5 Highlights for “Happy and Forever” by Elder Gong

by | Dec 2, 2022

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5 Quotes Plus Discussion-Promoting Questions

See also Teaching Helps

“We find heaven’s sociality in each other.”

The common thread woven throughout Elder Gong’s message is that everything we experience within the gospel is more successful when we include others: forgiveness, atonement, repentance, a relationship with the Savior, joy, belonging, etc.

You can find Elder Gong’s full talk here. Unless you opt to spend a lot of time on a particular quote, try to pick around 2 questions per quote. Choose the questions that resonate the most with you and make a meaningful discussion for your group of personalities. These highlights and questions fit right in with Lesson Template 1 or Template 2. You can also check out several other General Conference Talks with 5 Highlights.

All blue quotes by Gerrit W. Gong (unless otherwise noted).

Teaching tips

  • Avoid being strict about the lesson progressing in the order you had planned. Don’t shut people’s comments down because they came at the “wrong” time. Discussion is golden, and discussion is key to better teaching and understanding. Allow the Spirit to guide where the lesson goes – and if you don’t cover everything, be at peace with that.
  • I would ensure plenty of time for quotes #3 and #4. I would do 3, 4, 2, 1, 5 – in that order.

Quote #1 (fullness)

This is a beautiful piece of foundational doctrine. It’s always good to give the basics an occasional nod.

Central in God’s plan of redemption and happiness, Jesus Christ, through His Atonement, promises to unite our spirit and body, “never again to be divided, that [we] might receive a fulness of joy.”

Our joy becomes full as we feel Jesus Christ’s grace and forgiveness for us. And as we offer the miracle of His grace and forgiveness to each other, the mercy we receive and the mercy we offer can help make life’s injustices just.

Other ways to say a fullness of joy: saturation of bliss, completeness of delight, vastness of wonder, wholeness of cheer.

Possible discussion questions: There’s a word for when our spirit and body are united forever; what is it? (resurrection) What is the purpose of resurrection? (accept all reasonable answers, that we might receive a fullness of joy) What does a “fullness of joy” mean? Have you ever felt forgiven by another person? How did it feel? How does it feel to forgive another person who might not deserve it? Can you think of someone to whom you could gift forgiveness? Who would you be without negative thoughts about others – even if they’re correct? (freer, lighter)

Quote #2 (atonement)

God knows and loves us perfectly. “God is not mocked,” nor can He be deceived. With perfect mercy and justice, He encircles in His arms of safety the humble and penitent. Gratefully, we know the living and “the dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God” and Christ’s Atonement. In the spirit world, even those in sin and transgression have opportunity to repent.

mocked: fooled, counterfeited, deceived, imitated, man-made, faked out

penitent: feeling or showing sorrow and regret for having done wrong; repentant.

What a powerful and comforting message! First, God decides who the humble and penitent are. We all know people who injure and harm others emotionally and even physically but manage to cover it up. They often spread stories at the expense of those they hurt – but God is never fooled. His wheels of justice may turn slowly, but they turn sure and steady.

Second, there is a chance for repentance and forgiveness in the spirit world—both for loved ones and ourselves. We don’t ever give up on anyone who continues to press forward.

Possible discussion questions: What stands out for you today from this quote? Why are humility and repentance so necessary? How would you describe humility to a friend? How about “penitent”? What ordinances do we need to obey? (baptism, taking the sacrament, endowments, etc.) How do you obey the ordinance of baptism right now, today? (accept all reasonable answers, by remembering the covenants of baptism: take upon yourself the name of Jesus Christ, keep His commandments, and serve Him to the end) How important is the sacrament? How can it help us?

Quote #3 (temple)

One of the deeper understandings this last General Conference left me with is – the temple is more personally empowering than I ever understood.

