Neal A. Maxwell (1926-2004), Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Let us, therefore, be like the young man with Elisha on the mount. At first intimidated by the surrounding enemy chariots, the young man’s eyes were mercifully opened, and he saw “horses and chariots of fire,” verifying “they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (2 Kings 6:16, 17).

Brothers and sisters, the spiritual arithmetic has not changed!

Our own intellectual shortfalls and perplexities do not alter the fact of God’s astonishing foreknowledge, which takes into account our choices for which we are responsible. Amid the mortal and fragmentary communiques and the breaking news of the day concerning various human conflicts, God lives in an eternal now where the past, present, and future are constantly before Him (see D&C 130:7).

His divine determinations are guaranteed, since whatever He takes in His heart to do, He will surely do it (see Abraham 3:17). He knows the end from the beginning! (see Abraham 2:8). God is fully “able to do [His] . . . work” and to bring all His purposes to pass, something untrue of the best-laid plans of man since we so often use our agency amiss! (see 2 Nephi 27:20).

God has assured us:

“I will lead you along” (D&C 78:18).

“I will be in your midst” (D&C 49:27).

He will be “with [us]," brothers and sisters, “in [our] time of trouble” (D&C 3:8), including through the guidance of His living prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley.
Neal A. Maxwell, CR April, 2003

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Determined to walk in his own way, the natural man often persists to the point where he is “past feeling,” having been sedated by pleasing the carnal mind (see 1 Ne. 17:45; see also Eph. 4:19). Sadly, like the drug addict, he is always in need of a fresh fix.

The severely selfish use others but do not love them. Let the Uriahs of the world beware! (see 2 Sam. 11:3-17). Centuries before Christ, the prophet Jacob warned unchaste men, “Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them” (Jacob 2:35). When love waxes cold, let the poor and the needy beware too, for they will be neglected, as happened in ancient Sodom (see Matt. 24:12; see also Ezek. 16:49). Strange as it seems, when severely selfish people are no longer little in their own sight, everybody else shrinks! (see 1 Sam. 15:17).

Even the early droplets of selfish decisions suggest a direction. Then the little inflecting rivulets come, merging into small brooks and soon into larger streams; finally one is swept along by a vast river which flows into the “gulf of misery and endless wo” (Hel. 5:12).

We actually have an obligation to notice genuine, telltale societal signs. It was Jesus who warned, “O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” suggesting the need for a different kind of weather forecasting (Matt. 16:3).

For what happens in cultural decline both leaders and followers are really accountable. Historically, of course, it is easy to criticize bad leaders, but we should not give followers a free pass. Otherwise, in their rationalization of their degeneration they may say they were just following orders, while the leader was just ordering followers! However, much more is required of followers in a democratic society wherein individual character matters so much in both leaders and followers.

The prophet Mormon unselfishly consented to lead a people who were in steep decline. He prayed for them, but confided that his prayers were without faith because of the people’s wickedness (see Morm. 3:12). Other times a visionary leader, like Joseph in Egypt, lifts people out of the endangered routine they’re in by preparing them for the specific challenges of the future (see Gen. 41:46-57). A few, like Lincoln, though in a political role, provide spiritual leadership as well. Lincoln, by the way, warned of how individuals of ambition and talents would continue to arise and that such an individual “thirsts and burns for distinction, and if possible … will have it, whether at the expense of emancipating slaves or enslaving freemen” (cited in John Wesley Hill, Abraham Lincoln—Man of God [1927], 74; emphasis in original).

Of unselfish George Washington it has been written: “In all history few men who possessed unassailable power have used that power so gently and self-effacingly for what their best instincts told them was the welfare of their neighbors and all mankind” (James Thomas Flexner, Washington: The Indispensable Man [1984], xvi).

Power is most safe with those, like Washington, who are not in love with it! A narcissist society, in which each person is busy looking out for number one, can build neither brotherhood nor community. Aren’t we glad in this Easter season and in all seasons that Jesus did not selfishly look out for number one?

