HEEDING MODERN DAY PROPHETS AND THE NEED FOR THEM IN THESE LATTER-DAYS:
God calls prophets to bear witness of Jesus Christ, to declare repentance, and to invite all to come unto the Savior. The Book of Mormon teaches that those who heed these prophets are blessed, while those who oppose them experience regret and sorrow.
ALL PROPHETS—have in common:
1) repent of sins
2) keep commandments
3) come upon Christ
Carol McConkie, “Live According to the Word of the Prophets,” Nov 2014.
Our Father in Heaven loves all of His children and desires that they know and understand His plan of happiness. Therefore, He calls prophets, those who have been ordained with power and authority to act in God’s name for the salvation of His children. They are messengers of righteousness, witnesses of Jesus Christ and the infinite power of His Atonement. They hold the keys of the kingdom of God on earth and authorize the performance of saving ordinances.
- How unusual is this? Q. What do other Christian churches and people believe?
Tell about Profile of a Prophet—Hugh B. Brown
- Has God spoken through prophets in the past?
Christian world agrees He has—all through the Bible.
Why doesn’t He speak now through prophets?
Must be a reason—1) can’t-lost the power—blasphemy!
2) doesn’t care about us—God loves all people at all times and is no respecter of persons
3) we don’t need Him anymore—so advanced in science and technology, so educated, we can rely on ourselves for wisdom
Never was a time or a people that needed Him more—why doesn’t God speak to us through prophets anymore?
He does. He has spoken, he is now speaking, and all we need is the faith to hear Him.
President Russell Nelson: Sustaining the Prophets, Nov 2014:
“My dear brothers and sisters, if the Restoration did anything, it shattered the age-old myth that God had stopped talking to His children. Nothing could be further from the truth. A prophet has stood at the head of God’s Church in all dispensations, from Adam to the present day.4 Prophets testify of Jesus Christ—of His divinity and of His earthly mission and ministry.5 We honor the Prophet Joseph Smith as the prophet of this last dispensation. And we honor each man who has succeeded him as President of the Church.”
Common thread in scriptures: All prophets of God declare repentance and testify of Jesus Christ. Those who are obedient to the commandments of God given through prophets are blessed and richly rewarded.
Read: Helaman 13:24–33; 3 Nephi 8:24–25; 9:10–11
Example of Samuel the Lamanite–warned to repent and their regret that they didn’t do it and save their people
Elder M. Russell Ballard (in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles):
“It is no small thing, my brothers and sisters, to have a prophet of God in our midst. Great and wonderful are the blessings that come into our lives as we listen to the word of the Lord given to us through him. … When we hear the counsel of the Lord expressed through the words of the President of the Church, our response should be positive and prompt. History has shown that there is safety, peace, prosperity, and happiness in responding to prophetic counsel” (“His Word Ye Shall Receive,”Ensign, May 2001, 65).
- Think on this/write on your paper: (use the Holy Ghost to inspire you–D&C 8:2 HG works by impressions on your mind, feelings in your heart)
1) When have you been blessed by responding positively and promptly to prophetic counsel? Name some specific times and experiences
2) What questions, concerns, problems, struggles are you facing that you would like answers to. Conference will provide the direction, light in your life
Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote that through the prophets “the Lord reveals the truths of salvation, … the salvation that is in Christ; and he charts … the course leading to eternal life. … In every age the Lord gives his people the direction they need at the moment of their peril and danger. And surely in the days ahead there will be times when nothing but the wisdom of God, descending from heaven and flowing forth from prophetic lips, will be able to save his people.”17
President Benson: Fourteen fundaments of Prophets-BYU devotional Feb 1980—here is a “grand key”
14 Fundamentals of Following the Prophet –for our salvation hangs on it (here are a selected few)
**The prophet is the only one who speaks for the Lord on everything.
In section 132, verse 7, of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord speaks of the Prophet—the President—and says: “There is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred.”
Then in section 21, verses 4–6, the Lord states:
Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;
For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.
For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.
- Did you hear what the Lord said about the words of the prophet? We are to “give heed unto all his words”—as if from the Lord’s “own mouth.”
Conference coming up—chance to hear prophetic counsel, go with questions, problems to receive answers for us
** The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.
The living prophet has the power of TNT. By that I mean “Today’s News Today.” God’s revelations to Adam did not instruct Noah how to build the ark. Noah needed his own revelation. Therefore, the most important prophet, so far as you and I are concerned, is the one living in our day and age to whom the Lord is currently revealing His will for us. Therefore, the most important reading we can do is any of the words of the prophet contained each week in the Church Section of the Deseret News and any words of the prophet contained each month in our Church magazines. Our marching orders for each six months are found in the general conference addresses, which are printed in the Ensign magazine.
