Saturday Afternoon Session

Saturday Afternoon Session

From the Conference Center
at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, this is the
Saturday afternoon session of the 188th Semiannual
General Conference of The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints, with speakers selected from the
General Authorities and General Officers of the Church. The music for this
session is provided by a combined choir
of missionaries from the Missionary Training
Center in Provo, Utah. This broadcast is furnished
as a public service by Bonneville Distribution. Any reproduction,
recording, transcription, or other use of this program
without written consent is prohibited. President Dallin H.
Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency
of the Church, will conduct this session. Brothers and sisters,
we welcome you to the Saturday afternoon
session of the 188th Semiannual General Conference of The Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. President Russell M. Nelson,
who presides at this conference, has asked that I
conduct this session. We extend our
greetings to all who are in attendance or
who are participating by means of television,
radio, or the internet. We also welcome
those who are viewing the proceedings in stake centers
in various parts of the world where the conference
is being carried by satellite transmission. The music for this
session will be provided by a combined
choir of missionaries from the Missionary Training
Center in Provo, Utah, under the direction of
Ryan Eggett and Elmo Keck, with Linda Margetts and
Bonnie Goodliffe at the organ. The choir will open
this meeting by singing “Hark, All Ye Nations!” The invocation will then be
offered by Sister Sharon L. Eubank, who serves as First
Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency. [MUSIC PLAYING – “HARK, ALL YE
NATIONS!”] Our Father in Heaven,
it’s with deep gratitude that we gather together in
a great general conference, the family of God
all over the world. We’re so thankful to be presided
over by President Russell M. Nelson. We pray Thy blessings upon
him and the First Presidency and the Twelve. We’re mindful of President
Ballard and his family. We’re so thankful for Sister
Ballard, her contribution and example, and we
extend our love to them. Father in Heaven, wilt Thou
be with us at this conference? Wilt Thou send Thy Spirit? And may we call it forth also
from the faith and the devotion that’s in our hearts, that
an abundant feast might be with us. We’re thankful to be Christians. We’re thankful to be members
of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
and pray that we might stand as witnesses in the world. Be with us this day, we pray,
in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, amen. President Henry B.
Eyring, Second Counselor in the First
Presidency, will now present the General Officers
and Area Seventies of the Church for sustaining vote. Brothers and sisters, I
will now present to you the General Authorities,
Area Seventies, and General Auxiliary
Presidencies of the Church for your sustaining vote. It is proposed that we
sustain Russell Marion Nelson as prophet, seer,
and revelator and President of The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints; Dallin Harris Oaks as First
Counselor in the First Presidency; and Henry Bennion
Eyring as Second Counselor in the First Presidency. Those in favor may manifest it. Those opposed, if
any, may manifest it. It is proposed that we sustain
Dallin H. Oaks as President of the Quorum of the Twelve
Apostles and M. Russell Ballard as Acting President of the
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Those in favor, please signify. Any opposed may manifest it. It is proposed that we sustain
the following as members of the Quorum of the
Twelve Apostles: M. Russell Ballard, Jeffrey R. Holland,
Dieter F. Uchtdorf, David A. Bednar, Quentin L. Cook, D.
Todd Christofferson, Neil L. Andersen, Ronald A. Rasband,
Gary E. Stevenson, Dale G. Renlund, Gerrit W. Gong,
and Ulisses Soares. Those in favor,
please manifest it. Any opposed may so indicate. It is proposed that we sustain
the counselors in the First Presidency and the Quorum
of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers,
and revelators. All in favor,
please manifest it. Contrary, if there be
any, by the same sign. It is proposed that
we sustain Brook P. Hales, who has been called to
serve as a General Authority Seventy. Those in favor,
please manifest it. Those opposed, if
any, may so manifest. It is proposed that we
release with appreciation for their devoted service Elders
Mervyn B. Arnold, Craig A. Cardon, Larry J. Echo Hawk, C.
Scott Grow, Allan F. Packer, Gregory A. Schwitzer,
and Claudio D. Zivic as General Authorities
and grant them emeritus status. Those who wish to join with
us in expressing gratitude to these Brethren for
their remarkable service, please so manifest. It is proposed that we
release the following as Area Seventies: B. Sergio Antunes,
Alan C. Batt, R. Randall Bluth, Hans T. Boom, Fernando E.
Calderon, H. Marcelo Cardus, Paul R. Coward, Marion B. De
Antunano, Robert A. Dryden, Daniel F. Dunnigan, Jeffrey
D. Erekson, Mervyn C. Giddey, Joao Roberto Grahl, Richard
K. Hansen, Todd B. Hansen, Michael R. Jensen, Daniel W.
Jones, Steven O. Laing, Axel H. Leimer, Tasara Makasi, Alvin F.
Meredith III, Adonay S. Obando, Katsuyuki Otahara, Fred A.
Parker, Jose C. Pineda, Gary S. Price, Miguel A. Reyes,
Alfredo L. Salas, Netzahualcoyotl Salinas,
Michael L. Southward, G. Lawrence Spackman, William H.
Stoddard, Stephen E. Thompson, David J. Thomson, George J.
Tobias, Jacques A. Van Reenen, Raul Edgardo Vicencio, Keith P.
Walker, Daniel Yirenya-Tawiah. Those who wish to join us
in expressing appreciation for their excellent
service, please manifest it. It is proposed that we sustain
the other General Authorities, Area Seventies, and General
Auxiliary Presidencies as presently constituted. All in favor,
please manifest it. Contrary, if there be
any, by the same sign. Those who opposed any of
the proposals should contact their stake president. Brothers and sisters, we are
grateful for your continued faith and prayers in behalf
of the leaders of the Church. The choir will now favor us with
a medley of “I Will Be Valiant” and “The Church
of Jesus Christ.” Following the singing, we
will hear from Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He will be followed by
Bishop Dean M. Davies, who serves as First Counselor
in the Presiding Bishopric. Elder Ulisses Soares of the
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will then address us. [MUSIC PLAYING – “I WILL BE
VALIANT–THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST”] Thank you, sisters and elders. We are with you. In Old Testament history, we
read of successive periods when the children of Israel honored
their covenant with Jehovah and worshipped Him and other
times when they ignored that covenant and worshipped
idols or Baalim. The reign of Ahab was one
of the periods of apostasy in the northern
kingdom of Israel. The prophet Elijah on one
occasion told King Ahab to gather the people of
Israel as well as the prophets or priests of Baal
at Mount Carmel. When the people
had come together, Elijah said unto them: “How long
halt ye between two opinions? [Or in other words, “When will
you decide once and for all?”] if the Lord be God, follow him:
but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered
him not a word.” So Elijah directed that both
he and Baal’s prophets cut up a young bull and place it on a
bed of wood on their respective altars, but “put no fire under.” Then, “Call ye on the
name of your gods, and I will call on
the name of the Lord: and the God that answereth
by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered
and said, It is well spoken.” You will recall that the
priests of Baal clamored to their nonexistent god
for hours to send down fire, but “there was neither
voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.” When it was Elijah’s turn, he
repaired the broken-down altar of the Lord, laid the wood
and the offering upon it, and then ordered that it
all be doused with water, not once but three times. There was no doubt that neither
he nor any other human power could light the fire. “And it came to pass at the time
of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the
prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham,
Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day
that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant,
and that I have done all these things at thy word. … “Then the fire of the Lord
fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and
the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water
that was in the trench. “And when all the people saw
it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord,
he is the God; the Lord, he is the God.” Today Elijah might say: Either God, our Heavenly
Father, exists or He does not, but if He exists, worship Him. Either Jesus Christ
is the Son of God, the resurrected Redeemer
of mankind, or He is not, but if He is, follow Him. Either the Book of Mormon is
the word of God or it is not, but if it is, then “get nearer
to God by [studying and] abiding by its precepts.” Either Joseph Smith saw and
conversed with the Father and the Son that spring
day of 1820 or he did not, but if he did, then follow
the prophetic mantle, including the keys of
sealing that I, Elijah, bestowed upon him. In the most recent
general conference, President Russell
M. Nelson declared: “You don’t have to wonder
about what is true. You do not have to wonder
whom you can safely trust. Through personal revelation,
you can receive your own witness that the Book of Mormon
is the word of God, that Joseph Smith is a
prophet, and that this is the Lord’s Church. Regardless of what
others may say or do, no one can ever take away a
witness borne to your heart and mind about what is true.” When James promised that God
“giveth to all men liberally” who seek His wisdom,
he also cautioned: “But let him ask in
faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like
a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. “For let not that man think
