Mission Farewell Talk
Posted on December 15, 2002.

Today I have been asked to give a talk on the scriptures 2 Nephi 27:23-26. I will go ahead and read them.

God is Unchanging

Re-read verse 23 and discuss:

When God says He is unchanging He indicates that His principles of the gospel are forever and will never change. He provides us with the scriptures and modern day prophets to demonstrate that the gospel will never change. We can understand this idea more comprehensively if we take into account that it is our lives that continually change as we progress through life. When we read the Book of Mormon over and over we are impacted in different ways than we could ever think possible. Each time we read the Book of Mormon we receive personal revelation in the areas of our lives that we are struggling in, or we receive answers to questions we might have. God tests us according to our faith.

Through the article by Russell M. Nelson, entitled "Constancy amid Change," found in the Nov. 1993 Ensign, page 33, we see that there are four beings who are consistent in the doctrine they teach us:

The first is our Heavenly Father who has a glorified body of flesh and bone, inseparably connected with His spirit. Scriptures state that He is "infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God" (D&C 20:17).

The second is His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, who is our Savior and the chief corner stone of our religion. "He is the life and the light of the world" (Alma 38:9). "There shall be no other name…or any other way…whereby salvation…whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent" (Mosiah 3:17).

The third personage is the Holy Ghost, whose enduring influence that exceeds time. Scripture assures that "the Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever" (D&C 121:46).

But the fourth personage is one whom we should be reminded to avoid, Satan is this being. He also exists and seeks "that all men might be miserable like unto himself."

Depending on whose plan we choose to follow, God’s plan or Satan’s plan, determines how happy we will go through life. God wants to see us become like Him and we can do this by following the savior’s example. We need to repent of our sins and seek guidance through the Holy Spirit to help us from following the evils of the world.

We need to avoid the evil ways of Satan at all costs so that we don’t become miserable like unto him.

There exist certain principles that are unchanging or need that we need to follow in order to obtain complete happiness:

The first unchanging principle is priesthood. Joseph Smith taught that "the Priesthood is an everlasting principle, and existed with God from eternity, and will to eternity, without beginning of days or end of years" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 157).

Another unchanging principle is that of divine or moral law. Transgression of moral law brings retribution; obedience to it brings blessings "immutable and unchangeable."

The third unchanging principle is our eventual judgment. Each of us will be judged according to our individual works and the desires of our hearts. We will be eventually placed in the celestial, terrestrial, or telestial kingdom and it will not be determined by chance. The Lord has prescribed unchanging requirements for each.

Other unchanging principles include divine commandments—even those that seem to be temporal. Tithing, for example, is not temporal (or temporary); it is an everlasting principle. "Those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever" (D&C 119:4).

Another unchanging principle is that of truth. Scripture reminds us that "the truth abideth forever and ever" (D&C 1:39). Truth doesn’t change even though some people’s perspective on truth might be skewed.

Finally, we see that family is an eternal principle. A family can be together forever. "If a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them…[they] shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions…exaltation and glory in all things…which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever" (D&C 132: 19).

If we abide by these principles every day, our lives will continue to be blessed and we will go through life with happiness.

Joseph Smith

To continue I go to 2 Nephi 27:24-25. The word "him" referred to in verse 24 speaks of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith was a very humble little boy. After reading James 1:5, while he was seeking a church to join, he felt that he should kneel and ask in prayer what church was correct, and was answered in JSH 1:19, which states: (read JSH 1:19).

This shows that Joseph had great faith at such a young age to seek truth. He found that men were communicating with the Father without real intent and sought the true way of communicating with the Father.

In the September 2002 Ensign, in the talk "The Book at Mormon: The Heart of Missionary ProseIyting," by Joseph B. Wirthlin, we discover how great a testimony of Joseph Smith can be:

Wirthlin re-tells the story of President David O. McKay’s father serving a mission in Scotland where he encountered opposition toward the Church. President McKay’s father decided to preach the doctrines of the gospel without mentioning the Restoration or the Book of Mormon. As the days passed, his father continued with this approach until his mind became so darkened and downcast that he felt he would have to leave his mission and go home.

As a last resort, he decided to go into a cave and pray for help. While he was praying, a voice came to him, "Testify that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God." He consequently changed his approach and began to testify of the Book of Mormon and of the Prophet Joseph Smith. As a result, President McKay said, his father discovered that many were touched by the spirit of his words and believed and were baptized (see David O. McKay, Cherished Experiences from the Writings of David O. McKay, comp. Clare Middlemiss [1976], 11).

We can see here the profound influence of a testimony of Joseph Smith can have on the investigators of the church. Joseph Smith was a great young man who, through the Lord, brought forth the Book of Mormon which is a divine testimony of Christ when He appeared on the earth the first time. It also testifies of His second coming.

Marvelous Work and a Wonder

Re-read verse 26 — Cross reference to 2 Nephi 29:1-2

God will proceed to do a marvelous work and a wonder in order to fulfill his covenants with us. This is another confirmation that God is unchanging and will fulfill what he commits to do with us. God continues by giving us a promise that the words of Nephi will be a standard unto His people. As we can see today, the scriptures have surely been set as a standard for us to follow. The best standard or scripture to follow is what is contained in the Book of Mormon.

President Benson taught:

"The Book of Mormon is the instrument that God designed to ‘sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out [His] elect’ (Moses 7:62). This sacred volume of scripture needs to become more central in our preaching, our teaching, and our missionary work.

When we are converted to the Book of Mormon we are converted to the divine prophetic calling of Joseph Smith. Either this is all true, or it is not.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained it best when he wrote: "To consider that everything of saving significance in the Church stands or falls on the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and…Joseph Smith’s account of how it came forth is as sobering as it is true. It is a ‘sudden death’ proposition. Either the Book of Mormon is what the Prophet Joseph said it is, or this Church and its founder are false, a deception from the first instance onward.

"Not everything in life is so black and white, but the authenticity of the Book of Mormon and its keystone role in our religion seem to be exactly that. Either Joseph Smith was the prophet he said he was, a prophet who, after seeing the Father and the Son, later beheld the angel Moroni, repeatedly heard counsel from Moroni’s lips, and eventually received at his hands a set of ancient gold plates that he then translated by the gift and power of God, or else he did not…

"I am suggesting that one has to take something of a do-or-die stand regarding the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the divine origins of the Book of Mormon. Reason and righteousness require it. Joseph Smith must be accepted either as a prophet of God or else as a charlatan of the first order, but no one should tolerate any ludicrous, even laughable middle ground about the wonderful contours of a young boy’s imagination or his remarkable facility for turning a literary phrase. That is an unacceptable position to take—morally, literally, historically, or theologically" (Christ and the New Covenant [1997], 345-46).

I would like to bare my testimony…