Editor’s Note: This is the twelfth and final article in a 12-part Tuesday/Thursday Meridian Series that explores some of the most remarkable and exciting doctrines of the Restoration. Read the two-part introduction to this series here, and here, and read article 1 here, and article 2 here, and article 3 here, and article 4 here, and article 5 here, and article 6 here, and article seven, here. To read the eighth article in the series, here and to read the ninth, here. For articles 10 and 11, read the Author’s Note below.
Author’s Note: The three concluding articles in this series summarize the communication I had with the Right Hon. Rhodes Boyson, a British Member of Parliament who had become a close friend during our Mission Presidency in London. Rhodes was very familiar with the Church, and not long before our return to the U.S. he asked me the best Gospel question I have ever heard. He said that he wanted to differentiate between the wrappings and the gifts—that he knew a lot about the “wrappings” of angels and gold plates and visions, but he wanted to know more specifically about the “gifts” of the actual doctrines that were restored. Article 10, here, and article 11, here, are the first parts of this correspondence and discuss the first eight doctrinal gifts of the restoration. Today’s final article discusses the remaining four gifts and explains why the wrappings of the restoration had to be so spectacular.
At this point in my correspondence with Rhodes, I had tried to explain the first eight of the twelve doctrines that I felt were the key gifts of insight and understanding that came to light through Joseph Smith in the Restoration. I now wanted to turn to the other four gifts which can have such a powerful and personal effect on how we live our lives.
As you consider the final four gifts of the Restoration, consider that they are the very things that all of humankind seeks and desires—the confidence, potential, purpose and consistency in our lives that allow us to live richly and fully. These gifts are not found in self-help courses or from therapists or through the philosophies of men. They are found in the true and living Gospel of Jesus Christ which was restored in its fullness through the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Gift 9. The Gift of Gratitude, Confidence and Humility
Philosophers have so often equated gratitude with joy, and linked the capacity to be thankful, to be moved, to be awed with the capacity to feel deeply and truly happy. Humility, too, is prerequisite to real happiness. No one has ever spoken of the importance of humility more eloquently (or more entertainingly) than another of your great Christian countrymen, G. K. Chesterton, who said, “If man would make his world large, he must make himself small…..towers are not tall unless we look up at them; and giants are not giants unless they are larger than we…..it is impossible without humility to enjoy anything, even pride.” One gift of the restoration is the added capacity it gives us to feel both great gratitude and great humility.
Real gratitude needs both a subject and an object. We need someone to be grateful to as well as something to be grateful for. Knowing God as a personal father who has given us all we have and Christ as a supreme elder brother who has given the ultimate gift of redemption makes it possible to feel otherwise unobtainable levels of thankfulness, wonder, and awe.
Besides additional gratitude, worship of a personal and loving Heavenly Father can provide extra measures of confidence and humility. These two qualities, often thought of as opposites, come in their deepest sense together, and from the same source. Knowledge of God’s greatness and of our smallness as His infant spirit children produces humility—yet an understanding that we are His children, with access to His heritage as well as to His help, provides the deepest kind of confidence.
Just as a man might gaze at the vast and starry night sky and ponder his own smallness and insignificance compared with the endless handiwork of God, so he might also feel the seeds of incredible importance and confidence as he reflects that he is not merely the handiwork but the actual offspring of God. What a gift it is to have the enhanced gratitude and both the humility and the confidence that comes through knowing our relationship to our Heavenly Father. Joseph Smith, through his visions of and communication with God, came to know that we are literal children of our Heavenly Father—like Him in our heritage but distant from Him in our imperfections.
Gift 10. The Gift of Potential and Promises
As you will recall Rhodes, I wrote earlier of the divisive conflict in the premortal world where Lucifer’s proposal of coercion and guarantee was pitted against Christ and the Father’s plan of agency and self-determination. One could describe the division in more political terms by saying it was a debate between advocates of enforced equality and those of equality of opportunity. We who preferred the latter knew full well that our choice included the opportunity (or the risk) to fail; but we also knew, as God did, that without the ultimate downside, there could be no ultimate upside. The ultimate upside is nothing less than becoming as God is.