that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. “A double minded man is
unstable in all his ways.” Our Savior, on the other
hand, was the perfect example of stability. He said, “The Father
hath not left me alone; for I do always those
things that please him.” Consider these descriptions from
the scriptures of men and women who, like the Savior,
were firm and steadfast: They “were converted
unto the true faith; and they would not depart
from it, for they were firm, and steadfast, and immovable,
willing with all diligence to keep the commandments
of the Lord.” “Their minds are firm, and
they do put their trust in God continually.” “And behold, ye
[yourselves know], for ye have witnessed it, that
as many of them as are brought to the knowledge
of the truth … are firm and steadfast
in the faith, and … the thing wherewith they
have been made free.” “And they continued steadfastly
in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking
of bread, and in prayers.” To persevere firm and steadfast
in the faith of Christ requires that the gospel of Jesus Christ
penetrate one’s heart and soul, meaning that the gospel becomes
not just one of many influences in a person’s life, but the
defining focus of his or her life and character. The Lord says: “A new heart also
will I give you, and a new spirit will
I put within you: and I will take away the
stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you
an heart of flesh. “And I will put my
spirit within you, and cause you to
walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my
judgments, and do them. “And … ye shall be my people,
and I will be your God.” This is the covenant we make
by our baptism and in temple ordinances. But some have not yet fully
received the gospel of Jesus Christ into their lives. Although, as Paul says, they
were “buried with [Christ] by baptism,” they are still
missing the part that “like as Christ was raised up from
the dead …, even so we … should walk in [a]
newness of life.” The gospel does not
yet define them. They’re not yet
centered in Christ. They are selective about the
doctrines and commandments they will follow and where and when
they will serve in the Church. By contrast, it is in keeping
their covenants with exactness that those “who are the elect
according to the covenant” avoid deception and remain
firm in the faith of Christ. Most of us find ourselves at
this moment on a continuum between a socially motivated
participation in gospel rituals on the one hand and
a fully developed, Christlike commitment to the
will of God on the other. Somewhere along that continuum,
the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ enters into
our heart and takes possession of our soul. It may not happen in an instant,
but we should all be moving toward that blessed state. It is challenging but vital to
remain firm and steadfast when we find ourselves being refined
“in the furnace of affliction,” something that comes soon or
late to all of us in mortality. Without God, these
dark experiences tend to despondency, despair,
and even bitterness. With God, comfort replaces
pain, peace replaces turmoil, and hope replaces sorrow. Remaining firm in the faith
of Christ will bring His sustaining grace and support;
He will convert trial into blessing and, in Isaiah’s
words, give “beauty for ashes.” May I mention three examples
of which I have personal knowledge: There is a woman who suffers
with a debilitating chronic illness that persists
despite medical attention, priesthood blessings,
and fasting and prayers. Nevertheless, her faith in the
power of prayer and the reality of God’s love for
her is undiminished. She presses ahead day
by day–sometimes hour by hour–serving as called in
Church and, together with her husband, looking after
her young family, smiling as much as she can. Her compassion for
others runs deep, refined by her own suffering,
and she often loses herself in ministering to others. She continues steadfast, and
people feel happy being around her. A man who grew up in the
Church, served as a full-time missionary, and married a lovely
woman was surprised when some of his siblings began speaking
critically of the Church and the Prophet Joseph Smith. After a time they left the
Church and tried to persuade him to follow. As often happens in such cases,
they bombarded him with essays, podcasts, and videos
produced by critics, most of whom were themselves
disaffected former members of the Church. His siblings mocked his faith,
telling him he was gullible and misled. He didn’t have answers
for all their assertions, and his faith began to
waver under the relentless opposition. He wondered if he should
stop attending church. He talked with his wife. He talked with
people he trusted. He prayed. As he meditated in this
troubled state of mind, he recalled occasions when
he had felt the Holy Spirit and had received a witness
of the truth by the Spirit. He concluded, “If I
am honest with myself, I must admit that the Spirit
has touched me more than once and the testimony of
the Spirit is real.” He has a renewed sense of
happiness and peace that is shared by his wife and children. A husband and wife who have
consistently and happily followed the counsel of the
Brethren in their lives were grieved by the difficulty they
experienced in having children. They expended substantial funds
working with competent medical professionals, and after a time,
they were blessed with a son. Tragically, however,
after only about a year, the baby was the victim
of an accident that was no one’s fault but that left him
semicomatose with significant brain damage. He has received
the best of care, but doctors cannot predict
how things will unfold going forward. The child this couple worked
and prayed so hard to bring into the world has in a
sense been taken away, and they don’t know if he
will be returned to them. They struggle now to care for
their baby’s critical needs while meeting their
other responsibilities. In this supremely difficult
moment they have turned to the Lord. They rely on the “daily
bread” they receive from Him. They are aided by compassionate
friends and family and strengthened by
priesthood blessings. They have drawn
closer to one another, their union perhaps now deeper
and more complete than might otherwise have been possible. On July 23, 1837, the
Lord directed a revelation to the then-President of the
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Thomas B. Marsh. It included the following: “And pray for thy
brethren of the Twelve. Admonish them sharply
for my name’s sake, and let them be admonished
for all their sins, and be ye faithful
before me unto my name. “And after their temptations,
and much tribulation, behold, I, the Lord, will
feel after them, and if they harden
not their hearts, and stiffen not their
necks against me, they shall be converted,
and I will heal them.” I believe the principles
expressed in these verses apply to all of us. The temptations and
tribulations we experience, plus any testing that the
Lord sees fit to impose, can lead to our full
conversion and healing. But this happens if, and only
if, we do not harden our hearts or stiffen our
necks against Him. If we remain firm and
steadfast, come what may, we achieve the conversion the
Savior intended when He said to Peter, “When
thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren,” a
conversion so complete that it cannot be undone. The promised healing is the
cleansing and sanctification of our sin-wounded
souls, making us holy. I am reminded of our mothers’
counsel: “Eat your vegetables; it will do you good.” Our mothers are right, and in
the context of steadfastness in the faith, “eating
your vegetables” is to pray constantly, to
feast on the scriptures daily, serve and worship in the Church,
worthily take the sacrament each week, love your neighbor,
and take up your cross in obedience to God each day. Always remember the promise
of good things to come, both now and hereafter,
for those who are firm and steadfast in
the faith of Christ. Remember “eternal life,
and the joy of the saints.” “O all ye that
are pure in heart, lift up your heads and receive
the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love; for
ye may, if your minds are firm, forever.” In the name of
Jesus Christ, amen. In speaking of the President
of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
the Lord proclaimed: “And again, the duty of
the President of the office of the High Priesthood is to
preside over the whole church, and to be like unto Moses– “… Yea, to be a seer, a revelator,
a translator, and a prophet, having all the gifts of God
which he bestows upon the head of the church.” I have been blessed to witness
some of the gifts of God upon His prophets. May I share one such
sacred experience with you? Prior to my current calling, I
assisted in the identification and recommending of
future temple sites. After September 11, 2001,
crossings along the U.S. borders became more controlled. As a result, it took two to
three hours for many Church members to make the crossing
from Vancouver, Canada, while going to the
Seattle Washington Temple. President Gordon B. Hinckley,
President of the Church at that time, suggested that a temple
in Vancouver would bless members of the Church. A site search was authorized,
and after we examined several Church-owned properties, other
sites not owned by the Church were also investigated. A beautiful site with
religious zoning adjacent to the Trans-Canadian
Highway was found. The property had
excellent access, was dotted with beautiful
Canadian pine trees, and enjoyed a prominent location
which would make it visible to thousands of
passing motorists. We presented the site
with pictures and maps in the monthly Temple
Sites Committee meeting. President Hinckley authorized
that we place it under contract and complete the
necessary studies. In December of that year we
reported back to the committee that the studies were complete,
and we sought approval to proceed with the purchase. After hearing our report,
President Hinckley said, “I feel I should see this site.” Later that month, two
days after Christmas, we left for Vancouver
with President Hinckley, President Thomas S.
