Friday, May 18, 2012

The Three Pillars of Personal Testimony

We live in a world in which we are constantly assailed by the trials, temptations, opinions, philosophies, creeds, heartache, betrayal, and grief that are a part of this life.  Some of these things are incidental to a life lived in a fallen world, and some of these afflictions can be attributed to the determined assault of Satan.  In light of the fierce trials and temptations that we are called upon every day to face, it is crucial that we learn to build ourselves "upon the rock of our Redeemer".

What is "the rock of our Redeemer"?  It is what Moroni (in Ether Ch. 12) was talking about when he talked about that hope, which comes of faith in Christ that "maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God."  It is this "anchor" to our soul, the sure foundation of Christ, that will make us steadfast and immovable “that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall (Helaman 5:12).”

No matter what tribulation you are called upon to weather in this life, no matter what grief, heartache, suffering, or temptation you must endure, you will not be moved, but only if your are built on the rock of the our Redeemer.

"He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved.  In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.  Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us.  Selah."  (Psalms 62:6-8)

How does one go about building on the rock of our Savior?  Christ taught that  "....whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.  And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it."  (Matthew 7:24-27)

In other words it is only by obedience to His commandments that we can be built upon the rock of our Redeemer.  Let us assume that in order to find ourselves even standing on this rock we must first have faith and repent of our sins, be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Then what?  We must ENDURE, and not just for a while, but to the END.  Building on the rock of our Savior Jesus Christ is what will enable us to ENDURE to the END.  However, once we have placed ourselves upon the rock by dedicating ourselves to living the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel, we will find ourselves called upon to endure the most horrific onslaught the scriptures can describe.  This storm is coming whether we are built on the rock or not; so, as the primary song teaches, the wise man is the one who builds his house upon the rock. However, in order to successfully weather such a storm, it would be wise to build, not just a house, but a fortress of gospel principles with which to protect ourselves and our families from the assault of sin and temptation, and the storms of trial and hardship that we will all face in our lives.  How are we to go about this? Remember, the Savior instructed us that we must hear and do his sayings, or commandments.  His commandments don't end with just the first principles of the Gospel!

Among the most important of these commandments are what I call the three pillars of personal testimony (or, if you like, the three pillars of spiritual worthiness).  These three principles can be considered vital elements of any structure we may choose to erect on the rock of the Savior, without which our structure will not stand.

These three pillars are: constant prayer, consistent scripture study, and regularly and worthily partaking of the Sacrament, or as Elder Donald L. Hallstrom put it, "fully using the weekly gift of the sacrament."  ("Converted to His Gospel through His Church", Ensign May 2012).  In order to partake of, and fully use, the WEEKLY gift of the sacrament we have to go where it is performed every week-so regular church attendance is part of the bargain.

1) Constant and sincere prayer will help us to become conversant with voice of the Lord. Meaningful and sincere prayer will help us to grow closer to the Lord through the Spirit and, with the appropriate time and effort on our part, to develop a close personal relationship with our Father in heaven through faith and obedience to him. Elder Henry B. Eyring said it best:

"Humble prayer to our Heavenly Father, with deep faith in Jesus Christ, is essential to qualify us for the companionship of the Holy Ghost."  ("Serve with the Spirit", Ensign Nov 2010, 60)

We need the Holy Ghost in order that we might navigate through the stormy seas of deception and distraction that surround us.

" For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do."  (2 Nephi 32:5)

"And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things."  (Moroni 10:5)

If we are ever in doubt, we can gain a testimony of the truth of any principle through the Spirit, if we will ask God with a “sincere heart, and…real intent” (Moroni 10:4).  The Lord has specifically commanded us to seek him out in prayer for a witness of the Spirit and protection (conditioned upon our obedience to that testimony) against temptation and trial:

“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. (D&C 46:7)

Here we are given a specific promise that if we will pray "in all things", and then follow the direction of the Spirit, we will be protected from the "doctrines" and precepts of the world, some of which are worse than others, but none of which will do us any lasting good.  That isn't to say that we are to depend on the Lord to make our decisions for us, in fact far from it.

"For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.  Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves.  And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.  But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned."  (D&C 58:26-29)

Instead we are instructed to "counsel with the Lord" in all our doings.

"Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.  Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever."  (Alma 37:37, 36)

What does it mean to counsel with the Lord?  The word counsel, by definition, refers to "advice, especially given formally" (according to Dictionary.com).  According to Isaiah (see Isaiah 9:6), one of the titles that the Lord holds is that of "counsellor".  It makes sense then that we are to seek His counsel, or advice, in all things.  A good advisor doesn't tell you what to do, they tell you what they KNOW based on their own experience (which is presumed to be greater than your own), and then they allow you to make your own decision.  If you are wise, you will seriously consider their advice when you make your own decision, but you are by no means compelled to follow that advice.

In the case of the Lord, you are similarly not compelled to follow his counsel (unless you want to be considered slothful, and unwise), but I imagine that He hopes that you will recognize the inestimable value inherent in the counsel of the Lord over that of any other (including your own).  The scriptures are replete with testimony concerning the value of the Lord's counsel, and the virtue of following that counsel.

"Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.  There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand."  (Proverbs 19:20-21)

"The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations."  (Psalms 33:11)

"Wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand.  For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works."  (Jacob 4:10)

Why do we need to seek the counsel of the Lord?  Because in this world we are tossed on the seas of opinion, philosophy, false doctrine, lies, and temptation.  This is what I imagine it feels like to be "sifted as wheat".

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always, lest ye be tempted by the devil, and ye be led away captive by him.  Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always lest ye enter into temptation; for Satan desireth to have you, that he may sift you as wheat."  (3 Nephi 18:15, 18)

This is what Helaman meant when he told his sons that "the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea....all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you"

In a world of shifting values, and transitory fulfillment, we need now, more than ever, to seek out counsel that "standeth forever".  If we follow such counsel we will gain a stability and serenity that is altogether too rare in this world.

Then there is this grim reality which we must face.  The Devil is always working against us.  He has nothing better to do, and he never sleeps.

"The Devil sleepeth not....therefore cease not to prepare thyself to battle; for on thy right hand and on the left are enemies that never rest."  (Thomas Hammerken, The Imitation of Christ, 70)

When we come to this stark realization, surely we all feel moved to cry out, as did Nephi:  "O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul?  Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies?  Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?"  (2 Nephi 4:31)

It helps to remember that there is someone else who never sleeps, and who never tires.  That person is God.  He is always working for our good, and constantly seeks to help and counsel and bless us, if only we will reach out to Him in prayer.

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."  (Matthew 7:7-8)

"And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you."  (3 Nephi 18:20)

"And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."  (Jeremiah 29:13)
We need to learn to recognize the voice of the Lord, so that when he calls we can follow Him to safety.

"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."  (John 10:11, 27-28)

That is why it is so important to pray.  Without prayer we are like sheep without a shepherd, vulnerable and exposed to the wolves of the world.  We are cut off and vulnerable to attack and, defenseless, we will inevitably perish.  Without prayer and a close relationship with the Lord we are left alone, left to our own counsel, and to our own wisdom (such as it is), which without divine guidance is prone to outside influences which can lead to errors and misjudgments that can prove fatal.  If we are not familiar with the voice of the Lord, how will we recognize it when we need it?

O ye workers of iniquity; ye that are puffed up in the vain things of the world, ye that have professed to have known the ways of righteousness nevertheless have gone astray, as sheep having no shepherd, notwithstanding a shepherd hath called after you and is still calling after you, but ye will not hearken unto his voice!  Behold, I say unto you, that the good shepherd doth call you; yea, and in his own name he doth call you, which is the name of Christ; and if ye will not hearken unto the voice of the good shepherd, to the name by which ye are called, behold, ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd.  And now if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what fold are ye?  Behold, I say unto you, that the devil is your shepherd, and ye are of his fold; and now, who can deny this?  Behold, I say unto you, whosoever denieth this is a liar and a child of the devil.  And whosoever doeth this must receive his wages of him; therefore, for his wages he receiveth death, as to things pertaining unto righteousness, being dead unto all good works."  (Alma 5:37-39, 42)

It is for this reason that Satan does everything he can to disrupt the lines of communication between us and our Father in Heaven.

