Originally delivered December 2009

Okay. So Brian, in a sort of odd way, asked me to give a talk, or to speak on the subject of Christmas in conjunction with liberty and agency and freedom. And my first thought was, if I do this, am I going to have to give a talk on Halloween and Liberty, you know, am I going to have to give it, you know, the 4th of July would be easy, but the rest of the holidays are going to get kind of tough. But, you know, I’m thinking, the birth of Christ is what we’re celebrating with Christmas, right? I mean, that’s what Christmas is, the birth of Christ. And the thought that kept coming to my mind was “to this end was I born.”1

And does anybody know what those words were in reply to? His comment “to this end was I born” had referenced to his impending crucifixion and his death, and his taking upon him the sins of the world and atoning for them. Does anybody remember the question that was asked to him that prompted it? What was the, was it, “art thou a king?” Yea. “Art thou a king?” Right. Um. John 18:37. “Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king, then?” Now think about who’s asking this question. For one, Pilate is a governor, very, very high end governor. But he’s not a king. I mean, a governor in Rome might be considered the equal of a king in many places, but he’s not a king. He’s a governor. “Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” That’s John 18:37.

“To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world.” So we’re Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ. And we know that Christ came to atone for the sins of man. And here he says that the purpose of his birth was to be a king. So what is he king of? He answers himself. Yeah. What is it? Those who hear his words. So what is? Who is that? His sheep. I’m going to back up one verse, to 36. “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world.”

Okay, let’s go back a little bit before the birth. Let’s go back right before the birth. Of all the people that you would think, deserving of angelic protection from the oppression of governments; Mary, a pregnant Mary, she’s probably 16 years old. She’s in that last stage of pregnancy, you know where you can’t walk and you hold your back the whole time you’re doing it. The last couple of weeks, she’s been riding an ass. Why? She just had to. Yeah, she had to. She had to go to town and pay taxes. She was being fully oppressed with taxes. Miserable conditions. Carrying the Savior of the world, riding. I mean, I don’t want to ride an ass anytime they’re not comfortable, I can’t imagine doing it nine months pregnant. This was the mother of the Savior of the world. The mother of the Creator of the world. The mother of the Lamb of God. Under incredibly distressful situation because she’s being taxed. And for what cause did our King come in to the world? To establish his kingdom? But his kingdom isn’t of the world. How do we balance that where, you know, Brian said, talk about freedom, and agency and liberty in conjunction with the birth of the Savior.

Think about those things. Where’s the freedom in what I’m talking about? Where’s the liberty in what I’m talking about? Where’s the agency? Go back up again. “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight.” He’s about to be executed, and it’s not news to him. He knows what’s coming. If, I mean, he is the, THE rightful king of this world by every standard possible. He’s the creator of this world. He is beginning to establish the kingdom that he will reign in not many years hence, when he comes back. He is laying its foundation and he is saying, “if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews” What’s he saying? What’s he saying? I think it’s giving, it sounds like he’s giving them agency. I can see there that he lets people choose which kingdom they’re going to be a part of. And in this case, people have chosen the opposite kingdom, the kingdom that wants to crucify and take his life.

We definitely have a choice as to what kingdom we’re going to be a part of. Was, at any point in this was Christ not free? He made the choice long before he was in that position. Yeah. Didn’t he, didn’t he? I mean, did they, did they rob him of any of his agency? He could have changed that agency. He could have changed everybody else’s. Yeah, right. He was the, He is the Lord Jehovah. He could have called legions of angels down to rescue him from, from the cross. And he says, this is he says when he would have done it, he would have had his servants fight his servants, including the entire hosts of heaven, not just us. We would have been hosts back then. Could’ve been. We would have been. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be where we are today if we hadn’t stood on his side. On the other side.

