Remember and Perish Not
I feel honored to follow Sister Parkin. Her service and teachings as well as those of her counselors have blessed all of us. About this same hour 18 1/2 years ago, I was standing near this pulpit waiting for the congregational singing to end, when I was to step forward and give my first general conference address. My anxiety at that moment must have been obvious. Elder L. Tom Perry, who was standing behind me, leaned forward and, in his positive and enthusiastic way, whispered in my ear. “Relax,” he said, “we haven’t lost anyone at that pulpit in years!”
Those encouraging words and the few minutes that followed in which I spoke for the first time to a worldwide audience of Latter-day Saints constitute a treasured memory for me. Like all of you, I am constantly accumulating a reservoir of memories which, when recalled, make up a very useful and often enjoyable part of my consciousness. And, despite resolutions I made as a young man never to weary others with reminiscing when I grew older, I now take great pleasure in sharing my own memories at almost every possible occasion. Today, however, I wish to speak of a more profound role of memory and remembering in the gospel of Jesus Christ than the passive recall and enjoyment of information.
If we pay close attention to the uses of the word remember in the holy scriptures, we will recognize that remembering in the way God intends is a fundamental and saving principle of the gospel. This is so because prophetic admonitions to remember are frequently calls to action: to listen, to see, to do, to obey, to repent.1 When we remember in God’s way, we overcome our human tendency simply to gird for the battle of life and actually engage in the battle itself, doing all in our power to resist temptation and avoid sinning.
King Benjamin called for such active remembering from his people:
“And finally, I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them.
“But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not.”2
Realizing the vital role remembering is to play in our lives, what else ought we to remember? In response, assembled as we are today to remember and rededicate this historic Tabernacle, I suggest that the history of the Church of Jesus Christ and its people deserves our remembrance. The scriptures give the Church’s history high priority. In fact, much of scripture is Church history. On the very day the Church was organized, God commanded Joseph Smith, “Behold, there shall be a record kept among you.”3 Joseph acted on this command by appointing Oliver Cowdery, the second elder in the Church and his chief assistant, as the first Church historian. We keep records to help us remember, and a record of the Church’s rise and progress has been kept from Oliver Cowdery’s time to the present day. This extraordinary historical record reminds us that God has again opened the heavens and revealed truths that call our generation to action.
Of all that has been collected, preserved, and written by historians over those many years, nothing exemplifies the importance and power of the Church’s history more than Joseph Smith’s simple and honest story of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appearing to him in what our history books now call the First Vision. In words that generations of missionaries have committed to memory and shared with seekers of truth the world over, Joseph describes the miraculous way in which he received an answer to his question posed in prayer of which Church is right:
“I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.
“… When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!”4
Hear him, Joseph did! And millions have heard or read and believed his account and have embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ he helped restore. I believe Joseph Smith and know he was a true prophet of God. Remembering his experience of the First Vision never fails to stir my soul to greater commitment and action.
No one has greater appreciation for the value of the Church’s history than President Gordon B. Hinckley. We love his delightful sense of humor, but his sense of history is equally keen. Inspiring stories and anecdotes from our past punctuate his writings and sermons. As our living prophet, he consciously emphasizes the past and the future to help us live more righteously in the present. Because of his teachings, we understand that remembering enables us to see God’s hand in our past, just as prophecy and faith assure us of God’s hand in our future. President Hinckley reminds us how members of the early Church faced their challenges so we, through the grace of God, can more faithfully face our own. By keeping our past alive, he connects us to the people, places, and events that make up our spiritual heritage and, in so doing, motivates us to greater service, faith, and kindness.
In an exemplary way President Hinckley also openly shares from his own personal and family histories. Scores of discouraged new missionaries have been comforted to learn that early in his own mission, President Hinckley was also discouraged and admitted as much to his father. He even courageously shared his father’s brief response: “Dear Gordon, I have your recent letter. I have only one suggestion: forget yourself and go to work.”5 Over 70 years later, we are all witnesses to how earnestly President Hinckley took that counsel to heart. His sterling character and prophetic wisdom provide persuasive proof for the benefits of remembering the Church’s history as well as our own.
There is much more to say about memory and remembering in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We often speak of remembering our sacred covenants and God’s commandments and of remembering and performing saving ordinances for our deceased ancestors. Most importantly, we speak of the need to remember our Savior Jesus Christ and not just when convenient, but always, as He asks.6 We witness always to remember Him as we partake of the sacrament. In return, we are promised His Spirit will always be with us. Interestingly, this is the same Spirit sent by our Heavenly Father to “bring all things to [our] remembrance.”7 Thus, by worthily receiving the sacrament, we are blessed by the Spirit to enter into a wonderfully beneficial circle of remembering, returning again and again in our thinking and devotion to Christ and His Atonement.