No wonder we have been told, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” and this includes self-worship! (Ex. 20:3; emphasis added). One way or another, the grossly selfish will finally be shattered, whimpering, against the jagged, concrete consequences of their selfishness.

In contrast, as I close, consider unselfish Melissa Howes, whose comparatively young father died of cancer several months ago. Just before, Melissa, who was then nine, was voice in family prayer, pleading, “Heavenly Father, bless my daddy, and if you need him more than us, you can have him. We want him, but Thy will be done. And please help us not to be mad at you” (letter from Christie Howes, 25 Feb. 1998).

What spiritual submissiveness for one so young! What an unselfish understanding of the plan of salvation!
Neal A. Maxwell, “Repent of [Our] Selfishness” (D&C 56:8),” Ensign, May 1999, 23

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Though we have rightly applauded our ancestors for their spiritual achievements (and do not and must not discount them now), those of us who prevail today will have done no small thing. The special spirits who have been reserved to live in this time of challenges and who overcome will one day be praised for their stamina by those who pulled handcarts.
Quoted in: “Q&A: Questions and Answers,” New Era, July 1997, 17
See: Not Withstanding My Weakness [Actually: Notwithstanding My Weakness], 18 (hardcover book, 1981)

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In conclusion, the submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we “give,” brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!
Neal A. Maxwell, “Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 22

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Taken From the Talk: “Called to Serve” - BYU Fireside, 27 March 1994

When Jesus took upon him the heavy, atoning yoke to redeem all mankind by paying the agonizing price for our sins, he thereby experienced what he himself termed the “fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God” (D&C 76:107). The phrase itself makes the soul tremble. Jesus also volunteered to take upon him additional agony that he might experience and thus know certain things “according to the flesh”; namely, human sicknesses and infirmities and human griefs, including those not associated with sin (Alma 7:11–12). Therefore, as a result of his great atonement, Jesus was filled with unique empathy and with perfect mercy.

In turn, however, he who bore the atoning yoke has asked, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me” (Matthew 11:29). So the taking of Jesus’ yoke upon us constitutes serious discipleship. I speak especially to those of you who are young, saying to you that there is no greater calling, no greater challenge, and no greater source of joy—both proximate joy and ultimate joy—than is found in the process of discipleship. This process brings its own joys and reassurances. Don’t, however, expect the world to understand or to value your discipleship. They will not. In a way, they may admire you from afar, but they will be puzzled about the priorities resulting from your devotion.

Shouldering the yoke of discipleship greatly enhances both our adoration and knowledge of Jesus, because then we experience, firsthand, through our parallel but smaller-scaled experiences, a small but instructive portion of what the Savior experienced. In this precious process, the more we do what Jesus did (allow our wills to be “swallowed up in the will of the Father”), the more we will learn of Jesus (Mosiah 15:7). This emulation directly enhances our adoration of Jesus.

Simultaneously, in this same process, the more we become like Jesus, the more we come to know him. There may even be, more than we now know, some literalness in his assertion “When ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40). We lack deep understanding of the implications of that remark of Jesus. As with so many things, he is telling us more than we are now prepared to receive.

But back to submissiveness. The Prophet Joseph Smith, writing redemptively to his rebellious brother William, said, “God requires the will of his creatures, to be swallowed up in his will.” The Prophet Joseph then pled with William to make “one tremendious [sic] effort [to] overcome [his] passions, and please God” (Dean C. Jessee, comp. and ed., The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1984], p. 115). Alas, William didn’t do it, just as some of us fail to overcome our passions and thereby fail to “please God.” We are too busy pleasing ourselves.

In contrast, meek Enoch reached a point in his discipleship, wrote Paul, when Enoch received a testimony that he pleased God (see Hebrews 11:5). Ponder that, brothers and sisters. One can come to the point where he or she knows that they please God.

