1 Peter 4:3 we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings...
Joseph F. Smith
Even in the days of Paul it was needful to caution the Saints to be moderate. In his letter to the Philippians, the apostle particularly admonishes the brethren in these words: "Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand." (Philip. 4:5) While this, perhaps, is the only instance in the Bible where the word occurs, the idea of wisdom and moderation being essential in all things, is freely expressed in many other exhortations to the people. Thus Peter, the apostle, calling attention to the example of Christ, exhorts them to cease from sin, which is named as lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and other lusts of men. And again, Paul to the Ephesians instructs the saints "to walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the spirit." (Eph. 5:15-19) It was Jesus himself who denounced the Pharisees because within they were full of "extortion and excess."...
We may make evil of all amusements, but the Saints should not be unwise, but rather understand what the will of the Lord is, and practice moderation in all things. They should avoid excesses and cease from sin, putting far from them "the lusts of men;" and in their amusements and pastimes adopt a course that looks to the spirit as well as the letter, the intention and not the act alone, the whole and not the part, which is the meaning of moderation. In this way their conduct will be reasonable and becoming, and they shall find no trouble in understanding the will of the Lord.
Let me exhort the young people particularly, and the Saints generally, to weigh well the value of moderation in all their actions and amusements. Remember, too, that excessive feasting is not good; neither is excessive labor, but idleness and waste of precious time is infinitely worse. "Let your moderation be known to all men." (Editor's Table., Improvement Era, 1903, Vol. Vi. September, 1903. No. 11.)
1 Peter 4:4 they think it strange that ye run not with them
"You need to be true to yourself, true to the standards of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If your friends only want you around when you'll go along with the bad choices they are making, then they really aren't friends. You must stand up for yourself. You can be friendly and fun and loyal without letting down your standards. Keep doing what you know is right, and your friends will separate into two groups-those who like you for what you really are, and those who really don't care if they hurt you or not. The second group isn't worth having for friends." ("Q&A: Questions and Answers," New Era, June 1993, 17)
Neal A. Maxwell
There can be times, Jesus observed, when the disciple will find that "men shall separate you from their company," (Lu 6:22) and Peter also knew the penetrating power of peers. Later in his life, Peter observed that those who pull themselves away from the world will find that some of their former comrades will turn on them and will "think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you." (1 Peter 4:4.) (A Time to Choose [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1972], 70.)
Richard G. Scott
When you are alone with your friends, talk about doing good and being good. You will be able to be inspired by the Lord to know what to do. The feelings you will have, the promptings that will come to you, will powerfully help you to want to do good. Those who do wrong and scheme to get away with it will never know such feelings. If you don't feel comfortable with the thought of discussing good things with your friends, they are not your friends. Change them. ("Trust in the Lord," Ensign, May 1989, 37)
1 Peter 4:6 for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead
"The good news restored in this dispensation through the Prophet Joseph Smith is that the plan of salvation makes it possible for every person to be taught the gospel-if not in this life, then in the spirit world. Not only did Jesus Christ organize his Church and choose missionaries to teach the gospel on earth, but he also spent three days in the spirit world, where the spirits of those who have died await the resurrection. There he organized his work so that all the dead will be able to hear the gospel fully." (George Lyman, "I Have a Question," Ensign, June 1988, 58)
George Q. Cannon
My mind has reverted to a conversation which I had a few days ago with a minister of the Dutch Reform Church, who was passing through this city, and who was introduced to me, and had a good many inquires to make respecting our doctrines. When I told him how God had revealed Himself in these last days, how He had restored the Everlasting Priesthood, the ordinances of life and salvation, the Gospel in its original purity and power, accompanied with the Holy Ghost and its gifts, and had organized the Church as in ancient days, and related to him what God had said concerning all the churches in Christendom, he had the question to ask, which is so frequently asked of all our Elders when they travel and declare the same message, "Why has God left the Christian world for so long a time without these blessings and these powers and these gifts that you now claim as belonging to your Church and having been restored from heaven? And what has become of those Christians whom you say died in ignorance of the fullness of the Gospel of salvation?"
