That was wonderful, thank you, there is a calming power about music, it’s wonderful. I’m really excited to be here with you today brothers and sisters, the Kusches have been my great friends. As president Kusch mentioned, for number of years I served with him with him while he was our stake president up in the BYU-Idaho 3rd stake, and had much association there. I’ve traveled to India and Bangladesh with one of your Vice Presidents, Guy Hollingworth and spent time there, and Craig and Susan Bell were neighbors in our ward in Rexburg, along with Eva Sommer. So LDS Business College has stolen some of BYU-Idaho’s best people. And your punishment is that you have to listen to me speak. So what come around, goes around, so here I came around.
Several years ago, I had a wonderful new student in my class, she was a convert to the Church from the south. And when she spoke, it was like listening to sister Marriott speak. I wanted to thank Sister Marriott when she got released, but I wanted to say no… can she speak in Conference anyway? Anyways, this young lady named Sarah, she sounded just like Sister Marriott, one day as we neared the end of the semester, she told us the following story:
She has gotten home one day, and like a lot of College students—near the end of the semester— out of money and out of food. And yet, she had this prompting to prepare a meal for her roommates. And she looked around and found that she still had some potatoes, some cheese, some bacon bits and an unbaked bag of Rhodes Rolls. So she made cheesy bacon potato soup and hot rolls. And when her roommates all got home from class, it was smelling beautiful and wonderful and she set the table and was all ready to go, and the roommates came in and she said “I made us dinner!”
And all sat down and they were so excited, and as Sarah lifted the pot of soup off of the stove, the spirit said “Sarah… take this dinner to the ‘brothers’ in your ward.” She knew exactly who the spirit meant… there were three boys in her ward that lived in a little home off campus that were all brothers, two returned missionaries and one getting ready to go.
And she said right back to the spirit… “No. You prompted me to make this for my roommates.” So she set it on the table and they blessed the food and she stood up, and she put the ladle in the soup, to ladle it into the bowls, when again the Spirit said: “Sarah, take this dinner to the ‘brothers’ in your ward.” She set the ladle down and she said “I’m new in the Church and I don’t know what to make with this but twice I’ve had the prompting that I should take this dinner to the brothers in our ward. And the roommates reached for the soup “No, no!” And one roommate, wiser, said: “Sarah, never postpone a prompting. Come on, I’ll help you take it over, and then I’ll come back and make something for all of us here.”
Well, they went to the ‘brothers’ house and knocked on the door. And the oldest brother opened the door and he looked at them, and then looked at the dinner, and he looked at them and said: “How did you know?”
And Sarah said: “How did we know…. What?”
And he explained, “None of us have been able to find jobs here in Rexburg. So, my mom sends us a little money each week for food. Last weekend, my mom was in a car accident, and she is in the hospital. And my dad is with my mom in the hospital, they didn’t send us any money. And we haven’t eaten in two days.”
Sarah didn’t know. But God did and a loving Savior did! And He prompted this new convert that was learning to recognize the voice of the Lord in her life, and a wise roommate insisted she followed that prompting and they were able to be a servant of the Lord on that incredible day.
Well today I’d like to take my title of my talk, ironically from a man who didn’t believe in the Savior, Pilate, Pontius Pilate, the prefect from Jerusalem that condemned the Savior to death. What a scene must’ve been, Jesus standing next to Pilate, and Pilate said:
“What shall I do then with Jesus, which is called Christ?” (Matt 27:22)
Jesus, had recently come – as you recall – from the garden of Gethsemane, where He had been suffering his infinite atonement, bleed great drops of blood from every pore (see Luke 22:44; Mosiah 3:7; Doctrine and Covenants 19:18). I see him in my mind, standing next to Pilate, blood soaked clothes, perhaps face smeared with blood where he was trying to wipe it off, hair matted and sticky. And Pilate asks:
“What shall I do then with Jesus, which is called Christ?” (Matthew 27:22).
That’s the title of my talk, and I’d like us to be pondering that, what if that’d be the question asked to us: What will I do then with Jesus, who is called Christ? Some of you may remember the made-up story of three men who die, they find themselves in a waiting room in heaven, waiting to be judged. An angel appears and one by one escorts them into a room where an interviewer asks them “what do you know about Jesus Christ?”
