Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Of the Quorum of the Twelve
What do we mean when we testify and say that we know the gospel is true? Contrast that kind of knowledge with “I know it is cold outside,” or “I know I lovev my wife.” These are three different kinds of knowledge, each learned in a different way. Knowledge of outside temperature can be verified by scientific proof. Knowledge that we love our spouse is personal and subjective. While not capable of scientific proof, it is still important. The idea that all important knowledge is based on scientific evidence is simply untrue.
While there are some “evidences” for gospel truths (e.g. see Psalms 19:1; Hel. 8:24), scientific methods will not yield spiritual knowledge. This is what Jesus taught in response to Simon Peter’s testimony that He was the Christ: “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 16:17).
The Apostle Paul explained this. In a letter to the Corinthians saints he said “the things of God knoweth no man, but [by] the Spirit of God” ( 1 Cor. 2:11; also see John 14:17).
In contrast, we know the things of man by the ways of man, but “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned.”
The Book of Mormon teaches that God will manifest the truth of spiritual things unto us by the power of the H oly Ghost (see Moroni 10:4). In modern revelation God promises us that we will receive “knowledge” by His telling us in our mind and in our heart “by the Holy Ghost” (D&C 8:1-2).
One of the greatest things about our Heavenly Father’s plan for His children is that each of us can know the truth of that plan for ourselves. That revealed knowledge does not come from books, from scientific proof, or from intellectual pondering. As with the Apostle Peter, we can receive that knowledge directly from our Heavenly Father through the witness of the Holy Ghost.
When we know spiritual truths by spiritual means, we can be just as sure of that knowledge as a scholar or scientist is of the different kinds of knowledge they have acquired by different methods.
The Prophet Joseph Smith provided a wonderful example of this. When he was persecuted for telling people about his vision, he likened his circumstance to the Apostle Paul, who was ridiculed and reviled as he made his defense before King Agrippa (see Acts 26).
“But all of this did not destroy the reality of his vision,” Joseph said. “He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise … So it was with me,” Joseph continued. “I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me…I had seen a vision: I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it.” (Joseph Smith — History 1:23-25).
Gaining a Testimony of God, the Father; His Son, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost
Elder Robert D. Hales
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
The manner by which God the Father introduced his Son on several occasions is significant: “”And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water…And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3: 16-17). And again, on the Mount of Transfiguration: “There came a voice out of the cloud saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him” (Luke 9:35).
When Jesus appeared on the American continent, He was introduced in the same way: “Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name — hear ye him” (3 Nephi 11:7). And then nearly two millennia later, the same words were spoken to the young Joseph Smith: “This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him” (Joseph Smith — History 1:9).
It is of special significance that whenever Heavenly Father wants to introduce His Son to us, He commands us to listen — to “hear” the words of Jesus. Who is this Jesus? He participated with His Father in the creation of the world and was responsible, under the direction of His Father, to create all things on the face of the earth. “And world without number have I created and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten” (Moses 1:33).
Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh. He is our mediator with the Father. He is the Savior who laid down His life for us and pleads our cause with the Father.
Opening Our Hearts
Elder Gerald N. Lund
Of the Quorum of the Seventy
The Holy Ghost is a Personage of Spirit, which allows Him to dwell in our hearts and communicate directly with our spirits. The voice of the Spirit is described as still and small, and one that whispers. How can a voice be still? Why is it likened to a whisper? Because the Spirit almost always speaks to our minds and to our hearts, rather than to our ears. President Boyd K. Packer has said: “The Holy Ghost speaks with a voice that you feel more than you hear.”
We feel things in our hearts. In the scriptures the prophets teach that personal revelation is closely linked to the heart. For example: Mormon taught, “because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost” (Moroni 8:26).
Alma said: “he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word” (Alma 12:10).
Helaman taught: “[Their souls were filled} with joy and consolation … because of their yielding their hearts unto God” (Helaman 3:35).
The Psalmist wrote: “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart” (Psalm 34:18).
Isn’t that something we all seek? To be visited by the Holy Ghost? To have the Lord draw closer to us? To find joy and consolation in our lives? If so, then carefully assessing the condition of our hearts is one of the most essential things we can do in this life.
The heart is a tender place. It is sensitive to many influences, both positive and negative. It can be hurt by others. It can be deadened by sin. It can be softened by love. Early in our lives, we learn to guard our hearts. It is like we erect a fence around our hearts with a gate in it. No one can enter that gate unless we allow them to.
In some cases the fence we erect around our heart could be likened to a small, picket fence with a “Welcome” sign on the gate.
Other hearts have been so hurt or so deadened by sin, that they have an eight-foot chain link fence topped with razor wire around them. The gate is padlocked and has a large “No Trespassing” sign on it.
Service, a Divine Quality
Elder Carlos H. Amado
Of the Seventy
I testify that through serving our fellowmen we come to know the Lord. Service makes us strong in our faith and useful in His kingdom. Service gives us purpose and courage in life.
It brings us closer to God and helps us refine our divine nature. It teaches us to love and understand our fellowmen, and it helps us forget about our personal desires, eliminating selfishness, pride, and ingratitude. It teaches us to think of the needs of others, which allows us to develop the virtues that the Savior possesses.
Kindness, love, patience, understanding, and unity will increase as we serve, while intolerance, jealously, envy, greed, and selfishness decrease or disappear. The more we give of ourselves, the more our capacity to serve, understand, and love will grow.
