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Fullness of Times: Talk
Gospel Essentials Teacher
Sunday, 22 November 2015
In this last General Conference, President Monson spoke about being an example and a light (Thomas S. Monson, "Be an Example and a Light", General Conference, October 2015). He had been pondering the passage of scripture that states, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16). It is on this topic of light that I speak to you today. This is a big topic—one that has been on my mind for years. This is the first time that I have taken the opportunity to put many of my thoughts together. Unfortunately, there is insufficient time to do this topic justice; so of necessity, I condense these, my remarks. Permit me to share a few points of interest on the fascinating subject of light.
Among the creations of God, there are luminous objects and illuminated objects. Luminous objects, such as the sun and stars, produce and emanate light. Illuminated objects reflect the light of luminous objects.
Perhaps the most important thing to understand about light is that darkness flees in the presence of light. Just as cold is the absence of heat, so darkness is the absence of light, not the other way around. Where light is, darkness cannot exist.
Light carries information. Much of the video, voice, and data we produce and consume daily is transmitted nearly instantaneously across the world through fiber optic cables via light.
Light is only visible when it comes in contact with matter. In the blackness of space, light is not seen except as reflected off matter like dust, asteroids, moons, etc. Those who have been camping know that light from a flashlight is not seen unless it is reflected back from smoke, trees, or grass, etc. We see light only as it strikes the retina of our eyes.
Light travels in every direction unless it is channeled or blocked. Light does not create shadows but chases them away; rather those object which block light create shadows.
Light has primary colors. They are red, green, and blue. This is different from the red, yellow, and blue primary colors of pigments that we learned as children. The Combination of the primary colors of light produces pure white light. This is known as the additive color model. The full color spectrum is revealed when white light is split by a prism. Black is the absence of light.
Reflected light works differently than luminous light. A portion of the color spectrum is absorbed in the pigment and what is reflected back is the color that we see. This is called the subtractive color model. For example, we see the color yellow when blue light is absorbed and red and green light are reflected back to our eyes. In this model, white is the absence of color, or of pigment, and reflects the full spectrum. Black absorbs the full spectrum.
We learn from the scriptures that "The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth." (D&C 93:36) and that "the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light" (D&C 84:45). Man encodes information into light and sends it across the wire where it is decoded on the other end back into information. God, too, uses light to transmit His truth and knowledge. With it He illuminates our minds and souls. Our bodies receive the light and decode it, as do the animals, plants, and the earth itself. Each creation knows how to interpret the information in the light and process it. In plants, we call this photosynthesis. Our bodies have similar processes. For example, from light, we create vitamin D as needed for our health.
When God created the world, it lay in darkness. "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light." (Genesis 1:3). But God allowed for, and decreed and purposed, that there should be both light and darkness (day and night, necessary opposition, good and evil) upon the earth for now.
Why does man prefer light? Because "whatsoever is light, is good, because it is discernible" (Alma 32:35). We can see things, comprehend them, and understand them. We can avoid that which will cause us to stumble. Yet, there are those that "love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil" (D&C 10:21; John 3:19). They "undertake to cover [their] sins, or to gratify [their] pride, [or their] vain ambition" (D&C 121:37). "They grope in the dark without light" (Job 12:25) and "lose their way, that they [wander] off and [are] lost." (1 Nephi 8:23).
By placing my hand between a thing and the light, I casts a shadow upon it. We cover that which we want to hide. We can either cover our sins to conceal them or we can confess our sins and expose them to light. The problem with hiding sins is that we create dark spots on our bodies and souls. We might not consider ourselves evil or sinful, yet if we examine ourselves closely, we might discover many shadows and dark spots that we are creating in our lives as a result of seeking to cover up and hide certain things. Break free of this darkness! Uncover and confess, and then cover no more!
"God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." (1 John 1:5) "When thine eye is single [to the glory of God], thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness." (Luke 11:34; see also D&C 82:19). To be like God, our bodies must be filled with light. We must stop creating darkness within ourselves by covering our sins. We must repent and apply the Atonement.
