Sunday Afternoon Session

Sunday Afternoon Session


From the Conference Center
at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, this is the
Sunday afternoon session of the 189th 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. This broadcast is furnished
as a public service by Bonneville Distribution. Any reproduction,
recording, transcription, or other use of this program
without written consent is prohibited. President Dallin H.
Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency
of the Church, will conduct this session. Brothers and sisters,
we welcome you to the Sunday afternoon session
of the 189th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. President Russell M. Nelson,
who presides at the conference, has asked me to
conduct this session. We extend our
greetings to members of the Church and
friends everywhere who are participating
in these proceedings by radio, television, the
internet, or satellite transmission. The music for this session
will be by the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square under
the direction of Mack Wilberg and Ryan Murphy, with
Richard Elliott at the organ. The choir will open this
meeting by singing “Come, Ye Children of the Lord.” The invocation will then
be offered by Elder Jack N. Gerard of the Seventy. [MUSIC PLAYING: “COME, YE
CHILDREN OF THE LORD”] Our dear Father in
Heaven, as we assemble around the world at this
time for the final session of this general conference, we
express unto Thee our deepest love and gratitude
for the richness of the teachings of
the prophets, seers, and revelators in our day. We are grateful, Father, for the
witness of the Holy Ghost that enlightens our minds and
quickens our understandings, that we might comprehend that
which we have been taught, that as we listen and act, that
we might draw closer to Thee, that we may become more like
Thy Son, our elder brother, even Jesus Christ. We thank Thee,
Father, for Thy Son, for His atoning sacrifice, for
what it means for each of us. It has made possible our return
to live with Thee once again. We pray now for,
throughout this session, and in the coming days,
months, and years, that we might sink deep
into our hearts and minds the things which we have
felt, the things which we have learned, that we might
change, that we might repent, that we might indeed become. We express our
love and gratitude and do so in the name
of Jesus Christ, amen. The choir will now favor us
with “I Stand All Amazed.” After the singing, we will
hear from President Henry B. Eyring, Second Counselor
in the First Presidency. He will be followed by Elder
Hans T. Boom of the Seventy. We will then hear from
President M. Russell Ballard, who is the Acting President
of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Elder Peter M. Johnson of the
Seventy will then address us. [MUSIC PLAYING: “I STAND ALL
AMAZED”] My dear brothers and sisters,
I have prayed for the power to help you in your personal
search for happiness. Some might feel
happy enough already, yet surely no one would reject
the offer of more happiness. Anyone would be eager
to accept a guaranteed offer of lasting happiness. That is what our Heavenly
Father; His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost
have offered you and me, every child of
Heavenly Father who now lives, will live, or
ever has lived in this world. That offer is sometimes
called the plan of happiness. It was so called
by the prophet Alma as he taught his son who was
mired in the misery of sin. Alma knew that wickedness never
could be happiness for his son–or for any child
of Heavenly Father. He taught his son that
increasing in holiness was the only path to happiness. He made it plain that greater
holiness is made possible through the Atonement
of Jesus Christ cleansing and perfecting us. Only by faith in Jesus
Christ, continuing repentance, and keeping covenants
are we able to claim the lasting happiness we all
yearn to experience and retain. My prayer for you
today is that I may help you understand
that greater happiness comes from greater personal
holiness so that you will act upon that belief. I will then share what I
know for myself about what we can do to qualify for that
gift of becoming ever more holy. The scriptures teach us
that among other things, we can be sanctified or become
more holy when we exercise faith in Christ, demonstrate
by obedience and repent and sacrifice for Him,
receive sacred ordinances, and keep our covenants with Him. Qualifying for the
gift of holiness requires humility,
meekness, and patience. One experience of
wanting more holiness came for me in the
Salt Lake Temple. I entered the temple
for the first time having been told little of
what to expect in a temple. I had seen the words on the
building: Holiness to the Lord and The House of the Lord. I felt a great sense
of anticipation. Yet I wondered if I
was prepared to enter. My mother and father
walked ahead of me as we entered the temple. We were asked to
show our recommends, certifying our worthiness. My parents knew the man
at the recommend desk. So they lingered a
moment to speak with him. I went ahead alone
into a large space where everything
was sparkling white. I looked up at a
ceiling so high above me that it seemed an open sky. In that moment, a
clear impression came to me that I had
been there before. But then I heard
a very soft voice. it was not my own. The softly spoken
words in my mind were these: “You have
never been here before. You are remembering a
moment before you were born. You were in a place, a
sacred place like this. You felt the Savior was
about to come into the place where you stood. And you felt happiness because
you were eager to see Him.” That experience in the Salt Lake
Temple lasted only a moment. Yet the memory of it
still brings peace, joy, and quiet happiness. I learned many lessons that day. One was that the Holy Ghost
speaks in a still, small voice. I can hear Him when there is
spiritual peace in my heart. He brings a feeling of
happiness and assurance that I am becoming more holy. And that always
brings the happiness I felt in those first
moments in a temple of God. You have observed in your own
life and in the lives of others the miracle of happiness
coming from growing holiness, becoming more like the Savior. In recent weeks, I have
been at the bedside of people who could face death
with full faith in the Savior and with happy countenances. One was a man surrounded
by his family. He and his wife were
chatting quietly as my son and I entered the bedroom. I had known them for many years. I had seen the Atonement
of Jesus Christ work in their lives and in the
lives of their family members. They had together chosen
to end medical efforts to prolong his life. There was a quiet feeling
as he spoke to us. He smiled as he expressed
gratitude for the gospel and its purifying effects on
him and the family he loved. He spoke of his happy years
of service in the temple. At this man’s request,
my son anointed his head with consecrated oil. I sealed the anointing. As I did, I had a
clear impression to tell him that he would soon
see his Savior face-to-face. I promised him that he
would feel happiness, love, and the Savior’s approval. He smiled warmly as we left. His last words to me were
“Tell Kathy I love her.” My wife, Kathleen,
over many years had encouraged
generations of his family to accept the Savior’s
invitation to come unto Him, make and keep sacred
covenants, and so qualify for the happiness that comes
as a result of that greater holiness. He died hours later. Within weeks of his
passing, his widow brought a gift to
my wife and me. She smiled as we talked. She said pleasantly,
“I expected that I would feel sad and lonely. I feel so happy. Do you think that’s all right?” [LAUGHTER] Knowing how much she loved her
husband and how both of them had come to know, love,
and serve the Lord, I told her that her
feelings of happiness were a promised gift
because she had, by her faithful service,
been made more holy. Her holiness had qualified
her for that happiness. Now, some listening
today may be wondering: “Why do I not feel the peace
and happiness promised to those who have been faithful? I have been faithful
through terrible adversity, but I don’t feel happiness.” Even the Prophet Joseph
Smith faced this test. He prayed for relief
when he was confined in a jail in Liberty, Missouri. He had been faithful
to the Lord. He had grown in holiness. Yet he felt happiness
had been denied. The Lord taught him
the lesson of patience we all will need at some time,
and perhaps for long periods, in our mortal testing. Here is the Lord’s message
to His faithful and suffering prophet: “And if thou shouldst
be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers,
and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou
be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge
conspire against thee; if fierce winds