"And now, my beloved brethren, I perceive that ye ponder still in your hearts; and it grieveth me that I must speak concerning this thing.  For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray.  But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul."  (2 Nephi 32:8-9)

2) Consistent scripture study will help us, with the guidance of the Spirit (according to our own diligence in learning), to gain the facts that we need in order to make an informed decision about what is right and good and what is not.

"....Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do."  (2 Nephi 32:3)

The scriptures contain many simple and easy to understand bits of advice concerning how to judge for ourselves (see Moroni Ch. 7) between those things that will help us to serve God, and those things that will only hurt us.  The scriptures can help us to discern a true messenger (and/or message) of the Lord from a false one, and thus avoid deception. Some of the best advice (for example) is in Doctrine and Covenants Section 50:17-24, where we are taught by the Lord that a true messenger of God will "preach [his] gospel by the Spirit, even the Comforter which was sent forth to teach the truth.” This is to the end that “he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together.” The Lord instructs us further that “…that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness.” The advice contained within the scriptures can help us to successfully navigate the storm of opinion, philosophy, false doctrine, lies, and temptation that rocks the world around us.  Also, the scriptures provide many examples of people who found themselves in similar situations, with similar questions, problems, and temptations, and we can learn from their lives.  It is for all of these reasons that Paul chose to instruct Timothy to turn to the scriptures in the face of the same wickedness and dangers that assail us from all sides:

"For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.  For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.  Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.  But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.  But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.  But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works."  (2 Timothy 3:2-9, 12-17)

But that is not all.  The scriptures are more than just a tool for righteousness, they are a source of hope and comfort to anyone who will turn to them, as Paul also told the Romans:

"For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope."  (Romans 15:4)

The power of this promise, the promise of hope and comfort through the scriptures, cannot be understated.  No matter how terrible our situation, no matter how grim our surroundings, no matter how bitter our enemies have become, we can turn to the words of the scriptures for comfort and hope.

This can be true even if we don't have the scriptures in our actual possession.  If we have truly loved and studied them until they are written in our hearts, the Lord has promised us that we will have them when we need them.

"....Treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man."  (see D&C 84:85)

Lastly, the scriptures “open the window to revelation” (see Preach My Gospel Ch. 4, pg 95). They are filled with the records of prophets speaking on behalf of the Lord. The words and the teachings in the scriptures are his, and the Holy Ghost will help you to receive the divine answers to your questions as you read them.

 "If we configure our hearts and minds properly with faith, disciplined obedience, prayer, and scripture study, we can access the network of divine and eternal truths. We can receive the teachings and counsel of God’s prophet, opening to us knowledge and revelation from our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

The Lord counsels us to become skilled in using these spiritual windows so we can seek and receive personal revelation for ourselves and our families. When the storms of life leave us confused, the windows of revelation can guide us safely home to our Heavenly Father."  (Joseph B. Wirthlin,"Windows of Light and Truth", Ensign Nov 1995)

Elder Henry B. Eyring taught that it is not enough to simply read the scriptures, in the hope that the action itself will be enough to obtain the revelation and blessings and comfort that we seek.  He explains that more is required:

"Our humility and our faith that invite spiritual gifts are increased by our reading, studying, and pondering the scriptures. We have all heard those words. Yet we may read a few lines or pages of scripture every day and hope that will be enough.  But reading, studying, and pondering are not the same. We read words and we may get ideas. We study and we may discover patterns and connections in scripture. But when we ponder, we invite revelation by the Spirit. Pondering, to me, is the thinking and the praying I do after reading and studying in the scriptures carefully."  ("Serve with the Spirit", Ensign Nov 2010, 60)

For a comprehensive course on how to improve your scripture study, start with my article Scripture Master Tip #1: Just Do It!  There are a total of 21 Scripture Master Tips, and they are sequentially linked so you can read them in order.  These tips cover everything you could possibly need to know and to do in order to get the most out of your scriptures.