Perhaps of all the statements ever made by church leaders, the one that has fostered the most misunderstanding and criticism is Joseph Smith’s couplet, “As man is, God once was; and as God is, man may become.”
“Blasphemy,” outsiders have screamed, accusing the church of lessening the role and stature of God.
On the contrary! As mentioned earlier, the concept merely elevates the potential of man; and it can be grasped only in the eternal context where the vastness of the gap between God and man is approachable because of the endless timetable on which we have to work. The statement does not lessen the distance between God’s perfection and our uncountable imperfections. It simply defines the difference as one of degree rather than one of kind.
The gift of knowledge of limitless potential assures us not only of the powers within us, but of the total love of our Heavenly Father. A loving Father cannot help but want His
children to gain the joy and the good that He has gained. God has gained all joy and all good and His work and His glory is to bring about our eternal life and immortal joy.
The desire of God for His children to progress and gradually become more like Him is perhaps the mind and spirit’s most logical thought. Emerson spoke of this earth as a “God factory” where men learn lessons that shorten the distance between what they are and what God is. More currently, best-selling psychiatrist-author, Scott Peck, in his book The Road Less Traveled, concludes that “all of us who postulate a loving God come to a single terrifying
idea—God wants us to become Himself. We are growing toward Godhood.”
Nothing is more exciting than potential. Nothing is more terrifying and more awesome than ultimate potential.
Knowing not only of God’s love for us but of His plan for our progress and of the two-way eternity in which we exist, makes the process of growth one of discovery as well as one of becoming. We already are so much, because of our eternity of growth as His children. We each have gifts and talents and aptitudes that are unique among all humankind. We are rare and unique not only by virtue of genetics and environment, but by virtue of the legacy and development of our premortal lives. In mortality we have the physical tools and experience necessary to discover more deeply who we have become as well as to decide what we will become.
We are not pre-destined to anything because our agency is real. But we are “fore-ordained,” by our prior development and by God’s individual hopes and wishes for each of us, to make certain contributions, to do certain things here on this earth that no one else could do, to find the right mountain for ourselves, and to climb it. This challenge, along with God’s promise that we can return to His presence, is what I consider to be the tenth wonderful gift of the restoration.
Gift 11. The Gift of Purpose, Priorities, Programs and Practical Guidelines
Once during our first stay in England (while I was a mission president and before you and I had met), I had an interesting discussion with an elderly Englishman who lived across the street from our Mormon chapel in Southampton. I had come early to prepare for a speech that I would make there that evening, and as I pulled up in front of the church, this man was digging in his front garden. I said hello and we began a friendly chat.
After a moment he said, “Well, listen, since you go to this church, maybe you can answer a question I’ve had for years. What goes on in there all week? The lights are always on! Pleasant, well-behaved people of all ages seem to be in and out every evening and sometimes during the day! Are they the same people that come on Sunday? What happens in there the rest of the week?”
It turned into a long discussion. I explained to him that our religion wasn’t just for Sunday, that it was a whole way of life, that it dealt with the physical and the social as well as with the spiritual, that our churches included cultural halls with stages and basketball courts as well as chapels and classrooms, that there were youth activities, women’s and men’s auxiliaries, children’s meetings, scouting, athletic events, dances, charitable drives, and all manner of active programs.
I sincerely invited him to cross the street and drop in to see for himself whenever the lights were on.
Rhodes, it is important to know that besides the doctrines, teachings, and insights of what we call the Restored Gospel, there is the gift of the Church itself—the organization and programs and practical guides of the institution that I mentioned briefly in an earlier letter.
It has always been so in the Lord’s church. Christ set up an actual church organization that included Apostles, Priests, Pastors, Deacons, Teachers, and the priesthood power to establish the practical people-helping programs of the Church. Paul admonished the early saints to “meet together oft” and to teach and learn from each other. The officials and leaders in Christ’s church were lay people—none was paid and all had other livelihoods as is the case in the Church today.
