Paul wrote to members of the Church in his day: “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.”[i] What does it mean to be of the household of God? The following story will help us understand what this means.
Once there was a father who invited his son and daughter who were at boarding school to return to the village to receive a great gift. Knowing that his son and daughter were young and not sure of the way home, the father sent a map to guide them safely home. When the boarding school session was over, the son and daughter started walking the long way home. They endured much thirst, hunger, pain, and hardship on the way home. It was a hot, dusty, and difficult journey. After many days, they got lost and did not know which trail to take.
Their father had been worried about them, so he sent an older brother and sister to help them. Imagine the joy they all felt when the older brother and sister found the lost younger siblings, ran to them, and gave them a big hug! The older brother and sister held their hands and took them with them, walking with them all the way back to the village. When these four children arrived home, their father was overjoyed, for he had been worried about them and loved them very much. He loved the older brother and sister more deeply because they had helped their younger siblings find the way home, where they would all receive the great gift the father has prepared for them.
The father in this story represents our Father in Heaven. The map represents the Plan of Salvation. The brother and sister at boarding school trying to find their way home represent all the people of the earth. The older brother and sister represent you and me as members of the Church and therefore of the household of God. The task to take another person with us to return home represents what it means to belong to the household of God. Our Father in Heaven has sent each member of the Church—as part of His household—to take another sibling (whether a member of non-member) with us back to our Father to receive his great gift of eternal life.
The Plan of Salvation is our map home to Heavenly Father
Each of us is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents.[ii] Even before this world was created, our Heavenly Father instituted His plan whereby we could receive the greatest of all the gifts of God: eternal life.[iii] Eternal life is God’s life, and to receive eternal life is to become like Him and to live the kind of life God lives.[iv] In order to receive this greatest of all gifts, we needed to come to earth and live in mortality where we would have the opportunity to grow and progress by obtaining a physical body, gaining experience, living by faith, and learning to choose good over evil.
Our Heavenly Father knew that we would sin and make mistakes while on earth. Because everyone (except children under eight years of age) would be made impure by sin, none of us could dwell in the presence of God without a Redeemer to save us from death and the effects of sin. So, our Heavenly Father anointed Jesus, his firstborn Son, to be our Savior. The Lord suffered for our sins so that justice could be satisfied and mercy could be given to those who exercise their faith unto repentance.[v]
As part of the Plan of Salvation, when our mortal life ends, we will be judged of our works. If we have done what is necessary to receive the blessings made available to us by the Savior’s Atonement, we will be found spotless, guiltless, joyous, and pure at the time of judgment and receive eternal life.[vi] The only way to receive these blessings available through the Savior’s Atonement is to put the Doctrine of Christ into practice in our lives: we must exercise faith in Christ unto repentance, be baptized, receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end in receiving all essential priesthood ordinances and keeping the associated covenants.[vii]
The Church is the household of God
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was restored so that Heavenly Father’s children—living and dead—would have the opportunity to receive all essential priesthood ordinances. The ordinances are important because it is only through the ordinances performed by the authority of the priesthood that the power of godliness is manifest in people’s lives.[viii] This power to make men and women godly (and thus fulfill the purpose of Heavenly Father’s Plan of Salvation for us to become like Him) comes only to those individuals and families who exercise faith unto repentance, receive all essential priesthood ordinances, and keep the associated covenants.
It is not enough to just receive the ordinances, we must also keep the covenants associated with the ordinances. This is because the covenants give life to the ordinances, just like a motor gives life to a motorcycle. So, the Lord established His Church—not only to give His children the opportunity to receive all essential priesthood ordinances—but to also help them endure to the end in keeping the associated covenants.
For this reason, the Lord’s Church is commanded to record the name of every person who has received the ordinances so that he or she may be remembered, nourished by the good word of God, and be kept in the right way.[ix] In short, the Church is the household of God. It exists to help God’s children help each other receive all essential priesthood ordinances, keep the associated covenants, and qualify for exaltation and eternal life.[x] In short, our Heavenly Father expects those who are of His household to help each other and those not yet in His household to walk the path home to Him.
To belong to the household of God means that we will help one another: one will take one.
Our Heavenly Father’s children need help to make it home, just like the younger son and daughter in the story. Sometimes they forget about the map and get lost. Sometimes they are hungry, thirsty and tired, spiritually or physically. To belong to the household of God means that we will help one another, as we promised to do when we were baptized.
There are two very important tools the Lord has given to help us to help each other. If we use these tools under the direction of the Holy Ghost, we will experience great success, so much so that we will be astonished at what the Lord can do! These important tools are: (1) the principle of “one take one;” and (2) councils.
The Lord gave us a fundamental principle on how to build up His Church when He commanded: “And if any man among you be strong in the Spirit, let him take with him that is weak that he may edified in all meekness, that he may become strong also.”[xi] The Lord expects a person who is strong in the Spirit to take another person with him on the straight and narrow path to receive ordinances and to keep the associated covenants.
For this reason, our Area Presidency invites each member to bring another person to the waters of baptism if they are not yet a member. Or, take another member, or a non-member, with you to sacrament meeting. Or, take someone with you to participate in the ordinances of the temple. Or, take the name of one of your kindred dead to the temple to perform vicarious ordinances for him or her. If we apply the principle of “one take one,” we will grow stronger and stronger as a Church and people.
