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`Providing a paved road to eternal life'

- Study the gospel

- Understand Lord's dealings- Take advantage of opportunities

Seminaries and institutes provide young people "with a special paved road" that will lead them to life eternal, which is the greatest gift God has given to His children, said Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve.

Speaking Sunday morning, Elder Perry emphasized the need for gaining spiritual knowledge while in this life and encouraged youth and young adults to enroll in seminaries and institutes.

"We find repeated instructions to study the gospel of our Lord and Savior," said Elder Perry. "The Lord understands us perfectly. He knows that to be truly converted we must understand how He deals with His children here on earth. Gaining a knowledge of Him is fundamental to our mortal training. We also need to have a thirst and a desire to become acquainted with the doctrines of the kingdom."

He noted that President Spencer W. Kimball had said: "Mortality is the time to learn first of God and the gospel and to perform the ordinances. After our feet are set firmly on the path to eternal life we can amass more knowledge of the secular things."

Given this directive, he said, "The Church has recognized from the very beginning the need for you to have an opportunity to gain the most fundamental knowledge you need in order to gain life eternal."

Elder Perry traced the early history of Church education and noted that in 1912 the Church began building seminaries.

In 1926, the Church began the institute program. The results of that program are shown in a 1997 institute study. Of those graduating from institute, 96 percent received temple endowments, and 98 percent of those receiving endowments had their marriages performed in the temple. About 96 percent of the men served missions.

"I know the power that comes from associations in the seminary and institute programs. It will put a shield of protection around you to keep you free from the temptations and trials of the world. There is a great blessing in having a knowledge of the gospel, and I know of no better place for the young people of the Church to gain the special blessings of knowledge of sacred things than in the institute and seminary programs of the Church."

He told of teaching early morning seminary and watching "bright minds come alive to increase their knowledge of the scriptures."

"Plan on completing the full four years of seminary," he couseled. "We know the institute is available for all students and non-students between the ages of 18 and 30. Are you enrolled? If not, I invite you to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity. I promise you that the foundation you receive in these two great programs will bless you throughout your lives."