become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness,
and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above
all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the
mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son,
that all these things shall give thee experience,
and shall be for thy good. “The Son of Man hath
descended below them all. Art thou greater than he? “Therefore, hold on [the] way,
and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds
are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known,
and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore,
fear not what man can do, for God shall be with
you forever and ever.” That was the same
instructive lesson the Lord gave Job, who
paid a heavy price to allow the Atonement to
make him more holy. We know that Job was holy,
from the introduction we have of him: “There was a man in the
land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect,
was perfect, and upright, and one that feared
God, and eschewed evil.” Then Job lost his wealth,
his family, even his health. You might remember
that Job doubted that his greater holiness,
gained through great adversity, had qualified him for
greater happiness. It seemed to Job that holiness
had only brought misery. Yet the Lord gave Job the
same correcting lesson He gave Joseph Smith. He let Job see his heartbreaking
situation with spiritual eyes. He said: “Gird up now thy loins like a
man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. “Where wast thou when I laid
the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou
hast understanding. “Who hath laid the measures
thereof, … thou knowest? or who hath stretched
the line upon it? “Whereupon are the
foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the
corner stone thereof; “When the morning
stars sang together, and all the sons of
God shouted for joy?” Then, after Job repented
of calling God unfair, Job was permitted
to see his trials in a higher and holier way. He had repented. “Then Job answered
the Lord and said, “I know that thou
canst do every thing, and that no thought can
be withholden from thee. “Who is he that hideth
counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered
that I understood not; things too wonderful for
me, which I knew not. “Hear, I beseech thee,
and I will speak: I will demand of thee,
and declare thou unto me. “I have heard of thee by
the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. “Wherefore I abhor myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.” After Job repented and
so became more holy, the Lord blessed him
beyond all he had lost. But perhaps the greatest
blessing for Job was to have increased in
holiness through adversity and repentance. He was qualified to
have greater happiness in the days he had yet to live. Greater holiness will not
come simply by asking for it. It will come by doing what is
needed for God to change us. President Russell
M. Nelson has given what seems to me
the best counsel of how to move
along the covenant path to greater holiness. He pointed the
way when he urged: “Experience the strengthening
power of daily repentance–of doing and being a
little better each day. “When we choose to repent,
we choose to change! We allow the Savior
to transform us into the best
version of ourselves. We choose to grow spiritually
and receive joy–the joy of redemption in Him. When we choose to repent,
we choose to become more like Jesus Christ!” President Nelson went on to
give us this encouragement in our efforts to become holier:
“The Lord does not expect perfection from us
at this point. … But He does expect us to
become increasingly pure. Daily repentance is
the pathway to purity.” President Dallin H. Oaks, in
an earlier conference address, also helped me see more
clearly how we grow in holiness and how we can know we
are moving toward it. He said: “How do we
achieve spirituality? How do we attain that
degree of holiness where we can have the
constant companionship of the Holy Ghost? How do we come to view and
evaluate things of this world with the perspective
of eternity?” President Oaks’s answer
begins with greater faith in Jesus Christ as
our loving Savior. That leads us to seek
forgiveness every day and to remember Him every day
by keeping His commandments. That greater faith
in Jesus Christ comes as we feast
daily on His word. The hymn “More Holiness
Give Me” suggests a way to pray for help in
becoming more holy. The author of that
music wisely suggests that the holiness we seek is a
gift from a loving God, granted over time, after all we can do. You remember the last verse: “More purity give me, More strength to o’ercome, More freedom from earth-stains, More longing for home. More fit for the kingdom, More used would I be, More blessed and holy– More, Savior, like thee.” Whatever our personal
circumstance, wherever we may be on the
covenant path home, may our prayers for greater
holiness be answered. I know that as our
petition is granted, our happiness will increase. It may come slowly,
but it will come. I have that assurance from
a loving Heavenly Father and His Beloved
Son, Jesus Christ. I testify that Joseph
Smith was a prophet of God, that President Russell M. Nelson
is our living prophet today. God the Father
lives and loves us and wants us to come
home to Him in families. Our loving Savior invites us
to follow Him on our journey there. They have prepared the way. In the sacred name of
Jesus Christ, amen. In 2016 the Tabernacle
Choir at Temple Square came to visit the
Netherlands and Belgium. And since I was involved
in that exciting event, I had the opportunity to
enjoy their performance twice. During their performance
I was thinking about what a tremendous
undertaking it was to move a
choir of that size. My mind was drawn to
the big gong, which was difficult and probably
costly to ship over in comparison with the
violin, the trumpet, or other instruments you could
easily carry under your arm. But looking at the actual
involvement of this gong, it was only hit a few times,
whereas the other, smaller instruments were involved
for most of the concert. I reflected that without
the sound of the gong, the performance would
not be the same, and so the effort had to be
made to move this big gong all the way across the ocean. Sometimes we might feel
that we are, like that gong, only good enough to play a
minor part in the performance. But let me tell you
that your sound is making all the difference. We need all instruments. Some of us learn
easily and do very well in school, while others
have artistic talents. Some design and build
things or nurse, protect, or teach others. We are all needed to bring
color and meaning to this world. To those who feel they
do not have anything to contribute or believe that
they are of no importance or consequence to anybody,
to others that might feel that they are on top of the
world, and anybody in between, I would like to
address this message. Wherever you are on the
path of life, some of you might feel so overburdened
that you do not even consider yourself on that path. I want to invite you to step out
of the darkness into the light. The gospel light will
provide warmth and healing and will help you understand
who you really are and what your
purpose in life is. Some of us have been
wandering on forbidden paths, trying to find happiness there. We are invited by a
loving Heavenly Father to walk the path of discipleship
and to return to Him. He loves us with a perfect love. What is the way? The way is to help each
other understand who we are by ministering to each other. To me, ministering is
exercising divine love. In that way, we
create an environment where both the giver
and the receiver obtain a desire to repent. In other words, we change
direction and come closer to and become more like our
Savior, Jesus Christ. For instance, there is no need
to constantly tell our spouse or children how
they can improve; they know that already. It is in creating this
environment of love that they will be
empowered to make the necessary changes in their
lives and become better people. In this way repentance becomes
a daily process of refining that might include
apologizing for poor behavior. I remember and still
experience situations where I have been too quick to
judge or too slow to listen. And at the end of the day,
during my personal prayer, I felt loving
counsel from heaven to repent and to become better. The loving environment first
created by my parents, brother, and sisters and later by my
wife, children, and friends has helped me to
become a better person. We all know where
we can do better. There is no need to
repeatedly remind each other, but there is a need to love
and minister to each other and in doing so provide
a climate of willingness to change. In this same environment, we
are learning who we really are and what our role will
be in this last chapter of the world’s history