The first man says “I didn’t really know that much about the Savior, in fact, I thought that religion people were kind of weird, and so I kept religion out of my life, out of my work place, I just didn’t know much.” An angel appears and escorted him to where he could begin to learn what he needed to know about the Savior Jesus Christ.
The second man comes in to the interviewer and he was asked the same question. “I was crusaded for Christ, I was so valiant for him in the work place, and at home and in my civic life, everywhere I went I preached the Savior Jesus Christ.” Not sooner that he said this, an angel appears and escorts him to where he could begin to learn what he needs to know about the Savior Jesus Christ.
As the angel brought the third man into the interview room and moved aside, the third man fell to his knees and worshipped. Because the one conducting the interviews was the Savior Jesus Christ, and he recognized him. He knew him, he had become like him.
It is my sincere hope that I will say something today, stealing a word from Lehi in 2 Nephi 2, entice you, I want to entice you to want to truly come to know the Savior Jesus Christ better. I pray that when you see Him, you will, as Moroni wrote, ‘be like him, for [you] shall see him as he is…” (Moroni 7:48).
In order to better answer the question one day may be asked from us: “What shall I do then with Jesus, which is called Christ?” I have four invitations for you. I believe that if you accept and act on each of these invitations you will be better prepared to answer that question. You will truly come to know the Savior a little bit better than you do today. I really believe that unless we do the things the Savior did, we can’t truly come to know him.
First, I invite you to pray every morning—like Jesus did.
Second, I invite you to worship at Church each week—l like Jesus did.
Third, I invite you to be lightning quick, I wish I could snap, but I invite you to be lightning quick to forgive yourself and to forgive others.
And fourth, I invite you to always tie the word “atonement” to the name of Jesus Christ.
Here’s the promise I’m prepared to make: If you do these four things, you will come to see the Savior’s hand in your life more than you are currently seeing it and you will feel more connected directly to Him.
First, I invite you to pray every morning—like Jesus did.
Very early in Jesus’ ministry, he finds himself at the home of his apostle Peter’s Mother-in-law. And she is so ill with fever, that she can’t even get out of bed. Jesus tenderly takes her by the hand and healed her (Mark 1: 31). And that’s when the chaos began. Word quickly spread throughout the village, Jesus was in town and he is doing miracles. And the scriptures record in Mark 1, they lined up at the door waiting for their own healing miracle, and Jesus started giving these blessings at sunset, so the sun has gone down and he starts giving priesthood blessings. I’m sure that he did it just exactly like it says in 3rd Nephi, taking them one by one and giving them healing blessings (3 Nephi 17:21).
Mark recorded “he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils” (Mark 1:34). The scriptures do not record how long the line was or how long it was that Jesus gave priesthood blessings.
But if he ever deserved a day to sleep in, it was the next morning, he had been giving priesthood blessings well into the night. And yet Mark 1:35 records that “rising up a great while before day, he went out into a solitary place and there prayed.” Jesus, after a late night, got up early, found a quiet place, and there He prayed, He talked to God. Jesus was a morning pray-er! I repeat, Jesus was a morning pray-er! And my spell check didn’t like the word “pray-er” when I put a hyphen in there, but that’s what He was and that’s what I’m inviting us to be, is to be a person who talks to Heavenly Father every morning.
Some of us did that regularly and consistently as we served the Lord on missions, and now we think “oh, I have to get on the road, have to fight my way through traffic to get downtown LDS Business College, and we’ve given up the habit of talking to God every morning.
I invite us to REPENT and to always talk to God every morning. I laugh every time I read the next verse, it says when Peter and the others finally got up, they had to hunt to find Jesus. Can you imagine that. ‘Oh, no! We lost him! Where did he go?’
Where he went, was to say his morning prayers.
Now I can hear some of you already saying: “Brother Wahlquist, my morning is too hectic. Brother Wahlquist, I don’t have any privacy. Brother Wahlquist my apartment is too loud! Brother Wahlquist I share a bedroom, I don’t have any privacy.”