Coming unto Christ and being perfected in Him is, I believe, the ultimate purpose of all remembering.8 Therefore, I pray that God will bless us always to remember, especially His perfect Son, and perish not. I gratefully testify of Christ’s divinity and saving power. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
See 2 Nephi 1:12; Mosiah 6:3; Helaman 5:14.
Joseph Smith—History 1:16–17.
In Gordon B. Hinckley, Faith: The Essence of True Religion (1989), 115.
See 3 Nephi 18:7, 11.
See Moroni 10:32–33.
Always Remember Him
Can you picture with me the prophet Moroni inscribing the final words of the Book of Mormon on the golden plates? He was alone. He had seen his nation, his people, and his family fall. The land was “one continual round” of war (Mormon 8:8). Yet he had hope, for he had seen our day! And of all the things he could have written, he invited us to remember (see Moroni 10:3).
President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) was fond of teaching that the most important word in the dictionary could be remember. Because we have made covenants with God, he said, “our greatest need is to remember” them.1
You can find the word remember throughout the scriptures. When Nephi admonished his brothers, often he invited them to remember the Lord’s words and to remember how God had saved their forefathers (see 1 Nephi 15:11, 25; 17:40).
In his great farewell address, King Benjamin used the word remember seven times. He hoped that his people would remember “the greatness of God … and his goodness and long-suffering” toward them (Mosiah 4:11; see also 2:41; 4:28, 30; 5:11–12).
When the Savior instituted the sacrament, He invited His disciples to partake of the emblems “in remembrance” of His sacrifice (Luke 22:19). In every sacrament prayer you and I hear, the word always precedes the word remember (see D&C 20:77, 79).
My message is an invitation, even a plea, to remember. Here are three suggestions about what you could remember each week when you partake of the sacred emblems of the sacrament. I hope they are helpful to you, as they have been to me.
Remember Jesus Christ
First, remember the Savior. Remember who He was while on earth, how He spoke to others, and how He showed kindness in His acts. Remember whom He spent time with and what He taught. The Savior “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). He visited the sick. He was committed to doing His Father’s will.
Most of all, we can remember the great price He paid, out of His love for us, to remove the stain of our sins. As we remember Him, our desire to follow Him will grow. We will want to be a little kinder, more forgiving, and more willing to seek the will of God and do it.
Remember What You Need to Do Better
It’s hard to think of the Savior—His purity and perfection—without also thinking of how flawed and imperfect we are in comparison. We have made covenants to obey His commandments, yet we frequently fall short of this high standard. But the Savior knew this would happen, which is why He gave us the ordinance of the sacrament.
The sacrament has its roots in the Old Testament practice of offering sacrifices, which included a confession of sin (see Leviticus 5:5). We don’t sacrifice animals anymore, but we can still give up our sins. The scriptures call this a sacrifice of “a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (3 Nephi 9:20). Come to the sacrament with a repentant heart (see D&C 59:12; Moroni 6:2). As you do so, you will obtain forgiveness of sins and you will not stray from the path leading back to God.
Remember the Progress You Are Making
As you examine your life during the ordinance of the sacrament, I hope your thoughts center not only on things you have done wrong but also on things you have done right—moments when you have felt that Heavenly Father and the Savior were pleased with you. You may even take a moment during the sacrament to ask God to help you see these things. If you do, I promise you will feel something. You will feel hope.
When I have done this, the Spirit has reassured me that while I’m still far from perfect, I’m better today than I was yesterday. And this gives me confidence that, because of the Savior, I can be even better tomorrow.
Always is a long time, and it implies a lot of focused effort. You know from experience how hard it is to think consciously of one thing all the time. But no matter how well you keep your promise to always remember Him, He always remembers you.
The Savior knows your challenges. He knows what it is like to have the cares of life press upon you. He knows how urgently you need the blessing that comes from always remembering Him and obeying Him—“that [you] may always have his Spirit to be with [you]” (D&C 20:77; emphasis added).
So He welcomes you back to the sacrament table each week, once again offering you the chance to witness before Him that you will always remember Him.
Spencer W. Kimball, “Circles of Exaltation” (address to Church Educational System religious educators, June 28, 1968), 5.
O Remember, Remember
I was grateful for the choir in their broadcast this morning, which was about the Savior, and grateful to see that the words of one of the songs they sang, “This Is the Christ,” were written by President James E. Faust. As I sat down next to Brother Newell, I leaned over to him and asked, “How are your children?” He said, “When President Faust sat in that chair, that’s what he always asked.” I’m not surprised, because President Faust was always a perfect example of a disciple that was described in Music and the Spoken Word today. I always felt that when I grew up, I wanted to be like President Faust. There may still be time.
When our children were very small, I started to write down a few things about what happened every day. Let me tell you how that got started. I came home late from a Church assignment. It was after dark. My father-in-law, who lived near us, surprised me as I walked toward the front door of my house. He was carrying a load of pipes over his shoulder, walking very fast and dressed in his work clothes. I knew that he had been building a system to pump water from a stream below us up to our property.
