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What would you say to your beloved friends and followers if you knew this was the last time you would ever speak to them?  Such is the case with 2 Timothy as Paul has his last words penned by a scribe from a dungeon in Rome. Paul’s words to Timothy, and of course from his other letters, would change the entire world.

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.

Maurine

What would you say to your beloved friends and followers if you knew this was the last time you would ever speak to them?  Such is the case with 2 Timothy as Paul has his last words penned by a scribe from a dungeon in Rome. Paul’s words to Timothy, and of course from his other letters, would change the entire world.

Scot

Welcome to Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me Podcast!  This week’s lesson is called “Be Thou and Example of the Believers” and includes 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus and Philemon.  We’re excited to talk to you about these tender letters this week.

But first–We were so excited to learn of the special General Conference next April that will celebrate and commemorate the 200th Anniversary of The First Vision.  

President Nelson said in his very last talk of conference:

“In the springtime of the year 2020, it will be exactly 200 years since Joseph Smith experienced the theophany that we know as the First Vision. God the Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to Joseph, a 14-year-old youth…

“Thus, the year 2020 will be designated as a bicentennial year. General conference next April will be different from any previous conference. In the next six months, I hope that every member and every family will prepare for a unique conference that will commemorate the very foundations of the restored gospel.

“Design your own plan. Immerse yourself in the glorious light of the Restoration. As you do, general conference next April will be not only memorable; it will be unforgettable.” (Russell M. Nelson, Closing Remarks, October 2019)

Maurine

Now, long before we knew anything about this upcoming conference we created our Bicentennial First Vision calendar to hang in your home and bring to your daily remembrance the amazing First Vision.  The calendar uses some of Scot’s stunning photography and centers on the Prophet Joseph and the First Vision. This will add inspiration and beauty to your home or office or to your friends, family and ministers and ministering families.

This is the way we are playing our part in commemorating “the very foundations of the restored gospel.”

You can order the calendars today at latterdaysaintmag.com/calendar. That’s latterdaysaintmag.com/calendar. They are only $15 and if you order 11 or more, shipping is free within the United States. We know you’ll love this addition to your home or family.

Scot

I was touched by the second verse of our readings this week as Paul writes to Timothy, calling him “my own son in the faith.” (1 Timothy 1:2).  We have so many opportunities to bless, lift and strengthen the youth of the Church.

That verse reminded me of an experience I had in the Sacred Grove many, many years ago.  We had taken a tour group there and given our pre-Sacred Grove lecture. Our people were now on their own to have a couple of hours of free time in the Grove.  I had found my own place of solitude on a bench and was pondering the marvelous events that took place there. A young single adult woman was walking by me. The Spirit encouraged me to get up and give her a message.  I did so. I came right up to her and I said, “I don’t know who you are, but I do know that Heavenly Father really knows you. I felt the strongest impression to tell you that He knows you and that He loves you and that He knows that you are here in this sacred place right now.  You have an important mission to perform and He will be with you and bless you every step of the way.” That was the message. She was so grateful I talked to her—but I had no idea what the aftermath would be.

I got a letter from her about seven years later that told me that that moment when I talked to her in the Sacred Grove was pivotal in her life.  She said she had wondered if God was aware of her and if He had a plan for her. All the things I said to her, as moved upon by the Spirit, were the very things she had been praying about. That experience blessed her life in very significant ways.  She was like a daughter to me at that moment as Timothy was a son to Paul.

Maurine

I have no doubt that we have multiple opportunities to bless the lives of the next generation.  In fact, they need our steadiness and our witnesses of the truth. They certainly don’t need us to entertain them or just find more and more ways to hold their interest through food and games.  We’ve worked a lot with the Young Single Adults and my observation is that they are hungry for spiritual attention. I think sometimes we underestimate how ready they are to receive spiritual things.  We hesitate to give them our witness of the truth and what they need is our knowledge, our grounding, our foundational testimonies. They can handle a great deal. After all, they were saved for these last days and Heavenly Father knew they would live in these turbulent and tumultuous times.  Let us, as Paul, have many sons and daughters “in the faith” and let them know of our trust in them spiritually.

