Saturday Morning Session

Saturday Morning Session

From the Conference Center
at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, this is the
Saturday morning 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. Music for this session is
provided by the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. Members and officers
of the Church gather from all
areas of the world to receive counsel and
instruction from their Church leaders. 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 Henry B.
Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency
of the Church, will conduct this session. Brothers and sisters,
we welcome you to the Saturday morning session
of the 188th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is wonderful to
gather together, and we extend our
love and greetings to members and friends
participating in the conference throughout the world. President Russell M. Nelson,
who presides at the conference, has asked that I
conduct this session. We acknowledge the
General Authorities and the General
Officers of the Church who will be in attendance
throughout the conference. As you are aware, we note with
sadness the passing last Monday of Sister Barbara Bowen Ballard,
wife of President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Sister Ballard has been a
pillar of strength and goodness throughout her life and has
given tremendous support to her husband in his
assignments over many years. We express our sincere
love and condolences to the Ballard
family and to others who will miss her presence. In noting the unusual number
of natural disasters affecting so many throughout the
world in recent months, we extend our heartfelt sympathy
to those who have been affected by these events and express
sincere appreciation to all who are helping in these
dire circumstances–the firefighters, rescue
workers, volunteers, and others who continue
to address these difficult circumstances. We are pleased as a Church
to join in the relief efforts and pray for the safety
and peace of all involved in these tragic events. The music for this session
will be by the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square under
the direction of Mack Wilberg and Ryan Murphy, with
Brian Mathias and Richard Elliott at the organ. The choir opened this meeting
with “Guide Us, O Thou Great Jehovah” and will now favor
us with “The Morning Breaks.” The invocation will then be
offered by Elder Craig A. Cardon of the Seventy, after
which the choir will sing “If I Listen with My Heart.” [MUSIC PLAYING – “THE MORNING
BREAKS”] Heavenly Father, with bowed
heads and humble hearts, we express unto Thee
our love and thank Thee for the gift of Thy
Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and His infinite Atonement. We thank Thee for thy prophet,
President Russell M. Nelson, for the First Presidency and
the Quorum of the Twelve, and pray for them that Thou
wilt sustain and uphold them as they direct the
affairs of Thy kingdom. We thank Thee for
the opportunity being met in this general
conference of Thy Church, even The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints, to receive Thy word and to
understand Thy will for Thy Saints in these last days. We pray that Thou wilt bless us
as Thy word is given unto us, as we come to know Thy will
under the direction of Thy prophets, that we may receive
Thy word with gladness, with faith and devotion, and act
in faith to the accomplishment of Thy purposes. We pray that the people
and nations of the earth may choose
righteousness, that they may be blessed in
their afflictions, that they may be comforted,
and that Thy word may flow throughout the earth as
Thou dost fulfill Thy covenant that Thou hast made, wherein
all the families of the earth may be blessed with the
blessings of the gospel, which are the blessings of salvation,
even of life eternal. For these things we
humbly pray, and for all those who will participate
in this session of this conference, that all
may be done according to Thy will, in the sacred name
of Jesus Christ, amen. [MUSIC PLAYING – “IF I LISTEN
WITH MY HEART”] It will now be our privilege to
hear from our beloved prophet, President Russell M. Nelson. He will be followed
by Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of
the Twelve Apostles. We will then hear
from Brother M. Joseph Brough, who serves as Second
Counselor in the Young Men General Presidency. Elder Steven R. Bangerter of the
Seventy will then address us. President Nelson. My dear brothers and sisters,
we have looked forward to gathering with you again in
this October general conference session of the Church. We extend our heartfelt
welcome to each of you. We are deeply grateful for
your sustaining prayers. We can feel their effect. Thank you! We are grateful for
your tremendous efforts to follow through with counsel
given at general conference six months ago. Stake presidencies
throughout the world have sought revelation necessary
to reorganize elders quorums. Men of those quorums, along with
our dedicated Relief Society sisters, are working
diligently to minister to our brothers and sisters
in a higher, holier way. We are inspired by your goodness
and extraordinary efforts to bring the Savior’s love
to your families, neighbors, and friends and to minister
to them as He would. Since April conference,
Sister Nelson and I have met with members
on four continents and on islands of the sea. From Jerusalem to Harare,
from Winnipeg to Bangkok, we have experienced your
great faith and the strength of your testimonies. We are overjoyed with
the number of our youth who have joined the Lord’s
youth battalion to help gather scattered Israel. We thank you! And as you continue to
follow my invitations offered at our worldwide
youth devotional, you are setting a standard
for the rest of us to follow. And what a difference
you youth are making! In recent years, we in
the presiding councils of the Church have wrestled
with a fundamental question: how can we take the gospel
in its simple purity and the ordinances with
their eternal efficacy to all of God’s children? As Latter-day Saints,
we have become accustomed to
thinking of “church” as something that happens
in our meetinghouses, supported by what
happens at home. We need an adjustment
to this pattern. It is time for a home-centered
Church, supported by what takes place inside
our branch, ward, and stake buildings. As the Church continues to
expand throughout the world, many members live where we
have no chapels–and may not for the foreseeable future. I remember a family who,
because of such circumstances, was required to
meet in their home. I asked the mother
how she liked going to church in her own home. She replied, “I like it! My husband uses better
language at home now, knowing that he will bless
the sacrament each Sunday.” The long-standing
objective of the Church is to assist all members
to increase their faith in our Lord Jesus Christ
and in His Atonement, to assist them in
making and keeping their covenants with God,
and to strengthen and seal their families. In this complex world
today, this is not easy. The adversary is
increasing his attacks on faith and upon
us and our families at an exponential rate. To survive spiritually, we need
counterstrategies and proactive plans. Accordingly, we now
want to put in place organizational adjustments
that will further fortify our members and their families. For many years
Church leaders have been working on an
integrated curriculum to strengthen families
and individuals through a home-centered
and Church-supported plan to learn doctrine, strengthen
faith, and foster greater personal worship. Our efforts over these recent
years to hallow the Sabbath–to make it a delight and a
personal sign to God of our love for Him–will be augmented by
the adjustments we will now introduce. This morning we will announce
a new balance and connection between gospel instruction in
the home and in the Church. We are each responsible for our
individual spiritual growth. And scriptures make
it clear that parents have the primary
responsibility to teach the doctrine to their children. It is the responsibility
of the Church to assist each member in
that divinely appointed role of increasing his or
her gospel knowledge. Elder Quentin L.
Cook will now explain these important adjustments. All members of the Council
of the First Presidency and Quorum of the
Twelve Apostles are united in
endorsing this message. We gratefully acknowledge
the inspiration from the Lord that
has influenced the development of the
plans and procedures that Elder Cook will present. My dear brothers and sisters,
I know that God lives! Jesus is the Christ! This is His Church
that He directs by prophecy and revelation
to His humble servants. I so testify in the name
of Jesus Christ, amen. As President Russell M.
