A Prophet’s Call to Action

A Prophet’s Call to Action

Usually when we talk of faith in a gospel reference, we mean faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice, because it is in Christ that our faith finds power. In order for faith to lead to salvation, it must be centered in the Lord Jesus Christ.

“And after that he came men also were saved by faith in his name; and by faith, they become the sons of God. And as surely as Christ liveth he spake these words unto our fathers, saying: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you” (Moroni 7:26; emphasis added). The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that we can exercise faith in Christ “unto life and salvation” only when we have three things:

1.   An assurance that He exists,

2.   A correct idea of His character, and

3.   A knowledge that we are striving to live according to His will. (see Lecture 3 of Lectures on Faith by Joseph Smith)

Having faith in Jesus Christ means relying completely on Him—trusting in His infinite power, intelligence, and love. It includes believing His teachings and following His chosen prophet.

His prophets lead us according to the Savior’s will. President Thomas S. Monson has always sought God’s will and responded to God’s call. Our prophet has now issued his own call, patterned on that given by the Savior Himself when He said to Peter, “Feed my sheep” (see John 21:16–17).

Chapter 15 of the Gospel of Luke is entirely dedicated to three parables which all teach the same principle. That implies that this principle is of great importance to the Lord. Those parables concern the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. In each case, someone or something of value is lost. The person responsible for that which is lost gives their complete attention to retrieving or rescuing what is lost, and a great celebration is held when that which was lost is found.

President Monson, in October 2015, challenged all the General Authorities of the world to practice and reteach this principle of “rescuing.” His message had been given to this group once before, in April 2009. I was present on both occasions and felt the overwhelming power of his message when it was first delivered, as did all others who were there. This was unmistakably a prophet’s call to action, and his call is now repeated. It cannot be ignored!

He told the story of the “lost battalion” in World War I. This battalion was a unit of the 77th Infantry Division. During an offensive on the front lines in France, a major led this battalion through a gap in the enemy lines, but the troops on the flanks were unable to advance and the entire battalion was surrounded. Food and water were short, and casualties could not be evacuated. Repeated attacks were repulsed. Notes from the enemy requesting the battalion to surrender were ignored.

Newspapers heralded the battalion’s tenacity. After a brief but desperate period of total isolation, other units of the 77th Division advanced and relieved the “lost battalion.” Correspondents noted in their dispatches that the relieving forces seemed bent on a crusade of love to rescue their comrades in arms. Men volunteered more readily, fought more gallantly, and died more bravely.

We are also called upon to rescue a lost battalion—the lost battalion of those who have wandered from, or who have not yet received, the ordinances of the gospel. President Monson went on to quote another prophet, President John Taylor (1808–87): “If you do not magnify your callings, God will hold you responsible for those whom you might have saved had you done your duty” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: John Taylor (2001), 164). Our prophet continued: “Our task is not insurmountable. We have been called by the Lord; we are on His errand; we are entitled to His help.”

You will remember the story of Joseph, the son of Jacob, who after he had been sold into Egypt and had risen to a position of great authority was visited by his brothers who did not recognize him. Joseph arranged for his brothers to travel to their father in Canaan but insisted on keeping their youngest brother, Benjamin, as surety for their return. Judah, one of the older brothers echoed their concern that the youngest might not return with them to Jacob. He volunteered to stay in Benjamin’s place because he knew his father would be heartbroken if his youngest and beloved son, Benjamin, did not return with them. He pleaded with Joseph: “For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me?” (Genesis 44:34).

We will similarly face our Heavenly Father.

From the stage play Shenandoah comes the inspiring line, “If we don’t try, then we don’t do; and if we don’t do, then why are we here?”

Brothers and sisters, we have been called by our prophet. He hasasked us to exercise our faith in the Atonement of our Savior by helping to rescue some of the Savior’s lost sheep. By responding to his call, we satisfy the third requirement needed for our faith to be sufficient for our own salvation. We can gain a knowledge that we are “striving to live ac- cording to His will,” meaning the will of Jesus Christ, the Great Rescuer.I invite you to exercise your faith in power. Consider particularly those members of your ward or branch who have not been receiving the blessings of the sacrament. Will you ask our Heavenly Father, in prayer, who and how He wants you to rescue? And then respond by doing what He wants.

Let us volunteer more readily and fight more gallantly on our own crusade of love. Our reward is life eternal, or salvation, both for us and for those we rescue. Otherwise, “why are we here?”