Russell M. Nelson, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Early in our married life, when Sister Nelson and I lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the United States, we decided to enjoy a free afternoon with our two-year-old daughter. We went to one of Minnesota’s many beautiful lakes and rented a small boat. After rowing far from shore, we stopped to relax and enjoy the tranquil scene. Suddenly our little toddler lifted one leg out of the boat and started to go overboard, exclaiming, “Time to get out, Daddy!”
Quickly we caught her and explained, “No, dear, it isn’t time to get out; we must stay in the boat until it brings us safely back to land.” We had a hard time convincing her that leaving the boat early would lead to disaster.
As children of our Heavenly Father, we, too, may foolishly want to “get out of the boat” before we arrive at destinations He would like us to reach. The Lord teaches over and over that we are to endure (remain faithful) to the end.
What if Jesus had wavered in His commitment to do His Father’s will? His Atonement would not have been accomplished. The dead would not be resurrected. The blessings of eternal life would not be. But Jesus did endure. During His final hour, Jesus prayed to His Father, saying, “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” (John 17:4).
Early in His mortal ministry, Jesus became concerned about the commitment of His followers. He had just fed 5,000, then had taught them the doctrines of the kingdom. But some had murmured, “This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” (John 6:60). Even after He had fed them, many lacked the faith to endure with Him.
He turned to the Twelve and said, “Will ye also go away?
“Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, … thou hast the words of eternal life.
“And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:67-69).
When we, like Peter, know without a doubt that Jesus is the Christ, we will want to stay with Him. We will have the power to endure.
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Through the ages, some without scriptural understanding have tried to explain our existence by pretentious words such as ex nihilo (out of nothing). Others have deduced that, because of certain similarities between different forms of life, there has been a natural selection of the species, or organic evolution from one form to another. Many of these people have concluded that the universe began as a “big bang” that eventually resulted in the creation of our planet and life upon it.
To me, such theories are unbelievable! Could an explosion in a printing shop produce a dictionary? It is unthinkable! Even if it could be argued to be within a remote realm of possibility, such a dictionary could certainly not heal its own torn pages or renew its own worn corners or reproduce its own subsequent editions!
We are children of God, created by him and formed in his image. Recently I studied the scriptures to find how many times they testify of the divine creation of man. Looking up references that referred to create, form (or their derivatives), with either man, men, male, or female in the same verse, I found that there are at least fifty-five verses of scripture that attest to our divine creation. I have selected one to represent all the verses that convey the same conclusion:
“The Gods took counsel among themselves and said: Let us go down and form man in our image, after our likeness. …
“So the Gods went down to organize man in their own image, in the image of the Gods to form they him, male and female to form they them.” (Abr. 4:26, 27.)
I believe all of those scriptures that pertain to the creation of man. But the decision to believe is a spiritual one, not made solely by an understanding of things physical, for we read that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. 2:14.)
It is incumbent upon each informed and spiritually attuned person to help overcome such foolishness of men who would deny divine creation or think that man simply evolved. By the Spirit, we perceive the truer and more believable wisdom of God.
With great conviction, I add my testimony to that of my fellow Apostle Paul, who said, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
“If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” (1 Cor. 3:16, 17.)
The Lord said that “the spirit and the body are the soul of man.” (D&C 88:15.) Therefore, each one of us is a dual being—a biological (physical) entity, and an intellectual (spiritual) entity. In the beginning, man, the intellectual entity, was with God. Our intelligence “was not created or made,” nor can it be. (See D&C 93:29.)
That spirit, joined with a physical body of such remarkable qualities, becomes a living soul of supernal worth. The psalmist so expressed this thought:
“When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou has ordained;
“What is man, that thou art mindful of him? …
“For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.” (Ps. 8:3-5.)
Why were we created? Why are we here? Why are we upon the earth?
God has made it plain over and over again that the world was made for mankind. We are here to work out our divine destiny, according to an eternal plan that was presented to us in the great council of heaven. Our bodies have been created to accommodate our spirits, to allow us to experience the challenges of mortality and continue our eternal progression.