One mistake we can make during this mortal experience, especially in an academic setting, is to value knowledge apart from the other qualities to be developed in submissive discipleship. Knowledge is very important. Its discovery, its preservation, its perpetuation is one reason we have this special university [Brigham Young University]. Yet being knowledgeable, by itself, while leaving undeveloped the virtues of love, mercy, meekness, and patience, is not enough for full discipleship.

Mere intellectual assent to a truth, if it is unapplied, deprives us of the relevant, personal experiences. It’s like hearing a lecture without experiencing a lab. It’s like being briefed on a field trip but never taking the field trip. There were probably orientation briefings in the premortal world about how this mortal life would unfold for us, but the real experience is another thing!

Thus, although knowledge is clearly very important, standing alone it cannot save us. I worry sometimes in various Church classes that we get so busy discussing the doctrines that talking about them almost becomes a substitute for applying them! One cannot improve upon the sobering words of King Benjamin, who said, “Now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them” (Mosiah 4:10). Such is still the test. Deeds, not words—and becoming, not describing—are dominant in true discipleship!

Of necessity, of course, we are to teach and learn the doctrines. We would be spiritually stranded without them, and, likewise, without the saving and exalting gospel ordinances, because in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest. And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh. [D&C 84:20–21]

So it is that discipleship requires all of us to translate doctrines, covenants, ordinances, and teachings into improved personal behavior. Otherwise, brothers and sisters, we may be doctrinally rich but end up developmentally poor!

The celestial attributes—such as love, patience, mercy, meekness, and submissiveness—embody what we are to become. They are not just a litany of qualities to be recited! Awareness of them—even articulate awareness—without their application will not do. Furthermore, these same attributes cannot be developed in the abstract.

The relevant experiences are required, even when you and I would try to avoid them. Moreover, our individual developmental schedules reflect God’s timetable, not ours. His timetable, if followed, prepares us incrementally for the journey of discipleship and for going home!

Any serious disciple yearns to go home to Heavenly Father and to be welcomed there by Jesus. But the Prophet Joseph Smith declared we cannot go where they are unless we become more like them in the principles and attributes and character they possess (see Teachings, p. 216).

Of the many restored truths, God has surely given us “enough and to spare.” Soberingly, however, we have been told that unto whom “much is given much is required” (D&C 82:3). I hope we feel the cutting edge of the word required. It is used instead of the milder expected. Neither does the Lord say, “It would be nice if . . .” The word is required, bringing us back again to the need for submissiveness in discipleship.

The gospel’s rich and true doctrines combine to constitute a call to a new and more abundant life, but this is a lengthy process. It requires much time, learning through relevant experiences, keeping covenants, and receiving the essential ordinances—all in order to spur us along the discipleship path of personal progression.

In the journey of discipleship we lose our old selves. The natural man and the natural woman are “put off,” and then we find ourselves having become more saintly (see Mosiah 3:19). We see such saintliness all about us in the Church—quiet, good women and men, not particularly statusfull, who are becoming saintly. This is what should be happening in the lives of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

There are even some noticeable and helpful tuggings—you and I feel them at times—to remind us who we really are. As eternal beings living very temporarily in time, it is often much more than a whisper that tells us we are strangers here and that our ultimate home is someplace else (see “O My Father,” Hymns, 1985, no. 292).

Walking and overcoming by faith is not easy. For one thing, the dimension of time constantly constrains our perspective. Likewise, the world steadily tempts us. No wonder we are given instructive words from Jesus about the narrowness and the straightness of the only path available to return home: “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). And then he said, “No man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Jesus laid down strict conditions.

We live in a world in which, happily, many others regard themselves as Christians. Some live rich and marvelous lives. But there are some who style themselves as Christians who admire but do not worship Jesus. Some regard him as a great teacher but not as the Great Redeemer. Yes, Jesus is the generous Lord of the Expansive Universe, but, brothers and sisters, he is also the Lord of the Narrow Path! Some people forget his latter lordship.

The ravines on both sides of that narrow path—which, by the way, has much loose gravel on it—are deep and dangerous. Moreover, until put off, the shifting, heavy, unsettling burden of the natural man tilts us and sways us. It is dangerous.

