My talk today is on D&C 11:21 which says,
Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.
Let me take this verse apart into chunks that we can understand…
“Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word…”
We need to first learn the doctrine before we can look to declaring it unto all those who are ready to receive it. There are many teachings that constitute “my word”. One prime example is the Gospel of Jesus Christ which is that we must
- have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,
- come and repent of all of our sins,
- be baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority,
- receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and
- endure to the end
“Enduring to the end” means that we continue to have faith, continue to repent, partaking of the sacrement to renew our baptismal covenant, and remain worthy of the Holy Ghost. As we learn to apply these simple principles in our lives we will be blessed. After we obtain the word, we can then learn how to declare the word. As a full time missionary, my job is to preach the word to those who are listening. I do that in a variety of ways from knocking on doors to talking to people while walking. In my youth I needed to obtain his word as part of my preparation to serve a mission, and now I need to declare his word as well as continue to obtain his word.
“…then shall your tongue be loosed…”
Isn’t that the same as “declare my Word”? No it isn’t, here’s why: There are multiple instances in the scriptures where the writer has been told not to write anything (commonly found in the Book of Mormon where the other set of plates is mentioned). One such example is found in 1 Nephi 14, where Nephi writes “…I, Nephi, am forbidden that I should write the remainder of the things which I saw and heard; wherefore the things which I have written sufficeth me; and I have written but a small part of the things which I saw…” But on top of that, the Holy Ghost will sometimes tell you not to speak to this person yet, but that he is being prepared to receive the full gospel. I firmly believe that we are receiving these thoughts every day, waiting for the time when we can go and declare the word of God. I also believe that the people who are being prepared to receive the gospel have had challenges placed in their path so that when they hear the gospel message that they will receive it, they fully accept it with all of their heart and mind.
“…if you desire…”
This part of the verse is interesting, we need to have the desire to share the gospel to others. That desire comes from wanting to live the gospel standard and then desiring to share that with others around us. As we continue to desire to share the gospel, in harmony with the spirit then we will have success in all of our works. The desire to share the gospel can be seen in all of the missionaries that I have served with and around. Being junior companion to a leader in the mission, I have the great opportunity to serve with other elders in the mission, and I have the opportunity to serve different wards. It is a learning opportunity that I am so grateful for. The desire of all missionaries to share the gospel is tremendous. This ward is excellent in helping the missionary work in this area. Keep up the good work for all future missionaries.
“…you shall have my Spirit and my word…”
After all this explanation, we must come to the conclusion that all of our efforts must be guided by the Holy Ghost, for without the Holy Ghost we can’t achieve much in the process of conversion. My job as a missionary is to bring the Holy Ghost into the home and I’m supposed to teach by the Spirit. The role that the Holy Ghost plays is so much more meaningful and so much more important. PMG chapter 4 says,
Elder M. Russell Ballard spoke of the power of the Spirit: “True conversion comes through the power of the Spirit. When the Spirit touches the heart, hearts are changed. When individuals … feel the Spirit working with them, or when they see the evidence of the Lord’s love and mercy in their lives, they are edified and strengthened spiritually and their faith in Him increases. These experiences with the Spirit follow naturally when a person is willing to experiment upon the word. This is how we come to feel the gospel is true” (“Now Is the Time,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 75).
I want those who I teach to think to themselves “huh, he taught very well and I felt something, maybe I should look into this.” When I feel that the Spirit has made that impression on their minds then I am confident that they can be numbered among this church, and be fellowshipped in this church.
“…yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.”
The power of God, unto the convincing of men. What an excellent blessing to receive after all the preparation that we do. We can all be missionaries, even President David O. McKay taught repeatedly “every member a missionary”. As we do all of the parts to this scripture, we will not only more firmly root our testimony in the gospel, and we be able to bring those to the light of the gospel. So the scripture in full is a lesson that can be talked about for hours and is simple enough for one to understand. One more thought before I close, three weeks ago I gave a similar talk about the spiritual daily bread, here is a excerpt from that talk:
…Allow me to take an example from my mission. My companions have taught that we need to be doing four things: learning, applying, teaching and, relearning. When we learn about something we see how it could be applied to our lives. We then apply it to our lives. And then we go and teach others through our experiences of applying it. And then we relearn the concept, but in a new way. Most of us have read the Book of Mormon at least once (if not, go and do so) and we have gathered something from that experience. During my most recent reading of the book I have more than once skipped over 2 Nephi because of its difficult-to-understand chapters. But I commonly miss something from those chapters that may help me help someone else. If I did not have those scriptures on hand then how could I use them for a lesson that I might need to teach? But I read those chapters and I was surprised at the depth of some of the teachings. I picked one or two of those teachings and then applied them to missionary work and my life. The changes that occurred were quite significant. My interactions with the members improved, my investigators progressed quicker, and even my companion noticed a change. I then went about teaching my companion what changes I have made, and various members were also taught the same principles. I then was given some inspiration from a member on how another set of ideas could improve the experience I had with this, and I have begun the process all over again…