The Philippines Area Plan invites every member of the Church to share in this vision: “By exercising faith in our Heavenly Father and in His Son Jesus Christ and His Atonement, we will obey the commandments; make, honor and renew sacred covenants; and establish the Kingdom of God in the Philippines.” Let’s discuss what it means to establish the Church and Kingdom of God.
The Purpose of the Church is to Exalt
The purpose of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is “to help individuals and families qualify for exaltation” by focusing on four divinely appointed responsibilities: (1) to help members live the gospel of Jesus Christ, (2) to gather Israel through missionary work, (3) to care for the poor and the needy, and (4) to help our departed ancestors come unto Christ by building temples and performing vicarious ordinances for the dead.¹ Think about that. The purpose of the Church is to qualify individuals and families for exaltation! President Dallin H. Oaks elaborated on this purpose when he said:
“[We must] follow His commands: repent and be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and the ordinances of the temple and endure to the end. Those who do so can be exalted in the celestial kingdom…. No one else can do this. Other churches cannot do it. Good Christian living cannot do it.”² But, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with the fulness of the gospel and the restoration of priesthood keys and authority, can do it. The Church offers baptism, the Gift of the Holy Ghost and the ordinances of the temple necessary to obtain exaltation. Elder D. Todd Christofferson reminded us that the Lord established a Church in His name in order “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”³
The Church Must Be Established to Fulfill Its Purpose
That is why the Church must be established—so that individuals and families can be exalted and sealed together in the celestial kingdom through the ordinances and covenants of the temple. When He appeared to the Nephites after his resurrection, Jesus offered this comforting promise: “if they will repent and hearken unto my words, I will establish my church among them, and they shall come into the covenant and be numbered” among the house of Israel.⁴
Similarly, in April 1829, the Lord promised: “If this generation harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them.”⁵ The Lord truly has kept his promise. Since its miraculous organization in 1830, the Church has been established throughout the earth, including most abundantly in the Philippines. But the work of establishing the Church is far from finished. It must go on, increasing and multiplying, rolling forth as the stone cut out of the mountain without hands, “until it has filled the whole earth”⁶ and fulfilled its purpose.
The Lord’s Work to Establish the Church is Accomplished Through Members
The Lord works through faithful men and women and by the valiant youth of the Church to build up and establish his Church. Alma the Younger taught his son Helaman that “by small and simple means are great things brought to pass … and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls.”⁷
Brothers and sisters, we can each become the small and simple means by which the Lord will further establish his Church among us. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, even as you desire of me so it shall be unto you; and if you desire, you shall be the means of doing much good in this generation.”⁸ Thus, it should be the work of our lives to establish the Church in the stakes and districts, wards and branches of Zion – and in our own lives, homes and families.
What Can We Do To Establish?
We can begin with our families and with those who live within the walls of our own homes. The Area Plan teaches us that we establish the Church when we “build strong, self-reliant Filipino families”. President Nelson has asked every member of the Church to use the manual “Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families” as the focus of our home-centered gospel study and learning. This will assist us in becoming “converted to the Lord, and … united to the church of Christ,”⁹ and will lead us to spiritual self-reliance.
We urge each member of the Church to become spiritually and temporally self-reliant by the faithful payment of tithes and offerings. Participation in a self-reliance group in your ward or stake will also help members learn how to become self-reliant and teach these principles in their homes.
We can assist every young man in the Church to receive the Aaronic Priesthood and be ordained to the office suitable for his age. This is most effectively done by the love and encouragement of parents, leaders and friends.
We can teach, encourage, pray for, and help all young men, and every young woman who has the desire, to serve a mission. We can also help our neighbors, friends and family members come unto Christ by inviting them in normal and natural ways to “come and see” what we do as members of the Church, or “come and help” in our activities and efforts to serve one another, including the poor and the needy among us.
We can prepare ourselves and those in our homes and families to enter the temple and receive the ordinances of exaltation, keeping the covenants associated therewith.
That we may all be willing to give our all to establish The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Philippines is my prayer. ◼︎
1 See Handbook 2, Administering the Church, Section 2.2.
2 Dallin H. Oaks, “Our Message for Missionaries”, January 20, 2016.
3 D. Todd Christofferson, “Why the Church”, Oct. 2015 General Conference; quoting Moses 1:39.
4 3 Nephi 21:22.
5 Doctrine and Covenants 10:53.
6 Doctrine and Covenants 65:2.
7 Alma 37:6-7.
8 Doctrine and Covenants 6:8.
9 3 Nephi 28:23.