Scot

There’s certainly some timely advice from the Apostle Paul in the 2nd chapter of 1 Timothy:

1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;

2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

Just recently, President M. Russell Ballard was in Boston and he said the following:  

“Our nation was founded on prayer, it was preserved by prayer and we need prayer again.  I plead with you this evening to pray for this country, for our leaders, for our people and for the families that live in this great nation founded by God.”

“We must stand boldly for righteousness and truth and must defend the cause of honor, decency and personal freedom espoused by Washington, Madison, Adams, Lincoln and other leaders who acknowledged and loved God.”

Maurine

President Ballard continued by telling the Saints that looking for the Lord’s hand in the early history of the United States “might help us recognize his hand in our own lives.

“Please look for the Lord’s hand in your lives and in the lives of your family, as I do in the lives of my ancestors and family,” he said. “Expect it. Do not dismiss it. Do not relegate the experiences in your lives to coincidences.”

From the signing of the Declaration of Independence in July 1776 through the signing of the U.S. Constitution in September 1787, the “wise men” whom the Lord “raised up unto this very purpose” relied upon divine providence,” said President Ballard.

“As an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I have a solemn duty to face the Lord and deliver his message,” said President Ballard. “His words often include words of encouragement and expressions of love. They also include words of warning.”

Scot

We immediately jumped on board when President Ballard asked us to pray for the nation.  Think of millions of prayers going up in behalf of our leaders and to help us heal the divisions in our country.  I love how our studies of the hand of God in the founding of this great nation will help us more fully recognize the hand of the Lord in our own lives.

Paul continues with this teaching:  

5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

6 Who gave himself a ransom for all… (1 Timothy 2:5-6)

There are no intervening patron saints.  There are no go-betweens. Jesus Christ is the mediator between our Heavenly Father and us. 

Maurine

That’s right. 

3  “Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father,” the Lord declares emphatically in the 45th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants. “who is pleading your cause before him,” (I love that word pleading).

4  “Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified.

5 Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life. (D&C 45:3-5)

It gives me such confidence and peace to think of the Savior Jesus Christ personally pleading my cause before the Father.

Scot

Now we come to a little-understood teaching of Paul that has bothered people over the years.  It is only disturbing if you don’t understand what Paul is talking about. This is in 1 Timothy, chapter 2, verses 13-15:

13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.

14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

Our friend Dr. Alonzo Gaskill gives a wonderful explanation of Paul’s meaning here:

“Paul brings up the well-known story of Adam and Eve, and then says, “Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor” (1 Timothy 2:14 NTTFLDS*). Statements like this have been used for millennia to oppress women. However, such a reading misinterprets what is traditionally understood to be the intent of the passage. The ancients typically saw Adam as a symbol for Christ, whereas Eve was traditionally seen as a symbol for the Church—the “bride of Christ.” Thus, Origen of Alexandria (AD 185-254) wrote: “You should not be surprised that she [the Church] who is…the bride of Christ[,] has sometimes been guilty of these faults” or transgressions. “What is written about Adam and Eve” is about “Christ and…the Church.”

Maurine:

Brother Gaskill continues:  “In the story of the fall of Adam and Eve, we are symbolically told the story of our own falls. Eve represents the “bride of Christ”—male and female. Adam represents Christ. Paul’s comment that “Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived” simply highlights the truth that Jesus was not deceived, but you and I constantly get tricked by the adversary. Thus, just as Adam willingly partook to be with Eve, Jesus willingly left the Father’s presence to redeem you and me—His bride. The story of the fall is not about a woman who messed up and got deceived by the devil. It is a story about how the “bride of Christ”—male and female—introduce chaos into their lives by listening to Satan. It is a story about how our “Groom” or Savior so loves us that He sacrifices to be with us throughout our mortal probation; and about how He willingly gives up what is rightfully His (namely, paradise) in order to redeem us from our bad choices and our fallen state. I am sorry that women have gotten a “black eye” for millennia because of the misinterpretation of this story; and I am sad that for so many years we’ve missed the point of the story of the Fall. We really must think of ourselves as if we were Adam and Eve! (Alonzo Gaskill, “The New Testament: A Translation for Latter-day Saints,” emphasis added)

Scot

Doesn’t that just open up a whole world of thinking and of understanding of this difficult passage?

