Many years ago I taught near a school where a there was an athletically gifted young man. He had tremendous talent on the football field and the basketball court. He was probably the highest scorer on the basketball team, and his achievements on the football field were noticed by college scouts. When the football season came to an end, he did not attend basketball tryouts. Some supposed that he knew he would make the team without trying out. When the final roster was posted, he was not on the team.
Many young people can relate to this experience. We have all had times when we thought something was rightfully ours, only to later come to the realization that perhaps we took it for granted. Sometimes relationships are like this – we find that we didn’t value the friendship enough until we were apart or the friendship was lost.
Paul expressed this sentiment in Romans 11. Essentially he is explaining to the Roman saints that they, the “Gentiles” are being grafted in to the tree of Israel due to the lack of faith of the Jews in Paul’s time. Just because they are receiving this opportunity, Paul warns them not to become proud: “because of unbelief they (the Jews) were broken off, and thou (the Gentiles) standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again” (Romans 11:20-23).
To the youth of our day perhaps this sentiment might be expressed:
Many of us take the blessings of the gospel for granted. It is as if we are passengers on the train of the Church, which has been moving forward gradually and methodically. Sometimes we have looked out the window and thought, “That looks kind of fun out there. This train is so restrictive.” So we have jumped off and gone and played in the woods for a while. Sooner or later we find it isn’t as much fun as Lucifer makes it appear or we get critically injured, so we work our way back to the tracks and see the train ahead. With a determined sprint we catch up to it, breathlessly wipe the perspiration from our forehead, and thank the Lord for repentance.
While on the train we can see the world and some of our own members outside laughing and having a great time. They taunt us and coax us to get off. Some throw logs and rocks on the tracks to try and derail it. Other members run alongside the tracks, and while they may never go play in the woods, they just can’t seem to get on the train. Others try to run ahead and too often take the wrong turn.
I would propose that the luxury of getting on and off the train as we please is fading. The speed of the train is increasing. The woods are getting much too dangerous, and the fog and darkness are moving in. 1
Romans 11:25 The Times of the Gentiles
Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught the following about the “fulness of the Gentiles”: “For the nearly two thousand years between Abraham and Christ, the statutes and judgments of God were reserved almost exclusively for the seed of Abraham and for the house of Israel. During the mortal ministry of our Lord, the message was limited to Israel, to the Jews, and it was not then offered to the Gentiles. After Jesus’ resurrection, Peter opened the door to the preaching of the gospel of the Gentiles, and Paul became their chief apostolic advocate and teacher. Thus there was a period or time appointed for the Jews to hear the word, and then a period of time for the Gentiles to take precedence. The times of the Gentiles is the period during which the gospel goes to them on a preferential basis, and this will continue until they have had a full opportunity to accept the truth, or in other words until the fulness of the Gentiles. Then the message will go again to the Jews, meaning to the Jews as a nation and as a people.” 2
1. Elder Glenn L. Pace, Spiritual Revival, Ensign, October 1992.
2. Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 2:290.