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A SURE FOUNDATION

 

THE SALT LAKE TEMPLE

On July 28, 1847 Brigham Young stood on the site where the Salt Lake Temple now stands and exclaimed to his companions: "Here we will build the temple of our God." Brigham Young had seen, in vision, the location of the temple. At that time, the saints had neither the money nor the materials to build a temple. They had not even planted seeds or built homes. Some of the older saints were afraid to build another temple because they had seen, with the Kirtland and Nauvoo temples, that persecution always raged when they did. Brigham Young knew their hesitancy and promised that the Lord would pour out his blessings upon them and that they would have the power to overcome all evil. In the October 1852 General Conference of the Church, a sustaining vote was taken to begin the temple.

Excavation of the basement required trenches 20' wide and 16' deep, much of it through solid gravel. These trenches alone took 1 1/2 years to dig. When the excavation was completed, the cornerstones of the temple were laid. On that occasion Brigham Young said: "I don't like to prophesy much but I will venture to guess that this day and the work we've performed on it will long be remembered by this people" (Journal of Discourses 1:132).

In 1857, just four years after laying the cornerstones of the temple and after 8 foot by 16 foot foundation walls had been put into place, the saints received word that the United States Army led by Albert Sidney Johnston was moving towards Utah to start war against the saints. Immediately, plans were made to evacuate, and if necessary, to destroy the entire city. The trenches of the temple, which had taken so long to dig, were filled back in, shovelful by shovelful. The temple lot looked like nothing more than a barren field. Fortunately, the threat of war passed and Johnston's army left Utah and returned to Washington. The saints began redigging the trenches. Some grumbled. Brigham Young said:

"If you wish this Temple built, go to work and do all you can. Some say, ‘[But] we never began to build a Temple without the bells of hell beginning to ring.' I want to hear them ring again . . . what do you think it will amount to? You have seen what it has amounted to [in the past]. We [were commanded to build] temples in Kirtland and in Nauvoo [and] the bells of hell tolled every week and every day . . . [But we completed those temples] . . . [And our enemies] are more afraid of [us] than of any other power. They are afraid of the God that is within us . . . Some of the brethren are [always] saying that we are going to see harder times than ever before, and that the armies of the nations will gather against us. Let them gather: the Lord will perform this work. He can fight our battles far better than we can . . . The Lord will open the path for us . . . It is now time for us to wake up to business" (Journal of Discourses 8:355-358).

The saints decided to use granite in the construction of the temple. But the closest quarry was 20 miles away in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Only one or two stones could be carried at a time. It took four days to haul each load from the quarry to the temple site. There were many broken wagons and other problems, so the work progressed very slowly. As Brigham Young sought help from the Lord to speed up the work, he was inspired to divert manpower from building the temple to completing the railroad. Again, some did not understand the wisdom of that decision. But, in time, all realized that Brigham Young was right. Once the railroad was completed, they could get a load of stone to the temple site in about 1 hour instead of four days. The work began to move forward much faster.

Then, in 1862, they were devastated to learn that the foundation stones they had laid were cracked. It was determined that too much mortar had been used to fill in the gaps between the stones. The stones would never be able to sustain the weight of the rest of the temple. The saints were discouraged. Even Brigham Young said: "There are nights when I lay awake for fear that I will never see this temple dedicated." But, the Prophet was determined to find the solution. As he sat upon one of the cracked foundation stones, he said, "I will not move from this spot until I know what to do." The answer came. All the foundation stones would have to be removed and replaced with stones cut to precise specifications. To put just one layer of these stones around the temple took three years. Progress on the temple moved so slowly that, to the people who passed by, it seemed as if no progress was being made at all. It was not until the 1870s that the walls of the temple were even visible above the ground.

In 1877, Brigham Young died with the temple scarcely 20 feet above the ground. Ten years later his successor, John Taylor, and the temple's original architect, Truman Angell, were dead as well and the temple was still not complete. Then, Congress passed the Edmunds-Tucker Act which disincorporated the Church, allowing the United States Marshall to seize the property of the Church including the temple which the saints had spent just under 40 years of their lives building. The enemies of the Church had boasted that the saints would never succeed in building the temple. Now it looked as though they would be right. But God was with these modern children of Israel as he always has been and always will be. The saints learned, once again, that the Lord never gives a commandment without preparing the way for its fulfillment.

On April 6, 1892 the temple was complete. 40,000 people crowded the grounds to catch a glimpse of the temple, while 10,000 others watched from the nearby foothills of Salt Lake City. Wilford Woodruff, President of the Church, directed the laying of the capstone of the temple exactly at high noon, leading the saints in the glorious hosannah shout. Later that year, a writer for the Scientific American said that "the temple was a monument to Mormon perseverance."

