5 Highlights for “The Love of God” by Elder Christofferson

by | Nov 19, 2021

apostle speaking

5 Quotes Plus Discussion-Promoting Questions

See also Teaching Helps

D. Todd Christofferson Does a beautiful job clarifying the connection and differences between God’s love, His blessings, and our salvation. I so appreciate this because sometimes, when we don’t have a blessing we want – we interpret that as not being favored by God. It seems some of the Christian world mixes love, blessings, and salvation in a way that isn’t always spiritually sound. Maybe we do, too, sometimes? See what you think of Elder Christofferson’s recent General Conference talk.

You may find his 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 quotes by D. Todd Christofferson and in blue (unless otherwise noted).

Quote #1 (unconditional)

Please note: There may not be enough time to cover all five quotes. Quote #5 is about ministering, and as a teacher, I would be sure to budget time for it.

Elder Christofferson makes an important observation about God’s love, His blessings, and salvation.

Because God’s love is all-embracing, some speak of it as “unconditional,” and in their minds they may project that thought to mean that God’s blessings are “unconditional” and that salvation is “unconditional.” They are not. Some are wont to say, “The Savior loves me just as I am,” and that is certainly true. But He cannot take any of us into His kingdom just as we are, “for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence.” Our sins must first be resolved.

Possible Introspective question: Have you ever heard an expression like, “well, that’s how God made me”? Should we work on our weaknesses if God loves us? Why? Can you give an example of how might God love us yet not bless us immediately?

Quote #2 (hope)

Elder Christofferson says: “Our sins must first be resolved.” That might seem like the opposite of hope as we contemplate our flawed, mortal tendencies.

Despite our present imperfections, however, we can still hope to attain “a name and standing,” a place, in His Church and in the celestial world. After making it clear that He cannot excuse or wink at sin, the Lord assures us:

“Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven.”

“And as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me.”

Repentance and divine grace resolve the dilemma…

With the condition of repentance, the Lord can extend mercy without robbing justice, and “God ceaseth not to be God.”

Possible discussion questions: Is there love in the opportunity to repent? Could repentance be considered a blessing? Have you ever repented of something and felt much lighter and stronger afterward? Who made repentance and divine grace possible? How do you feel about that?

Quote #3 (anything but Christ)

The current culture does not support our religious life and views – nonetheless, I love how Elder Christofferson puts them in their place.

The way of the world, as you know, is anti-Christ, or “anything but Christ.” Our day is a replay of Book of Mormon history in which charismatic figures pursue unrighteous dominion over others, celebrate sexual license, and promote accumulating wealth as the object of our existence. Their philosophies “justify in committing a little sin” or even a lot of sin, but none can offer redemption. That comes only through the blood of the Lamb. The best the “anything but Christ” or “anything but repentance” crowd can offer is the unfounded claim that sin does not exist or that if it exists, it ultimately has no consequences. I can’t see that argument getting much traction at the Final Judgment.

That delightful last sentence! Just a bit wry, yet full of meaning and so accurate.

Possible questions: Our society focuses on wealth, materialism, and consumerism as the signal of status. Do you believe differently, and how? As you read the Book of Mormon, have you noticed any parallels between their time and ours? What are they? What benefits do you experience as you live in the world but not of the world?

Quote #4 (love and bless)

What does it mean that the Father and Jesus Christ love us? Sometimes we wonder if They truly notice us? Elder Christofferson teaches how much and in what way They love us:

The love of the Father and the Son is freely given but also includes hopes and expectations. Again, quoting President Nelson, “God’s laws are motivated entirely by His infinite love for us and His desire for us to become all we can become.”

Because They love you, They do not want to leave you “just as you are.” Because They love you, They want you to have joy and success. Because They love you, They want you to repent because that is the path to happiness. But it is your choice—They honor your agency. You must choose to love Them, to serve Them, to keep Their commandments. Then They can more abundantly bless you as well as love you.

Elder Christofferson makes a distinction between love and bless. Let’s look at the two words:

love: fondness, tenderness, warmth, attachment, endearment, devotion

bless: grant, bestow, magnify, favor, glorify

Possible discussion questions: How are love and blessing alike, and how are they different? (One is always present; the other one attaches itself to commandments and eternal laws). Do people sometimes feel God doesn’t love them because they don’t have a specific blessing they want? Why does obedience matter – who does it benefit the most? When have you felt Heavenly Father’s love? How do you feel about Jesus Christ?

Quote #5 (ministering)

Ministering is the pinnacle of sainthood. This quote is an excellent opportunity to refresh and rejuvenate the idea of ministering. Especially the idea we express love to God when we minister to others. Elder Christofferson shares a heart-warming story from Joy D. Jones.

Former Primary General President Joy D. Jones recalled that as a young couple, she and her husband were called to visit and minister to a family who hadn’t been to church for many years. It was immediately clear in their first visit that they were not wanted. After the frustration of additional failed attempts, and after much sincere prayer and pondering, Brother and Sister Jones received an answer to the why of their service in this verse from the Doctrine and Covenants: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy might, mind, and strength; and in the name of Jesus Christ thou shalt serve him.” Sister Jones said:

“We realized that we were sincerely striving to serve this family and to serve our bishop, but we had to ask ourselves if we were really serving out of love for the Lord. …

“… We began looking forward to our visits with this dear family because of our love for the Lord [see 1 Nephi 11:22]. We were doing it for Him. He made the struggle no longer a struggle. After many months of our standing on the doorstep, the family began letting us in. Eventually, we had regular prayer and tender gospel discussions together. A long-lasting friendship developed. We were worshipping and loving Him by loving His children.”

Possible discussion questions: Have you ever been given a problematic ministering or visiting/home teacher assignment? Was anyone able to reach someone who didn’t initially want to be contacted? How can we not take rejection personally and look past it? Why is ministering so important? What does ministering look like to you?

Here’s a beautiful, helpful description of ministering by Sister Bingham, General Relief Society President:

“So, what does ministering look like?”

“It looks like going for a walk, getting together for a game night, offering service, or even serving together. It looks like visiting in person or talking on the phone or chatting online or texting. It looks like delivering a birthday card and cheering at a soccer game. It looks like sharing a scripture or quote from a conference talk that would be meaningful to that individual. It looks like discussing a gospel question and sharing testimony to bring clarity and peace. It looks like becoming part of someone’s life and caring about him or her.” (Ministering As the Savior Does – April 2018)

Ministering is all about having conversations as a friend, and building peer-like, warm associations in all its varieties.

Summary

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

Final Comment

The world is better off because you studied and prepared for this lesson! Have faith in what you feel drawn to teach – you have important insights into the gospel, and your ward/branch needs you. Teach with confidence, and if you would like some tips on how to feel more confident while teaching – try “9 Tips for More Class Participation.” Please put the five quotes in any order that makes sense to you.

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