Beware of those who would pit the dead prophets against the living prophets, for the living prophets always take precedence.
Prophets speak own time and people/John Taylor
“We require a living tree—a living fountain—living intelligence, proceeding from the living priesthood in heaven, through the living priesthood on the earth. … And from the time that Adam first received a communication from God, to the time that John, on the Isle of Patmos, received his communication, or Joseph Smith had the heavens opened to him, it always required new revelations, adapted to the peculiar circumstances in which the churches or individuals were placed.
“Adam’s revelation did not instruct Noah to build his ark; nor did Noah’s revelation tell Lot to forsake Sodom; nor did either of these speak of the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt. These all had revelations for themselves, and so had Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Jesus, Peter, Paul, John, and Joseph. And so must we” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: John Taylor , 158).
What do you know about our new prophet?
Just turned 94—Sept 9th
Married to Dantzel—59 years, Wendy Nelson—12 years
10 children, 57 grandchildren, 119 great-grandchildren
(Cynthia William’s daughter Meg—one of first there to hold baby)
graduated from medical school—1st
class rank upon completing medical school—1st
Performed nearly 7,000 heart surgeries performed in career
Years served as an apostle—34
Countries visited while serving as an apostle—133
Countries he dedicated for preaching of the gospel—31
Countries visited since becoming president of the church—12
Months he’s been the prophet—8
- What is our living prophet saying to us today? IDEAS—share
Special fireside for youth: “take a break from the fake”—social media—break for a week
Ministering—different approach to VT/HT
Name of church—not Mormons/LDS—say our name
President Nelson: in Seattle @ Safeco Field-49,089 to speak to saints in the Pacific-northwest (288,000 LDS, 3 temples and 8 missions
Devotional was the largest “non-sporting event in the history of Safeco Field and the second largest event the venue has ever hosted
Parts of the message he shared: (prayed to know)
Word of our current prophet to the saints:
“My dear brothers and sisters, we are living in the most crucial era in the history of the world. Since the beginning of time, prophets have foreseen our day and prophesied about what would take place during this winding-up period before the Savior comes again.”
1) Hold to the raft (story of rafting with family and getting thrown off)
“We are all metaphorically speaking, on a rafting trip through life. Usually it is beautiful and peaceful, but at some point we hit might rough rapids. . . As we face churning challenges in our lives, the greatest and only real safety comes as we hold onto the raft, which is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. If I have learned anything in my life, it is that our ultimate security, and our only enduring happiness, lies in holding onto the iron rod of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, complete with its covenants and ordinances. When we do so, we can safely navigate through rough waters because we have access to God’s power.”
2) The Book of Mormon is the word of God
During the Korean War, President Nelson was a surgeon in the US Army and was asked by his surgical nurse why he was different than other surgeons. He responded, “If I am different from other surgeons, it is because I know the Book of Mormon is true.” He challenged his nurse and surgeon husband to read the BofM and they eventually joined the church.
“I plead with you to make reading the Book of Mormon a regular part of your daily life. Doing so is one of the surest way to hang onto the raft and learn the truths of the restored gospel.”
3) The honors of men fade
President Nelson said that “the honors of men, exhilarating as they may seem at the time, fade into oblivion compared to what the Lord has in store for covenant-keeping children—the supernal gift of eternal life. That’s the greatest of all of God’s gifts. . . I plead with you not to let the temptations of the world—including the time-consuming allurements of your occupation—distract you from the real reason you are here on earth: ill you use your agency to choose Jesus Christ and His gospel?”
4) The Lord uses the unlikely
1985 Pres Benson gave him the assignment to open the countries of Eastern Europe for the preaching of the gospel. This was during the Cold War—all of eastern Europe under the oppressive yoke of communism.” The Lord was able to do His own work, watched miracle after miracle unfold (iron curtain brought down), after and always only after I had brought my best thinking, my most fervent prayers, and my most courageous efforts to the task. “I learned that the Lord likes effort –He blesses our best efforts.”
In 1992, P. Nelson was able to report that the Church was established in every country in Eastern Europe.
“If you are doing your best to make the Lord Jesus Christ the center of your faith, your life, and that of your family—He will work miracles for you in your lives.”
5) Care for others
“We are happiest when we are thinking of someone other than ourselves. A fundamental characteristic of followers of Jesus Christ is the desire and willingness to care for others. This is why at the last general conference we emphasized ministering as a higher, holier way of taking care of each other.”
