Saturday afternoon session of General Conference (186th Semi-Annual)
Presiding: Pres Monson
Conducting: Pres Uchtdorf
Choir of missionaries from MTC: Joseph Smith’s First Prayer
Prayer: Elder Daniel L. Johnson, 70
Pres Eyring: Sustaining of General Authorities
Elder Quentin L. Cook:
Eternal Life is the greatest gift of God. It is denied to those not valiant in their testimony of Jesus. Stumbling blocks often stand in our way. Perspectives can cause us to have a benefit or stumbling block to us. It is an impediment to belief and progress. It is anything that distracts us from achieving righteous goals. Our testimonies of God and Jesus must stay simple and pure and not be complicated by stumbling blocks.
Philosophies of men as a stumbling block. Philosophies can lead us away from Christ and his salvation. The apostle Paul taught the Greeks on Mars Hill, attempted a philosophical method and was rejected. To others, he taught the simple resurrection of Christ, and was believed. 1 Corinthians 15 gets world attention from Handel’s Messiah. Paul describes how Christ was risen from the dead. As in Adam all died, through Christ all are made alive. The apostasy occurred in part due to philosophies taking over true Christian teachings. Will Durrant taught that Christianity adopted paganism. Today some reject Christianity, because it lacks sophistication. Elder Heber C Kimball predicted that the day would come when it would be hard to tell the difference between saints and the world, and then the sifting will come. Elder Neal Maxwell noted that much sifting will occur because of lapses in judgment. Some will be offended or deceived.
Others will not recognize sin in its true light. Corianton, Alma’s son, sinned without recognizing the importance of obedience and repentance. Alma 42 holds great instruction on the atonement. It is not an injustice for the sinner to be consigned to death, but is given a space to repent. It is not unfair to be clear about the importance of repentance and consequences. Through repentance, sin is blotted out.
Looking beyond the mark is a stumbling block. Jacob warned about the Jews’ blindness. A significant one in our day is gospel extremism, when one point is lifted above all other teachings. One example is when one advocates for additions to the word of wisdom or another is end of days events. Some elevate causes, some good, above their commitment to the Savior and his teachings. If we elevate anything above Christ, then we are looking beyond the mark. Jesus Christ is the mark.
To be valiant in Christ, we must avoid the stumbling blocks. We must avoid the philosophies of men, sin, and looking beyond the mark. We must focus on Christ and his salvation.
Elder Gary E. Stevenson:
A young girl lost her father. Her family moved to another state. Soon, missionaries with a new religion came to their town to deliver the message of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. Oliver Cowdery and John Whitmer had seen the plates with their own eyes. When Mary Elizabeth Rollins, at age 12, heard them, she yearned to read the book. One copy was left with Isaac Morley, a new leader in the church. She asked to hold it, then plead to read it. He told her that if she would return it before breakfast the next morning. She read all that night, then repeated from memory the first verse to Isaac. She then told him about Nephi. Morley told her she could take it home and finish it. She knew it was true. One month later, she met Joseph Smith, who came to town. He made the book a present to her, and would give another copy to Isaac Morley.
One is not too young to gain a personal testimony of the Book of Mormon. When we read and pray with as much desire as Mary did, we too can gain a witness of the Holy Ghost. This can lead to the Book of Mormon being the “keystone of your testimony.” More than 174 million copies have been printed since the first printing. President Benson noted, It is the keystone of our witness of Christ and doctrine. It teaches truth, but also gives greater power to resist temptation.
As a missionary in Japan, we were invited into a home by an elderly lady. I was a new missionary and did not speak Japanese well. I taught about the Book of Mormon, and shared my testimony of the Book of Mormon. I received an impression in my chest that it really is the word of God. Tears came to my eyes as I spoke to this Japanese grandmother. It was written for us and our day. The ancient people of Nephi did not have the benefit of having the whole book, as we do today. Moroni saw our day.
