon their lusts [show off/make money].

            And again, verily I say unto you, I would that ye should always remember, and always retain in your minds what those gifts are, that are given unto the Church.

            Now the Lord would give us gifts. He will quicken our minds. He will give us knowledge that will clear up all difficulties, and put us in harmony with the commandments that he has given us, and with a knowledge that will be so deeply rooted in our souls that the knowledge can never be rooted out, if we will just seek for the light and the truth and the understanding which is promised to us, and which we can receive if we will only be true and faithful to every covenant and obligation pertaining to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (Conference Report, October, 1958.)

             President Smith knew well how the adversary works, and so he worked as hard as he could himself to negate Satan’s influence and counsel church members to study the gospel and gain a testimony. Those who did that had a far smaller chance of apostatizing or going less active than those who didn’t.

No comments:

Post a Comment