Lesson 21: “What Is the Sign of Thy Coming?”
For a faith that believes so strongly in the Second Coming and has built quite a theology around the Millennium, the people who will be living then, and the kind of work that will be done, it was surprisingly difficult to find a former lesson focusing on the signs of the Second Coming (they must be there. I just couldn’t find much in New Testament-focused manuals; perhaps a search of Doctrine and Covenants manuals would have been more fruitful). This one comes from “The Master’s Church,” the Gospel Doctrine course of study for 1969-70.
That lesson is followed by a lesson from the 1978-79 Gospel Doctrine manual concerning the Second Coming as presented in Doctrine and Covenants 43-45, an “additional teaching idea” included in this year’s lesson.
Despite the laughter, even ridicule, of much of the popular reaction to one man’s widely publicized claim that this past May 21 would be the date of the so-called Rapture, to be followed in a few months by the end of the world, this lesson might be a timely one to discuss what is known through authentic prophecy and scripture about the Second Coming, and our anticipations for that day.
Our Lord’s Second Coming
Just as the birth of the Son of god into mortality nearly two thousand years ago was foretold by prophets long before, so Christ, and his prophets have spoken of another event yet future – the glorious coming of the Lord to reign in person over his kingdom on the earth.
As we have seen in an earlier chapter, many of the faithful among the Jews looked forward steadfastly to the advent of the messiah in the meridian of time. To the greater part of the people, however, his humble birth was not noticed and his divine mission unrecognized and misunderstood.
From his own predictions and others concerning his second coming, it is evident that once again in the latter days it will be only the body of his believers who will be ready for his return to earth. to the rest of the world that return will be an event of surprise and of dread.
The belief of Latter-day Saints concerning the second coming and other related events is summarized in the tenth Article of Faith: “We believe in the literal gather of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion will be built upon this (the American) continent; and that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.”
ANCIENT PREDICTIONS OF THE SECOND COMING
Predictions of Christ’s first advent and references to his second coming appear in two bodies of ancient scripture – the Old Testament and the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price. The great prophet Isaiah proclaimed:
Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not; behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you. (Isa. 35:4.)
Again he added:
Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. (Isa. 40:10.)
Both of these passages describe conditions which did not attend the first coming of Christ, but which apply to the last days.
Long before Isaiah lived there was an even more pointed prediction contained in a revelation given to Enoch and recorded in the writings of Moses:
And the Lord said unto Enoch: As I live, even so will I come in the last days, in the days of wickedness and vengeance, to fulfil the oath which I have made unto you concerning the children of Noah. (Moses 7:60.)
In the Book of Mormon another reference to this event is recorded in the words of the resurrected Lord to the three Nephite disciples who were granted their wish to continue their ministry on earth until the last days:
Therefore, most blessed are ye, for ye shall never taste of death; but ye shall live to behold all the doings of the Father unto the children of men, even until all things shall be fulfilled according to the will of the Father, when I shall come in my glory with the powers of heaven. (3 Ne. 28:7.)
PREDICTIONS DURING CHRIST’S MINISTRY
Both before and after his death and resurrection Christ testified to his disciples of his appointed return to the earth. he had taught them that his mission in mortality was to be of short duration but that he would come again upon the earth. this prompted them to ask: “… Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matt. 24:3.)
To their inquiry concerning the time of his coming, which was far more distant than they evidently expected, Jesus replied with a description of many events which were to intervene – including a period of persecution and the destruction of Jerusalem within their generation and a later time of apostasy and confusion. He warned them against being deceived by false claimants to the Messiahship and exhorted them to continued vigilance.
With allusion to the fig tree, whose leafing in spring is a sign that summer is nigh, the Lord explained that when the predicted intervening events should take place, the disciples might know that the time of his coming was approaching. As if to forestall speculation as to the exact time of his return, he declared: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” (Matt. 24:36.)
He then made it plain that to the sinful and unbelieving world his coming would be sudden and unexpected, comparing them to the disbelievers in the days of Noah who continued in eating and drinking and merrymaking up to the very day that Noah entered the ark, adding: “And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matt. 24:39.)