Well, I think it goes back to President Hinckley and some of the words, not too long ago that by some of the brethren that, you know, the battle, that we had in heaven is raging here on earth. And many don’t see it. They don’t they don’t recognize it or, they don’t understand it here in the church. And I think that in this case, he was, if you think about it, Satan wanted to take some everyone else’s freedom of choice. So I think in this case, the Lord is saying, look, my kingdom is not of this world, but you do have a choice here. I could call my servants and they would fight, but that’s not what, not what he would do, because he allows all to, to choose. Obviously he knew what his role was going to be. He knew why he had to, to go through with it. And I think he knew that those men would not understand. So he didn’t take the time really to explain that to him. But definitely it is about choice. There’s no question that it’s about choice.

And by asserting his kingdom on the earth, he maintains the telestial balance between the two kingdoms so that we can always have the freedom of choice between them. If he were to allow Lucifer to have his way, there would be no choice. There would be no freedom. And if he were to bring his kingdom in all of its glory at that moment and vanquish Lucifer prematurely.

Okay, let’s, who brings his kingdom? Because that’s really critical with what you just said right there, who, without affecting agency, who brings his kingdom? And makes it part of this world? Has to be the people. It has to be his followers. If he’s going to become, if he’s going to respect our agency, who has to do it? Didn’t you say the Doctrine and Covenants say? I think Joseph Smith said, they could have brought Zion at that time, had they been righteous. That statement applies to every single moment of time. Absolutely.

Whenever a people decides to be not of the world. Then they can. And when they decide to not be of the world. Isn’t that joining the kingdom that’s not of this world? “My kingdom is not of this world.” A lot of times when I give lectures and talks, I try to answer questions. Today I’m trying to raise more than I answer, I want you to think about this. There’s more freedom standing in the chains of Noah’s court; living in the kingdom, then there is sitting on the throne of Noah’s court. There’s more agency. There’s more liberty.

How many people here hold the priesthood? What is the priesthood? Authority to act in the name of God. Authority to act in the name of God. It’s a sacred trust. Authority to act in the name of Christ. Well, my dad taught me was this to do what Christ would do if he was here to do it? Yeah. That’s how you get the power, to act in the name of Christ. The authority is like, when you use the power of the priesthood, most people will say, or a lot of people will say they give blessings by the power of the Melchizedek Priesthood. It’s not by the power of the Melchizedek priesthood, by the authority of the Melchizedek priesthood, that you give a blessing. That’s very correct.

When you are given like, uh, Nephi, when you are given the power to seal, to move mountains to everything, it’s because you are trusted completely to do. That you would never do anything that Christ wouldn’t do, so it’s given fully to you. That’s when Nephi was translated. The authority to act in the name of Jesus Christ. Okay. The kingdom that’s not of this world. And the authority to act in the name of the Creator and Savior of this world. So a lot of times we struggle against principalities and powers and thrones and dominions, and we try to fight against the things that aren’t affecting our freedom.

You have more authority. Every person in this room that has the priesthood, has more authority than does every king and emperor and president on this earth combined. In the tiniest sense of what you have, you have the authority to act in the Melchizedek Priesthood in the name of Jesus Christ, to promote the kingdom. Between all of us. All of us. Everyone in this room has been set free. If they’ve accepted the covenant of baptism, they’ve been set free from the thralldom of sin. And in that sense, they also have more freedom and liberty than the powerful people in the world who haven’t received that. Yeah. Now let’s go back to Mary. What was Mary doing right before Christ was born? What was Christ doing right before, when he was answering these questions? Where was he? What was Mary doing? What do we experience? Do we experience oppressive taxes that are grievous to be borne? What did Mary do in response? To render unto Caesar that which was Caesar’s. Well, yeah.

And what did the Savior do? And if he said, come, follow me. And what he wants is his Kingdom built. What should we be doing? Are we servants? I mean, because I am. If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight. Maybe we should reword that. When my kingdom is of this world, we’ll fight, you know? Maybe that’s the way we could reword it. That’s kind of like, Joseph Smith said in The Teachings of Joseph Smith the part about not always being wise to those who do evil. Did some things just like Christ had their things patiently. So we also have to do the same until Jacob comes of age.