The Lord gives us divine opportunity to become more like Him as we offer proxy saving temple ordinances others need but cannot do for themselves. We become more complete and perfected as we become “saviours … on mount Zion.” As we serve others, the Holy Spirit of Promise can ratify the ordinances and sanctify both giver and receiver. Both giver and receiver can make and deepen transforming covenants, over time receiving the blessings promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Here, Elder Gong shares how serving others through proxy temple ordinances helps to empower us. Being sanctified by the Holy Spirit of Promise (Holy Ghost) is a big deal. The Holy Ghost is a cleansing and purifying agent:

Deepen the understanding: Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day. (3 Nephi 27:20)

“Man can only become spotless and sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost in his personal life. The Holy Ghost is a cleansing and purifying agent to all who receive it and are righteous. This means that sin and iniquity are spiritually burned out of the repentant person. He then receives a remission of sins, and his soul is sanctified and made clean for the Holy Ghost to abide in him.” (Delbert L. Stapley) Conference Report, October 1966, p.112)

Possible discussion questions: How do you feel when you go to the temple? Have you ever gone to the temple and felt better than before? What does it mean to be sanctified by the Holy Spirit of Promise? Why is it important? What blessings were promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?

“The ultimate blessings of the Abrahamic covenant are conferred in holy temples. These blessings allow us to come forth in the First Resurrection and inherit thrones, kingdoms, powers, principalities, and dominions, to our ‘exaltation and glory in all things.” (Russell M. Nelson – Special Witnesses of Christ, April 2001)

Quote #4 (hardest)

As the Golden Rule teaches, a sanctifying symmetry in repentance and forgiveness invites us each to offer others that which we ourselves need and desire.

Sometimes our willingness to forgive someone else enables both them and us to believe we can repent and be forgiven. Sometimes a willingness to repent and an ability to forgive come at different times. Our Savior is our Mediator with God, but He also helps bring us to ourselves and each other as we come to Him. Especially when hurt and pain are deep, repairing our relationships and healing our hearts is hard, perhaps impossible for us on our own. But heaven can give us strength and wisdom beyond our own to know when to hold on and how to let go.

symmetry: evenness, equality, similarity,

Possible discussion questions: How would you describe the Golden Rule in your own words? (accept all reasonable answers – do unto others as you would have them do unto you.) What does Elder Gong mean by a sanctifying symmetry in repentance and forgiveness? (accept all reasonable answers – he means to be forgiven, we must forgive) What do you think Elder Gong meant by “He helps bring us to ourselves and each other as we come to Him”? (accept all reasonable answers – as we get closer to the Savior, we discover our stronger, more authentic, and more peaceful selves, our hearts soften, and we are endeared to other people more.)

Deepen the understanding:

“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)

I love the Aramaic version!

“Loose the cords of mistakes binding me, empower me to
release the strands I hold of others’ guilt.”

painting of red balls of string against a blue background
Loose the cords of mistakes binding me, empower me to release the strands I hold of others’ guilt.

In other words, take the time to visualize yourself letting go of the strands connected to the wrongs done to you. You’re holding them there. Open your fist and let your energetic ties to them fly off. They don’t cease to be wrongs; the Lord will take care of them. However, they stop cluttering your light and holding back your potential.

Quote #5 (sociality)

Use this as a closing if you have time.

Happy and forever do not mean that every relationship will be happy and forever. But a thousand millennial years when Satan is bound may give us needed time and surprising ways to love, understand, and work things out as we prepare for eternity.

We find heaven’s sociality in each other. God’s work and glory include bringing to pass happy and forever.

Summary

Summarize class discussion highlights and/or share your testimony and feelings about Elder Gong’s talk. Thank your class for their excellent contributions and insights.

Final Comment

Elder Gong has his own style and often gifts us with unique insights. Thank you for sharing his message and encouraging others to think about his talk. Have faith in what you feel drawn to teach.

Try listening to your people more. Discussion is invaluable for deepening people’s understanding.

Put the quotes in any order that makes sense to you. If you would like tips on how to feel more confident while teaching – try “9 Tips for More Class Participation.

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2 Comments

  1. Edela Irvin

    Please can you tell us about the brightly-colored artwork on your posts? I am mesmerized!

    Reply
    • Shawnie Cannon

      Absolutely! They are created with Night Cafe AI. I’m still quite a novice at this and it takes me a lot of tries to get close to what I’m trying to create – but it’s a great, expressive medium.

      Reply

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