prior to the Second Coming of the Savior. If you are wondering
about your part, I would like to invite
you to find a place where you can be alone and ask
Heavenly Father to make known to you which part to play. The answer will probably
come gradually and then more clearly when we have
set our feet more firmly on the covenant and
ministering path. We are experiencing some
of the same difficulties that Joseph Smith
confronted while he was in the midst of a war of
words and tumult of opinions. As we read in his
own account, he often said to himself:
“What is to be done? Who of all these parties are
right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be
right, which [one] is it, and how shall I know it?” With the knowledge he found
in the Epistle of James, which states, “If any of
you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that
giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall
be given him,” Joseph at length came to the determination
to “ask of God.” We further read that it was
the first time in his life that he had made such
an attempt, for, amidst all his anxieties,
he had never, as yet, made the attempt
to pray vocally. And so it can be for
us the very first time we address our Maker in a way
that we have never done before. Because of Joseph’s attempt,
Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to
him, calling him by name; and as a result, we have a
much clearer understanding of who we are and that
we really do matter. We further read that in
his tender teenage years, Joseph was persecuted
by those who ought to have been his
friends and who were supposed to have treated him kindly. And so we might
expect some opposition as we are living a
life of discipleship. If you currently
feel you are not able to be part of the orchestra
and the path of repentance appears difficult to you, please
know that if we keep at it, the burden will be
taken from our shoulders and there will be light again. Heavenly Father will never
leave us when we reach for Him. We can fall and get up, and
He will help us brush off the dirt from our knees. Some of us are wounded, but
the first aid kit of the Lord has bandages big enough to
cover all of our wounds. So it is that love,
that perfect love that we also call charity or
“the pure love of Christ,” which is needed in
our homes, where parents minister to their
children and children, to their parents. Through that love, hearts
will be changed and desires born to do His will. It is that love that is
needed in our dealings with each other as children
of our Heavenly Father and as members of His Church
that will enable us to include all the musical instruments
in our orchestras so we will be able
to perform gloriously with the angelic
choirs of heaven when the Savior comes again. It is that love, that light
that needs to shine and brighten our surroundings as we
go about our daily lives. People will notice the light
and will be drawn to it. That is the kind of
missionary work that will draw others to “come
and see,” “come and help,” and “come and stay.” Please, when you have
received your witness about this great
work and our part in it, let us rejoice together
with our beloved Prophet Joseph Smith, who declared, “For I
had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it,
and I could not deny it.” I testify to you
that I know who I am, and I do know who you are. We are all children of a
Heavenly Father who loves us. And He did not send us here to
fail but to return gloriously to Him. That we may all
come to understand our part in this
great ministering work so that we will become more
like Him when He comes again is my prayer in the name
of Jesus Christ, amen. My dear brothers and sisters,
as October general conference approached last year, I
prepared my conference talk to highlight the
100th anniversary of the vision of
the spirit world given to President Joseph
F. Smith on October 3, 1918. A few days after I had submitted
my talk for translation, my beloved eternal
companion, Barbara, completed her mortal
probation and passed into the world of the spirit. As the days have turned into
weeks, and then months, and now a year since
Barbara’s passing, I find myself more fully
appreciative of the scripture: “Thou shalt live
together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep
for the loss of them that die.” Barbara and I were blessed to
live together for 67 years. But I have learned
in a very real way what it means to “weep for
the loss” of those we love. Oh, how I love and miss her! I suppose most of us fail to
fully appreciate what others do for us until they are gone. I knew Barbara was always
busy, but I did not fully understand the constant family,
Church, and community demands upon her time. There were daily
consecrated efforts repeated thousands of times
through the years that kept our family functioning. And through it all,
no one in our family ever heard her raise her
voice or say an unkind word. Floods of memories have
washed over me this past year. I have thought about the
physically demanding choice she made to be the
mother to seven children. Being a homemaker was the
only career she ever wanted, and she was in every aspect
the consummate professional. Often I have
wondered how she kept track of our children and me. Meal preparation alone
was a truly daunting task, not to mention
activities such as doing the mountains of laundry our
family generated every week, keeping shoes and appropriately
sized clothing on the children. We all turned to her on
a myriad of other issues that were important to us. And because they
were important to us, they were also important to her. She was, in a word,
magnificent–as a wife, as a mother, as a
friend, as a neighbor, and as a daughter of God. Now that she has moved
on, I am happy that I chose to sit next to her when
I came home from the office during the last few
months of her life. as we watched the endings
of some of her favorite musicals–over and over again
because Alzheimer’s would not allow her to remember that
she had seen them just the afternoon before. Memories of those special
hand-holding sessions are now very precious to me. Brothers and sisters,
please do not miss an opportunity to look into
the eyes of your family members with love. Children and parents,
reach out to each other and express your love
and appreciation. Like me, some of you
may wake up one day and discover that the time for
such important communication has passed. Live each day
together with hearts filled with the gratitude,
good memories, service, and much love. During this past
year I have pondered more intently than ever before
about our Heavenly Father’s plan. In teaching his
son Corianton, Alma referred to it as “the
great plan of happiness.” The word that keeps
coming to my mind now when I consider
the plan is reunion. It is a plan designed by our
loving Father in Heaven that has at its center the grand
and glorious possibilities of family reunion–of eternally
reuniting husbands and wives, parents and children,
generation upon generation in the household of God. That thought brings me
comfort, the assurance that I will be
with Barbara again. Although she physically suffered
toward the end of her life, her spirit was strong,
noble, and pure. She had prepared
herself in all things so that when the
day comes, she can stand before “the pleasing bar
of God,” full of confidence and peaceful assurance. But here I am, in two
days 91 years old, and I’m still
wondering, “Am I ready? Am I doing everything
I need to do to be able to hold her hand again?” The most simple, basic
certainty of life is this: We are all going to die. Whether we die old or
young, easy or hard, wealthy or indigent, beloved or
lonely, nobody escapes death. A few years ago, President
Gordon B. Hinckley said something that
is particularly meaningful about this: “How
sweet is the assurance, how comforting is the peace that
[comes] from the knowledge that if we marry
right and live right, our relationship will continue,
notwithstanding the certainty of death and the
passage of time.” I certainly married right. Of that there can be no doubt. But that isn’t enough,
according to President Hinckley. I also have to live right. Today, “living right” can be
a pretty confusing concept, especially if you spend much
time on social media, where any voice can declare real
truths or false concepts about God and His
plan for His children. Thankfully, members
of the Church have eternally true
gospel principles to know how to live so that we
might be better prepared when we must die. Just a few months
before I was born, my Apostle grandfather,
Elder Melvin J. Ballard, gave a talk that,
for some people, captured the essence of
what it means to live right. The talk was titled “The
Struggle for the Soul.” His talk focused on
the ongoing battle between our physical body
and our eternal spirits. He said, “The greatest conflict
that any man or woman will ever have … will be the battle
