James E. Faust (1920-2007), First Presidency

This Is The Christ (choral piece)

They heard His voice, a voice so mild;
It pierced them through and made their souls to quake;
They saw Him come, a man in white,
The Savior who had suffered for their sake.

They felt the wounds in hands and side,
And each could testify: This is the Christ!
This is the Christ, the holy Son of God,
Our Savior, Lord, Redeemer of mankind.
This is the Christ, the healer of our souls
Who ransomed us with love divine.

I read His words, the words He prayed
While bearing sorrow in Gethsemane;
I feel His love, the price He paid.
How many drops of blood were spilled for me?

With saints of old in joyful cry
I too can testify: This is the Christ!
This is the Christ, the holy Son of God,
Our Savior, Lord, Redeemer of mankind.
This is the Christ, the healer of our souls
Who ransomed us with purest love divine.

Elder James E. Faust
See the Mormon Tabernacle Choir CD: Consider The Lilies

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Much of what comes from the devil is alluring and enticing. It glitters and is appealing to the sensual parts of our nature. His message sounds so reasonable and easy to justify. His voice is usually smooth and intriguing. If it were harsh or discordant, nobody would listen, nobody would be enticed. Some of Satan’s most appealing messages are: Everyone does it; if it doesn’t hurt anybody else, it’s all right; if you feel there is no harm in it, it’s okay; it’s the “cool” thing to do. Satan is the greatest imitator, the master deceiver, the arch counterfeiter, and the greatest forger ever in the history of the world. He comes into our lives as a thief in the night. His disguise is so perfect that it is hard to recognize him or his methods. He is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

There have always been two great competing forces in the world. These began before the world was created. These opposing forces are the forces of good and evil. Between these two powerful forces each of us is caught in a tug of war. In simple terms, that which is good comes from God, and that which is evil comes from the devil. You can’t have it both ways and find true happiness; some have tried, but in the long run all have failed. If any of you young men think you can have it both ways, you are only deceiving yourselves. It doesn’t work that way. It never has. It never will.
James E. Faust, “The Devil’s Throat,” Ensign, May 2003, 51

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Taken From the Talk: "Dear Are The Sheep That Have Wandered," Ensign, May 2003, 61

My dear brothers and sisters and friends, my message this morning is one of hope and solace to heartbroken parents who have done their best to rear their children in righteousness with love and devotion, but have despaired because their child has rebelled or been led astray to follow the path of evil and destruction. In contemplating your deep anguish, I am reminded of the words of Jeremiah, “A voice was heard in Ramah, … Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted.” To this the Lord gave this welcome reassurance, “Refrain thy voice from weeping, … for thy work shall be rewarded … ; they shall come again from the land of the enemy.”
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Parents are instructed to “teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord.” As a father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, I accept this as the word of the Lord, and as a servant of Jesus Christ, I urge parents to follow this counsel as conscientiously as they can.

Who are good parents? They are those who have lovingly, prayerfully, and earnestly tried to teach their children by example and precept “to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord.” This is true even though some of their children are disobedient or worldly. Children come into this world with their own distinct spirits and personality traits. Some children “would challenge any set of parents under any set of circumstances. … Perhaps there are others who would bless the lives of, and be a joy to, almost any father or mother.” Successful parents are those who have sacrificed and struggled to do the best they can in their own family circumstances.
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“The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God.”

A principle in this statement that is often overlooked is that they must fully repent and “suffer for their sins” and “pay their debt to justice.” I recognize that now is the time “to prepare to meet God.” If the repentance of the wayward children does not happen in this life, is it still possible for the cords of the sealing to be strong enough for them yet to work out their repentance? In the Doctrine and Covenants we are told, “The dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God,

“And after they have paid the penalty of their transgressions, and are washed clean, shall receive a reward according to their works, for they are heirs of salvation.”

We remember that the prodigal son wasted his inheritance, and when it was all gone he came back to his father’s house. There he was welcomed back into the family, but his inheritance was spent. Mercy will not rob justice, and the sealing power of faithful parents will only claim wayward children upon the condition of their repentance and Christ’s Atonement. Repentant wayward children will enjoy salvation and all the blessings that go with it, but exaltation is much more. It must be fully earned. The question as to who will be exalted must be left to the Lord in His mercy.