Nor does the natural man or the natural woman go away quietly or easily. Hence, the most grinding form of calisthenics we will ever know involves the individual isometrics required to put off the natural man. Time and again the new self is pitted against the stubborn old self. Sometimes, at least it’s so with me, just when at last we think the job is done, then the old self reminds us that he or she has not fully departed yet.

A vital, personal question for each of us, therefore, is, “Are we steadily becoming what gospel doctrines are designed to help us become?” Or are we merely rich inheritors of an immense treasure trove of truth but poor investors in the process of personal development so essential to discipleship?

Significantly, when the Lord described his purposes by saying, “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39), he used the word work, even though his is a “marvelous work.” For us, becoming even as Jesus is certainly is work (see 3 Nephi 27:27)! Of necessity, this process requires the cross of discipleship to be taken up daily—not occasionally or seasonally.

Sometimes, as we commence taking up the cross, we ignore or neglect the first part of Jesus’ instruction. He said, “Deny [yourselves], and take up [your] cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). This self-denial is especially challenging in a world filled with so many sensual and secular stimuli. Greed and lust, though they have always been friends, have never formed quite the cartel that they have formed now. It is global. It is profitable.

Denying oneself has never been popular as a lifestyle, and it is clearly not today. Self-denial is portrayed by many as too puritanic and too ascetic. Scoffers in this nation have acquired powerful pulpits from which they bray their message, which constantly puts down discipleship and encourages the natural man to think highly of himself and to please himself.

What is it that we are we to deny ourselves? The ascendancy of any appetites or actions that produce not only the seven deadly sins but all the others. Happily, selfdenial, when we practice it, brings great relief. It represents emancipation from all the “morning-after” feelings, whether caused by adultery or gluttony. True disciples, being concerned with tomorrow, are very careful about today!

Self-denial also includes not letting our hearts become too set on any trivial or worldly thing. Then we can learn the great lessons about the relationship of righteousness to the powers and the joys of heaven.
Neal A. Maxwell, “Called to Serve” Fireside address on 27 March 1994 in the Marriott Center, BYU

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Years ago, I wondered over the scriptural imagery of angels waiting “day and night” for “the great command” to come down and reap the tares in a wicked and suffering world; it seemed rather eager to me. (See D&C 38:12; D&C 86:5.) Given such massive, needless human suffering, I don’t wonder anymore!

Even so, the final reaping will occur only when the Father determines that the world is “fully ripe.” (D&C 86:7.) Meanwhile, brothers and sisters, the challenge is surviving spiritually in a deteriorating “wheat and tares” world. (See D&C 86:7.)

Granted, occasionally a few defectors or dissidents may try to vex us as they hyperventilate over their particular concerns, but it is the engulfing effects of that deteriorating world on Church members which is the “clear and present danger.” “Evils and designs” really do operate through “conspiring [individuals] in the last days.” (D&C 89:4.) The Lord has even announced, “Behold, the enemy is combined.” (D&C 38:12.)

Yet we must not be intimidated or lose our composure even though the once morally unacceptable is becoming acceptable, as if frequency somehow conferred respectability!

One of the most subtle forms of intimidation is the gradual normalization of aberration. Alexander Pope so cautioned:

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As, to be hated, needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.
(An Essay on Man, epistle i, l. 217.)

Today, lust openly parades as love, license cleverly poses as liberty, and raucous sounds mockingly masquerade as music. Evil even calls itself good and often gets away with it!

While I would not shrink the circumference of freedom, the size of that circle is not the sole measure of social well-being.

Hence, to exult, as some do, over how much decadence is permissible at the edges ignores the erosive effects of such grossness upon all within that circle.
...
Even with its flaws, the family is basic, and since no other institution can compensate fully for failure in the family, why then, instead of enhancing the family, the desperate search for substitutes? Why not require family impact studies before proceeding with this program or that remedy, since of all environmental concerns the family should be first? Hundreds of governmental departments and programs protect various interests, but which one protects the family?