Virtually every active member has a “church job” which may be Bishop of a congregation, or class teacher, or chorister, or nursery leader, or clerk, or chairman of the Christmas social.
Members are visited in their homes once a month by “home teachers” or “ministers” who look out for the economic and temporal well-being of those they visit as well as giving spiritual support. The Church’s famous “welfare program” gives everyone a chance to work voluntarily in local church-owned factories or farms and anyone who is unemployed or without adequate income can work more than his share and earn the sustenance he needs.
The church’s missionary system, about which you know so much, currently involves more than fifty thousand full-time young men and women who serve voluntarily at their own or their family’s expense in virtually every corner of the world. They perform humanitarian service as well as sharing their beliefs, and they return after two years more mature, more culturally aware, often with a second language, and always more clear on what they want to do professionally, and more prepared to live productive lives.
The real measurement of the church’s effect in the lives of its members can best be measured not by the number of programs or activities, but by the countenances and faces of its members — in their outlooks on life and the happiness and solidarity of their families.
You, Rhodes, who have spoken so eloquently on the “fruits” of the Mormon Church, do not need to be reminded of any of these things. I bring them up only as a preface to Christ’s statement, “By their fruits ye shall know them.”
The Church’s teachings are eminently practical and timely in any era. The “Word of Wisdom” health code warned against the use of alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine long before their harmful effects were discovered medically. The ancient (and current) practice of the tithe teaches discipline and keeps the Church financially solvent and finances its continuing dramatic growth. (On average, two new churches are finished and dedicated somewhere in the world every day.)
The practical day-to-day results of the Church’s influence in the lives of its members is best summarized in the Church’s 13th “Article of Faith” penned by Joseph Smith:
“We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men…If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”
Gift 12. The Gift of Continuity and Consistency
You know better than I, Rhodes, that in a world where the only constant is change, we desperately need and want continuity and consistency. Since these are so hard to find in man’s mortality, we must look for them in God’s eternity . . . in our religion and in our faith.
Sadly, most of the world’s religious history is a study in inconsistency and broken continuity. While religious causes advocate peace, they have been the principal precipitator of many of the world’s greatest wars. While they preach unity, they often create polarization and division. And while they teach of prophets and direct manifestations from God to man in ancient days, they deny the continuation or existence of either today.
With the restoration of The Church of Jesus Christ came the reassuring gift of God’s consistency and continuity, His renewed promise that He is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” At least six important kinds of continuity are manifest and revealed through the restoration.
A. The continuity of man and of his individual progress: The knowledge that we lived before and will continue to live after this life gives us faith that nothing is wasted, that all we do and experience has a long-range and ultimate purpose.
B. The continuity of God’s dealings with man: Some who speculate that God no longer communicates with man today as He did with His ancient prophets have tried to guess at why. Three possible reasons exist: (1) God has lost the power to speak to man. (2) God does not care for us as much as He did for ancient people and so He chooses not to speak. (3) We don’t need His voice any more — we have progressed past that need.
The first reason is blasphemous, the second is insulting to ourselves and to God, and the third is absurd.
God does still speak to prophets, and they are no more obscure or hard to find today than in earlier times. All we need is the faith to seek and to hear. What the Old Testament prophet Amos said is still true. “Surely the Lord God will do nothing but He revealeth His secret to His servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7)
Even the pattern of apostasy and restoration is a testimony to God’s continuity. Biblical scripture records six separate “dispensations” or “restorations” of truth — each of the last five following a time of apostasy and confusion that left the world void of cohesive truth. Such apostasies and “strayings” are a natural consequence of the plan of agency and self-determination that God has committed himself to in our behalf.
Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Moses were all prophets of restoration — prophets through which God restored truth that had originally existed in Adam’s first dispensation, but had been lost in the confusion and compromise (and wickedness) that preceded each of the prophets’ lives. In the sixth dispensation, Christ himself brought His gospel to the earth and performed the atonement so that all men both before and after could be saved.