He smiled, spoke softly, and then rushed past me into the darkness to go on with his work. I took a few steps toward the house, thinking of what he was doing for us, and just as I got to the door, I heard in my mind—not in my own voice—these words: “I’m not giving you these experiences for yourself. Write them down.”
I went inside. I didn’t go to bed. Although I was tired, I took out some paper and began to write. And as I did, I understood the message I had heard in my mind. I was supposed to record for my children to read, someday in the future, how I had seen the hand of God blessing our family. Grandpa didn’t have to do what he was doing for us. He could have had someone else do it or not have done it at all. But he was serving us, his family, in the way covenant disciples of Jesus Christ always do. I knew that was true. And so I wrote it down, so that my children could have the memory someday when they would need it.
I wrote down a few lines every day for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?” As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done.
More than gratitude began to grow in my heart. Testimony grew. I became ever more certain that our Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I felt more gratitude for the softening and refining that come because of the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ. And I grew more confident that the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance—even things we did not notice or pay attention to when they happened.
The years have gone by. My boys are grown men. And now and then one of them will surprise me by saying, “Dad, I was reading in my copy of the journal about when …” and then he will tell me about how reading of what happened long ago helped him notice something God had done in his day.
My point is to urge you to find ways to recognize and remember God’s kindness. It will build our testimonies. You may not keep a journal. You may not share whatever record you keep with those you love and serve. But you and they will be blessed as you remember what the Lord has done. You remember that song we sometimes sing: “Count your many blessings; name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”2
It won’t be easy to remember. Living as we do with a veil over our eyes, we cannot remember what it was like to be with our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, in the premortal world; nor can we see with our physical eyes or with reason alone the hand of God in our lives. Seeing such things takes the Holy Ghost. And it is not easy to be worthy of the Holy Ghost’s companionship in a wicked world.
That is why forgetting God has been such a persistent problem among His children since the world began. Think of the times of Moses, when God provided manna and in miraculous and visible ways led and protected His children. Still, the prophet warned the people who had been so blessed, as prophets always have warned and always will: “Take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life.”3
And the challenge to remember has always been the hardest for those who are blessed abundantly. Those who are faithful to God are protected and prospered. That comes as the result of serving God and keeping His commandments. But with those blessings comes the temptation to forget their source. It is easy to begin to feel the blessings were granted not by a loving God on whom we depend but by our own powers. The prophets have repeated this lament over and over:
“And thus we can behold how false, and also the unsteadiness of the hearts of the children of men; yea, we can see that the Lord in his great infinite goodness doth bless and prosper those who put their trust in him.
“Yea, and we may see at the very time when he doth prosper his people, yea, in the increase of their fields, their flocks and their herds, and in gold, and in silver, and in all manner of precious things of every kind and art; sparing their lives, and delivering them out of the hands of their enemies; softening the hearts of their enemies that they should not declare wars against them; yea, and in fine, doing all things for the welfare and happiness of his people; yea, then is the time that they do harden their hearts, and do forget the Lord their God, and do trample under their feet the Holy One—yea, and this because of their ease, and their exceedingly great prosperity.”
And the prophet goes on to say: “Yea, how quick to be lifted up in pride; yea, how quick to boast, and do all manner of that which is iniquity; and how slow are they to remember the Lord their God, and to give ear unto his counsels, yea, how slow to walk in wisdom’s paths!”4
Sadly, prosperity is not the only reason people forget God. It can also be hard to remember Him when our lives go badly. When we struggle, as so many do, in grinding poverty or when our enemies prevail against us or when sickness is not healed, the enemy of our souls can send his evil message that there is no God or that if He exists He does not care about us. Then it can be hard for the Holy Ghost to bring to our remembrance the lifetime of blessings the Lord has given us from our infancy and in the midst of our distress.
There is a simple cure for the terrible malady of forgetting God, His blessings, and His messages to us. Jesus Christ promised it to His disciples when He was about to be crucified, resurrected, and then taken away from them to ascend in glory to His Father. They were concerned to know how they would be able to endure when He was no longer with them.
Here is the promise. It was fulfilled for them then. It can be fulfilled for all of us now:
“These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.
“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”5
The key to the remembering that brings and maintains testimony is receiving the Holy Ghost as a companion. It is the Holy Ghost who helps us see what God has done for us. It is the Holy Ghost who can help those we serve to see what God has done for them.
Heavenly Father has given a simple pattern for us to receive the Holy Ghost not once but continually in the tumult of our daily lives. The pattern is repeated in the sacramental prayer: We promise that we will always remember the Savior. We promise to take His name upon us. We promise to keep His commandments. And we are promised that if we do that, we will have His Spirit to be with us.6 Those promises work together in a wonderful way to strengthen our testimonies and in time, through the Atonement, to change our natures as we keep our part of the promise.