Since democracy depends upon citizens’ “obedience to the unenforceable,” why then the stiff resistance to moral education which could emphasize widely shared and time-tested principles?

Only reform and self-restraint, institutional and individual, can finally rescue society! Only a sufficient number of sin-resistant souls can change the marketplace. As Church members, we should be part of that sin-resistant counterculture. Instead, too many members are sliding down the slope, though perhaps at a slower pace.
Neal A. Maxwell, “Behold, the Enemy Is Combined,” Ensign, May 1993, 76

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We are told, by way of example, that some conditions preceding the second coming of the Savior will be as in the days of Noah (see Matt. 24:37-39) and “also as it was in the days of Lot” (Luke 17:28). Noah’s time was one of disobedience and wickedness. People were uncomprehending and “knew not until the flood came” (Matt. 24:39; see also Gen. 6:5; 1 Pet. 3:20). The choking cares and pleasures of this life led to the general rejection of Noah’s prophetic message. Two especially interesting words are used in the Bible to describe Noah’s time: violence and corruption (Gen. 6:11). Violence and corruption, seldom strangers to the human scene, appear to be increasing today.

Some of the coarseness and cruelty present at the time of Noah will be replicated, for “the love of many shall wax cold” (Matt. 24:12). Also, peace will have been “taken from the earth” (D&C 1:35).

Peter wrote of how “the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah” until, as other scriptures advise, the wickedness exceeded that among all God’s creations (1 Pet. 3:20; see also Moses 7:36). A very cruel society existed, one “without affection” in which people hated “their own blood” (Moses 7:33). Given the abuses by humans of other humans, in His longsuffering, God waited as long as even He could.

Those in Lot’s day ate, drank, bought, sold, planted, and builded amid gross wickedness (Luke 17:28), vexing Lot with their “filthy conversation,” or, as it says in the Greek, they “oppressed [him] by [their] outrageous behavior” (2 Pet. 2:7b). In their grossness, there was also gross neglect of the poor (see Ezek. 16:49).
Neal A. Maxwell, “For I Will Lead You Along,” Ensign, May 1988, 7

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Taken From the Talk: "O, Divine Redeemer"

Whether descriptively designated as Creator, Only Begotten Son, Prince of Peace, Advocate, Mediator, Son of God, Savior, Messiah, Author and Finisher of Salvation, King of Kings—I witness that Jesus Christ is the only name under heaven whereby one can be saved! (See D&C 18:23.)

I testify that He is utterly incomparable in what He is, what He knows, what He has accomplished, and what He has experienced. Yet, movingly, He calls us His friends. (See John 15:15.)

We can trust, worship, and even adore Him without any reservation! As the only Perfect Person to sojourn on this planet, there is none like Him! (See Isa. 46:9.)

In intelligence and performance, He far surpasses the individual and the composite capacities and achievements of all who have lived, live now, and will yet live! (See Abr. 3:19.)

He rejoices in our genuine goodness and achievement, but any assessment of where we stand in relation to Him tells us that we do not stand at all! We kneel!

Can we, even in the depths of disease, tell Him anything at all about suffering? In ways we cannot comprehend, our sicknesses and infirmities were borne by Him even before these were borne by us. (See Alma 7:11–12; Matt. 8:17.) The very weight of our combined sins caused Him to descend below all. (See D&C 122:8.) We have never been, nor will we be, in depths such as He has known. Thus His atonement made His empathy and His capacity to succor us perfect, for which we can be everlastingly grateful as He tutors us in our trials. There was no ram in the thicket at Calvary to spare Him, this Friend of Abraham and Isaac.

Can those who yearn for hearth or home instruct Him as to what it is like to be homeless or on the move? Did He not say in a disclosing moment that “the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head”? (Matt. 8:20.)

Can we really counsel Him about being misrepresented, misunderstood, or betrayed? Or what it is like when even friends falter or “go a fishing”? (See John 21:3.)

