The Lord Leads His Church

Elder D. Todd Christofferson posted a highly revealing and fascinating status update on his Facebook page today:

Someone recently asked me why the Brethren are focused on teaching about Sabbath day observance throughout the world. The answer is very simple. It came as a direct revelation to the First Presidency and the Twelve from the Lord.

If we keep the Sabbath day holy, individuals will be stronger and will experience a transforming depth of spiritual maturity. The Lord has taught for centuries to let the Sabbath be a delight for all. We are all learning and teaching this law anew worldwide. We know it will bless all.

This status should quell any doubts that people have as to whether the Lord actively leads his Church.

With most impressions and promptings that we feel, the line between the Holy Ghost and our own efforts is blurred. It is hard to tell whether something comes directly from God, or whether comes from our own desire to be righteous and do good. And indeed, we have been counseled to not worry ourselves too deeply about the difference between the two. But there are times when revelation comes through in a fashion where its divine origin is unmistakable. And in those moments, words and thoughts from heaven flow through us. Those are the moments that we might describe “as a direct revelation . . . from the Lord.”

What Elder Christofferson is suggesting is not merely that the First Presidency and Twelve are trying to do their best and acting upon their good desires. Instead, the instruction to focus on Sabbath day worship was “direct revelation . . . from the Lord.”

This language is unequivocal and profound. God is leading his Church. He cares about what the Brethren teach. He cares about our spiritual state. And he has made it clear that improving Sabbath worship is one of the greatest priorities for our day.

32 thoughts on “The Lord Leads His Church

  1. Out of curiosity I am intrigued and would like to know how Elder Christofferson defines “direct revelation”. In all 34 years of being a member, no one has been able to define that for me. They always define inspiration as revelation which is a completely different thing.

    If it came directly in person from Jesus or through a verbal communication which was heard by President Monson, wouldn’t it be appropriate to announce it as such to the full Church? Thus says the Lord…..?

  2. I wonder if Satan is about to open a new front in the war.

    I need to work on my Sabbath observance more. It’s tough to pry myself away from the computer, and once I’m on the computer, it’s tough to pry myself away from ordinary or trivial activities on the computer.

    I have had moments of direct revelation. None have involved visions or audible words. All were directly relevant to a stewardship to which I had been properly called and sustained by authorized leaders.

  3. Kent, can I ask you to help me better understand? How was the revelation received? Was it inspiration to act in a certain manner or was it pure intelligence pouring into your mind as Joseph taught? Revelation means something was revealed which was previously hidden. What was hidden that was revealed to you?

    Does properly called and sustained by authorized leaders mean that those who are not called or sustained are ineligible to receive revelation?

  4. My spidey sense is telling me John is a troll who is not truly interested in having a discussion but instead wants to pursue his own agenda. I hope I am wrong, and I have approved his comments in the hope I am wrong, but we will find out pretty quickly whether he a troll or not.

    In the hope that he is not a troll, let’s answer a few of his questions.

    How do we define “direct revelation?” The scriptures, especially D&C, make this clear that prophets do NOT define direction revelation in other ways than to say it is revelation. In the scriptures, we see huge, sweeping revelations (i.e., Isaiah, Daniel and Revelation, among others), and we see small instances of revelation on specific topics (i.e., God speaking to Oliver Cowdery). Joseph Smith received both sweeping revelations and small promptings of the Spirit, and he did not spend much time defining exactly what revelation is, so my personal opinion is that if we have faith in the revelatory process for our day, we don’t question it. What is relevant here for this post is that Elder Christofferson, who is an apostle of the Lord, says that this is “direct revelation to the First Presidency and the Twelve from the Lord.” That is good enough for me and should be good enough for all Church members.

    Kent already answered John’s questions in the second series of questions, but let me phrase it a different way in case it is unclear: in the latter days, people receive revelation for the things over which they have stewardship. So, a bishop can receive revelation regarding his ward, and a mother can receive revelation for 1)her calling 2)her husband 3)herself 4)family members and friends 5)her kids. You can’t receive revelation for the things over which you have no stewardship, which is why Kate Kelly cannot receive revelation over whether or not the Church should give women the priesthood. The people who receive revelation for the Church are the Prophet, the First Presidency and the Twelve. How is that revelation received? Already answered above.