It is the Holy Ghost who testifies that Jesus Christ is the Beloved Son of a Heavenly Father who loves us and wants us to have eternal life with Him in families. With even the beginning of that testimony, we feel a desire to serve Him and to keep His commandments. When we persist in doing that, we receive the gifts of the Holy Ghost to give us power in our service. We come to see the hand of God more clearly, so clearly that in time we not only remember Him, but we come to love Him and, through the power of the Atonement, become more like Him.
You might ask, “But how does this process get started in someone who knows nothing about God and claims no memory of spiritual experiences at all?” Everyone has had spiritual experiences that they may not have recognized. Every person, upon entering the world, is given the Spirit of Christ. How that spirit works is described in the book of Moroni:
“For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
“But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him. …
“Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.”7
So, even before people receive the right to the gifts of the Holy Ghost, when they are confirmed as members of the Church, and even before the Holy Ghost confirms truth to them before baptism, they have spiritual experiences. The Spirit of Christ has already, from their childhood, invited them to do good and warned them against evil. They have memories of those experiences even if they have not recognized their source. That memory will come back to them as missionaries or we teach them the word of God and they hear it. They will remember the feeling of joy or sorrow when they are taught the truths of the gospel. And that memory of the Spirit of Christ will soften their hearts to allow the Holy Ghost to testify to them. That will lead them to keep commandments and want to take the name of the Savior upon them. And when they do, in the waters of baptism, and as they hear the words in confirmation “Receive the Holy Ghost” spoken by an authorized servant of God, the power to always remember God will be increased.
I testify to you that the warm feelings you have had as you have listened to truth being spoken in this conference are from the Holy Ghost. The Savior, who promised that the Holy Ghost would come, is the beloved, glorified Son of our Heavenly Father.
Tonight, and tomorrow night, you might pray and ponder, asking the questions: Did God send a message that was just for me? Did I see His hand in my life or the lives of my children? I will do that. And then I will find a way to preserve that memory for the day that I, and those that I love, will need to remember how much God loves us and how much we need Him. I testify that He loves us and blesses us, more than most of us have yet recognized. I know that is true, and it brings me joy to remember Him. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Mosiah 2:41; Alma 37:13; Helaman 5:9.
“Count Your Blessings,” Hymns, no. 241.
Helaman 12:1–2, 5.
See D&C 20:77, 79.
Moroni 7:16–17, 19.
5 Ways to “Remember the Lord” in All You Do
Article Image Courtesy of Kate Lee
In this week’s Come, Follow Me study, we learn about the importance of remembering the Lord in everything that we do. In Helaman 12, we’re taught about the unfortunate consequences of pride when we forget the Lord and focus entirely on our own efforts. Although the Lord wants us to trust and be confident in ourselves, He lovingly invites us to rely on His strength. When we remember the Lord in all that we do, we’re promised that the Spirit will strengthen us, bring us peace, and give us the hope needed for when things become difficult. Sometimes when life gets busy, we can unintentionally lose sight of all of the wonderful ways the Lord is actively working in our lives. To help with times such as those, here are five ways to remember the Lord in all you do.
Take time each day to quietly reflect
Church leaders have often urged us to take time each day to reflect on the good the surrounds us. Sometimes when we take advantage of those quiet moments to disconnect from our phones and other technology, we’re almost instantly filled with a deeper awareness of the wonderful world around us. Our Heavenly Father has given us this life so that “we might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25), and those quiet moments can remind us of that fact. Additionally, when we take those moments to quietly reflect, we’re able to more easily identify the ways the Lord is working in our daily lives.
Keep a gratitude journal
Studies and Church leaders have taught that the more we look for things to be grateful for in our lives, we more easily find them. Sometimes on those more difficult days, it can be harder to name things to be grateful for just off the top of our heads. When we take time to write in a journal, we’re able to reflect and see the little details of the day that we can be grateful for. When we allow the sense of gratitude to fill our hearts, we can feel the deep love that our Father in Heaven has for each and every one of us. We can realize that He is actively involved in every aspect of our lives and that our concerns are His concerns. Our triumphs are His triumphs, and our hopes are His hopes. One of the greatest gifts of keeping a journal is being able to look back on past entries and see how much love that the Lord has for us. When times become difficult, we can have a real tangible record of our past triumphs with the Lord by our side.
We love these personalized journals that can be perfect for recording those moments you feel grateful for. You can get temples and another inspiring symbols on the front. Click the link here to see them all!
Find ways to connect with others
During these very confusing times of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 has left many of us scrambling to find new ways to stay connected with our friends and family when we can’t be around them physically. Our Heavenly Father created us in His image and made us social creatures. We love to connect with our fellow brothers and sisters and to share memories together. With many of us far more isolated than in years previous, it can require extra effort to stay connected to those around us. But as we make such efforts, we can be reminded that the Lord has not placed us on this Earth to be alone. Whether it’s a simple phone call, a video chat, or even just writing a close friend a physical letter, staying connected with our loved ones can remind us that the Lord loves us, and has given us these wonderful people to help us make it through such tough times.