It is my hope that you can begin to grasp that these so-called pillars do not stand alone, but in fact they are each inextricably linked.  In order to fully reap the blessings of prayer, one must turn to the word of the Lord, but in order to obtain the full blessings of the counsel to study our scriptures, one must deeply ponder them, which includes thoughtful and sincere prayer.  Just so, these two principles are not enough to protect you from the storms of life and the assault of Satan on their own, unless they are also coupled with the principle of: 

3)  Regular Church Attendance, which includes partaking of the Sacrament worthily (which implies that you are keeping God's commandments to the absolute best of your ability, and repenting when your best is not enough), and fulfill any assignments and callings you may receive. There are many reasons why this is important, but the most relevant are these:

a) King Benjamin said (in Mosiah 5:13) “How knoweth a man the master he has not served, and who is a stranger to him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?” How can we expect to be granted the ability to discern God’s word (and his true servants) if we ourselves neglect to follow it (or them)? If we do not serve God by obeying his commandments, we will lose the guidance of the spirit altogether, and then we will be truly lost. The surest way to gain a testimony of the truth of any principle is by obedience to that principle, as Jesus stated in John 7:16-17: “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”

b) Paul said in Ephesians 4:14 (see 11-14) that the organization of the church was established by the Lord (in part) “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;” The Lord has provided a prophet in this age as in ages past to act as a “watchman” (see Ezekiel 33), to warn us of danger and to tell us things as they truly are. The prophet and the twelve apostles are there to keep the doctrine pure, and to speak “as they are moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21) for the benefit of church as a whole. We need the guidance of “apostles;…prophets;…evangelists; and…pastors [bishops] and teachers” to help us avoid the pitfalls that Satan has placed in our way. It falls to us to humble ourselves enough to follow these men, who are just men, but nevertheless are men who have been called and ordained of God to receive revelation from the Lord on our behalf, and to teach us the Lord’s will. The same also applies to the various simple lay teachers that we listen to each Sunday. They have been called to teach and instruct us, and while they are not perfect, we can only benefit from listening to (and applying) the things we learn at church.

For a more in-depth look at the reasons and blessings for regular church attendance read my article entitled The 7 REAL reasons why you need to go to church.

c)  Regularly and worthily partaking of the sacrament (which includes regular church attendance)  The renewal of our covenants through the ordinance of the Sacrament is probably the most important. As we make and renew this covenant, the Lord promises us that we will “always have his Spirit to be with” us, if we in will “always remember Him and keep his commandments which he has given us.”  Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Seventy instructs us as to the power and importance of making, keeping, and especially renewing our covenants:

"If there are any of the essential ordinances yet to be performed in your life, intently prepare to receive each of them. Then we need to establish the discipline to live faithful to our covenants, fully using the weekly gift of the sacrament. Many of us are not being regularly changed by its cleansing power because of our lack of reverence for this holy ordinance."  ("Converted to His Gospel through His Church", Ensign May 2012, 13)

Christ Himself, after instituting the ordinance of the sacrament among the Nephites, promised them (and, by extension, us) that they would be built upon His rock, if they would correctly and righteously apply the ordinance of the sacrament.

"And when the Disciples had done this, Jesus said unto them: Blessed are ye for this thing which ye have done, for this is fulfilling my commandments, and this doth witness unto the Father that ye are willing to do that which I have commanded you.  And this shall ye always do to those who repent and are baptized in my name; and ye shall do it in remembrance of my blood, which I have shed for you, that ye may witness unto the Father that ye do always remember me.  And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you.  And I give unto you a commandment that ye shall do these things.  And if ye shall always do these things blessed are ye, for ye are built upon my rock.  But whoso among you shall do more or less than these are not built upon my rock, but are built upon a sandy foundation; and when the rain descends, and the floods come, and the winds blow, and beat upon them, they shall fall, and the gates of hell are ready open to receive them."  (3 Nephi 18:10-13)

Temptation and false teachings are all around us. We are constantly being inundated with ideas that will lead us away from God, and if followed to their conclusion, will ultimately lead us to destruction. These ideas are broadcast through our televisions, promulgated across the internet, and are even passed along by those whom we would call our peers. If anything, we are in more danger of being led astray than the people in the New Testament were in their day.    Fortunately we are not left alone to fend for ourselves.  The Lord has provided the foundation upon which if we choose to build we will be protected against the floods and storms of life, as well as the temptations and assaults of Satan.  We have, within easy grasp, great resources from which we, for ourselves, can gain and build a testimony, a fortress of faith buttressed by three powerful pillars of principle, through our own faith and diligence.