As to the nature of the Lord’s second advent in glory and power, there should be no chance of uncertainty, for he declared: “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matt. 24:27.)
After his resurrection Jesus spoke further to his apostles of his forthcoming return to earth, and after his ascension from Mt. Olivet Luke recorded the testimony of two who stood by the apostles in white apparel, “Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11.)
LATTER-DAY REVELATION CONCERNING THE SECOND ADVENT
It should be made clear that the second advent does not refer to the appearance of the Lord to a few individuals, such as Saul of Tarsus or to Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove in 1820 and again in the Kirtland Temple in 1836. Rather, his future coming should be understood to be in company with hosts of resurrected beings to all men to inaugurate his glorious latter-day reign on earth.
A number of revelations concerning the approaching second coming of the Lord were given through Joseph Smith. In 1831 a revelation given to the Church at Kirtland, Ohio, said:
And it shall come to pass that he that feareth me shall be looking forth for the great day of the Lord to come, even for the signs of the coming of the son of Man.
And they shall see signs and wonders, for they shall be shown forth in the heavens above, and in the earth beneath.
And then shall they look for me, and, behold, I will come; and they shall see me in the clouds of heaven, clothed with power and great glory; with all the holy angels; and he that watches not for me shall be cut off. (D&C 45:39-40, 44.)
A further description of the Lord’s glorious coming is given in a revelation to the elders of the Church in 1832:
Abide ye in the liberty wherewith ye are made free; entangle not yourselves in sin, but let your hands be clean, until the Lord comes.
For not many days hence and the earth shall tremble and reel to and fro as a drunken man; and the sun shall hide his face, and refuse to give light; and the moon shall be bathed in blood; and the stars shall become exceedingly angry, and shall cast themselves down as a fig that falleth from off a fig-tree.
And after your testimony cometh wrath and indignation upon the people.
For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her, and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand.
And angels shall fly through the midst of heaven, crying with a loud voice, sounding the trump of God, saying: Prepare ye, prepare ye, O inhabitants of the earth; for the judgment of our God is come. Behold, and lo, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
And immediately there shall appear a great sign in heaven, and all people shall see it together. (D&C 88:86-89, 921-93.)
Aa little-noted aspect of the condition that will prevail at the time of the Savior’s coming is noted in the following quotation:
When we become ripe in iniquity, then the Lord will come. I get annoyed sometimes at some of our elders who when speaking say the Lord will come when we all become righteous enough to receive him. The Lord is not going to wait for us to get righteous. When he gets ready to come, he is going to come – when the cup of iniquity is full – and if we are not righteous then, it will be just too bad for us, for we will be classed among the ungodly, and we will be as stubble to be swept off the face of the earth, for the Lord says wickedness shall not stand.
Do not think the Lord delays his coming, for he will come at the appointed time, not the time which I have heard some preach when the earth becomes righteous enough to receive him. I have heard some men in positions and places of trust in the Church preach this, men who are supposed to be acquainted with the word of the Lord, but they failed to comprehend the scriptures. Christ will come in the day of wickedness, when the earth is ripe in iniquity and prepared for the cleansing, and as the cleanser and purifier he will come, and all the wicked will be as stubble and will be consumed. [Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. III, p. 3.]
Frm their understanding of both ancient and modern scriptures concerning the second coming of the Lord, the Latter-day Saints recognize their responsibility in preaching the gospel as a testimony to the nations and in aiding in the mighty work of the gathering of Israel that is to take place before that great day. as the disciples of old, they are counseled to be vigilant and prepared through righteousness. and, like the ten virgins in the parable given by the Lord in his great discourse on the Mount of Olives, they have to have their lamps filled in preparation for his coming.
Objective: Class members will appreciate the setting in which D&C 43-45 were given, and recognize the Saints’ responsibility in preparing for the Lord’s second coming.
Suggested Lesson Development
Interest in the Last Days
In Joseph Smith’s time several sectarian religious leaders issued predictions of the exact day when Christ’s second coming would occur. Many people sold all their possessions and were disappointed when the appointed dates passed without the Lord’s appearance.
