By President M. Russell Ballard | April 2019 General Conference
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article. It brought back a memory of something I learned through my own personal experience many years ago.
I have learned a considerable amount of doctrine since I joined the Church in 1989. I belonged to a ward whose members were always striving to learn more deeper doctrine…which is not a bad thing. I remember in my early days as a new member how overwhelmed I felt feeling like I could never measure up to the knowledge that many of my ward members exhibited (I know, I know…I should never compare myself to someone else’s progression in the gospel). Sunday School class was a difficult journey for me as I tried to keep up and make sense of the deep doctrine that many members would instruct on. As a result of this, I felt inadequate and weak in my knowledge of the scriptures and caused me to have less of a drive to spiritually progress.
It wasn’t until I moved and began attending a new ward over 10 years later that I realized that learning deep doctrine wasn’t as important than understanding and living the true, pure, and simple gospel of Jesus Christ. I felt such relief! From there, everything else started to fall into place. I had a renewed sense of love for the scriptures and as I learned about the simple things expected of me, I thirsted for more. Living the gospel became easier and my testimony continued to grow. It really is JUST THE SIMPLE things that matter first and foremost. ~Emilia Julian
My brothers and sisters, it’s difficult for me to believe that it was 71 years ago, in 1948, that I was a missionary in England and 44 years ago that my wife, Barbara, and I took our family to Canada when I was the president of the Canada Toronto Mission. While serving there in April 1976, I was called to the First Quorum of the Seventy, and unexpectedly in 1985, I was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Unlike my previous callings, which included future releases, my release from my calling to the Twelve is not the best option right now; however, I pray that day will come only after I have finished all the Lord has called me to do.
In thinking about my last 43 years of service as a General Authority and the privilege I have had to minister to Heavenly Father’s children, I have come to realize more fully that He wants all of His children to find peace, joy, and happiness in their lives.
The prophet Lehi taught, “Men [and women] are, that they might have joy.” There are many reasons why peace, joy, and happiness may elude us in this life, including poverty, war, natural disasters, and unexpected setbacks in employment, health, and family relationships.
But even though we cannot control those external forces that impact our lives here on earth, as we strive to become faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, we can find peace, joy, and happiness despite the worldly troubles that swirl around us.
One of my children once said, “Dad, I wonder if I will ever be able to make it.” I responded, “All Heavenly Father asks of us is to do the very best we can each day.” Brothers and sisters, do the best you can do day after day, and before you know it, you will come to realize that your Heavenly Father knows you and that He loves you. And when you know that—really know it—your life will have real purpose and meaning and you will be filled with joy and peace.
As the Light of the World, the Savior said, “Whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.”
“Jesus Christ is the name which is given of the Father, and there is none other name given whereby [we] can be saved;
“Wherefore, all men [and women] must take upon them the name which is given of the Father.”
The scriptures teach us that Satan desires to lead people into darkness. His every effort is to shut out the light and truth of Jesus Christ and His gospel. As Lehi taught his children, the devil “seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” If Heavenly Father’s “work and … glory” is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of [men and women],” Lucifer’s “work” is to bring to pass the misery and endless woe of God’s children. Sin and transgression dim the Light of Christ in our lives. That is why our quest is to bask in the Light of Christ, which brings peace, joy, and happiness.
In the last 18 months, the Lord has inspired His prophet and the Apostles to implement a number of wonderful adjustments. However, I worry that the spiritual purposes of these adjustments might become lost in the excitement about the changes themselves.
Joseph F. Smith said: “The true, pure, simple gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored. We are responsible for maintaining it upon the earth.” He added that the true, pure, and simple gospel is the “saving doctrines of Christ.”
In the Articles of Faith, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”
The first principles of the gospel are faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. His brother Hyrum taught: “Preach them over [and over] again: you will find that day after day new ideas and additional light concerning them will be revealed to you. You can enlarge upon them … to comprehend them clearly. You will then be able to make them more plainly understood by those [you] teach.”
The best ways for us to see the spiritual purposes of the Church are to live the true, pure, and simple teachings of Christ and also to apply the Savior’s two great commandments: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart. … Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Obedience to those two commandments provides a way to experience more peace and joy. When we love and serve the Lord and love and serve our neighbors, we will naturally feel more happiness that comes to us in no better way.
Loving God and loving our neighbors is the doctrinal foundation of ministering; home-centered, Church-supported learning; Sabbath-day spiritual worship; and the work of salvation on both sides of the veil supported in the Relief Societies and the elders quorums. All of these things are based on the divine commandments to love God and to love our neighbors. Can there be anything more basic, more fundamental, and more simple than that?
Read the remainder of the article at ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
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