Nelson has just beautifully and eloquently set
forth, Church leaders have been working
for a long time on “a home-centered and
Church-supported plan to learn doctrine,
strengthen faith, and foster greater personal worship.” President Nelson then
announced an adjustment to achieve “a new balance
between gospel instruction in the home and in the Church.” To accomplish these
purposes–described by and under the direction
of President Russell M. Nelson and pursuant to the
decision of the Council of the First Presidency
and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles–the Sunday meeting
schedule will be adjusted in the following ways,
beginning in January 2019. The Sunday Church
meetings will consist of a 60-minute sacrament
meeting each Sunday focused on the Savior, the
ordinance of the sacrament, and spiritual messages. After time for
transition to classes, Church members will attend
a 50-minute class that will alternate each Sunday. Sunday School will be held on
the first and third Sundays. Priesthood quorums,
Relief Society, and Young Women
meetings will be held on the second and
fourth Sundays. Meetings on the
fifth Sunday will be under the direction
of the bishop. Primary will be held each week
during this same 50-minute period and will include
singing time and classes. With respect to the
Sunday meeting schedule, the senior leaders of the Church
have been aware for many years that for some of our precious
members, a three-hour Sunday schedule at church
can be difficult. This is particularly
true for parents with small children, Primary
children, elderly members, new converts, and others. But there is so much
more to this adjustment than just shortening the
Sunday meetinghouse schedule. President Nelson
has acknowledged with gratitude how much
is being accomplished as a result of your faithfulness
to previous invitations. He and the entire
leadership of the Church desire to bring greater gospel
joy to parents, children, youth, singles, the elderly,
new converts, and those people the missionaries
are teaching through a home-centered,
Church-supported balanced effort. The purposes and
blessings associated with this adjustment
and other recent changes include the following: Deepening conversion to Heavenly
Father and the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthening
faith in Them. Strengthening
individuals and families through home-centered,
Church-supported curriculum that contributes to
joyful gospel living. Honoring the Sabbath day,
with a focus on the ordinance of the sacrament. Helping all of Heavenly
Father’s children on both sides of the veil
through missionary work and receiving ordinances
and covenants and blessings of the temple. This Sunday schedule
allows more time for a home evening and to study
the gospel at home on Sunday or at other times as individuals
and families may choose. A family activity
night could be held on Monday or at other times. To this end, leaders
should continue to keep Monday evenings
free from Church meetings and activities. However, time spent in
home evening, gospel study, and activities for
individuals and families may be scheduled according to
their individual circumstances. Family and individual
gospel study at home will be significantly enhanced
by a harmonized curriculum and a new Come, Follow Me
resource for individuals and families that is coordinated
with what is being taught in Sunday School and Primary. In January, the Church’s
youth and adult Sunday School and Primary classes will be
studying the New Testament. The new home-study Come, Follow
Me resource for individuals and families–also covering
the New Testament–is designed to help members learn
the gospel in the home. It explains: “This resource is
for every individual and family in the Church. It is designed to help [us
better] learn the gospel– whether on [our] own
or with [our] family. … The outlines in this [new]
resource are organized according to a
weekly … schedule.” The new Primary Come, Follow
Me lessons taught in church will follow the same
weekly schedule. The adult and youth
Sunday School classes on the first and
third Sundays will be coordinated so that they
will support the new Come, Follow Me home resource. On the second and
fourth Sundays, adults in priesthood
and Relief Society will continue to study the
teachings of Church leaders, with emphasis on the current
messages of modern prophets. Young women and Aaronic
Priesthood young men will study gospel
topics on those Sundays. The new home-study
resource provides “Ideas for Family Scripture
Study and Family Home Evening.” The outlines for each week
contain helpful study ideas and activities for
individuals and families. The Come, Follow Me resource
for individuals and families also has many
illustrations that will help enhance individual and
family learning, especially for children. This new resource will be
provided to each household by December of this year. President Nelson, from
his initial address to the members of the
Church in January, has exhorted us to
prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ by
walking the covenant path. World conditions
increasingly require deepening individual
conversion to and strengthening faith in Heavenly Father and
Jesus Christ and His Atonement. The Lord has prepared
us, line upon line, for the perilous times
that we now face. In recent years,
the Lord has guided us to address related
core concerns, including: Honoring the Sabbath day
and the sacred ordinance of the sacrament,
which have again been emphasized for
the last three years. Under the bishop’s direction,
strengthened elders quorums and Relief Societies are focused
on the purpose of the Church and helping members make
and keep sacred covenants. Ministering in a
higher and holier way is being joyfully adopted. Beginning with the end
in mind, temple covenants and family history service
are becoming a purposeful part of the covenant path. The adjustment announced
this morning is yet another example of guidance
for the challenges of our day. The Church’s
traditional curriculum has emphasized the
Sunday church experience. We know that when we have better
teaching and more spiritually prepared class members, we
have a better Sunday church experience. We are blessed that
often the Spirit increases and strengthens
conversion in the church setting. The new home-centered and
Church-supported curriculum needs to influence
more powerfully family religious
observance and behavior and personal religious
observance and behavior. We know the spiritual impact and
the deep and lasting conversion that can be achieved
in the home setting. Years ago, a study established
that for young men and women, the influence of the
Holy Ghost most often accompanies individual scripture
study and prayer in the home. Our purpose is to balance the
Church and the home experience in a way that will greatly
increase faith, spirituality, and deepen conversion to
Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. In the home-centered,
Church-supported portion of this adjustment, there is
flexibility for each individual and family to determine
prayerfully how and when it will be implemented. For example, while this will
greatly bless all families, based on local needs,
it would be completely appropriate for young singles,
single adults, single parents, part-member families,
new members, and others to gather in groups outside the
normal Sunday worship services to enjoy gospel sociality
and be strengthened by studying together the
home-centered, Church-supported resource. This would be
accomplished informally by those who so desire. In many parts of
the world, people choose to stay at
the meetinghouse after the normal Sunday schedule
to enjoy social relationships. There is nothing in this
announced adjustment that would interfere with this
wonderful and rewarding practice in any way. To help members prepare
for the Sabbath, some wards already send an
informative email, text, or social media message midweek. In view of this
adjustment, we strongly recommend this type
of communication. These invitations will remind
the members of the Sunday meeting schedule for that week,
including the upcoming class lesson topic, and support
continuing gospel conversation at home. In addition, the adult
meetings on Sunday will also provide information
to connect church and home study each week. The sacrament meeting
and the class period will require prayerful
consideration to make sure that spiritual
priorities are emphasized over administrative functions. For example, announcements
can for the most part be accomplished in
the midweek invitation or on a printed program. While the sacrament
meeting should have an opening
and closing prayer, the second meeting need
only have a closing prayer. As was mentioned earlier,
the new Sunday schedule will not commence
until January 2019. There are several
reasons for this. The two most
important are, first, to have time to
distribute the Come, Follow Me resource for
individuals and families and, second, to allow time for
stake presidents and bishops to arrange meeting schedules
with the goal of having more wards meet earlier in the day. As leaders have
sought revelation, the guidance received over the
past few years is to strengthen the sacrament meeting,
honor the Sabbath day, and encourage and assist
parents and individuals to make their homes a source
of spiritual strength and increased faith–a
place of joy and happiness. What do these adjustments
mean for members of The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints? We are confident
that members will be blessed in extraordinary ways. Sunday can be a day of
gospel learning and teaching at church and in the home. As individuals and
families engage in family councils, family
history, ministering, service, personal worship, and
joyful family time, the Sabbath day will
truly be a delight. One family from
Brazil are members of a stake where the
new home Come, Follow Me resource was tested. The father, Fernando, a returned
missionary who with his wife, Nancy, are the parents of
four young children, reported: “When the Come, Follow
Me program was introduced in our stake, I was so
excited, and I thought, ‘The way that we study the
scriptures at home is going to change.’ It really happened in my
home, and as a Church leader I saw that it happened
in other homes. … It helped us to really discuss