See, I would say. That what Christ did wasn’t peaceable in the normal sense, I’d say that he fought the war tooth and nail. In fact, I’d say he won the war tooth and nail. He just did it with some unconventional weapons. And just as the father, just as he created the world in the spirit before he created it in material reality. He also won the war in the spirit first before bringing his kingdom in literal and literal physical sense. So if we want to fight the war, don’t we have to establish the kingdom? I mean, isn’t that. Isn’t that where we go? Isn’t that how we fight? Isn’t that how are we being directed by the prophet? To build the kingdom. We have to understand what the kingdom is.

Yeah. If we’re going to build it, I imagine we’d better. We have to understand the principles of agency and freedom. In order to build it, we can’t be supporting all the worldly evils. I think that, some people think that by doing nothing that Christ will come faster because everything is so wicked. I’m definitely not an advocate of doing nothing. Definitely not. And I’m definitely not a pacifist, but, I would say that if we’re servants, we should follow our commander, that we should follow our King.

And our king has an earthly governor. He’s appointed one. He’s appointed an earthly captain who will, to be, to lead us. And we receive counsel twice a year and throughout the year from that, captain. So how do we know what strategy and tactics to use in the war? Is it, if we’re servants? Do we just, do we serve however we think is best, or should we find out what we’re supposed to be doing? What does our king want us to be doing? I think that calling will be different for every individual to some respect. I think massively. I mean, you just think of the people that we know, you know, I mean there’s a, yeah, I would agree with that, fully. But we all need to, to seek that counsel to know what we are. I mean, we all won’t be called to be in the First Presidency or as apostles or in women’s organizations. But we each have a calling and a responsibility to serve and to represent. In our own place, in our own time.

I really want to just open this up for discussion at this point. Just really. I think I’ve posed the questions that I wanted to pose. I hope I got you thinking. I know the kingdom’s coming. It’s what I recommend you fight for. And it’s coming soon. And actually, you could consider this the first one on strategy and tactics if you wanted to. You know, that verse is interesting when you talk about fight. I think that there’s a lot of ways to fight. Um, Maybe you were right in terms of that, He used a very unconventional tactic that they weren’t thinking about. Um, He didn’t do he didn’t do nothing. No, not by any means. I think a lot of people see it that way. He had his personal way of doing things. I think it could be misconstrued. And. And maybe I’m wrong. I think that some might say that they misconstrue it and say, well, you’re just passively submitting. Um, And I don’t think that’s what the Lord was teaching there at all. Um, And when people say, well, then you’re not going to fight, does that mean physical? Does that mean spiritual? Well, it could be both. Um, You know, and if we’re going to liken the Lord’s kingdom and Christmas time and also the liberty that we enjoy come through the gospel, I mean, we know that the Constitution is a sacred banner that he raised those men up in order to provide the ability and opportunity for earthly men, um, to provide haven for the gospel of Jesus Christ to be restored. Um, And so it’s all a design, you know, a plan. And it was done by design.

You know, there’s a lot of, um, individuals who say, well I’m not going to do anything, because I want to. I want it to hurry up. That’s a really good approach, right? Because you get hurt in the process. I think one aspect of the strategy that I’ve taken, and I’m sure others have thought about this too, is to be vocal, to be heard. And I think the Lord is going to, the Lord is going to help, I know he’ll hold us accountable for not standing up for the right. And that means that anywhere in the world doesn’t have to be just even here in the United States, but specifically in the United States as we go through this, this process. The members of the church do not have to be counted. And we’re going to have to be those who want that kingdom to be here. We’re going to have to be bold. At least that’s my opinion. And I plan on being more vocal. Because we have to fight for it in that, in that sense. Okay. We do. We do have to. We do have to fight for it. And the only way to do that is to be heard and to say this is wrong and to call people out on it. I mean, the Lord did tell. Tell him he called him out on it. Yeah, I am the king. Yeah, right. And there wasn’t anything they could do about it except put him to death. And that’s what their plan was in the beginning anyway. So. And what would have if he had said, if he had done something else, would they have honored that and let him go? No, he did that as well. So in terms of my my feeling is that we need to be vocal, what we need to take righteous principles and, and call those individuals out. Say this is not right. That’s one of the first steps. I think a lot of people are worried. I was talking to Julie, and when I send things out on Twitter or other things and calling people out on this stuff, it’s amazing the apathy of people. They don’t want to say anything. They don’t want people to feel. They don’t want to be embarrassed or feel uncomfortable or wow, you know, they’re going to think I’m weird. They just don’t say anything. And it’s sad. But if I want to retain my liberty, if I want to retain the ability to raise my family the way I want, I have to say something. Online. Strategy number one is be vocal about it.