But the pattern continued. Few serious students of history would deny the apostasy that began in the second century and spread through the Dark Ages, leaving Christianity splintered and fractured.
The reformation that occurred in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, and the restoration that happened in the 19th century were a continuation of the pattern and a further testament of the continuity of God and of His purposes and patterns.
C. The continuity of scripture. At the end of the Book of Revelation, on the last page of the Holy Bible, we find a warning against “adding anything to this book.” Some have taken this phrase as a signal that the cannon of scripture was complete, that no more would be either revealed or written.
Yet this cannot be the case for several reasons: 1. The Book of Revelation was not the last-written of The Bible’s books; 2. Other books in The Bible, even early books in the Old Testament, carry the same warning, obviously meaning not to add to or alter that particular book within scripture; 3. There were other books of scripture that did not survive for inclusion in the King James compilation which of course came together more than a thousand years following John’s writing of Revelations; 4. Because it is both illogical and inconsistent (and God is neither) to suddenly seal the Heavens; and 5. The Bible is the history and sacred writ of only one group of people and God is the God of all people.
The canon of scripture has always been dynamic, never static. God’s word and direction, when given to man and recorded, is scripture
The natural process of restoration that began in 1820 included the restoration of lost scripture.
Christ, who said clearly that He had come to the Jews and the House of Israel and that others would take His message to the Gentiles, also said clearly that He had “other sheep” (other members of the House of Israel) who were “not of this fold. Them also must I bring.”*
One gift of the restoration and a testament of God’s continuity is a second scriptural witness of Jesus Christ called The Book of Mormon. As part of the restoration, God revealed this hidden record which contained the religious and secular history of a group of Israelites who left Jerusalem just before the Babylonian captivity of 600 B.C. and settled the American continents. The record supports The Bible in remarkable ways and records the visit of Jesus Christ to the Americas following His resurrection. In every way, the book is a gift — a gift of faith, a gift of additional witness, a gift of powerful and compelling history, and a gift of deep insight and spiritual perception.
D. The continuity of Individual Inspiration and Recognition of Truth. God has always rewarded the faith of sincere inquiry with promptings, feelings, and answers through his spirit. His continuity in this pattern is beautifully reiterated in the promise He makes in the restored Book of Mormon scripture. Near the conclusion of this second scriptural witness of Christ and His gospel, these words appear: “…And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the eternal Father, if these things are not true. And if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, He will manifest the truth of it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost.”
I know you understand, Rhodes, that the purpose of this letter is not to try to debate or to convert you through logic or reason of the truth of the restoration. People do not, as we have often discussed, discover or gain conviction of spiritual truths through mental processes of deduction and analysis. Spiritual knowledge comes through the witness of the spirit, as The Book of Mormon scripture above so clearly points out. The only hope a person should have in telling another person about his personal spiritual convictions, is that the other person will be touched or impressed to the point that he will, through prayer, seek his own spiritual answer.
E. Continuity in the organization of the Church. The officers and offices of Christ’s original Church were charged with “the perfection of the saints, the work of the ministry and the edifying of the body of Christ.”* The apostles controlled the Priesthood and authorized its succession. The other officers each filled specific roles and performed certain duties, like links in a chain. But, as I mentioned earlier, persecution divided the early apostles and cut them off from each other, and they were unable to fill vacancies as they had done before (when an apostle died, the other eleven met in fasting and prayer and God, through them, chose a successor — see Acts I). As the apostles were martyred, a critical link in the chain was dissolved and the true Priesthood dwindled and died. Without its leadership and God’s guidance through its channel, plain and precious teachings were lost — churches in different locations began to diverge on doctrines, and truth-diluting compromises resulted.
It was the breakdown and destruction of the Church’s structure and organization that precipitated the loss and changing of Christ’s teachings.