Monson, and Bill Williams, a temple architect. We were met by Paul Christensen,
the local stake president, who transported us to the site. It was a little wet
and misty that day, but President Hinckley jumped
out of the car and began walking all over the site. After spending time on the
site, I asked President Hinckley if he would like to see some of
the other sites that had been considered. He said yes, he would like that. You see, by looking
at the other sites, we were able to make a
comparison of their virtues. We did a large clockwise
loop around Vancouver, looking at the other properties,
ultimately arriving back at the original site. President Hinckley said,
“This is a beautiful site.” Then he asked, “Can we go to the
Church-owned meetinghouse about one-quarter mile away?” “Of course, President,”
we responded. We got back into the cars
and drove to the nearby meetinghouse. As we arrived at the chapel,
President Hinckley said, “Turn left here.” We turned and followed
the street as instructed. The street began
to rise slightly. Just as the car reached
the crown of the rise, President Hinckley said,
“Stop the car; stop the car.” He then pointed to the right
at a parcel of ground and said, “What about this property? This is where the temple goes. This is where the
Lord wants the temple. Can you get it? Can you get it?” We hadn’t looked
at this property. It was farther back and
away from the main road, and it was not listed for sale. When we responded
we didn’t know, President Hinckley pointed to
the property and said again, “This is where the temple goes.” We stayed a few minutes, then
left for the airport to return home. The next day Brother Williams
and I were called to President Hinckley’s office. He had drawn out everything on
a piece of paper: the roads, the chapel, turn left here, x
marks the spot for the temple. He asked what we had found out. We told him he couldn’t
have picked a more difficult property. It was owned by three
individuals: one from Canada, one from India,
and one from China! And it didn’t have the
necessary religious zoning. “Well, do your best,” he said. Then the miracles happened. Within several months
we owned the property, and later the city of
Langley, British Columbia, gave permission to
build the temple. In reflecting upon
this experience, I am humbled by the realization
that while Brother Williams and I possessed formal education
and years of experience in real estate and temple design,
President Hinckley had no such formal training, but he had
something far greater–the gift of prophetic seership. He was able to envision where
God’s temple should stand. When the Lord commanded
the early Saints in this dispensation to construct
a temple, He declared: “But let a house be built
unto my name according to the pattern which
I will show unto them. “And if my people build it not
according to the pattern which I shall show …, I will not
accept it at their hands.” And as with the early Saints,
so it is with us today: the Lord has revealed
and continues to reveal to the President of the
Church the patterns by which the kingdom of God is to
be directed in our day. And, at a personal level, he
provides guidance as to how each of us should
direct our lives, such that our conduct may
likewise be acceptable to the Lord. In April 2013, I spoke about the
efforts involved in preparing every temple’s foundation to
ensure that it can withstand the storms and calamities to
which it will be subjected. But the foundation is
just the beginning. A temple is composed of
many building blocks, fitted together according
to predesigned patterns. If our lives are to become the
temples each of us is striving to construct as
taught by the Lord, we could reasonably
ask ourselves, “What building blocks should we
put in place in order to make our lives beautiful, majestic,
and resistant to the storms of the world?” We can find the answer to this
question in the Book of Mormon. Concerning the Book of Mormon,
the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “I told the brethren that the
Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on
earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would
get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than
by any other book.” In the introduction to the Book
of Mormon we are taught that those who gain a divine witness
from the Holy Spirit that the Book of Mormon is the word
of God will also come to know by the same power that
Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith
is His revelator and prophet of the Restoration, and that
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the
Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth. These, then, are some
essential building blocks of our individual
faith and testimony: Jesus Christ is the
Savior of the world. The Book of Mormon
is the word of God. The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of God on the earth. And Joseph Smith is a prophet,
and we have living prophets on the earth today. In recent months I have listened
to every general conference address which President Nelson
has given since he was first called as an Apostle. This exercise has
changed my life. As I studied and pondered
34 years of President Nelson’s collected wisdom, clear
and consistent themes emerged from his teachings. Each of these themes relates
to those building blocks just mentioned or is another key
building block for our personal temples. They include faith in the
Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism for the
remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost,
redemption of the dead, temple work, keeping
the Sabbath day holy, beginning with the end in mind,
staying on the covenant path. President Nelson has spoken
of them all with love and devotion. The chief cornerstone and
building block of the Church and for our lives
is Jesus Christ. This is His Church. President Nelson is His prophet. President Nelson’s
teachings witness and reveal for our benefit the life and
character of Jesus Christ. He speaks lovingly and
knowingly of the Savior’s nature and of His mission. He has also borne frequent and
fervent testimony of the divine calling of the living
prophets–the Presidents of the Church–under
whom he has served. Now, today, it is our
privilege to sustain him as the Lord’s living
prophet on the earth. We are accustomed to sustaining
Church leaders through the divine pattern of raising
our arms to the square to manifest our
acceptance and support. We did this just
a few minutes ago. But true sustaining goes well
beyond this physical token. As noted in the Doctrine
and Covenants, section 107, the First Presidency is to
be “upheld by the confidence, faith, and prayer
of the church.” We come to fully and truly
sustain the living prophet as we develop the pattern
of confiding in his words, having the faith
to act upon them, and then praying for the Lord’s
continued blessings upon him. When I think of President
Russell M. Nelson, I take comfort in the words
of the Savior when He said, “And if my people will
hearken unto my voice, and unto the voice of my
servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold,
verily I say unto you, they shall not be moved
out of their place.” Listening to and hearkening
to living prophets will have profound, even life-changing
effects in our lives. We are strengthened. We are more assured and
confident in the Lord. We hear the word of the Lord. We feel God’s love. We will know how to conduct
our lives with purpose. I love and sustain
President Russell M. Nelson and the others who have
been called as prophets, seers, and revelators. I testify that he has the gifts
the Lord has bestowed upon his head, and I witness that
as we solidify in our lives the practice of listening to and
heeding the voice of the living prophets, our lives
will be built according to the Lord’s divine pattern
for us and we will reap eternal blessings. The invitation is
extended to all. Come, listen to a
prophet’s voice; yea, come unto Christ and live. In the name of
Jesus Christ, amen. Good afternoon, my dear
brothers and sisters. As we say in my native Brazilian
Portuguese, “Boa tarde!” I feel blessed to gather
together in this wonderful general conference of The Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints under the direction
of our beloved prophet, President Russell M. Nelson. I marvel at the great
opportunity each one of us has to listen to the Lord’s voice
through His servants on earth in these latter days
we are living in. My home country of Brazil is
very rich in natural resources. One of them is the
famous Amazon River, one of the largest and
longest rivers in the world. It is formed by two separate
rivers, the Solimoes and Negro. Interestingly, they flow
together for a number of miles before the waters blend, due
to the rivers having very different origins,
speeds, temperatures, and chemical compositions. After several miles, the
waters finally blend together, becoming a river different
than its individual parts. Only after these parts merge,
the Amazon River becomes so powerful that when it
reaches the Atlantic Ocean, it pushes back the seawater so
that fresh water can still be found for many miles
out into the ocean. In a similar way that the
Solimoes and Negro Rivers flow together to make the