The Salt Lake temple is one of the most beautiful and most famous structures in the country. But imagine what would have happened if they had not corrected the problem of the cracked foundation. The temple would not be standing today. No matter how beautiful the rest of the building may be, if the foundation is not solid, it will not stand.

THE PARABLE OF THE TWO FOUNDATIONS

The Savior taught a parable about foundations. READ MATTHEW 7:24-27. Many people build their marriages upon a foundation of sand and are then surprised when the marriage fails. WHAT DO COUPLES SOMETIMES TRY TO BUILD THEIR MARRIAGES ON THAT IS LIKE BUILDING UPON A SANDY FOUNDATION? (Sex, money, fun, physical appearance, status, possessions, etc.) The Savior warned that building upon a foundation of sand would lead to a fall. And, so it does. The evidence is all around us.

Successful marriage must be built upon the right foundation. In the Savior's parable, the right foundation was one of rock.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY THE FOUNDATION OF ROCK REPRESENTS? READ HELAMAN 5:12.
In this verse, Helaman testifies to his sons that those who build upon the sure foundation of Christ, cannot fall.

 HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE THAT KIND OF GUARANTEE GOING INTO MARRIAGE? HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE THAT GUARANTEE AS A STUDENT?
In marriage, those who build upon some foundation other than Christ often try to compensate for the weakness in their relationship by filling in the gaps of their relationship with more mortar. That is, they seem to think that their inherent weakness can be resolved if the sex is good enough, the money and possessions are abundant enough, or if they have enough fun. But, it is an illusion. Just as the cracked foundation stones of the Salt Lake temple would never have sustained the weight of the temple, so a marriage that is founded upon anything other than Christ will never be able to sustain the weight of the marriage, with its responsibilities and commitments.

The Proclamation on the Family states that "happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ." He is the foundation upon which we should build. Elder Richard G. Scott said: "Now, the most important principle I can share: Anchor your life in Jesus Christ, your Redeemer. Make your Eternal Father and his Beloved Son the most important priority in your life--more important than life itself, more important than a beloved companion or children or anyone on earth. Make their will your central desire. Then all that you need for happiness will come to you." (Ensign, May 1993, p. 32)

To build upon the foundation of Christ is to become like Christ, to follow His example and His teachings. It is to become partakers of His divine nature. READ 2 PETER 1:4-7. Elder Marvin J. Ashton taught that when our lives are built upon the foundation of Christ and we become partakers of the divine nature "our attention turns to the welfare of our fellowman, and the way we treat others becomes increasingly filled with patience, kindness, a gentle acceptance, and a desire to play a positive role in their lives" (Ensign, May 1992, p. 20). How would you like to be married to someone who is filled with patience and kindness, who has a gentle acceptance of you, just as you are, with all your strengths and weaknesses, and who desires to play a positive role in your life? To marry a person like that, we need to be a person like that.

SERMON ON THE MOUNT: CONSTITUTION FOR A PERFECT LIFE

In the talk you read for today, President Harold B. Lee suggested that the beatitudes, as taught in the Sermon on the Mount, are the constitution for a perfect life. They teach us how to build our foundation upon Christ. By applying these teachings in our lives, we can experience greater happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. The first four, President Lee said, deal with "our individual selves, the living of our own inner, personal lives." They teach us how to build upon the foundation of Christ.

BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT
.
. . THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN (CELESTIAL KINGDOM).

President Lee said: "To be poor in spirit is to feel . . . dependent upon the Lord for your clothes, your food, the air you breathe, your health, your life; realizing that no day should pass without fervent prayer of thanksgiving, for guidance and forgiveness and strength sufficient for each day's need."

We build upon the foundation of Christ, then, by humbly recognizing and acknowledging our dependence upon the Lord. We do that best by seeking guidance and expressing gratitude in our daily prayers. I have seen that those who are slow to express gratitude to God, in prayer, are slow to express gratitude to those around them. I have seen that those who fail to recognize their dependence upon the Lord and are slow to seek His counsel, are slow to seek and follow the counsel of others including parents, spouse, or priesthood leaders.

BLESSED ARE THOSE THAT MOURN . . . THEY SHALL BE COMFORTED.

