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Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
Elder M. Russell Ballard

PROVO — Keep the gospel of Jesus Christ simple and avoid the enticements of Satan, an LDS apostle advised college-age Mormon men and women listening throughout North America on Sunday.

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints addressed members gathered for one of the periodic Church Educational System satellite broadcasts originating from the Marriott Center on the Brigham Young University campus.

Elder Ballard, who quoted several Book of Mormon passages from 2 Nephi 31 to emphasize the plainness of Christ's gospel, drew somewhat from his talk given a month ago at the church's semi-annual general conference in Salt Lake City. There, he presented an analogy comparing a fly fisherman's lure to the devil's enticements.

Young people can withstand such temptations if they know the doctrine of Christ and defend it all the days of their lives, the church leader said.

He spoke in turn of basic doctrinal principles in the gospel: faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance from wrongdoing, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end.

Regarding the first principle, Elder Ballard asked his listeners a series of questions pertaining to their conduct, including whether they have faith, serve God, show kindness to others, pray, read scriptures, avoid pornography, participate in church meetings, and are "preparing for and actively pursuing finding your eternal companion.

"I could spend the rest of the evening on this question, but I am sure by now you understand that we do not endorse 'hanging out,'" the church leader said. "We recommend proper dating — you know, a boy asks a girl for a date, and you have a good time together. Are you looking for a companion who loves the Lord and honors his name?"

Elder Ballard acknowledged taking some of his remarks from "Preach My Gospel," the church's guide for missionaries. "Study chapter three, the lesson entitled 'The Gospel of Jesus Christ.' It lays out very clearly and in more detail the basic steps necessary to avoid being caught by the artificial lures of Satan and being dragged away from the pathway that leads to eternal life."

Reflecting on distressful circumstances in the world, Elder Ballard told his young listeners there are many reasons to be filled with hope and optimism. "Don't let Satan influence you and cause you to not believe in the great future you have to look forward to."

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Tracing the growth of the church since its founding in 1830, he projected that 30 years from now, the number of its stakes will have doubled to 6,000. Asking where all the leaders of those stakes and wards in the church will come from, he said, "I am speaking to them right now. You are they! Will you be ready to accept the callings that the Lord will extend to you?"

He said God reveals to decision-making leaders in the church who is ready to serve "because you have stayed on the gospel path, you have lived up to the commitments you made before you were born, and the gospel of Jesus Christ guides your daily life."

e-mail: rscott@desnews.com