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This week’s readings include some of the most important teachings in all the scriptures.  You’re familiar with them:  Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I AM NOTHING.  We’re excited to explore this most coveted gift from the heavens today.

You can also find it on any of these platforms by searching for Meridian Magazine-Come Follow Me.

Maurine and Scot Proctor have spent extensive time in the Holy Land, researching the life of Christ. They have taught the New Testament in the Institute program for many years and have written books and numerous articles on the life of the Savior.

Join our study group and let’s delve into the scriptures in a way that is inspiring, expanding and joyful.

Scot

This week’s readings include some of the most important teachings in all the scriptures.  You’re familiar with them:  Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I AM NOTHING.  We’re excited to explore this most coveted gift from the heavens today.

Maurine

Hello, we’re Scot and Maurine Proctor and this is Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me Podcast.  This week’s lesson is entitled “Ye Are the Body of Christ” and includes 1 Corinthians Chapters 8-13.  These readings from Paul’s letters are becoming more and more delicious, aren’t they?!

Before we go too far, we want to remind you of an exciting thing we are offering first to you, our podcast listeners.  As we noted in the last two Podcasts, we have created from Scot’s stunning Church History photographs, a beautiful Bicentennial Calendar celebrating the First Vision.  As you know, the year 2020 marks the 200th anniversary of that world-changing event—The First Vision of the Prophet Joseph Smith—and we are offering this beautiful calendar to you for just $15 as a pre-order price.  Remember:  Christmas is coming all too quickly and this is a great time to stockpile these calendar gifts for family members, ministering brothers and sisters and ministering families, friends and associates.  You can look at them and pre-order them at latterdaysaintmag.com/calendar This makes a wonderful addition to any home or office or child’s or grandchild’s bedroom.  Again, order them today at latterdaysaintmag.com/calendar.

Corinth a Cultural Center

Scot

Maurine, as you know, I had the immense privilege of spending part of my growing up years in Turkey.  My parents and brothers and I lived in Ankara and we traveled all the time.  Our American school there considered travel an excused absence and they encouraged us to take advantage of this rich historical place where we lived.  Ankara is practically in the heart of ancient Asia Minor so our family took it upon ourselves to follow in the footsteps of Paul the Apostle.  We tried to visit every place significant to his life, teachings and letters.

The first time I visited Corinth I was mostly mesmerized by the Corinth Canal.  Though it was not ancient, eight different ancient leaders, that we know of, starting in the 8th Century BC considered or even began work on a canal to crosscut the isthmus of Greece.  The modern canal was completed recently—in 1893 and connects, of course, the Gulf of Corinth on the west with the Aegean Sea on the east and saves ships a treacherous 430-mile journey around the Peloponnese peninsula.  11,000 ships each year pass through the canal.  Again, all this points to the fact that Corinth was an extremely important trade center—It was a crossroads of numerous peoples and was a center of cultural and religious fervor.  In Paul’s day, the population of Corinth was no less than 50,000 citizens.  This was a very large city for those times.  Paul knew this and his letters to the Corinthians weighed in on the problems and divisions that naturally arose in such a place.

The Body of Christ

Maurine

In fact, Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, as in other letters, tries to invite and bring his listeners to come unto Christ, to be one with Him and to be one with each other.  And he carefully taught through a perfect analogy for a Greek mind, the importance of the Body of Christ—meaning the Church of Christ—which is composed of many parts or members.

In chapter 12 we read:

12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

14 For the body is not one member but many.

This is a wonderful doctrine that each person is important and needed in the Kingdom of God.  Not one person is excluded.  It is by the Lord’s design that none of us has all the talents or all the gifts so that we would need each other. We would have to depend on each other. We shouldn’t rue a gift or ability that someone else has and we don’t. Instead we can rejoice in another’s gift and learn from them. None of has to be everything. That is a bit of a relief.

Have you noticed that about each ward or branch you have lived in?  Aren’t there such a variety of people in each congregation?  And each member is precious and needed.  Each person brings a world of different experience into a group of Saints.  Each member has gifts to offer to all.  We will talk about some of these gifts in a few minutes, but again, each person is needed in this, the Kingdom of God on earth.

Scot

Paul continues:

15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body, is it therefore not of the body?