    Kent responds to the revelation from the Twelve in exactly the correct way: i.e., he looks at ways he can follow the counsel of the Twelve by improving his Sabbath observance.

    One of the incorrect ways to respond to revelation is to question the revelatory process when an Apostle of the Lord makes a clear declaration.

  5. Kent suggested that Satan is about to open a new front. I suggest he already has.

    As to whether it would be possible for someone to question whether or not the church is led by revelation, we have the example of Laman and Lemuel. Even seeing an angel was not enough to stop their murmuring. Therefore, of course it’s possible for some to doubt. They have to do mental gymnastics in order to continue to doubt, but they will continue to doubt.

    As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

  6. In TOTALLY DISAGREE with the statement that JOHN’s question(s) are made from an apostate. I think he’s only looking for some clarification. ANYTHING GOOD comes from GOD!!! ANYTHING. Revelations come to all of us in various ways, not JUST the church leaders. I was taught that we as a child of God have every right to ask if what the church leaders are saying is true. Some general authorities have NOT been truthful about things–Paul Dunn for example. Blacks and the priesthood is another. John, you ask Father in Heaven anything you have a question about and he will answer you.

  7. John, if you’ve been practicing Mormonism for 34 years and have never received your own revelations, then you haven’t been doing it right.

  8. Hi Imaperfectm,

    I’m not as experienced in sniffing out trolls as Geoff, but John’s questions do not seem inspired by a desire to actually get any answer than the one he has decided is right. Namely, it appears that he presumes the leaders just had a meeting, came to a consensus, felt warm and fuzzy about their consensus, then painted it with the glamour of revelation from God.

    In the experience of many Mormons, their personal experience with revelation is more than merely “feeling good” about something.

    I have an autistic child. She has every right to ask questions. But after then hundredth iteration of “Will I really never get to be on the computer ever again?!?!?!?!?!” it gets a bit tiresome. I should mention that this is accompanied by animalistic sounds, rapid finger twitching, and screaming.

    So just as I love my daughter, I love those who incessantly insist on questioning ever thing that is said by official representatives of the Church. I just don’t have to pretend that I am really happy with the situation.

  9. There is a difference between inspired consensus and “warm fuzzy feelings”, which is, I believe the point Meg was making.
    I have received revelation for my own stewardship in a number of ways. I have directly witnessed beings who are no longer of this world. I have experienced dreams which warned me; in one situation probably saving my life. I have felt both strong and subtle ‘whisperings of the Spirit’, on one occasion almost a vocal shout, but more often a hint that led me in the right direction. I have witnessed numerous miracles, true contraventions of what are generally excepted as laws of nature. But I know many people better than I am who have not received anything more than a subtle but definate confirmation that the gospel is true and worth investing all they have and are.
    I have heard enough from various sources to believe that most if not all of our current apostles, including the first presidency, have a true witness of Jesus Christ, including visitations. It is not my place to go into detail or discuss sources.
    It is not the type of revelation they receive that distinguishes whether we should heed their leadership. As members of the church particularly as endowed members, we have made covenants to follow them. We are encouraged to receive our own spiritual confirmation, which certainly helps to motivate us. When doubt and pride overcome oaths and promises, apostasy begins.
    I once heard the statement that apostasy is always preceded by sin. At the time I doubted it was so, but I had foolishly thought only of the obvious sins of the flesh. Eventually I realized that the most persistent and seductive sin is pride. All the apostates I have encountered are full of pride. It is something I have struggled with myself. I even find myself being proud of my humility.
    To subject ourselves not only to God, but also to those He has called as His earthly representatives on the earth is the test we either pass or fail according to our own choices.

  10. What a deeply encouraging piece of news.

    I had sort of guessed that something of the kind may have happened, from the sudden strong teachings on the Sabbath – but it creates a tremendous sense of excitement and purpose to have such clarity about what should be done, what people should strive to do – in a long-termist way.

