“...and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
In the Saturday Afternoon session of the April 1971 LDS General Conference, S. Dilworth Young, President of the First Quorum of the Seventy, gave a talk entitled, “When Thou Art Converted.”
He began by speaking of the Lord’s words to Peter, and Peter’s response: “Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.” But we know what followed. Just as the Lord told Peter that “the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me” (Luke 22:32-34), Peter did deny his association with Christ when faced with accusations and confronted by his own fears.
What about ourselves? Like Peter, do we fear what might happen to us if we are to bravely declare our discipleship? Perhaps we don’t face execution, but instead censure by our associates, friends and family members. Family discord can be one of the most painful things to experience, and it is no small thing to stand up for our God, our Christ, and his prophets on the earth today.
Do we continue to declare our devotion to God even when it is so wholly unpopular in our society or in our family? Do we uphold all of his teachings?
“Mark records that Peter’s vehement declaration of devotion was echoed by the remainder of the apostles in these words: “Likewise also said they all.” (Mark 14:31) Yet when the moment came and a maid accused Peter of being a disciple, he denied the acquaintance. The remaining ten, likewise, despite their own declarations, did not do as they had declared they would do.”
When confronted with alternate teachings, societal pressures, family members whom we love and who have chosen a different path, what do we do? Are our actions inconsistent with our declarations? Do our loyal declarations, once made, become something secret or shameful--something that we wish to downplay when in the company of struggling sheep or non-believers?
“We see what it means to be converted in the inspired acts of Peter on the day of Pentecost, as compared to his wavering denials on the night of the arrest of the Lord. The man who stood forth on Pentecost was not the same man who had fearfully protested he “knew not the man.” The Paul who after his baptism and reception of the Holy Ghost boldly declared the truth to Agrippa was a completely changed man from the man who was going toward Damascus, seeking out Christians to destroy them.”
After the crucifixion of Christ and his glorious resurrection and appearance to his disciples, there was a “resurgence of joy and hope.” The men who had been with and constantly taught by Jesus for years, surely loved Him, but did not know what it meant to be converted until the Holy Ghost “visited them and touched their souls with living fire.”
So, have we been converted? Have our souls burned with knowledge, with truth, and with love for the living gospel? Have we turned to Him and actively sought this conversion?
What is our responsibility once we have received this baptism by fire? It is to go and strengthen our brethren. Father, Mother and children all have the responsibility to share the gospel with those who may be persuaded to listen. As we seek out those to whom we preach, we will in turn be strengthened.
“Conversion brings strength, determination to the defend the work of the Lord on earth and to expand it...Peter believed and denied. Peter was converted and became a rock against which the power of Satan was impotent. He became determined, fearless, pushed by an inward power strong and true.”
The gospel is to save the souls of men. It is His great gift to us, and one that we should be eager and proud to share with the world.
Please view these other posts on topics from the Saturday afternoon session of the April, 1971 General Conference:
Good Timber Does Not Grow at Ease by Nathaniel GivensBeing Slow to Anger by Daniel Ortner
Warnings from Warnings of the Past by John Hancock
58 Years of General Conference, What Can We Learn? Messages on Morality, Religious freedom and the Sabbath from 1971 by Michael Worley
"Satan" - Moral Agency and the Problem of Evil by Ralph Hancock
Creativity and Celebrating Success vs. The D.F.T. File by Michelle Linford