Worshiping the True and Living God

Elder Bruce R. McConkie gave many memorable and sharply worded talks in his time as a general authority. In so doing, he made a lot of enemies and was aware that his remarks were frequently greeted with controversy. Nevertheless, he began his talk during the final session of the October 1971 conference by emphasizing that he was going “to give some rather plain and affirmative counsel as to how to worship the Lord.” But Elder McConkie noted the high stakes, as “[t]here is probably more misinformation and error in this field than in any other area in the entire world” and “no other thing as important as knowing who and how we should worship.”

Elder McConkie notes that because we are “spirit children of the Eternal Father” we all have “planted in our hearts an instinctive desire to worship, to seek salvation, to love and serve a power or being greater than ourselves.” The question “is not whether men shall worship, but who or what is to be the object of their devotions . . . ” Indeed, “[w]orship is implicit in existence itself.”

As I read Elder McConkie’s remarks, I thought about my many friends and family members who do not believe in a God at all. In many ways, their lack of faith comes from a failure to truly understand who god is. Rather than coming to know the all powerful and all loving God, they have imagined a capricious and impotent God that is not worthy of worship. And so they have turned to worshiping the things of this world and their self. They have “their chosen Most High” to which they pay their devotions.

 

But only worship of “the true and living God” by “the power of the spirit  and in the way he has ordained” can lead to salvation. If we set up false gods “not founded on eternal truth” we cannot have assurances of salvation. For “[t]here is no salvation in worshiping a false god. It does not matter one particle how sincerely someone may believe that God is a golden calf, or that he is an immaterial, uncreated power that is in all things; the worship of such a being or concept has no saving power.”

And so there is nothing of greater significant than actually coming to know our father in heaven and his son Jesus Christ. We must know that God is “an exalted and perfected personage in whose image we are created.” We must know him intimately as our father. We must develop great and fervent testimony of “his Beloved Son” who was sent “into the world to redeem mankind.” All of these things are prerequisites to salvation. And when we do so, there is a promise that “God Almighty will pour out his Spirit upon [us]” and we will be able to perform great miracles. It is faith in the living God that leads to power unto salvation.

Knowing the nature of our God and our redeemer leads us to “true and perfect worship.” For “true and perfect worship consists in following in the steps of the Son of God.” True worship is expressed in “living and doing and obeying.” It is expressed in “emulating the life of the great Exemplar.” We must “walk in his paths” and “put first in our lives the things of his kingdom.” We must be ready “to live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.” And many other things. For “[t]rue and perfect worship is in fact the supreme labor and purpose of man.”

But these things cannot be the object of our devotion. We cannot worship obedience or the commandments. We cannot put these things at the center of our faith. Instead, these actions are the natural outpouring of our love for and devotion of our heavenly father and our redeemer.

Moreover, just as obedience and “living the whole law of the whole gospel” follows naturally from correct understanding, so too does disobedience and rebellion follow from a lack of correct understanding. Those who are bitter and angry at the church for teaching a particular commandment or doctrine are ultimately angry because they do not truly understand the God that they worship and his plan of salvation. They have imagined a God that places carnal security over transformative grace. They have built altars to a false notion of God, and sacrifice their faith in “the true and living God” upon that altar.

If true worship follows from understanding the true and living God, then we know what we should focus on when teaching those who have drifted away and become disaffected. For nothing changes our attitudes, beliefs, and conduct more fully than truly coming to know God. And if we are are personally struggling with truly living a commandment, we should ask ourselves this question: In what way is our understanding of the true and living God and his son Jesus Christ lacking?

 

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Here are the other posts based on this session of conference

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Worshiping the True and Living God

  1. Poem – What is love?

    Two men came to Jesus
    With different motivations.
    They asked Him the same question
    Relevant to all the nations:

    Which is the Most Important?
    The answer was the same.
    Jesus did not manipulate
    He was not there to play a game.

    “Love the Lord your God” said Jesus
    as He quoted from The Law –
    to fulfill and not abolish
    was His purpose, full of awe.

    Jesus did not make all Scripture
    Into one new great commandment.
    He summarized The Law and Prophets
    “First and Greatest” and “The Second.”

    The Love of God is higher
    Than the love of any man.
    Receive from God, give back to God-
    Then to others, that’s His plan.