that is had with self,” explaining that Satan,
“the enemy of our souls,” attacks us through “the
lusts, the appetites, the ambitions of the flesh.” So the primary battle
is “between our divine and spiritual nature and
the carnal natural man.” Brothers and
sisters, remember, we can receive spiritual
help through the influence of the Holy Ghost that can
“teach you all things.” Help can also come through
the power and blessings of the priesthood. Now I ask all of
us for a moment, how is this battle going
with each one of you? President David O. McKay
said: “Man’s earthly existence is but a test as to
whether he will concentrate his efforts, his mind, his
soul, upon [the] things which contribute to the
comfort and gratification of his physical
nature, or whether he will make as his life’s
purpose the acquisition of spiritual qualities.” This battle between our carnal
and our spiritual natures isn’t a new thing. In his final sermon
to his people, King Benjamin taught that “the
natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from
the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and
ever, unless he yields to the enticings
of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural
man and becometh a saint through the atonement
of Christ the Lord.” The Apostle Paul taught that
“they that are after the flesh do mind the things of
the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit
the things of the Spirit. “For to be carnally
minded is death; but to be spiritually
minded is life and peace.” It seems clear to me that one
of the most important things we can learn in this life
is how to emphasize our eternal spiritual nature
and control our evil desires. This should not
be that difficult. After all, our spirit has
been around a lot longer than our physical body. Before this earth was formed,
we lived in the spirit world as sons and daughters of
Heavenly Parents, who loved us and continue to love us now. And yes, we did have to
make life-changing decisions and choices in that
premortal realm. Every person who has
ever lived or ever will live on this planet made
an essential decision to choose to accept
Heavenly Father’s plan for our salvation. So we all came to earth
with a proven track record of a successful spiritual
nature and eternal destiny. Think about that for a moment. This is who you and I really are
and who you have always been: a son or a daughter of
God, with spiritual roots in eternity and a
future overflowing with infinite possibilities. You are–first and foremost
and always–a spiritual being. And so when one chooses to
put our carnal nature ahead of our spiritual
nature, we are choosing something that is contrary
to our real, true, authentic spiritual selves. Still, there’s no question
that flesh and earthly impulses complicate the decision making. With a veil of
forgetfulness drawn between the premortal spirit
world and this mortal world, we can lose sight
of our relationship to God and our spiritual
nature, and our carnal nature can give priority to
what we want right now. Learning to choose the things
of the Spirit over the things of the flesh is one
of the primary reasons why this earthly experience is
part of Heavenly Father’s plan. It’s also why the plan is built
upon the solid, sure foundation of the Atonement of the Lord
and Savior Jesus Christ, so that our sins, including the
errors we make when we yield to the flesh, can be overcome
through constant repentance and we can live
spiritually focused. Now is the time to control
our bodily appetites to comply with the spiritual
doctrine of Christ. That is why we must
not procrastinate the day of our repentance. Repentance, therefore, becomes
an indispensable weapon in our battle over self. Just last general conference,
President Russell M. Nelson referred to this
battle and reminded us that “when we choose to
repent, we choose to change! We allow the Savior
to transform us into the best
version of ourselves. We choose to grow spiritually
and receive joy–the joy of redemption in Him. When we choose to repent,
we choose to become more like Jesus Christ!” Every night as I
review my day in prayer with my Father in Heaven,
I ask to be forgiven if I did anything
wrong and promise to try to be better tomorrow. I believe this regular
daily repentance helps my spirit remind my
body who is in charge of me. Another resource is
the weekly opportunity we all have to refresh ourselves
spiritually by partaking of the sacrament in
remembrance of the Atonement and the perfect love that our
Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, has for us. Brothers and sisters, I
encourage you to slow down a bit and think about where
you are now in subjugating your carnal nature and
empowering your divine, spiritual nature so
when the time comes, you may pass into the spirit
world to a joyful reunion with your loved ones–for
this for all of us, I humbly pray in the sacred name
of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen. Brothers and sisters, thank you! Thank you for all you do to
become and to help others become true followers
of Jesus Christ and enjoy the blessings
of the holy temple. Thank you for your goodness. You are wonderful;
you are beautiful. It is my prayer that we will
recognize the confirming influence of the Holy Ghost
as we come to fully understand that we are children of God. “The Family: A Proclamation
to the World” states: “All human beings–male
and female–are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or
daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a
divine nature and destiny.” We are “choice spirits who
were reserved to come forth in the fulness of
times to take part in laying the foundations of
the great latter-day work.” President Russell
M. Nelson declared: “You were taught
in the spirit world to prepare you for
anything and everything you would encounter
during this latter part of these latter days. That teaching
endures within you.” You are elect sons
and daughters of God. You have the power to
overcome the adversary. The adversary, however,
is aware of who you are. He knows of your divine
heritage and seeks to limit your earthly
and heavenly potential by using the three Ds: Deception. Distraction. Discouragement. The adversary used the tool of
deception in the days of Moses. The Lord declared to Moses: “Behold, thou art my son. … “I have a work for thee, …
and thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten.” Shortly after this
glorious vision, Satan attempted
to deceive Moses. The words he used
are interesting: “Moses, son of man, worship me.” The deception was not only
in the invitation to worship Satan, but the
deception was also in the way he described
Moses as a son of man. Remember, the Lord
just told Moses he was a son of God,
created in the similitude of the Only Begotten. The adversary was relentless in
his attempt to deceive Moses, but Moses resisted,
saying, “Depart from me, Satan, for
this one God only will I worship, which
is the God of glory.” Moses remembered who
he was, a son of God. The Lord’s words to Moses
apply to you and to me. We are created in
God’s own image, and He has a work for us to do. The adversary attempts
to deceive by having us forget who we truly are. If we do not
understand who we are, then it is difficult to
recognize who we can become. The adversary also attempts
to distract us away from Christ and
His covenant path. Elder Ronald A. Rasband
shared the following: “The adversary’s design
is to distract us from spiritual witnesses,
while the Lord’s desire is to enlighten and to
engage us in His work.” In our day, there are
many distractions, including Twitter, Facebook,
virtual reality games, and much more. These technological
advances are amazing, but if we are not careful,
they can distract us from fulfilling our
divine potential. Using them appropriately can
bring forth the power of heaven and allow us to
witness miracles as we seek to gather scattered Israel
on both sides of the veil. Let us be careful and not
casual in our use of technology. Continually seek for
ways that technology can draw us closer to
the Savior and allow us to accomplish His work as we
prepare for His Second Coming. Lastly, the adversary desires
for us to become discouraged. We may get discouraged when
we compare ourselves to others or feel we are not living up
to expectations, including our own. When I started my doctoral
program, I felt discouraged. The program accepted only
four students that year, and the other students
were brilliant. They had higher test
scores, more work experience at senior management positions,
and they exuded confidence in their abilities. After my first two
weeks in the program, feelings of discouragement
and doubt began to take hold–almost overwhelming me. I decided that if I
were going to complete this four-year
program, I would finish reading the Book of
Mormon each semester. Each day as I read, I recognized
