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Dallyn Vail Bayles

Dallyn Vail Bayles

28 Dec. 2015

Transcript

To Know to Whom We Belong

[Singing with the choir.]

Jesus, once of humble birth,

Now in glory comes to earth.

Once he suffered grief and pain;

Now he comes on earth to reign.

Now he comes on earth to reign.

 

Once a meek and lowly Lamb,

Now the Lord, the great I Am.

Once upon the cross he bowed;

Now his chariot is the cloud.

Now his chariot is the cloud.

 

Once he groaned in blood and tears;

Now in glory he appears.

Once rejected by his own,

Now their King he shall be known.

Now their King he shall be known.

 

Once forsaken, left alone,

Now exalted to a throne.

Once all things he meekly bore,

But he now will bear no more.

But he now will bear no more.[1]

 

I would like to thank that amazing choir for participating with me in that song. That song has always been very tender to me. It just touches my soul every time, as it just captures so beautifully all that our Savior has done for us, His condescension and His great love for each one of us. I love Him with all of my heart; I know that you do too. There is nothing I want more than to be more like Him. Coming face to face with my weaknesses every day, I can get a little discouraged by that. But I want what the scriptures say when they say, “When he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”[2] I can’t think of a more beautiful thing than that—that we will be like Him.

I have an awful long way to go; just ask my wife. But we’re striving, aren’t we? I guess I’m a little on my way because I’m growing a beard—so trying to be a little more like Him in that way anyway. But as was explained, I’m part of a production over here at the Conference Center Theater. I don’t know how many tickets are still available, but if you have never seen that production, please come. It’s beautiful and really puts you in a wonderful spirit for Christmas.

Brothers and sisters, today I would just—I don’t know why my emotions are so close to the surface today—but I wanted to share my love for this great Church and for its leaders, whom I support and sustain with all of my heart. I don’t think I need to tell you that we live in the last days. There is no question that the world is in commotion and that perhaps even the very elect are being deceived.  Mortal life is becoming very complex, and there are many voices out there that would seek to deter us from our course of eternal life and would seek to make us desire, perhaps, to jump out of “the Old Ship Zion” that Elder Ballard had spoken about this last year in General Conference (“Stay in the Boat and Hold On!” Oct. 2014 General Conference).

As I think about that and about these last days, the words of that hymn that we just sang to start, “Who’s On the Lord’s Side?” just keep coming to my mind.

Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who?

Now is the time to show.

We ask it fearlessly:

Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who?[3]

 

And I hope and pray that every one of us will be able to stand up and say, “I am. And I will be.” But I think it’s interesting because perhaps we have underestimated a little bit about what it means to be a disciple in this Church and to follow Him.

As I was teaching seminary, I had a great opportunity to study the Old Testament and the New Testament. And it really struck me when I read in Matthew 16:24–26:

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” And in the footnotes, in the Joseph Smith Translation, we read that to take up one’s cross means to deny oneself of all ungodliness and to deny oneself.[4]

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”

The world? Is that really something you’re willing to give up your eternal life for? Unfortunately, I have people who are dear to me and are close to me who seem to have made that decision, and I worry about that.

But this promise, then, in verse 27: “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” According to the faith that we have exhibited, and as we strive to be His disciples.

As I thought about this idea of what it really means to follow the Savior—what does it really require of us to be His disciple? And how can we kind of compare that, perhaps, to what is going on today?

I just recently came across this story, the story of the Bread of Life sermon in John chapter 6. And many of you, I am sure, are familiar with it. I’ll paraphrase certain things because there is a lot in here. But it’s a very interesting story, where you have Jesus who has just fed the 5,000 miraculously with this bread and drink that was just miraculously magnified. And these people got so excited about this bread, this free bread, that they came after Him. He had crossed the sea over to Capernaum, and they followed Him.

It says here in verse 25, “And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said, . . . Rabbi, when camest thou hither?” Because he had walked across the sea, if you remember, and got in the boat with the disciples.

And “Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye desire to keep my sayings, neither because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.[5]

“Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.”[6]

And then it’s kind of interesting. They go on to say, “Show us a sign. Show us a sign that we may know, and follow you, and believe in you and do your work. Because Moses, he fed everybody in the wilderness for 40 years, with that manna from heaven, so what are you going to do? You gave it to us one day”—that’s probably not enough for them.[7]

“Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.