There are very few whose rebellion and evil deeds are so great that they have “sinned away the power to repent.” That judgment must also be left up to the Lord. He tells us, “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.”

Perhaps in this life we are not given to fully understand how enduring the sealing cords of righteous parents are to their children. It may very well be that there are more helpful sources at work than we know. I believe there is a strong familial pull as the influence of beloved ancestors continues with us from the other side of the veil.

President Howard W. Hunter observed that “repentance is but the homesickness of the soul, and the uninterrupted and watchful care of the parent is the fairest earthly type of the unfailing forgiveness of God.” Is not the family the nearest analogy which the Savior’s mission sought to establish?
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As we get older, the pull from our parents and grandparents on the other side of the veil becomes stronger. It is a sweet experience when they visit us in our dreams.
James E. Faust, “Dear Are the Sheep That Have Wandered,” Ensign, May 2003, 61

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After the Resurrection of the Savior, Peter and some of the disciples were at the Sea of Tiberias. Peter announced to them that he was going fishing. The disciples agreed to go with him. They seemed to have forgotten that they were called to be fishers of men.

They fished through the night but caught nothing. In the morning Jesus, standing on the shore, told them to cast their nets on the right side of the ship, and the nets were filled with fish. Jesus told them to bring in the fish they had caught; Peter and his associates landed 153.

When they came ashore they saw fish being cooked on a fire of coals, and the Savior invited them to eat the fish and some bread. After they had eaten, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Lovest thou me more than these?” Peter was an ardent fisherman. Catching fish was the livelihood from which the Savior called him to become a fisher of men.

The requirement that we should love the Lord above fish, bank accounts, automobiles, fine clothing, stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit, or any other possession is total; it is absolute. The first commandment given unto the ancient Israelites was “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” The Savior Himself amplified this command when He told the lawyer who asked Him which was the greatest commandment, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.”
James E. Faust, “‘Them That Honour Me I Will Honour’,” Ensign, May 2001, 45

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Too many families are being broken up. Good is called evil, and evil is called good. In our present “easiness of the way,” have we forgotten the elements of sacrifice and consecration that our pioneer forebears demonstrated so well for us? It may be that, as Wordsworth suggested:

  • The world is too much with us; late and soon,
    Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers: ...
    We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon! ...
    For this, for everything, we are out of tune.

    William Wordsworth, "The World Is To Much With Us; Late And Soon"

Perhaps in our day and time it is more difficult to maintain moral strength and stand against the winds of evil that blow more fiercely than ever before. It is a sifting process. Today the modern counterparts of Babylon, Sodom, and Gomorrah are alluringly and explicitly displayed on television, the Internet, in movies, books, magazines, and places of entertainment.

In the last general conference, President Gordon B. Hinckley warned us about moving too far toward the mainstream of society in some areas such as Sabbath day observance, family disintegration, and other matters. He said: “We have moved too far toward the mainstream of society in this matter. Now, of course there are good families. There are good families everywhere. But there are too many who are in trouble. This is a malady with a cure. The prescription is simple and wonderfully effective. It is love.”

In our society many sacred values have been eroded in the name of freedom of expression. The vulgar and the obscene are protected in the name of freedom of speech. The mainstream of society has become more tolerant, even accepting, of conduct that Jesus, Moses, the Prophet Joseph Smith, and other prophets have warned against since the beginning of human history.

We should not allow our personal values to erode, even if others think we are peculiar. We have always been regarded as a peculiar people. However, being spiritually correct is much better than being politically correct. Of course, as individuals and as a people we want to be liked and respected. But we cannot be in the mainstream of society if it means abandoning those righteous principles which thundered down from Sinai, later to be refined by the Savior, and subsequently taught by modern prophets. We should only fear offending God and His Son, Jesus Christ, who is the head of this Church.

All forms of evil are being masked. I speak of sexual immorality. I speak of wagering for money, which in many places is called gaming rather than gambling. This is typical of how many other evils are masked to make them more acceptable. There is a masking of other conduct which has been condemned throughout the history of mankind, conduct which is destructive to the family, the basic unit of society. In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” the First Presidency and Twelve stated: “We ... solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.”

