Two apostles, Elder Russell M. Nelson and Elder M. Russell Ballard, counseled BYU–Idaho students last week to strengthen their testimonies of the gospel for tough times ahead amid their quest for secular education.
“To build your eternal destiny, you cannot — you must not — limit your lessons only to those lessons that are warped by the world to exclude the truth from God,” said Elder Nelson in last Tuesday’s devotional.
Elder Nelson encouraged students to look for the “bright light of the gospel” while pursuing education in a chaotic world.
“Honor — yes, even demand — the highest expectations from yourself. Pursue your education as a priority of the highest order,” Elder Nelson said. “While you search for education and wisdom … choose carefully what you will learn, whose teachings you will follow and whose purposes you will serve.”
Elder Ballard, accompanied by Elder Robert E. Chambers of the Seventy and Elder Glenn L. Pace of the Seventy, addressed BYU–I students last Saturday in a university fireside held in the John W. Hart Building, just three days after Elder Nelson’s devotional.
“We’re in the last days,” Elder Ballard said. “We have to be so solidly anchored in our testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ so that whatever comes around the corner, we will not waffle and question our beliefs.”
Elder Ballard said that secularism is advancing in the world at an accelerated rate and that the signs of the times are becoming more visible.
“[Both the devotional and the fireside] show the emphasis [Church leaders] are putting on us as young people in the Church and about what I need to know to spread the gospel forward,” said Kyle Slaughter, a sophomore studying political science. “They really want us to be prepared. Obviously times are getting worse or at least more ripe for the Second Coming.”
Prior to Elder Ballard’s remarks, Elder Chambers encouraged students to come to know the gospel for themselves to prepare for times of trial.
“Complete conversion will come after trial and testing,” Elder Chambers said.
Elder Chambers told students to find their own “sacred grove” where they can kneel before their Heavenly Father and come to know for themselves.
Elder Pace enforced Chamber’s remarks by challenging students to prepare for life and the persecution that comes with the territory of being a Latter-day Saint.
“Our doctrines ring intellectually true,” Elder Pace said. “It is common sense. The beliefs we hold sacred are challenged on every front. Increase your knowledge of the gospel and increase your testimony because it’s going to be challenged.”
Elder Pace told students to stand tall in defending beliefs without getting offensive and to unite with others who share common beliefs.
“[The fireside] was fantastic. All three individuals spoke really frankly and clearly. All the talks were pertinent to all of us. They didn’t beat around the bush,” said Nate Slaughter, a senior studying recreation management.
Elder Ballard described the world as “spiritually ignorant” and told students to step in defending the doctrines of the gospel.
“We have a tremendous responsibility,” Elder Ballard said. “We have to be more aggressive in sharing the gospel with the world. Study and treasure in your hearts the principles of the gospel. Embrace them, live them and defend them, even when it’s hard. Jesus is the Christ. We are on His errands; He lives, we know that. [His errand] is urgent, more urgent than we ever felt before.”