When I was on my mission, I used to compare these three pillars to the legs of a three-legged stool-if one leg broke, the others were not enough to keep you standing, and you would fall.  I used this analogy to teach people that each of these pillars must be carefully maintained, and that if even one principle was neglected the testimony that they had worked so carefully to build would topple and be destroyed.  If you stop going to church, scripture study, and the relationship of prayer that you have developed will suffer, and they will not be able to sustain you.  If you attend your meetings regularly, but you do not pray, or study your scriptures regularly, you are missing the point, but more dangerously, you are not building the strong gospel foundation that you will need when your testimony comes under attack, or more commonly, when you are disappointed or offended by someone at church, and your foundation is shaken in even the smallest way.  This is what Elder Hallstrom was referring to when he taught:

"Some have come to think of activity in the Church as the ultimate goal. Therein lies a danger. It is possible to be active in the Church and less active in the gospel. Let me stress: activity in the Church is a highly desirable goal; however, it is insufficient. Activity in the Church is an outward indication of our spiritual desire. If we attend our meetings, hold and fulfill Church responsibilities, and serve others, it is publicly observed.  By contrast, the things of the gospel are usually less visible and more difficult to measure, but they are of greater eternal importance. For example, how much faith do we really have? How repentant are we? How meaningful are the ordinances in our lives? How focused are we on our covenants?

I repeat: we need the gospel and the Church. In fact, the purpose of the Church is to help us live the gospel. We often wonder: How can someone be fully active in the Church as a youth and then not be when they are older? How can an adult who has regularly attended and served stop coming? How can a person who was disappointed by a leader or another member allow that to end their Church participation? Perhaps the reason is they were not sufficiently converted to the gospel—the things of eternity."  (Donald L. Hallstrom, "Converted to His Gospel through His Church", Ensign May 2012, 12)

We will each be judged according to the light that we have, and in our case we have a great deal of light. We can turn to volumes of recorded scripture, and we have been taught (even commanded) to turn to the Lord in prayer for guidance on any question of truth. We have the Church, the prophets that lead and direct us, and the covenants that we make and the ordinances that we observe through the priesthood.  It is easy for individuals, as well as groups, to become complacent, and to allow themselves to be distracted and to neglect the essential maintenance of the three important principles of constant prayer, consistent scripture study, and regular church attendance. When this happens, it is only too common for people to become offended over some small question or perceived slight, and to fall away. When this happens, and if, tragically, this happens to you-it can only mean that you do not have your house built upon the rock of the Savior, and so "when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you"  it WILL have "power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo."  It seems to me to be a shameful waste of great divine potential for people who have accepted the Gospel to subsequently reject it and fall away. Unfortunately it may happen that we each could someday find ourselves in danger of becoming one of those people.

Fortunately we have this assurance, that the Lord is with us, and that He has given us "all things" that are "expedient unto man" (see 2 Nephi 2:27) including these three pillars, in order that we can return to live with Him again, and so obtain eternal life.  The Lord understands that we are not perfect, and so He has given us tools that can grow as we grow.  He has promised that if we will use these tools to build upon His foundation we will "never fall".

"Behold, ye are little children and ye cannot bear all things now; ye must grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth.  Fear not, little children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath given me;  And none of them that my Father hath given me shall be lost.  And the Father and I are one.  I am in the Father and the Father in me; and inasmuch as ye have received me, ye are in me and I in you.  Wherefore, I am in your midst, and I am the good shepherd, and the stone of Israel.  He that buildeth upon this rock shall never fall."  (D&C 50:40-44)

For more on the value and uses of the  Three Pillars, you ought to read my article called How Do I Get My Testimony Back?

And now, after all this, I feel that I should provide a link to my previous post, which deals with the fact these principles are not all there is when it comes to our personal salvation, and why it is dangerous to simply coast on the assumption that the bare observance of these principles will save us.  Read it here:

How to Overcome Temptation and Trials: Why the Sunday School Answers are not Enough

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