Will you replace some of the online/screen time each day with studying the Book of Mormon, even if just 10 minutes a day. You can even do it on your device. It should be a fun thing to do. Smaller kids may read it with a parent or loved one. If one chapter is hard, move on to the next. Find a quiet place to study it. Seek answers and your own testimony. You will see Jesus’ name or testimonies of him throughout the book. Moroni 10:4-5.
Choir and congregation: Called to Serve
Elder D. Todd Christofferson:
God is love, and we depend on that love. It is always there, whether we deserve it or not. Sometimes we hear it is unconditional. While in some ways it is true, it is not scriptural. We do read infinite and everlasting. We sometimes hear that God saves and forgives all because his love is unconditional. But we receive a reward as we abide in God’s love. It means we receive his grace and are perfected in him, including, having faith, repenting and being baptized. God loves us, but cannot save us in our sins. Amulek told Zeezrom that God will save us from our sins, not in them.
Christ saves us on the conditions of repentance. The Book of Mormon shows Christ’s suffering, which brings about the bowels of mercy. Mercy then satisfies justice. Those without faith and repentance receive the fullness of justice. Repentance is a gift to us, paid by a very precious price. God rains down upon his children all blessings that he can, allowed by justice and mercy. However, all greater blessings are based on obedience. They are not entitlements to receive unworthily.
Abiding in his love also allows us to achieve our full potential, to be as He is. Pres Uchtdorf stated that God’s goal is much higher for us, we are to be like Him. We are to serve and love as Jesus has loved and served. We must abide a celestial law, so we can abide a celestial glory. We must put off the natural man and become a saint, willing to submit to God. Elder Oaks noted that the final judgment is not a sum of all our good and bad acts, but a final note of what we’ve become.
Helen Keller was born in Alabama, and was left deaf and blind by a sickness. She was enraged by not being able to communicate. By the age of 6, she constantly was raging. Anne Sullivan was called for to help her. Anne was mostly blind as a child, and after the death of her parents was sent to a poor house. She finally went to a blind school and was operated on that allowed her to read print. When sent for by the Keller family, she finally won over the child’s trust by working one on one with her. To help Helen learn words, she would spell words on her hand. Helen enjoyed it, but did not understand what it meant, until water was spelled while pumping water over her hand. Suddenly, Helen found a new world, as she learned language and learned to write and speak. The movie shows her parents as satisfied with her learning to eat dinner and folding her napkin. However, Anne Sullivan knew she was capable of much more.
Consider the cost of God’s precious love. Jesus suffered to save us physically and spiritually. He suffered so much, he preferred not to have to bear it. As a consequence of his suffering, he can offer us immortality and eternal life.
Oil pressing was common in Jesus’ mortality. To press out the oil, a large rock and beams were placed on it to crush the oil out of the olives. And yes, the oil is blood red when it first comes out. Jesus begged three times for assistance, but remained in Gethsemane, suffering. What a precious gift is his divine love. His arm of mercy is extended to us. Blessed are those who come unto him. Abide in his love, be his friend, keep his commandments.
Elder W. Mark Bassett:
As a boy, our parents got us a set of metal plates. We wondered what was written on the sealed plates sitting in our house. On several occasions, my brother and I tried to pry apart the seals enough to peek without breaking the bands. We were unsuccessful. The embarrassing part of this story is I do not know what was written on the unsealed plates that were meant to be read.
God has give us guidance through prophets, written down as scripture. Worthy members have been blessed with the Holy Ghost to aid in learning.
Our learning can be slowed or halted by ill-conceived desires and attempts, such as trying to read the sealed plates, when we have the important words available to us now. We cannot force God to unfold the mysteries of God, but only by God’s will and via the Holy Ghost. Despise not the revelations of God that we now have. Seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from him.
We must follow the example of Nephi, who desired to follow God and cried unto the Lord, so that he believed his father’s words. Nephi had a sincere desire, humility, prayer, trust in the prophet, faith, diligence and obedience.
In our age, we feel knowledge should and can be obtained immediately. Some rely on other knowledge of unknown origin rather than listen to the prophets. Jacob warned about looking beyond the mark, as people did not seek the plainness, but mysteries.
Pres Uchtdorf noted that when missionaries have faith, they will trust God even when they do not understand all things. Their faith will be manifest through their works.