“For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.

“Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.

“And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

“But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.”[8]

And then he continues: “This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

“These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.

“Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; Who can hear it?

“When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?

“What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?” In other words, is that going to be enough? Is that what you need to see?

“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”[9]

“From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.”[10]

As I thought about that story, I though, my question was, how does that apply to today? Who is like unto these disciples that followed Him because they profited, I guess, from it? They felt comfortable; they received something from Him. And so that’s why they followed Him. Sometimes I think about, what are we really doing in the Church? How do we view discipleship? What is it to us? What is required? How deep is our conversion, really?

Obviously, the Church is much more than a social club, or is more than just there to fill our bellies and our egos and stroke us when perhaps we do something wrong. The Church is here to perfect and prepare us and the world for the Second Coming of the Savior. As the world continues to get more wicked and as the chasm that separates the Church from the world continues to widen, I think we’re going to have to expect that there are going to be harder times and perhaps even tougher teachings from the Brethren and from our leaders that perhaps may challenge our faith, may test our faith and may be difficult for us to understand or accept at first.

I remember something that Elder Neal A. Maxwell said in 1978. He said, “Make no mistake about it, brothers and sisters; in the months and years ahead, events will require of each member that he or she decide whether or not he or she will follow the First Presidency. Members will find it more difficult to halt longer between two opinions. . . .

“President Marion G. Romney said many years ago that he had ‘never hesitated to follow the counsel of the Authorities of the Church even though it crossed my social, professional, or political life.’”[11]

This is a hard doctrine, but it is a particularly vital doctrine in a society that is becoming more wicked. In short, brothers and sisters, not being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ includes not being ashamed of the prophets of Jesus Christ.

Now, Elder Ballard adds this insight. He said, “’I have discovered in my ministry that those who have become lost [and] confused are typically those who have most often . . . forgotten that when the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve speak with a united voice, it is the voice of the Lord for that time. The Lord reminds us, “Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” (D&C 1:38)’

“In other words, they leave the Old Ship Zion—they fall away; they apostatize.”[12]

And what can help us to—as I thought about this and as I read this, I thought well, what can help us in this day and age, in these last days, to stay on the good ship Zion? And I love it because Elder Ballard of course gives us the answer. He says, “Given the challenges we all face today, how do we stay on the Old Ship Zion? Here is how. We need to experience a continuing conversion by increasing our faith in Jesus Christ and our faithfulness to His gospel throughout our lives—not just once but regularly.”[13] I love that. A continuing conversion is needed.

And of course, Elder Bednar in a wonderful talk explained the difference between having a testimony of principles of the gospel and truly being converted. He said, “Testimony alone is not and will not be enough to protect us in the latter-day storm of darkness and evil in which we are living. Testimony is important and necessary but not sufficient to provide the spiritual strength and protection we need. . . .

“A testimony is spiritual knowledge of truth obtained by the power of the Holy Ghost. Continuing conversion is constant devotion to the revealed truth that we have received—with a heart that is willing and for righteous reasons. Knowing that the gospel is true is the essence of a testimony. Consistently being true to the gospel is the essence of conversion. We should know the gospel is true and be true to the gospel.”[14]

Now, that is a lifelong process, and heaven knows we need help. I love that phrase that it is not good for man to be alone.[15] And that’s true in many ways. I would be nothing without my beautiful wife and her support and her strength. I’m so grateful for it. But I think it also implies that it’s not good for us to be alone in our strength. We need the Lord. We need Him desperately to survive these last days. We need His Spirit in our lives. We’ve got to be worthy of it. Of course, that would be the first thing that Satan would want to take away from us, is our spiritual connection with Him, and I pray that we’ll ever strive to keep it with us.

I’d like to sing a song for you, and it’s actually the song that your president mentioned: “Savior, Redeemer of My Soul.” I love this song, and songs like unto it, like “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” because they help me to remember that “Dallyn, you need help. You need the Savior in your life. You don’t have it all together all the time. You make mistakes. You are weak. But the Savior is there through His Atonement to give you the strength, the help, and the grace that you need to be able to make it through this life, and to be able to accomplish the work that He has for you.” And I know that is true for everybody. I pray that we’ll continue to rely on the Savior throughout our lives, and especially throughout these last days.

