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If You Believe All These Things

I am honored to be with you, on this uniquely beautiful campus, in a place which is among the most picturesque of all of God's earthly creations. I am overwhelmed by the physical beauty that is all about us, but I am most impressed by the spiritual beauty which emanates from you. You represent the very best of our Father's children who have been reserved to come forth in this challenging time in history. We have every reason to be optimistic of the future, because of the trust and confidence we have in you.

Speaking of BYU-Hawaii and her sister institutions, President Hinckley said: "These schools serve as educational flagships. They testify to the earnest commitment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to education while demonstrating to the world that excellence in secular learning can be achieved within an environment of religious faith. As graduates from these institutions spread across the earth, their knowledge, faith, and integrity will bless not only themselves and their families but also their communities and their nations and bring honor and vitality to the Church" (A Voyage of Faith, p. 1). Listen to the Prophet's vision of your future. You will be a blessing bless not only to yourselves and your families but also to your communities and your nations, and you will bring honor and vitality to the Church. The mission statement of this university declares in part that: "Brigham Young University-Hawaii exists to assist individuals (That's you!) in their quest for perfection and eternal life and in their efforts to influence the establishment of peace internationally. We seek to accomplish this by: Preparing men and women with the inter-cultural and leadership skills necessary to promote world peace and international brotherhood, to address world problems, and to be a righteous influence in families, professions, civic responsibilities, social affiliations, and the Church" (BYU-H 2003-2205 General Catalog, 13). If each one of you is to make your contribution to the establishment of peace internationally, and if each of you is to be a righteous influence in your family, profession, the Church, and your other associations, you must take seriously every aspect of your educational experience. Don't allow yourself to look at any course as merely a requirement to be completed. Rather, pursue each course, and every class period of each course, as an opportunity to learn and to equip yourself with knowledge, skills, and faith so that you might become a righteous influence and make a positive contribution to world peace. These are not just lofty aspirations and high-sounding words. These are the expectations which your leaders and the Lord have of you, and, more importantly, they are the expectations that you must have of yourselves. There is a wonderful book entitled The Windwalker , which tells of an aged American Indian Chief who teaches the young boys of his tribe. His instruction is climaxed by his expression of the vision he has of their future. He helps them see themselves as mighty warriors. Then, in his unique form of prayer, he expresses his great wisdom saying, ". . . is it not so, that we become most quickly the people we think we are." To contribute to the establishment of world peace and to be a righteous influence in all your associations may seem to be an unrealistic expectation. But, I promise you that if you will constantly think of yourselves this way--seeing yourselves making those contributions and providing that righteous influence, you will become what you think you are.

You must know that a loving and all-knowing Heavenly Father has inspired Prophets of this dispensation to establish and equip this institution of higher learning not only to serve you and your purposes, but also to serve Him and His purposes. Our Father in Heaven has a clear vision of the future, and you are a part of His vision. Each of you must demonstrate, that excellence in secular learning can indeed be achieved within an environment of religious faith. May I express it another way. As you acquire the knowledge and skills expected of you, you must also learn, come to understand and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and then act consistently upon your beliefs.

In King Benjamin's marvelous address to his people, he not only taught them the gospel, he challenged them to live it. He issued a call to action--a call for his people to act upon the things they believed--a call which is just as applicable to us in year 2005 as it was then, 124 years before the birth of Christ. After teaching gospel truths to his people as an angel of the Lord had instructed him, King Benjamin paused, then with warmth continued: "My friends and my brethren, my kindred and my people, I would again call your attention, that ye may hear and understand the remainder of my words . . ." (Mosiah 4:4). He called for their attention. Why? Because he wanted them both to hear and to understand what he yet had to say to them. He then taught them further in the truths of the gospel and of their responsibility to live it. His unmistakable call to action came when he said: ". . . and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them" (Mosiah 4:10). He wanted his people to hear the truths of the gospel; he wanted them to understand it and to believe it; but most especially, he wanted them to do that which they had heard, understood, and believed.