    I think it was effective that the announcement of the revelation came *after* considerable teaching about the Sabbath – rather than the other way around.

    The General Authorities made the case for observing the Sabbath, very fully and strongly, so that the policy was seen to be sensible, useful, scriptural etc – and then (after we had already been convinced) we were told it was ‘also’ a revelation.

    This was a very respectful, very *non*-bullying way of teaching us a new emphasis – quite marvelous to behold!

  11. John, something else just came to mind. You’ve been exposed to your local fellow members, full time missionaries, sunday school teachers, quorum instructors, home teachers, people giving talks in your ward sacrament meetings and stake conferences, supposedly listening/watching/reading 70’s, apostles, and prophets speak at general conferences, had access to your bishop and stake president and their counselors, for _thirty-four_ years…, and now you’re asking those questions on a _blog_ ?

  12. lemuel,

    Truly you chose your screen name carefully. Tell us how you really feel about these “visionary men.”

  13. Is the sabbath really that big of a deal? Famous Mormons who play professional sports “break” the sabbath by working almost every sunday. No one forced them to work on sunday, yet they are revered by the church, probably because they are famous.

    So is there an exception to “God’s” edict for professional/famous mormons?

  14. To Hello:

    This doesn’t seem to be a sincere question, either, but I’ll address it anyway.
    No, there is not an exception for professional athletes and other famous Mormons. This does not, however, necessarily mean that these Mormons are being hypocritical for working on Sunday, or that church members are hypocritical for revering them. Lots of members of the church work on Sunday, and it’s a choice for all of them, to a certain extent. It just depends on how they weigh the tradeoffs between working on Sunday, and not. It’s not as simple as “working on Sunday is bad, don’t do it”.

    For example: A professional football player dedicates 16 Sundays (game days) a year to his career – sometimes a few more. There are probably a few other work activities that take place on Sunday, such as practices and meetings, but these probably aren’t things that consume the entire Sabbath like game day does. This leaves plenty of Sundays during the rest of the year where the individual is free to properly observe the Sabbath. In addition, NFL careers are short – really good ones last 10 years, very few last longer than that.

    Considering all of this, is it really fair to criticize their Sabbath day observance? If someone decides that it’s worth working a certain number of Sundays per year for several years when they are young so that they can retire really early, and then have the time and resources to serve faithfully in the church for many years after that, is that hypocritical? I don’t think so.

  15. ChrisJ, I appreciate your response, but also find it at least somewhat problematic. The attitude that breaking a commandment now is justified in order to allow someone later to be able to better keep the commandments and serve is a seductive but deeply flawed one. It is a dangerous course because the current sin will weaken our resolve and make it much less likely that we will stay faithful.

    The truth is that those working on Sunday should absolutely try to find ways to minimize that. We all should try to do better with our Sabbath worship. Sometimes that might mean giving up a job or even a profession. But it is an individual decision that we all have to make. We all need to seek to do better in keeping the commandments of God.

    I also see a difference between an athlete who works on Sundays and a doctor who is on call in order to be able to save lives on Sundays.

    Finally, there’s nothing wrong with admiring people even if they do not perfectly live all the commandments. We admire LDS athletes and Musicians because they are able to remain faithful even in a very difficult profession where it is hard to remain spiritual and active. But that doesn’t mean that we should praise them for not observing the sabbath day fully.

  16. Additionally, we should be clear that we are talking here about the principle of the Sabbath day – which in most of the (Christian) world is delineated and accepted as Sunday. However, I have personally worshiped and celebrated the Sabbath (as in attended sacrament meetings, etc), and done so with authorized Church approval, on Fridays (while living/visiting the Muslim Middle East) and Saturdays (while living in Jerusalem), and sometimes both in the same week (when tasked with helping with meetings being held in the West Bank) due to the socio-religious norms and circumstances in those places.