18 But now hath God (in verse 18) set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

In other words, each person, each member is so important.  It applies even in home ministering when we have younger companions to bring with us to our ministering families.  We might call one, the senior companion, and he or she cannot say to the younger person, perhaps a young Aaronic Priesthood holder or younger sister, “I have no need for thee.”  Each part is needed.

I have a wonderful home ministering companion who is about 15 and I often say to him in a home visit, “Jack, can you bear your testimony about this?”  And he always has something insightful and spiritual to say.  Jack is an important part of the body of Christ—every member is important in this Kingdom.

Polytheism and One God

Maurine

Let’s go back for a minute to Chapter 8 in 1 Corinthians.  Paul was talking to a population who were immersed in the Greek religion of polytheism.  The Greeks worshiped no less than 14 gods, including Apollo and Ares, Dionysus, Hermes, Zeus and many others—and including another 20 or more primordial deities.  Paul boldly asserts the truth to this group:

5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)

6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

That statement “of whom are all things” and “by whom are all things” is very important to understand.  Though he is writing to the Saints here—members of the Church of Jesus Christ—he is talking to those whose background is full of the tradition and understanding of these various gods—and each god, in that old thinking, was over various things, such as:

Beauty, love, desire and pleasure.

Scot

And music, arts, knowledge, healing, plagues, prophecy, poetry, manly beauty and archery.

Maurine

They had a goddess over reason, wisdom, intelligence, skill, peace, warfare, battle strategy and handicrafts.

Scot

And one over grain, agriculture, harvest, growth and nourishment.

The list goes on and on.

Can you see why Paul had to bring them unto the firm and true thinking of God the Eternal Father and his Beloved Son, Jesus Christ?  And that “of them” and “by them” are ALL things? 

Aren’t you so happy that we worship the one true God, and His Holy Son, Jesus Christ? 

It reminds us in our dispensation of these powerful verses in Doctrine and Covenants Section 76:

22 And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him:  That he lives!

23 For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—

24 That by him, and through him, and of him (there’s that same language again), the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.

Jesus Christ the God of the Old Testament

Maurine

And Paul taught in this same letter, Scot, as a personal witness of the Savior, in 1 Corinthians chapter 9:  Have I not seen Jesus Christ?  And then in chapter 10, Paul identifies without question that this same Jesus Christ whom he saw and is a special witness of—is the very God of the Old Testament:

1 Moreover…I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;

2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;

3 And all did eat the same spiritual meat;

4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

If there is any doubt of Who the God of the Old Testament is, this verse makes it crystal clear.

Scot

And you know, Maurine, the Old Testament is replete with proof of this God of the Old Testament, but many people cannot recognize it.  The sacred name of the most Holy God in the Old Testament was spelled with four Hebrew letters—Yod He Vav He and this holy name is referred to as the Tetragrammaton.  Some newer translations, including The Divine Name King James Bible (translated in 2011) translates this as Jehovah.  Some Jews pronounce it Ja weh, but the King James Translators in 1609 decided to translate it with the English word Lord, spelled with capital L and small caps ord—Lord.  This name appears in the Old Testament 6,973 times!  This is the God of the Old Testament.  This is Jesus Christ!

Paul knew this and he made it very clear to his converts who this God was in ancient times and that He came to earth in a mortal body, He wrought the atonement—the eternal atoning sacrifice, and that He died on the cross and was resurrected in a glorified and perfected body and that he had seen Him! 

This is Paul’s witness to the world!

Temptations Never too Great

Maurine

And that powerful and personal witness of Paul would go with him from his conversion on the road to Damascus to his beheading in Rome.

I think we need to touch on one powerful promise in chapter 10 of 1 Corinthians.  First of all, I want to give my personal witness that the promises of the Lord are sure—they can be trusted.  And this promise in verse 13 is no exception:

13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

You remember that scripture?  That’s scripture mastery from back in seminary days.

Scot

And I’m eternally grateful that I memorized that scripture when I was a sophomore in high school.  I have a very personal story but I have to share why this scripture means so much to me.