Maurine

It certainly does.

Scot

Both in 1 Timothy 3 and in Titus chapter 1, the apostle Paul gives these two brethren a list of qualifications for the office of bishop.  This is very natrual for him and certainly apropos as both had been called to serve as bishop: Timothy to the saints in Ephesus and Titus to the saints in Crete. 

President Gordon B. Hinckley gave some wonderful counsel on how we as members should think of our bishops and how bishops should act in their callings.

He admonished us by saying:  

“We must pray for them. They need help as they carry their heavy loads. We can be more supportive and less dependent upon them. We can assist them in every way possible. We can thank them for all that they do for us. We are wearing them out in a short time by the burdens which we impose upon them…”.

Maurine

Then President Hinckley taught the bishops and how they should act:

“Your goodness must be as an ensign to your people. Your morals must be impeccable. The wiles of the adversary may be held before you because he knows that if he can destroy you, he can injure an entire ward. You must exercise wisdom in all of your relationships lest someone read into your observed actions some taint of moral sin.”

“You must be their counselor, their comforter, their anchor and strength in times of sorrow and trouble. You must be strong with that strength which comes from the Lord. You must be wise with that wisdom which comes from the Lord. Your door must be open to hear their cries and your back strong to carry their burdens, your heart sensitive to judge their needs, your godly love broad enough and strong enough to encompass even the wrongdoer and the critic. You must be a man of patience, willing to listen and striving to understand. You are the only one to whom some can turn. You must be there when every other source has failed.”

Scot

I have to cut in with a story that so deeply touched me years ago, Maurine. I was teaching institute and one day we were talking about the Sabbath and keeping it holy. I had this beautiful couple in my class who always had the most amazing insights and comments. The wife raised her hand and said, “I was Catholic and my husband was very less active and we were living here in Utah. I was aware of other members of the Church but I wasn’t interested in getting to know them.  I felt like they just looked at me as a missionary opportunity. My heart was pretty cold. We knew who the bishop of the neighborhood ward was because he had been over to see us. One Sunday afternoon we were out working in our new yard, and we had to lay all the sod that day. It was just my husband and me. It was hot and we weren’t sure how we were going to do this. Just then the ward let out and all these people were walking home. Then the Bishop came by and he said, “Hello, nice to see you folks!  Please let us know if there’s ever anything we can do for you!” As he started to walk away, the wife said a little sarcastically, “Well, you could roll up your sleeves and help us lay sod.” He chuckled a bit and walked on. About 15 minutes later the bishop returned—and with others—all in their jeans and work shirts and they said, “We’re here to help you lay your sod.” “At that moment,” the wife said, “my heart was softened and I decided that I needed to investigate the Church—a Church whose bishop really was there to help.”  She joined the Church, her husband was re-activated, they were sealed in the Temple and they’ve been active ever since.

Maurine 

I love that story—these are two people we really love. And this all came about because of a bishop who was willing to go out of his comfort zone and help someone who really needed help when they needed it.

My Dad used to always say, “When a person needs help is when he needs it, not some other time.”

President Hinckley concluded his teachings about a bishop with this:

“Bishops, you stand as watchmen on the tower of the wards over which you preside. There are many teachers in each ward. But you must be the chief teacher among them. You must see that there is no false doctrine creeping in among the people. You must see that they grow in faith and testimony, in integrity and righteousness and a sense of service. You must see that their love for the Lord strengthens and manifests itself in greater love for one another.  (Gordon B. Hinckley, The Shepherds of Israel, October 2003)

Scot

Aren’t we grateful for all the amazing bishops we have in the Church and all their efforts and sacrifice on behalf of the Kingdom of God?

I noticed another wonderful nugget later in that same chapter this week:

15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

I love that “pillar and ground of the truth.”  Isn’t that the case? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in our lives really is the pillar and ground of the truth.  Think of how blessed we are to be members of the Church! Through it we have stability, security and assurance of the Great Plan of Happiness—the Father’s Plan of Salvation for us—the Pillar and Ground of the Truth, and through it we understand fully the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Maurine 

Scot, I know we’ve talked quite a bit about the apostasy in former Podcasts.  Paul certainly was keenly aware that it was coming and he includes warnings in a number of his epistles.  Chapter 4 of 1st Timothy is so clear:

1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.