the Savior’s declaration that the Holy Ghost
would teach me all things and would bring all
things to my remembrance. It reaffirmed who I
am as a son of God, reminded me not to compare
myself with others, and gave me the confidence
in my divine role to succeed. My dear friends, please
do not let anyone steal your happiness. Do not compare
yourself to others, and please remember the
loving words of the Savior: “Peace I leave with you,
my peace I give unto you: not as the world
giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled,
neither let it be afraid.” So how do we do it? How do we find this peace,
remember who we are, and overcome the three
Ds of the adversary? First, remember that the
first and great commandment is to love God with our heart,
might, mind, and strength. All that we do should be
motivated by our love for Him and for His Son. As we develop our love for Them
by keeping Their commandments, our capacity to love
ourselves and to love others will increase. We will begin to serve family
and friends and neighbors because we will see them as
the Savior sees them–as sons and daughters of God. Second, pray unto the
Father in the name of Jesus Christ every
day, every day, every day. It is through prayer that
we can feel the love of God and show our love for Him. Through prayer we
express gratitude and ask for the
strength and the courage to submit our will to God’s
and to be guided and directed in all things. I encourage you to “pray unto
the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be
filled with this love, … that ye may become the sons
[and daughters] of God; that when he shall appear
we shall be like him.” Third, read and study the Book
of Mormon every day, every day, every day. My Book of Mormon studies
tend to go better when I read with a question in mind. As we study with a question,
we can receive revelation and recognize that the Prophet
Joseph Smith spoke truth when he declared, “The Book of Mormon
[is] the most correct of any book on earth, … and a man [or
a woman will] get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts,
than by any other book.” The Book of Mormon contains
the words of Christ and helps us
remember who we are. Lastly, prayerfully partake
of the sacrament every week, every week, every week. It is through covenants
and priesthood ordinances, including the sacrament,
that the power of godliness is manifest in our lives. Elder David A. Bednar taught:
“The ordinance of the sacrament is a holy and repeated
invitation to repent sincerely and to be renewed spiritually. The act of partaking of the
sacrament, in and of itself, does not remit [sin]. But as we prepare
conscientiously and participate in this holy ordinance
with a broken heart and a contrite spirit,
then the promise is that we may always have
the Spirit of the Lord to be with us.” As we humbly partake
of the sacrament, we remember Jesus’s suffering
in that sacred garden called Gethsemane and His
sacrifice on the cross. We express gratitude
to the Father for sending His Only
Begotten Son, our Redeemer, and show our willingness
to keep His commandments and to always remember Him. There is a spiritual
enlightenment associated with the sacrament–it is
personal, it is powerful, and it is needed. My friends, I promise
that as we strive to love God with all our heart,
pray in the name of Jesus Christ, study the
Book of Mormon, and prayerfully partake
of the sacrament, we will have the ability,
with the strength of the Lord, to overcome the deceptive
practices of the adversary, to minimize distractions that
limit our divine potential, and to resist the discouragement
that diminishes our capacity to feel the love of our
Heavenly Father and His Son. We will come to fully
understand who we are as sons and daughters of God. Brothers and sisters, I
share with you my love and I declare unto
you my witness that I know Heavenly Father
lives and Jesus is the Christ. I love Them. The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints is God’s kingdom upon the earth. And we have a divine
appointment to gather Israel and to prepare the world for the
Second Coming of the Messiah. In the name of
Jesus Christ, amen. The congregation will
now join the choir in singing “Let
Us All Press On.” After the singing, we will
hear from Elders Ulisses Soares and Neil L. Andersen of the
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. [MUSIC PLAYING: “LET US ALL
PRESS ON”] This is the 189th Semiannual
General Conference of The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints. Dear brothers and
sisters, we have received wonderful
teachings from our leaders during these last two days. I testify to you
that if we strive to apply these inspired and
timely teachings in our lives, the Lord, through His
grace, will help each of us carry our cross and
make our burdens light. While in the vicinity
of Caesarea Philippi, the Savior revealed
to His disciples what He would
suffer at the hands of the elders, chief priests,
and scribes in Jerusalem. He specifically taught
them about His death and glorious Resurrection. At that point in
time, His disciples did not completely understand
His divine mission on earth. Peter himself, when he heard
what the Savior had said, took Him aside and
rebuked Him, saying, “Be it far from thee, Lord:
this shall not be unto thee.” To help His disciples
to understand that devotion to
His work includes submission and suffering, the
Savior emphatically declared: “If any man will
come after me, let him deny himself, and take
up his cross, and follow me. “For whosoever will save
his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his
life for my sake shall find it. “For what is a man profited, if
he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give
in exchange for his soul?” Through this declaration, the
Savior emphasized that all those who are willing to follow
Him need to deny themselves and control their desires,
appetites, and passions, sacrificing everything, even
life itself if necessary, being entirely submissive to the
will of the Father–just as He did. This is, in fact,
the price to be paid for the salvation of a soul. Jesus purposely
and metaphorically used the symbol of the cross
to help His disciples better understand what sacrifice and
devotion to the Lord’s cause would truly mean. The image of a
cross was well known among His disciples and the
inhabitants of the Roman Empire because Romans forced
victims of crucifixion to publicly carry their own
cross or crossbeam to the place where their execution
would occur. It was only after the
Savior’s Resurrection that the disciples’
minds were opened to understand all that
had been written about Him and what would be required
of them from that time on. In the same fashion, all of
us, brothers and sisters, need to open our
minds and our hearts in order to more
fully understand the relevance of taking
upon ourselves our crosses and following Him. We learn through the
scriptures that those who wish to take their
cross upon themselves love Jesus Christ in such a
way that they deny themselves of all ungodliness and
of every worldly lust and keep His commandments. Our determination to cast
off all that is contrary to God’s will and to sacrifice
all we are asked to give and to strive to follow
His teachings will help us to endure in the path of
Jesus Christ’s gospel–even in the face of tribulation,
weakness of our souls, or the social pressure and
worldly philosophies that oppose His teachings. For example, for
those who have not yet found an eternal
companion and may be feeling lonely and hopeless,
or for those who have been divorced and feel
abandoned and forgotten, I assure you that accepting the
Savior’s invitation of taking upon yourselves your
crosses and following Him means continuing with faith
on the Lord’s path, maintaining a pattern of dignity,
and not indulging in worldly habits that will
eventually take away our hope in God’s love and mercy. The same principles
apply to those of you who are experiencing
same-gender attraction and feel discouraged
and helpless. And maybe for this
reason, some of you are feeling that the
gospel of Jesus Christ is not for you anymore. If that is the case,
I want to assure you that there is always
hope in God the Father and in His plan of
happiness, in Jesus Christ and His
atoning sacrifice, and in living Their
loving commandments. In His perfect wisdom,
power, justice, and mercy, the Lord may seal
us His, that we may be brought to His presence
and have everlasting salvation, if we are steadfast and
immovable in keeping the commandments and are
always abounding in good works. To those who have
committed serious sins, accepting this same invitation
means, among other things, to humble yourself
before God, to counsel with appropriate Church leaders,
and to repent and forsake your sins. This process will
also bless all who are fighting
against debilitating addictions, including