These are very pertinent questions. They are questions frequently asked of all our Elders. They are questions which suggest themselves to the minds of every thinking man when he is told that God has restored the truth in its original purity, with the power and authority of the Priesthood which have been so long withdrawn. Our ancestors we may have known, at least some of them; we may have known the morality of their lives, the purity of their intentions, the goodness of their motives, their exemplary conduct; and if we do not understand the principles of the Gospel when we are told the message that the Elders have to bear, the inquiry naturally arises, "Is it possible that my grandfather, my grandmother, my uncle, or perchance my father and my mother, have not gone to heaven, that they are not in the presence of God? Why, better people I never knew, and I have always thought," says the inquirer, "that they really had gone to heaven, and now you tell me that unless I am baptized I shall be damned, and yet they are dead and have not been baptized."
I expect many feel as the heathen king once felt. He was a king of the Franks, one of the old races that invaded what is now called France. He had surrendered his old convictions sufficiently to consent to receive the rite of baptism. A Catholic Bishop from Rome was to sprinkle him. But before submitting to be sprinkled the thought suggested itself to the king to ask the question what had become of his ancestors. The Bishop, more ready than politic, said, "They have gone to hell." "Then," said the king, "I will go to hell with them; I shall not be separated from my ancestors," and he refused to receive the rite of baptism.
Now, I expect that there are many people in the world who, in the absence, or for the want of knowledge concerning the plan of salvation would almost feel the same when told that if they did not obey the Gospel, they would be damned. But when people are enlightened concerning the plan of Jehovah, the Gospel of the Son of God, they can easily reconcile justice and mercy as being attributes of the Great Being whom we worship. As I remarked to this gentleman, "I might easily answer your question by propounding another question to you. You are a Christian minister; you preach what you believe to be the Gospel; what has become of the millions of heathen who died in ignorance of that Gospel which you profess to obey and accept as the plan of salvation-the millions of heathen who never heard the name of Jesus Christ, the only name given under heaven whereby man can be saved-what has become of them?"
"Oh," said he, "but they were not Christians."
Said I, "Do you think that God makes a distinction between the souls or the spirits of men? Is there one class of spirits for whom He has a greater respect than He has for others! Is a Christian soul more valuable, or more precious, in the sight of our Great Creator, than the soul of a heathen? I do not believe it myself. I have no such idea."
But he could see a wide distinction between those who were Christians and those who were not.
Nevertheless the difficulty still remains, and it will ever remain to those who do not comprehend the plan of salvation as revealed by the Lord Jesus Christ. We must remember that God's work is not confined to this life; that God's plan of salvation extends throughout eternity; that according to our belief it began to operate in eternity, if it ever began at all-for it never really in truth began, it always operated, operated from eternity and will operate to eternity, for all the children of men, for every human soul. The plan of salvation devised by our Father and God, is intended to save every human being that will be saved; to reach them all, unless, during this probation, they commit what is termed the unpardonable sin, the sin against the Holy Ghost, and become sons of perdition, in which event salvation ceases (so far as they are concerned) to operate; they put themselves outside of the pale of salvation. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 26: 79-80.)
Spencer W. Kimball
[The Savior] provided the opportunity whereby they might repent of their sins, change their attitudes and their lives, and live according to God in the spirit. We do not know how many millions of spirits are involved. We know that many have passed away in wars, pestilence, and in various accidents. We know that the spirit world is filled with the spirits of men who are waiting for you and me to get busy-waiting as the signers of the Declaration of Independence waited. "Why," they asked President Wilford Woodruff, "why do you keep us waiting?" That question continues to be asked of us also, by our own people.
We wonder about our progenitors-grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents, etc. What do they think of you and me? We are their offspring. We have the responsibility to do their temple work, and the beautiful temples of the Lord stand day after day, yet we do not fill them always. We have a grave responsibility that we cannot avoid, and may stand in jeopardy if we fail to do this important work.
I hope our Saints will understand the glorious reality of it all: that as the work in our temples is done in this world, it helps to prepare us for another and better world. ("The Things of Eternity-Stand We in Jeopardy?" Ensign, Jan. 1977, 5)
1 Peter 4:8 charity shall cover the multitude of sins
If there is one idea which is repulsive to Latter-Day Saint theology, it is the idea of hypocrisy. We expect cursings to come upon those who "undertake to cover [their] sins, or to gratify [their] pride." (D&C 121:37) We do not believe that man can be saved in his sins (Alma 11:34-37), but that he must be saved from his sins. Therefore, the Joseph Smith Translation is much more palatable, for it says charity will prevent sin rather than cover it up.
