I had not known what I would ask an apostle if given the opportunity and today I had the opportunity. I really like the way the President Eyring conducted the class – he invited us to ask questions and suggest topics. He then wrote down our requests so that he could group them as appropriate and answer them in the order than seemed most fitting. One person asked about the apostolic calling and President Eyring said that he would answer that by talking about the Quorum of the Twelve and not about the personal apostolic witness – there I suddenly had my question. I asked if he would please say something about the nature of an apostolic witness (of course I stumbled over my words and phrased it quite clumsily but he understood my question and rephrased it in that way).
President Eyring started by grouping the suggestions of our pre-mortal existence, the celestial kingdom, and the Atonement together as elements of the plan of salvation. He said that we didn’t know very much about any of them. We know a few things about the pre-mortal existence and the celestial kingdom from the scriptures but nobody truly comprehends the magnitude of the Atonement despite all that has been said about it. He described the celestial kingdom as the life that Heavenly Father lives and said that it is a very challenging life. He told us to imagine what it would be like to look down on earth at all your children and see the terrible things that they are doing to each other. On the other hand He also sees the wonderful things that are done and gets great joy out of those. He also told us that regardless of how hard it was it was something that we should all desire. I realized as he was talking about the challenges of a celestial life that it makes sense that there are some people who really do not desire to make the effort necessary to receive or live such a life.
I have, at times, been tempted to ascribe more of short-sightedness than malice to the intentions of Lucifer in proposing his impossible alternative of a plan. President Eyring said forcefully that it was an outright rebellion that was based on a lie. The lie was that people need not walk by faith – that Satan could give them the assurance of salvation by abandoning their agency. The truth is that even in the presence of the Father all the spirits were under the necessity of walking by faith.
Speaking of the calling of the Twelve Apostles, President Eyring said that the apostasy was not the absence of the priesthood on the earth. He cited the presence of John the revelator as well as the Three Nephites as evidence that there have been priesthood holders on the earth throughout that period, even apostles. What was missing from the earth was the foundation upon which a true church organization is built – namely a quorum of apostles.
Speaking of the nature of an apostolic witness he said that an apostolic witness has nothing to do with what you have seen – it is about what you KNOW. In other words, it is about having the knowledge that Christ is our Savior in your heart as a part of your being. He said that last night he learned (again) what it means to have an eye single to God as Christ did. It means that the first thought in all things is “Father, what would you have me do?” And that thought must be coupled with an absolute determination to do whatever the Lord directs regardless of the outcome, the cost, or the perceptions of others.
It was very interesting to hear President Eyring talk about President Hinckley and President Monson. Some people view them very differently and, like any other calling in the church, they recognize that each person holding the calling need not follow the footsteps of the person before them. While that is true in one sense I caught a very different perspective on it today as he spoke. President Hinckley did things based exactly on what the Lord told him as he asked “Father, what would you have me do?” For this very frugal man that included some very grand and expensive undertakings (the Conference Center – which might be viewed as unnecessary considering the technology that we already have; the expansion of temple building; the rebuilding of downtown Salt Lake City) and President Eyring assures us that President Hinckley did all this while knowing that we would face the economic downturn that is now upon us. The Lord was using the particular gifts of President Hinckley to do His work. President Monson does different things than President Hinckley, but he does them based on the very same question, “Father, what would you have me do?”
I have always felt more connection with President Hinckley than I did with President Monson. I believe that is because I am more tuned in to those organizational types of things than I am into the human things that are such a hallmark of President Monson as he is prompted to give a blessing, to make a visit, and to lift up the broken-hearted.
The key for me, in my quest to gain an apostolic witness for myself is to build my knowledge of the Savior until it is at the core of my being and practice asking the question “Father, what would you have me do?” and having the determination that my response will be to follow the answers regardless of the cost or consequence. I do know that Christ is the Savior and I do wish to do as He requires. I am willing to face challenges for His Name’s sake – I simply need to grow more perfect in those things. As I do so the Lord will use me in ways that are uniquely suited to my gifts to accomplish His work.