These people apparently did not take seriously the Lord’s declaration in Matthew 24:36 that the precise time of this coming has not been revealed. this information will not be made known until the Savior actually appears. (See D&C 49:7.) Warn class members against repeating the mistake of Joseph Smith’s contemporaries who unwisely accepted supposed prophecies of an exact date for the Lord’s advent.
Also caution the class that the scriptures do not provide an exact chronological list of latter-day events, but rather only a general outline.
* If we cannot know precisely when Christ is coming, what is our responsibility? (We can know the general time and do what the Lord tells us in Matthew 24:42-44, that is, watch and be ready.)
This lesson, therefore, should emphasize a general understanding of future conditions and how to be prepared for them.
Warning Against Spurious Revelations
It is important for Latter-day Saints to use only authoritative sources in their gospel study. Have the previously assigned class member summarize president Harold B. Lee’s warning, “Counsel on Authoritative Sources”.
It never ceases to amaze me how gullible some of our Church members are in broadcasting sensational stories, or dreams, or visions, or purported patriarchal blessings, or quotations, or supposedly from some person’s private diary …
Brethren of the priesthood, you defenders of the faith, we would wish that you would plead with our saints to cease promoting the works of the devil. Spend your time promoting the works of the Lord, and don’t allow these things to be found among those under your charge, for they are the works of Satan, and we are playing his game whenever we permit such things to be heralded about and repeated and passed about on every side.
(Harold B. Lee, Conference Report, Apr. 1970, pp. 55-56.)
Because of these warnings some class members may conclude that it is inappropriate to study the signs of the last days. To correct this impression, invite a class member to read Doctrine and Covenants 45:39 and 40.
The Lord spoke of the last days in several revelations, notably sections 29, 43, 45, 88, 101, and 133.
In each case the Lord’s emphasis was on preparing for what was to come through keeping his commandments.
Of all these revelations, section 45 gives the most complete outline of the last days. For the benefit of the Saints, the Lord outlined future events by repeating many of the prophecies given to his ancient disciples on the Mount of Olives (D&C 45:16-59) just before his atoning sacrifice. this was the occasion when the Lord prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem and answered his disciples’ question, “What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3.)
The outline of the last days in Doctrine and Covenants 45 is expanded by other scriptures that provide additional information. These will be identified in the discussions that follow. Recommend that class members write the references to these illuminating passages in the margin next to the corresponding verses in Doctrine and Covenants 45. Such cross-referencing can be of help in later study. Also, summaries of helpful explanations such as President Romney’s definition of “gentiles” (below) are another type of useful marginal notation that you can recommend to the class. Analyze with the class the contents of Doctrine and Covenants 45, using the following ideas and references to help guide the discussion:
Times of the Gentiles
Doctrine and Covenants 45:16 through 24 concerns events which were to take place in Jerusalem following the Savior’s earthly ministry. Doctrine and Covenants 45:25 through 60 deals with events of the last dispensation, our own day. this first latter-day period refers to the time when the gospel is taken in power to the gentiles. President Marion G. Romney explained that the term “Gentiles” is used “to refer to the present inhabitants of America and to the peoples of the old world from which they came.” (Conference Report, Oct. 1975, p. 54.) This period was to “come in” or begin with the restoration of the gospel (see D&C 45:28) and will “be fulfilled” when the gentiles refuse to receive the “fulness of my gospel” and “turn their hearts from [God] because of the precepts of men.” (D&C 45:28-29.)
An Era of Calamities
Doctrine and Covenants 45:25 implies that a gathering of Israel will follow the “times of the Gentiles.” Doctrine and Covenants 133:8 confirms this by explicitly stating that the gospel should be taken first to the gentiles and then to the Jews.