However, there may be other meanings to Peter's eloquently chosen words. Is it possible that charity could indeed cover a multitude of sins? Can charity cover a multitude of our neighbor's sins? Does a heart full of love tend to overlook the faults of others? Consider the counsel of the Prophet Joseph:
"It is a time-honored adage that love begets love. Let us pour forth love-show forth our kindness unto all mankind, and the Lord will reward us with everlasting increase... I do not dwell upon your faults, and you shall not upon mine. Charity, which is love, covereth a multitude of sins, and I have often covered up all the faults among you; but the prettiest thing is to have no faults at all. (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 5: 517.)
"If you will not accuse me, I will not accuse you. If you will throw a cloak of charity over my sins, I will over yours-for charity covereth a multitude of sins." (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4: 445 - 446.)
Brigham Young made a brilliant statement about this verse, declaring, "In its wording this is not literally correct, for charity does not cover up, hide, or justify actual iniquity. It covers up a multitude of improprieties and weaknesses that some are inclined to suppose to be sins." (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 7: 134.)
On another occasion, the Prophet clarified how charity both prevents and covers sins.
"Suppose that Jesus Christ and holy angels should object to us on frivolous things, what would become of us? We must be merciful to one another and overlook small things. . . . Nothing is so much calculated to lead people to forsake sin as to take them by the hand, and watch over them with tenderness. When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what power it has over my mind, while the opposite course has a tendency to harrow up all the harsh feelings and depress the human mind." (TPJS 240)
"Thus charity enables us to cover each other's sins, that is, to forgive them and be unified in spite of each other's weaknesses and foibles. Charity also prevents sins in that it leads us to forsake sin. (Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate, Jr., eds., Fourth Nephi through Moroni: From Zion to Destruction [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1995], 268-269.)
The nearer we get to our heavenly Father, the more we are disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls; we feel that we want to take them upon our shoulders, and cast their sins behind our backs... if you would have god have mercy on you, have mercy on one another. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 241)
1 Peter 4:11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God
Bruce R. McConkie defines the "oracles of God" as the church leadership, "Members of the First Presidency, Council of the Twelve, and the Patriarch to the Church-because they are appointed and sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators to he church-are known as the living oracles." He then adds that the term may also be applied to us, "All those who preach the gospel have the obligation to do it by revelation so that they themselves, as they teach, are acting as oracles to their hearers, 'If any man speak,' Peter said, 'Let him speak as the oracles of God.' (1 Pet. 4:11)" (Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966], 547.)
Those who receive the gift of the Holy Ghost are entitled to "speak with the tongue of angels" (2 Ne. 31:13). Orson Hyde was told that priesthood leaders who speak by the Holy Ghost are also acting as oracles, "whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation" (D&C 68:4). The least member of the Church may speak by the spirit of prophecy. We should strive for this spirit. The scriptures teach that it is a natural consequence of having "the testimony of Jesus" (Rev. 19:10). That testimony and that spirit should enable all of us to speak as oracles of God. According to the scriptures, the number of members speaking "as the oracles of God" will continue to increase until "all shall know [Him]... even from the least unto the greatest," (D&C 84:98) for "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea." (Isa. 11:9)
1 Peter 4:12 think it not strange concerning the fiery trial... as though some strange thing happened
"I watched the flames leap out of the shattered windows of our home and dance across our melting roof. Within a few hours, our home had become a smoldering pile of debris. Forty years of personal treasures, mementos, family history records, and children's pictures were lost. Gone were the family kitten, the baby quilt hand-sewn by my great-grandmother, our journals, and all the little things that are forgotten until they are needed. Now we were without a place to sleep or even a place to sit. We were cold and hungry. All of our winter coats, boots, gloves, and hats had been burned. Our toothbrushes, hairbrushes, eyeglasses, clothes, and everything else we take for granted were lost.
"At the time of the fire, one of our daughters was in the hospital. My husband, temporarily out of work, was supporting our family by making hand-thrown pottery in our home. He lost his pottery shop and inventory-and therefore his income-in the fire.
"Just when I felt things could not get worse, I had to work endless hours to complete the paperwork involved in putting our lives back in order. I spent hours on the phone with insurance agents, the fire marshal, city inspectors, doctors, hospital billing clerks, credit managers, and tax adjusters. We had many major decisions to make immediately.