opioids, drugs, alcohol, and pornography. Taking these steps
brings you closer to the Savior,
who can ultimately free you from guilt, sorrow, and
spiritual and physical slavery. Additionally, you
may also desire to seek the support of
your family, friends, and competent medical and
counseling professionals. Please never give up
after subsequent failures and consider yourself
incapable of abandoning sins and overcoming addiction. You cannot afford to stop
trying and thereafter continue in weakness and sin! Always strive to do your best,
manifesting through your works the desire to cleanse
the inner vessel, as taught by the Savior. Sometimes solutions
to certain challenges come after months and
months of continuous effort. The promise found in
the Book of Mormon that “it is by grace that we
are saved, after all we can do,” is applicable in
these circumstances. Please remember that the
Savior’s gift of grace “is not necessarily limited in
time to ‘after’ all we can do. We may receive His grace before,
during, and after the time when we expend our own efforts.” I testify that as we
continually strive to overcome our challenges,
God will bless us with the gifts of
faith to be healed and of the working of miracles. He will do for us
what we are not capable of doing for ourselves. Additionally, for those who
feel bitter, angry, offended, or chained to
sorrows for something you feel is undeserved,
to take up one’s cross and follow the Savior
means to strive to lay aside these feelings
and turn to the Lord so He can free us from
this state of mind and help us to find peace. Unfortunately, if we hold on
to these negative feelings and emotions, we
may find ourselves living without the influence of
the Lord’s Spirit in our lives. We cannot repent
for other people, but we can forgive them–by
refusing to be held hostages by those who have harmed us. The scriptures teach that
there is a way out of these situations–by inviting our
Savior to help us to replace our stony hearts
with new hearts. For this to happen, we need
to come before the Lord with our weaknesses and implore
His help and forgiveness, especially during the sacred
moment when we partake of the sacrament each Sunday. May we choose to seek
His help and take an important and difficult
step by forgiving those who have hurt us so that
our wounds may begin to heal. I promise you that
in your doing so, your nights will be
full of the relief that comes from a mind at
peace with the Lord. While in the Liberty
Jail in 1839, the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote
an epistle to Church members containing prophecies
that are so very applicable in all these
circumstances and situations. He wrote, “All thrones and
dominions, principalities and powers, shall be
revealed and set forth upon all who have
endured valiantly for the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Therefore, my dear brothers and
sisters, those who [have taken] upon themselves the
name of the Savior, trusting in His promises
and persevering to the end, will be saved and
may dwell with God in a state of
never-ending happiness. We all face adverse
circumstances in our lives that make us feel sad, helpless,
hopeless, and sometimes even weakened. Some of these
feelings may lead us to question the Lord: “Why am I
experiencing these situations?” or “Why are my
expectations not met? After all, I am doing everything
in my power to carry my cross and follow the Savior!” My dear friends,
we must remember that taking our
cross upon ourselves includes being humble
and trusting in God and in His infinite wisdom. We must acknowledge that
He is aware of each of us and of our needs. It is also necessary to accept
the fact that the Lord’s timing is different than ours. Sometimes we seek for a
blessing and set a time limit for the Lord to fulfill it. We cannot condition our
faithfulness to Him by imposing upon Him a deadline for
the answers to our desires. When we do this, we resemble
the skeptical Nephites from ancient times who
mocked their brethren by saying that the time was
past for the fulfillment of the words spoken by
Samuel the Lamanite, creating confusion among
those who believed. We need to trust the Lord
enough to be still and know that He is God, that
He knows all things, and that He is
aware of each of us. I recently had the
opportunity to minister to a widowed sister named Franca
Calamassi, who is suffering from a debilitating illness. Sister Calamassi
was the first member of her family to
join the restored Church of Jesus Christ. Although her husband
was never baptized, he consented to meet
with the missionaries and often attended
Church meetings. Despite these circumstances,
Sister Calamassi remained faithful and
raised her four children in the gospel of Jesus Christ. A year following her
husband’s passing, Sister Calamassi took her
children to the temple, and they participated
in sacred ordinances and were sealed
together as a family. The promises associated
with these ordinances brought her much hope,
joy, and happiness that helped her carry on in life. When the first symptoms of
the disease began to appear, her bishop gave her a blessing. At that time she told
her bishop that she was ready to accept the Lord’s
will, expressing her faith to be healed as well
as her faith to endure her illness to the end. During my visit, while holding
Sister Calamassi’s hand and looking into her eyes, I saw
an angelic glow emanating from her countenance–reflecting
her confidence in God’s plan and her perfect brightness
of hope in the Father’s love and plan for her. I felt her firm determination
to endure in her faith until the end by
taking up her cross, despite the challenges
she was facing. This sister’s life is
a testimony of Christ, a statement of her faith
and devotion to Him. Brothers and sisters, I
want to testify to you that taking upon us
our cross and following the Savior requires us
to follow His example to strive to become like
Him, patiently facing the circumstances of life,
denying and despising the appetites of the natural
man, and waiting on the Lord. The Psalmist wrote: “Wait on the Lord:
be of good courage, and he shall strengthen
thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” “He is our help and our shield.” I testify to you that following
our Master’s footsteps and waiting on Him who is the
ultimate healer of our lives will provide rest to
our souls and make our burdens easy and light. Of these things I testify
in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen. I know what you are thinking! Just one more
speaker and we will hear from President Nelson. [LAUGHTER] Hoping to keep you
alert for a few minutes as we await our
beloved prophet, I have selected a very appealing
topic: my subject is fruit. With the color, texture, and
sweetness of berries, bananas, watermelons, and mangoes,
or of more exotic fruit like kiwano or
pomegranate, fruit has long been a treasured delicacy. During His earthly ministry,
the Savior compared good fruit to things of eternal worth. He said, “Ye shall know
them by their fruits.” “Every good tree bringeth
forth good fruit.” He encouraged us to gather
“fruit unto life eternal.” In a vivid dream
that we all know well in the Book of Mormon,
the prophet Lehi finds himself in “a dark
and dreary wilderness.” There is filthy water, a mist
of darkness, strange roads and forbidden paths,
as well as a rod of iron along a straight
and narrow path leading to a beautiful tree with
“fruit [that makes] one happy.” Recounting the dream, Lehi says,
“I did partake of the fruit; … it was most sweet, above all
that I [had] ever … tasted. … [And] it filled my soul
with exceedingly great joy.” This fruit was “[more] desirable
[than any] other fruit.” What does this tree with its
most precious fruit symbolize? It represents “the love
of God” and proclaims our Heavenly Father’s
marvelous plan of redemption. “For God so loved the world,
that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in
him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” This precious fruit symbolizes
the wondrous blessings of the Savior’s
incomparable Atonement. Not only will we live again
following our mortality, but through our faith
in Jesus Christ, our repentance and
keeping the commandments, we can be forgiven of
our sins and one day stand clean and pure before
our Father and His Son. Partaking of the fruit of the
tree also symbolizes that we embrace the ordinances and
covenants of the restored gospel–being baptized,
receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and entering the house
of the Lord to be endowed with power from on high. Through the grace
of Jesus Christ and by honoring
our covenants, we receive the immeasurable
promise of living with our righteous family
throughout eternity. No wonder the angel described
the fruit as “the most joyous to the soul.” It truly is! As we have all learned,
even after savoring the precious fruit of
