When faithfully living the gospel, joy can be found in praying with questions and receiving answers from Heavenly Father. But sometimes one’s questions can sidetrack spiritual progress.
Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared with young adults in California how to find answers to their questions and to what sources they should look for those answers.
Elder Rasband — along with his wife, Sister Melanie Rasband — spoke at the Orange County Multi-Stake Institute Devotional via videoconference on Sunday evening, Aug. 29.
“The great bonus for me this evening is if I were there, I would be there alone,” Elder Rasband said. “But because I am here at our home, Sister Rasband can join me.”
Elder Rasband has had the opportunity to meet with young adults all over the world, and hear and answer their questions. “What is clear is that sometimes questions can sidetrack your faith,” he said.
An account of the Savior speaking to His disciples in Matthew 16 “can help us know where to turn for answers to our questions,” Elder Rasband said.
He read Matthew 16:13-17: “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
“And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
“He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
“And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
“And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”
First, Elder Rasband noted that Christ’s disciples had talked among themselves and others, evidenced by their statement, “Some say … .”
Sometimes Church members turn to friends, associates, people they think are objective and have answers. They “listen to those who think political pressure, marching in the streets and signing petitions will change Church policy or even eternal doctrine,” Elder Rasband said. “The adversary likes to stamp speculation as truth, cloud our thinking with frustration and disrespect. We have to be very careful, my friends, about where we go for answers to our most important questions.”
Doctrine is established by God and is found in the scriptures such as the Book of Mormon and in the teachings of latter-day prophets, seers and revelators. “Church policies can change as needed under the watchful care of current prophets and apostles, but the doctrine, on which every policy is based, is firm — unless the Lord reveals any new direction,” Elder Rasband said. “And that revelation will only come through His holy Prophet on the earth at the time.”
Returning to the account in Matthew, Elder Rasband pointed out Jesus’ second question to his disciples: “Whom say ye that I am?”
Simon Peter replied, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus then said, “Blessed art thou … for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”
“Peter knew the answer to that question by personal revelation that he had received from his Father in Heaven,” Elder Rasband said.
The same can be said of Joseph Smith, who knelt in the Sacred Grove at 14 years old to pray and ask Heavenly Father which church was right and how he would know which one to join.
He learned from James 1:5-6, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God. … But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.”
The answer Joseph received “changed the world forever,” Elder Rasband said. God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to the young boy and told him to join none of the churches. “That was not what Joseph expected.” Because of this First Vision, the Restoration began to roll forth with Joseph Smith as the first Prophet of the last dispensation.
“When we are worthy to receive, we are given more light, more answers that teach doctrine, and speak of God’s plans for you and for me, for us individually,” Elder Rasband said. Joseph was worthy to receive when he experienced the First Vision, and he continued to receive more revelation and light throughout his ministry.
Much of the Doctrine and Covenants came as a result of Joseph asking important questions, Elder Rasband said. “So there is absolutely nothing wrong or inappropriate about any of you having questions.”
Joseph’s experience in the Sacred Grove set an important pattern for receiving revelation.
- He focused on the things of the Lord.
- He addressed his questions to God.
- He asked questions in faith.
- He was worthy to receive answers.
“And, as Sister Rasband whispers in my ear, he was listening and hopeful for an answer,” Elder Rasband added.
“I promise you all tonight, as an Apostle of the Lord, that if you follow that pattern, your questions will lead you to greater faith in our Savior and greater understanding of His gospel and greater peace.”
One caveat, he noted, is that the Lord’s timetable “is not always our timetable. Always be prepared to use your best judgment, move forward with faith and act upon answers already received and rely on the Lord’s words. ‘Be still and know that I am God’ (Doctrine and Covenants 101:16).”
Sometimes questions go to the heart of one’s belief and beg for truth. “Prepare for asking your questions by studying in the Book of Mormon in particular and the words of prophets and apostles, as they have born their witness of the Savior … and His teachings,” Elder Rasband said.
He suggested the young adults prayerfully study the scriptures chronologically and topically in order to find answers to their questions. For instance, they might look up “Jesus Christ” in the Topical Guide and study one of the 57 subtopics under His name to gain an understanding and testimony of that subject.
Elder Rasband left an apostolic blessing that “you take your questions to the Lord and to those He has placed in your life who can teach you true gospel principles.”
As he concluded his remarks, he shared a message that President Russell M. Nelson has invited each member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to deliver while fulfilling their assignments throughout the world.
“‘Number one,’ he said, ‘Tell them how much I love them.’”
While President Nelson and Elder Rasband might not know each member of the audience personally, “we love you for who you are, for what you have demonstrated, for your conversions, your commitment, your covenant-keeping attitudes — we love you,” Elder Rasband said.
Second, “We thank you.”
“We thank you for all that you are doing to build up The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Elder Rasband said.
Finally, he said, President Nelson wants them to know “how much we need you.”
These are the last days of the last days, Elder Rasband said, “and we need you to help us in gathering Israel on both sides of the veil.”
With Sister Rasband at his side, he said: “I leave you this blessing of love, of appreciation, of needing you and inviting you to ask your questions. Ask them in the way I’ve described tonight. And I again promise you in the name of the Lord, that in His time, and in His way, and according to His will, He will answer you and help you carry on in the lives that you’re all living and leading.”
Despite the miles separating the young adults in Southern California from the Rasbands’ home in Salt Lake City, Sister Rasband expressed that she could feel the young adults’ “sweet spirit” as they joined the Rasbands for the devotional.
“Institute gave us a firm foundation to begin our lives individually and collectively as we … married and began our journey in life,” she said. “And I know it can do the same for you.”
She hoped that the young adults could feel the Savior’s love in their lives, that He knows each of them and that they have been put on the earth at this time to do their parts. They are the generation “that needs to learn all that they can, needs to feel the Spirit, needs to learn how to hear Him in your lives, so that you can go forward and not only go where He would like you to go, but to say and to do and to be an example and to become all that He would have you become,” Sister Rasband said.
In keeping with the theme of asking questions, Elder and Sister Rasband answered a few questions from the congregation at the end of the devotional.