Holiness and the Plan of Happiness

Good afternoon, Brothers and Sisters.  I have a very important message to share with you.  I am going to explain why it is so important to share it with you today.  Then I am going to share the message.  In that message, I am going to explain why we exist to be happy.  I am going to define happiness.  Then, I am going to explain how seeking for holiness is the only way to be happy.

So, why are we supposed to hear this message today?  Because evidence shows that it is according to God’s Plan.  A plan is defined as a list of steps with details of timing and resources.  It is used to achieve an objective to do something.  When a series of events synchronize with each other, there is evidence of a plan.  Otherwise, when we don’t see any order to events, they appear to occur randomly.  When there is evidence of a plan, the plan is revealed, and someone has taken the time to put together that plan.  There has to be a reason for putting together the pan, or organizing the plan would have been a waste of time.

In D&C 132:8, we learn that God appreciates order.  He states that “Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion.”  Therefore, since God’s house is a house of order, God has a plan.

Even in my own life, several events have shown me evidence that God has a plan, and presenting this message is one of them.  Here is the evidence.  I was assigned President Henry B. Eyring’s October 2019 General Conference address “Holiness and the Plan of Happiness”.  In that talk, President Eyring mentioned a hymn.  The date of the death of the author of that hymn occurred exactly 133 years ago from today; and the location of his death was very close to where an important event occurred in Latter-day Saint history.

In his talk, President Eyring mentioned the lyrics to the hymn “More Holiness Give Me”.  As a result, I had asked Susan Espenschied to add that hymn to this program, before I present my talk.  Thank you, Susan.  It’s a beautiful hymn, isn’t it?  The writer of that hymn was Philip Paul Bliss.  Mr. Bliss, was not a member of the Church.  He was of the Presbyterian faith, and he was a full-time missionary singer.  The original title of the hymn, “More Holiness Give Me”, was actually “My Prayer”.  In 1873, Philip Paul Bliss wrote the hymn as a prayer asking Heavenly Father for help, so that he could be more holy, just like the Savior.

Three years after writing the hymn, on December 29, 1876, exactly 133 years ago from today, Mr. Bliss and his wife were tragically killed in a train accident.  That event was called the Ashtabula River Railroad Disaster.  The bridge collapsed that was carrying the train that they were on.  The bodies of Mr. and Mrs. Bliss were never recovered from that fiery crash.  Thank God, their two children were not with them.  A total of 92 people died during that incident.  64 people were injured.

Where the disaster occurred was Ashtabula, Ohio.  Also in Ohio, only about 40 miles away, is the Kirtland Temple.  In Kirtland Temple, 40 years before Philip Paul Bliss’ death, on April 3, 1836, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery saw Jesus, Moses, Elias, and Elijah.  That vision occurred during the Jewish Passover, when the Jews were waiting for Elijah to return.  The Jews are still waiting for him to return, but he did.  During that event, several very important priesthood keys were restored.

So, this talk needs to be given today because of the convergence of these four events.  The synchronization of these events is evidence that presenting this talk is according to God’s plan: first, simply, I was assigned the talk “Holiness and the Plan of Happiness”; second, which mentions the hymn “More Holiness Give Me”; third, and the composer of that hymn died exactly 133 years ago, today; and finally, near the Kirtland Temple, forty years after the restoration of priesthood authority.

So, here’s the message.  Happiness only comes from being more holy.  The thought of being holy is overwhelming to many people.  When we compare ourselves to the Savior, it is unattainable.  Jesus was, and is, perfect, and without sin; and in this life, we do not have a chance of being that perfect.  Since we have sinned and fallen short, we have already lost that battle.

In the world, as we live our daily lives, it’s pretty hard to be holy.  It’s a daunting task.  Happiness seems to be easier to acquire than holiness.  Here in California, paradise to some, we already have a lot for which to be thankful.  We’ve got really a lot available to us. 

However, In the New Testament, in the Book of Matthew, 6:19-21, it says:

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

In that passage, we are told not to set our hearts on acquiring earthly treasures.  During the April 1975 General Conference, Elder Joseph Anderson stated that setting our hearts on acquiring earthly treasures is the act of seeking for pleasure, and does not bring happiness, for there is a difference between pleasure and happiness.

He also stated that happiness and joy are to a certain degree, at least, synonymous.  In the Book of Mormon, in 2 Nephi 2: 25, it says, “men are that they might have joy”.  In other words, that’s why we are here.  That is why we exist, to have joy, which is happiness.

So, how do we lay up our treasures in heaven?  In the Book of Mormon, Alma taught his son that increasing in holiness was the only path to happiness.  He made it plain that greater holiness is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ cleansing and perfecting us.  Only by faith in Jesus Christ, continuing repentance, and keeping covenants are we able to claim the lasting happiness we all yearn to experience and retain.

This doctrine is new to many.  It is not in the doctrine of mainstream Christianity.  Mainstream Christianity believes in the belief in the Doctrine of Original Sin which states that man is tainted by what happened in the Garden of Eden.  Christ cannot make us fully holy.  However, according to modern revelation in the Book of Mormon, Christ’s power is limitless, because Christ is God.  Therefore, the Doctrine of Original Sin is false.  Christ can fully cleanse us, and make us holy.  Surely, one does not have to be a member of the Church only to believe this doctrine, for that truth must also come to others who are still sensitive to these spiritual promptings, that tells them that this must be true.

The scriptures teach us that among other things, that we can be sanctified or become more holy when we exercise faith in Christ, demonstrate our obedience, repent, sacrifice for Him, receive sacred ordinances, and keep our covenants with Him.  Qualifying for the gift of holiness requires humility, meekness, and patience.  Also, of course, the hymn that we just sang “More Holiness Give Me”, illustrates more ways in which can be more holy.

President Eyring shared a very personal experience of when he wanted to be more holy.  He was in the temple for the first time.  It was in the Salt Lake Temple.  He had an impression that he had been there before.  He then heard a very soft voice.  It was not his own voice.  The softly spoken words were these: “You have never been here before. You are remembering a moment before you were born. You were in a sacred place like this. You felt the Savior was about to come into the place where you stood. And you felt happiness because you were eager to see Him.”

He continued: “I learned many lessons that day.  One was that the Holy Ghost speaks in a still, small voice.  I can hear Him when there is spiritual peace in my heart. He brings a feeling of happiness and assurance that I am becoming more holy. And that always brings the happiness I felt in those first moments in a temple of God.”

President Eyring, before he was born, when he was eager to see the Savior, he remembered the happiness that comes from the Savior, through the power of the Holy Ghost.  This eagerness to see the Savior must have been a childish excitement, which is good.  In April 2006, in his talk called “As a Child”, President Eyring said, “Our natures must be changed to become as a child to gain the strength we must have to be safe in the times of moral peril.”

In the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin describes what that change to become like a child is and how it comes to us:

“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”

That is when holiness gives us the gift of happiness, when we feel the Savior’s love and approval, when we feel the power of the Holy Ghost.  Feelings of happiness are a promised gift because of our faithful service, being made more holy.  That holiness qualifies us for that happiness.

Yes, sometimes, it is still very difficult to feel happiness.  President Eyring explains in detail what to do.  I can only summarize, don’t doubt.  Learn from Job, and the Prophet Joseph Smith.  Repent.  Strengthen, and keep, your faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.  The promised blessings will surely come, guaranteed.  In the Book of Mormon, in Alma 36:3, it says:

“whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day.”

So, according to Heavenly Father’s Plan, I have presented to you a very important message, that evidently needed to be presented today.  Only through being more holy, and not seeking for pleasure, can we be truly guaranteed happiness.

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