I was living in Turkey and going to an American school on an Air Force base there just outside Ankara.  I was a junior in high school and so I was in those early stages of dating and getting to know girls.  I had been dating one particular girl who was very beautiful and we were getting along great.  We had been on a long date one evening and we came in our taxi to her apartment building which was about three or four blocks from mine.  We stood outside her apartment for quite some time talking and just enjoying each other.  It was late.  We were tired.  We began to kiss and I remember as a 17-year-old thinking this was the most amazing feeling I had ever experienced.  I was quite unfamiliar with what was happening.  I felt darkness begin to gather around me and then I heard a voice say, “Just go for it.  No one is watching.”  I felt a cloud of darkness thrown over us.

At that moment of possible falling, I saw above me, in my mind’s eye, 1 Corinthians 10: 13 being typed out in the sky:  “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”  I felt light begin to gather around me and the Spirit said to me, “This is your escape.”  I immediately obeyed and I pushed away from the nearly overwhelming temptation.  I have been forever grateful for that scripture and for the fulfillment of that promise that the Lord was faithful and would not allow me to be tempted about that which I was able to bear but did indeed, as promised, provide an escape for me. 

I walked right home and my angel Mother was waiting up for me.  We were best friends so I sat down on the side of the bed and I told her the whole story of what had happened and how that scripture came to me.  My Mom looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “Oh, Scot, I’m so proud of you!”

What a blessing that scripture was and always has been for me!

Spiritual Gifts

Maurine

What this scripture says is that no temptation is greater than we are with the Lord’s help. There is always escape. We don’t have to be victims to temptation. It’s not bigger than we are. We can’t get away with saying that’s just the way I am. I can’t help it. We have choice. The Lord says, with Him you can escape that bondage. The world tells again and again that that isn’t true.

Now, concerning spiritual gifts in chapters 12 and 13:  Paul touches lightly on some of the spiritual gifts available to us.  Please know that this is a very short list—spiritual gifts number in the hundreds—perhaps thousands.  And each person is certainly given gifts—some are given many.  And please note that they are called GIFTS—that means something that is given from One—that is God—to us.  They truly are gifts and we can pray for and covet them—meaning, yearn for, work towards, pray for, seek and desire these gifts.  The Lord wants us to!

Paul says:

3 …no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

So, the sure witness of the Savior, even to know by the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, is a spiritual gift.  Many have been given this gift and share it often—not only on Fast Sundays—but to their families, friends and associates.  Don’t underestimate this amazing spiritual gift.

Scot

Look in verse 8 of chapter 12:

8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same spirit.

So, wisdom is a spiritual gift.


Remember Solomon, in 2 Chronicles, Chapter 1?

7 In that night did God appear unto Solomon, and said unto him, Ask what I shall give thee.

What would you ask for if the Lord told you that you could have anything you desired?  This has happened many times in the scriptural canon.

Maurine

Here was Solomon’s desire:

10 Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people for who can judge this thy people, that is so great?

See, there are those spiritual gifts of wisdom and knowledge!  And look how the Lord responds to him:

11 And God said to Solomon, Because this was in thine heart, and thou hast not asked riches, wealth, or honour, nor the life of thine enemies, neither yet hast asked long life, but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself, that thou mayest judge my people, over whom I have made thee king:

12 Wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee; and I will give thee riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like.

Scot

Let’s explore further:

9 To another faith by the same Spirit (yes, faith is also a gift); to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit.

I have to interject here with another personal story because I am a witness of both the gift of faith and the gifts of healing.

We were living in Northern Virginia in the greater Washington DC metro, and just before the press open house of the Nauvoo Temple I was bitten on my calf by a brown recluse spider.  At first, I didn’t know what was happening, I was just starting to feel sick—then we discovered the bite.

Maurine

Oh, Scot I remember this so well.  The bite on your leg grew bigger and bigger each day, leaving behind dead flesh. It was necrotic.  And I remember the doctor looking you over and she said, “Can you excuse me for a minute?” And she went in the other room and came back about 10 minutes later.  And you said, “Were you googling this?”  She said, “Yes, I’ve never seen this before.  It’s definitely a brown recluse and there’s really nothing I can really do for you except give you some antibiotics.  Draw a red line around the affected area with a Sharpie and watch red swelling and necrotic tissue closely to see if it grows.”