* According to Doctrine and Covenants 45:31 through 33, what else will follow when the times of the gentiles are fulfilled? (Natural and man-made calamities. Doctrine and Covenants 29:14 through 21 identifies iniquity as the cause of these difficulties. Doctrine and Covenants 43:21 and 25 adds the concept that these calamities may also be a means of calling the people to repentance. Doctrine and covenants 87 expands on the reference in Doctrine and Covenants 45:26 to wars, and Joseph smith 1:10 in the Pearl of Great Price reinforces Doctrine and Covenants 45:27.)
These calamities will intensify as the Second Coming draws closer. Compare verse 40 through 42 in section 45 with Doctrine and Covenants 88:87 through 94 and 133:22 through 31. (Note: Time in class may not permit turning to all the references mentioned outside of section 45, but ask the class members to write these cross-references to aid them in later personal study.)
Appearances of the Redeemer
The calamities of the last days will finally be ended by the glorious advent of Jesus Christ.
* Where will Christ appear when he comes? (class members’ responses may include Jerusalem, the New Jerusalem, or other locations.) Use “Three Distinct appearances of Jesus Christ” to show that the Lord’s advent will entail several appearances. Section 45 specifically refers to two of these: the appearance on the Mount of Olives (D&C 45:48-53; see also Zechariah 14:2-5; 13:6) and his coming in glory (D&C 45:44 and D&C 133:41-51).
Three Distinct Appearances of Jesus Christ
We may consider the inhabitants of the earth at the time immediately preceding the coming of Christ under three general divisions: –
First, the Saints of God gathered to one place on the western continent, called Zion, busily preparing for his appearance in their midst as their Redeemer, who had shed his blood for their salvation, now coming to reign over them and to reward them for their labours in establishing his government;
Second, the Jews gathered to Jerusalem and also expecting the Messiah, but not believing that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God, and being ind anger of destruction from their Gentile enemies;
Third, the corrupt nations and kingdoms of men, who, rejecting the light of the gospel, are unprepared for the Lord’s advent and are almost ripe for destruction.
Among the first-mentioned of these three classes of men the Lord will make his appearance first; and that appearance will be unknown to the rest of mankind. He will come to the Temple prepared for him, and his faithful people will behold his face, hear his voice, and gaze upon his glory. From his own lips they will receive further instructions for the development and beautifying of Zion and for the extension and sure stability of his kingdom.
His next appearance will be among the distressed and nearly vanquished sons of Judah. At the crisis of their fate, when the hostile troops of several nations are ravaging the city and all the horrors of war are overwhelming the people of Jerusalem, he will set his feet upon the Mount of Olives, which will cleave and part asunder at his touch. Attended by a host from heaven, he will overthrow and destroy the combined armies of the Gentiles, and appear to the worshipping jews as the mighty deliverer and Conqueror so long expected by their race; and while love, gratitude, awe, and admiration swell their bosoms, the Deliverer will show them the tokens of his crucifixion and disclose himself as Jesus of Nazareth, whom they had reviled and whom their fathers put to death. Then will unbelief depart from their souls, and ‘the blindness in part which has happened unto Israel’ be removed. ‘A fountain for sin and uncleanness shall be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem,’ and ‘a nation will be born’ unto God ‘in a day.’ They will be baptized for the remission of their sins, and will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the government of God as established in Zion will be set up among them, no more to be thrown down for ever.
The great and crowning advent of the Lord will be subsequent to these two appearances; but who can describe it in the language of mortals? The tongue of man falters, and the pen drops from the hand of the writer, as the mind is rapt in contemplation of the sublime and awful majesty of his coming to take vengeance on the ungodly and to reign as King of the whole earth.
He comes! The earth shakes, and the tall mountains tremble; the mighty deep rolls back to the north as in fear, and the rent skies glow like molten brass. He comes1 The dead Saints burst forth from their tombs, and ‘those who are alive and remain’ are ‘caught up’ with them to meet him. The ungodly rush to hide themselves from his presence, and all upon the quivering rocks to cover them. He comes! with all the hosts of the righteous glorified. The breath of his lips strikes death to the wicked. His glory is a consuming fire. the proud and rebellious are as stubble; they are burned and ‘left neither root nor branch.’ he sweeps the earth ‘as with the besom of destruction.’ He deluges the earth with the fiery floods of his wrath, and the filthiness and abominations of the world are consumed. Satan and his dark hosts are taken and bound – the prince of the power of the air has lost his dominion, for he whose right it is to reign has come, and “the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.”