King Benjamin's people had gathered to their temple in response to a proclamation made throughout all the land. They had been invited to come to hear the words of their king and spiritual leader. It was more than a Thursday Devotional; it was a General Conference in Book of Mormon times. A great number came-so many that they could not all be taught within the walls of the temple. A tower was constructed so that the people could hear the king, but even with the tower the gathering was too large for all to hear. King Benjamin, therefore, directed that his words should be written and sent to those who were not under the sound of his voice. We read: "And these are the words which he spake and caused to be written, saying: My brethren . . . I have not commanded you to come up hither to trifle with the words which I shall speak, but that you should hearken unto me, and open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view" (Mosiah 2:5-9).

All of you have been invited to come to this devotional service today, having gathered to this beautiful island and this marvelous campus from 71 countries around the world. Paraphrasing the words of King Benjamin I would say: "You have not been invited to this devotional service to trifle with, or take lightly, the words which I shall speak; but you have come to hearken to my words, to open your ears that you may hear, and your hearts that you may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of God my be unfolded to your view. I invite you to listen with your hearts that you might hear, understand, believe, and then to do that which you believe.

This reminds us of the New Testament challenge James extended when he said: "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass; for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was" (James 1:22-24).

When we profess to having heard, understood, and believed the word of the Lord and then choose not to live according to His teachings, we forget what manner of men and women we are and what manner of men and women we ought to be. After Jesus had taught some rather basic gospel truths to His disciples in Jerusalem and explained what was expected of them as disciples, many of them complained about how hard it would be to do those things. John tells us that: "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him" (John 6:66). They had heard; and understood; and it appears that they had believed; but they were not willing to do what they believed.

What are the gospel truths which King Benjamin taught his people--truths which he was so anxious for them to make a part of their daily lives? They are the same gospel truths we hear taught from the pulpits of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are the same truths which we must understand, believe, and do in our own daily lives. Will you listen carefully as I recount some of the specifics King Benjamin taught. He began with what we think of as the "first law of heaven." He taught his people that they must obey the commandments of God, and he promised them that inasmuch as they did obey they would prosper, and their enemies would have no power over them. He told them to beware of contentions and strife among them, and he warned them of the consequences of being inclined to obey the evil spirit. He made it very clear that they all had been taught that which is right and that they also had been taught of the sacred records containing the teachings and prophecies of the prophets down to the time that Lehi left Jerusalem. Is this not an appropriate description of yourselves. You have been taught what is right, and you know how the Lord expects you to live. You have the scriptures as your sacred guide. King Benjamin warned his people against transgression and going contrary to that which they had been taught. He described how this drift descends upon us: ". . . that ye do withdraw yourselves from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in you to guide you in wisdom's paths. . ." (Mosiah 2:36).

King Benjamin warned of the awful situation of those that had fallen into transgression and had remained unrepentant. He taught of the goodness, power, and wisdom of God, of God's great love for His children, and of the debt of gratitude they should feel toward Him. He taught of the divine mission of Jesus Christ, of His great atoning sacrifice and certain resurrection. He made very clear that the Savior is the source of salvation and that salvation comes through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He taught of the importance of giving selfless service to others and that such service is service to God. He assured his people of temporal and spiritual blessings and taught of the blessed and happy state of those who keep the God's commandments. He promised them that if they would hold out faithful to the end they would be received into heaven and there dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness.

King Benjamin taught that the natural man is an enemy to God. He warned against contention and rebellion and against withdrawing from the Spirit of the Lord. He taught of daily prayer, humility, patience, kindness, and of the need to forsake sin. He affirmed the promise of forgiveness and remission of sins. He taught of retaining a remission of sins and of the ultimate judgment all must face. He stressed responsibilities within families and of what children should be taught. And he left no question as to the importance of providing for the poor and the needy and of individual responsibility to give according to one's capacity. Finally, he warned of sin in its many forms and cautioned his people with words appropriate and timely for each one of us today. He said: "But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember and perish not" (Mosiah 4:30).

After King Benjamin had finished speaking, he wanted to know if the people had heard, understood, and believed what he had said. We read: "And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually. . . And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days . . . And now, these are the words which King Benjamin desired of them; and therefore he said unto them: Ye have spoken the words that I desired; and the covenant which ye have made is a righteous covenant" (Mosiah 5:2-6).