Many things can cause us to mourn, including failure, disappointment, weaknesses, loss of loved ones etc. In this context, however, the mourning to which the Lord is referring is the mourning caused by personal sin. When our mourning or godly sorrow brings us to repentance, the promise is that we will be comforted or forgiven. Thus, to build upon the foundation of Christ, we must be repentant. If we are repentant, we will be comforted and healed. I have seen that those who are slow to ask for God's forgiveness are slow to ask forgiveness from others. They tend to hold grudges. They are often blind to their own faults and sins.

Not only do we have a responsibility to personally repent and come unto Christ, we are also under covenant to help others do the same. If our own lives are full of sin and we are unrepentant and unwilling to come unto Christ, we will not be able to bring others to Christ. President Harold B. Lee said: "You cannot lift another soul until you are standing on higher ground than he is. You must be sure, if you would rescue [another], that you yourself are setting the example of what you would have him be. You cannot light a fire in another soul unless it is burning in your own soul" (Ensign, July 1973, p. 123).

BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HUNGER AND THIRST AFTER RIGHTEOUSNESS . . . THEY SHALL BE FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST.

When we are baptized we covenant to keep all of God's commandments. The blessing for our obedience is to have the Holy Ghost with us. To hunger and thirst after righteousness is to desire to keep all the commandments, to be obedient. We want to attend our meetings, pray and study the scriptures daily, fast, keep the Sabbath day holy, regularly attend the temple, and serve. So, to build upon the foundation of Christ, we must be obedient and hunger and thirst for the things of God. If we hunger and thirst after the things of God, we will be filled with the Spirit of God. If we hunger and thirst after the things of the world, we will be filled with the spirit of the world, which includes anger, hatred, rebelliousness, unforgiveness, and pride. Until we hunger and thirst after righteousness, we may be occasionally influenced by the Holy Ghost, but we will not be "filled" with the Holy Ghost.

D&C 121:46 speaks of the "constant companionship of the Holy Ghost." Only those who constantly have the desire to keep all the commandments will have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. In the Sunday afternoon session of the October, 1880 General Conference of the Church, John Taylor was sustained as President with George Q. Cannon and Joseph F. Smith as Counselors. Wilford Woodruff was sustained as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

In that session, President Woodruff testified: "After the death of Joseph Smith I saw and conversed with him many times in my dreams . . . I have had many interviews with Brother Joseph until the last 15 or 20 years of my life; I have not seen him for that length of time. But during my travels in the southern [states] last winter I had many interviews with President [Brigham] Young, Heber C. Kimball, George A. Smith, and Jedediah M. Grant, and many others who are dead. . . On one occasion, I saw Brother Brigham and Brother Heber [C. Kimball] ride in carriage ahead of [me] . . . when I was on my way to attend conference; and they were dressed in the most priestly robes. When we arrived at our destination I asked President Young if he would preach to us. He said, ‘No, I have finished my testimony in the flesh I shall not talk to this people any more. But I have come to see you . . . I want you to teach the people--and I want you to follow this counsel yourself--that they must labor and so live as to obtain the Holy Spirit, for without this you cannot build up the kingdom [or fulfill your mission on this earth]'" (Journal of Discourses 21:317-18).

BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART . . . THEY SHALL SEE GOD.

President Lee said: "Only if you are the pure in heart will you see God, and also in a lesser degree will you be able to see the ‘God' or good in [others] . . . Mark well that person who criticizes and maligns the . . . Lord's anointed leaders in His Church. Such a one speaks from an impure heart." (ibid)

One who has a pure heart can see and draw out the good in others. One who has a pure heart does not criticize the leaders of the Church and does not gossip. One who has an impure heart uses profanity, is critical, unforgiving and blaming. President Hinckley said: "All of us have far too much to do to waste our time and energies in criticism, faultfinding, or the abuse of others" (Ensign, Nov. 1981, p. 6). President Faust said: "Some want to justify their criticism by claiming ‘But it is the truth.' My answer is, ‘How can you be so sure?'. . . The Apostle Paul reminded us that the misuse of truth changes it into a lie. (See Romans 1:18-25)" (Ensign, Nov. 1985, p. 9).

The last four beatitudes teach us how those who are built upon the foundation of Christ will treat others. President Lee said: "In order to gain entrance into the kingdom of heaven we must not only be good, but we are also required to do good and be good for something."

BLESSED ARE THE MEEK . . . THEY SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH.

President Lee said: "A meek man is defined as one who is not easily provoked or irritated and is forbearing under injury or annoyance. The meek man is the strong, the mighty, the man of complete self-mastery. He is the one who has the courage of his moral convictions, despite pressure [from others] . . . He is a natural leader" (ibid) .