Daily scripture study
President Gordon B. Hinckley once famously stated the blessings of daily scripture study, particularly from the Book of Mormon. He said:
“Brothers and sisters, without reservation I promise you that if you will prayerfully read the Book of Mormon, regardless of how many times you previously have read it, there will come into your hearts an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord. There will come a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to his commandments, and there will come a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God.”
When we devote a portion of our day to reading the words of the Prophets of old, we’re reminded that our struggles aren’t very different from their own in some cases. We can see how they relied on the Lord, remembered Him, and found strength in following His commandments.
The gift of prayer
One of the best ways we can remember the Lord in our daily lives is to simply communicate with Him. The most inspiring truth that was restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith was that our loving Father in Heaven is our Father with flesh and blood. He deeply cares for us and answers our prayers. When we spend time each day communicating with Him, it can be far more difficult to forget that His hand in our lives. Our Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to draw near to Him in every way that we can. There are countless scriptures and stories that remind us to “remember Him” in all that we do. When we take those moments to reassess how we can better remember Him, we can find peace and happiness to face each day with enthusiasm.
Devin is a graduate of Brigham Young University where he studied English and Business Management. He is a writer, photographer, movie-fanatic, and a lover of street tacos. He served his mission in Tokyo, Japan.
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My brothers and sisters, it is an honor and great privilege to be on campus today and to speak with you. I am glad that my father and Sister Neuenschwander’s parents are also here. It is of great worth to know people who have been faithful to their commitments and covenants well into their eighties and nineties.
During my first year of graduate school, I had an evening class on Slavic culture. On one occasion, after a day of intense study, I was hurrying to class to take an exam. Information, dates, and events were swimming around in my head. The closer I got to the exam, the more confused I became. On the way I happened to see one of my professors and asked him to clarify what for him must have been a very obscure matter. He looked at me and asked in a tone I still remember, “Is it important?”
Over the years I have pondered his question. It has helped me to distinguish the important from the trivial, to remember the important things and to forget the things that have little consequence or that would, by forgetting them, bring a blessing.
Remembering important things is fundamental to both our temporal and spiritual well-being. Confusing what we should remember with what we can or ought to forget creates difficulties for us. Much trouble in life originates from forgetting what we should remember and remembering what we should forget. One of Nephi’s experiences with Laman and Lemuel is an interesting example of this. Nephi told his brothers that they were “slow to remember the Lord” (1 Nephi 17:45). They had seen an angel, and he had spoken to them. Though no response is recorded, I suppose that Laman and Lemuel could have looked at each other and said, “Oh, yeah, we forgot.”
Remembering the kindness of others while forgetting their offenses is spiritually much healthier than forgetting their kindness and remembering their offenses. We should keep in mind that even the Lord, who is capable of remembering everything, has promised that He will forget our sins if we repent.
It seems to me that living the gospel has as much to do with remembering important things as it does with knowing them in the first place. The word rememberand its derivatives appear hundreds of times in the scriptures—certainly a lot to remember! This repetitious scriptural reminder to remember takes on added significance when we understand that in Hebrew the word remember has a much broader meaning than does the English connotation of “keeping something in mind.” In the Hebrew context, “doing” is an essential part of the remembering process. Thus, “to remember” is “to do,” whereas “forgetting” is “failing to do.”
The prophets of various dispensations, cultures, and languages have all been remarkably consistent in teaching what is most important for us to remember—and to do. Among them we are to remember:
1. The Lord and His holy name.
2. His word, as well as His words.
3. His commandments.
4. His marvelous works.
5. The poor.
Just a word about each of these:
First, we are to remember the Lord and His holy name. The Lord established His preeminent position through the commandments He gave Moses. “I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:2–3).
The Lord also commanded, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them” (Exodus 20:4–5).
The children of Israel had a hard time remembering these commandments and, because of their forgetfulness, suffered painful consequences. Are we under any less obligation to remember them? As the Lord extended His hand to rescue the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage, so also did He offer His life to rescue us from the bondage of sin and death. This we can never forget.
Declared the Savior, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
King Benjamin added his testimony of this essential doctrine: “I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent” (Mosiah 3:17).
In our dispensation the Lord confirmed this doctrine through the Prophet Joseph Smith: “No man shall come unto the Father but by me or by my word” (D&C 132:12).
As the means of salvation for all, Jesus commanded all to revere His holy name: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7).
Certainly this has reference to speaking the holy name of the Lord in inappropriate and irreverent circumstances or invoking His name as a means of expressing anger, displeasure, surprise, or simply showing a lack of self-control. In this regard there is likely no other commandment that is so universally broken than this one. It seems that in our time we have forgotten the clear instruction of the Lord: “Wherefore, let all men beware how they take my name in their lips” (D&C 63:61). Speaking His name without authority is taking His name in vain.