In restoring His Church, Christ restored continuity by re-instituting the organization of His Church. All officers in the Church today, from the twelve apostles on down are identical to those in His original Church. The Church, now as then, bears His name. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is identical—in fact is the same as—in fact is one with The Church of Jesus Christ of Former-Day Saints.
F. Continuity of the gifts of the spirit. We believe in prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, etc. We believe in miracles! Supernatural occurrences are not contrary to natural law — they are concurrent and in harmony with higher laws of God which are triggered by our righteousness and faith.
As you have often said, Rhodes, God’s plan includes perfect and intricate “spiritual circuitry” into which man can “plug” if he finds the correct frequency of humility and faith.
Within our physical bodies, we are spiritual beings, and our spirits have the capacity to communicate (both “sending” and “receiving”) with God’s spirit. The feelings of the spirit are the surest source of knowledge, far more trustworthy than sight or sound.
I’m reminded of a powerful example of spiritual receptivity that happened in that same Southampton chapel (where the lights are always on). As the Mission President,” I had driven down from our mission headquarters in Surrey to meet with a group of our young missionaries during the day and to then speak at an evening meeting. There was an hour or two between the meetings and it was a lovely autumn day, so I took a drive around the city. On a small residential street, I happened past a road-side display of homemade baskets and noticed a blind man standing by with his dog. I stopped to look and learned that the man’s name was George and that he was both the maker and the seller of the baskets. As we chatted, it became clear that George was a man of humor and of pride. I asked if he made all the baskets. He replied, “All but the dog baskets—my dog made those.”
He told me he had been blind for 30 years, but quickly added, “Don’t pity me. You have one sense that is better than mine, but I have four that are better than yours. I can hear, taste, feel and smell better than you can.”
I bought a basket and we talked for some time. As I left, I asked if I could send some missionaries to talk with him about Christ. He said yes.
A month later, I had another speech scheduled in Southampton. When I arrived, the missionary zone leader announced that instead of the regular meeting there would be a baptism, “And President,” he said, “if it’s all right with you, we would like you to perform the baptism.”
Puzzled but agreeing, I went to the dressing room to don white clothing (baptisms are performed by total emersion according to Christ’s pattern and by the authority of His restored Priesthood). I opened the door to the dressing room and there was George, already dressed in white. He knew who I was before I spoke, and we embraced. “Tell me the story of your conversion, George,” I asked. He said it was a simple story. The missionaries had visited him — he had again felt the calm, sure spirit that he said he felt when he and I met. The next Sunday he had attended church. “Remember I told you I could feel more clearly and deeply than sighted people? Well, when I walked into this church, I felt truth and light, and I knew I had found Christ’s Church.”
The spirit is real. And the feelings it prompts within us are the surest witness of truth that we can have. The gifts of the spirit and the powers of Priesthood and of faith are also real. Miracles are performed by these powers every day.
You were part of one miracle in our lives, Rhodes. Remember when I rushed Linda to the tiny Epsom hospital with serious hemorrhaging ten weeks before the due date of our son? I gave her a Priesthood blessing and felt the assurance that all would be well. Then I felt prompted to call you and ask who was the best obstetrician in London. You told me of Dr. Gordon. I called him from the lobby of the hospital and he broke all records driving his big white Jaguar from London out to Epsom where he relieved the struggling young Pakistani intern who to that point was the only doctor caring for Linda. He managed to stop the hemorrhaging and then got in his car and headed back toward London. He had been gone for scarcely ten minutes when Linda’s bleeding started again — even more severely. With the fear of inexperience in his eyes, the young intern announced in broken English that he was going to have to perform an emergency Caesarian. I walked out to a grove of trees and prayed as I perhaps had never prayed before. I looked up to see the white Jaguar screeching around the corner and back into the car park. I ran and opened Dr. Gordon’s car door as he came to a stop, yelling that Linda was on her way to surgery. With a quick nod he was off going up the hospital steps two at a time, pulling off his coat as he ran. I returned to the trees to pray.