the scriptures in our home. My wife and I had a deeper
understanding about the topic studied. … It helped us … amplify
our gospel knowledge, and enhance our
faith and testimony. … I bear my testimony …
that I know it was inspired by the Lord so that the
consistent and effective study of the principles and doctrines
contained in the scriptures brings more faith, testimony,
and light to the families … in an increasingly
fallen world.” In pilot test stakes
across the world there was a highly favorable
response to the new Come, Follow Me home resource. Many reported that
they progressed from reading scriptures
to actually studying the scriptures. It was also commonly
felt the experience was faith-promoting and had a
wonderful impact on the ward. The goal of these
adjustments is to obtain a deep and lasting conversion
of adults and the rising generation. The first page of the
individual and family resource points out: “The aim of all
gospel learning and teaching is to deepen our conversion
and help us become more like Jesus Christ. … This means relying on Christ
to change our hearts.” This is assisted by
reaching “beyond a classroom into an individual’s
heart and home. It requires consistent, daily
efforts to understand and live the gospel. True conversion requires the
influence of the Holy Ghost.” The most important goal
and ultimate blessing of deep and lasting
conversion is worthily receiving the covenants
and ordinances of the covenant pathway. We trust you to counsel
together and to seek revelation for implementing these
adjustments–while not looking beyond the mark or trying
to regiment individuals or families. Additional information
will be shared in upcoming communications,
including a First Presidency letter and enclosure. I testify to you that
in the deliberations of the Council of
the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve
Apostles in the temple, and after our beloved
prophet petitioned the Lord for revelation to move
forward with these adjustments, a powerful confirmation
was received by all. Russell M. Nelson is our
living President and prophet. The announcements
made today will result in profound blessings
for those who enthusiastically embrace the adjustments and seek
the guidance of the Holy Ghost. We will become closer to our
Heavenly Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, of
whom I am a sure witness. In the name of
Jesus Christ, amen. In 1981 my father, two
close friends, and I went on an adventure in Alaska. We were to land on a
remote lake and climb to some beautiful high country. In order to reduce the load we
would have to personally carry, we wrapped our supplies in
boxes, covered them with foam, attached large
colored streamers, and threw them out the
window of our bush plane at our intended destination. After arriving, we searched and
searched, but to our dismay, we could not find
any of the boxes. Eventually we found one. It contained a small gas
stove, a tarp, some candy, and a couple packages of
Hamburger Helper–but no hamburger. We had no way to communicate
with the outside world, and our scheduled
pickup was a week later. I learned two valuable
lessons from this experience: One, do not throw your
food out the window. [LAUGHTER] Two, sometimes we have
to face hard things. Frequently our first reaction
to hard things is “Why me?” Asking why, however, never
takes away the hard thing. The Lord requires that
we overcome challenges, and He has indicated “that
all these things shall give [us] experience, and
shall be for [our] good.” Sometimes the Lord asks
us to do a hard thing, and sometimes our
challenges are created by our own or others’
use of agency. Nephi experienced both
of these situations. When Lehi invited
his sons to return to get the plates from Laban,
he said, “Behold thy brothers murmur, saying it is a hard
thing which I have required of them; but behold I have
not required it of them, but it is a commandment
of the Lord.” On another occasion,
Nephi’s brothers used their agency to limit
his: “They did lay their hands upon me, for behold, they
were exceedingly wroth, and they did bind me
with cords, for they sought to take away my life.” Joseph Smith confronted a
hard thing in Liberty Jail. With no relief in
sight and in despair, Joseph cried out, “O
God, where art thou?” No doubt some of us
have felt as Joseph did. Everyone faces hard things: the
death of a loved one, divorce, a wayward child,
illness, trials of faith, a lost job, or any
other difficulty. I was forever changed
upon hearing these words from Elder Neal A. Maxwell
of the Quorum of the Twelve, spoken in the midst of his
struggle with leukemia. He said, “I was doing some
pensive pondering and these 13 instructive and reassuring
words came into my mind: ‘I have given you leukemia that
you might teach my people with authenticity.'” He then went on
to express how this experience had blessed him with
“perspective about the great realities of eternity. … Such glimpses of
eternity can help us to travel the next 100 yards,
which may be very difficult.” To help us travel and
triumph over our hard times with such glimpses of eternity,
may I suggest two things. We must face hard things,
first, by forgiving others, and second, by giving
ourselves to Heavenly Father. Forgiving those who may
have caused our hard thing and reconciling “[our]selves
to the will of God” can be very difficult. It can
hurt most when our hard thing is caused by a family
member, a close friend, or even ourselves. As a young bishop, I
learned of forgiveness when my stake president,
Bruce M. Cook, shared the following story. He explained: “During the late 1970s,
some associates and I started a business. Although we did nothing
illegal, some poor decisions, combined with … challenging economic times,
resulted in our failure. “Some investors filed a lawsuit
to recover their losses. Their attorney happened to
be a counselor in my family’s bishopric. It was very difficult to
sustain the man who seemed to be seeking to destroy me. I developed some real
animosity toward him and considered him my enemy. After five years
of legal battles, we lost everything we
owned, including our home. “In 2002, my wife and I learned
that the stake presidency in which I served as a
counselor was being reorganized. As we traveled on a short
vacation prior to the release, she asked me whom I would
choose as my counselors if I were called as the
new stake president. I did not want to speak
about it, but she persisted. Eventually, one name came to … mind. She then mentioned the
name of the attorney we considered to have been at
the center of our difficulties 20 years earlier. As she spoke, the
Spirit confirmed that he should be the other counselor. Could I forgive the man? “When Elder David E. Sorensen
extended to me the call to serve as [the]
stake president, he gave me an hour
to select counselors. Through tears, I indicated … the Lord had already
provided that revelation. As I spoke the name of the
man I had considered my enemy, the anger, animosity, and hate
I had harbored disappeared. In that moment, I
learned of the peace that comes with forgiveness
through the Atonement of Christ.” In other words,
my stake president did “frankly forgive”
him, like Nephi of old. I knew President Cook
and his counselor as two righteous priesthood
leaders who loved one another. I determined to be like them. Years before, during our
misadventure in Alaska, I had quickly learned that
blaming our circumstances on others–the pilot launching
the food out in fading light–was not a solution. However, we experienced
physical exhaustion and lack of food, sickness, and
sleeping on the ground during a major storm with
only a tarp to cover us. I learned that “with God
nothing shall be impossible.” Young people, God requires
hard things of you. One 14-year-old young
woman participated in competitive basketball. She dreamed of playing
high school basketball like her older sister. She then learned
that her parents had been called to preside
over a mission in Guatemala. Upon arrival, she discovered
that a couple of her classes would be in Spanish, a
language she did not yet speak. There was not a single girls’
sports team at her school. She lived on the 14th floor of
a building with tight security. And to top it all off, she
could not go outside alone for safety reasons. Her parents listened to
her cry herself to sleep every night for months. This broke their hearts! They finally decided
they would send her home to her grandmother
for high school. When my mother entered
our daughter’s room to tell her our decision,
she saw our daughter kneeling in prayer with the Book
of Mormon open on the bed. The Spirit whispered to
my wife, “She will be OK,” and my wife quietly
left the room. We never heard her cry
herself to sleep again. With determination
and the Lord’s help, she faced those three
years valiantly. At the conclusion
of our mission, I asked my daughter
if she was going to serve a full-time mission. Her answer was “No, Dad,
I have already served.” I was just fine with that! [LAUGHTER] But about six months later, the
Spirit awoke me in the night with this thought: “I
have called your daughter to serve a mission.” My reaction was “Heavenly
Father, she has given so much.” I was quickly
corrected by the Spirit and came to understand that
her missionary service was required of the Lord. I soon took my
daughter to lunch. From across the table,
I said, “Ganzie, do you know why we are here?” She said, “Yes, Dad. You know I have to
serve a mission. I do not want to
go, but I am going.” Because she gave her
will to Heavenly Father, she served Him with all
her heart, might, mind, and strength. She has taught her father
how to do hard thing. In President Russell M. Nelson’s
worldwide devotional for youth, he requested some hard
things of the youth. President Nelson said:
“My fifth invitation is for you to stand out; be
different from the world. … The Lord needs you to look
like, sound like, act like, and dress like a true
disciple of Jesus Christ.” That can be a hard thing, yet
I know you can do it–with joy. Remember that “men are,
that they might have joy.” With all that Lehi faced,
he still found joy. Remember when Alma was “weighed
down with sorrow” because of the people of Ammonihah? The angel told him, “Blessed
art thou, Alma; therefore, lift up thy head
and rejoice, … for thou hast been faithful