"Continual daily prayer, priesthood blessings, and the scriptures became my source of strength. The real turning point came when I read 1 Pet. 4:12-13:
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
"This scripture seemed to go straight to my soul. I felt as if Peter were speaking to me, calling me 'beloved.' I knew my Father in Heaven loved me and cared about me. And I knew that I could find purpose in my life from the fire. For the first time, I began to understand the law of consecration. Things upon this earth are given for our convenience. It is the love of others, the love of Christ, and the Savior's suffering for us that bring us real peace. Because of this scripture in 1 Peter, my crisis seemed to diminish. If Christ bled from every pore for my salvation, how could I complain about my inconveniences in life? How could I pray to my Father in Heaven with questions of 'why me' after he willingly gave his son to face unspeakable pain and humiliation? Our house fire awakened me to the real necessities of life and to the meaning of consecration. The scriptures awakened me to the real purpose of life and the 'exceeding joy' that awaits us all. (Cheryl Attaway, "Line upon Line: The Fiery Trial," Ensign, Sept. 1992, 21)
Neal A. Maxwell
God has repeatedly said He would structure mortality to be a proving and testing experience. (See Abr. 3:25; Mosiah 23:21.) Brothers and sisters, he has certainly kept His promise. He has carried out His divine intent, hasn't He? Thus, even our fiery trials, said Peter, should not be thought of as "some strange thing." (1 Pet. 4:12.) Hence, enduring is vital, and those who so last will be first spiritually!
By taking Jesus' yoke upon us and enduring, we learn most deeply of Him and especially how to be like Him. (See Matt. 11:29.) Even though our experiences are micro compared to His, the process is the same.
There are so many things to be endured: illness, injustice, insensitivity, poverty, aloneness, unresponsiveness, being misrepresented and misunderstood, and, sometimes, even enemies. Paul reminds us that meek and lowly Jesus, though the Lord of the universe, "endured contradiction of sinners against himself." (Heb. 12:3.) Smaller variations of these contradictions or hostilities will be felt by His disciples.
We tend to think only in terms of our endurance, but it is God's patient long-suffering which provides us with our chances to improve, affording us urgently needed developmental space or time. (See Alma 42:4-5.)
Paul observed, "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness." (Heb. 12:11.) Such "peaceable fruit" comes only in the appointed season thereof, after the blossoms and the buds.
Otherwise, if certain mortal experiences were cut short, it would be like pulling up a flower to see how the roots are doing. Put another way, too many anxious openings of the oven door, and the cake falls instead of rising. Moreover, enforced change usually does not last, while productive enduring can ingrain permanent change. (See Alma 32:13-16.) ("Endure It Well," Ensign, May 1990, 33)
1 Peter 4:13 rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings
All the harm we have ever done the world is to tell them the truth as God has revealed it, and seek to make them happy. For doing this we have been persecuted, and expect it.
Peter in speaking of this subject, said-"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you; but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." (1 Peter 4:12, 13.) He might just as well have told them that it would be so, so long as there was a God in heaven and a Devil in hell; and it is absolutely necessary that it should be so. Concerning these matters, I do not have any trouble. What if we have to suffer affliction! We came here for that purpose: we came in order that we might be purified; and this is intended to give us a knowledge of God, of our weakness and strength, of our corruptions, and to [reveal] the evils that are within us,-to give us a knowledge of eternal life, that we may be enabled to overcome all evil and be exalted to thrones of power and glory... It is very natural for a man to say, Why am I placed in such position? Why have I to grapple with these things-with these afflictions?
So far as I am personally concerned, I am here as a candidate for eternity-for heaven and for happiness. I want to secure by my acts a peace in another world that will impart that happiness and bliss for which I am seeking. If I am driven with my brethren as I have been, I ask myself what is the meaning of it. If I have to pass through afflictions, I wish them to be sanctified to my good. If I had nothing to do, and you had nothing to do, but to sit and sing ourselves away to everlasting bliss, as the Methodists and others do, it would be very easy. Why, the Lord could easily remove these afflictions; but he has not a mind to do it. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 7: 197, Nov. 13, 1859.)
1 Peter 4:17 judgment must begin at the house of God
"As I read the scriptures, I often reflect upon the chilling implications of what the Apostle Peter meant when he said, 'Judgment must begin at the house of God.' (1 Pet. 4:17.) In our own day, the Lord has said, 'Vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth. ... And upon my house shall it begin.' (D&C 112:24-25; italics added.) What kind of judgments does the Lord have in mind? Why do the scriptures say that the cleansing will begin with the Church, rather than with the wicked?