Can we educate Him regarding injustice or compare failures of judicial systems with the Giver of the Law, who, in divine dignity, endured its substantive and procedural perversion?

And when we feel so alone, can we presume to teach Him who trod “the wine-press alone” anything at all about feeling forsaken? (D&C 76:107; see also Matt. 27:46.)

Cannot the childless who crave children count on His empathy? For He loved children and said, “Of such is the kingdom of heaven”; and “one by one, [He] blessed them,” and “he wept … and prayed unto the Father for them. And when he had done this he wept again.” (Matt. 19:14; 3 Ne. 17:21–22.)

Do we presume to instruct Him in either compassion or mercy? Even at the apogee of His agony upon the cross, He, nevertheless, consoled a thief beside Him, saying, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43.)

Can we excuse our compromises because of the powerful temptations of status seeking? It was He who displayed incredible integrity as the adversary made Him an offer which could not be refused—“all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them.” (Matt. 4:8.) But He refused!

Can we teach Him about enduring irony? His remaining possession, a cloak, was gambled for even as He died. (See Matt. 27:35.) Yet the very earth was His footstool! Jesus gave mankind living water so that we shall never thirst again, yet on the cross He was given vinegar! (See John 4:10–19; Matt. 27:48.)

Can we lecture Him on liberty, He who sets us free from our last enemies—sin and death?

Can those who revere human freedom yet complain about human suffering ever achieve real reconciliation except through His gospel?

Can those concerned with nourishing the poor advise Him concerning feeding the multitudes?

Can those who are concerned with medicine instruct Him about healing the sick?

Or can we inform the Atoner about feeling the sting of ingratitude when one’s service goes unappreciated or unnoticed? Only one leper in ten thanked Jesus, who asked searchingly, “But where are the nine?” (Luke 17:17.)

Should those concerned with lengthening the lifespan offer to enlighten the Resurrector of all mankind?

Can scientists, whose discipline brings the discovery of the interweavings in the tapestry of truth, instruct the Tapestry Maker?

Should we seek to counsel Him in courage? Should we rush forth eagerly to show Him our mortal medals—our scratches and bruises—He who bears His five special wounds?

Does not His “word of power” actually bring entire new worlds into being and cause others to pass away? (See Moses 1:35–38.) Yet in the midst of such galactic governance, He interviewed His Twelve unhurriedly “one by one” (3 Ne. 28:1) and later called a farm boy in rural New York.

Has He not invited us to observe His cosmic craftsmanship in the heavens that we might see “God moving in His majesty and power”? (D&C 88:47.) But do we not also see Him “moving in His majesty and power” as each prodigal finally completes his homeward orbit?

Though His creations are so vast as to be numberless even to computerized man, has Jesus not told us that the very hairs of our head are numbered? (See Matt. 10:30; Moses 1:35–38.)

Did not the resurrected Jesus stand by an imprisoned Paul, telling him to be of good cheer and calling him on his mission to Rome? (See Acts 23:11.) Likewise, Jesus stands by the righteous in all their individual ordeals.

Did not this good and true Shepherd forego repose after the glorious but awful Atonement in order to establish His work among the lost sheep, disobedient in the days of Noah? (See 1 Pet. 3:18–20.) Did He not then visit still other lost sheep in the Americas? (See John 10:16; 3 Ne. 15:17, 21.) Then still other lost sheep? (See 3 Ne. 16:1–3.) What can we tell Him about conscientiousness?

Indeed, we cannot teach Him anything! But we can listen to Him. We can love Him, we can honor Him, we can worship Him! We can keep His commandments, and we can feast upon His scriptures! Yes, we who are so forgetful and even rebellious are never forgotten by Him! We are His “work” and His “glory,” and He is never distracted! (See Moses 1:39.)

Therefore, in addition to my boundless admiration of His achievements and my adoration of Jesus for what He is—knowing that my superlatives are too shallow to do more than echo his excellence—as one of His Special Witnesses in the fulness of times, I attest to the fulness of His ministry!