in keeping the commandments of God.” Alma learned a great truth:
we can always rejoice when we keep the commandments. Remember that during the
wars and challenges faced during the time
of Captain Moroni, “there never was a happier time
among the people of Nephi.” We can and should find joy
when we face hard things. The Savior faced hard
things: “The world … shall judge him to
be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him,
and he suffereth it; … they smite him, and
he suffereth it. Yea, they spit upon him,
and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness
and his long-suffering towards the children of men.” Because of that
loving-kindness, Jesus Christ suffered the Atonement. As a result, He says to each
one of us, “In the world ye shall have tribulation:
but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Because of Christ, we too
can overcome the world. As we face hard things
in the Lord’s way, may we lift up our
heads and rejoice. At this sacred opportunity
to testify to the world, I proclaim that our Savior
lives and guides His Church. In the name of
Jesus Christ, amen. As parents in Zion, we have
a sacred responsibility, a duty to awaken within our
children passion and commitment to the gospel of Jesus
Christ–to the light and the truths of that gospel. While raising our children,
we establish traditions within our home, and
we build patterns of communication and
behavior within our family relationships. In doing so, the
traditions we establish should ingrain strong,
unwavering characteristics of goodness in our children
that will infuse them with strength to confront
the challenges of life. For many years, our family has
enjoyed the annual tradition of camping high in the Uintah
Mountains of northeastern Utah. We travel 20 miles
over a rocky dirt road to arrive at a beautiful green
valley with towering canyon walls and through which
runs a river filled with cold, clear water. Each year, hoping to reaffirm
the value of gospel doctrine and practices within the
hearts of our children and our grandchildren,
Susan and I ask each of our six
sons and their families to prepare a short
message on a topic they feel is an important
element in the foundation of a Christ-centered home. We then gather for a family
devotional in a secluded place, and each presents their message. This year our grandchildren
wrote the topic of their message on stones
and then, one by one, buried them next to one another,
representing a sure foundation upon which a happy
life is established. Woven among all six
of their messages was the immutable, eternal
truth that Jesus Christ is the cornerstone
of that foundation. In the words of
Isaiah, “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I
lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone,
a precious corner stone, a sure foundation.” Jesus Christ is that
precious cornerstone in the foundation of Zion. It was He who revealed to
the Prophet Joseph Smith: “Wherefore, be not
weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the
foundation of a great work. And out of small
things proceedeth that which is great.” Lessons taught through the
traditions we establish in our homes, though
small and simple, are increasingly important
in today’s world. What are the small and simple
things that, when established, will perform a great work in
the lives of our children? President Russell
M. Nelson recently addressed a large congregation
in Toronto, Canada, and poignantly reminded parents
of the sacred responsibility we have to teach our children. Among the essential
responsibilities identified, President Nelson
emphasized the duties we have as parents to teach
our children to understand why we partake of the sacrament,
the significance of being born in the covenant, the
importance of preparing for and receiving a
patriarchal blessing, and he encouraged
parents to lead out in the reading of scriptures
together as a family. By these efforts,
our beloved prophet urges us to make our homes
“sanctuaries of faith.” In the Book of Mormon,
Enos records the gratitude he felt for the example
of his father, who “taught [him] in his language,
and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” With great emotion,
Enos exclaimed, “And blessed be the
name of my God for it.” I cherish the small
and simple traditions we have come to observe
in our home over the 35 years of our marriage. Many of our traditions
are subtle yet meaningful. For example: During evenings when
I was away from home, I always knew that our oldest
son present would take it upon himself,
without being asked, to lead the family in scripture
study and family prayer. Another tradition–we
never leave our home or end a telephone conversation
without saying, “I love you.” Our lives have been
blessed by setting aside time on a regular basis to enjoy
personal interviews with each of our sons. During one interview
I asked our son about his desires and
preparation to serve a mission. After some discussion, there was
a moment of reflective silence; then he leaned forward
and thoughtfully declared, “Dad, remember when I
was little and we started having father’s interviews?” I said, “Yes.” “Well,” he said, “I
promised you then that I would serve a
mission, and you and Mom promised me that you and Mom
would serve a mission when you got old.” Then there was another pause. “Are you guys having some
problem that will stop you from serving … because
maybe I can help?” [LAUGHTER] Consistent, wholesome
family traditions that include prayer, scripture
reading, family home evening, and attendance at
Church meetings, though seemingly
small and simple, create a culture of love,
respect, unity, and security. In the spirit that
accompanies these efforts, our children become protected
from the fiery darts of the adversary so embedded in
the worldly culture of our day. We are reminded of the wise
counsel of Helaman to his sons: “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.” Years ago, while serving
as a young bishop, an older gentleman
asked to meet with me. He described his
departure from the Church and the righteous
traditions of his parents when he was in his youth. He described in
detail the heartache he experienced during his
life while vainly seeking lasting joy amidst the momentary
happiness the world has to offer. Now, in his later
years of life, he experienced the tender,
sometimes nagging, whispering sensations of the
Spirit of God guiding him back to the lessons,
practices, and the feelings and spiritual
safety of his youth. He expressed gratitude for
the traditions of his parents, and in modern-day
words, he echoed the proclamation of Enos:
“Blessed be the name of my God for it.” In my experience, this dear
man’s return to the gospel is characteristic of many
and is repeated often among God’s children
who leave for a time, only to return to the
teachings and the practices of their youth. In these moments, we
witness the wisdom of the writer of the
proverb, who exhorts parents, “Train up a child in the way he
should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Every parent faces moments
of frustration and varying levels of determination
and strength while raising children. However, when parents
exercise faith by teaching children
candidly, lovingly, and doing all they can to help
them along the way, they receive greater hope
that the seeds being sown will take root within the hearts
and minds of their children. Moses well understood
the fundamental need for constant teaching. He counseled, “And thou
shalt teach [these words] diligently unto thy children,
and shalt talk [to] them when thou sittest
in thine house, and when thou walkest by the
way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” We kneel beside our children
during family prayer; we care for them
through our efforts to hold meaningful
family scripture reading; we patiently,
lovingly care for them as together we participate
in family home evening; and we anguish for
them on our knees in the midst of our
private prayers to heaven. Oh, how we yearn
for the seeds we are sowing to take
root within the hearts and minds of our children. I believe that it
is less a question of whether our children
are “getting it” in the midst of our teaching,
such as while striving to read the
scriptures or to have family home evening or attend
Mutual and other Church meetings. It is less a question of
whether in those moments they are understanding the
importance of those activities and more a question of whether
we, as parents, are exercising faith enough to follow
the Lord’s counsel to diligently live, teach,
exhort, and set forth expectations that are inspired
by the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is an effort driven by our
faith–our belief that one day, the seeds sown in their youth
will take root and begin to sprout and grow. The things we talk of, the
things we preach and teach, determine the things that
will happen among us. As we establish
wholesome traditions that teach the doctrine of
Christ, the Holy Spirit bears witness of the
truthfulness of our message and nourishes the seeds of the
gospel that are planted deep in the hearts of our children by
our efforts all along the way. I so testify in the name
of Jesus Christ, amen. The congregation will
now join the choir in singing “High on
the Mountain Top.” After the singing, we will
hear from Elders Ronald A. Rasband and David A. Bednar
of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. This is the 188th Semiannual
General Conference of The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints. [MUSIC PLAYING – “HIGH ON THE
MOUNTAIN TOP”] I add my witness to the messages
of President Nelson and Elder Cook given moments ago of
the harmony and unanimity of the Council of
the First Presidency and Quorum of the
Twelve Apostles. I know these revelatory
announcements are the mind and
the will of the Lord and will bless and strengthen
individuals, families, and The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints for generations to come. Some years ago, one of our
young married daughters and her husband
asked Sister Rasband and me a very important,
life-influencing question: “Is it still safe and
wise to bring children into this seemingly wicked and
frightening world we live in?” Now, that was an important
question for a mom and dad to consider with their
dear married children. We could hear the
