This morning at 9:28 AM on December 21, 2017 was the exact time here in Utah when the Winter Solstice began. Starting today, we begin the return back to longer days of light after experiencing the longest night and duration of darkness. It is a time of returning and heading back towards the Light. Symbolically it is similar to repentance. I took the above photo this morning as the sun broke through the clouds and through the dark branches of the trees. I thought it was interesting in the photo that the sun rays on the left there are hues of blue.. and on the right there are warm shades of red.
Light is so important to seek after. With increased light we can discern truth and error.
We should always be on a quest to seek after further light and knowledge. Adam and Eve patiently had to wait upon the Lord for further light and knowledge. God sends further light and knowledge in the form of true messengers sent by Him.
Below is a comparison of words of two men who claim to be a witness of the Lord. The first account is a witness of Jesus Christ in name only and the other is a Eyewitness of the Lord Himself. There is a difference. An important one.
In my opinion, the only thing really similar with these two testimonies is that they were both given recently. I think it is important to compare the two.
Witness Number 1: From the credentialed apostle claiming authority:
"Brothers and Sisters I’m asked often, what’s it like to be a witness of the Lord Jesus Christ? I always answer that question in this way. You tell me… because you are a witness of Jesus Christ and I am a witness of Jesus Christ in the same circumstance. Why? Because Men and Women, Boys and Girls who have been baptized and have received the gift of the Holy Ghost have the privilege and duty of being a witness of Jesus Christ because the mission of the Holy Ghost told again and again in the scriptures is to testify of the Father and the Son. That is your responsibility as well as well as mine.
You read in the Doctrine and Covenants that an apostle is a witness of the NAME of Christ in all the world. What is the difference between a witness of Christ and a witness on the name of Christ? That is a big subject, I wrote a book on that a long time ago that went into print and out of print faster than any other book I am aware of. It was just too much doctrine to be bought and given as gift any way. The one that benefits from a talk is the one who prepares it, and the one who benefits from a book is the one who writes it. And in a word ‘The name of Christ’ of which I am a witness is ‘The authority of Christ’, ‘The mission of Christ’ including the Atonement and the Plan of Salvation and ‘The essence of Christ’ including Godhood.
I am a witness of those great realities. In addition of being a witness of Christ, I witness of his mission of His divinity to which he beckons each one of us on condition of covenants and repentance and faithfulness and of His authority of which I am privileged to hold the keys of and that is another unique position of an apostle. And out of all that I testify to you that we have the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and we have the power of the priesthood and we have the mission as we understand it of our great Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in whose name I testify in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen."
Elder Dallin H Oaks during a youth conference Q&A in Kansas, Wichita in 2017.
Witness Number 2: From one who has seen Christ.
"As I mentioned, the days of Noah have to include Noah, have to include Enoch, or in other words, in addition to all of the wretchedness that we look forward to, the world disintegrating and devolving into, there will be an opposition to that, a hand sent from God in the form of prophets, apostles, someone with a message. When I use the word apostle I mean the word in the same sense in which it is used in the New Testament, that is: someone with a message coming to deliver a message from God to those to whom he speaks. I’m talking about someone to whom God speaks and says, “Go tell the people thus.”
We believe we are approaching a moment in which the Lord is about to return. Read that chapter, Matthew 24. All of the signs that He speaks of will occur in one single generation.
If you’ve not noticed, the signs have begun to appear. It means you are living within a generation in which a great deal is to occur. As it was in the days of Noah so is it about to be. That means dreadful things are coming on the one hand, and it means prophets are going to be among us again, people with messages that come from the Lord.
I’m not here on my own volition. I’ve not done anything that I’ve done throughout the last number of years on my own volition. I do what I do, I preach what I preach, I testify to what I testify to, because, like Paul, I’ve been sent.
I would rather understate than overstate the case but let me end by telling you Christ lives. He died and He was resurrected. I know this to be true because, like Paul, I have seen Him. I don’t tell you that to make this seem sensational. I tell you that to give you cause to believe in Him. He is real.
Encountering Him as a resurrected being changed the course of history. It turned cowards into courageous, willing, and enthusiastic witnesses who faced down the Roman empire to their death. They died willingly. They died as evidence of the truth that they were testifying to. That kind of faith needs to return again to the earth. That kind of faith is possible again in our day."
Talk given in Los Angeles, CA on the Fall Equinox on September 21, 2017
Addendum: Additional Quotes worth noting:
“Reading the New Testament is like reading another person’s mail. It was written to a specific body of believers who had been taught by those who knew Christ. Today it is just as necessary to have that same vital connection to Christ in order to be saved. How can we believe the truth if we are not taught the truth? How can we be taught the truth unless someone is sent from Christ to teach a message from Him? How can anyone pretend to teach the truth if Christ did not send them? See Romans 10:14-15.” (May 4, 2017)
“When the Lord determined to renew His work and allow another people the opportunity to receive a covenant from Him, He spoke to me from heaven and provided instruction. Faithful to those instructions, I have labored for years to prepare the minds and hearts any who wish to receive what is offered by a kind and loving God.” (March 24, 2017)
“Would we have recognized and accepted John [the Baptist] as a messenger sent by God? How would we have determined that this “homeless’ man was “‘sent by God”? If he had no pulpit, how could we know, that for a brief time, he alone could perform an ordinance required for salvation? If he was not part of the established system of religion, why would we give him any heed? If there was an existing temple, a presiding high priest, a governing board in the Sanhedrin, and established synagogues where scripture was recited and messages were delivered each week, why would we expect John to be more relevant to our salvation than the religious system in place? If the entire religious landscape was attributed to Moses, who was known to be a prophet (John 9:29), what makes us think we would choose to believe God sent the outsider, John? Why think salvation today will require anything less of a test than was required when John first appeared and began to preach? Why think we are any different than the Jews who rejected both John and Jesus? If our religion is a comfortable part of our lives, then what is its value?..
“If our religion does not cause others to revile us, members of our families to be offended, or help us understand the life of Christ and the prophets, it is not Christ’s religion. If religion takes us to a comfortable church each week where we are assured we will be saved in heaven, it is not truly Christian. If it does not require sacrifice, then we have nothing in common with either Christ or the prophets.” (Feb 19, 2017)
“What if salvation is not determined by grace alone, by works alone, or even some combination of the two? What if it comes from the ministry of one sent by God to declare salvation? And faith comes by hearing the message like Paul taught. (See Romans 10:17.) Paul was expounding a passage from Isaiah (Isa. 53:1), a prophet sent by God. Paul was likewise sent with a message from God. What if the meaning is that in order to receive salvation it is essential that the believer receive a message from a minister actually sent by God with a message for our day and time?
“What if salvation requires the same thing now as when Isaiah preached and prophesied, and when Paul taught, and when Christ ministered to mankind? What if there is a necessary relationship between the sender of a message (God) and the speaker of the message (one sent by God) in order for the message to actually result in salvation for the hearer-believer?
“Who has believed our report, indeed? And who, then, has saving faith?” (July 8, 2017)