NO EXCUSES! There’re not excuses for not talking to Heavenly Father every morning. Make time! Take time! Pray in your room. Pray in the other room. When your roommate gets up to go to the bathroom, roll out of bed, get on your knees and pray! Hey, have you even thought of this one, why don’t you ask your roommate, “could you give me a minute so I could pray?”
Brothers and sisters, there are solutions to the morning hecticness but there are no excuses for not talking to Heavenly Father every morning. Morning prayer will change your life. And morning prayer will make you more like the Savior, who prayed every morning.
Invitation number 2, I invite you to worship each week at Church—Just like Jesus did.
At the first of his ministry, Jesus goes home to Nazareth to make his announcement and Luke 4:16 puts it like this: “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; (listen to the next four words), as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day…”
“… as his custom was…” It was his habit. It was what he did every Sunday, for them it would’ve been Saturday. But every Sabbath the Savior went into the synagogue to worship, every week.
Now, if you have friends and maybe even family like me, you’ve heard things like:
“I’m not going to church; I’m too tired.”
“I’m not going to church; it’s boring.”
“I’m not going to church; everyone there is a hypocrite.”
“I’m not going to church; the bishop offended me.”
“I’m not going to church; the people don’t even like me.”
“I’m not going to church, I can’t call myself a Mormon anymore’” (That’s a new one!).
Here’s one I’ve NEVER heard: “I’m not going to church anymore, I only get to go for 2 hours.” I haven’t heard anybody said that!
Well I wonder what Jesus would say, Jesus a regular church-goer if we said to him “well Jesus I didn’t go to Church, boring, offended, hypocrites, tired? Have you stopped to think about what Jesus actually did? Every week He attended church. But what a church! I don’t even know the word to describe the Jewish church in Jesus’ days. False? Fallen? Apostate? Lost? 52 times a year—for 30 years, that’s over 1500 times Jesus attended an apostate church. We are blessed to have the true Church of Jesus Christ on the earth today.
I don’t know that He’ll accept excuses from us for not attending, He went to church, because this is what He knew. I’ve come to believe that He knew that attending Church has little to do with who else is there, it has little to do with what’s been taught and how it’s been taught, it has little to do with who sees you there.
I’ve come to believe that Jesus went to church because He knew that it has EVERYTHING to do with personally worshipping God, with lifting and building others, with showing obedience to God of where I’m supposed to be, we are showing the Father “I love thee, I honor thee, I praise thee, I worship thee!”
Jesus has commanded us to attend His TRUE Church. And I testify that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is Jesus’ church on the earth today. I love saying that by the way, “the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,” there is power on saying the name of Jesus Christ. And I’m thrilled that our prophet has reminded us of that. I also know that God knows our individual circumstances and He knows what our best efforts are and He doesn’t compare us to others.
Invitation number 3, I invite you to be lightning quick to forgive, to forgive yourself and to forgive others.
The story for me that best demonstrates this comes from Matthew 14.
You remember that Jesus had sent his disciples out on a boat to cross over to the sea of Galilee to the other side, and He’s climbed on a mountain to pray. Sometime in the middle of the night, a storm arises. And Mathew records that their little ship was in the ‘midst of the sea, and tossed with waves, for the wind was contrary” (Matthew 14:24). Sometime after 3 a.m. in the morning, they see Jesus walking towards them on the water. And after a moment of fear, Peter jumps out of the boat and ‘walked on the water, to go to Jesus” (Matthew 14:29).
Okay, Jesus can walk on water, He is a God, He created it! That makes sense to me, but Peter? A rough-around-the-edges-fisherman? Peter walked on water? WOW and WOW and triple WOW! What an incredible thing,
What an incredible thing, we don’t know how many steps Peter took from the boast to Jesus, and then he did something estupido. He took his eyes – I thought we were going to get the opening prayer in Spanish today, by the way, but it was good in English – He took his eyes off the Savior and he looked away. Matthew records that he ‘saw the wind boisterous’ (Matthew 14:31). In order to see the wind, he can’t be looking at Jesus, so he must’ve seen the wind on the waves, or the wind flapping on the sails, or wiggling Jesus’ clothes or waving through Jesus’ hair. But the bottom line is that he took his eyes off of the Savior and he looked away.