The breakdown of parental authority erodes the most indispensable institution of society—the family.

Paul spoke of those in his day who demonstrated that “the work of the law [was] written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness.” For members of this Church to enjoy the blessings of a covenant people, the law of the Lord must be written in their hearts. How can they do this when so many voices tell our children and grandchildren that evil is good and good is evil? We would hope that all fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, would be better examples in keeping the commandments of God. We ask husbands and wives to try a little harder to be loving and kind with each other. If both parents will insulate their family as far as they can from the many influences that prey upon us, their children are more likely to be safeguarded. Daily scripture study, daily prayer, regular family home evening, obedience to priesthood authority in the home and in the Church constitute a great insurance policy against spiritual deterioration.

Joshua spoke unequivocally when he said: “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. …

“And the people said unto Joshua, The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.”

We are free to accept or reject the counsel of the Lord and His prophets. Often those who do not choose to follow the prophets are voices that criticize those who do.

Some of our critics call those who follow their spiritual leaders “mindless sheep.” Jesus said: “And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.

“And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.”

All of this, of course, did not begin with our generation. Since the beginning, the influences and forces of Satan have constantly warred with God. Satan, the great deceiver, said: “I am also a son of God.” Satan urged the children of Adam not to believe in the things of God, “and they loved Satan more than God. And men began from that time forth to be carnal, sensual, and devilish.” The justification seems to be that everyone does it. It is the “in thing” to do.

Ordinances and covenants help us to remember who we are and our duty to God. They are the vehicles the Lord has provided to conduct us into eternal life. If we honor them, He will give us added strength.

Elder James E. Talmage affirmed that the true believer, “with the love of God in his soul, pursues his life of service and righteousness without stopping to ask by what rule or law each act is prescribed or forbidden.”

In a world where we and our families are threatened by evil on every side, let us remember President Hinckley’s counsel: “If our people could only learn to live by these covenants, everything else would take care of itself.”

Faithful members of the Church who are true to their covenants with the Master do not need every jot and tittle spelled out for them. Christlike conduct flows from the deepest wellsprings of the human heart and soul. It is guided by the Holy Spirit of the Lord, which is promised in gospel ordinances. Our greatest hope should be to enjoy the sanctification which comes from this divine guidance; our greatest fear should be to forfeit these blessings. May we so live that we may be able to say, as did the Psalmist: “Search me, O God, and know my heart.”
James E. Faust, “Search Me, O God, and Know My Heart,” Ensign, May 1998, 17

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... we all should be concerned about the society in which we live, a society which is like a moral Armageddon ...

We all need to know what it means to be honest. Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving. John, a nine-year-old Swiss pioneer child who was in one of the handcart companies, is an example of honesty. His father put a chunk of buffalo meat in the handcart and said it was to be saved for Sunday dinner. John said, “I was so very hungry and the meat smelled so good to me while pushing at the handcart that I could not resist. I had a little pocket knife. … Although I expected a severe whipping when father found it out, I cut off little pieces each day. I would chew them so long that they got white and perfectly tasteless. When father came to get the meat he asked me if I had been cutting off some of it. I said ‘Yes. I was so hungry I could not let it alone.’ Instead of giving me a scolding or whipping, father turned away and wiped tears from his eyes.”

I wish to speak to you frankly about being honest. Honesty is a moral compass to guide us in our lives. You young men are under great pressure to learn the technology that is expanding and will continue to expand so rapidly. However, the tremendous push to excel in secular learning sometimes tempts people to compromise that which is more important—their honesty and integrity.

Cheating in school is a form of self-deception. We go to school to learn. We cheat ourselves when we coast on the efforts and scholarship of someone else.