Well, it’s going back and thinking about it. Talk about Ezra Taft Benson. And he, you know, he went through 4 or 5 things that he recommends. Now what each of us is going to be different, but depending on what we’re inspired to do, the prophets have given basic, basic outline and told us what our responsibilities are. You know, he, Benson talked about how that being righteous is one of the. It’s one of the first things, because it is righteousness that it exalteth a nation. And and then after that he mentioned our civic duties standing up for Freedoms and being involved as much as we can. Because you know, as we know that it was the revolution and what the Founding Fathers set up, that’s what allowed us to have enough freedom to even have the church restored. And let’s, it required a certain amount of freedom to be able to get some of these things accomplished. Let’s talk about that for a minute. Look at some of the things that were done. We we often talk about the revolution and the Founding fathers and what they did. But how many people go further back to the restoration? To some of the unbelievable heroes, Tinsdale Martin Luther, you know, Tinsdale said right before he was. Huh? Reformation. You said restoration. Oh, did I? Sorry. Um.

We could put it as it’s the beginning of the restoration. Those pieces in place to get to that coming out of the apostasy. Tinsdale said right before he was burned at the stake for printing Bibles, translating them, and printing Bibles. He said because of my work, a plowboy will know more of the scriptures than you do, to the priests that were burning him at the stake. And I’ve always thought, wow, plowboy, who was the plowboy? I mean, everybody there’s there’s a, there’s a serious prophet that’s known as the Plowboy. Yeah, yeah. It’s interesting. You know, right before he was burned at the stake because of his work. Now, did he fight? Was his fight a little bit different maybe, than Abraham Lincoln, or did the essence of fighting as resisting evil. So he resisted evil George Washington for what, you know, believed to be right, Benjamin Franklin. Did he fight? I mean, every, there’s different… he fought the war of words. Did Joseph Smith fight? What was his contribution to the war? … truth. Not giving, not giving up, even though he was persecuted. Honoring that priesthood that he held.

You’re in, as a priesthood holder, you should consider yourself an officer in the kingdom. An officer. You have a direct line of authority to fight for the kingdom.

Saying Hallelujah.

I think one of the main, one of the principal means that we have today to, to fight and to to, as you said, to declare our witness of the truth, to speak out against evil, and whether that evil be in society or in government or wherever it is, is, um, is through the internet. And I know that the brethren have encouraged members of the church to, to, to blog and do other internet activities that can get that word out there. There may come a day when, you know, we know that at some point the missionary work in the world is going to close, but that that closure may precede the closure of the internet. We may still have time even after missionaries are pulled from the world, or we can still bear our witness through the digital media.

I’ve had a thought. I’ll just throw this out there. I don’t know that the missionaries are going to be pulled home in the sense that we think they are. If the gospel covers the world prior to them being pulled home, then won’t there be missionaries everywhere and they can still be home? Yeah, like I went on a Mission to Haiti, and they pulled out the foreign missionaries from Haiti. But they still have the native missionaries. So we might not even know. Same thing happened in Russia. We might not even know when the missionaries are all called home. We can have missionaries in the field all over the world, and they could all be home. Stakes. Every member missionary. We’ve had servicemen that have been missionaries in Iraq, where missionaries aren’t allowed, but they have been able to give the spirit to those Iraqis that they’ve come in contact with. And I know personally a fellow who has left. At least three Book of Mormons to people there. Not more than that. To serve where and when we are.

