Talk given by Michael Cox on July 10, 2022, in the Little Valley Ward, St George Utah Little Valley Stake
[Please note: When I speak I like to write out word for word what I am going to say, however I try hard not to actually read it, but reference it.
As a result the text below won’t exactly match the video. Also this can sometimes cause minor errors to popup in my talk.
This talk has not be reviewed or approved by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and
does not necessarily represent official church doctrine. Any faults are the faults of mine.]
Hello brother and sisters. A few weeks ago my oldest son Mikey and I were able to go on a week-long Church History tour to New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio Church historical sites. It was very inspiring to be able to visit some of the sites that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ come to the earth and instructed the prophet Joseph and others. One of the sites were I felt the spirit of the Lord the strongest was at the Kirtland Temple. After being able to go through part of this dedicated House of the Lord we sang “The Spirit of God” just as the Choir did at its dedication in 1836. Did you know that, outside of Utah, the Kirtland area was church headquarters for longer than anywhere else. Longer than Nauvoo, Missouri, New York, and Pennsylvania. During the time Kirtland was headquarters of the Church there is at least 33 documented people whom the Lord appeared in vision or spoke to! (see The Savior in Kirtland, page 4, by Karl Anderson). It was here in Kirtland that Elijah came and restored the sealing power, as promised in Malachi chapter 4. This promise was so important that the Lord Jesus quotes it to the Nephities at the Temple in Bountiful in 3 Nephi chapter 25 and quoted, with a little variation, by Moroni to Joseph Smith (see Joseph Smith History 1:38-39). Without Elijah restoring the sealing power we don’t have a need to Latter-day Temples. It was in this Temple that the Lord Jesus appeared and declared that He is our advocate with God the Father (see Doctrine & Covenants 110:4).
The Apostle John, in chapter 2 of his 1st Epistle uses a similar phrase:
“… if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1).
So, what is an advocate? An advocate is one who defends and pleads the cause of another, often times in a court. One day each of us will stand before the judgement seat of God. John wrote “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God… and the dead were judged… and they were judged… according to their works” (Revelation 20:12-13). Since all of us have sinned, we are not worthy to enter the kingdom of God for Moses 6:57 states that no unclean thing can dwell in the kingdom of God, but yet a few chapters earlier in Moses 1:39 the Lord declared that His work and His glory was to bring about the immortality and eternal life of man. While these verses are seemingly in conflict, between God’s work of bringing us home to Him and knowing that none of us can because we have sinned and have therefore become unclean, it is entirely and perfectly resolved by Jesus Christ!
As the Savior, in Gethsemane and on Golgotha, Jesus paid the price for all our sins. Completely paid. He did what we could not do, to completely pay for our sins. As our advocate when we stand before the judgment seat of God, Jesus will plead for us and may say, in effect, “Father, your children my siblings, made lots of mistakes and committed many sins. But ‘behold [my] sufferings and death… who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased… ‘ I have paid for their sins in full with my own blood. I asked them to repent and try harder to follow your commandments, which they tried to do. ‘Where, Father, spare [them] my [siblings because they] believed on my name, that [they] may come unto me and have everlasting life with Me in your kingdom.” (see Doctrine and Covenants 45:3-5) I believe that because of Jesus Christ’s intercession on our behalf, God will extend as much mercy as He can under the laws of Heaven. Jesus will, with perfection and love, do all He can to allow each of us to return home. The Psalmist wrote “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether” (Psalms 19:9) and that the Lord’s judgments are ”fairer than the children of men” (Psalms 45:2).
So Jesus is our advocate. But why? Why is Jesus willing to be our advocate? Why did Jesus “tremble because of pain, and… bleed [from] every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit” (Doctrine and Covenants 19:18) so that we don’t have to suffer for our sins?
One of the most often quoted scriptures in the Christian world, John 3:16, tells us why. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life”. God loves us. Jesus loves us. In fact, in John’s 1st Epistle, chapter 4 it tells us that “God is love” and later “We love him, because he first loved us”. The reason Jesus is our advocate is because He has a perfect love for us. He wants us to succeed in coming home and dwelling with Him and our Father.
As our advocate He has asks very little of us, for we have very little to give.
He has asked us to keep His commands, to love God, and to love everyone, no matter what they do or who they are.
What does this mean “God is love”? John repeats this saying multiple times in his 1st Epistles.
I believe when John says “God is love” John isn’t saying that love is God, rather he is saying that you can’t have God without love. It is part of His fundamental character and we should make one of our goals in this life to make love part of our fundamental character.
When He was asked what was the greatest command, Jesus said in Matthew 22:
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Matthew 22:37-39)
If we truly and completely loved each other, we are automatically keeping many, if not most, of the commandments of God.
So – we need to love all people, no matter what, for this is how God loves, because God is love.
During the General Conference [held in April 1981], Elder Jack H Goaslind, Jr. of the Seventy related a story of a mother who was hurt and upset by a decision made by her adult daughter. This decision made the mother not want to see or talk with her daughter. A wise friend of hers, however said
“What kind of a mother are you that you only love her when she does what you want her to do? That is selfish, self-centered, qualified love. It’s easy to love our children when they are good; but when they make mistakes, they need our love even more. We should love and care for them no matter what they do. It doesn’t mean we condone or approve of the errors, but we help, not condemn; love, not hate; forgive, not judge. We build them up rather than tear them down; we lead them, not desert them. We love when they are the most unlovable, and if you can’t or won’t do that, you are a poor mother.”
No matter the decisions we make or the things we do God loves us as does our brother Jesus Christ. We need to love those around us, no matter the decision they make, as the friend taught this mother in Elder Goaslind’s talk.
In fact, we need to become advocates for them! Instead of seeing people for their sins we should try to see them as God does, as children He loves, and plead for those around us to see them that way too!
Sisters and brothers, we are not defined by our sins! We are children of God. He loves us. That is how we are defined. As the great Latter-day Hymn goes “I am a child of God” and if we could fully comprehend that each and everyone we see is a beloved son or daughter of God, I believe many of the conflicts and strive in our homes, neighborhoods, and the world would begin to evaporate. Because “The worth of souls is great in the eyes of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 18:10)if we hate or put down any of God’s children, we are, in effect, hating and putting God down! When a harsh word causes heartache or pain for one of God’s children… Jesus took that heartache and pain upon Himself as part of the atonement. It has been said that if you decide that everyone you see is having some kind of crisis in their life… you will be right, at least 50% of the time. So, as President Gordon B. Hinckley was fond of saying let’s all “try a little harder to be a little better”.
To return to the 1st Epistle of John chapter 4:
“If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” (1 John 4:20-21)
Brother Graff invited me to speak today about an attribute of the Savior that has been on my mind. I have instead spoken on two – How Christ is Our Advocate and How God Is Love… yet really, these are one attribute.
Jesus Christ is our advocate because He loves us!
Jesus Christ loves us because he is our advocate!
Let us, I pray, follow His perfect example and love each other and advocate for others!
In the name of our loving elder brother, Jesus Christ,