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Elder Bednar to MTC missionaries: Learn the importance of sequences and ‘put Christ first’

The gospel is about individual, covenant connections with the Savior, says Elder David A. Bednar

Elder Bednar speaks at a pulpit to missionaries seated at the MTC in Provo, Utah

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks at a devotional at the Missionary Training center in Provo, Utah on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022

Adam Fondren, for the Deseret News


Elder Bednar to MTC missionaries: Learn the importance of sequences and ‘put Christ first’

The gospel is about individual, covenant connections with the Savior, says Elder David A. Bednar

Elder Bednar speaks at a pulpit to missionaries seated at the MTC in Provo, Utah

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks at a devotional at the Missionary Training center in Provo, Utah on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022

Adam Fondren, for the Deseret News

PROVO, Utah — Elder Carson Brown knows he is at the Missionary Training Center to prepare to go and teach people about Jesus Christ in the Colombia Barranquilla Mission. 

But the missionary from Gilbert, Arizona, also knows something just as crucial — the gospel is for him individually, too. 

“A lot of times we lose focus on how important the covenants we make are,” said Elder Brown after listening to Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speak at the MTC on Tuesday, Nov. 8. “We forget how important our covenants are and don’t focus as much as we should on our blessings and how much those covenants we make bless our lives individually.”

Other missionaries mentioned feeling like they were in a class with Elder Bednar as their teacher. Yet he told them not to take detailed notes of everything he said — rather write down what they felt or what they learned.

With that direction, Sister Ashlyn Vought from St. George, Utah, wrote in her notebook in all capital letters: “Start with Him.”

“Start with Christ,” she explained. “If you have a question, start with Him.”

When she goes to teach others in the Texas Houston East Mission, Sister Vought will tell them about the covenant path. Christ isn’t at the end of the path but walks with people on the covenant path — “and He is the path.”

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Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks at a devotional at the Missionary Training center in Provo, Utah on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022

Adam Fondren, for the Deseret News

A covenant connection with the living Christ

Elder Bednar showed the missionaries two videos filmed with Primary General President Susan H. Porter that illustrated how progressing along the covenant path often may be perceived: baptism, going to the temple, going on a mission, with Jesus Christ at the end of the sequence. 

“Put Christ first,” Elder Bednar said, and it changes everything. When young men and young women put Christ first in their lives, they will want to enter into sacred temple covenants. They will want to go on a mission. When they put Christ first, they begin to understand the ordinances and covenants they are making with the Savior, and they will want to do His will and be more like Him.

Elder Tyler Peterson from Mesa, Arizona, who is assigned to the Nicaragua Managua North Mission, learned the importance of focusing first on Christ and establishing an individual connection with Him.

“That’s been the focus of this whole MTC experience, but also knowing Him as my personal Savior and not just ‘a being’ somewhere,” Elder Peterson said. “We can focus on making Him a part of our everyday thoughts and actions.”

His companion, Elder James Radford from Spanish Fork, Utah, added that he learned, “Love Christ and focus on Him and know the meaning of our covenants that we make.”

Through the covenants and the ordinances of the gospel, said Elder Bednar, “We are yoked to and with the resurrected and living Lord Jesus Christ. That is more than just a relationship; it is a personal covenant connection.”

He reiterated to the missionaries that this isn’t just something they will teach others: “It is individual, it is personal, it is specific and it is for you.”

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Missionaries listen and take notes while Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during a devotional the at the Missionary Training center in Provo, Utah on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022

Adam Fondren, for the Deseret News

Sequences in the scriptures

Elder Bednar showed the missionaries key concepts found in looking at sequences in the Restoration, the Articles of Faith and the last 10 chapters of Moroni in the Book of Mormon. 

Elder Robert Lees from Mesa, Arizona, who is also going to the Colombia Barranquilla Mission, loved those references. 

“As we get to know the sequences of the gospel and how the Lord works, we get to know the Lord,” Elder Lees said. “And as we get to know the Lord, we learn how to abide in Him and walk in Him and with Him.”