(Charles W. Penrose, “The Second Advent,” Millennial Star, 10 Sept. 1859, pp. 582-83.)
Preparing for the Last Days
* What must the inhabitants of the earth do to be prepared for the Lord’s coming in glory? (Emphasize that they must live worthily and strengthen themselves to withstand the prophesied difficulties.)
* When do you believe these calamities are to begin? (Refer to “The Times of the Gentiles Near Their End”)
The “Times of the Gentiles” Near Their End
Jesus said the Jews would be scatter4ed among all nations and Jerusalem would be trodden down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles were fulfilled. (Luke 21:24.) The prophecy in Section 45, verses 24-29, of the Doctrine and Covenants regarding the Jews was literally fulfilled. Jerusalem, which was trodden down by the Gentiles, is no longer trodden down, but is made the home for the Jews. They are returning to Palestine, and by this we may know that the times of the Gentiles are near their close.
The words of the prophets are rapidly being fulfilled, but it is done on such natural principles that most of us fail to see it . …
If the great and dreadful day of the Lord were near at hand when Elijah came 130 years ago, we are just one century nearer it today.
(Joseph Fielding Smith, Conference Report, Apr. 1966, pp. 13, 15; see entire talk.)
Remind the class that section 45 was given to Saints who were already experiencing persecution and other difficulties. the counsel given them becomes increasingly relevant as latter-day tribulations intensify in our own time. Now is the time to prepare
Many people worry about growing calamities, but the Lord instructed his disciples, “Be not troubled.” (D&C 45:35.)
* Why shouldn’t we be troubled over these difficulties? (See “Basis for Hope”) to show that those who repent can look forward to the blessings that will follow these calamities.
Basis for Hope
Now, the basis for the hope and courage that will keep us from being troubled does not lie in the expectation that enough people will accept and obey the restored gospel to turn aside the oncoming calamities. Nor does it depend upon any such contingency. As already indicated, it lies in the assurance that everyone who will accept and obey the restored gospel of Jesus christ shall reap the promised rewards, and this regardless of what others do. And certain it is that those who receive the blessings will have to prevail against great opposition, for the world in general is not improving. It is ripening in iniquity.
(Marion G. Romney, Conference Report, Oct. 1966, p. 53.)
“Stand in Holy Places”
In Doctrine and Covenants 45:32 the Lord directs the Saints to “stand in holy places.”
* Where are these places of safety? (Read “Where Is Safety?”) Emphasize that personal worthiness is more important than where one lives.
Where Is Safety?
In these days of our generation, many of you are asking: where is safety?
The word of the Lord is not silent. He has admonished us: “But my disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved; but among the wicked, men shall lift up their voices and curse God and die.” (DD&C 45:32.)
The Lord has told us where these ‘holy places’ are: “And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety.” (D&C 45:68).) …
There are several meanings of the word Zion.
It may have reference to the hill named Mt. Zion or by extension in the land of Jerusalem.
It has sometimes been used, as by the prophet Micah to refer to the location of “the mountain of the house of the Lord” – as some place apart from Jerusalem. (See Micah 4:2.)
Zion was so called by Enoch in reference to the ‘City of Holiness,” or the “City of Enoch.” (See Moses 7:18-19.) The Land of Zion has been used to refer, in some connotations, to the Western Hemisphere.
But there is another most significant use of the term by which the Church of God is called Zion, comprising, according to the Lord’s own definition, “the pure in heart.” (D&C 97:21.)
As one studies the Lord’s commandments and attending promises upon compliance therewith, one gets some definite ideas as to how we might “stand in holy places,” as the Lord commands – if we will be preserved with such protection as accords with his holy purposes, in order that we might be numbered among the “pure in heart” who constitute Zion, as I have read from the Lord’s own words. …
As one studies the commandments of God, it seems to be made crystal clear that the all-important thing is not where we live but whether or not our hearts are pure.