Remembering the Lord’s name also has much to do with the manner in which we take His name upon ourselves. King Benjamin taught, “I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives” (Mosiah 5:8). King Benjamin counseled his people to remember not to transgress, “that the name [of Christ] be not blotted out of your hearts” (vs. 11). King Benjamin told them that they “should remember to retain the name written always in your hearts, . . . that ye hear and know the voice by which ye shall be called, and also, the name by which he shall call you” (vs. 12).
If the people were to forget this simple instruction, the name of Christ would be blotted out of their hearts and they would be found on the left hand of God.
In 1983 I met Sister MariannaG∏ównia during an assignment to visit the Polish Saints with Brother Matthew Ciembronowicz. SisterG∏ównia had joined the Church in Poland in 1958 when she was 50 years old. For 25 years she had been virtually isolated from other members of the Church. She was in obvious pain as a result of severe injuries received during the Polish occupation. She moved with great difficulty around her small apartment. She told us that representatives of another church had come to offer support and relief if she would simply renounce her faith. With tears in her eyes, SisterG∏ównia said, “Brethren, I have never renounced my faith.” A year later she passed away a faithful Latter-day Saint. SisterG∏ównia remembered the Lord and to the end of her life revered His holy name, which she had taken upon herself.
Our lives are blessed when we remember the Lord and His holy name.
Second, we are to remember His word. Word and covenant often stand together in the scriptures. The Lord is a man of His word. That which the Lord speaks, He will do. That which the Lord promises by His word, He will fulfill. Only on a basis of absolute trust and confidence can we enter into covenants with Him and know that He can do as He promises. Where would trust be if God extended a covenant to us and then promptly forgot it or did not have sufficient power to honor it? Wrote the Psalmist, “He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations” (Psalm 105:8).
To Nephi, the Lord said, “I will show unto . . . my people, who are of the house of Israel, that I am God, and that I covenanted with Abraham that I would remember his seed forever” (2 Nephi 29:14).
Our individual identity as well as our identity as a people is established by how well we remember our covenants. If we are careless and in the process forget the covenants and promises of God, we will surely lose our identity as the children of God. The history of the Nephites and the Lamanites is one of forgetting the covenant extended to them as part of the house of Israel. The Book of Mormon is an excellent book of remembrance. Its prophets were continually exhorting the people to remember important things. I suppose they did so because of the people’s tendency to forget that which should have been important for them to remember. In Mormon’s lament over the destruction of the Nephites, he wrote, “O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you! Behold, if ye had not done this, ye would not have fallen” (Mormon 6:17–18).
The Nephites forgot their covenant and the promises given to them by virtue of that covenant. They simply forgot what they should have remembered! And in their forgetting they lost their identity in a most tragic manner. The Lamanites, though not destroyed, had also not taken advantage of the covenant and promises given to their fathers. As Mormon lamented the fall of the Nephites, he reminded the Lamanites of important things that had passed from their memory: “Know ye that ye are of the house of Israel. . . . And ye will also know that ye are a remnant of the seed of Jacob; therefore ye are numbered among the people of the first covenant” (Mormon 7:2, 10).
The recovery of the people’s identity as members of a covenant family was uppermost in Mormon’s mind. Where is that identity to be found? It is in the knowledge of the promises made to their fathers. The Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith:
And for this very purpose are these plates preserved, . . . that the promises of the Lord might be fulfilled, which he made to his people;
And that the Lamanites might come to the knowledge of their fathers, and that they might know the promises of the Lord. [D&C 3:19–20]
We are no different. If we remember and participate fully in the covenant the Lord has extended to us, we will remember who we are and what we are about. If, on the other hand, we forget the word of the Lord and His covenant, we will lose both our identity and the fulfillment of the promises that otherwise would come to us and to our children—a tragic consequence of forgetting.
Not only should we remember the word of the Lord, but we should remember His words as well. His words are without end (see Moses 1:38). They are sure and shall not fail. They are pure, they are true, they are faithful, they are eternal (see 2 Nephi 31:15). As we remember and ponder His words, we remember and ponder matters of eternal significance and meaning. On one occasion the Lord asked the Twelve if they, like the multitude, would also go away from Him. Their answer is the one that we should all wish to give: “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
We should also remember that the Lord’s words are very practical and are meant to guide us through life’s trials and uncertainties. Jacob wrote, “Behold, my beloved brethren, remember the words of your God” (2 Nephi 9:52). Nephi continued this thought in words that are very familiar to us: “Feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do” (2 Nephi 32:3).
The Savior counseled us to live “by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). His words point us in “a straight course” (Alma 37:44). They nourish us and give us understanding (see Alma 32:28). The Savior taught:
Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings [or my words], and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:
He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. [Luke 6:47–49]
Would that we all remember and not forget the word of the Lord, His covenant and promises, and His words of life.