I thought when I heard that Russia had kicked out American missionaries. I was an American missionary serving in Russia many years ago. I was depressed and I thought that was a bad thing. And then I thought about it again, and I thought, you know, this is going to this is going to place more of the onus on the Russian people to furnish their own missionaries, which actually will maybe be a strengthening thing to for them, it may be a good thing for the Russian members to have to supply, to have to supply their own missionaries. I’ve often thought, you know, we talk about let’s spread democracy throughout the world and people that are familiar with the freedom battle they say, “it doesn’t work, you can’t do it.”

And then they say, “let’s spread freedom throughout America.” Oh, wait a minute, if the people don’t want it here any more than they’re ready for it in Iraq, or they’re ready for it in Afghanistan, they’re ready for it anywhere else. What’s the difference? So I think we fight every second, every chance, every opportunity. We say everything we can. We do it with wisdom. We do it with prudence, the way that our king showed us how to do it. I think that you never stop the battle whatsoever. But I think that you fight the right battle. Fight for the kingdom. That’s your turf. Your turf is the kingdom, right? Aren’t we? “Then would my servants fight?” Aren’t we the servants? “seek ye first the kingdom of God.” First, first.

It applies to young women then to, to stand as a witness of all things and all places. And? And we need to be strong enough that we do take that stand 24/7. And not just when it’s convenient. And not be intimidated by those around us that are screaming tolerance or things you say, well, I’m sorry, I don’t I don’t believe I will be called to do that more and more.

This is the circumstances. Again, this is the circumstances that we’re talking about these words to this end, was I born? “Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man? They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee.”2 In other words, they said, “because we brought him, that’s good enough.” “Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death:”3 These are the circumstances under which he’s answering the question. Art thou a king?

And, and again the circumstances of Mary. Of all the women throughout all of time, that should have been protected from that type of thing. If you’re going to make a case, I think Mary would be at the top. And yet, the things that we think of are oppression and the things that we think of that are fighting, sometimes we get confused. On how we’re supposed to fight the fight. Everybody is going to have to answer to the Savior for the fight that they fight. Most fight through temporal eyes, not the eternal perspective. It’s like, okay, this is what God would want the world to be like now. So I’m going to fight for these things. But we have to have the eternal perspective on anything that we’re fighting for, which is the “be not of this world,” but that must be first. And other things fall into place as you’re doing that. Doesn’t it mean that you don’t affect the temporal world, but you’re not of the world, when you stand as a light of the truth.

Mary wasn’t fighting whether or not she was paying her taxes. She was bearing the Savior of the world. She won. She stomped the competition. What if she wouldn’t have done that? What if she had done it the other way around? What if she said, I’m not going to go pay my taxes, that’s oppression, I’m not going to do it. Not going to do it, sorry. I’m the mother of the savior. I don’t need to pay taxes. I don’t need to ride on a donkey all the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem just to be counted so you could take my money. You got the census going on by the executive branch now, and it’s not appropriated among the people. Come on, I’m not doing it. That’s the, she could have fought that fight right? Then the Savior would have been born in Bethlehem, (undecipherable), which is one of the prophecies. Again, that the more temporal view.

I just I, I’m not recommending for anybody a course of action other than the kingdom. Fight for the kingdom. I’m, I am recommending that you go talk to your king and find out what your assignment is. I am recommending that you do it with an eternal perspective. And I am saying that sometimes the things that we think are not fighting, are. They are fighting. And sometimes we think when we’re when we’re when we’re fighting for the Constitution or something, we think we’re acting in a way that’s going to restore the government to a righteous state. And we’re supposed to fight that fight, but not realizing that the real battle that we’re winning is not restoration of America. We’re saving souls along the way. We’re bringing individual people that we know into a state of embracing the principles of the Constitution, which was a divinely inspired document. And by doing that, we’re bringing them into the truth. And that may be the bigger, the bigger victory along the way. Not that we’re not supposed to fight for good government. We are. But we made a bigger victory. May be the saving of souls that’s happening. To establish his kingdom. Because his kingdom is built from souls, not by edict.