    This does not detract from the necessity of understanding that when we are in places where Sunday is accepted and recognized as the Sabbath it is incumbent upon us to keep and preserve it on that day – meaning, I cannot just determine that I will celebrate the Sabbath on Tuesday’s because I want to. Rather, we must follow the direction of the Prophets in their authorized allowances for exceptions to that rule (i.e. to keep the Sabbath on Friday or Saturday, you must be within the geographic locations in which the Church has authorized such). Likewise, if one, because of their profession or other responsibilities, is required or necessitated to make an exception to the general rule, it is incumbent upon them to seek the ratification of the Spirit on their own for such. Any accompanying ratification applies to them personally, and should not be considered a general rule. Likewise, they are taking the responsibility upon themselves and the consequences of their choice will be upon their heads.

    But making the distinction between the general principle of the Sabbath day and the strong delineation of which absolute day of the week it must occur on, may open the means for those, as directed by the Spirit according to their needs and situations, to potentially reap the benefits and blessings of Sabbath Day observance by setting apart another day of the week, if they are unable on Sunday itself, for Sabbath day appropriate actions and behaviors allowing themselves to draw closer to God. (Taking the sacrament, as a priesthood ordinance governed by local authorities, would be situated by that authority in accordance with instructions in the handbook and/or local guidance of the Spirit and ecclesiastical authorities.)

    In the case of the aforementioned professionals and athletes, I would hope that these individuals would, for their sake alone, commit to such an action, simply for the spiritual recharge that can accompany such actions. More than likely many do so, and would think it very inappropriate for others to use their experience as a means for questioning the commandment of God and the teachings of the Prophets.

    However, in all such cases, none of us are in a position to judge the worthiness or choices of another. We should encourage the following of the Spirit and the Prophets, but leave their choices and actions up to them. Likewise, we should be careful in determining how we look to others as “exceptions” to the general rules. Doing such smacks of looking for excuses and rationalizations for one’s own lack of following prophetic direction.

    tl-dr: of course there are exceptions to when and how the Sabbath has been/is being kept. However, those exceptions must not be taken as means for those of us who can keep the general rule to shirk in our responsibilities and opportunities to follow the commandments.

  17. Some excellent athletes have made the choice not to play on Sunday. I recently read of a football player who decided against a professional career for that reason. As I recall, a fairly famous athlete in another country decided not to play on Sunday after conversion and his decision caused a change in the rules for his sport.
    It is up to us as individuals to decide what we will do and we cannot excuse ourselves on the basis of the actions of others. Neither can we judge what others choose because we can never have all of the information necessary.
    I have felt the weight of judgment by some who had no idea of the basis for decisions I have made. Proceeding prayerfully and carefully and in accordance with personal revelation does not guarantee that others will justify my actions as righteous.
    I support the Prophet and the apostles and try to live in accordance with what they have asked. Where I have deviated from counsel of leadership I understand that I must answer, personally, to my Lord.

  18. I would like to point out that there are plenty of people in my own ward who have to work on Sundays. There are several air traffic controllers who have difficult shifts that often include Sundays. We have police men and doctors and nurses in our ward. Somebody has got to be at the emergency room because people do not stop hurting themselves on Sundays. I often have to travel on Sundays for my job.

    I am willing to cut professional athletes some slack on this issue. It is, in effect, their job to have to work on Sundays in the same way that it is my job to have to often travel on Sundays.

    I think the most important thing is our overall attitude toward the Sabbath. We can always do better. I try to spend the Sabbath reading scriptures and trying to create a worshipful atmosphere in the home, and i think our family has gotten a little bit better over the years at honoring the Sabbath overall. But we still could do better.

  19. For my part, I revere no athletes, or at least not for being athletes. And it will be interesting to see how Mormons who work Sundays, other than for essential services (to me, a clear exception for which I can quote scripture), deal with the new emphasis. I may learn something unexpected from their example.

    In answer to a question I’ll charitably assume was sincere: Yes, the promptings have come as pure intelligence flowing into my mind. Or at least that’s as good a description as any I can give.

    I began to write about a very recent experience where I had such a stroke of intelligence direct me towards a course of action in my stewardship that I would not have taken on my own. But this is not the place. Suffice that it happens.