fear in their voices, and we felt the fear
in their hearts. Our answer to them
was a firm “Yes, it’s more than OK,” as we
shared fundamental gospel teachings and our own
heartfelt impressions and life experiences. Fear is not new. The disciples of Jesus Christ
out on the Sea of Galilee feared the wind and the
waves in the dark of night. As His disciples today,
we too have fears. Our single adults fear
making commitments such as getting married; young
marrieds, like our children, can fear bringing children into
an increasingly wicked world. Missionaries fear lots of
things, especially approaching strangers. Widows fear going forward alone. Teenagers fear not
being accepted; grade-schoolers fear
the first day of school; university students fear
getting back a test. We fear failure,
rejection, disappointment, and the unknown. We fear hurricanes,
earthquakes, and fires that ravage the land and our lives. We fear not being chosen,
and on the flip side, we fear being chosen. We fear not being
good enough; we fear that the Lord has
no blessings for us. We fear change, and our
fears can escalate to terror. Have I included just
about everyone now? Since ancient times, fear
has limited the perspective of God’s children. I have always loved the
account of Elisha in 2 Kings. The king of Syria had sent a
legion that “came by night, and compassed the city about.” Their intent was to capture
and kill the prophet Elisha. We read: “And when the servant
of the man of God was risen early, and gone
forth, behold, an host compassed the city both
with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto
him, Alas, my master! How shall we do?” That was fear speaking. “And [Elisha] answered,
Fear not: for they that be with us are more
than they that be with them.” But he didn’t stop there. “Elisha prayed, and
said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes
of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was
full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” We may or may not
have chariots of fire sent to dispel our fears
and conquer our demons, but the lesson is clear. The Lord is with
us, mindful of us, and blessing us in
ways only He can do. Prayer can call down the
strength and the revelation that we need to center our
thoughts on Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice. The Lord knew that at
times we would feel fear. I have been there,
and so have you, which is why the scriptures
are replete with the Lord’s counsel: “Be of good cheer,
and do not fear.” “Look unto me in every
thought; doubt not, fear not.” “Fear not, little flock.” I love the tenderness
of “little flock.” In this Church we may be
few in number by the way the world counts
influence, but when we open our spiritual
eyes, “they that be with us are more than they
that be with them.” Our loving Shepherd, Jesus
Christ, then continues, “Let earth and hell
combine against you, for if ye are built upon my
rock, they cannot prevail.” How is fear dispelled? For the young lad, he was
standing right next to Elisha, a prophet of God. We have that same promise. When we listen to President
Russell M. Nelson, when we hearken to his
counsel, we are standing with a prophet of God. Remember the words
of Joseph Smith: “And now, after the
many testimonies which have been given of him,
this is the testimony, last of all, which we give
of him: That he lives!” Jesus Christ lives. Our love for Him and
His gospel dispels fear. Our desire to “always have
His Spirit” with us will push fear aside for a more eternal
view of our mortal lives. President Nelson has
cautioned, “In coming days, it will not be possible
to survive spiritually without the guiding,
directing, comforting, and constant influence
of the Holy Ghost.” The Lord said,
regarding the scourges that would cover the
land and would harden the hearts of
many, “My disciples shall stand in holy places,
and shall not be moved.” And then this divine counsel:
“Be not troubled, for, when all these things
shall come to pass, ye may know that the
promises which have been made unto you shall be fulfilled.” Stand in holy places, be
not troubled, and promises shall be fulfilled. Let’s look at each one of
these in relation to our fears. First, stand in holy places. When we stand in holy
places–our righteous homes, our dedicated chapels, the
consecrated temples–we feel the Spirit of the Lord with us. We find answers to
questions that trouble us or the peace to
simply set them aside. That is the Spirit in action. These sacred places in the
kingdom of God on earth call for our reverence, our
respect of others, our best selves in living
the gospel, and our hopes to lay aside our fears and
seek the healing power of Jesus Christ through His Atonement. There is no room for fear
in these holy places of God or in the hearts
of His children. Why? Because of love. God loves us–always–and
we love Him. Our love of God counters
all fears, and His love abounds in holy places. Think about it. When we are tentative in
our commitments to the Lord, when we stray from His path
leading to life eternal, when we question or doubt our
significance in His divine design, when we allow fear
to open the door to all its companions–discouragement,
anger, frustration, disappointment–the
Spirit leaves us, and we are without the Lord. If you know what
that is like, you know it is not a
good place to be. In contrast, when we
stand in holy places, we can feel God’s
love, and “perfect love casteth out all fear.” The next promise is
“Be not troubled.” No matter how much wickedness
and chaos fills the earth, we are promised by our daily
faithfulness in Jesus Christ the “peace of God, which
passeth all understanding.” And when Christ comes in
all power and glory, evil, rebellion, and
injustice will end. Long ago the Apostle Paul
prophesied of our times, saying to the young Timothy: “This know also,
that in the last days perilous times shall come. “For men shall be lovers of
their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers,
disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, … “… lovers of pleasures
more than lovers of God.” Remember, “they that be with
us” on both sides of the veil, those who love the Lord with
all their heart, might, mind, and strength, “are more than
they that be with them.” If we actively trust in
the Lord and His ways, if we are engaged
in His work, we will not fear the trends of the
world or be troubled by them. I plead with you to set
aside worldly influences and pressures and
seek spirituality in your daily life. Love what the Lord loves–which
includes His commandments, His holy houses, our
sacred covenants with Him, the sacrament each Sabbath
day, our communication through prayer–and you will
not be troubled. The last point: trust the
Lord and His promises. I know that all His
promises will be fulfilled. I know it as firmly as
I stand here before you in this sacred meeting. The Lord has revealed: “For they
that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the
Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been
deceived–verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn
down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day.” That is why we should
not be troubled by the turmoil of
today, by those in the great and
spacious building, by those who scoff
at honest effort and dedicated service to
the Lord Jesus Christ. Optimism, courage, even
charity come from a heart not burdened by
troubles or turmoil. President Nelson, who is
“optimistic about the future,” has reminded us,
“If we are to have any hope of sifting through
the myriad of voices and the philosophies of
men that attack truth, we must learn to
receive revelation.” To receive personal
revelation, we must place priority
on living the gospel and encouraging faithfulness and
spirituality in others as well as ourselves. Spencer W. Kimball was one
of the prophets of my youth. These past few years, after
being called as an Apostle, I have found peace in his first
message at general conference in October 1943. He was overwhelmed by his call;
I know what that feels like. Elder Kimball said:
“I did a great deal of thinking and praying,
and fasting and praying. There were conflicting
thoughts that surged through my mind–seeming voices
saying: ‘You can’t do the work. You are not worthy. You have not the ability’–and
always finally came the triumphant thought: ‘You
must do the work assigned–you must make yourself able,
worthy, and qualified.’ And the battle raged on.” I take heart from that
pure-hearted testimony of this Apostle who would
become the 12th President of this mighty Church. He recognized he had to put his
fears to “do the work assigned” and that he had to rely on
the Lord for the strength to make himself “able,
worthy, and qualified.” We can too. The battles will rage
on, but we will face them with the Spirit of the Lord. We will “be not
troubled” because when we stand with the Lord and
stand for His principles and His eternal plan, we
are standing on holy ground. Now, what about that
daughter and son-in-law who asked the very heartfelt
and probing, fear-based question years ago? They seriously considered
our conversation that night; they prayed and fasted and
came to their own conclusions. Happily and joyfully, for them
and for us, the grandparents, they have now been blessed
with seven beautiful children as they go forward
in faith and love. Take heart, brothers
and sisters. Yes, we live in perilous times,
but as we stay on the covenant path, we need not fear. I bless you that
as you do so, you will not be troubled by
the times in which we live or the troubles
that come your way. I bless you to choose
to stand in holy places and be not moved. I bless you to believe in
the promises of Jesus Christ, that He lives, He is watching
over us, caring for us, and standing by us. In the name of our Lord and
Savior, Jesus Christ, amen. A rope is an essential tool with
which all of us are familiar. Ropes are made from strands
of fabric, plants, wire, or other materials that are
each individually twisted or braided together. Interestingly, substances that
may be quite unexceptional can be woven together and
become exceptionally strong. Thus, effectively connecting
and binding ordinary materials can produce an
extraordinary tool. Just as a rope
obtains its strength from many intertwined
individual strands, so the gospel of Jesus
