The Old Testament records an account about Nebuchadnezzar, the great king and founder of the Babylonian empire. He had a dream that troubled him. Daniel, the captive Israelite prophet of God and a man of great faith, was called on to interpret the dream. Nebuchadnezzar had seen “…a stone was cut out without hands,” destroying an image which represented the kingdoms of the world. The stone “became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2:34-35).
The stone Nebuchadnezzar saw is the Kingdom of God on the earth. In fact, it is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That it was cut out without hands is an indication that the work is the Lord’s and not man’s. Since it is the Lord’s work, can anything stop it? According to Joseph Smith, the answer is, “No!” Joseph Smith also declared, 'The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done'(1).
If no unhallowed hand can stop the work, why should we participate in hastening the work of salvation when the work will go forward in spite of our efforts? Why do we need to do anything? As we consider those questions, several answers come to mind. As we correctly understand the doctrines that underpin these answers, we will not only understand why we need to participate, but we will want to participate with all our hearts, might, minds, and strength in hastening the Work of Salvation.
To keep a commandment
President Thomas S. Monson said in General Conference in October 2013: 'The holy scriptures contain no proclamation more relevant, no responsibility more binding, no instruction more direct than the injunction given by the resurrected Lord as He appeared in Galilee to the eleven disciples. Said He, 'Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost' (Matthew 28:19).
The Prophet Joseph Smith stated, ‘After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel.’ To [these] words I add my own. Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together, to labor in the Lord's vineyard to bring souls unto Him. He has prepared the means for us to share the gospel in a multitude of ways, and He will assist us in our labors if we will act in faith to fulfil His work'(2).
To honor a covenant
Sometimes we err in thinking of a covenant like a business contract, that if the arrangement becomes unprofitable, we can simply walk away. While the term, “covenant” sometimes denotes an agreement between persons, more often it denotes an agreement between God and man. In this latter case, it is important to note that the two parties to the agreement do not stand in the relation of independent and equal contractors. God in His good pleasure fixes the terms, when man accepts those terms. In other words, God gives the conditions for the covenant, and men agree to do what He asks them to do. God then promises men certain blessings for their obedience (See Guide to the Scriptures and Bible Dictionary).
As we are baptized, we make a covenant to serve the Savior and keep His commandments, including standing as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places. Through the ordinances of the gospel, we become heirs of the Abrahamic Covenant. Being an heir of the Abrahamic Covenant does not make one a “chosen person,” but does signify that we have chosen the responsibility to carry the gospel to all the peoples of the earth. Abraham’s posterity has carried out the missionary activity in all nations since his day (See Bible Dictionary).
To save our own souls
No injunction is as frequently associated with the forgiveness of sins and personal salvation as is missionary work. Doing so in the right way allows us to have our sins forgiven (D&C 31:5; 36:1; 60:7; 62:3; 84:61), stand blameless before God at the last day, bring salvation to our souls (D&C 4:2, 4), and to be made holy (D&C 60:7). Think of it! By joining the Savior in His work, the power of the Atonement is brought to bear on us individually in a focussed and magnified way.
To bring us joy
If we align ourselves with the Savior’s goals, helping Heavenly Father’s children find their way back to Him, we will find great joy and satisfaction. The Savior said: “And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!” (D&C 18:15-16)
We will feel joy because of our alignment with the Savior’s goals. Just as there is great joy in finding a lost sheep, a silver coin, or the return of a prodigal son, so will there be joy over one sinner that repents. We share in the joy of the robe, the ring, and the fatted calf because that which was dead is alive again; and that which was lost, is found (Luke 15).
To show love for the Savior
If we love the Savior, we keep His commandments (John 14:15). If we love the Savior, we choose to follow Him and be His disciples. While we may wish to serve Him, we are not hirelings or servants, we are His friends (John 15:15; D&C 84:77). Aligning with His goals (Moses 1:39) comes naturally when we love Him.
To show love for our brothers and sisters
The scriptures use the terms, sons and daughters of God, in two ways. The first way teaches that we are all literal spirit children of our Heavenly Father. Nothing can separate us from the love of God, Our Heavenly Father. In the second way, we learn that God’s sons and daughters are those who have been born again through the Atonement of Christ. This happens by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel (Article of Faith 3, The Pearl of Great Price). In other words, we can be offspring of God but not heirs of His eternal glory. To become a joint-heir with Christ to receive all that Heavenly Father has, we must fulfil our obligations (See Moses 6:53, 62, 64-68; D&C 84:33-40).
