Editor's note: This is one of two articles about the 6th Annual Education Conference at Southern Virginia University. Click here to see "A 'journey to higher ground' at Southern Virginia University conference."
The journey to know Jesus Christ personally, and to learn from his plan, his prophet on the earth today and his holy temples were featured in presentations on the second day of the 16th Annual Education Conference at Southern Virginia University on Saturday, June 2.
Presenters addressing the theme, “Journey to Higher Ground,” included: David J. Ridges, author and Church Educational System instructor; Brad Wilcox, author and professor of education at Brigham Young University; Heidi S. Swinton, author of “To the Rescue: The Biography of Thomas S. Monson," and Elder John M. Madsen, an emeritus member of the First Quorum of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The signs of the times
Ridges continued his presentation from the previous day about the plan of salvation and how it serves as a map to higher ground. He focused this presentation on prophecies surrounding the Second Coming of the Savior and the millennium.
As on the first day of the conference, Ridges focused on utilizing the scriptures as well as revealed doctrine from modern prophets and correlated material. He addressed common questions about the latter days and offered answers based on doctrine.
“The wicked will be caught off guard, but the righteous will not be,” said Ridges. “They will know the sign of the times and they will be aware that it’s imminent.”
Ridges finished his presentation by saying that the Plan of Salvation is a “glorious part of our journey to achieving higher ground.” He urged attendees to follow the plan by leading a righteous lifestyle.
“Righteousness is the simplest and by far most satisfying of all lifestyles,” he said.
Learning the names of Jesus Christ
Wilcox, who previously served as a member of the Sunday School general board of the LDS Church, spoke about many of the names and titles of the Savior in an effort to know them — and him — better.
“Not only are we commanded to do things in the name of Jesus Christ, but we are commanded to know the name of Jesus Christ,” he said.
Wilcox said that understanding the meanings of Christ’s roles, and the differences between them, is important in order to come to know the Savior.
For example, he made a distinction between the roles of Savior and Redeemer. He said that Christ’s saving role “puts us on firm ground “ and his redeeming role “moves us to higher ground.”
“Why do we need to go through afflictions and illness and trials?” Wilcox asked. “The answers to all those questions come to us as we move beyond Jesus’ saving role to his redeeming role. He can refine us. He can rebuild us. He can make us better than before. It is one thing to be saved by grace and another thing entirely to be transformed by grace.”
After speaking about many of Christ’s names and titles, Wilcox shared his favorite of all of Christ’s names: Emmanuel, which means, “God with us.”
“When we are baptized and make a covenant, immediately we are given the Holy Ghost to be with us always,” he said. “When we are in the temple and make a covenant, immediately Jesus stretches forth his hand and takes our hand and helps us keep that covenant.”
The example of a prophet
Swinton spoke about her experiences with President Thomas S. Monson, the president of the LDS Church, from interviewing him, reading every published address he has ever given and interacting with him on a personal level.
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