Christ provides the greatest perspective of truth and
offers the richest blessings as we heed the
admonition of Paul to “gather together in
one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven,
and which are on earth; even in him.” Importantly, this vital
gathering of truth is centered in and focused
upon the Lord Jesus Christ because He is “the way,
the truth, and the life.” I pray that the Holy Ghost
will enlighten each of us as we consider how the principle
of gathering together in one all things in Christ applies
in practical ways to learning and living His restored
gospel in our daily lives. We live in a remarkable
and revelatory season of the restored Church
of Jesus Christ. The historic adjustments
announced today have only one
overarching purpose: to strengthen faith in
Heavenly Father and His plan and in His Son, Jesus
Christ, and His Atonement. The Sunday meeting schedule
was not simply shortened. Rather, we now have
increased opportunities and responsibilities as
individuals and families to use our time for enhancing
the Sabbath as a delight at home and at Church. Last April, the organizational
structure of priesthood quorums was not merely changed. Rather, emphasis
and strength were given to a higher and holier way
of ministering to our brothers and sisters. Much like the braided
strands of a rope produce a powerful
and durable tool, all of these
interrelated actions are part of a unified
effort to better align the focus, resources, and work
of the Savior’s restored Church with its fundamental mission:
to assist God in His work to bring to pass the salvation
and exaltation of His children. Please do not focus primarily
upon the logistical aspects of what has been announced. We must not allow
procedural details to obscure the overarching
spiritual reasons these changes now are being made. Our desire is that faith
in the Father’s plan and in the Savior’s
redeeming mission might increase in the earth and
that God’s everlasting covenant might be established. Our only objectives
are to facilitate continuing conversion
to the Lord and to love more completely
and serve more effectively our brothers and sisters. Sometimes as members
of the Church we segment, separate, and
apply the gospel in our lives by creating lengthy checklists
of individual topics to study and tasks to accomplish. But such an approach potentially
can constrain our understanding and vision. We must be careful
because pharisaical focus upon checklists can divert
us from drawing closer to the Lord. The purpose and purification,
the happiness and joy, and the continuing conversion
and protection that come from “yielding [our] hearts unto
God” and “[receiving] his image in [our] countenances” cannot
be obtained merely by performing and checking off all the
spiritual things we are supposed to do. Rather, the power of
the Savior’s gospel to transform and bless us flows
from discerning and applying the interrelatedness of
its doctrine, principles, and practices. Only as we gather together
in one all things in Christ, with firm focus upon Him, can
gospel truths synergistically enable us to become what God
desires us to become and endure valiantly to the end. The gospel of Jesus Christ
is a magnificent tapestry of truth “fitly framed”
and woven together. As we learn and link together
revealed gospel truths, we are blessed to receive
precious perspective and increased spiritual
capacity through eyes that can see the Lord’s
influence in our lives and ears that can hear His voice. And the principle of gathering
together in one–even in Him–can assist us in
changing the traditional checklists into a unified,
integrated, and complete whole. Let me provide both a
doctrinal and a Church example of what I am suggesting. Example number 1. The fourth article
of faith is one of the greatest illustrations
of gathering together in one all things in
Christ: “We believe that the first principles
and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in
the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third,
Baptism by immersion for the remission
of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the
gift of the Holy Ghost.” True faith is focused in and on
the Lord Jesus Christ–in Him as the Divine and Only Begotten
Son of the Father and on Him and the redemptive
mission He fulfilled. “For he hath answered
the ends of the law, and he claimeth all those
who have faith in him; and they who have faith
in him will cleave unto every good
thing; wherefore he advocateth the cause of
the children of men.” Exercising faith in Christ
is trusting and placing our confidence in Him as
our Savior, on His name, and in His promises. The first and
natural consequence of trusting in the Savior
is repenting and turning away from evil. As we exercise faith
in and on the Lord, we naturally turn toward, come
unto, and depend upon Him. Thus, repentance is trusting in
and relying upon the Redeemer to do for us what we
cannot do for ourselves. Each of us must “[rely] wholly
upon the merits of him who is mighty to save” because only
“through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah”
can we become new creatures in Christ and ultimately return
to and dwell in the presence of God. The ordinance of
baptism by immersion for the remission of sins
requires us to trust in Him, rely upon Him, and follow Him. Nephi proclaimed: “I know that if ye
shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart,
acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God,
but with real intent, repenting of your sins,
witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon
you the name of Christ, by baptism–yea, by following
your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according
to his word, behold, then shall ye receive
the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the
baptism of fire and … the Holy Ghost.” The ordinance of
laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost
requires us to trust in Him, rely upon Him, follow
Him, and press forward in Him with the assistance
of His Holy Spirit. As Nephi declared, “And now … I know by this that unless a
man shall endure to the end, in following the example of
the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved.” The fourth article of
faith does not simply identify the fundamental
principles and ordinances of the restored gospel. Rather, this inspired statement
of belief gathers together in one all things in Christ:
trusting in and on Him, relying upon Him, following
Him, and pressing forward with Him–even in Him. Example number 2. I now want to describe
how all Church programs and initiatives are gathered
together in one in Christ. Many additional illustrations
could be presented; I will use only a selected few. In 1978, President
Spencer W. Kimball instructed members of the
Church to build up the strength of Zion throughout the world. He counseled the Saints to
remain in their native lands and establish strong stakes
by gathering the family of God and teaching them
the ways of the Lord. He further indicated
that more temples would be built and
promised blessings for the Saints wherever
they lived in the world. As the number of
stakes increased, the need was intensified
for member homes to “become [places] where
family members [loved] to be, where they [could]
enrich their lives and find mutual love,
support, appreciation, and encouragement.” Consequently, in
1980, Sunday meetings were consolidated into
a three-hour block to “reemphasize
personal and family responsibility for
learning, living, and teaching the gospel.” This emphasis on
family and the home was again affirmed in “The
Family: A Proclamation to the World,” introduced
by President Gordon B. Hinckley in 1995. In April of 1998,
President Hinckley announced the construction
of many more small temples, thereby bringing the sacred
ordinances of the Lord’s house closer to Latter-day Saint
individuals and families throughout the world. And these enhanced opportunities
for spiritual growth and development
were complemented by related increases in
temporal self-reliance through the introduction of
the Perpetual Education Fund in 2001. During his administration,
President Thomas S. Monson repeatedly exhorted the
Saints to go “to the rescue” and emphasized caring
for the poor and needy as one of the Church’s divinely
appointed responsibilities. Continuing the emphasis
on temporal preparation, the Self-Reliance
Services initiative was implemented in 2012. Over the past several
years, essential principles about making the Sabbath
day a delight in the home and at Church have been
emphasized and reinforced, thus preparing us for
the Sunday meeting schedule announced in this
session of general conference. And six months ago,
Melchizedek Priesthood quorums were strengthened and
aligned more effectively with the auxiliaries to
accomplish a higher and holier approach to ministering. Brothers and sisters, I believe
that the sequence and timing of these actions
over many decades can help us to see one united
and comprehensive work and not just a series of independent
and discrete initiatives. “God has revealed a pattern
of spiritual progress for individuals and families
through ordinances, teaching, programs, and activities
that are home centered and Church supported. Church organizations
and programs exist to bless
individuals and families and are not ends in themselves.” I pray we can recognize
the Lord’s work as one great worldwide work
that is becoming ever more home centered and Church supported. I know and I testify that
the Lord is revealing and will yet reveal many great
and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God. I began my message by
highlighting the strength that is created as individual
strands of material are twisted or braided together into a rope. In a similar way, I promise that
increased perspective, purpose, and power will be evident
in our learning and living of the restored gospel of Jesus
Christ as we strive to gather together in one all things
in Christ–even in Him. All opportunities and blessings
of eternal consequence originate in, are possible
and have purpose because of, and endure through
the Lord Jesus Christ. As Alma testified: “There
is no other way or means whereby man can be saved,
only in and through Christ. Behold, he is the life and
the light of the world.” I joyfully declare my witness of