Every man is born with a conscience: the light of Christ (D&C 93:2), "a light that is endless, that can never be darkened" (Mosiah 16:9), "which shineth in darkness" (D&C 10:57-58) and "cannot be hid in darkness" (D&C 14:9). No matter how much we try to cover up and hide our sins, the light of Christ will always shines within us, gnawing at us and reminding us that we are doing wrong and reminding us that we need to correct it. No matter how much darkness we create within ourselves, we can neither hide the light of Christ nor extinguish it. It will always be there and, at the Judgment Bar, will illuminate everything that nothing will remain hidden.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught His disciples that they were to be the light of the world, a city on a hill that cannot be hid, a candle on a candlestick. He wanted their light to shine before men (see Matthew 5:14-16). That charge has been passed to you and me.
We can only be the light of the world if we are a peculiar people. But, as individuals, as a people, are we very peculiar? Do we stand apart from the world or blend in with them, seeking to not draw attention to our obligated different ways? Sure, we don't smoke or drink alcohol; we avoid drugs and pornography; we obey the law; but, so do many others not of the covenant. Let us consider our conversations, the media we watch and listen to, our internet usage, the food we eat and drink, the way we dress, and how we use our leisure time. Are they in-line with the norms of the world or set apart from them?
To be peculiar means to be unique, atypical, uncharacteristic, curious, and distinctive. If we have areas in our lives where it is difficult to distinguish us from the rest of the world, if our light shines no brighter than the light of others, how can we be the light of the world? We must shine brighter—much brighter—than those around us. Being set on a hill, rather than nestled in the valley among other cities, we set a clear and noticeable standard. At times it might even be necessary to stand out among our own people: to be peculiar among the peculiar (see D&C 63:54). It can be hard and perhaps scary at times, but don't blend in with the world. The Lord asks us to come "out from the wicked, and be  separate, and touch not their unclean things" (Alma 5:57; 2 Corinthians 6:17). Don't be afraid. Stand out. Be different. Be peculiar.
The story of the brother of Jared lighting the barges is well known and often referred to. Permit me to share with you what I learned about it, by the Spirit, soon after given this assignment to speak on Friday night. You might never look at this story the same way again. I know I won't.
We all know the story, in Ether chapter 3, of how the brother of Jared "did molten out of a rock sixteen small stones" and asked God to touch them so that they would provide light for their long journey across the ocean. But there is a larger story, a deeper story, in these stones than has, perhaps, ever been told before. The stones and their various stages present a pattern of God. A pattern that the earth is going through. A pattern that you and I are going through. A pattern of purification. A pattern of light. A pattern of glory.
The brother of Jared began with raw material in its natural state. From the top of the mountain, he picked out some rocks. They were most likely rough and dark, opaque, full of impurities, and lackluster. Then he applied a tremendous amount of heat, probably above 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. After the impurities were removed from this molten rock, it was poured into molds. When cooled, the rock was transformed into transparent white stones, smooth and more reflective. They were, afterward, touched by God, which transformed them yet again, causing them to glow: to emanate light from within and shine in the darkness.
The earth today, in its fallen telestial state, is rough, with high mountains and low valleys, full of impurities, and, as prophesied for the last days, "darkness cover[s] the earth" (Isaiah 60:2). At the Second Coming, as the earth enters its terrestrial state, "the presence of the Lord shall be as the melting fire that burneth, and as the fire which causeth the waters to boil." (D&C 133:41) The "element shall melt with fervent heat" (D&C 101:25) "and cause the mountains to flow down … and the valleys to be exalted, the rough places made smooth" (D&C 109:74). All corruption and impurities will be devoured by this fire. Why? So "that [God's knowledge and] glory may fill the earth" (D&C 109:74, 101:25). In its celestial state, "after [the earth] hath filled the measure of its creation, it shall be crowned with glory, even with the presence of God the Father" (D&C 88:18-19). "This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal", "a globe like a sea of glass and fire, where all things for [our] glory are manifest, past, present, and future … a great Urim and Thummim" (see D&C 130:6-9). And as "God Almighty Himself dwells in eternal fire" (Smith, Joseph. "Everlasting Burnings", Encyclopedia of Mormonism. New York: Macmillan, 1992, Print, 239), so the earth, too, will emanate that light—that glory—and be dark no more.