President Lee's comments suggest some possible questions we might ask ourselves about our relationships with others:

AM I EASILY PROVOKED OR IRRITATED BY OTHERS? DO I TAKE OFFENSE EASILY? AM I QUICK TO HOLD A GRUDGE AND SLOW TO FORGIVE?

HAVE I DEVELOPED SELF-MASTERY? HAVE I LEARNED TO CONTROL MY THOUGHTS AND MY WORDS? HAVE I DEVELOPED THE DISCIPLINE TO DO WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE WHEN IT NEEDS TO BE DONE? DO I LIVE THE LAWS OF CHASTITY AND THE WORD OF WISDOM?

DO I STAND UP FOR WHAT IS RIGHT? AM I A GOOD EXAMPLE OF CLEAN LANGUAGE, OBEDIENCE TO THE CODE OF HONOR, AND SUSTAINING THE BRETHREN? IF A ROOMMATE IS WATCHING AN R-RATED MOVIE OR PARTICIPATING IN ANY UNWORTHY BEHAVIOR, DO I STAND UP FOR WHAT IS RIGHT OR JOIN IN?

AM I A LEADER WHEN IT COMES TO DOING GOOD, SUCH AS ATTENDING MEETINGS OR SERVING IN THE CHURCH, OR DO I NEED SOMEONE ELSE TO MOTIVATE ME TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT?

So, one who is built upon the foundation of Christ is meek in his relationships with others.

BLESSED ARE THE MERCIFUL . . . THEY SHALL OBTAIN MERCY.

President Lee said: "Our salvation rests upon the mercy we show others. Unkind and cruel words or acts toward [others] [will] disqualify [us] from mercy in the judgment day."

The Lord commanded: "Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin. I the Lord will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men." (D&C 64:9)

To be merciful is to be forgiving, kind, and tolerant toward others. It is to love the sinner without condoning the sin. If we are built upon the foundation of Christ, we will be merciful, forgiving, kind, and tolerant toward others.

BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS . . . THEY SHALL BE CALLED THE CHILDREN OF GOD.

ARE YOU A "PEACEMAKER" OR A "TROUBLEMAKER?" Those who are built upon the foundation of Christ are peacemakers.

DO YOU THINK, IF YOU CAN'T LEARN TO GET ALONG WITH YOUR ROOMMATES NOW, THAT YOU MAY HAVE DIFFICULTY GETTING ALONG WITH YOUR SPOUSE AND CHILDREN IN THE FUTURE? (WILL THEY ALWAYS SEE THINGS THE WAY YOU SEE THEM, WANT WHAT YOU WANT, AND FEEL THE WAY YOU FEEL?)

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE CALLED THE CHILDREN OF GOD? (This refers to the righteous, those who will be able to live with God)

BLESSED ARE THEY WHO ARE PERSECUTED FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS SAKE . . . THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.

HAVE ANY OF YOU BEEN PERSECUTED SINCE YOU HAVE BEEN AT BYU-IDAHO BECAUSE OF YOUR STANDARDS?

The Lord declared "And he that will not take up his cross and follow me, and keep my commandments, the same shall not be saved" (D&C 56:2). Sometimes the cross we are called upon to bear is persecution or criticism for our beliefs or standards, for doing what is right. When we are built upon the foundation of Christ, we are willing and capable of enduring that suffering, that persecution. We know that the rejection or criticism of others will be swallowed up in the acceptance and praise of God. The persecution of others is replaced by the approval of heaven.

I think the hardest persecution to bear is that which comes from those who profess the same beliefs as we do, but do not live up to them. HAVE ANY OF YOU BEEN GUILTY OF PERSECUTING ANOTHER FOR HIS/HER STANDARDS AND BELIEFS SINCE COMING TO BYU-IDAHO? Those who profess one standard while living another are called hypocrites. Similarly those who profess a standard and then criticize those who live that standard are also hypocrites. The Lord warned: "But wo unto them that are deceivers and hypocrites, for, thus saith the Lord, I will bring them to judgment . . . the hypocrites shall be detected and shall be cut off, either in life or in death, even as I will; and wo unto them who are cut off from my church, for the same are overcome of the world. Wherefore, let every man beware lest he do that which is not in truth and righteousness before me" (D&C 50:6, 8-9).

Success in relationships is much more likely to happen when we follow the Savior's teachings in the Sermon on the Mount. When he visited the Nephites, he asked: "What manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am" (3 Nephi 27:27). To become like Christ is to build upon a sure foundation. If we build upon the foundation of Christ, we "cannot" fall.