Scot

We had just another day or so before we were leaving for Nauvoo and I did not want to miss this event.  I started getting extremely sick.  My temperature went up past 104 and I started having a combination of chills and this high fever.  I got very nauseas.  I was feeling absolutely worse by the minute and the affected area was growing worse fast.  I got severe shakes.  A deep sore started forming at the bite site and the skin started turning purple—even some of the edges were turning black—a sign of necrosis.  I have never felt so sick in my life.

I called my home teacher (they were called that back then!) and told him I’d been bitten by a brown recluse and I needed his faith and a priesthood blessing.

This man, Clint Todd, had been our home teacher for years and he knew me and our family extremely well.  He came right over and saw me in this horrible condition.

I said, “Clint, I need a blessing right now. We have to go to Nauvoo to cover this for Meridian and I have the faith to be healed and I know that you can exercise your faith as well to bring this about.”  We proceeded with the blessing.

I don’t remember all that he said, but I do remember this:  At one point in the blessing he commanded the poison and the effects of the poison to stop right then and to go back.  I felt a feeling course through my whole body that was like electricity.  He told me I would be able to leave the next day for Nauvoo and that there would be no long-term damage.

My fever broke.  The pain began to subside immediately.  The nausea stopped.

The next day, I looked at my Sharpie lines around the affected area which had gotten as big as my entire calf—and the redness and purple had retreated at least a half-an-inch!  I had been healed.

And frankly, Maurine, I can’t even remember whether this bite was on my right or left calf.  I don’t even have a remnant of a scar.  That was the gift of faith and the gift of healing.  And we had all witnessed a miracle.

Maurine

Let’s go back to Paul’s talking about spiritual gifts.  In verse 10 of chapter 12 he says:

10 To another the working of miracles (haven’t we all seen miracles in our lives at some time or other?); to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues…

Remember, Paul is giving us the short list of spiritual gifts.  And we have seen all of these in our lifetime within the Kingdom of God. Missionaries throughout the world experience the gift of tongues and interpretation of tongues in their sacred labors.

Scot

I have to say, Maurine, I was blessed to see this in my own mission.  I was serving in Germany and then I was called out of my mission to serve in the Swiss Temple in Zollikofen for three months. 

When I arrived at the Temple the sessions that week were all in Danish, if I remember correctly.  As a young missionary, I thought we were just supposed to learn the language of that week and start doing all our temple duties in that language.  So, I learned Danish enough to do my various assignments in Danish.

The next week was in Italian.  I learned all my duties in Italian.  The next week it was in Dutch.  You see the pattern.  Before a very short time I was doing all my duties in 7 languages—and to the point where people thought I was a native of their country.

One day Sister Fetzer, the Temple Matron, pulled me aside and said, “I hope you know, Elder Proctor, that you’ve been blessed with the gift of tongues.”  I said, “No, I did not know that, I just thought we were supposed to learn each language so that we could do our duties for the week in that language.” 

That was a gift and I then knew it.  And it was wonderful!

Maurine

And, of course, in the last chapter of the Book of Mormon, the Prophet Moroni also talks about spiritual gifts and he adds, among others, a wonderful one in verse 14:

14 And again, to another, the beholding of angels and ministering spirits.

That’s an amazing gift, almost as if the veil is quite thin for these people who have this.  In our experiences and travels we have met a number of people who not only have but also exercise this spiritual gift. 

Obviously, Joseph Smith has this gift.  Parley Pratt had this gift.  Wilford Woodruff and Heber Kimball had this gift.  Many in our time have this gift and it is to be used for the benefit of all.

Scot

Paul then teaches a most powerful thing at the end of Chapter 12 in 1 Corinthians:

He says, “Covet earnestly the best gifts”—that means—it’s not only all right, but essential, to ask for and seek after spiritual gifts that we can use to bless others and to help to lift and build the Kingdom of God.  Then he says, “Yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

And we move into Chapter 13 with those lines that we know so well:

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Maurine

So, after a review of all those wonderful gifts Paul refers to, and an admonition to seek after the best of these gifts—he puts them all in their place and invites us to become like Jesus Christ—the epitome and archetype and perfect example of charity—in fact, charity is the pure love of Christ.

Scot

Paul teaches:

4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.

5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.

Maurine

6 [Charity] Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.