    The Love of God involves much more
    Than simply “love your fellow man.”
    Worship, trust, and pray to God,
    and obey Him – that’s His plan

    To worship and pray to neighbors,
    Whoever they may be,
    Or trust and obey our enemies
    Would be idolatry.

    The love of God is first and greatest,
    And the love of man is second.
    “All we need is love” are words
    of dead Beetles on the pavement.

    “The entire law is summed up in a single command”
    are not the words of Jesus our Salvation.
    It’s false teaching of Paul the Pharisee
    an “accuser of our brethren.”

    “Love” without God is Satan’s word through Paul
    in his chapter to the Corinthians.
    “I will show you the most excellent way”
    is the road to eternal perdition.

    Where is God in Paul’s chapter on love?
    Nowhere in view of the eye.
    Paul sings about himself like a Mexican Mariachi
    “I, I, I, I.”

    Jesus is The Most Excellent Way
    Not the words of a Pharisee.
    The words of Jesus are very clear.
    Jesus said, “You must follow ME.”

  2. Parable of the House Painters

    A homeowner called his friend, who was a painting contractor. “Friend, I want to hire you and your team to paint my house and my garage. Paint the house first, and I’ll stay in the garage until you’re done. Then when the paint is dry, I’ll move back into the house, and you can paint the garage.”

    The painting contractor hired a new foreman named Paul, and gave him the homeowner’s instructions. (Paul insisted that all the workers show respect for him by addressing him as “Boss Paul.”) Paul called the team of painters together and told them:
    “Boys, we need to paint this garage and house. The quicker we do it, the more profitable it is for us. So get to work! Since the garage is smaller, we can finish that quicker. Then those who finished the garage can go help the others finish the house.”

    One worker objected: “But Boss Paul, those were not the owner’s instructions! We are supposed to paint the house first. Only after the house is finished and the paint is dry can we go and paint the garage.”

    Paul replied: “I’m Boss, you work for me, and you do as I say. We are painters, and we paint. We don’t have time for debates about ‘which one is first’. We need to get to work applying that paint to the garage and house as quick as we can. Which owner would be upset if we finished early? The job is to paint the garage and house – what difference does it make ‘which one is first’”?

    “It makes a big difference to the owner,” the worker objected. To which Paul replied, “you’re fired.” Paul then took his team of painters, and started painting the garage and the house.

    When the homeowner returned in the evening, he was furious. He had nowhere to sleep, and had to go stay in a hotel for several days. The homeowner’s friend, the painting contractor, apologized, and explained:

    “I hired a new foreman named Paul, but that was a huge mistake. He ignored your instructions that I passed on to him. You don’t know him, and I’ve just barely met him.
    To be extremely polite, I could say that Paul ‘says some things which are difficult to understand.’ To be more direct, I could say Paul talks like an arrogant megalomaniac with a messiah complex, proclaiming; ‘I am not under the law’ but yet making up his own laws as he goes along, that everyone else has to obey. Paul said: ‘I became your father…. therefore I urge you to imitate me,’ and ‘I have become all things to all men.’ Paul thinks he’s Boss, and doesn’t need to listen to your instructions that I gave him.”

    In Matthew 22 and Mark 12, Jesus identified two commandments, saying one of them is the first and greatest most important one. Which one is it? The one in Deuteronomy 6:4-5, or the one in Leviticus 19:18 ?

  3. BOSS PAUL THE PHARISEE
    [sing it to the tune of “Rapture” by Blondie]

    I’m Boss Paul, the Pharisee
    My hypocrisy’s plain for the world to see
    I travel the land and travel the sea
    to make a convert who is just like ME

    “All have sinned” – we know that’s true
    but it never means ME – it only means YOU
    My sins are all theoretical
    “I’m the worst of sinners”- but don’t ask where

    To be more like Jesus is what some strive
    except for me – I’ve already arrived
    I’m the perfect model since the road to Damascus
    What were Paul’s sins? Don’t ask us!

    I justify everything I do
    If I testify about myself it MUST be true
    I’m the only man in all history
    whose testimony doesn’t need two or three

    If I did something it MUST be right
    Don’t use the Scripture to shed any light
    Don’t do as I say, do as I do
    and then you can be a Pharisee too.

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