I want to just stop right there and talk about this one verse as it relates to our times.  This line “some shall depart from the faith” is sad enough—but look at why they depart: “Giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.”

The adversary uses as one of his tools seduction and compelling doctrines.  This is a mockery of the plan of the Father who uses invitations from the Holy Spirit to lead us into goodness and righteousness.  The Father also uses pure doctrine—the Doctrine of Christ. Satan spurns and hates the Doctrine of Christ. One of the reasons he does is because this harks back to the pre-mortal Council in Heaven when the great Jehovah—Jesus Christ—was chosen to carry out the Father’s Plan.  Satan just can’t ever get over that and so he fights against the saints of God and fights against all that is good.

Scot

How could we ever give heed to seducing spirits?  Well, it’s pretty easy if we don’t absolutely hold to the Iron Rod—the words of Christ and His prophets.  We must stay the course at all hazards—that means—NO MATTER WHAT!  

I’m sadly reminded of what happened to the Nephites just after the birth of Christ.  

1 …the people began to forget those signs and wonders which they had heard, and began to be less and less astonished at a sign or a wonder from heaven, insomuch that they began to be hard in their hearts, and blind in their minds, and began to disbelieve all which they had heard and seen— (3 Nephi 2:1)

Maurine

They were re-writing their own personal histories and experiences!  They were revising their own history. They were betraying themselves and, just as Paul said, they began giving heed to seducing spirits.

2 Imagining up some vain thing in their hearts, that it was wrought by men and by the power of the devil, to lead away and deceive the hearts of the people; and thus did Satan get possession of the hearts of the people again, insomuch that he did blind their eyes and lead them away to believe that the doctrine of Christ was a foolish and vain thing. (3 Nephi 2:2)

Isn’t that so subtle?  And so tricky? And so insidious!  He’s doing the same thing today. Young members and even spiritually mature members find something they have never seen before and then they think they’ve been deceived—this is how the adversary works!

Scot

And Maurine, the Nephites “did not believe that there should be any more signs or wonders given; and Satan did go about, leading away the hearts of the people, tempting them and causing them that they should do great wickedness in the land.” (3 Nephi 2:3)

The parallels are in our day.  People say, “Well, I’m not sure Joseph Smith was a prophet.  I don’t know that he really saw the Father and the Son in the Sacred Grove.  I’m not really sure that he brought forth The Book of Mormon in the way he said he did.”  See, they are saying, “We just don’t believe in signs and wonders from the heaven,” and thus Satan leads them away—again—this is the definition of a seducing spirit—carefully leading us away from the Doctrine of Christ and the signs and wonders of the Restoration of this Church through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Thank goodness we have the scriptures and living prophets and apostles to steady our course!

Maurine

Let’s go to 2nd Timothy now and look at one of our favorite scriptures from Paul to Timothy.  This is in chapter 3, verses 15-17.

15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Let’s break this down a little.  This is tender because these last two chapters of 2nd Timothy are the last writings we have from Paul before his martyrdom.  So, he really wanted to drive home to Timothy—and to us—that the scriptures are critical to our happiness and to our salvation.

Scot

Timothy is reminded of his dedication to the scriptures.  Most translations say “from his infancy” he had been familiar with the “sacred writings.”  Are we familiar with our Holy Scriptures? Do we know and understand The Book of Mormon? Are we conversant in the Doctrine and Covenants?  Are we familiar with the eternal truths of The Pearl of Great Price? Are we comfortable and able to understand the great eternal truths of the Old and the New Testament?  Do we carefully study, ponder and pray over the words of the living prophets and apostles? All of these “sacred writings” are able to make us wise unto salvation through our faith in Him who is mighty to save.