7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Then he says, even as Mormon would teach:

Charity never faileth. (See 1 Corinthians 13:8 and Moroni 7:46)

Scot

And I love what Mormon adds at the end of his teachings on charity in Moroni Chapter 7:

48 Wherefore…pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons (and daughters!) of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is…”

The invitation is for us to pray with all the energy of heart that we can be filled with charity.  Is that part of our daily prayers and the prayers we offer when we fast and our private prayers when we are in the Temple?  I think we are being taught that the more we incorporate this into our prayers, our actions, our thinking, our daily walk—the more we begin to be transformed—to the point that when He comes again, we shall be like him.

Maurine

It is significant that we don’t just somehow earn the gift of charity, but that it is specifically given to us. We thought of dozens of stories of charity that we could share to end this podcast, but I wanted to share one that is very personal and dear to me.

Lost Pilot

My brother, Joel Jensen, spent his life as an airline pilot flying people safely from one destination to another. One dark night in 1972, Joel was flying a 727 into the Las Vegas airport and listening to the radio from the airport tower.  He heard the tower talking to a student pilot in a small plane who was lost in the dark. It may have been one of his early solo runs, but at any rate, he had lost his bearings and didn’t know where he was.

My brother had many choices at the time but his heart was filled with compassion and a desire to help this young pilot. There was certainly a schedule to keep and many passengers aboard, but one young man was in a very dangerous place alone in the night. So, Joel got on the radio and talked to this lost pilot and said, “I’m coming for you. Just hang on.” So, he flew his large airliner out in the desert where he thought this young pilot might be, carefully looking for him.

Joel said to this lost pilot on the radio, “Can you see my navigation lights?” The pilot said no. Joel flew a little further and asked again, “Can you see my navigation lights?” And again, the pilot said no.

Then Joel heard the thing you never want to hear from a pilot. “I think I’m running out of fuel and I’m going to crash. So, with one last ditch effort, my brother lowered the landing gear on his big aircraft, turned on the bright landing lights and started flying in a circle. Finally, the pilot cried out, “I see you!”   And my brother was able to lead him back to the airport and to safety. Not only had he been running out of fuel, in his disorientation, but he had been flying into a box canyon and would have surely been killed.

My brother Joel died in 2011 and last week his wife Carol died.  She had been a widow without her sweetheart for many years. At the funeral, their son Jeff reminded us of the story of the lost pilot, and said something that struck me deeply.

He said that after his father, Joel, had died, his mother, Carol, had become a lost pilot. Her grief was so consuming; she could hardly go on.  Worried, Jeff came and stayed with her for a few months in her home. She hardly spoke, the words swallowed in pain. He could hear her crying in her sleep in the night, and he said, “I knew it was finally time to go home, when my mother quit crying in the night.”

We are happy that Carol and Joel are back together again, but all these years I’ve known the story of the lost pilot, and never had I thought, that there are lost pilots all around us and every one of us has a chance to be a rescuer by shining a bright light in the darkness.  A lost pilot may be someone who is having a hard time or needing a friend or dealing with heart-rending news or struggling with health issues or anxiety. There are thousands of ways to become a lost pilot on the brink of running out of gas and traveling in the dark.

Sometimes, to shine a bright light, as my brother did with his airliner, this may take you out of your way.  It may be inconvenient or take you out of your comfort zone. I have often wondered what permission Joel had to get to take an airliner out of its path, and what it meant to the passengers who were also a part of that rescue. I’m sure it wasn’t easy. But to think what it means to be a light to someone when they really need it—and to increase your light when they are still in the dark. We are all lost pilots sometimes, and while this story of rescue has always moved me, I never thought before about how we all can perform the same kind of rescue today.

Scot

Thanks for joining us this week.  We’ve loved being with you.  You know that we barely scratch the surface of the teachings in these chapters and we hope you are enjoying and taking advantage of your home-centered, church-supported approach to the Come Follow Me lessons.

Special thanks again to our friend Paul Cardall who generously lets us use the lovely music that opens and closes the Podcast.

Don’t forget to purchase your Christmas gifts early with the First Vision Calendar we are offering for pre-order.  These beautiful calendars make a perfect gift for children, grandchildren, other family members and ministering brothers and sisters.  You can see them and order them at:  latterdaysaintmag.com/calendar.

Next week’s lesson is:  “God is Not the Author of Confusion, but of Peace” and includes 1 Corinthians chapters 14-16.  See you then!