How dare some treat His ministry as if it were all beatitudes and no declaratives! How myopic it is to view His ministry as all crucifixion and no resurrection! How provincial to perceive it as all Calvary and no Palmyra! All rejection at a village called Capernaum and no acceptance in the City of Enoch! All relapse and regression in ancient Israel and no Bountiful with its ensuing decades of righteousness!

Jesus Christ is the Jehovah of the Red Sea and of Sinai, the Resurrected Lord, the Spokesman for the Father in the theophany at Palmyra—a Palmyra pageant with a precious audience of one!

He lives today, mercifully granting unto all nations as much light as they can bear and messengers of their own to teach them. (See Alma 29:8.) And who better than the Light of the World can decide the degree of divine disclosure—whether it is to be flashlights or floodlights?

Soon, however, all flesh shall see Him together. All knees shall bow in His presence, and all tongues confess His name. (See D&C 76:110–11; Philip. 2:10–11.) Knees which never before have assumed that posture for that purpose will do so then—and promptly. Tongues which have never before spoken His name except in gross profanity will do so then—and worshipfully.

Soon, He who was once mockingly dressed in purple will come again, attired in red apparel, reminding us whose blood redeemed us. (See D&C 133:48–49.)

All will then acknowledge the completeness of His justice and His mercy (see Alma 12:15) and will see how human indifference to God—not God’s indifference to humanity—accounts for so much suffering.

Then we will see the true story of mankind—and not through glass darkly. (See 1 Cor. 13:12.) The great military battles will appear as mere bonfires which blazed briefly, and the mortal accounts of the human experience will be but graffiti on the walls of time.

Before that reckoning moment, however, both your ministry and mine will unfold in the grim but also glorious circumstances of the last days.

Yes, there will be wrenching polarization on this planet, but also the remarkable reunion with our colleagues in Christ from the City of Enoch. Yes, nation after nation will become a house divided, but more and more unifying Houses of the Lord will grace this planet. Yes, Armageddon lies ahead. But so does Adam-ondi-Ahman!

Meanwhile, did not Jesus tell us what to expect by way of heat in the final summer? Did He not also say that He would prove our faith and patience by trial?

Did He not provide needed proportion when He spoke of the comparative few who will find the narrow way leading to the strait gate? (See Matt. 7:13–14.) Did He not also say that His Saints, scattered upon all the face of the earth, would, in the midst of wickedness, commotion, and persecution, be “armed with righteousness and with the power of God,” for He is determined to have “a pure people”? (1 Ne. 14:12–14; D&C 100:16.)

His work proceeds forward almost as if in the comparative calmness of the eye of a storm. First, He reigns in the midst of His saints; soon, in all the world! (See D&C 1:36; D&C 133:2–3.)

So as the shutters of human history begin to close as if before a gathering storm, and as events scurry across the human scene like so many leaves before a wild wind—those who stand before the warm glow of the gospel fire can be permitted a shiver of the soul. Yet in our circle of certitude, we know, even in the midst of all these things, that there will be no final frustration of God’s purposes. God has known “all things from the beginning; wherefore he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men.” (1 Ne. 9:6.)

Humbly, therefore, I promise to go whithersoever I am sent, striving to speak the words He would have me say and acknowledging in the tremblings of my soul that I cannot fully be His Special Witness unless my life is fully special. I close with pleadings from the hymn “O, Divine Redeemer!” which pleadings are my pleadings:

Ah! turn me not away,
Receive me, tho’ unworthy, …
Hear Thou my cry, …
Behold, Lord, my distress! …
Thy pity show in my deep anguish! …
Shield me in danger,
O regard me! …
O, divine Redeemer! …
Grant me pardon, and remember not, remember not, O Lord, my sins! …
Help me, my Savior!
(Charles Gounod, New York: G. Schirmer.)
Neal A. Maxwell, “O, Divine Redeemer,” Ensign, Nov. 1981, 8