great Amazon River, the children of God come
together in the restored Church of Jesus Christ from different
social backgrounds, traditions, and cultures, forming this
wonderful community of Saints in Christ. Eventually, as we encourage,
support, and love each other, we combine to form a mighty
force for good in the world. As followers of Jesus Christ,
flowing as one in this river of goodness, we will be able
to provide the “fresh water” of the gospel to
a thirsty world. The Lord has inspired His
prophets to teach us how we can support and love each other so
we can become united in faith and purpose in
following Jesus Christ. Paul, the New Testament Apostle,
taught that those who “have been baptized into Christ
have put on Christ … for ye are all one
in Christ Jesus.” When we promise at baptism
to follow the Savior, we witness before the Father
that we are willing to take upon us the name of Christ. And as we strive to acquire His
divine attributes in our lives, we become different than we were
through the Atonement of Christ the Lord, and our love for all
people increases naturally. We feel a sincere concern
for everyone’s welfare and happiness. We see each other as
brothers and sisters, as children of God with
divine origin, attributes, and potential. We desire to care for each other
and bear one another’s burdens. This is what Paul
described as charity. Mormon, a prophet of
the Book of Mormon, described it as “the
pure love of Christ,” which is the most
sublime, noblest, and strongest form of love. And our current prophet,
President Russell M. Nelson, recently described a
manifestation of this pure love of Christ as ministering, which
is a more focused and holier approach to love and care
for other individuals like the Savior did. Let us consider this principle
of love and care as the Savior did within the context
of encouraging, helping, and supporting those who are
recent converts and those beginning to show interest in
attending our Church services. When these new friends come
out of the world and embrace the gospel of Jesus
Christ, joining His Church, they become His disciples,
being born again through Him. They leave behind a world they
knew well and choose to follow Jesus Christ with full purpose
of heart, joining a new “river” like the mighty Amazon River–a
river that is a valiant force of goodness and righteousness
that flows toward the presence of God. The Apostle Peter describes
it as a “chosen generation, a royal priesthood, [a] holy
nation, a peculiar people.” As these new friends merge into
this new and unfamiliar river, they may feel a
little lost at first. These new friends find
themselves blending into a river with unique
origins, temperatures, and chemical compositions–a
river that has its own traditions, culture,
and vocabulary. This new life in Christ may
seem overwhelming for them. Think for a moment about how
they may feel as they hear for the first time such
expressions as “FHE,” “BYC,” “fast Sunday,” “baptism for the
dead,” “triple combination,” and so forth. It is easy to see why they may
feel like they don’t belong. In such situations,
they may ask themselves, “Is there a place for me here? Do I fit in The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints? Does the Church need me? Will I find new friends willing
to help and support me?” My dear friends,
in such moments, those of us who are at different
points in the long journey of discipleship must extend
a warm hand of fellowship to our new friends, accept them
where they are, and help, love, and include them in our lives. All of these new friends are
precious sons and daughters of God. We cannot afford to
lose even one of them, because like the Amazon River
that depends on tributaries feeding it, we need them
just as much as they need us, to become a mighty force
for good in the world. Our new friends bring
God-given talents, excitement, and goodness within them. Their enthusiasm for the
gospel can be contagious, thereby helping us revitalize
our own testimonies. They also bring
fresh perspectives to our understanding
of life and the gospel. We have long been taught how
we can help our new friends to feel welcome and loved in
the restored Church of Jesus Christ. They need three things so they
may remain strong and faithful throughout their lives. First, they need brothers and
sisters in the Church who are sincerely interested in them,
true and loyal friends to whom they can constantly turn,
who will walk beside them, and who will answer
their questions. As members, we should always
be attentive and look for new faces when attending Church
activities and meetings, regardless of the
responsibilities, assignments, or concerns we may have. We can do simple things to help
these new friends feel embraced and welcome in the Church,
such as giving a warm greeting, smiling sincerely at them,
sitting together to sing and worship, introducing them
to other members, and so forth. As we open our hearts to our new
friends in some of these ways, we are acting in the
spirit of ministering. When we minister to them
like the Savior did, they won’t feel like
“strangers within our gates.” They will feel like they can
fit in and make new friends, and most importantly, they will
feel the Savior’s love through our genuine care. Second, new friends need an
assignment–an opportunity to serve others. Service is one of the great
geniuses of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is a process by which
our faith can grow stronger. Every new friend deserves
that opportunity. While the bishop and
ward council have direct responsibility to extend
assignments soon after their baptism, nothing prevents
us as members from inviting our new friends to help us serve
others informally or through service projects. Third, new friends must be
“nourished by the good word of God.” We can help them to love
and become familiar with the scriptures as we read and
discuss the teachings with them, providing them context
to the stories and explaining difficult words. We can also teach them how
to receive personal guidance through regular scripture study. In addition, we can reach out
to our new friends in their own homes and invite them to ours at
times outside of our regularly scheduled Church
meetings and activities, helping them merge into the
mighty river of the community of Saints. Recognizing the adjustments and
challenges our new friends make in becoming members of God’s
family as brothers and sisters, we can share how we have
overcome similar challenges in our lives. This will help them know that
they are not alone and that God will bless them as they
exercise faith in His promises. When the Solimoes and Negro
Rivers blend together, the Amazon River becomes
mighty and strong. In a similar fashion, when
we and our new friends truly merge, the restored Church
of Jesus Christ becomes even stronger and steadier. My sweetheart, Rosana, and I are
so grateful for all those who helped us to blend into this
new river many years ago when we embraced the gospel of Jesus
Christ in our home country of Brazil. Throughout the years, these
wonderful people have truly ministered to us and have
helped us to continue flowing in righteousness. We are so grateful for them. The prophets in the Western
Hemisphere knew well how to keep new friends flowing
faithfully together into this new river of goodness
toward eternal life. For example, having seen our day
and knowing that we would face similar challenges, Moroni
included some of those important steps in his
writings in the Book of Mormon, and I quote: “And after they had been
received unto baptism, and were wrought upon
and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were
numbered among the people of the church of Christ;
and their names were taken, that they might be remembered
and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them
in the right way, to keep them continually
watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon
the merits of Christ, who was the author and the
finisher of their faith. “And the church did
meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and
to speak one with another concerning the welfare
of their souls.” My beloved companions
in the work of the Lord, I believe we can do much
better and should do better in welcoming new
friends into the Church. I invite you to consider what
we can do to be more embracing, accepting, and helpful to them,
starting this next very Sunday. Be careful to not let your
Church assignments get in the way of welcoming new
friends at Church meetings and activities. After all, these souls are
precious before the eyes of God and are much more important
than programs and activities. If we minister to our new
members with our hearts full of the pure love of the Savior
as He did, I promise you, in His name, that He will
assist us in our efforts. When we act as faithful
ministers as the Savior did, our new friends will have
the help they need to remain strong, dedicated, and
faithful to the end. They will join us as we become
a mighty people of God and will help us to bring fresh water
to a world desperately in need of the blessings of the
gospel of Jesus Christ. These children of God will
feel like they are “no more strangers and foreigners,