the divinity and living reality of the Eternal Father and of
His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. In our Savior, we find joy. And in Him we find the assurance
of “peace in this world, and eternal life in
the world to come.” I so testify in the sacred name
of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen. We thank all who
have spoken to us, and express gratitude for
the beautiful music that has been provided this morning. The choir will now favor us
with “I Will Follow God’s Plan.” Our concluding speaker
for this session will be President Dallin
H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency. Following his remarks, the
choir will close this meeting by singing “Come,
Come, Ye Saints.” The benediction
will then be offered by Elder Adilson de Paula
Parrella of the Seventy. [MUSIC PLAYING – “I WILL FOLLOW
GOD’S PLAN”] Modern revelation defines
truth as a “knowledge of things as they are, as they were,
and as they are to come.” That is a perfect
definition for the plan of salvation and “The Family:
A Proclamation to the World.” We live in a time of greatly
expanded and disseminated information. But not all this
information is true. We need to be cautious
as we seek truth and choose sources
for that search. We should not consider secular
prominence or authority as qualified sources of truth. We should be cautious
about relying on information or advice
offered by entertainment stars, prominent athletes, or
anonymous internet sources. Expertise in one
field should not be taken as expertise on
truth in other subjects. We should also be cautious about
the motivation of the one who provides information. That is why the scriptures
warn us against priestcraft. If the source is
anonymous or unknown, the information may
also be suspect. Our personal decisions should
be based on information from sources that are qualified
on the subject and free from selfish motivations. When we seek the
truth about religion, we should use spiritual methods
appropriate for that search: prayer, the witness
of the Holy Ghost, and study of the scriptures and
the words of modern prophets. I am always sad
when I hear of one who reports a loss of religious
faith because of secular teachings. Those who once had
spiritual vision can suffer from self-inflicted
spiritual blindness. As President Henry
B. Eyring said, “Their problem does not lie
in what they think they see; it lies in what
they cannot see.” The methods of science
lead us to what we call scientific truth. But “scientific truth”
is not the whole of life. Those who do not learn “by
study and also by faith” limit their
understanding of truth to what they can verify
by scientific means. That puts artificial limits
on their pursuit of truth. President James E. Faust said:
“Those who have been [baptized] put their eternal souls at risk
by carelessly pursuing only the secular source of learning. We believe that The Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the fulness of
the gospel of Christ, which gospel is the essence of truth
and eternal enlightenment.” We find true and enduring
joy by coming to know and acting upon the
truth about who we are, the meaning of
mortal life, and where we are going when we die. Those truths cannot be learned
by scientific or secular methods. I will now speak of
restored gospel truths that are fundamental to the
doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Please consider these
truths carefully. They explain much about our
doctrine and practices, perhaps including some things
not yet understood. There is a God,
who is the loving Father of the spirits of all who
have ever lived or will live. Gender is eternal. Before we were
born on this earth, we all lived as male and female
spirits in the presence of God. We have just heard
the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square sing
“I Will Follow God’s Plan.” That is the plan
God established so that all of His spirit children
could progress eternally. That plan is vital
to each of us. Under that plan, God created
this earth as a place where His beloved
spirit children could be born into mortality
to receive a physical body and to have the opportunity
for eternal progress by making righteous choices. To be meaningful,
mortal choices had to be made between contesting
forces of good and evil. There had to be opposition,
and therefore an adversary, who was cast out
because of rebellion, was allowed to
tempt God’s children to act contrary to God’s plan. The purpose of God’s plan
was to give His children the opportunity to
choose eternal life. This could only be accomplished
by experience in mortality and, after death, by postmortal
growth in the spirit world. In the course of mortal
life, we would all be soiled by sin as we yielded
to the evil temptations of the adversary, and
we would eventually die. We accepted those
challenges in reliance upon the plan’s assurance
that God our Father would provide a Savior,
His Only Begotten Son, who would rescue us
by a universal resurrection to an embodied life after death. The Savior would also
provide an atonement to pay the price for
all to be cleansed from sin on the
conditions He prescribed. Those conditions included faith
in Christ, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost,
and other ordinances performed by priesthood authority. God’s great plan of happiness
provides a perfect balance between eternal
justice and the mercy we can obtain through the
Atonement of Jesus Christ. It also enables us
to be transformed into new creatures in Christ. A loving God reaches
out to each of us. We know that through His love
and because of the Atonement of His Only Begotten
Son, “all mankind may be saved, by obedience
to the laws and ordinances of [His] gospel.” The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints is properly known as a
family-centered Church. But what is not
well understood is that our family-centeredness
is focused on more than mortal relationships. Eternal relationships are also
fundamental to our theology. “The family is ordained of God.” Under the great plan
of our loving Creator, the mission of His
restored Church is to help the children of God
achieve the supernal blessing of exaltation in the celestial
kingdom, which can only be attained through
an eternal marriage between a man and a woman. We affirm the Lord’s
teachings that “gender is an essential characteristic
of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal
identity and purpose” and that “marriage
between man and woman is essential to
His eternal plan.” Finally, God’s love is so great
that, except for the few who deliberately become
sons of perdition, He has provided a destiny of
glory for all of His children. “All of His children”
includes all who are dead. We perform ordinances for
them by proxy in our temples. The purpose of the
Church of Jesus Christ is to qualify His
children for the highest degree of glory, which is
exaltation or eternal life. For those who do not
desire or qualify for that, God has provided other, though
lesser, kingdoms of glory. Anyone who understands these
eternal truths can understand why we members of The Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints think as we
do and do as we do. I will now mention
some applications of these eternal truths,
which can only be understood in light of God’s plan. First, we honor
individual agency. Most are aware of the restored
Church’s great efforts to promote religious
freedom in the United States and across the world. These efforts do not promote
just our own interests but, according to His plan, seek
to help all of God’s children enjoy freedom to choose. Second, we are a
missionary people. We are sometimes asked
why we send missionaries to so many nations, even
among Christian populations. We receive the same
question about why we give many millions of
dollars of humanitarian aid to persons who are not
members of our Church and why we do not link this
aid to our missionary efforts. We do this because we esteem all
mortals as children of God–our brothers and sisters–and we
want to share our spiritual and temporal abundance
with everyone. Third, mortal life
is sacred to us. Our commitment to
God’s plan requires us to oppose abortion
and euthanasia. Fourth, some are troubled by
some of our Church’s positions on marriage and children. Our knowledge of God’s
revealed plan of salvation requires us to oppose current
social and legal pressures to retreat from
traditional marriage or to make changes that confuse
or alter gender or homogenize the differences
between men and women. We know that the
relationships, identities, and functions of men and women
are essential to accomplish God’s great plan. Fifth, we also have a
distinctive perspective on children. We look on the bearing
and nurturing of children as part of God’s plan and
a joyful and sacred duty of those given the power
to participate in it. In our view, the
ultimate treasures on earth and in heaven are our
children and our posterity. Therefore, we must teach
and contend for principles and practices that provide
the best conditions for the development and
happiness of children–all children. Finally, we are beloved children
of a Heavenly Father, who has taught us that maleness
and femaleness, marriage between a man and a
woman, and the bearing and nurturing of
children are all essential to His great
plan of happiness. Our positions on
these fundamentals frequently provoke
opposition to the Church. We consider that inevitable. Opposition is part of the plan,
and Satan’s most strenuous opposition is directed
at whatever is most important to God’s plan. He seeks to destroy God’s work. His prime methods
are to discredit the Savior and His
divine authority, to erase the effects of the
Atonement of Jesus Christ, to discourage repentance,
to counterfeit revelation, and to contradict
individual accountability. He also seeks to confuse
gender, to distort marriage, and to discourage
childbearing–especially by parents who will
raise children in truth. The work of the Lord
is going forward despite the organized and
constant opposition that confronts us as we
strive to practice the teachings of The Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For those who falter
under that opposition, I offer these suggestions. Remember the principle of
repentance made possible by the power and
Atonement of Jesus Christ. As Elder Neal A.