Later a nurse told me she had been in obstetrics for 20 years and had never seen a more masterful or fast Caesarian. She told me that anything slower would have cost the baby’s life—and perhaps Linda’s. She said that she and the other nurses now called the doctor, “Flash Gordon.”
Still later I asked Dr. Gordon why he came back, and he shook his head and said, “It was just a feeling.”
Two days later, I again used the Priesthood, this time to bless that tiny infant who had stopped breathing, my hands thrust through the holes in the incubator. As you know, that baby is now our biggest boy, a strapping, healthy six-foot-six teenager.
The power of God and the gifts of the spirit are real, more real in fact, than anything else. I know that you know that also, Rhodes. Gifts of the spirit are open and available to all who pursue them. They are a part of reality for all who sense that there is something higher and deeper and more lasting than this life. One of the gifts of the restoration is that we can understand these spiritual forces more clearly and know more personally the Source from which they come . . . and we know of the continuity and constancy of that Force throughout all the ages of time.
Rhodes, let me give you a metaphor to help explain why the “wrappings” of the Restoration are also important: Once while I was teaching at BYU, in an attempt to help some young students appreciate the intricacies and perfect utility of nature, I once gave a class the challenge to reflect on how they would design the perfect snack food. It had to be sweet and tasty, it had to be nourishing and healthful, it had to keep well, and it had to have the perfect packaging or wrapping. After all kinds of suggestions of perfect candy bars, gum balls and cupcakes, someone finally gave me the answer I wanted—an apple.
Some still argued for the taste of candy or the nutrition of a granola bar, but no one could argue against the apple’s packaging. It was beautiful. It preserved the apple, and it was edible.
Now that we have talked about twelve of the gifts of the restoration, let’s talk about the wrappings. Before the gifts are fully understood, before their magnitude is appreciated, the spectacular wrappings or the miraculous means by which they were restored may seem bright and overwhelming to the point of distraction. They may seem out of place in our world of the logical, natural day-to-day—because the wrappings are supernatural. Man can no more fathom their makeup than he can manufacture an apple skin.
The wrappings of the gifts of the restoration are the process of restoration. They include golden plates on which ancient scripture was engraved, visitations from angelic messengers to a boy prophet, and yes, an earthly appearance of our Eternal Father and of His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Magnificent wrappings! Spectacular and supernatural so far beyond our usual frame of reference that they seem unreal. But they are the most real thing we know! And, having considered the gifts, how could they appropriately be wrapped in anything less.
The wrappings, when they are understood, are gifts in and of themselves. They are as edible and as nourishing as the gifts they contain. They are the gifts of continuing revelation and the continuing “openness” of the Heavens. They are, like Gift 12, a gift of continuity—showing that God still loves and reveals truth to His children. God and Christ, consistent in their pattern of restoring lost truth when the world contains sufficient truth seekers, came to the gifted and seeking young man, Joseph Smith, who became the first prophet of a new dispensation. That first visitation was a gift, restoring the knowledge that God and Christ are separate beings with oneness of purpose, restoring the understanding that God is a being of form—of flesh and bone, and that we are literally made in His image, literally His children, and restoring the assurance that God loves all men of all ages.
Following the first vision, the restoration unfolded in an orderly and beautifully logical way. Doctrine was restored and confusion swept aside by the gift of new scripture (actually very old scripture) brought forth anew by the miraculous translation of The Book of Mormon—America’s ancient, Christ-witnessing history—from the thin sheets of gold on which the ancients wrote it). The book became a second witness of Christ, strengthening and supplementing The Bible—clear and specific in some areas of doctrine where The Bible is general and vague.
The restoration of the Priesthood and apostolic power came in equally logical ways. John the Baptist, the very being who baptized the Savior, returned to earth as an angelic messenger and conferred the Aaronic Priesthood by the laying on of hands. Peter, James, and John, the Lord’s three chief apostles in His original church, returned to restore the higher Melchizedek Priesthood and the apostleship which controlled the Priesthood and authorized its offices and succession.