Those who serve will always seek to please God and live in harmony with Him. They will be full of peace; they will have a cheerful countenance and a spirit of kindness. Those who serve will strive to ennoble, build, and lift their fellowmen; therefore they will find the good in others, and they will not find reason or have time to become offended. They develop the virtue of praying for those who criticize. They don’t expect recognition or reward. They possess the love of Christ.
Three Presiding High Priests
Elder William R. Walker
Of the Second Quorum of Seventy
I first learned the importance of the First Presidency as a boy growing up in Western Canada. When I would go to Grandma and Grandpa Walker’s home, I was greeted in the entry by a framed photo of the First Presidency of the Church. I remember it well. It seemed that they stood as sentinels, greeting all who entered.
The beautiful color photo was of President George Albert Smith, with his counselors, J. Reuben Clark Jr. and David O. McKay. The photo showed them standing together by a large world globe. I loved the picture. They were such handsome and dignified men; I knew them as the prophet of God and his counselors.
That picture hanging in the front foyer of my grandparents’ home had a powerful influence on me. I lived in the small prairie town of Raymond, where my grandparents lived. I could walk to their home, so I visited often. I remember frequently standing quietly alone in the foyer reverently looking at that picture of the First Presidency. I remember thinking about why my grandparents thought it was so important to honor the First Presidency and have that picture prominently displayed in their home. All who entered would see it. Perhaps most importantly, for their children and grandchildren, it was a constant reminder of what was deeply important in the hearts and lives of Grandma and Grandpa.
Years later I concluded that displaying the picture of the First Presidency was equivalent to Joshua’s beautiful expression: “Choose ye this day whom ye will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
All who entered the home of James and Fannye Walker knew that written upon their hearts were the words: “As for (us) and (our) house, we will serve the Lord.” As their grandson, I knew it and I have never forgotten it.
To Heal the Shattering Consequences of Abuse”
Elder Richard G. Scott
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Moral agency is a vital element in our Father in Heaven’s plan of happiness. He understood that some of His spirit children would use that agency improperly causing serious problems to others. Some would even violate sacred trust, such as a father or family member abusing an innocent child.
Since our Heavenly Father is completely just, there has to be a way of overcoming the tragic consequences of such damaging use of agency for both the victim and the perpetrator. That secure healing comes through the power of the Atonement of His Beloved Son Jesus Christ to rectify that which is unjust.
Faith in Jesus Christ and in His power to heal provides the abused with the means to overcome the terrible consequences of another’s unrighteous acts. When combined with complete repentance, the Atonement also affords the perpetrator a way to avoid the severe punishment the Lord has decreed for such acts.
I testify that I know victims of serious abuse who have successfully made the difficult journey to full healing through the power of the Atonement. After her own concerns were resolved by her faith in the haling power of the Atonement, one young woman who had been severely abused by her father requested another interview. She returned with an older couple. I could sense that she loved the two very deeply. Her face radiated happiness.
She began, “Elder Scott, this is my father. I love him. He’s concerned about some things happened in my early childhood. They are no longer a problem for me. Could you help him?”
What a powerful confirmation of the Savior’s capacity to heal! She no longer suffered from the consequences of abuse because she had adequate understanding of His Atonement, sufficient faith, and was obedient to His law. As you conscientiously study the Atonement and exercise your faith that Jesus Christ has the power to heal, you can receive the same blessed relief. During your journey of recovery, accept His invitation to let Him share your burden until you have sufficient time and strength to be healed.
To find relief from the consequences of abuse, it is helpful to understand their source. Satan is the author of all of the destructive outcomes of abuse. He has extraordinary capacity to lead an individual into blind alleys where the solution to extremely challenging problems cannot be found. His strategy is to separate the suffering soul from the healing attainable from a compassionate Heavenly Father and a loving Redeemer.
If you have been abused, Satan will strive to convince you that there is no solution. Yet he knows perfectly well that there is. Satan recognizes that healing comes through the unwavering love of Heavenly Father for each of His children. He also understands that the power of healing is inherent in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Therefore, his strategy is to do all possible to separate you from your Father and His Son. Do not let Satan convince you that you are beyond help.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ
Elder L. Tom Perry
Of the Quorum of the Twelve
The apostle Paul boldly declared: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Romans 1:16). This same boldness is declared by our full-time missionaries as they serve in many parts of the world …
What do we know about eternal life? We learn from Moses 1:39 that the Lord’s work and glory is to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life.
This teaches us that immortality and eternal life are separate and distinct. The gift of eternal life, which is promised only when certain conditions are met, is so much greater than the gift of immortality. According to Elder Bruce R. McConkie:
Eternal life is not a name that has reference only to the unending duration of a future life; immortality is to live forever in the resurrected state, an d by the grace of God all men will gain this unending continuance of life. But only those who obey the fullness of the gospel law will inherit eternal life. It is the greatest of all the gifts of God, ‘for it is the kind, status, type, and quality of life that God himself enjoys. Thus those who gain eternal life receive exaltation; they are sons of God, joint-heirs with Christ, members of the Church of the Firstborn; they overcome all things, have all power, and receive the fullness of the Father…
…In many cookbooks there are pictures of the perfect dishes that recipes make — the fullness of the joy of cooking. These pictures are important because they help us envision the outcome if we strictly follow the directions as given in the recipe. It is important to begin with the end in mind, but the end represented by pictures in cookbooks is an end that is only possible if everything is done right.
If directions are not followed or an ingredient is left out or miscalculated, the desired taste and appearance are seldom attained. The picture of a perfect dish, however, can serve as motivation to try again to create something that is both delicious and beautiful.