Maxwell urged, don’t be among those “who
would rather try to change the Church than
to change themselves.” As Elder Jeffrey
R. Holland urged: “Hold fast to what you already
know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes. … “… In this Church, what
we know will always trump what we do not know.” Exercise faith in the
Lord Jesus Christ, which is the first
principle of the gospel. Finally, seek help. Our Church leaders love you
and seek spiritual guidance to help you. We provide many
resources such as you will find through
and other supports for gospel study in the home. We also have ministering
brothers and sisters called to give loving assistance. Our loving Heavenly
Father wants His children to have the joy that is the
purpose of our creation. That joyful destiny
is eternal life, which we can obtain
by pressing forward along what our prophet,
President Russell M. Nelson, often calls “the covenant path.” Here is what he said
in his first message as President of the Church:
“Keep on the covenant path. Your 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 to
men, women, and children everywhere.” I solemnly testify that the
things I have said are true, and they are made possible by
the teachings and the Atonement of Jesus Christ,
who makes it all possible under the great plan
of God, our Eternal Father. In the name of
Jesus Christ, amen. [MUSIC PLAYING – “COME, COME, YE
SAINTS”] Heavenly Father, we thank
Thee, Father, for Thy being a loving God, for Thy
sending, Father, Thy Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to
redeem us and to save us. We are so grateful for living
prophets, for President Nelson, and we thank Thee for the
many revelations, Father, Thou hast sent and will continue
to send to Thy prophets. We pray for Thy blessings
to be upon President Nelson, and we pray also
for Thy blessings to be upon us so we will
follow the guidance, counsels, instructions that
we receive from the living prophets with exact obedience. O Father, please bless us with
the constant companionship of Thy Holy Spirit, we 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. Music was provided by
the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. 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.

45 Replies to “Saturday Morning Session”

  1. Big sigh. People will start having their own clicks and study groups. So those who are individuals like me, can and will most likely be left out. It’s bad enough I don’t have a family for home evenings. I don’t see how this serves the individual? I’ve already felt it was really difficult without a family.

  2. Trusting in the Lord. My single sisters and single brothers this will increase our individual faith it will inspire us to be closer to our Savior. Heavenly Father gave revelation with all His children in mind. Let’s embrace the new change with gladness of heat mind and strength. My prayers are with you. May you be bless for your example for those you help and remember your divine inheritance.

  3. I learned so much with the talks of the speakers.. We are all experiencing hardships through out our lives but if we keep our faith as we lift up our heads on high He will never forsake us hence fear not for the Lord is on our side.. our side is more than the side of them who drags us down..

  4. What an amazing time to be alive and to be a member of this church. I'm so happy to be working with each of you in building the kingdom here on Earth.

  5. I have received personal revelation since a child of the truth that God leads His church through his Prophets in each dispensation of time. Worthy is the Lamb! This is the very sacred message of the Cross! GOOD NEWS! (Truth in a nutshell) Through the Power of the Atoning Grace of Jesus Christ, "ALL" people will be resurrected and saved from physical DEATH.The eternal glory we receive will depend on our faithfulness.Through the grace of God, all can be saved from their sins (see 2 Nephi 25:23; Helaman 5:10-11) as they repent and faithfully follow Jesus.

  6. Actually look at the other side and there claims and belief and then make the decision for yourself. Don't just avoid it. Because they have a different opinion than you does not mean that their sole purpose is to attack you. With any topic especially religion do you need to always try to understand people who think differently than you that's the only way you will ever have a discussion. Those who avoid others who disagree or don't believe there is obviously something they are trying to avoid.
    Don't rely on someone's word. Someday you may find that you are wrong. But you will never know unless you actually try to see why people leave your church or don't believe in your church. Yes be skeptical of what sources they have presented to you that's good that's called critical thinking. At least it's not avoiding it altogether.
    Jesus was criticized all the time during his life. And every single time regardless if it was a nefarious or not he answered the question. So if Jesus was perfectly fine with criticism. Then why not his church. The Disciples of Jesus went through more pain and suffered more for the name of Jesus then these men of the lds have ever done in their entire lives. At least in my opinion. They too were criticized, they too were mocked, and they were killed for speaking the truth. If they could do it, why not you?
    This makes you angry or discouraged to actually doing research. Then fine be angry with me but I hope you realize that if this were any other topic you'd be saying what I am saying.
    In fact please question me. Call me out. Criticize me. That's what you should be doing. And I will answer them in the best way I can.

  7. I support the LDS Church and its positive role in society. Love thy neighbor is the biggest lesson they've taught me. I'm not the best member, and I've made poor decisions in my life but I honor the message they bring to the world. They've always been a rock when the world needs them most.

  8. i had a dream last night about the lord the lord say to me he say you will walk into the light so i did then i talk to the lord to say what i do with my family the lord say to me you will be kind and have lot of faith

  9. The new Sunday School manual talks of conversion, which is more than testimony. To me, this is going to be a time of trial for me and many in the Church. Are we going to step up our game by coming unto Christ with faith on his name; humbly repenting of our sins with broken hearts and contrite spirits; searching to know the truthfulness which is contained in the scriptures through revelation; and coming unto the Father, in Christ's name, in mighty prayer; and by pouring out our hearts in gratitude and appreciation for all our blessings.
    The Church should be something more than a social meeting place where we come to meet friends and try to live off their light, without seeking to increase our own light. It seems like it's time to stop and re-evaluate where we are; where we want to be; and what we need to do to get there.
    By being in and of the world, is not going to get me where I want to be.
    I know where I am and where I want to be. And I want to be a ZION person. I am tired of mediocrity in my own life. I am searching, pondering, praying, and studying my scriptures, often at 2-4 am. I'm single and don't need a study group. I have many journals from years gone by which remind me where I've come from. I'm seeking conversion, where I can keep my eye on Jesus Christ, listen to the prophets and apostles, and not falter under all circumstances.
    The changes, I think, are to help people to really decide what they really want. God or the world.

  10. Had to re watch the talks are the same yet it’s the the delivery by certain brothers or sisters that strikes your heart ❤️

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