King Benjamin taught his people another very important concept--a concept which I hope to teach you today in a way that you will not trifle with the words which I shall speak, but that you will hearken unto me, and open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view. In the 13 th verse of the third chapter of Mosiah, we read these profound words: "And the Lord God hath sent his holy prophets among all the children of men, to declare these things to every kindred, nation, and tongue, that thereby whosoever should believe that Christ should come, the same might receive remission of their sins, and rejoice with exceedingly great joy, even as though he had already come among them " (Mosiah 3:13). Do you see the significance of what King Benjamin was saying? Here he is, 124 years before the birth of the Savior, telling his people that if they truly have faith in Christ and faith that He should come, they could receive, in advance, a remission of their sins, and they could rejoice with exceedingly great joy, then, "even as though he had already come among them."

I would ask you these questions: Is it possible for us to look to the Savior's Second Coming even as King Benjamin urged his people to look to the Savior's "First Coming"? And, can the promise of remission of sins and rejoicing with exceedingly great joy be transferred to our day, even as though He had already come among us? I believe it is possible. Elder Bruce R. McConkie stated: "Be it known that it is the privilege of the saints today to separate themselves from the world and to receive millennial blessings in their lives. And any person who today abides the laws that will be kept during the Millennium will receive, here and now, the spirit and blessings of the Millennium in his life ( Millennial Messiah , 682).

The Second Coming of Our Lord is certain. This glorious event will unquestionably announce the commencement of the Millennium. "A millennium is a period of 1,000 years. When we speak of 'the Millennium,' we refer to the 1,000 years following the Savior's Second Coming. During the Millennium, 'Christ will reign personally upon the earth.' The Millennium will be a time of righteousness and peace . . . Satan will be 'bound, that he shall have no place in the hearts of men' (D&C 45:55). During the Millennium, all people on the earth will be good and just, but many will not have received the fullness of the gospel. Consequently, members of the Church will participate in missionary work. Members of the Church will also participate in temple work during the Millennium. The Saints will continue to build temples and receive ordinances in behalf of their kindred dead. Guided by revelation, they will prepare records of their ancestors all the way back to Adam and Eve. Complete righteousness and peace will continue until the end of the 1,000 years, when Satan 'shall be loosed for a little season. . ." ( True to the Faith , 103-104).

The timing of the Savior's Second Coming is uncertain, but the signs are unfolding around us daily as prophecies are being fulfilled. There should be no panic, because there are many events, clearly described in the scriptures, which must yet occur; but neither should we be complacent in our preparations for that great day. The conditions that will exist after His coming have been prophetically described. He will reign under conditions of righteousness and peace; Satan will be bound; and there will be a great acceleration of missionary work and temple and family history work. What can we do today to separate ourselves from the world and to receive millennial blessings in our lives? It is within the capacity of each of us to live righteously through absolute honesty, exact obedience, total worthiness, and purity of mind and body. It is within the capacity of each of us to be peacemakers, to be forgiving, caring, gentle, kind, and loving. It is within our capacity also to become more conscientious and consistent in our missionary efforts, family history work, and temple worship. But what about the binding of Satan? In the Millennium that will be a God imposed sanction of the evil one and his powers. But what about today? How can that Millennial condition, the binding of Satan, be advanced to our day and time? I believe that it is within the capacity of each of us to bind Satan ourselves, to exclude him from our lives, and to stay out of his territory. So long as we do not approach him, flirting with sin and exposing ourselves to his pernicious and powerful influence, he is, in effect, bound and cast out of our presence. Living in righteousness, bringing peace to those about us, taking the steps which will bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the living and the dead, and preventing the influence of Satan from coming into our lives will entitle us to receive, here and now, the spirit and blessings of the Millennium in this life. With this will come remission of sins and exceedingly great joy now, even as though Christ had already come among us.

I pray that we might hear, understand, and believe the word of God as we receive it, and that we too will covenant a righteous covenant to do what we believe. King Benjamin would say to us today: ". . . and now, if you believe all these things, see that ye do them."

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.