Saturday, August 12, 2017

Elder Dallin H. Oaks on being valiant in the testimony of Jesus

Elder Dallin H. Oaks (b. August 12, 1932) served as president of BYU from 1971-1980.  He was then appointed as a justice of the Utah Supreme Court, and resigned when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1984.
"In his vision of the spirits of the dead, President Joseph F. Smith described 'the spirits of the just' as those 'who had been faithful in the testimony of Jesus while they lived in mortality.' (D&C 138:12.)
"In contrast, in his vision of the three degrees of glory, the Prophet Joseph Smith described those souls who go to the terrestrial kingdom as the 'honorable men of the earth,' who were 'not valiant in the testimony of Jesus.' (D&C 76:75, 79.)
"What does it mean to be 'valiant in the testimony of Jesus'? Surely this includes keeping his commandments and serving him. But wouldn't it also include bearing witness of Jesus Christ, our Savior and our Redeemer, to believers and nonbelievers alike? As the Apostle Peter taught the Saints of his day, we should 'sanctify the Lord God in [our] hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh [us] a reason of the hope that is in [us].' (1 Pet. 3:15.)
"All of us need to be valiant in the testimony of Jesus. As believers in Christ, we affirm the truth of Peter's testimony in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth that 'there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.' (Acts 4:12; see also D&C 109:4.) We know from modern revelation that we can come unto the Father only in his name. (See D&C 93:19.) As the Book of Mormon teaches, salvation is 'in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.' (Mosiah 3:18; see also Moses 6:52, 59.)"
"To those who are devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ, I say there has never been a greater need for us to profess our faith, privately and publicly."
- Dallin H. Oaks, "Witnesses of Christ," General Conference October 1990; see Ensign, November 1990, pp. 29-32
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To be "faithful in the testimony of Jesus" or "valiant in the testimony of Jesus" means, according to Elder Oaks, being an obedient and faithful follower; but it also means to be an advocate and defender, an eager and willing witness of His name and message:

It is a timely reminder that we should "be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh [us] a reason of the hope that is in [us]." (1 Pet. 3:15.)  As conditions in the world around us change and faith in God and in His Son seem to diminish, it will become even more important for us to stand up for what we believe!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

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