Since the beginning of time, the Lord’s prophets have been a voice of warning to all who will turn away from Satan.
While that duty to warn is felt keenly by the prophets, it is a duty shared by others as well, taught Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during the Sunday afternoon session of general conference.
“In fact, ‘it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor’ (Doctrine and Covenants 88:81),” he said. “We who have received a knowledge of the great plan of happiness — and its implementing commandments — should feel a desire to share that knowledge since it makes all the difference here and in eternity.”
The motivation for raising the warning voice is love of God and fellowmen.
“To warn is to care,” he noted. “The Lord instructs that it is to be done ‘in mildness and in meekness,’ (Doctrine and Covenants 38:41) and ‘by persuasion, by longsuffering, by gentleness . . . and by love unfeigned’ (Doctrine and Covenants 121:41). It can be urgent, as when we warn a child not to put his hand in a fire. It must be clear and sometimes firm. On occasion, warning may take the form of reproof ‘when moved upon by the Holy Ghost,’ (Doctrine and Covenants 121:43) but always it is rooted in love.”
Love, of course, compels parents to warn their closest “neighbors” — their children.
“This means teaching and testifying of gospel truths. It means teaching children the doctrine of Christ: faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
Elder Christofferson said it is crucial that parents teach their children the joy of walking in obedience. Follow the warning example of the Master.
“Because of His incomparable love and concern for others and their happiness, Jesus was not hesitant to warn,” he said. “At the outset of His ministry, ‘Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ (Matthew 4:17).
“Because He knows that not just any path leads to heaven, He commanded, ‘Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it’ (Matthew 7:13-14). He devoted time to sinners, saying, ‘I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance’ (Luke 5:32).”
Christ was also uncompromising in condemning the hypocrisy of the scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees. “Surely no one would accuse the Savior of not loving these scribes and Pharisees — after all He suffered and died to save them to too. But loving them, He could not let them go in sin without clearly correcting them.”
Sometimes those who raise a warning voice are dismissed as judgmental, he added.
“Paradoxically, however, those who claim truth is relative and moral standards are a matter of personal preference are often the same ones who most harshly criticize people that don’t accept the current norm of ‘correct thinking.’ ”
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“How much better it is to have the unchanging law of God by which we may act to choose our destiny rather than being hostage to the unpredictable rules and wrath of the social media mob,” he said. “How much better it is to know the truth than to be ‘tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine’ (Ephesians 4:14). How much better to repent and rise to the gospel standard than to pretend there is no right or wrong and languish in sin and regret.”
Elder Christofferson spoke of his trust in the “rising generation.” The Lord will rely upon such youth and young adults in future years to sustain the teachings of the gospel.
“Do not abandon those who would welcome truth to flounder and fail in ignorance. Do not succumb to false notions of tolerance or fear — fear of inconvenience, disapproval, or even suffering.”
Ultimately, each person is accountable to God for his or her choices and life.
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