but fellowcitizens with the saints.” I promise you that they
will recognize the presence of our Savior Jesus
Christ in His own Church. They will continue to flow with
us as a river into the fountain of goodness until they are
received with open arms by our Lord Jesus Christ and
they hear the Father say, “Ye shall have eternal life.” I invite you to seek the Lord’s
help in loving others as He has loved you. Let us all follow the counsel
of Mormon: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren
[and sisters], pray unto the Father with
all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled
with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all
who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ.” Of these truths I witness and do
so in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. The congregation will now join
the choir in singing “Called to Serve.” After the singing, we will
hear from Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of
the Twelve Apostles. He will be followed by Elder
Paul B. Pieper of the Seventy. This is the 188th Semiannual
General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints. [MUSIC PLAYING – “CALLED TO
SERVE”] Dear brothers and sisters,
isn’t it marvelous to continue receiving revelation from heaven
through President Russell M. Nelson and our Church leaders
that invites us to live in new and holier ways, at home and
at church, with all our heart, mind, and strength? Have you ever had opportunity to
do something for which you felt unprepared or inadequate
but were blessed for trying? I have. Here’s one example. Some years ago, Elder
Richard G. Scott, a member of the Quorum
of the Twelve Apostles, kindly invited, “Gerrit, would
you like to watercolor with me?” Elder Scott said painting
helped him observe and create. He has written:
“Attempt to be creative, even if the results are modest. … Creativity can engender a
spirit of gratitude for life and for what the Lord has
woven into your being. … If you choose wisely, it doesn’t
have to absorb a lot of time.” President Henry B. Eyring
describes his artistic meditations as motivated
by “a feeling of love,” including “the love of a
Creator who expects His children to become like Him–to
create and to build.” President Eyring’s creative
works provide a “unique, spiritual perspective
on testimony and faith.” President Boyd K. Packer’s
artwork illustrates a fundamental gospel
message: “God is the Creator of the heavens and the earth
and all things that are in them, that all nature bears testimony
of that divinely directed creation, and that there is
[a] complete harmony between nature, science, and the
gospel of Jesus Christ.” Alma testifies, “All things
denote there is a God.” Our Primary children sing,
“Whenever I hear the song of a bird or look at
the blue, blue sky, … I’m glad that I live in this
beautiful world Heav’nly Father created for me.” Author Victor Hugo celebrates
the “miraculous relationships between beings and things;
in this inexhaustible whole, from sun to aphid. … All the birds that fly
hold the thread of eternity in their claws. … A nebula is an
anthill of stars.” And that brings us back to
Elder Scott’s invitation. “Elder Scott,” I replied,
“I would like to become more observant and creative. I thrill to imagine Heavenly
Father paints with billowing clouds and every hue
of sky and water. But”–here was a long pause– “Elder Scott,” I said, “I
have no skill to watercolor. I worry it may frustrate
you to try and teach me.” Elder Scott smiled and
arranged for us to meet. On the appointed day, he
prepared paper, paints, and brushes. He sketched some outlines and
helped wet the paper for me. We used as a model his beautiful
watercolor titled Campfire at Sunset. As we painted, we talked about
faith–how as we face the light and warmth of a campfire,
we leave the darkness and uncertainty behind
us–how on sometimes long, lonely nights, our campfire
of faith can give hope and assurance. And the dawn does come. Our campfire of faith–our
memories, experiences, and heritage of faith in God’s
goodness and tender mercies in our life–has strengthened
us through the night. My testimony is, for those
who seek, allow, live for it, the dawn of faith,
sometimes gradually, will come or can return. The light will come when
we desire and seek it, when we are patient and
obedient to God’s commands, when we are open to God’s
grace, healing, and covenants. As we began painting, Elder
Scott encouraged, “Gerrit, even with one lesson you will
paint something you will want to keep and remember.” Elder Scott was right. I treasure the watercolor of our
campfire of faith Elder Scott helped me paint. My artistic ability was
and remains limited, but the remembrance of our
campfire of faith can encourage us in five ways. First, our campfire of faith
can encourage us to find joy in wholesome creativity. There is joy in
imagining, learning, doing worthwhile new things. This is especially true as
we deepen faith and trust in Heavenly Father and
His Son, Jesus Christ. We cannot love ourselves
enough to save ourselves. But Heavenly Father loves us
more and knows us better than we love or know ourselves. We can trust the Lord and lean
not unto our own understanding. Have you ever been the
only one not invited to someone’s birthday party? Have you ever been chosen
last, or not chosen, when teams were selected? Have you prepared for a
school test, a job interview, an opportunity you really
wanted–and you felt you failed? Have you prayed for
a relationship that, for whatever reason,
has not worked out? Have you faced chronic illness,
been abandoned by a spouse, agonized for family? Our Savior knows
our circumstances. As we exercise God-given agency
and engage all our faculties in humility and faith, our
Savior Jesus Christ can help us meet life’s challenges and joys. Faith includes a desire
and choice to believe. Faith also comes from
obeying God’s commandments, given to bless us, as we
follow His covenant path. When we have felt, or feel,
uncertain, alone, frustrated, angry, let down, disappointed,
or estranged from God and His restored Church, it may take
an extra measure of effort and faith to enter again
on His covenant path. But it is worth it! Please come, or come again,
unto the Lord Jesus Christ! God’s love is stronger than
the cords of death–temporal or spiritual. Our Savior’s Atonement
is infinite and eternal. Each of us strays
and falls short. We may, for a
time, lose our way. God lovingly assures us, no
matter where we are or what we have done, there is
no point of no return. He waits ready to embrace us. Second, our campfire of faith
can encourage us to minister in new, higher, and
holier Spirit-filled ways. Such brings miracles and
the blessings of covenant belonging–where we feel God’s
love and seek to minister to others in that spirit. Not long ago, Sister Gong and I
became acquainted with a father and family blessed by a faithful
priesthood brother who came to their bishop and asked if he
(the priesthood brother) could be a home teaching
companion with the father. The father was not active
and not interested in home teaching. But as the father’s
heart changed, he and this loving priesthood
brother began visiting “their” families. After one such visit, his
wife–herself not then attending Church–asked her
husband how things had gone. The father admitted, “I may have
felt something”–and then he went to the kitchen
to get a beer. But one thing followed
another: tender experiences, ministering service,
changing hearts, temple preparation
class, coming to Church, being sealed as a family
in the holy temple. Imagine how grateful the
children and grandchildren are to their father and mother and
to the ministering brother who came as a friend and companion
with their father to minister and love others. A third campfire of
faith encouragement: gospel joy and blessings come
when we seek to love the Lord and others with all
our hearts and souls. The scriptures invite us
to place all we are and are becoming on the altar
of love and service. In the Old Testament,
Deuteronomy enjoins us to “love the Lord thy God” with all
our heart, soul, and might. Joshua exhorts, “Love
the Lord your God, … walk in all his ways, …
keep his commandments, … cleave unto him, and …
serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” In the New Testament, our
Savior states the two great commandments: “Thou shalt love
the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul,
and with all thy strength, … and thy neighbour as thyself.” In the Book of Mormon: Another
Testament of Jesus Christ, King Benjamin labored “with
all the might of his body and the faculty
of his whole soul” and established
peace in the land. In the Doctrine and Covenants,
as every missionary knows, the Lord asks us to serve Him
with all our “heart, might, mind and strength.” When the Saints
entered Jackson County, the Lord commanded them to
keep the Sabbath holy by loving “the Lord thy God
with all thy heart, [and] with all thy might,
mind, and strength; and in the name of Jesus
Christ thou shalt serve him.” We rejoice in the invitation
to devote our whole souls to seeking higher and holier
ways to love God and those around us and to strengthen
our faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in our hearts
