This is the Way

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Kyle Gill, Software Engineer, Particl

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Thesis: the Gospel is actually stupidly simple and I overcomplicate it. Simplifications points us back to the way, and Jesus is the way.

Ways I’ve overcomplicated or lost the simplicity of the gospel:

  • When I got home from serving a mission, I thought I would need 1 hour of personal study at college. Turns out college is a little different than a mission, and I felt the extra time was often better spent doing something for my calling, or going to the temple.
  • As a primary teacher I often confused success with the kids in our class sitting still in their chairs, instead of the more important purpose of singing about the Savior.
  • Like the nerd that I am, I wrote a lot of code to create a system of scripture note taking that was customized for linking ideas together. I would say “if I just add this one more thing…” until I realized after a couple weeks that I was spending all my time writing code and not that much studying. I went back to paper scriptures with my phone and computer somewhere else and things were great.

Maybe you’ve had a similar occasion where you realized you were “running faster than you had strength”.

Jesus is the way

With that in mind, I’d like to emphasize the simplicity of the Gospel for a minute. Of all the really incredible things that we quote from Nephi, in recent Come Follow Me reading, we find the following:

21 And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way ... this is the doctrine of Christ

The message of the gospel is consistent, and it is clear. Nephi’s declaration here is clear. Ironically, Nephi is also the one humble bragging about Isaiah being simple and great a couple chapters earlier. What I love though is that Nephi’s words don’t compete with what we’ve heard multiple times in recent General Conferences:

No matter how difficult or confusing the challenges may be, you can always remember that the answer is simple: it is always Jesus.
Whatever questions or problems you have, the answer is always found in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.

Everything else is just to point us back to Christ. So don’t look beyond the mark. Multiple stories remind us of that point, there’s a brass serpent, you just have to look at that. Wash in the river Jordan 7 times, that’s it.

“No other way”

If there is only 1 way to eternal life, there cannot be 5 ways, or 10 ways. It’s just what Nephi said “there is none other way”

  • no stipulation if you went to youth conference
  • not some necessity that you “know someone” to be exalted
  • no requirement that you go and achieve much of anything in life (we won’t get to Heaven having ignored the Gospel of Jesus Christ and God say “well, we could really use a Certified Public Accountant who had a 4.0 in the Celestial kingdom, so we’ll let it slide”)

[my B- in Linear algebra]

All you have to do is follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And there aren’t backdoors into Heaven!

The gospel may be dead simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s dead easy. If you had a test with a single question, and you knew the answer going in, you’d think you’d feel pretty confident. Our circumstnaces in mortality however are throwing every distraction they can at us. In reality, the environment is probably more like trying to take the test during singing time with the Junior Primary.

Kids pulling other kid’s hair, kids pulling teacher’s hair, their own hair… In the Gospel and Junior Primary though, the answer is always Jesus, so perhaps they’ve got some things figured out.

Something I’ve wondered is how the world would change if every adult (church member or not) sat in on singing time, as chaotic as it can sometimes be, it is simple and pure.


Distractions and Performative Gospel Living

One of Satan’s secret weapons is distracting us from Jesus.

There’s this great moment in the book of Mosiah when Abinadi spits some fire at the priests of Noah. They were sort of living the law of Moses, while simultaneously breaking every commandment.

30 Therefore there was a law given them, yea, a law of performances and of ordinances, a law which they were to observe strictly from day to day, to keep them in remembrance of God and their duty towards him. 31 But behold, I say unto you, that all these things were types of things to come. 32 And now, did they understand the law? I say unto you, Nay, they did not all understand the law;

The law of Moses was supposed to remind them of Jesus, but they were distracted by the minutia.

Discussion Question
Where do we get caught up in laws of performances?

Abinadi called these things a “shadow” of things to come. A “shadow” of Jesus. If you think about how a shadow is cast, you cannot disconnect or disassociate your shadow from you. But a shadow lacks substance. If we focus on the shadow of Christ, we miss the substance. That was Abinadi’s criticism of the priests of Noah.

We’re encouraged to read scriptures for 15 minutes a day, but is that just a sort of performance? Did we get any closer to Christ?

We follow the law of the Fast (generally on the 1st Sunday of each month), but is that another law of performance for us? Did we get any closer to Christ?

Lehis dream has another good example:

The principal point of the story is that the successful travelers resist all distractions...

The simplicity of the gospel is evident in the vision, just follow the rod to the tree, that’s it. Not take I15 till you see a great and spacious building, then exit and drive until— it’s not that.

  • rod = word of God/gospel of Jesus Christ
  • Tree = love of God/eternal life
For in those days [this day] there shall also arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch, that, if possible, they shall deceive the very elect, who are the elect according to the covenant.

It is prophesied that we’ll all be distracted.

So, how do we avoid distractions?

Begin by answering the primary questions. There are primary questions and there are secondary questions. ... Not all questions are equal and not all truths are equal. The primary questions are the most important. Everything else is subordinate (read: a distraction). There are only a few primary questions. ... 1. Is there a God who is our Father? 2. Is Jesus Christ the Son of God, the Savior of the world?

Once again, the primary questions are actually quite simple.

I’ve observed that the temple tends to teach these principles very simply as well, but in talking about the temple we sometimes make it sound like it is complex.

I have a little story to illustrate:

  • My brother went through the temple before his mission
  • to support, my parents and siblings attended with him
  • we’d entered the instruction room, where a temple worker was standing at the front (silently)
  • at this point no workers have made any indication of what to do, we’ve all just filed in and sat down, me, my little brother, and my older brother
  • we sat there in complete silence waiting to start the session, the temple workers hadn’t moved a muscle
  • then my brother leans over to my little brother and whispers “you getting all this?”

At that point, there was nothing to get, but the joke is that there we had given an almost implied “magic” in the temple. The things we learn there are actually just more answers to the primary questions.

Parallels with “This is the Way”

To draw some parallels, Nephi’s phrase “This is the way” lines up with music & even a couple things we hear in the temple.

This is the Christ

First, the song “This is the Christ”, the song came on shuffle this last week and I realized it’s not that different from what Nephi was saying. Christ, and “how many drops of blood he shed for me” are the only way I’ll ever make it.

The Veil

Then, there’s a similar moment in the temple. Spoiler warning if you have not been through recently: this just comes from the Bible.

Brothers and sisters, “this is the veil of the temple”. There isn’t a backdoor into the Celestial room, you literally have to go through Jesus, there is only 1 way!


Jesus is the way.

After all the advice and principles presented in the For the Strength of Youth Guide it says “Of all possible choices, the one that matters most is the choice to follow Jesus Christ”. It doesn’t miss the mark. Church history, tattoos, DNA and the Book of Mormon, they are all secondary questions.

Don’t be distracted.

7 ... they will not search knowledge, nor understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be.

The gospel is simple.

3 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.