In perhaps what is the 2nd greatest miracle in the Church that we ‘never talk about’ – the first greatest miracle is a talk/subject for another time.
But the second greatest miracle that we never talk about is that Peter didn’t sink, he began to sink. And he sinks slowly enough that he has a conversation with the Savior. And he ‘cried out, Lord, save me” (Matthew 14:30).
Now, have you ever wondered how Peter gets back to the boat?
If Jesus had come to me and asked for advice, I would’ve said; “Jesus tell him to ‘swim back to the boat! He took his eyes off you!”
But Jesus did not ask my advice, and He ‘IMMEDIATELY STRETCHED FORTH HIS HAND, AND CAUGHT HIM’ (Matthew 14:31). Do you know how Peter got back to the boat…? HE WALKED ON WATER A 2ND TIME… This time, he walked on water just moments after having done something stupid— by taking his eyes off of the Savior. The Savior forgave him like that and rescue him.
Oh that we could develop that trait! To be so quick to forgive.
I had an experience in Parowan, Utah where I used to live, that helps demonstrate for me the importance of forgiving quickly. I’ve built my new home and didn’t want to wait for grass to grow. So I took my 1970 long-bed Chevy truck – a truck which I still own, by the way– and took it to the sod farm and got two pallets of sod and the driver took a forklift and pushed the first pallet in, and the pushed the second pallet in. I got out of the truck on driver’s side and my three-year-old son, Michael got out of the driver’s door with me. I wrote the man a check for the sod, and then I said to Michael ‘Michael go, get back in the car. Just in my mind,
I thought ‘he’s gonna get back in the door that he got out, but instead of getting back in the driver’s door, he darted around the back of the truck and ran “SMACK” into the fork of the forklift. He split his head wide open. I don’t do blood very well, but I whipped off my shirt, I wrapped it around his head, jumped in the truck and drove as fast as you can drive with two pallets of sod on the back of your truck.
Parowan doesn’t have a hospital, but we had a clinic. And as we got to the clinic, I got there too late and they were closed, but I could see a light on inside and movement. So I stood there on the door, holding my son, covered in blood, pounding on the door. When nurse, Iris Lambertson, came to the door. Quickly and calmly she assessed the situation. And she said “Brother Wahlquist,” – I was the local seminary teacher and she actually did say ‘Brother Wahlquist’. She said: “You’re gonna have to hold him, nobody else is here. You’re going to have to hold him down, while I open up the wound and clean it out.” And I thought, ‘why?!’ And she said: “If we don’t get every spec of dirt and dust out of that wound, because he hit a dirty forklift, then it will scar up, and it will make a lump, we have to get all of the dirt out, so that it doesn’t make that big wound.” Well, I held him and he screamed, and Sister Lambertson did an incredible job. Today you can still see Michael’s scar, but it is flat and smooth, and almost un-noticeable.
I tell you this story, to remind you of the principle to be quick to forgive. Do not let wounds fester and scar up. Be quick to forgive, be quick to say I’m sorry, be quick to forgive yourself, quit beating yourself over things you’re ready to move on.
My fourth invitation, is to invite you to always tie the word “atonement” to the Savior Jesus Christ.
In April 2017, 18 months ago, President Nelson, then President of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, gave a phenomenal talk titled Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives. The title of his talk was not Drawing the Power of the Atonement into Our Lives. It was Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives, he said:
“It is doctrinally incomplete to speak of the Lord’s atoning sacrifice by shortcut phrases, such as “the Atonement” or “the enabling power of the Atonement” or “applying the Atonement” or “being strengthened by the Atonement.” These expressions present a real risk of misdirecting faith by treating the event as if it had living existence and capabilities independent of our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.”
Did you catch the significance of that????
How often have you and I heard people say things like…?
“Oh, I love the atonement.”
“I was blessed by the atonement.”
“The atonement changed my life.”
“The atonement gave me the strength I needed.”
“I want to draw on the power of the atonement into my life.”
And what I heard in Church this week, “The atonement is at the center of the gospel.”
