Sunday, July 12, 2015

Final Testimonies

Recently two Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints died, Elder L. Tom Perry and President Boyd K. Packer. I have read and listened to their final conference addresses from the April 2015 General Conference several times. Their final testimonies were powerful witnesses of Jesus Christ and the importance of the family. I will get to their comments later. I have wondered what I would say to my family and friends if I knew I was about to leave this mortal life and go home to my Heavenly Father. I went to the scriptures to read some of the last words of the prophets as well as the final teachings of Jesus Christ before he was taken and tried and crucified.

Nephi, the first who wrote in the Book of Mormon had this to say to us:

But I, Nephi, have written what I have written, and I esteem it as of great worth, and especially unto my people. For I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I know that he will hear my cry.

And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.

And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness.

And I pray the Father in the name of Christ that many of us, if not all, may be saved in his kingdom at that great and last day. (2 Nephi 33:3, 10-12)

Again from the Book of Mormon, this time Moroni the last prophet:

I would exhort you that ye would come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing.

Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and  love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot. (Moroni 10:30, 32-33)

The Apostle Paul writing to Timothy and testified to him:

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:1, 6-8)

The Lord Jesus Christ as he ate the Passover meal with his Disciples he taught them who he was and prayed to the Father for them. This was his final testimony to them:

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.

And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

That they all may be one; as thou, Fatherart in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: (John 17:3, 9, 20-22)

One of the most powerful final testimonies from the modern day Apostles was from Bruce R. McConkie given just two weeks prior to his death in 1985. He spoke of the purifying power of Gethsemane. He testified:

I feel, and the Spirit seems to accord, that the most important doctrine I can declare, and the most powerful testimony I can bear, is of the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.

His atonement is the most transcendent event that ever has or ever will occur from Creation’s dawn through all the ages of a never-ending eternity.

It is the supreme act of goodness and grace that only a god could perform. Through it, all of the terms and conditions of the Father’s eternal plan of salvation became operative.

And now, as pertaining to this perfect atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of God—I testify that it took place in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, and as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that he is the Son of the Living God and was crucified for the sins of the world. He is our Lord, our God, and our King. This I know of myself independent of any other person.

I am one of his witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears.

But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way. (“The Purifying Power of Gethsemane”, Bruce R. McConkie, General Conference, April 1985)

Elder L. Tom Perry’s final testimony was given on Saturday, April 4th, 2015. He died on May 30th, 2015. In his final conference address, he spoke of the importance of families. He along with other general authorities from the LDS Church attended a colloquium on marriage and family at the Vatican in Rome. He commented that all of the major religions were their speaking on the family and the importance of marriage and children. Elder Perry testified:

My brothers and sisters, the restored gospel centers on marriage and family. It is also on marriage and family where we can unite most with other faiths. It is around marriage and family where we will find our greatest commonality with the rest of the world. It is around marriage and family that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the greatest opportunity to be a light on the hill.

Let me close by bearing witness (and my nine decades on this earth fully qualify me to say this) that the older I get, the more I realize that family is the center of life and is the key to eternal happiness.

I give thanks for my wife, for my children, for my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren, and for all of the cousins and in-laws and extended family who make my own life so rich and, yes, even eternal. Of this eternal truth I bear my strongest and most sacred witness in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. (“Why Marriage and Family Matter – Everywhere in the World”, L. Tom Perry, General Conference, April 2015)

Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, also gave his final address to the church during the April 2015 General Conference. He died on July 3, 2015. He too spoke of the importance of families and the sacred ordinance of temple marriages. His final words included:

Sister Donna Smith Packer and I have been side by side in marriage for nearly 70 years. When it comes to my wife, the mother of our children, I am without words. The feeling is so deep and the gratitude so powerful that I am left almost without expression. The greatest reward we have received in this life, and the life to come, is our children and our grandchildren. Toward the end of our mortal days together, I am grateful for each moment I am with her side by side and for the promise the Lord has given that there will be no end.

I bear witness that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of the living God. He stands at the head of the Church. Through His Atonement and the power of the priesthood, families which are begun in mortality can be together through the eternities. The Atonement, which can reclaim each one of us, bears no scars. That means that no matter what we have done or where we have been or how something happened, if we truly repent, He has promised that He would atone. And when He atoned, that settled that. There are so many of us who are thrashing around, as it were, with feelings of guilt, not knowing quite how to escape. You escape by accepting the Atonement of Christ, and all that was heartache can turn to beauty and love and eternity. (“The Plan of Happiness”, President Boyd K Packer, General Conference, April 2015)

I don’t know all that I would say if I knew it would be the last testimony I was to give, but I do know that it would include my witness that I know Jesus is The Christ, that we have a loving Heavenly Father, that through the atonement of Jesus Christ we can be cleansed from all our sins and be able to return to live with God and Christ and our families for eternity. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the restored Church and that Christ is the Head of the Church, I know God has called and speaks to prophets today as he did anciently. I know the Book of Mormon is a second witness of Jesus Christ along with the Bible.

I would tell my children and grandchildren to love God and keep his commandments, and that families are the most important thing they have. Material possessions will not matter, spend time serving others and you will have the type of wealth that will bring the Lord’s blessing to us always.

What would you leave as your final testimony? Your comments are welcome.

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