PROVO, Utah — In helping full-time missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints strengthen their understanding and testimony of the Savior, Elder Neil L. Andersen distributed a handout listing 12 scriptures of Jesus’ teachings, six of His parables, and 10 testimonies from Book of Mormon prophets about the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
The member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles then directed the missionaries to go and create their own lists of scriptures, parables and testimonies — ones that could help shape their teachings and testimonies of Christ not only during missionary service but throughout life.
“I know you can build your foundation on the Lord Jesus Christ,” said Elder Andersen in his Tuesday night, March 8, devotional at the Provo Missionary Training Center.
“Learning about the Savior is rarely an overnight experience — for some people, it is quite dramatic, but for most of us, we step line upon line, experience by experience, blessing upon blessing, revelation upon revelation.”
He and his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen, spoke to nearly 650 young and senior full-time missionaries. Elder William K. Jackson, a General Authority Seventy and an assistant executive director in the Missionary Department, conducted the devotional, which is being distributed to training and serving missionaries worldwide through their online portal.
Believing on the words of apostles
Sister Andersen began by citing three scriptures — Ephesians 2:19-20, John 17:20 and 3 Nephi 12:1-2 — about the power in the teachings of the Lord’s apostles and the blessings to those who believe on their words.
She underscored the resurrected Savior’s instruction to the 12 disciples in 3 Nephi 12:2: “Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words and come down into the depths of humility and be baptized, for they shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and shall receive a remission of their sins.”
Saying she had pondered the phrase “shall be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost” earlier that day, she added that Elder Andersen had confirmed to her that it is not just a one-time event for believers but an ongoing opportunity.
Said Sister Andersen: “I bear my testimony that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and that this is His holy work. And I bear testimony of my husband’s sacred calling as a witness of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
President Nelson’s emphasis on the Savior
Elder Andersen began his remarks not with his list of scriptures, parables and testimonies of Christ and His Atonement, but rather with four statements by President Russell M. Nelson from October 2021 general conference about the importance of knowing and following the Savior.
“There has never been a time in the history of the world when knowledge of our Savior is more personally vital and relevant to every human soul,” said President Nelson.
Elder Andersen asked his listeners to think how long the history of the world is, “and that there has never been a time where the knowledge of our Savior has been more personally vital and relevant,” he continued. “It tells us this: that we must proclaim His name, and we must help people understand who He is and that He is our Lord and Savior.”
Other quotes from the Prophet-President cited by Elder Andersen: It’s “imperative that we each have a firm spiritual foundation,” that believers “need not succumb to the unique anxieties of this era,” and that those with a spiritual foundation built solidly on Christ “have no need to fear.”
12 teachings that Jesus spoke
“To teach about Christ, you have to know what Christ said,” Elder Andersen said, sharing a list of 12 scriptures he had selected of the Savior’s teachings.
- John 3:16-17
- John 14:5-6
- Matthew 6:33
- Matthew 5:14,16
- Matthew 7:7-8
- Matthew 22:37-39
- Mark 8:34-35
- John 14:15-16, 18
- John 15:12
- John 14:27
- John 16:33
- John 11:25-26
“These are just mine,” he said, encouraging the missionaries to make a list of their own. “I think it is very helpful if you begin today to learn a few of the teachings of Jesus Christ and have them in your memory.”
He highlighted the first — John 3:16 — and then led recitations of it in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French, the latter his own mission language.
“I would encourage you to find the scriptures that you really believe in, that make a difference in your life and that you might think would be important to someone else. You put them deeply in your heart.”
He suggested the missionaries learn and memorize scriptures of Christ’s teachings — first in their native language, then in their mission language.
“You can choose your own — but find some things that Jesus has said and let them penetrate who you are. You won’t only remember them during your mission, but you will have them for all your life.”
6 parables that Jesus shared
Elder Andersen moved to parables taught by the Lord, highlighting his selection of six. “You can pick your own that you have in your mind so you can teach them.”
- The sower — Mark 4:3-20
- The talent — Matthew 25:14-30
- The prodigal son — Luke 15:11-32
- The lost sheep — Luke 15:3-7
- The good Samaritan — Luke 10:25-37
- The sheep and the goats — Matthew 25:31-46
He spent time reviewing the parable of the sower, showing not only how one teaches by using parables but also applying the parable of the sower to the missionaries and how people they teach will vary in receiving and accepting the message of the gospel.
10 testimonies of the Atonement from the Book of Mormon
Beyond learning about what Jesus said, about His life and about His commandments, Elder Andersen said, “the greatest teachings about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the most powerful sermons that teach us what He did through the gift of His incomparable Atonement come from the Book of Mormon.”
He added that while the Book of Mormon is an amazing physical manifestation of the Restoration, “it is an even greater manifestation of the incomparable love of the Savior as you get to know these beautiful sermons about the Atonement.”
He shared his 10 selected Book of Mormon testimonies, inviting the missionaries to go through the selections as well as find others of their own.
- Nephi — 1 Nephi 8, 11, 15
- Lehi — 2 Nephi 2
- Jacob — 2 Nephi 9
- King Benjamin — Mosiah 2-4
- Abinadi — Mosiah 13-14
- Alma — Alma 5, 7, 42
- Amulek — Alma 34
- Helaman — Helaman 5
- The Savior — 3 Nephi 11, 27
- Mormon and Moroni — Moroni 7, 10
Elder Andersen said never in his life could he have imagined that he would sit in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles — “that I would experience what I have experienced, would see the events I have seen, have the feelings I have felt, and know the things I know. Spiritual growth comes personally.”
He concluded the devotional with his testimony of Jesus as the Christ, His Resurrection, His divine Sonship, His perfect life, His suffering in taking upon Himself the sins of the world, and His appearance to the Prophet Joseph Smith.
“Jesus is the Son of God. I know He is,” Elder Andersen said. “I share with you my personal witness. I am His witness. And I declare it to you in the name of Jesus Christ.”
After the devotional, Elder Andersen — joined by a half-dozen of his grandchildren — walked along the aisles of the MTC auditorium to shake hands with a number of those in attendance.
Sister Maite Voigt of Munich, Germany, training to serve in the Adriatic North Mission, said she learned from the devotional that to share the gospel and teach about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and the Savior’s gospel, “I have to get to know Them. I have to learn more about Christ — the things He said, the things He taught.”
Sister Kyla King of Highland, Utah, also assigned to the Adriatic North Mission, added: “I finally understand that to invite the Spirit and to teach with power comes from testifying of Christ. And when we center our message around Him, that’s when the power comes.”