the restored gospel, staying true and faithful
to the Lord Jesus Christ is still not easily done. As has been said many
times in this conference, we continue to face distractions
and deceptions, confusion and commotion, enticements
and temptations that attempt to pull our hearts
away from the Savior and the joys and
beauties we have experienced in following Him. Because of this
adversity, Lehi’s dream also includes a warning! On the other side of the
river is a spacious building with people of all ages
pointing their fingers, mocking and scoffing
at the righteous followers of Jesus Christ. The people in the building
are ridiculing and laughing at those keeping
the commandments, hoping to discredit and deride
their faith in Jesus Christ and in His gospel. And because of the verbal
attacks of doubt and disdain launched at the
believers, some of those who have tasted
of the fruit begin to feel ashamed of the
gospel they once embraced. The false allures of
the world seduce them; they turn away from the
tree and from the fruit and, in the Lord’s words,
“[fall] away into forbidden paths and [are] lost.” In our world today, the
adversary’s construction crews are working overtime,
hastily inflating the large and spacious building. The expansion has spread
across the river, hoping to envelope our homes, while
the pointers and the scoffers wail day and night on
their internet megaphones. President Nelson
explained, “The adversary is quadrupling his efforts to
disrupt testimonies and impede the work of the Lord.” Let us remember Lehi’s
words: “We heeded them not.” Although we need not fear,
we are to be on guard. At times little things can
upend our spiritual balance. Please don’t allow
your questions, the insults of others,
faithless friends, or unfortunate mistakes
and disappointments to turn you away
from the sweet, pure, and soul-satisfying
blessings that come from the precious
fruit of the tree. Keep your eyes and your hearts
centered on the Savior Jesus Christ and the eternal joy
that comes only through Him. In June, my wife,
Kathy, and I attended the funeral of Jason Hall. At the time of his passing, he
was 48 years old and serving as an elders quorum president. Here are Jason’s words about
an event that changed his life: “[At age 15] I [was]
in a diving accident. … I [broke] my neck and was
paralyzed from the chest down. I lost complete
control of my legs and partial control of my arms. I could no longer walk,
stand, … or feed myself. I could barely
breathe or speak.” “‘Dear Father [in
Heaven],’ I begged, ‘if I could only have my
hands, I know I could make it. Please, Father, please … “… ‘Keep my legs, Father;
I just [pray for] the use of my hands.'” Jason never received
the use of his hands. Can you hear the voices
from the spacious building? “Jason Hall, God does
not hear your prayers! If God is a loving God, how
could He leave you like this? Why have faith in Christ?” Jason Hall heard their voices,
but he did not heed them. Instead, he feasted upon
the fruit of the tree. His faith in Jesus
Christ became immovable. He graduated from the university
and married Kolette Coleman in the temple, describing
her as the love of his life. After 16 years of
marriage, another miracle, their precious son,
Coleman, was born. How did they grow their faith? Kolette explained: “We
trusted in God’s plan. And it gave us hope. We knew that Jason would
[in a future day] be whole. … We knew that God provided
us a Savior, whose atoning sacrifice enables us
to keep looking forward when we want to give up.” Speaking at Jason’s
funeral, 10-year-old Coleman said his dad taught him
“Heavenly Father [has] a plan for us, earth life
would be awesome, and we could live in families. … But … we would have to go
through hard things and we would make mistakes.” Coleman continued:
“Heavenly Father sent His Son, Jesus to earth. His job was to be perfect. To heal people. To love them. And then to suffer for all of
our pain, sorrows, and sins. Then He died for us.” Then Coleman added,
“Because He did this, Jesus knows how I
feel right now.” He continued: “Three days
after Jesus died, He … came alive again,
with His body perfect. This is important to me
because I know that … my [dad’s] body will be
perfect and we will be together as a family.” Coleman concluded: “Every
night since I was a baby, my dad said to me, ‘Dad loves
you, Heavenly Father loves you, and you’re a good boy.'” President Russell M. Nelson
described why the Hall family feels joy and hope. He said: “The joy we feel
has little to do with the circumstances of
our lives and everything to do with the
focus of our lives. “When the focus of our lives is
on God’s plan of salvation … and Jesus Christ and His gospel,
we can feel joy regardless of what is happening–or
not happening–in our lives. Joy comes from and
because of Him. He is the source of all joy. … “If we look to the world …,
we will never know joy. … [Joy] is the gift that
comes from intentionally trying to live a righteous life,
as taught by Jesus Christ.” If you have been without
the fruit of the tree for some time, please know that
the Savior’s arms are always outstretched to you. He lovingly beckons,
“Repent and come unto me.” His fruit is plentiful
and always in season. It cannot be
purchased with money, and no one who honestly
desires it is denied. if you desire to
return to the tree and taste the fruit
once again, begin by praying to your
Heavenly Father. Believe in Jesus Christ and the
power of His atoning sacrifice. I promise you that as
you look to the Savior “in every thought,”
the fruit of the tree will be yours once again,
delicious to your taste, joyous to your
soul, “the greatest of all the gifts of God.” Three weeks ago today, I saw
the joy of the Savior’s fruit on full display as Kathy and
I attended the Lisbon Portugal Temple dedication. The truths of the
restored gospel opened to Portugal in
1975 as religious freedom became available. Many noble Saints who
first tasted the fruit when there were no
congregations, no chapels, and no temple closer
than 1,000 miles rejoiced with us that the
precious fruit of the tree is now in a house of the
Lord in Lisbon, Portugal. How I honor and revere
these Latter-day Saints who have kept their
hearts riveted on the Savior. The Savior said, “He
that abideth in me, and I in him, the same
bringeth forth much fruit: for without me
ye can do nothing.” Speaking this morning
to the members of the Church across the
world, President Nelson said, “My dear brothers
and sisters, you are living exemplars of the
fruits that come from following the teachings of Jesus Christ.” Then he added, “I thank you! I love you!” We love you, President Nelson. I am an eyewitness to
the power of revelation that rests upon
our dear President. He is the prophet of God. Like Lehi of old,
President Russell M. Nelson beckons to us and all of God’s
family to come and partake of the fruit of the tree. May we have the humility and
strength to follow his counsel. I humbly witness that Jesus
Christ is the Son of God. His love, His
power, and His grace bring all things
of lasting worth. I so testify in the name
of Jesus Christ, amen. We express
appreciation to all who have worked so diligently to
prepare for these services. Our concluding speaker will
be our beloved prophet, President Russell M. Nelson. The choir will then
close this conference by singing “More
Holiness Give Me.” And the benediction
will be offered by Douglas D. Holmes, First
Counselor in the Young Men General Presidency, and the
conference will be adjourned. President Nelson. My beloved brothers
and sisters, as we come to the end of this
historic conference, we thank the Lord for inspiring
the messages and the music that have edified us. We have truly enjoyed
a spiritual feast. We know the restored
gospel of Jesus Christ will bring hope and joy to
people who will hear and heed His doctrine. We also know that each home
can become a true sanctuary of faith, where peace, love,
and the Spirit of the Lord may dwell. Of course, the crowning
jewel of the Restoration is the holy temple. Its sacred ordinances
and covenants are pivotal to
preparing a people who are ready to welcome the
Savior at His Second Coming. Presently, we have 166 dedicated
temples, and more are coming. An open house will be held
prior to the dedication of each new and
renovated temple. Many friends not of our
faith will participate in tours of those temples. They will learn something
about temple blessings. And some of those visitors will
be moved upon to know more. Some will sincerely
ask how they might qualify for the
blessings of the temple. As members of the
Church, we need to be prepared to
answer their questions. We can explain that the
blessings of the temple are available to any
and all people who will prepare themselves. But before they can
enter a dedicated temple, they need to qualify. The Lord wants all His
children to partake of the eternal blessings