Third, we are to remember His commandments. In our world, too many look upon the commandments of God as restrictive or punitive. We do not share this opinion. Divine commandments are given to us by a loving Father who desires to bless His children. Obedience to His commandments brings safety and blessings. We often sing:
Keep the commandments; keep the commandments!
In this there is safety; in this there is peace.
He will send blessings; He will send blessings.
Words of a prophet: Keep the commandments.
In this there is safety and peace.
[“Keep the Commandments,” Hymns, 1985, no. 303]
The commandments of God are a view into His personality and reveal His integrity. Is it possible, for example, to imagine that the Lord would expect us to keep His commandments while He himself disregards them? Certainly not. Wilford Woodruff wrote, “Jesus Christ abode in the covenant; he kept all the commandments while he was upon the earth. . . . There was no part of the gospel that Christ did not fulfil” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, sel. G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1946], 80).
Even in baptism the Savior showed us the way by His own obedience. In answer to John’s reluctance to baptize Him, Jesus said, “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15).
Nephi provided this explanation:
And now, I would ask of you, my beloved brethren, wherein the Lamb of God did fulfil all righteousness in being baptized by water?
. . . He showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments. [2 Nephi 31:6–7]
Many blessings flow from willing obedience to the commandments of God. The fourth commandment teaches us to “remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work” (Exodus 20:8–10).
To those who remember the Sabbath, the Lord has promised “the fulness of the earth” (D&C 59:16). Many can testify to the literal fulfillment of this promise. In the initial years of the spread of the gospel in eastern Europe, the Saints were counseled to attend to their Church responsibilities and leave their garden plots alone on the Sabbath. This was indeed a great matter of faith! They relied upon the harvest of their small gardens to carry them through the winter. They were accustomed to spending weekends in their gardens, which were often located a long distance from where they lived. Obedience to this commandment brought them blessings. Those who were faithful in keeping the Sabbath day holy had fruit when others around them did not. They had moisture when others received none. Their fruit was protected when that of others was lost. These faithful Saints saw the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to Malachi: “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field” (Malachi 3:11).
Commandments given in love are to be kept in love. The Savior taught, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
One of the great blessings in keeping the commandments is that our obedience to them not only brings us closer to the Giver of the commandment but permits us to know Him. John taught, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments” (1 John 2:3). Indeed, it is our willing obedience that confirms our faith. For example, how can we know for sure that God has power to forgive sin? We can know for ourselves when we repent and are baptized for the remission of sins or when we partake of the sacrament worthily and regularly.
Remembering the commandments of God and doing them bring blessings, safety, and great spiritual knowledge. Let us always remember to keep the commandments.
Fourth, we are to remember His marvelous works. One of the most beautiful messages of the Psalmist was his plea to remember the great works of the Lord: “His work is honourable and glorious: and his righteousness endureth for ever. He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered” (Psalm 111:3–4).
As we remember the mighty works of the Lord, we are humbled in the recognition of our relative nothingness and placed in a position to learn great things. Moses found this to be true when he was permitted to view the greatness of God’s creations. As he regained his physical strength, he remarked, “Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed” (Moses 1:10).
Keeping the mighty works of God in our memory builds in us knowledge, confidence, and a profound reverence for His magnificent power. On one occasion we stayed overnight in the Austrian Alps. Our lodging was a small guesthouse on the edge of a deep precipice. Across the divide rose a sheer wall of rock thousands of feet high. Early in the evening a fierce storm arose. As thunder and lightning reverberated against the rock wall, the whole valley seemed to shake. With profound respect for the awesome power of God, we could not help but compare our puny experience with the account found in 3 Nephi:
There arose a great storm, such an one as never had been known in all the land.
And there was also a great and terrible tempest; and there was terrible thunder, insomuch that it did shake the whole earth as if it was about to divide asunder.
And there were exceedingly sharp lightnings, such as never had been known in all the land. [3 Nephi 8:5–7]
The mightiest of all His work is, of course, His magnificent Atonement, which brought to pass the immortality and eternal life of you and me. May we always remember His mighty works.
Fifth, we are to remember the poor. The Lord counseled us, “Remember in all things the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted, for he that doeth not these things, the same is not my disciple” (D&C 52:40). One of the distinguishing characteristics of Enoch’s Zion was that “there was no poor among them” (Moses 7:18). Each member of the Church has both a temporal and spiritual responsibility toward the poor. President Marion G. Romney said, “The prime duty of help to the poor by the Church is not to bring temporal relief to their needs, but salvation to their souls. . . . All must be measured by the ultimate spiritual uplift” (CR, October 1977, 118).
Brothers and sisters, let us be neither forgetful nor stingy in our care for the poor and those who stand in need of our sustenance.
As I began writing down the patterns of the “remember” scriptures, I also discovered some “remember, remember” scriptures—six of them, to be exact. Five are in the Book of Mormon and one is in the Doctrine and Covenants. If the “remember” scriptures are important, then the “remember, remember” ones must be doubly important.