Savior, Redeemer of my soul

Whose mighty power hath made me whole

Whose wondrous pow’r hath raised me up

And filled with sweet my bitter cup!

What tongue my gratitude can tell,

O gracious God of Israel.

 

Never can I repay thee, Lord

But I can love Thee. Thy pure word

Hath it not been my one delight,

My joy by day, my dream by night?

Then let my lips proclaim it still

And all my life reflect thy will.

 

O’errule mine acts to serve thine ends,

Change frowning foes to smiling friends.

Chasten my soul till I shall be

In perfect harmony with Thee.

Make me more worthy of thy love

And fit me for the life above.[16]

 

I want to share a little personal story with you. Obviously, in my career as a singer and actor, I get to hang out with some pretty liberal friends. And I love them. I do. They’re good, good people. But we obviously have very different morals, different standards, different views of the world and life, and that’s not a bad thing. But it can be if the things that they participate in or do while I’m around them are not according to my standards, if they are things that I feel really offends the Spirit. Thankfully, I was able to get to know them well enough that I was able to say, “Hey guys, the Mormon’s in the room. So cut it down there.”

And they say, “Oh, sorry about that.” They were usually pretty obliging, and it was great. But not all the time. And obviously, many in my profession and many of my friends—my dear friends—were gay, and I remember I was with the Phantom of the Opera company in San Francisco while the whole Proposition 8 thing was going on. So you can imagine how that was, and obviously knowing that I was Mormon, they knew what I stood for, and knew my feelings were on the issue.

Fast forward that now, a year or two later, and I am teaching seminary and going through the New Testament and reading about Paul, that great missionary. For those who know Paul, he is the epitome of standing for what you believe, no matter what the circumstances. He very often stood alone in what he believed and what he said, and he was unabashed. I remember, of course, a lot of these same performing friends posting many things of Facebook during the time that Proposition 8 was being decided in the Supreme Court and sharing their very strong views on that topic. Many of my Mormon friends were doing the same thing and taking the same side.

As that was going on, I happened to be going through 2 Timothy. And I can just think of Joseph Smith’s description of Paul, right? You know, this little short guy with these intense dark eyes just staring at you.[17] And imagine me reading this scripture while this was going on:

“Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

“Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;

“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”[18]

Well, after reading that, I knew I needed to do something, and I needed to make known my views. And so I did on social media. I decided to post my support of the Church and their position and my own personal feelings on the issue. I stated: “I support the traditional family and definition of family, and states’ rights, and I hope that these will be upheld in the Supreme Court. I echo my Church’s call on the issue: ‘We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.’”

Did I take a lot of flack? Oh, you’d better believe it. There was a lot of vitriol from a lot of my friends, and a lot of them were kind of surprised, perhaps. I knew it would be coming. But you know what’s interesting? It didn’t bother me. It didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. In fact, I felt like I was actually blessed with greater empathy and understanding and love for those who expressed opposition to me and my stance.

I think I came to understand a little of what Elder Neal A. Maxwell meant when he said, “When, at last, we are truly pointed homeward”—we’re on that path—“then the world’s pointing fingers of scorn can better be endured. As we come to know to Whom we belong, the other forms of belonging cease to mean very much. Likewise, as Jesus begins to have a real place in our lives, we are much less concerned with losing our places in the world. When our minds really catch hold of the significance of Jesus’ atonement, the world’s hold on us loosens.”[19] I love that.

But I am grateful for the love that I felt. I know that my wonderful friends who expressed opposition, they had lives very different than mine and they are very justified, perhaps, in their positions and in their feelings. They run very deep, and, of course, they do. And I could understand that and I could listen to them. That didn’t change how I felt on the subject, but it does help to have a little bit of sympathy and a listening ear, to understand where they are coming from and where others are coming from on the topic.

But I will not be silenced, and I would not be silenced. I knew it could have ramifications, and it has had ramifications for others in my profession who have stood up to this and people have found out, and many have called for their resignation or whatnot. And it’s sad. But Paul has left us with no good excuse to stay silent in supporting the Church, supporting the Brethren, and defending it and them to the end of our lives.

