The Call of the Gospel
Based on my experience, I think that when we receive that good news, we understand it as a call to take part in a life made manifest through Jesus. That call came to me in and through the Restoration of which the LDS Church is a divine effect. But after hearing the call and responding with "yes," it is easy for our life in the gospel to slip into only a relationship to doctrine and culture, to friends and family and leaders and habits and ideas. The Spirit accepted in the call can easily be elided or forgotten in the ossification of the doctrine, culture, practices, and relationships for which it is the motive.
The challenge, therefore, is to remain true and faithful to the call in our understanding of doctrine and our life with everything and everyone else.
Jeremiah uses that phrase, "true and faithful," to describe the Lord: he is a true and faithful witness of our fidelity (Jer. 42:5). He can be trusted to judge our faithfulness to him.
In Revelation the words of God are true and faithful (Rev. 21:5)—as they are also in 2 Nephi 31:15. In Doctrine and Covenants the commandments are said to be true and faithful (D&C 1:37, 66:11, 68:34, and 71:11). These uses of the phrase are also about being a witness: God's words, whether preaching or commandment, are a witness of his promises and his expectations.
In response to his words and to the witness of God's trustworthiness that comes by the Spirit, we too must be witnesses: we must "stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places, . . . even until death, that [we] may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that [we] may have eternal life" (Mosiah 18:9).
Whatever the many and often wonderful results of the announcement and call of the gospel, if our fidelity is informed by the Spirit, then it is fidelity to that call and the Person to whom it calls us rather than to those results by themselves.
James Faulconer is a Richard L. Evans Professor of Religious Understanding at Brigham Young University, where he has taught philosophy since 1975.