Thus we see the various stages of the earth represented in the sixteen stones: dark and rough, melted, purified, and made smooth and transparent, then caused to emanate light. So, what of man?
Man is born into this world in a fallen state: natural man, rough and darkened with the impurities of sin. As we embrace the gospel, we are separated and placed into the crucible of God. Then the heat is turned on as we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost—the First Comforter. Over time, the heat is turned up, and if we endure, the impurities of sin are burned out of us—a not so comfortable process, but a necessary one. Whereas before, our darkness absorbed much of the light of Christ, we now begin to reflect it to others. We become smoother in our appetites, attitudes, and behaviors. We become transparent in our acts and communications.
As we continue, Jesus will bless us as he did the Nephite disciples "as they did pray unto him; and his countenance did smile upon them, and the light of his countenance did shine upon them, and behold they were as white as the countenance … of Jesus; and behold the whiteness thereof did exceed all the whiteness, yea, even there could be nothing upon earth so white as the whiteness thereof." (3 Nephi 19:25).
We learn from the scriptures what we will be like when we receive the Second Comforter, even Jesus Christ, and are glorified. Moses states, "mine own eyes have beheld God; but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes, for my natural eyes could not have beheld; for I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face, for I was transfigured before him." (Moses 1:11; see also D&C 67:10-13). "Persons who are [transfigured are] temporarily changed in appearance and nature—that is, lifted to a higher spiritual level—so that they can endure the presence and glory of heavenly beings" ("Transfiguration", Guide to the Scriptures). This transfiguration of Moses caused his face to shine. He was not the only one. We have also the account of the faces of Nephi and Lehi shining "exceedingly, even as the faces of angels" while in the darkness of a prison (Helaman 5:36), of the face of Abinadi shining "with exceeding luster" in the court of King Noah (Mosiah 13:5), and of Christ himself whose "face did shine as the sun" upon the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:2). But these were only a temporary changes.
Translated and resurrected beings have a glory that emanates from them that is brighter than the noonday sun. When Paul and Joseph Smith saw Jesus and angels, they described "light … above the brightness of the sun", "exquisite whiteness … beyond anything earthly", "exceedingly white and brilliant", "glorious beyond description", and a "countenance ... like lightning" (Joseph Smith History 1:16; Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith; Acts 22:6). The psalmist exclaimed, "O Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment" (Psalms 104:1-2; see also D&C 65:5).
Thus we, too, are progressing through the stages represented by the sixteen stones: Our dark and rough natural man, purified and made smooth and transparent by the Spirit, ultimately to emanate the glory of God and become a radiant light beyond all earthly description.
This light grows line upon line, as we learn to "[put] off the natural man and [become] a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord" (Mosiah 3:19). As we learn to set aside our own will and fulfill the will of the Father—making our eye single to His glory—He fills us with His light. In his darkened state, natural man absorbs the light of God. The saint reflects that light to others. Glorified man will emanate that light.
Christ, the light of the world—He, whose mortal entry into this world brought a new star and caused night to shine like noon day; He, whose life was unjustly extinguished, left much of the world in three days of tormenting darkness—that Christ, astonished the people, "for he taught them as one having authority" (Matthew 7:29). Though He continued to reflect the light of the prophets and the scriptures, for their sakes, "the glory of God[,] intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth" (D&C 93:36) was already emanating brightly from within Him.
Brothers and sisters, we have a glorious future of light ahead of us, and it begins here in our rough and sinful state. Let us not be the impurities that are melted away during the purification process, but withstand the heat to become a smooth, white, transparent stone. Then, when touched by the Savior, we too will emanate light—even the glory of God.
I bear witness to you that this life is difficult, and it is intended to be so. It is our proving grounds: our final exam. Endure it well. Let us stand out as a peculiar people. Let us give up our worldly ways. Let us shine brighter and more clearly than those around us. Let us reflect the light of Christ until we can emanate it. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
©2015 Gregory Scot Collins. All rights reserved.
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