Paul was never ashamed. He was bold and straightforward and, even when his life depended on it, he would not stay silent. And I want to be more like him, just like I want to be more like our Savior. I want to be able to say, more than anything, as Paul did in 2 Timothy 4:6–8, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”

I would just like to conclude by returning back to the Bread of Life sermon and that story in John 6. After those multitudes left Jesus, Jesus turned to his apostles and said unto them, “Will ye also go away?”[20] I think what it most poignant about that is He is not just saying that to his apostles; He’s saying that to each one of us. “Will ye also go away? Have I offended you? Have you heard hard sayings? Will you leave?”

I pray that we will be able to answer like Simon Peter, during those times of trials of faith and hard times, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”[21]

May I just share with you Elder Holland’s testimony from one of his beautiful Easter sermons:

 “May we declare ourselves to be more fully disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, not in word only and not only in the flush of comfortable times but in deed and in courage and in faith, including when the path is lonely and when our cross is difficult to bear. This Easter week and always, may we stand by Jesus Christ ‘at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in, even until death,’ for surely that is how He stood by us when it was unto death and when He had to stand entirely and utterly alone.”[22]

Brothers and sisters, I share with you my testimony that this Church is true, that President Monson is a prophet of God, that the Twelve and the First Presidency are prophets, seers, and revelators, and that we can follow them. I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He is our Savior. I know the Book of Mormon is true, and I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. And it’s that testimony that I would like to leave with you now as I share with you my final song, this powerful testimony of Christ. I pray that this will be my concluding testimony, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

As a boy, alone, in a quiet grove

I knelt in earnest prayer,

Seeking peace of mind with a will to find

God’s truth I knew was there

When a beam of radiant light

Slowly descended from the sky

And my life was changed

I could not be the same

At the sight

 

For I saw Him and I heard His voice,

And the answers that He gave me

Made my heart rejoice!

So now, I testify

I’ll tell the world until my dying day

I have seen Him

The Truth, the Light, the Way!

 

Called of God to teach, to testify

To bring His truth to men

By the words of prophets God has brought

The Gospel light again.

And my questions have been heard

I’ve received His wondrous word

And the Savior’s love

Has lifted me up

As I’ve done His holy work

 

For I have seen Him and I have heard His voice

And the peace and love He gives me

Make my heart rejoice!

So now, I testify

I’ll tell the world until my dying day,

I have seen Him

The Truth, the Light, the Way!

 

And though the earth may turn against me

And God’s enemies assail

Though heavy winds and rains begin to blow

And though the mobs may rage against me

And all hell gape open wide

They can’t change what I know!

 

For I have seen Him and I have heard His voice

And the answers that He gives me

Make the earth rejoice!

So now, I testify

I’ll tell the world until my dying day

I have seen Him

 He is Jesus

He is our Savior

He is God’s own Son

I have seen Him

The Truth, the Light, the Way![23]

 

[1] “Jesus, Once of Humble Birth,” Hymns, no. 196.

[2] Moroni 7:48.

[3] “Who’s on the Lord’s Side?” Hymns, no. 260.

[4] Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 16:25.

[5] Joseph Smith Translation John 6:26.

[6] John 6:27.

[7] See John 6:30–31.

[8] John 6:32–36.

[9] John 6:58–63.

[10] John 6:66.

[11] Neal A. Maxwell, “Meeting the Challenges of Today,” BYU Devotional, Oct. 10, 1978.

[12] M. Russell Ballard, quoted in M. Russell Ballard, “Stay in the Boat and Hold On!” Oct. 2014 General Conference.

[13] M. Russell Ballard,“Stay in the Boat and Hold On!”

[14] David A. Bednar, “Converted Unto the Lord,” Oct. 2012 General Conference.

[15] See Genesis 2:18; Moses 3:18.

[16] “Savior, Redeemer of My Soul,” words by Orson F. Whitney, music by Rob Gardner.

[17] See Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976),180.

[18] 2 Timothy 1:6–9.

[19] Neal A. Maxwell, “Settle This in Your Hearts,” Oct. 1992 General Conference.

[20] John 6:67.

[21] John 6:68–69.

[22] Jeffrey R. Holland, “None Were With Him,” Apr. 2009 General Conference.

[23] “I Have Seen Him,” Words and music by Ross Boothe.