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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Not Ashamed of the Gospel of Christ

            I am continuing my studies of the teachings of the Apostles after the death of Jesus Christ, and I thought that I would share some truths with my readers. While studying I found a familiar scripture in Romans 1:16, which says the following.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

            What does it mean to you to be “not ashamed of the gospel of Christ”? Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a living Apostle who was then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and is now the First Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has an excellent answer.

Each of us has many opportunities to proclaim our belief to friends and neighbors, fellow workers, and casual acquaintances. I hope we will take these opportunities to express our love for our Savior, our witness of his divine mission, and our determination to serve him.

If we do all of this, we can say, like the Apostle Paul, `I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.’ (Rom. 1:16.)” (“Witnesses of Christ,” October 1990). 

            Elder Oaks tells us that we have many opportunities to share the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ with the people around us. We do not need to travel miles from home and go among strangers. We just need to be willing to speak with family members, friends, and neighbors. The Apostle Peter gives a similar answer to the question in 1 Peter 3:15 when he said the following.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.

            Peter tells us that we should always be ready to answer questions about the gospel. Then we will be prepared to share our knowledge with anyone who may ask about it. I decided to “cluster” – like a cluster of grapes - some scriptures around Paul’s statement in Romans. I included Peter’s statement as well as the next four scriptures. Each scripture gives a little more counsel concerning not being ashamed of the gospel.

I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed (David in Psalms 119:46). 

            David tells us that we should not be ashamed of the gospel even when speaking to kings, so we should not worry about sharing the gospel with commoners like ourselves. Matthew, still another Apostle, tells us that we can run into big problems if we become ashamed of Christ.

But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven (Matthew 10:33). 

            Matthew’s warning is not the only one. Nephi, an ancient American prophet, gave further warning to his people about being ashamed of Christ.

But, behold, my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angels, and after this should deny me, it would have been better for you that ye had not known me (2 Nephi 31:15). 

            Matthew served warning to the people in his day in the old world, and Nephi warned the people of his day in ancient America. The Prophet Joseph Smith warned the people of our day with similar words in Doctrine and Covenants 101:1-5. The Saints were attempting to establish homes in Van Buren, Lafayette, and Ray Counties in Missouri after being driven from their homes in Jackson County, Missouri. They were still being persecuted and receiving death threats. They had lost homes, furniture, clothing, livestock, and other personal property, and many of them had lost their crops. They were suffering difficult times. It was under these extreme conditions that the Prophet received the following words.

1 Verily I say unto you, concerning your brethren who have been afflicted, and persecuted, and cast out from the land of their inheritance –

2 I, the Lord, have suffered the affliction to come upon them, wherewith they have been afflicted, in consequence of their transgressions;

3 Yet I will own them, and they shall be mine in that day when I shall come to make up my jewels.

4 Therefore, they must needs be chastened and tried, even as Abraham, who was commanded to offer up his only son.

5 For all those who will not endure chastening, but deny me, cannot be sanctified.

            Apostles and Prophets have counseled us to stand strong in the gospel of Jesus Christ before kings and commoners and to be ever ready to share the gospel. They have also warned us of the consequences that will come if we deny Jesus Christ. These consequences are: (1) Christ will deny us to the Father. (2) We would be better off if we had never known Him. (3) We must endure chastening in order to be sanctified. The simple truth is that we can avoid the consequences if we follow the counsel to be ever ready to share the blessings of the gospel in our lives. In doing so, we can follow the example shown by President Thomas S. Monson.

            When President Monson was First Counselor to President Gordon B. Hinckey, he shared an experience that took place many years previously (“That All May Hear,” April 1995). He was on a flight from San Francisco, California, to Los Angeles, California, and his seat mate was a beautiful young woman who was a flight attendant. He noticed that she was reading a familiar book, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, and he wondered if he should say something to her. After mustering up his courage, he said, “Excuse me. You must be a Mormon.”

            The young woman replied that she was not and wondered why he was asking that question. He then explained that LeGrand Richards, the author of the book, was a prominent leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She indicated that she had received the book from a friend and was curious about it.

            Meanwhile, President Monson was wondering if he should say more about the Church. He says that the words of Peter (as quoted above) came into his mind: “Be ready always to give an answer…” He decided to share his testimony with her. He shared how it had been his privilege to work with Elder Richards in printing his book. He mentioned Elder Richard’s great missionary spirit and how thousands of people had embraced the gospel after reading his book. He spent the remainder of the trip answering her question about the Church. He asked if he could have missionaries visit her at her home, and she replied affirmatively. When he returned home, he contacted the mission president and the stake president to advise them of his conversation with the young woman and to let them know that he had sent further reading material. He suggested that sister missionaries be sent to teach the young woman.

            Several months later President Monson received a telephone call from the stake president. He asked President Monson if he remembered sitting beside a flight attendant on a trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles earlier in the fall. President Monson replied that he did. The stake president then handed the telephone to the young woman who had been recently baptized and confirmed a member of the Church. She expressed gratitude to him for sharing the gospel with her, and his heart was filled with joy.

            Like President Monson, each of us can be prepared to share the gospel with the people who surround us. We do not know who will accept the gift, but we must offer it to everyone. By doing so, we will be showing that we are not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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