(Harold B. Lee, Conference Report, Oct. 1968, pp. 61-62.)
Emphasize that we must resolve to keep the commandments and that the Church has been established to assist us to be prepared for what is to come. Use President Hugh B. Brown’s prophetic statement to strengthen this point. (See “A Prophetic Challenge.”)
A Prophetic Challenge
It seems to me that of all the signs of the times (and they are ominous and on every side) this is one of the significant signs of the times – that the Church of Jesus Christ, the kingdom of God, is massing its forces, getting ready for that which is to follow. …
I hope that no man under the sound of our voices here tonight will allow himself to be tempted to do anything that would cause him to blush if it were known by those he loves the most.
I hope that every young man under the sound of my voice will resolve tonight, “I am going to keep myself clean. I am going to serve the Lord. I am going to prepare every way I can for future service, because I want to be prepared when the final battle shall come.”
And some of you young men are going to engage in that battle. Some of you are going to engage in the final testing time, which is coming and which is closer to us than we know. …
I want to say to you, brethren, that in the midst of all the troubles, the uncertainties, the tumult and chaos through which the world is passing, almost unnoticed by the majority of the people of the world, there has been set up a kingdom, a kingdom over which God the Father presides, and Jesus the Christ is the King. That kingdom is rolling forward, as I say, partly unnoticed, but it is rolling forward with a power and a force that will stop the enemy in its tracks while some of you live.
(Hugh B. Brown, Conference Report, Oct. 1967, pp. 115-16.)
Specifically, we can look to Church leaders for guidance. have a class member read Doctrine and Covenants 44:1 and 2. The Lord promised to pour out his Spirit upon the elders assembled in conference. (Note President Lee’s emphasis on the importance of heeding counsel given at conferences in “The Importance of Conferences.”)
The Importance of Conferences
In his last general conference address president Harold B. Lee quoted prophecies from Doctrine and Covenants 45 and concluded:
“Brothers and sisters, this is the day the Lord is speaking of. you see the signs are here. Be ye therefore ready. The brethren have told you in this conference how to prepare to be ready. We have never had a conference where there has been so much direct instruction, so much admonition; when the problems have been defined and also the solution to the problem has been suggested. Let us not turn a deaf ear now, but listen to these as the words that have come from the Lord, inspired of him, and we will be safe on Zion’s hill, until all that the Lord has for his children shall have been accomplished.”
(Harold B. Lee, Conference Report, Oct. 1973, p. 170.)
Parable of the Ten Virgins
Doctrine and Covenants 45:56 and 57 definitely applies the parable of the ten virgins to the last days. Use President Woodruff’s interpretation in “The Meaning of the Ten Virgins” to help the class answer the following:
* Who were the ten virgins? (Not the whole world, but only Church members professing to be looking for the Lord’s coming.)
* Who will be the “wise virgins”? (Verse 57 says that they are those who have “received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit as their guide and have not been deceived.”) This guidance is essential in the midst of latter-day tribulations.
The Meaning of the Ten Virgins
The parable of the ten virgins is intended to represent the second coming of the Son of man, the coming of the bridegroom to meet the bride, the church, the Lamb’s wife, in the last days; and I expect that the Savior was about right when he said, in reference to the members of the Church, that five of them were wise and five were foolish; for when the Lord of heaven comes in power and great glory to reward every man according to the deeds done in the body if he finds one half of those professing to be members of his Church prepared for salvation, it will be as many as can be expected, judging by the course that many are pursuing.
(Wilford Woodruff, Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 254.)
The Lord concluded Doctrine and Covenants 45 by challenging the Saints to begin to establish Zion as a preparation for future calamities and for his coming in glory. This theme will be seen in many Doctrine and Covenants sections that follow.
Conclude by asking the class members to suggest specific things we can and should do right now to prepare for that which is to come. (These can include searching the scriptures, heeding the counsel of the living prophets, striving to keep the commandments more faithfully, earnestly following the promptings of the Spirit.)