The wrappings, in order to be complete, had to surround and protect all of the gifts. The process of restoration, to be complete, had to reveal and reconstitute all of the original teachings, ordinances, and organization of Jesus’ church. Doctrines and insights that were not fully clear even in the combined scripture of The Bible and The Book of Mormon were restored directly to Joseph Smith in visions and answers to prayer. They became sections of a third volume of scripture called The Doctrine and Covenants and include such things as a fuller explanation of the hereafter and of the purpose (and process) of eternal marriage and families.
As the gifts of the restoration are contemplated, it becomes ever clearer that no other wrappings, no other process of restoration would do.
And the process is ongoing. Living apostles continue on the earth. We are led by a living prophet today. As the world changes and our own personal challenges and temptations alter with the times, God continues to give both individual guidance through personal inspiration and collective guidance through His prophet.
Preceded by faith and repentance, the ordinance of baptism is the entry . . . taking us inside the protection, beauty, and knowledge of the wrappings, letting us partake both of them and of the gifts inside—the gifts of the social, emotional, and spiritual blessings of the church and the gifts of insight and comprehension.
To assist us in our insight, baptized church members are given The Gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. Now, as in ancient times, this gift stretches the veil and opens our souls to the spiritual side of life.
The Cost of the Gifts (what one gives up for them)
Rhodes, when I think of you, I am filled with an admiration, a respect, and a friendship that I feel for few people. Linda joins me in these feelings. You have achieved the highest honors of men— all well deserved. More importantly, you continue to live a life of energy, excitement, and commitment. You are a valiant man, Rhodes, as well as a virtuous one. There is no doubt that you will continue to excel, continue to contribute. Any connotations of retirement or rest that the honors of senior statesmanship usually imply will be entirely lost on you.
As interested and as involved as you are in the state of the world, I know that you are even more interested in the one question that is larger—namely the state of the soul.
This letter and the previous discussions we have had are only beginnings. The pursuit of “testimony” or of personal conviction and knowledge of these things is an arduous one, but its only requirements are sincerity, real intent, faith, energy and the desire for truth—qualities that you have in abundance; surpassing, I believe, almost anyone else that I know.
Are there costs in addition to requirements? Things that must be given up in order to accept the gifts? Yes, there are—and the costs are different for different people. Some have to change their personal habits and entire life styles and reverse their world-views. Such would not be the case for you.
As a great helper and defender of the Church, you have already paid some costs. There have been those, I’m sure, who question your assistance and friendship to an institution of such minority position and such frequent misunderstanding. As you accept more of the gifts, these peer questions would come with more volume and more frequency. In embracing all of the gifts, you would become (despite the vast English roots of the church) the first member of the British political establishment ever to do so. So yes, there are costs, despite the fact that the gifts are freely given. But the main requirement is asking God for sure answers about the truth of the gifts. With the answers will come both the motivation and the strength for implementation.
In the third book of scripture spoken of earlier, there is a verse that says:
“For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.”
God is the giver of the gift, Rhodes. You and I are both partakers. You have already received enough (and given enough) to assure that you and I will always rejoice in our
friendship—a friendship which I feel, even as I write, will continue to deepen despite distance and which will return to us each even more than we invest.
All the best,
Richard M. Eyre
Conclusion of the Series
As we conclude this series of twelve articles on the wonderful doctrines of the Restoration, I want to thank you, as readers, for partaking with me of these gifts. I also want to thank six remarkable friends who have reviewed these articles prior to their publication and added invaluable insights and provided me with honest feedback that has improved each one. So, to Craig Peterson, Bill Turnbull, Kathy Clayton, Randall Paul, Adam Timothy, and my brother Chris Eyre, thank you for the perceptive editing and thought that you have contributed to each article—as well as for your treasured friendship.
Richard Eyre is a #1 New York Times Bestselling Author who served as Mission President in London. He and his wife Linda are frequent Meridian contributors.