Ezra Taft Benson (1899-1994) President
In his dream, Lehi saw an iron rod which led through the mists of darkness. He saw that if people would hold fast to that rod, they could avoid the rivers of filthiness, stay away from the forbidden paths, stop from wandering in the strange roads that lead to destruction. Later his son Nephi clearly explained the symbolism of the iron rod. When Laman and Lemuel asked, "What meaneth the rod of iron?" Nephi answered, "It was the word of God; and [note this promise] whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction." (1 Ne. 15:23-24; italics added.) Not only will the word of God lead us to the fruit which is desirable above all others, but in the word of God and through it we can find the power to resist temptation, the power to thwart the work of Satan and his emissaries.
Paul's message is the same as Lehi's. After portraying the terrible wickedness of future times--future to him, but present to us!--he said this to Timothy: "But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned. … From a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation." (2 Tim. 3:14-15; italics added.)
My dear brethren, this is an answer to the great challenge of our time. The word of God, as found in the scriptures, in the words of living prophets, and in personal revelation, has the power to fortify the Saints and arm them with the Spirit so they can resist evil, hold fast to the good, and find joy in this life.guided by personal revelation and the counsel of the living prophet so you will not be deceived. (“Prepare Yourself for the Great Day of the Lord,” New Era, May 1982, p. 50; underling added)
Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917-2008) Quorum of the Twelves Apostles
Many years ago, large packs of wolves roamed the countryside in Ukraine, making travel in that part of the world very dangerous. These wolf packs were fearless. They were not intimidated by people nor by any of the weapons available at that time. The only thing that seemed to frighten them was fire. Consequently, travelers who found themselves away from cities developed the common practice of building a large bonfire and keeping it burning through the night. As long as the fire burned brightly, the wolves stayed away. But if it were allowed to burn out and die, the wolves would move in for an attack. Travelers understood that building and maintaining a roaring bonfire was not just a matter of convenience or comfort; it was a matter of survival. (See Mary Pratt Parrish, Ensign, May 1972, p. 25.)
We do not have to protect ourselves from wolf packs as we travel the road of life today, but, in a spiritual sense, we do face the devious wolves of Satan in the forms of temptation, evil, and sin. We live in dangerous times when these ravenous wolves roam the spiritual countryside in search of those who may be weak in faith or feeble in their conviction. In his first epistle, Peter described our "adversary the devil, as a roaring lion [that] walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." (1 Pet. 5:8.) The Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith that "enemies prowl around thee like wolves for the blood of the lamb." (D&C 122:6.) We are all vulnerable to attack. However, we can fortify ourselves with the protection provided by a burning testimony that, like a bonfire, has been built adequately and maintained carefully.
Neal A. Maxwell (1926-2004) Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
From Men and Women of Christ:
If we enlist and take the Savior's yoke upon us we "shall find rest unto [our] souls" (Matthew 11:29). If we are only part-time soldiers, though, partially yoked, we experience quite the opposite: frustration, irritation, and the absence of His full grace and spiritual rest. In that case weaknesses persist and satisfactions are intermittent. . . Actually the partially yoked experience little spiritual satisfaction, because they are burdened by carrying the awful weight of the natural man -- without any of the joys that come from progressing toward becoming "the man of Christ." They have scarcely "[begun] to be enlightened" (Alma 32:34). The meek and fully yoked, on the other hand, find God's reassuring grace and see their weakness yielding to strength (see Ether 12:27).
Strange as it seems, a few of the partially yoked, undeservedly wearing the colors of the kingdom, are just close enough to the prescribed path and process to be able to observe in others some of the visible costs of discipleship. Sobered by that observation, they want victory without battle and expect campaign ribbons merely for watching; but there is no witness until after the trial of their faith (see Ether 12:6).
Events and circumstances in the last days make it imperative for us as members of the Church to become more grounded, rooted, established, and settled (see Col. 1:23; Col. 2:7; 2 Pet. 1:12). Jesus said to His disciples, "settle this in your hearts, that ye will do the things which I shall teach, and command you" (JST Luke 14:28). If not so settled, the turbulence will be severe. If settled, we will not be "tossed to and fro," whether by rumors, false doctrines, or by the behavioral and intellectual fashions of the world. Nor will we get caught up in the "talk show" mentality, spending our time like ancient Athenians "in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing" (Acts 17:21). Why be concerned with the passing preferences of the world anyway? "For the fashion of this world passeth away" (1 Cor. 7:31). . . .
Some Church members, alas, are neither reconciled to the will of God nor are they sufficiently settled as to their covenants. . . .
Some give of their time yet withhold themselves, being present without giving of their presence and going through the superficial motions of membership instead of the deep emotions of consecrated discipleship.
Some try to get by with knowing only the headlines of the gospel, not really talking much of Christ or rejoicing in Christ and esteeming lightly His books of scripture which contain and explain His covenants (see 2 Ne. 25:26).
Some are so proud they never learn of obedience and spiritual submissiveness. They will have very arthritic knees on the day when every knee shall bend. There will be no gallery then to play to; all will be participants!
Maintaining Church membership on our own terms, therefore, is not true discipleship.
Real disciples absorb the
fiery darts of the adversary by holding aloft the quenching shield of
with one hand, while holding to the iron rod with the other (see Eph.
1 Ne. 15:24; D&C 27:17). There should be no mistaking; it will take
both hands! ("Overcome ... Even As I Also Overcame," Ensign,
1987, p. 70; underlining added)
L. Tom Perry (1922-2015) Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Joseph Smith (1805-44) President