'Children are as angels among us'

Give loving protection

Train in righteousness- Prepare against sin

Precious little children are as angels among us and are entitled to a home where there is an environment permitting growth in gospel understanding, said Elder Merlin R. Lybbert of the Seventy.

Speaking Saturday afternoon, Elder Lybbert said little children have a special status in the plan of the Lord.

"Heavenly Father intended that each child should have the combined loving protection and guidance of caring parents," said Elder Lybbert.

He cited two examples of this from the scriptures. "The pattern was established by Adam and Eve. . . . The Christ child grew and developed in a modest home, where Joseph earned a humble living as a carpenter, and where Jesus also learned this craft. The example of Joseph and Mary in providing a suitable home for their large family was such that Luke recorded that Jesus `grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.' "

Elder Lybbert continued by saying, "The Lord extends special protection to children and shares jurisdiction with earthly parents, even as we enjoy their presence.

"They cannot sin until they reach the age of accountability, which the Lord has declared to be 8 years. Because they cannot sin they have no need of repentance, nor baptism. Because all children who die before the age of accountability are pure, innocent and wholly sin-free, they are saved in the celestial kingdom."

Elder Lybbert said that parents in Zion have a special responsibility of teaching and training their children in righteousness.

"This teaching is to be done before a child reaches the age of accountability, and while innocent and sin-free. This is protected time for parents to teach the principles and ordinances of salvation to their children without interference from Satan. It is a time to dress them in armor in preparation for the battle against sin." He noted that if this preparation time is neglected, the child is left vulnerable to the enemy, "to be set adrift in a world of wickedness."

Elder Lybbert said in the context of the Savior's harsh indictment concerning anyone who `offends' a child (see Luke 17:2), one guilty of such conduct is in serious jeopardy. "We offend a child by any teaching or example which leads a little one to violate a moral law, causes him to stumble, go astray, excites him to anger, creates resentment or perhaps even to become displeasing or disagreeable."

Elder Lybbert said the opportunity to teach children is not dependent on social status, wealth or position. "In fact, the most effective instruction may well be done at the humblest fireside."

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