These six scriptures in themselves provide an effective review of an already familiar pattern. Helaman told his sons Nephi and Lehi, “O remember, remember, my sons, . . . that there is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ” (Helaman 5:9).
Furthermore, he said to them, “And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation” (Helaman 5:12).
To Helaman from his father, Alma: “O remember, remember, my son Helaman, how strict are the commandments of God” (Alma 37:13).
King Benjamin taught, “I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. . . . O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it” (Mosiah 2:41).
Samuel the Lamanite reminded the people, “And now remember, remember, my brethren, that whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto himself” (Helaman 14:30).
Finally, in this dispensation the Lord taught the Prophet, “Remember, remember that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men” (D&C 3:3).
In the apostolic charge delivered to Parley P. Pratt, Oliver Cowdery said, “The same thing rehearsed frequently profits us” (HC 2:192). As we all have a tendency to forget, the Lord has provided some gentle reminders to help us remember important things in the gospel. For those who are endowed, frequent visits to the temple remind us of holy covenants and promises. Frequent reading of the scriptures keeps important things in our remembrance. Perhaps the most pervasive reminder of all is the sacrament. All members of the Church can participate weekly in this important ordinance. By so doing we are regularly reminded of our willingness to take His name upon us, to keep His commandments, and to always remember Him. If we remember and do these things, the Lord promises that His Spirit will be with us, which Spirit brings “all things to [our] remembrance” (John 14:26). The Lord can also jog our memory in some not so gentle ways. Mormon observed, “Except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him” (Helaman 12:3).
May we be wise enough to remember the gentle reminders.
Brethren and sisters, in all of our remembering and forgetting through life, let us remember, and do, at least these five important things:
1. Remember the Lord and His holy name.
2. Remember His word, as well as His words.
3. Remember His commandments.
4. Remember His marvelous works.
5. Remember the poor.
Now, remember who you are. You are a covenant child of God, who loves you and has prepared a way for you to return to Him. Remember that happiness and peace in this life and in the world to come depend upon remembering the principles I have discussed today. Remember to keep your covenants with the Lord in order to claim His promised blessings. Remember that you are precious and of great worth to Him.
I testify of the Lord Jesus Christ and of the saving power of His holy name. I am a witness of His word, His commandments, and His marvelous works. I testify of our need to care for the poor among us. May we so also remember, and do, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
© Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
Dennis B. Neuenschwander was a member of the Presidency of the Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when this devotional address was given at Brigham Young University on 12 November 2002.
Related SpeechesSours: https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/dennis-b-neuenschwander/remember-remember/
Editor's note: This is a reprint of an earlier column.
"And now, O man, remember, and perish not." (Mosiah 4:30)
It would be difficult to overstate the importance of the word
"remember" in the standard works. Remember is used 352 times in the
scriptures. When its variants are counted, that number jumps to more
The root of remember is to keep in mind or to be mindful. It has the
sense of being "concerned about" and is related to the word "tradition."
The Oxford English Dictionary defines remember as "to retain in, or
recall to, the memory; to bear in mind; to recollect." Remember also
means "to think of or to recall the memory of something with some kind
of feeling or intention." Remember can also mean "to have mind of and
mention someone in prayer." Importantly, remember can mean to
commemorate or "to preserve in memory by some solemnity or celebration."
Remember is often used in connection with covenants between God and
man. After the flood, God set a "bow in the cloud" as a "token of a
covenant" to not again destroy the earth by water and "that I may
remember the everlasting covenant between me and every living creature"
on the earth.
We are to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy "as a perpetual
covenant ... between (God) and the children of Israel forever" (Exodus
When Abraham entered the promised land of Canaan, he built an altar
to commemorate the Lord's appearance to him and the renewal of the
covenant the Lord made with him (Genesis 12:6-8).
President Spencer W. Kimball taught that remember may be the most
important word in the dictionary: "When you look in the dictionary for
the most important word, do you know what it is? It could be
'remember.' Because all of (us) have made covenants ... our greatest need
is to remember. That is why everyone goes to sacrament meeting every
Sabbath day — to take the sacrament and listen to the priests pray that
(we) 'may always remember him and keep his commandments which he has
given (us).' ... 'Remember' is the word."
While it is true that we renew our baptismal covenants when we take
the sacrament, the sacrament prayers are in themselves covenantal. As
President Kimball noted, central to the purpose of the sacrament is
remembrance: "this do in remembrance of me."
Remember is used in two senses in the sacrament prayers. First, in
the commemorative sense. We are to eat and drink the physical
substances to specifically remember the body and blood of the Savior.
Second, we are also commanded, among other things, to "always remember
Him." Thus, while the symbols help focus our immediate attention, we
are also called to "have a memory of something with some kind of
feeling or intention." If we fulfill our part of this covenant, he
promises we will have his spirit to be with us.
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