available in His temple. He has directed what
each person must do to qualify to
enter His holy house. A good place for us to begin
such a teaching opportunity is to call attention to the
words etched on the temple’s exterior: Holiness to the
Lord: The House of the Lord. President Eyring’s message
today and many others have inspired us to
become more holy. Each temple is a holy
place; each temple patron strives to become more holy. All requirements
to enter the temple relate to personal holiness. To assess that
readiness, each person who wants to enjoy the
blessings of the temple will have two interviews:
first with a bishop, bishopric counselor,
or branch president; second with a stake
or mission president or one of his counselors. In those interviews, several
questions will be asked. Some of those
questions have recently been edited for clarity. I would like to review
them for you now: 1. Do you have faith
in and a testimony of God, the Eternal Father;
His Son, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost? 2. Do you have a testimony of
the Atonement of Jesus Christ and of His role as your
Savior and Redeemer? 3. Do you have a testimony
of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ? 4. Do you sustain the
President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints as the prophet, seer, and revelator and
as the only person on earth authorized to
exercise all priesthood keys? Do you sustain the members
of the First Presidency and the Quorum of
the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers,
and revelators? Do you sustain other General
Authorities and local leaders of the Church? 5. The Lord has said
that all things are to be “done in
cleanliness” before Him. Do you strive for
moral cleanliness in your thoughts and behavior? Do you obey God’s
law of chastity? 6. Do you follow the
teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ in your
private and public behavior with members of your
family and others? 7. Do you support or promote
any teachings, practices, or doctrine contrary to
those of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? 8. Do you strive to keep the
Sabbath day holy, both at home and at church;
attend your meetings; prepare for and worthily
partake of the sacrament; and live your life in
harmony with the laws and commandments of the gospel? 9. Do you strive to be
honest in all that you do? 10. Are you a full-tithe payer? 11. Do you understand and
obey the Word of Wisdom? 12. Do you have any financial
or other obligations to a former spouse
or to children? If yes, are you current in
meeting those obligations? 13. Do you keep the covenants
that you made in the temple, including wearing
the temple garment as instructed in the endowment? 14. Are there serious
sins in your life that need to be resolved
with priesthood authorities as part of your repentance? 15. Do you consider yourself worthy
to enter the Lord’s house and participate in
temple ordinances? Tomorrow, these revised
temple recommend questions will be
distributed to Church leaders throughout the world. In addition to answering
those questions honestly, it is understood that
each adult temple patron will wear the sacred
garment of the priesthood under their regular clothing. This is symbolic of
an inner commitment to strive each day to
become more like the Lord. It also reminds us
to remain faithful to covenants made
each day and to walk on the covenant path each day
in a higher and holier way. Now, for just a moment, I would
like to speak to our youth. We encourage you to qualify for
limited-use temple recommends. You will only be asked those
questions applicable to you in your preparation for the
ordinances of proxy baptism and confirmation. We are very grateful for your
worthiness and willingness to participate in that
sacred temple work. We thank you! Individual worthiness to
enter the Lord’s house requires much individual
spiritual preparation. But with the Lord’s help,
nothing is impossible. In some respects, it is
easier to build a temple than it is to build a people
prepared for a temple. Individual worthiness
requires a total conversion of mind and heart to
be more like the Lord, to be an honest citizen,
to be a better example, and to be a holier person. I testify that such preparatory
work brings innumerable blessings in this life and
inconceivable blessings for the life to come, including
the perpetuation of your family unit throughout all eternity
in a state of “never-ending happiness.” Now I would like to turn
to another topic: plans for the coming year. In the springtime
of the year 2020, it will be exactly 200 years
since Joseph Smith experienced the theophany that we
know as the First Vision. God the Father and His
Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to Joseph,
a 14-year-old youth. That event marked the
onset of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus
Christ in its fulness, precisely as foretold
in the Holy Bible. Then came a succession of
visits from heavenly messengers, including Moroni, John the
Baptist, and the early Apostles Peter, James, and John. Others followed, including
Moses, Elias, and Elijah. Each brought divine authority
to bless God’s children on the earth once again. Miraculously, we have also
received the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus
Christ, a companion scripture to the Holy Bible. The revelations published in
the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price
have also greatly enriched our understanding of God’s
commandments and eternal truth. The keys and offices
of the priesthood have been restored, including
the offices of Apostle, Seventy, patriarch, high priest,
elder, bishop, priest, teacher, and deacon. And women who love the Lord
serve valiantly in the Relief Society, Primary, Young
Women, Sunday School, and other Church callings–all
vital parts of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus
Christ in its fulness. Thus, the year 2020
will be designated as a bicentennial year. General conference
next April will be different from any
previous conference. In the next six months,
I hope that every member and every family will prepare
for a unique conference that will commemorate the very
foundations of the restored gospel. You may wish to begin
your preparation by reading afresh Joseph Smith’s
account of the First Vision as recorded in the
Pearl of Great Price. Our course of study for the
next year in Come, Follow Me is the Book of Mormon. You may wish to ponder
important questions such as “How would my
life be different if my knowledge gained
from the Book of Mormon were suddenly taken away?” Or “How have the events that
followed the First Vision made a difference for
me and my loved ones?” Also, with the Book of Mormon
videos now becoming available, you may wish to incorporate them
in your individual and family study. Select your own questions. Design your own plan. Immerse yourself in the glorious
light of the Restoration. As you do, general
conference next April will not only be memorable;
it will be unforgettable. Now in closing, I leave with
you my love and my blessing that each of you may
become happier and holier with each passing day. Meanwhile, please be
assured that revelation continues in the Church and
will continue under the Lord’s direction until “the purposes
of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall
say the work is done.” I so bless you, reaffirming
my love for you, with my testimony
that God lives! Jesus is the Christ! This is His Church,
and we are His people. In the sacred name of
Jesus Christ, amen. [MUSIC PLAYING: “MORE HOLINESS
GIVE ME”] Our beloved Father in
Heaven, at the close of this general
conference of Thy Church, we, Thy Saints gathered
across the world, express our deep and profound
love for Thee and for Thy Son, for the glorious
Restoration of Thy gospel in these latter days, for the
Prophet Joseph and his mission, for the succession of prophets
that have continued down to President Russell M. Nelson. We rejoice in the
revelations that continue to flow to establish
Thy Church and kingdom and to transform our
individual lives. We rejoice in the
wells of living water that we have partaken of
during this conference. We rejoice in the
love that we’ve felt, in the resolves that we
have made to repent and improve each day. As the Spirit has spoken to
us and committed us to act, we pray that that
same Spirit would go with us to strengthen
and remind us, to enable us to do
those things that will help us to be better and
do better than ever before, that we might become holy,
that we might prepare the world for the return of Thy Son. We pray for the gathering
of Israel across the world and do so in the name of Thy
Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, amen. This has been a broadcast of
the 189th 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.

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