All those statements according to President Nelson’s quote, are not true. Jesus Christ is the center of the gospel. Jesus Christ is the one who gives us strength, Jesus Christ is the one who rescues us, and when we start to talk of the Atonement as something separate from the Savior, we misdirect faith away from the Savior.
President Nelson went on to say:
“There is no amorphous entity called “the Atonement” upon which we may call for succor, healing, forgiveness, or power. Jesus Christ is the source... The Savior’s atoning sacrifice—the central act of all human history—is best understood and appreciated when we expressly and clearly connect it to Him.”
It’s the Savior Jesus Christ, and I think what happens if we start to see the atonement as separate from Christ:
We begin to feel distant from the Savior
We begin to feel that He doesn’t care.
We begin to feel that He’s not real in our lives.
And yet, we had all these experiences that we attribute to the atonement, “oh this wonderful tender mercy,” there’s not such a thing as a tender mercy. 1 Nephi 1:20, Nephi says “ I will show unto you that the tender mercies…” are you finishing it on your head? “…of the Lord…” They come from Jesus.
So I believe that sometimes we are missing a connection to the Savior because we are attributing thanks to a ‘tender mercy’ or attributing thanks to the atonement, when is the Savior, and when we start to see all of these great things that happen in our daily lives and connect them to the Savior, we feel closer to him, and we are better prepare to answer the question: What will I do then with Jesus, who is called Christ?
I love our hymns, our hymns demonstrate the importance of putting the Savior first. Let me misquote a hymn to you, this is not what the hymn says:
Dearest children the atonement is near you.
Watching o’er you day and night.
And delights to own and bless you,
If you strive to do what’s right.
The atonement will bless you.
The atonement will bless you.
If you put your trust in it.
You saw change right? It’s hymn number 96, “Dearest Children God Is near You:”
Dearest children God is near you.
Watching o’er you day and night.
And delights to own and bless you,
If you strive to do what’s right.
He will bless you.
He will bless you.
If you put your trust in Him.
What about one scripture, let me ‘miss quote’ John 17:3.
“And behold this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and the atonement, whom thou hast sent.” This is not what the scripture says, “And behold this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and the Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”
I do not pretend to know all the reasons that President Nelson has focused us beginning with this talk beginning this October and now the refocus on the name of the Church. But Brothers and Sisters, the Savior Jesus Christ needs to be a part of our daily lives, we need to say his name EVERYDAY out loud and in our prayers, and as we are sharing people who we are as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, there is real power in that. And I think sometimes president Nelson was right, ‘we misdirect faith,’ we get a little bit off center when we don’t stop and see the Savior at the center of it all.
I testify that if we will be become morning prayers, that if we will do our best to worship at Church each and every week, that if we will be quick to forgive like the Savior was quick to forgive and we tie all of these kindness in our lives directly to the Savior, we can stand at the judgement bar and asked the question: What will I do then with Jesus, who is called Christ? And we will be able to say, “I did everything with him and He is everything to me.” In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Robert F. Wahlquist teaches in the Religion Department at Brigham Young University–Idaho. He has taught there since 2008. For nearly 10 years before that assignment, he was the pre-service trainer at BYU–Idaho and Idaho State University for those who wanted to become full-time seminary teachers for the Church Educational System. He also served as the Institute director and Seminary principle in Vernal, Utah. His first assignment in Church Education was as the principle of the Parowan, Utah seminary.
After receiving his associate degree from Dixie College, he earned a bachelor’s in political science, master’s in recreation management, and a doctorate in educational leadership from BYU.
Brother Wahlquist is currently his ward young men’s president. He’s been a bishop twice, of a home ward and a singles ward. He served a full-time mission in Lima, Peru. All of his mission transfers were by airplane, and his mission is now divided into 7 different missions.
He married Michelle Hansen from Portland, Oregon in the Seattle Washington Temple. They are the parents of a son and six daughters and have nine grandchildren. They live in a home they built themselves in Rexburg, Idaho. They love to travel and have been all over the world, including, Russia, Belgium, France, Italy, India, Bangladesh, Austria, Mexico, Germany, Denmark, and the Czech Republic.