Maurine

And we know that the scriptures are, as Paul says, “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”  This sounds like the perfect manual for raising our families and influencing our grandchildren. Paul knew that Timothy had a legacy of faith in his family and said:

5 When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in they grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.” (2 Timothy 1:5)
Which reminds me of a wonderful woman we just took on our Church History Tour.  We were talking one evening over dinner about the Come, Follow Me curriculum and our home-centered approach to studying the scriptures.  She told us a wonderful thing. She said she went to the temple to ask about how she could most bless her family through the Come, Follow Me program.  She received immediate personal revelation.

She asked each of her grown children who had families if she could gather the grandchildren to her home every Friday afternoon to teach them the scriptures.  They all gladly agreed, so, she teaches the older grandchildren together for an appropriate length of time and then the younger grandchildren together for an appropriate length of time.  This gives her the opportunity to bear her testimony, to teach them powerful principles from the scriptures and to help them with their questions. Isn’t that wonderful!

Scot

I was so impressed with that!  We can certainly do more to influence our children and our grandchildren in righteousness.  And as we study the scriptures and use them in our daily lives we may become prepared, capable, competent and equipped to perform every good work. 

I love what President Nelson said more than 30 years ago about his daily study in the scriptures:

“I learned long ago that a period of uninterrupted scriptural study in the morning brings enduring enrichment. I feel as did Jeremiah: ‘Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart’ (Jer. 15:16). Sacred scriptures have been repeatedly described as ‘glad tidings of great joy’ (Hel. 16:14; Mosiah 3:3; Alma 13:22; see also Luke 2:10). As we learn and abide their teachings, that joy becomes part of our lives,” (Russell M. Nelson, Joy Cometh in the Morning, October 1986).

I feel the same way.  I would not survive one day without my daily devotions and study in the scriptures.  And since I haven’t missed a day of scripture study in 47 years—not one day—I’ve instructed Maurine and my family that if I ever go in a coma they are to read to me from the scriptures so that I don’t ever miss!  Truly, if I awoke from a coma and had been out for three days and then came to realize I had missed reading in the scriptures—I would die!

Maurine

Don’t worry, Scot, I’ll be there for you!  

Paul concludes his letter to Timothy with the lines we are all familiar with:

6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie said of this:

“Paul’s calling and election had been made sure. He was sealed up unto eternal life. He had kept the commandments, been tried at all hazards, and the Lord had given him the promise: “Son, Thou shalt be exalted.” And since no man is or can be exalted alone, this is one of the crowning reasons why we know Paul was married,”  (McConkie, Bruce R., Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, Volume 3, p. 117).

Scot

Maurine, what did your Mother always say to you?  “The winner of the race always knew she would be.”  There is certainly something to that with our faithfulness in the Gospel.  You don’t ever have to question whether or not you’ll be active in the Church in five or ten years.  Of course you will be. You don’t ever have to question whether or not some website or anti-Church of Jesus Christ site will rock your faith.  Of course it will not! You don’t ever have to wonder whether you will make it to the Celestial Kingdom. He is a trustworthy God. He wants us to return to Him.  He will do everything in His power to help us and we need to do everything in our power to stay firm, steadfast and immovable in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Lord’s promises are sure.  

“I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say,” he promises. (D&C 82:10)

Maurine

And “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” (D&C 1:38)

As we follow the Savior stay on the Good Ship Zion, as President Ballard teaches, we will be able to say some day with Paul:

7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

Scot

Thank you so much for joining us today.  Next week’s lesson is: Jesus Christ, “the Author of Eternal Salvation” and will include readings in Hebrews, Chapters 1 through 6.

Before we leave you we want to offer our humble thanks for your enthusiastic participation in our Meridian Cares campaign these past six weeks.  Working with Rising Star Outreach has been a delight and our campaign has come to an end. When I looked at the donations chart the morning we wrote this podcast, the number was $204,170—and when I saw that—I burst into tears of gratitude.  We asked if you could help us raise $200,000 towards this school in Bihar, India for the children of the leprosy-affected—knowing that those funds would be matched by an anonymous donor–and you did come through—with more than the amount we asked!  Thank you so very much!

Maurine

Yes, we are truly overwhelmed with gratitude to you our podcast listeners and to our Meridian readers!  We can hardly take it in! We want you to know again that not one penny of that money will go to Meridian or to anything but the school project in Bihar.  You have really made this happen—thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! 

See you again next week.