    In my case, the strokes of intelligence have been for stewardships for which I have been called and sustained by Priesthood leaders. I can imagine similar revelation coming for less formal stewardships, such as the informal stewardship that arises when you are the first to come across a highway accident where aid is needed. It just hasn’t happened to happen to me.

    I have had revelation for family situations, but then I interpret my temple marriage as a calling and setting apart for that stewardship under proper Priesthood authority. I can imagine that the stewardship is inherent in the fact of parenthood regardless of formal setting apart, though that’s not my own situation.

  20. John, Whether you are sincere or not, I will say this, it makes absolutely no difference how the revelation was communicated to TFP and the Q of the 12, for thus saith the Lord, “Whether by mine own voice or by the the voice of my servants, it is the same.” When they speak under and with duly recognized authority at the pulpit or otherwise, we had better pay attention.

    I, for one, am glad greater emphasis is given to Sabbath observance because I have often considered it one of the most broken/ignored/forgotten edicts of the 10 commandments. What’s important, as other commenters have noted, is keeping the spirit of the law. That is why it is not our place to judge whether someone is keeping the Sabbath even if they are working/playing/performing on the Sunday. Rather than focusing on others’ motes we should, like Kent, focus on our own beams.

  21. Air Traffic Controller select their own shifts. One benefit of a very aggressive public employee union and a compliant public employer. So the controllers in yoru ward are choosing to work on the Sabbath. Also, it is a complete myth controllers work very hard. They spend less than half of any assigned shift actually working on traffic. But that is all orthogonal to the point about Sabbath worship. Controllers who work on the sabbath are also working all of the General Authorities’s aircraft who choose to travel home on Sundays from their various weekend assignments instead of waiting until Monday to travel home. I suspect those General Authorities are grateful for all of the controllers, pilots, mechanics, flight attendants, baggage handlers and airport personnel who work on Sunday and make Sunday flights possible.

    At one point, one of those pilots who worked on the Sabbath was President Uchtdorf. As a pilot for a major air carrier like Lufthansa he knew he would have to regularly work on the Sabbath, particularly when he was a low time pilot building up his seniority. Looking back perhaps he would have chosen another non-life saving profession that did not require/mandate routine Sabbath work for other people’s leisure or business-but not the protection of life. Then we would be deprived of very cool aviation metaphors and object lessons, all of which I really enjoy and miss them since he has moved on from many of those vignettes.

  22. As some readers suspected, lemuel was another troll, thus fulfilling his screen name quite appropriately. He has been blocked.

  23. “Air Traffic Controller select their own shifts. One benefit of a very aggressive public employee union and a compliant public employer. So the controllers in yoru ward are choosing to work on the Sabbath.”

    I don’t want to be argumentative, but this simply could not be true. If air traffic controllers picked their own shifts, everybody would work from 9 to 5 and there would never be anybody working at 2 a.m. My ward has several people who work in local air traffic control. and they definitely did NOT pick their shifts of 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. So, obviously, there is some give and take in the shift assignments, just as there are in all 24-hour jobs, and sometimes the people in my ward get stuck with the rotten shifts, including sometimes working on the Sabbath.

  24. So Geoff, because lemuel said I was right (his first two words), that makes him, what, a troll? Roar! Growl! Snarl! Hiss! I guess I can fulfill my screen name quite nicely too. : )

  25. “You can’t receive revelation for the things over which you have no stewardship, which is why Kate Kelly cannot receive revelation over whether or not the Church should give women the priesthood. ”

    How can this be? If the President of the church can receive a revelation on it, I can. I have no authority to convey it. But I can know the mind and will of the Lord with regard to women and priesthood if the Lord wants to make it known to me, regardless of whether or not I am a steward over women receiving the priesthood.

    To take it back a step, it’s probably fair to say I completely agree with the quoted portion above, if I correctly consider and apply my stewardship. Having the priesthood, being married, and having sons and daughters, it is -entirely- within my right to know whether or not God intends some of all of them to be ordained.