In our councils, we coordinate our efforts as a Church to receive the revelation we need to facilitate that one who is strong in the Spirit takes with him that is weak, so that he may be edified in all meekness, that he may become strong also. So, we have invited each Church council to prayerfully consider the following question together: “Who will take who to receive ordinances or to keep covenants he or she has made with God?” For example: “Who will take who to read the Book of Mormon?” Or, “Who will take who to sacrament meeting?” Or, “who will take who to be baptized?” Or, “Who will take who to participate in the ordinances of the temple?” Or, “Who will take who to research family names and bring them to the temple?” Or, “Who will take who to be prepared and worthy to serve a fulltime mission?”
Once we ask and answer these questions in our Church councils with reference to the names that are recorded (either as members or investigators), we will have someone in place to be a friend to help one other person to receive or participate in all essential priesthood ordinances and keep the associated covenants. This will please God. After all, we are commanded to remember the members of the Church, nurture them with the word of God, and help keep them in the right way! We invite you to do this in every council of the Church. In this way we will work together, lifting one another: “I lift thee, and thee lift me, and we shall ascend together!”
Our pioneer Saints in Ghana have demonstrated the power and joy that comes to those of the household of God who live this principle. On June 15, 1989, the government of Ghana announced that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could no longer function in Ghana. Shocked, Richard Kwesi Ahadjie (president of the Koforidua Branch) rushed to Accra to find out from the Mission President what to do. When he found him, a military man was escorting the mission president away, who called out: “President Ahadjie, go back to Koforidua and take care of the Saints!” Upon returning to Koforidua, President was arrested by two policemen, interrogated at the police station, and then locked away in jail for many days.
After being released from jail, President Ahadjie and his counselors decided to meet with their wives each Sunday to discuss how to help the members of the branch. Each Sunday they arose early in the morning and walked several hours into the forest to have sacrament meeting. Following sacrament meeting, the brethren would pair up and visit all the members in that area. These days would start at 4:30 am, and finish at 11:00 pm. Throughout the day they would visit each member, one by one. They would leave blessings, build faith, and express love and testimony.
When the freeze ended 18 months later, all the members of the branch rejoiced when they met together again for sacrament meeting. Yes, all of them. Each one. In fact, the attendance in their sacrament meeting that happy day was 120% of the actual membership of the branch. By one taking one, they had not only protected the faith of each member of the branch, they had grown the branch—even when the Church could not meet.
After the Area Plan broadcast in February, many members in the Africa West Area have used the principle of one take one to bring another person to the household of God. They have helped them to participate or receive all essential ordinances, keep the associated covenants, and qualify for eternal life. Our seminary and institute young people have had many successes. Agape Brown Dodoo of the Nungua 1st Ward brought an investigator to seminary and now her friend attends seminary. Charles Obeney Adjei of the Sangonaa Ward visited a less active member in his home and invited him to come to seminary—and was so happy when his friend came to seminary the next day!
Bassey Abasido Victoria of the Ikpa Road Ward used to be less active, but a fellow institute student came to her and invited her to come and took her with him—and she now rejoices at being active the Church. She says that she wanted to come back but did not know how and is so grateful that her friend came and took her with him. Erasmus Anthony Pontoe, Jr. visited Sister Roneal Korlu Paiibo of the Matadi Ward. She at first did not want to come, but decided to do so, and today says that she had missed a lot by not being active in the Church.
When Christ showed himself unto the people of Nephi, He invited them: “Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither.” Please note that he did not ask them to go and invite another to come; nor did he ask them to go and visit and then report on the visit. No, the clear wording of His gentle, sweet command was to “Bring them hither.”[xii] He continued: “Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them…and it came to pass that…all the multitude…did go forth with their sick and their afflicted, and their lame, and with their blind, and with their dumb, and with all them that were afflicted in any manner and he did heal them everyone as they were brought forth unto him. And they did all, both they who had been healed and they who were whole, bow down at his feet, and did worship him…”[xiii] A great truth is subtly taught here: both the whole and the once-infirm together ended up at the Savior’s feet!
When one takes one other to the Savior through the ordinances and covenants, both, friend and befriended, draw close to the Savior and his redeeming, healing power. This is what will happen to each one of you who accepts and diligently acts on the invitation to bring another to the Savior. You and the one you take with you to receive ordinances and keep the associated covenants will draw closer to the Savior through the process. You and the one you bring will come to better know the Savior.
The Plan of Salvation is a map to guide us home, and the way home is to receive essential priesthood ordinances, keep the associated covenants to qualify for eternal life. The Church is the household of God where we can receive the ordinances, and help each other keep the covenants we have made with God. And, to belong to the household of God means that we will help one another. One who is strong in the Spirit will take another with him or her on the path that will return us home to our Heavenly Father.
As a fellow citizen of the household of God, I invite each one of you to join with me taking one with you to receive all essential priesthood ordinances and keep the associated covenants. I promise that as you do this, you will draw closer to the Savior, be protected from the wickedness of the world, and be filled with peace and joy.
1. Ephesians 2:19
2. The Family: A Proclamation to the World
3. Doctrine and Covenants 14:7
4. See Harold B. Lee, “Eternal Life,” Instructor, 101, no. 10 (October 1966): 378; see also Bruce R. McConkie, CR, April 1970, 26.
5. See Alma 34:11-17
6. See 3 Nephi 27:13-22
7. See 2 Nephi 31:5-21
8. See Doctrine and Covenants 84:19-22
9. See Moroni 6:4
10. See Handbook 2, sec. 3.4
11. Doctrine and Covenants 84:106 (see verses 106-108)
12. 3 Nephi 17:7
13. 3 Nephi 17:7-10 (1-10)