Surveying “The Empty Lot”

One of the purposes of the teachings of Jesus Christ is to edify us, or to build us up. In February 1831, He revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith: “I give unto you a commandment, that when ye are assembled together ye shall instruct and edify each other, that ye may know how to act and direct my church, how to act upon the points of my law and commandments, which I have given” (Doctrine and Covenants 43:8). Later that year, the Lord taught Joseph that if a gospel teacher teaches by the Holy Spirit, and if those who hear do so by the same Spirit, they will “understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together” (Doctrine and Covenants 50:21–22).

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

The words edify and edifice come from the same root—where to edify means to build up, an edifice is that which has been built.

One who lives as a disciple of Jesus Christ receives from Him the materials to build a beautiful home while in mortality. The eternal truths and the related principles of Jesus Christ’s gospel provide the concrete, brick, mortar, lumber, and other supplies, and the equipment, to construct an abode we can find happiness and peace in.

Jesus Himself is the bedrock that the foundation of our house must rest upon in order to last. The ancient prophet Helaman taught his sons, “remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall” (Helaman 5:12). Jesus Himself likened someone who followed His teachings to “a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not” (Matthew 7:24–25).

But if that’s the case, how did the house in the parable fall?

The difference between the teachings of Helaman and of the Savior above quoted and the house in the parable is that the storms and shafts are external forces, while the man in the parable had torn down his house himself. That is the only way it can happen. Once we have built ourselves such a house, we are the only ones who can undo our own labors. It is our choice. And someone who has built such a house and then removed it may even convince him or herself that it was never really there in the first place.

Fortunately, if we have done so, the opportunity is there to rebuild. It takes work, but it can be done. The grandmother in the parable hoped that the former neighbor would grace the area with his wonderful home again.

When building or rebuilding this house, one of the most important features is the door. “Behold,” said the resurrected Lord to the Apostle John, “I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).

A house that Jesus Himself wants to visit is one worth building.

Photo by Bob Ward on

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2 thoughts on “Surveying “The Empty Lot”

  1. armstrong258wp 1 August 2021 / 1:35 pm

    You make an excellent point at the end of the article, Ben. If I don’t have a house, I have no door on which Christ can knock. If I am not trying to build an edifice to Jesus, He won’t come knocking. Christ saves us through His Atonement, after (or despite) all we can do. Nevertheless, we must do SOMETHING. We cannot simply sit in an empty field and expect Jesus to drop a nice house on top of us. He’ll provide the high-grade finishes that we could not possibly create, but we have to give him something to work with. It is a partnership. We are all beggars, but we don’t have to be homeless.


    • Ben Minson 1 August 2021 / 2:13 pm

      David, thanks for elaborating on the comparison. If I’m being honest, I think I’m capable of building not much more than a shack through my own best efforts. But if I let him, Christ can enter and transform that shack into a wonderful place to live.


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