    But I have no authority to convey any revelation contrary to that the Apostles and First Presidency are teaching. And very likely if I tried to convey such a “revelation” it is one of two possibilities: I either violated the conditions of receiving the revelation in the first instance because God would never give a revelation to me that is not yet propagated through the church that I should be the one to convey and not the prophet/apostles; or I’m making it up/deceived about the revelation in the first place.

    To add a little bit of evidence, Orson Hyde received a revelation that the Jews had suffered enough, and that he ought to go to the hold land, and dedicated it for the gathering of the Jews. He didn’t go and announce this to the world. He didn’t go and do it on his own as a community activist. He went to the Prophet, told him of the revelation, and the Prophet said that’s a true revelation, and called him to go with authority.

  26. Air Traffic Controller –
    Are you asking me to judge Elder Uchtdorf’s Sunday flights with Luftansa? Is it conceivable he should have insisted he can’t work Sunday? Sure.

    Can we learn and grow from violating God’s laws provided we repent (ie. forsaking such behavior moving forward)? Sure.
    Should that reality mean that we should make it a policy or guiding principle to ignore God’s laws? No.

    Pointing to doctors, police, pilots, soldiers, etc. misses the point. The Lord didn’t say, “eating this corn is necessary for life, so that’s why we do it on the Sabbath”. Surely, he and they could have fasted a day.

    His point was not to undo the law of the Sabbath or even to demonstrate what kind of work that could be done on the Sabbath. But to demonstrate the Sabbath is his day, and he can choose how to honor it. If you’re a true latter-day saint, we know how his servants are being commanded to instruct us to honor the Sabbath.

    If you’re not a true latter-day saint, you may continue accusing the servants of the Lord, whether in your heart or out loud of being Pharisees; but that doesn’t make you correct.

  27. Gerry, I am not asking you to do anything except, maybe, get the point I was making about President Uchtdorf. Somewhere up this thread (too lazy to scroll up) people were bemoaning Mormon professional athletes who play on Sunday. I merely pointed out that it is not only athletes who choose to work on Sundays but spiritual giants and men worth emulating. President Uchtdorf’s work as a pilot on Sunday was closer to the entertainer/athlete type of work and not close to the police, doctor, ambulance driver routine Sabbath work exemptions we typically hand out. Whatever he worked out seems to have worked out splendidly. We should all be so lucky.

    I don’t find President Uchtdorf’s call for better Sabbath worship the least bit hypocritical. I don’t fault him for choosing a profession that routinely required him to work on the Sabbath. I think he is in good company with a lot of really good Mormon pilots who set great examples for the boys and girls of the Church. I also don’t see any hypocrisy when President Monson, President Eyring and President Uchtdorf urge kids to serve missions in their capacities as members of the First President despite the fact each one of them CHOSE not to serve a mission. They are all good men whose counsel should be followed.

    Geoff B: controllers bid for their shifts based on seniority. So, the lower time Controllers get the bad shifts, but those typically do not include Sunday b/c the FAA pays extra money for Sunday shifts. But yes, FAA management turns over scheduling of shifts entirely to the controllers, or more precisely their union. Depending on where your wardmembers fall in seniority at their facility, they are choosing what shifts they work and get extra money when they work on Sunday. All controllers are obscenely overpaid, imo (200K+ at major centers) for work a high school graduate can do so they don’t need Sunday pay, but a compliant FAA managed by politicos from the governing party won’t change the pay structure. That is all beside the point. Your wardmembers can be perfectly fine Mormons and work occasional Sunday shifts, imo. The fact they are controllers is what really calls into question their fitness as Mormons. j/k-sort of.

  28. I also took note of Elder Christofferson’s statement when it appeared. I was reading fairly quickly and I had to go back and make sure that I had read it properly. It thrilled me to see his candor, and his plain and simple witness that the current emphasis on Sabbath keeping was from revelation.

    In thinking about my own Sabbath observance, there is plenty of room for improvement, and it looks like I still have a bit of repenting to do. Thank God for prophets, seers, and revelators.

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