We may not know all things, but we can still trust. As with Nephi, we may not know the truth of all things, but we can trust our testimony that such things are true.
Elder Kazahiko Yamashita:
Pres Nelson dedicated the Hokkaido temple recently. One early Christian missionary to the area told his students to be ambitious for Christ. This means to be motivated and dedicated. We will serve faithfully in our wards and branches without complaint. Our missionaries serve faithfully throughout the world.
As mission president, I had an Elder Coleman serving. He had a prosthetic leg which broke while riding his bike, causing him much pain. As we had him in the hospital, I saw his leg for the first time. The prosthetic was repaired, but continued to break. They recommended he send him home for reassignment, however he wanted to stay. I pondered him serving in an area that did not require a bike. I felt that he should return home and have him await an assignment. I told him my recommendation. He wept over the phone, but agreed to follow him. I asked him if he had asked on his application to go to an area that did not require a bike. He said he determined to go wherever the Lord would send him. He then asked me why the Lord sent him to Japan. I told him that it was for my benefit, as I was blessed to know him. Elder Coleman was reassigned to where he could use a car.
Life has trials, but as we are ambitious for Christ, he will help us as we are patient and have faith. Christ understood his mission and was faithful to his Father. We are reminded this weekly in the Sacrament.
Choir: I’ll Go Where You Want Me To Go
Elder Dallin H. Oaks:
Go ye and teach all nations, Jesus taught to all Christians. Many call this the “great commission.” LDS are among those most committed to this great responsibility, as God has restored additional knowledge and power to us in our day. We honor the Lord by sharing the restored gospel. It is a joyful privilege. Today we have many resources to share: tv, internet and social media. We have more missionaries and church presence in many nations. We desire to be more effective in fulfilling the commandment to proclaim the restored gospel in all the world.
We are a worldwide church, and so I will speak of ideas that will work everywhere. Ideas that can be share with those who have heard of Christ, and those who do not know his name; those who are happy with life, and those desperate for help.
Member participation is vital in conversion and retention. Pres Monson said now is the time for members and missionaries to come together in the labor.
Sharing the restored gospel is our lifelong Christian duty and privilege. It is a major piano chord that must be played throughout our lives, not just a key or two.
All of us must:
- Pray for desire to help in the work.
- Keep the commandments. Faithful, obedient members are the most effective
- Pray for inspiration on what we can do to share the gospel. This is different than praying for the missionaries or others can do. These prayers will be answered if followed by commitment to act. If the Lord will inspire you to teach someone, you will do it. We need this, because some are ready, and some are not ready to receive it. We should not be the judge, but leave it to God to help us find those who are in a preparation to hear the word. As an apostle, I ask all the members to pray about this that the Lord will guide us to those we can share the gospel with. Pray with your families for missionary opportunities.
- Remember that people learn when they are ready to learn, not when we are ready to teach them. What we are interested in is usually not what they are interested in. They want the results of the doctrine, not the doctrine. As they feel the spirit and happiness, they are then interested in the doctrine. We must prayerfully and carefully inquire on their interest. This depends on our relationship with him/her.
- As we speak with others, an invitation to learn more about Christ and his gospel is preferable to learning about the church. Feelings about the church follow learning about the gospel.
- We need to be authentic in loving concern for the individual as we share the gospel.
- Our efforts to share should not be limited to our friends. During the Brazil Olympics, we learned of a taxi driver that shared pamphlets with everyone. Clayton Christianson observes there is no correlation between a relationship and a person’s desire to hear the gospel.
- Prepare Sacrament meetings that will be well planned to interest nonmembers
- Many opportunities to share the gospel. Many lives can be improved by the gospel.
- Young members’ expertise in social media can be used to reach out to others in the gospel. Christ ministered to the Nephite children, so they could utter. Today, we could say he has loosed their thumbs, so they can utter.
I testify of Jesus as the life and light of the world. His atonement allows us a forgiveness of our sins, and hope of a glorious life with God.
Choir: Hope of Israel
Prayer: Elder Allen D. Haynie