and in our homes and at Church. Fourth, our campfire of faith
encourages us to establish regular patterns of righteous
living that deepen faith and spirituality. These holy habits,
righteous routines, or prayerful patterns
may include prayer; scripture study; fasting;
remembering our Savior and covenants through the
ordinance of the sacrament; sharing gospel blessings
through missionary, temple and family history,
and other service; keeping a thoughtful
personal journal; and so on. When righteous patterns and
spiritual yearnings join, time and eternity come together. Spiritual light and life
come when regular religious observance draws us closer
to our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ. When we love the spirit
and letter of the law, the things of eternity can
distill upon our souls like the dews from heaven. With daily obedience and
refreshing living water, we find answers, faith, and
strength to meet everyday challenges and opportunities
with gospel patience, perspective, and joy. Fifth, as we keep the best of
familiar patterns while seeking new and holier ways to love God
and help us and others prepare to meet Him, our campfire
of faith can encourage us to remember perfection
is in Christ, not in ourselves or in the
perfectionism of the world. God’s invitations are full
of love and possibility because Jesus Christ is “the
way, the truth, and the life.” To those who feel burdened,
He invites, “Come unto me,” and to those who come
to Him, He promises, “I will give you rest.” “Come unto Christ, and
be perfected in him, … love God with all your
might, mind and strength, then is his grace
sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may
be perfect in Christ.” In this assurance, “by his grace
ye may be perfect in Christ” is also the comfort, peace, and
promise we can continue forward with faith and
confidence in the Lord, even when things do not
go as we hope, expect, or perhaps deserve, through
no fault of our own, even after we have
done our best. In various times and ways, we
all feel inadequate, uncertain, perhaps unworthy. Yet in our faithful efforts
to love God and to minister to our neighbor, we may
feel God’s love and needed inspiration for their and our
lives in new and holier ways. With compassion, our Savior
encourages and promises we can “press forward with a
steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect
brightness of hope, and a love of God
and of all men.” The doctrine of Christ,
our Savior’s Atonement, and our whole-souled following
of His covenant path can help us know His truths
and make us free. I testify the fulness of
His gospel and His plan of happiness are restored and
taught in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints, in holy scripture, and by prophets from the Prophet
Joseph Smith to President Russell M. Nelson today. I testify His covenant path
leads to the greatest gift our loving Heavenly
Father promises: “Ye shall have eternal life.” May His blessings and enduring
joy be ours as we warm our hearts and hopes and
commitment at our campfire of faith, I pray in the sacred
and holy name of Jesus Christ, amen. A few weeks ago I took part
in the baptism of several eight-year-old children. They had begun to learn the
gospel of Jesus Christ from their parents and teachers. The seed of their faith
in Him had begun to grow. And now they wanted to follow
Him into the waters of baptism to become members of
His restored Church. As I watched their anticipation,
I wondered how much they understood about one important
aspect of their baptismal covenant: their commitment to
take upon themselves the name of Jesus Christ. From the beginning, God has
declared the preeminence of the name of Jesus
Christ in His plan for us. An angel taught our
first father, Adam: “Thou shalt do all that thou
doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call
upon God in the name of the Son forevermore.” The Book of Mormon prophet King
Benjamin taught his people, “There shall be no other name
given nor any other way nor means whereby
salvation can come.” The Lord reiterated this truth
to the Prophet Joseph Smith: “Behold, Jesus Christ is
the name which is given of the Father, and there is none
other name given whereby man can be saved.” In our day, President Dallin H.
Oaks has taught that “those who exercise faith in the sacred
name of Jesus Christ … and enter into his covenant …
can lay claim on the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.” Our Heavenly Father wants to
make it absolutely clear that the name of His
Son, Jesus Christ, is not simply one
name among many. The Savior’s name has
singular and essential power. It is the only name by
which salvation is possible. By emphasizing this truth
in every dispensation, our loving Father assures all
of His children that there is a way back to Him. But having a sure way available
does not mean that our return is automatically assured. God tells us that our action
is required: “Wherefore, all men [and women] must take
upon them the name which is given of the Father.” In order to access the saving
power that comes only through the name of Christ, we must
“humble [ourselves] before God … and come forth with broken
hearts and contrite spirits … and [be] willing to take upon
[us] the name of Jesus Christ” and thereby qualify, like my
young eight-year-old friends, to “be received by
baptism into his church.” All who sincerely desire to
take the Savior’s name upon them must qualify for and receive
the ordinance of baptism as a physical witness to
God of their decision. But baptism is
just the beginning. The word take is not passive. It is an action word with
multiple definitions. Likewise, our commitment to
take upon us the name of Jesus Christ requires action and
has multiple dimensions. For example, one meaning of
the word take is to partake of or receive into one’s body,
such as when we take a drink. By taking upon ourselves
the name of Christ, we commit to take His
teachings, His characteristics, and ultimately His love deep
into our beings so that they become part of who we are. Thus the importance of President
Nelson’s invitation to young adults to “prayerfully and
vigorously [seek] to understand what each of [the Savior’s]
various titles and names means personally for [them]” and to
feast on the words of Christ in the scriptures, especially
the Book of Mormon. Another meaning of the word
take is to accept a person in a particular role or embrace
the truthfulness of an idea or principle. When we take upon us
the name of Christ, we accept Him as our Savior
and continually embrace His teachings as the
guide for our lives. In every meaningful
decision we make, we can take His gospel to be
true and obediently live it with all of our heart,
might, mind, and strength. The word take can also mean
to align oneself with a name or a cause. Most of us have had the
experience of taking on responsibility at
work or taking up a cause or a movement. When we take upon ourselves
the name of Christ, we take upon us the
responsibilities of a true disciple, we advocate His cause,
and we “stand as witnesses of [Him] at all times
and in all things, and in all places
that [we] may be in.” President Nelson has called upon
“every young woman and every young man … to enlist in the
youth battalion of the Lord to help gather Israel.” And all of us are grateful
to take up the prophetic call to profess the name of His
restored Church as revealed by the Savior Himself:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the process of taking
the Savior’s name upon us, we must understand that the
cause of Christ and of His Church are one and the same. They cannot be separated. Similarly, our personal
discipleship to the Savior and active membership in His
Church are also inseparable. If we falter in our
commitment to one, our commitment to the
other will be diminished, as surely as night follows day. Some are reluctant to assume
the name of Jesus Christ and His cause because they regard it
to be unduly narrow, limiting, and confining. In reality, taking upon us
the name of Christ is both liberating and enlarging. It awakens the desire we felt
when we accepted God’s plan through faith in the Savior. With this desire
alive in our hearts, we can discover the real purpose
of our divinely given gifts and talents, experience
His empowering love, and grow in our concern
for the welfare of others. As we take upon us
the Savior’s name, we truly lay hold
upon every good thing. It is important to remember that
taking the Savior’s name upon us is a covenant
commitment–beginning with the covenant we make at baptism. President Nelson has taught,
“[Our] commitment to follow the Savior by making covenants
with Him and then keeping those covenants will open the door
to every spiritual blessing and privilege available.” One of the supernal privileges
of taking the Savior’s name upon us by baptism is the
access it provides to the next ordinance on the covenant
path, our confirmation. When I asked one of my
eight-year-old friends what taking the name of Christ meant
to her, she replied simply, “It means I can have
the Holy Ghost.” She was right. The gift of the Holy Ghost is
received by confirmation after we have received the
ordinance of baptism. This gift is the right and