Going into the scriptures with Elder Bednar helped Sister Kira Heywood from Farmington, Utah, get answers to her questions. 

“Something I’ve been focusing on learning how to do is how to conduct my own personal study,” she said. “I had a question in my heart how to even do that, and I feel like he answered those questions for me. He took the scriptures and zoomed out, then reordered it and zoomed back in. I really appreciated that a lot.”

Soon when she will be teaching the gospel to people in the New Mexico Farmington Mission, she will try to use that method more. 

“It’s easy to get focused on the story, but zoom out and look at what are the principles that you are learning,” she said. 

Elder Bednar wanted to make sure the missionaries didn’t emphasize baptism, confirmation and the sacrament separately — they belong in a sequence. 

“Do we understand that we have an ongoing opportunity to retain a remission of our sins?” he asked the missionaries. “The acts of eating and drinking the bread and water do not remit sins. But as we prayerfully and sincerely prepare and worthily participate in the ordinance, we examine our actions and the desires of our hearts and embrace the Lord’s invitation to repent. When we offer the sacrifice He requires — a broken heart and a contrite spirit — we are promised that we may always have His Spirit to be with us. And by the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost as our constant companion, we can obtain and always retain a remission of our sins.”

He invited them to help the people they teach understand that the gospel is a gospel of never-ending chances because of repentance. 

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Sister Susan Bednar speaks before her husband Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at a devotional at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022

Adam Fondren, for the Deseret News

The apostleship

Elder Bednar briefly described some of the roles and responsibilities of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as “traveling councilors” and “special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world” (Doctrine and Covenants 107:23).

From Aug. 1 to Nov. 1, Elder Bednar and his wife, Sister Susan Bednar, went to 22 cities in eight countries — the United States, South Korea, Japan, Switzerland, Albania, Austria, Hungary and Romania — traveling 34,050 miles, giving 37 talks and speaking to eight full mission meetings. 

It meant 25 days of travel in three months and lots of hotel rooms. “Travel is not exotic. It’s awful,” he joked.

Then Elder Bednar showed another map of the recent travels of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles — and it added up to 51 countries.

The data reiterated to Elder Radford what he has learned from the Apostles’ teachings and their examples. “They know what’s going on in the world because they are out in it all the time,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Elder Bednar said Doctrine and Covenants 107:23 is often misquoted. It reads that the Twelve Apostles are called not to be witnesses of Christ, but “special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world” (emphasis added). 

Every member of the Church should have and be a witness of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Ghost, said Elder Bednar. But Apostles through ordination, setting apart and priesthood keys are special witnesses of the name of Christ, meaning witnesses in all the world of His living reality and divinity, His doctrine, His authority, and His holy work.

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Cory Mendenhall directs a choir of around 500 missionaries during Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles’ devotional at the Missionary Training center in Provo, Utah on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022

Adam Fondren, for the Deseret News

True conversion

Sister Bednar thanked the senior missionary couples in the audience for their service. She mentioned that her parents’ mission became one of the greatest examples of service for her three sons as they prayed for their grandparents. 

She then spoke to all the missionaries about true conversion to God’s plan.

“I pray that as we think, study, pray and work out ways that we can truly become connected to the Lord, we will do the things we know we should,” she said.

This conversion is not just for their missionary service, “but for your lifelong service,” she said, “and it is not just in our minds but in our hearts.”

She spoke of a missionary she and Elder Bednar once met who didn’t believe the Savior’s Atonement worked for him, though he felt it worked for everybody else. He believed in Christ but also needed to believe Christ. “The Lord sent an Apostle to look into his eyes and tell him he was loved, as well,” she said.

Children in Primary sing about how they can feel their Savior’s love in all the world around them. 

“If you are feeling down and don’t really know Christ loves you, pray to know … pray to see where He intervened in your life that day, and He will remind you,” Sister Bednar said.

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A missionary takes notes while Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during a devotional at the Missionary Training center in Provo, Utah on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.

Adam Fondren, for the Deseret News

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