"The scriptures reveal that the Lord will save his greatest wrath and condemnation for those who outwardly appear religious but who are actually full of evil within. Speaking to Jewish religious leaders, the Savior said, 'Cleanse first that which is within the cup. ... Ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.' (Matt. 23:26-27.) Similarly, the great Book of Mormon leader, Moroni, wrote, 'God has said that the inward vessel shall be cleansed first.' (Alma 60:23.)
"President Ezra Taft Benson left little room for doubt that these warnings apply to us. He declared, 'All is not well in Zion. ... We must cleanse the inner vessel, beginning first with ourselves, then with our families, and finally with the Church.' (Ensign, May 1986, p. 4.)
"There are two methods of cleansing the inner vessel. The first is repentance. But if we do not repent, the Lord will invoke the second method of cleansing-from without. One way or another, the vessel will be cleansed.
"President Benson has made it clear that cleansing the inner vessel requires repentance: 'My beloved brothers and sisters, as we cleanse the inner vessel, there will have to be changes made in our own personal lives, in our families, and in the Church. The proud do not change to improve, but defend their position by rationalizing. Repentance means change, and it takes a humble person to change. But we can do it.' (Ensign, May 1986, p. 7.)" (Larry Tippetts, "Cleansing the Inner Vessel: The Process of Repentance," Ensign, Oct. 1992, 21)
J. Golden Kimball
In 1856--that is seventy-four years ago-a small group of friends convened in the house of the Lord, called the Endowment House. The conversation was about the isolated condition of the Latter-day Saints.
"Yes," said Brother Heber [C. Kimball], "we think we are secure here in the chambers of these everlasting hills, where we can close the doors of the canyons against mobs and persecutors, the wicked and the vile, who have always beset us with violence and robbery, but I want to say to you, my brethren, the time is coming when we will be mixed up in these now peaceful valleys to that extent that it will be difficult to tell the face of a Saint from the face of an enemy against the people of God."
"Then is the time to look out for the great sieve, for there will be a great sifting time, and many will fall.
"For I say unto you there is a test, a Test, a TEST coming."
He further said:
"This Church has before it many close places through which it will have to pass before the work of God is crowned with glory.
"The difficulties will be of such a character that the man or woman who does not possess a personal knowledge or witness will fall. If you have not got this testimony, you must live right and call upon the Lord, and cease not until you obtain it.
"Remember these sayings: The time will come when no man or woman will be able to endure on borrowed light. Each will have to be guided by the light within themselves. If you do not have the knowledge that Jesus is the Christ, how can you stand?"
(Conference Report, October 1930, Second Day-Morning Meeting, 58)
Ezra Taft Benson
There is a real sifting going on in the Church, and it is going to become more pronounced with the passing of time. It will sift the wheat from the tares, because we face some difficult days, the like of which we have never experienced in our lives. And those days are going to require faith and testimony and family unity, the like of which we have never had. (Watch and Be Ready: Preparing for the Second Coming of the Lord [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 18 - 19.)
1 Peter 4:18 if the righteous scarcely be saved
How will the saints fare when the destructions of the Almighty are poured out upon the wicked? "I have sworn in my wrath, and decreed wars upon the face of the earth, and the wicked shall slay the wicked, and fear shall come upon every man; And the saints also shall hardly escape; nevertheless, I, the Lord am with them, and will come down in heaven from the presence of my Father and consume the wicked with unquenchable fire." (D&C 63:33-34) "Nevertheless, Zion shall escape if she observe to do all things whatsoever I have commanded her." (D&C 97:25)
I explained concerning the coming of the Son of Man; also that it is a false idea that the Saints will escape all the judgments, whilst the wicked suffer; for all flesh is subject to suffer, and "the righteous shall hardly escape;" still many of the Saints will escape, for the just shall live by faith; yet many of the righteous shall fall a prey to disease, to pestilence, etc., by reason of the weakness of the flesh, and yet be saved in the Kingdom of God. So that it is an unhallowed principle to say that such and such have transgressed because they have been preyed upon by disease or death, for all flesh is subject to death; and the Savior has said, "Judge not, lest ye be judged." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected and arranged by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], 162.)
1 Peter 4:19 let them that suffer... commit the keeping of their souls to him
Our only confidence can be in God; our only wisdom obtained from Him: and He alone must be our protector and safeguard, spiritually and temporally, or we fall. (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 vols. 5:65)
We depend upon God; and in all our works and labors, and in all the success that attends us in our labors, we feel that it has been God who has wrought it. (The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, edited by Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1984], 14.)