When we understand this distinction, we recognize that the only way they can receive all the blessings a kind, loving Heavenly Father has for them is to receive the ordinances of the gospel and make and keep the associated covenants. We then are motivated to help others.
This desire is manifest by the sons of Mosiah. About them it was said, “Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble” (Mosiah 28:3). Sharing the gospel with others helps us show and develop love for all people.
How can we share the gospel?
As we come to understand why we need to participate in the Work of Salvation and desire to do so with all our hearts, might, minds, and strength, it is appropriate to ask, “How can I share the gospel?” This question is so important that the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have directed that the Saturday Adult Session of stake and district conferences in 2014 be focused on, 'Hastening the work of Salvation through faith, prayers, and efforts of individual members, their families, and full-time missionaries.”
It is actually easy to sit back and think what stake presidents, bishops, ward mission leaders, and ward missionaries should do. But instead, we should be asking, “What can I do, by virtue of my own agency?” That leads us to think of things that are specific and personal to us and our families. That leads us to act in faith. The process of acting in faith begins with prayer, recognizing and being ready for missionary opportunities, and doing something with those opportunities.
Pray for the opportunity to introduce the gospel of Jesus Christ to Heavenly Father’s children
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said in General Conference in October 2013: 'Brothers and sisters, fear will be replaced with faith and confidence when members ... kneel in prayer and ask the Lord to bless them with missionary opportunities”(3). How hard is that? All of us can pray.
Recognize and be ready for the missionary opportunity when it comes
Elder Ballard continues: “Then, we must demonstrate our faith and watch for opportunities to introduce the gospel of Jesus Christ to our Heavenly Father's children, and surely those opportunities will come. These opportunities will never require a forced or a contrived response. They will flow as a natural result of our love for our brothers and sisters. Just be positive, and those with whom you speak will feel your love. They will never forget that feeling, though the timing may not be right for them to embrace the gospel. That too may change in the future when their circumstances change (3).
Do something, anything, “it mattereth not”
Elder Ballard makes this promise: “It is impossible for us to fail when we do our best when we are on the Lord's errand… You don't have to be an outgoing person or an eloquent, persuasive teacher. If you have an abiding love and hope within you, the Lord has promised if you ‘lift up your voices unto this people [and] speak the thoughts that [He] shall put into your hearts, ... you shall not be confounded before men; [And] it shall be given you ... in the very moment, what ye shall say'’ (D&C 100:5-6).
Many come up with gimmicks or standard patterns or approaches to create a missionary opportunity or react to it when it presents itself. The specific approach one uses is one of those things about which the Lord would say, “it mattereth not unto me,” so long as we do it (See, for instance, D&C 61:22; D&C 62:5; and D&C 80:3).
Here are three simple approaches to consider:
Accurately report your activities to co-workers and friends. When you go to work or other activities on Monday morning, how often do you respond to the question, “how was your weekend?” with the statement, “Oh, fine,” and leave it at that? What would happen if you instead accurately reported on what you experienced? For instance, what would happen if you said, “We had an amazing meeting in our Church where all of the congregations came together for a conference. Two young women were called on extemporaneously to share their thoughts. They were outstanding!” Or, “it was great. We had a new missionary from Ghana who is giving his full-time for two years to work in our congregation. He shared his humble circumstances and thoughts and it made a big impression on me.” Or, “we had a great activity in our Church where we used a pamphlet to record the names and stories of our ancestors. It helped me understand the sacrifices my distant relatives made so that I could be well-born.”
Responses such as these will act as filters for co-workers and friends. Some will respond with no interest. Others will inquire further. As they do, the dialogue will be natural.
- Offer an invitation to “come and see.” If someone asks anything about the Church, even if it is negative, respond, “come and see” John 1:39. If there is a baby blessing, baptism or confirmation, ordination, or any such event occurring in your life or in the life of one of your family members, invite a friend or co-worker to “come and see.” If someone asks how you are able to raise your children to be so respectful, invite them to “come and see.”
- Carry Church materials with you. Be observant. Be ready to obtain contact information for those you meet. Many are the successes of those who carry copies of the Book of Mormon, pass-along cards, and For the Strength of Youth pamphlets to share. Take down names and contact details of those who express an interest to give to the full-time missionaries.
Pray for the opportunity to participate in the work of salvation. Then, act in faith. The obligation to do so is ours, as are the blessings.
1. Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 4:540.
2. President Thomas S. Monson. “Welcome to Conference,” Ensign, November 2013.
3. Elder M. Russell Ballard. “Put Your Trust in the Lord,” Ensign, November 2013.