opportunity to have the Holy Ghost as a constant companion. If we listen to and obey
His still, small voice, He will keep us on the covenant
path we entered through baptism, warn us when we are
tempted to depart from it, and encourage us to repent
and adjust as necessary. Our focus after baptism is to
keep the Holy Ghost always with us so that we can continue
progressing along the covenant path. The Holy Ghost can be with
us only to the degree we keep our lives clean
and free from sin. For this reason, the Lord
has provided a way for us to continually refresh the
purifying effect of our baptism through another
ordinance–the sacrament. Each week, we can “witness …
that [we] are willing to take upon [us] the name of [the]
Son” again by reaching out and taking the emblems of
the Lord’s flesh and blood in our hands–the bread and the
water–and partaking of them into our very souls. In return, the Savior performs
His cleansing miracle yet again and qualifies us to have
the continuing influence of the Holy Ghost. Is this not evidence of the
infinite mercy found only in the name of Jesus Christ? Just as we take
His name upon us, He takes our sins
and sorrows upon Him, and yet His arm is
“stretched out still” to encircle us in
the arms of His love. The sacrament is a weekly
reminder that taking upon us the name of Jesus Christ
is a living and continuing commitment, not a single
event that happens once only on the day of our baptism. We can continually and
repeatedly enjoy “that sacred holy off’ring, by
man least understood, to have our sins remitted and
take his flesh and blood.” It is little wonder then that
whenever the children of God understand the powerful,
spiritual blessings that can come from taking upon
them the name of Christ, their feeling is always of
joy and their desire is always to enter into a
covenant with their God. As we follow this divinely
designed covenant path, our commitment and efforts to
take upon us the name of Jesus Christ will give us the strength
to “retain [His] name written always in [our] hearts.” We will love God and our
neighbors and feel a desire to minister to them. We will keep His commandments
and yearn to draw nearer to Him by entering into additional
covenants with Him. And when we find ourselves
weak and incapable to act on our righteous desires, we
will plead for the strength that comes only
through His name, and He will come to our aid. As we endure in faithfulness,
the day will come when we will see Him and be with Him, and we
will find that we have become like Him, thus qualifying
us to return to the presence of the Father. For the Savior’s
promise is sure: those who “believe on
the name of Jesus Christ, and worship the
Father in his name, and endure in faith on
his name to the end” will be saved in
the kingdom of God. With you, I rejoice that these
incomparable blessings are made possible by taking upon us
the name of Jesus Christ, of whom and in whose
name I testify, amen. We are grateful for all who
have spoken to us this afternoon and for the beautiful music
that has been provided by this missionary choir. As you are all aware, we have
made changes to the general conference schedule, which
become effective with this conference. We will have no priesthood
meeting this evening. Instead we will have a general
women’s session for all sisters ages eight and older, which
will commence in the Conference Center this evening at 6:00 p.m. mountain daylight time. The nationwide broadcast of
Music and the Spoken Word will be tomorrow morning
from 9:30 to 10:00 a.m. mountain daylight time. The Sunday morning session of
conference will immediately follow. The concluding speaker for this
session will be Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum
of the Twelve Apostles. Following his remarks, the
choir will close this meeting by singing “Hope of Israel.” The benediction will then
be offered by Elder Joni L. Koch of the Seventy. My dear brothers and sisters,
it’s such a wonderful occasion to be with you in this marvelous
general conference session today to listen to
inspired messages, to listen to this marvelous,
amazing choir of missionaries representing the many thousands
of missionaries all around the world–our daughters, our
sons–and especially of being united in our faith today, again
sustaining our dear President and prophet, President
Russell M. Nelson; the First Presidency; and the
General Officers of the Church. What a joyful day to
be with you today! Now, the ancient King Solomon
was one of the most outwardly successful human
beings in history. He seemed to have everything:
money, power, adoration, honor. But after decades of
self-indulgence and luxury, how did King Solomon
sum up his life? “All is vanity,” he said. This man, who had it all, ended
up disillusioned, pessimistic, and unhappy despite everything
he had going for him. There’s a word in
German, Weltschmerz. Loosely defined, it means
the sadness that comes from brooding about how the world
is inferior to how we think it ought to be. Perhaps there’s a little
Weltschmerz in all of us. When silent sorrows creep
into the corners of our lives; when sadness saturates our days
and casts deep shadows over our nights; when tragedy and
injustice enter the world around us, including the
lives of those we love; when we journey through our
own personal and lonely path of misfortune, and pain darkens
our stillness and breaches our tranquility–we might be
tempted to agree with Solomon that life is vain and
devoid of meaning. The good news is, there is hope. There is a solution to
the emptiness, vanity, and Weltschmerz of life. There is a solution to even
the deepest hopelessness and discouragement
you might feel. This hope is found in
the transformative power of the gospel of Jesus Christ
and in the Savior’s redemptive power to heal us from
our soul-sickness. “I am come,” Jesus declared,
“that they might have life, and that they might have
it more abundantly.” We achieve that abundant life
not by focusing on our own needs or on our own achievements
but by becoming true disciples of Jesus Christ–by following
in His ways and engaging in His work. We find the abundant life
by forgetting ourselves and engaging in the
great cause of Christ. Now, what is the
cause of Christ? It is to believe in Him, love
as He loved, and do as He did. Jesus “went about doing good.” He walked among the poor,
the outcast, the sick, and the ashamed. He ministered to the powerless,
the weak, and the friendless. He spent time with them;
He spoke with them. “And he healed them.” Everywhere He went, the
Savior taught the “good news” of the gospel. He shared eternal truths that
set people free spiritually as well as temporally. Those who dedicate themselves
to Christ’s cause discover the truth of the
Savior’s promise: “Whosoever will lose his life
for my sake shall find it.” Solomon was wrong, my dear
brothers and sisters–life is not “vanity.” To the contrary, it can be full
of purpose, meaning, and peace. The healing hands of Jesus
Christ reach out to all who seek Him. I have come to know without a
doubt that believing and loving God and striving to follow
Christ can change our hearts, soften our pain, and fill our
souls with “exceedingly great joy.” Of course, we must do more than
merely have an intellectual understanding of the gospel
for it to have this healing influence in our lives. We must incorporate it into our
lives–make it a part of who we are and what we do. May I suggest that discipleship
begins with three simple words: Believe, love, and do. Believing God leads to faith in
Him and developing trust in His word. Faith causes our hearts to grow
in our love for God and others. And as that love grows, we are
inspired to emulate the Savior as we continue our own
great journey on the path of discipleship. “But,” you will say, “that
seems a bit simplistic. Life’s problems,
certainly my problems, are far too complex for
such a simple prescription. You can’t cure Weltschmerz with
three simple words: believe, love, do.” No, it’s not the
aphorism that cures. It is the love of God that
rescues, restores, and revives. God knows you. You are His child. He loves you. Even when you think that
you are not lovable, He reaches out to you. This very day–every
day–He reaches out to you, desiring to heal
you, lift you up, and to replace the emptiness in
your heart with an abiding joy. He desires to sweep away any
darkness that clouds your life and fill it with the sacred and
brilliant light of His unending glory. I have experienced
this for myself. And it is my witness as an
Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ that all who come unto
God–all who truly believe, love, and do–can
experience the same. The scriptures teach us that
“without faith it is impossible to please [God]: for he that
cometh to God must believe that he is.” For some, the act of
believing is difficult. Sometimes our pride
gets in the way. Perhaps we think that because
we are intelligent, educated, or experienced, we simply
cannot believe in God. And we begin to look at
religion as foolish tradition. In my experience, belief is not
so much like a painting we look at and admire and about which
we discuss and theorize. No, it is more like a plough
that we take into the fields and, by the sweat of our brow,
create furrows in the earth that accept seeds and bear