A friend related this experience her husband had while attending medical school. “Getting into medical school is pretty competitive, and the desire to do well and be successful puts a great deal of pressure on the new incoming freshmen. My husband had worked hard on his studies and went to attend his first examination. The honor system was expected behavior at the medical school. The professor passed out the examination and left the room. Within a short time, students started to pull little cheat papers out from under their papers or from their pockets. My husband recalled his heart beginning to pound as he realized it is pretty hard to compete against cheaters. About that time a tall, lanky student stood up in the back of the room and stated: ‘I left my hometown and put my wife and three little babies in an upstairs apartment and worked very hard to get into medical school. And I’ll turn in the first one of you who cheats, and you better believe it!’ They believed it. There were many sheepish expressions, and those cheat papers started to disappear as fast as they had appeared. He set a standard for the class which eventually graduated the largest group in the school’s history.”

The young, lanky medical student who challenged the cheaters was J Ballard Washburn, who became a respected physician and in later years received special recognition from the Utah Medical Association for his outstanding service as a medical doctor. He also served as a General Authority and is now the president of the Las Vegas Nevada Temple.

In reality, we are only in competition with ourselves. Others can challenge and motivate us, but we must reach down deep into our souls and call forth our God-given intelligence and capabilities. We cannot do this when we depend on the efforts of someone else.

Honesty is a principle, and we have our moral agency to determine how we will apply this principle. We have the agency to make choices, but ultimately we will be accountable for each choice we make. We may deceive others, but there is One we will never deceive. From the Book of Mormon we learn, “The keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.” [2 Nephi 9:41]

In the fateful war year of 1942, I was inducted into the United States Army Air Corps. One cold night at Chanute Field, Illinois, I was given all-night guard duty. As I walked around my post, I meditated and pondered the whole miserable, long night through. By morning I had come to some firm conclusions. I was engaged to be married and knew that I could not support my wife on a private’s pay. In a day or two, I filed my application for Officer’s Candidate School. Shortly thereafter, I was summoned before the board of inquiry. My qualifications were few, but I had had two years of college and had finished a mission for the Church in South America.

The questions asked of me at the officers’ board of inquiry took a very surprising turn. Nearly all of them centered upon my beliefs. “Do you smoke?” “Do you drink?” “What do you think of others who smoke and drink?” I had no trouble answering these questions.

“Do you pray?” “Do you believe that an officer should pray?” The officer asking these questions was a hard-bitten career soldier. He did not look like he prayed very often. I pondered. Would I give him offense if I answered how I truly believed? I wanted to be an officer very much so that I would not have to do all-night guard duty and KP and clean latrines, but mostly so my sweetheart and I could afford to be married.

I decided not to equivocate. I admitted that I did pray and that I felt that officers might seek divine guidance as some truly great generals had done. I told them that I thought that officers should be prepared to lead their men in all appropriate activities, if the occasion requires, including prayer.

More interesting questions came. “In times of war, should not the moral code be relaxed? Does not the stress of battle justify men in doing things that they would not do when at home under normal situations?”

I recognized that here was a chance perhaps to make some points and look broad-minded. I suspected that the men who were asking me this question did not live by the standards that I had been taught. The thought flashed through my mind that perhaps I could say that I had my own beliefs, but I did not wish to impose them on others. But there seemed to flash before my mind the faces of the many people to whom I had taught the law of chastity as a missionary. In the end I simply said, “I do not believe there is a double standard of morality.”

I left the hearing resigned to the fact that these hard-bitten officers would not like the answers I had given to their questions and would surely score me very low. A few days later when the scores were posted, to my astonishment I had passed. I was in the first group taken for Officer’s Candidate School! I graduated, became a second lieutenant, married my sweetheart, and we have “lived together happily ever after.”

This was one of the critical crossroads of my life. Not all of the experiences in my life turned out that way or the way I wanted them to, but they have always been strengthening to my faith.

Stealing is all too common throughout the world. For many, their reasoning seems to be, “What can I get away with?” or “It’s OK to do it as long as I don’t get caught!” Stealing takes many forms, including shoplifting; taking cars, stereos, CD players, video games, and other items that belong to someone else; stealing time, money, and merchandise from employers; stealing from the government by the misuse of the taxpayers’ money or making false claims on our income tax returns; or borrowing without any intention of repayment. No one has ever gained anything of value by theft. In the play Othello, Shakespeare has Iago teach a great truth:

Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
’Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed.
James E. Faust, “Honesty—a Moral Compass,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 41