Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
LDS apostle Elder M. Russell Ballard addresses the crowd at the Salt Lake LDS Institute of Religion fireside on Sunday night.

An LDS apostle told a gathering of college-age church members Sunday night that they are fighting a battle that has been going on "since before the foundation of this world."

"It is the battle for the hearts and souls of our Heavenly Father's spirit children pitting us against Lucifer, the great deceiver, the father of lies," said Elder M. Russell Ballard of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Quorum of the Twelve. "As it has always been, this battle is fought on the battleground of moral agency and free will."

Elder Ballard spoke at the Huntsman Center on the University of Utah campus in a fireside involving the church's Salt Lake University Institute located adjacent to the campus, the six university stakes of the church and institutes near the university.

"Regardless of the technology or the political environment of the time, it all comes down to this: How are you going to choose to exercise your God-given agency?" he asked. "It really isn't any more complicated than that."

Elder Ballard cautioned the young church members that at this point in their lives they are making choices and establishing patterns that will last a lifetime.

He told of a visit he received from a man who had served as an LDS missionary where Elder Ballard presided and who now said he thought he was losing his testimony of the faith. He had been reading some anti-Mormon literature.

Elder Ballard said he could see it was going to take some time to research answers to his questions, so he asked him to come back in 10 days. As he was leaving, Elder Ballard asked him how long it had been since he had read from the Book of Mormon. Informed that it has been a long time, Elder Ballard elicited a promise from him that he would read from the book at least an hour a day for the next 10 days.

"Ten days later he came back," Elder Ballard recounted. "I pulled out my paper to start the answers, and he said, 'President, it won't be necessary for you to answer my questions.' Then tears came streaming down his cheeks as he explained, 'President, I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know Joseph Smith is a prophet."'

Elder Ballard asked him what he had learned from the experience. "He said, 'Give the Lord equal time."'

The church leader said to the congregation, "We are living in a day and a time when we must be spiritually anchored. You and I must be anchored to the divine truths that have come to us through the Prophet Joseph Smith. We must be anchored to the principles of God's plan of happiness, which is centered in the Lord Jesus Christ."

Also speaking was Elder Jon M. Huntsman Sr., an Area Seventy of the church and an industrialist and philanthropist for whom the Huntsman Center is named.

Elder Huntsman spoke of stressful and challenging circumstances in the world today and said that during such times, "we formulate within our hearts and minds our character. We determine our integrity; we determine who it is we are and who it is we will replicate in our lives."

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