fruit that shall remain. Draw near to God, and He
will draw near to you. This is the promise to
all who seek to believe. The scriptures reveal that
the more we love God and His children, the happier we become. The love Jesus spoke about,
however, isn’t a gift-card, throwaway,
move-on-to-other-things love. It isn’t a love that is
spoken of and then forgotten. It is not a “let me know if
there is anything I can do” sort of love. The love God speaks of is the
kind that enters our hearts when we awake in the morning,
stays with us throughout the day, and swells in our
hearts as we give voice to our prayers of
gratitude at evening’s end. This is the inexpressible love
Heavenly Father has for us. It is this endless compassion
that allows us to more clearly see others for who they are. Through the lens of pure
love, we see immortal beings of infinite potential and worth
and beloved sons and daughters of Almighty God. Once we see through that lens,
we cannot discount, disregard, or discriminate against anyone. In the Savior’s work, it is
often “by small and simple” means that “great things
[are] brought to pass.” We know that it requires
repetitive practice to become good at anything. Whether it’s playing
the clarinet, kicking a ball into a
net, repairing a car, or even flying an airplane, it
is through practicing that we may become better and better. The organization our Savior
created on earth–The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints–helps us to do just that. It offers a place to practice
living the way He taught and blessing others
the way He did. As Church members, we are given
callings, responsibilities, and opportunities to reach
out in compassion and minister to others. Recently the Church has
placed a renewed emphasis on ministering, or
serving or loving others. And this is truly a
wonderful way to minister, a way to all of those around us. It is a more refined way to
love and serve our fellow beings by ministering to
them in many ways. Great thought was taken to
determine what we should call this special emphasis. One of the names
considered was shepherding, a fitting reference to Christ’s
invitation: “Feed my sheep.” However, it had at
least one complication: using that term would
make me a German shepherd. Consequently, I am quite content
with the term ministering. Of course, this
emphasis is not new. It simply provides a renewed
and refined opportunity for us to practice the Savior’s
commandments to “love one another,” a refined way
to implement and practice the purpose of the Church. Just think about that. Missionary work–the
courageous, humble, and confident sharing of the
gospel–is a wonderful example of ministering to the
spiritual needs of others, whoever they are. Or doing temple work–seeking
out the names of our ancestors and offering them the
blessings of eternity. What a divine way
of ministering. Consider the act of seeking
out the poor and the needy, lifting the hands
that hang down, or blessing the
sick and afflicted. Aren’t these the very acts
of pure ministering the Lord practiced when He
walked the earth? If you are not a
member of the Church, I invite you to come and see. Come and join with us. If you are a member of the
Church but presently not participating actively, I
invite you, please come back. We need you! Come, add your
strengths to ours. Because of your unique talents,
abilities, and personality, you will help us become
better and happier. In return, we will help you
become better and happier as well. Come, help us build and
strengthen a culture of healing, kindness, and mercy
towards all of God’s children. For we are all striving to
become new creatures where “old things are passed away” and
“all things … become new.” God shows us the direction
to move–forward and upward. He says, “If ye love me,
keep my commandments.” Let us all work together to
become the people God intended for us to become. This is the kind of gospel
culture we desire to cultivate throughout the Church
of Jesus Christ. We seek to strengthen the Church
as a place where we forgive one another; where we resist the
temptation to find fault, gossip, and bring
others down; where, instead of pointing out flaws,
we lift up and help each other to become the best we can be. Let me invite you again. Come and see. Join with us. We need you. You will find that this
Church is filled with some of the finest people
this world has to offer. They are welcoming,
loving, kind, and sincere. They are sacrificing,
hardworking, and even heroic at times. And they are also
painfully imperfect. They make mistakes. From time to time they
say things they shouldn’t. They do things they
wish they hadn’t. But they do have this in
common–they want to improve and draw closer to the Lord,
our Savior, even Jesus Christ. They are trying to get it right. They believe. They love. They do. They want to become less
selfish, more compassionate, more refined, more like Jesus. Yes, life can be hard at times. Certainly we all have our times
of despair and discouragement. But the gospel of Jesus
Christ offers hope. And in the Church
of Jesus Christ, we join with others who seek
a place where we can feel at home–a place of
growth where, together, we can believe, love, and do. Regardless of our differences,
we seek to embrace one another as sons and daughters of
our beloved Heavenly Father. I am grateful beyond measure
to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints and to know that God loves His children enough
to give them a blueprint for happiness and meaning
in this life and a way to experience eternal joy in
the halls of glory in the life to come. I am grateful that God
has given us a way to heal the soul-sicknesses and
the Weltschmerz of life. I testify and leave you my
blessing that as we believe in God, as we love Him and
love His children with all our hearts, and strive to
do as God has instructed us, we will find healing and
peace, happiness and meaning. In the sacred name
of our Master, in the name of our Savior, in
the name of Jesus Christ, amen. [MUSIC PLAYING – “HOPE OF
ISRAEL”] Our beloved, dear, and
kind Heavenly Father, we come before Thee with
our hearts full of gratitude for the precious teachings and
instructions that we have heard from our prophets,
apostles, and leaders today. We are very grateful for this
music that has been provided by our valiant missionaries. We thank Thee
especially, Father, for the sweet spirit that
we have felt here today. We ask Thee to bless us with the
courage, determination, desire, and the capacity to act upon the
feelings and thoughts that came to us while we were listening to
this beautiful music and to Thy servants. Please bless us, Father,
with the capacity to prepare our minds and our hearts for
the next sessions of general conference, that we may receive
further personal revelation, we humbly pray in the name
of Jesus Christ, amen. This has been a broadcast of
the 188th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Speakers were selected from the
General Authorities and General Officers of the Church. The music for this session was
provided by a combined choir of missionaries from the
Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. This broadcast has been
furnished as a public service by Bonneville Distribution. Any reproduction,
recording, transcription, or other use of this program
without written consent is prohibited.

16 Replies to “Saturday Afternoon Session”

  1. Looooove these amazing men & women who love their Savior with all their hearts & love each of us….to pray for guidance on how to better help us stay & even become closer to the godhead! To receive our own revelation & to love one another. I pray all who hear these words are strengthened & hearts are healed to feel joy & unconditional love from our Heavenly Father, our Savior, & holy ghost!!!! We are SO blessed with this true knowledge!!! Let us rejoice & minister to all with love! It has been a VERY rough few weeks in our hm, after hearing these holy messages….I feel joy, gratitude, hope, & peace!!!! That can only come from Christ!!!! I looooooove Him!!!!!!

  2. This is greatness of our Lord master and savoir Jesus Christ. Blessed be the Lord God almighty who was and is to come take heed all mankind knows it in Jesus Christ name we pray Amen…

  3. Elijah and the prophets of ba'al didn't share a bull. Elijah used water on his alter for the lord.why would the prophets of ba'al share a bull with Elijah they weren't exactly friends.

  4. A message for those who are blocking my comments from being posted because I'm speaking the truth. I will leave this..
    Matthew chapter 27 verse 2
    Woe, unto you. Scribes and pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like white washed tombs. Outwardly appear beautiful.but with in are dead mens bones and uncleanlyness.
    – Jesus

  5. The LORD GOD is God.. I am so grateful for this story of Elijah.. The Lord, he is the God, the Lord he is God.. Worship HIM.. Jesus is the savior of this world.. God be praised for truth for prophets and for the holy gospel of Jesus Christ and His holy church upon this earth, even the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.. Thank you Elder Christopherson

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