So what I wanted to do is get you thinking. Get you thinking about these things. “For this cause came I into the world.” This is the birth, we’re celebrating the birth of my king. My king. And, it’s, it’s his kingdom first that we should be fighting for. That should be in our hearts every day as we plant our feet on the floor. To get up and face the day. Too often we have our minds set on, all the temporal things that need to get done. The distractions of the world.

So that’s how I, that’s how I chose to respond to Brian’s request of bringing Christmas and agency and liberty. Talking about those subjects.

Do you want to expound on your definition of Liberty, would you do that? I know it’s huge I think. Yeah, it is. I’ll give you the short version. Liberty equals charity. There you go. Liberty is, there’s Second Nephi two. Everybody should read it every day for a month. It’s amazing. It’s like D&C 121. It’s just, just so thick with amazing things in it. Uh, 26 or 27. Second Nephi two. Says you’re free to choose Eternal liberty through the great mediator. And that’s a key to understanding that liberty is a choice, not a process of choosing. It is not freedom. It is not agency. It is the thing that you choose. The opposite of that is bondage. You can choose bondage or you can choose liberty. So when we talk about liberty, liberty is obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. Period. There’s no other liberty.

And when I say that liberty is charity is because charity fulfills all the laws. If you if you can obtain charity, you will have a you will have obtained liberty. It’s broken. That’s a nutshell of what Liberty is. The world’s definition of liberty is complete freedom and tolerance, which is in complete opposition to truth. That’s the definition of bondage. So if liberty is the opposite of bondage, then liberty is a state of not being under the oppression of evil power. Liberty being Liberty is a being free from the bondage of sin. Right. Bondage of sin, that’s what I meant. Well, but more than that, because you can. You can lose your liberty and not, and do it by not sinning, because you can do it by transgression, which is also sometimes translated as trespassing. So when we talk about Adam’s transgression, we’re talking about, Adam going a place he should not have gone. But it wasn’t that it was a sin. It was that he had a, the law dictates what a result will be for any action. And so what he had is he did an action which would result in less than ultimate joy, which is what our liberty is. It’s what our father in heaven wants for us is what Christ wants for us. That everything that we’re ever commanded to do, every single thing that we are ever commanded to do, has in it only the object of our great joy. That’s it. It is, it is charity. It’s absolute love. Behind every commandment and law that we’ve ever received is, if you do this, you will be the most happy and you will have the most joy. You will have the most liberty. That’s the Celestial kingdom the most, and experience the absolute most joy. If you want to choose a lesser kingdom, you will have lesser joy. It doesn’t mean you know there’s levels of law. You know, you have an eye for an eye. Um, It’s not the best law. Turn the other cheek. There’s nothing wrong with turning the other cheek. You can turn the other cheek in absolute anger. There’s nothing wrong with turning the other cheek. It is not a sin to turn the other cheek. But it is better to love your enemy.

You will have more freedom in loving your enemy. You will have more liberty in loving your enemy than you will in just turning the other cheek. It’s just an aspect of law. That’s what mercy and justice come in. So I would close, just by, bearing solemn witness, that we live in a time that does not need fear. That doesn’t ask for trepidation, it is a time that is absolutely marvelous, because we are the people that are favored to bring back the restoration of Zion. Our King lives. We win. And I testify to that in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, Amen. Amen. Thanks Brent. Yeah. We’re gonna close the meeting with a prayer.

Part 1: A Christ Centered Relationship
Part 2: God’s Laws vs Commandments of God
Part 3: Laws of Men vs. Laws of God
Part 4: To This End Was I Born

  1. “Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” – John 18:37
  2. John 18:29–30
  3. John 18:31