This is why the church engages in humanitarian service around the globe—our efforts are designed to help all mankind. None of the church’s shipments of relief material are ever labeled: “For Latter-day Saints only.”
“As a church, we need to be doing what the Savior wishes us to do. And as a people, we need to be looking and acting like true followers of Jesus Christ.
Our message to the world is simple and sincere: We invite all of God’s children on both sides of the veil to come unto their Savior, to receive the blessings of the holy temple and qualify for eternal life, so that they can have enduring joy now and forever.”
The prophet will never lead the Church astray.
President Wilford Woodruff stated: “I say to Israel, The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of the Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God.” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, selected by G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1946], pp. 212-213.)
There’s safety to stick with the prophet. As the primary kids sing: “Follow the prophet, don’t go astray! Follow the prophet, he knows the way!”
&We are grateful for a church “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.”7
The Lord’s house is a house of order, and we need never be deceived about where to look for answers to our questions or uncertain about which voice to follow. We need not be “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.”8
God reveals His word through His ordained servants, “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God.”9
**The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know. (Samuel, others)
“Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear,” complained Nephi’s brethren. But Nephi answered by saying, “the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center” (1 Nephi 16:1, 3). Or, to put it in another prophet’s words, “Hit pigeons flutter.”
Said President Harold B. Lee:
“You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. . . . Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow. . . . Let’s keep our eye on the President of the Church.” [In Conference Report, October 1970, p. 152-153]
But it is the living prophet who really upsets the world. “Even in the Church,” said President Kimball, “many are prone to garnish the sepulchers of yesterday’s prophets and mentally stone the living ones” (Instructor, 95:257).
Why? Because the living prophet gets at what we need to know now, and the world prefers that prophets either be dead or mind their own business. Some so-called experts of political science want the prophet to keep still on politics. Some would-be authorities on evolution want the prophet to keep still on evolution. And so the list goes on and on.
How we respond to the words of a living prophet when he tells us what we need to know, but would rather not hear, is a test of our faithfulness.
Said President Marion G. Romney, “It is an easy thing to believe in the dead prophets.”
- What are some things we need to know (may not want to know)?
**The prophet is not limited by men’s reasoning.
There will be times when you will have to choose between the revelations of God and the reasoning of men—between the prophet and the politician or professor.
Prophet Joseph Smith, “Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof until long after the events transpire” (Scrapbook of Mormon Literature, vol. 2, p. 173).
Would it seem reasonable to an eye doctor to be told to heal a blind man by spitting in the dirt, making clay, and applying it to the man’s eyes and then telling him to wash in a contaminated pool? Yet this is precisely the course that Jesus took with one man, and he was healed. (See John 9:6-7.) Does it seem reasonable to cure leprosy by telling a man to wash seven times in a particular river? Yet this is precisely what the prophet Elisha told a leper to do, and he was healed. (See 2 Kings 5.)
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.[Isaiah 55:8, 9]
**The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are rich. (watch ourselves)
The learned may feel the prophet is only inspired when he agrees with them; otherwise, the prophet is just giving his opinion—speaking as a man. The rich may feel they have no need to take counsel of a lowly prophet.
In the Book of Mormon we read:
“O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.
But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.
And whoso knocketh, to him will he open; and the wise, and the learned, and they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches—yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them.” [2 Nephi 9:28, 29, 42; emphasis added]
**The prophet will not necessarily be popular with the world or the worldly.
As a prophet reveals the truth it divides the people. The honest in heart heed his words, but the unrighteous either ignore the prophet or fight him. When the prophet points out the sins of the world, the worldly either want to close the mouth of the prophet, or else act as if the prophet didn’t exist, rather than repent of their sins.
Popularity is never a test of truth. Many a prophet has been killed or cast out. As we come closer to the Lord’s second coming, you can expect that as the people of the world become more wicked, the prophet will be less popular with them.
President Ezra Taft Benson:
“When the prophet points out the sins of the world, the worldly either want to close the mouth of the prophet, or else act as if the prophet didn’t exist, rather than repent of their sins. POPULARITY IS NEVER A TEST OF TRUTH! … As we come closer to the Lord’s second coming you can expect that as the people of the world become more wicked, the prophet will be less popular with them” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson, 152).
- Why do you think some people fail to heed the words of a prophet?
- What is the most important commandment? “The one you’re having the most difficulty living.”
- In our time—what do we struggle to obey? What doctrine/commandments goes contrary to the world? What doctrine isn’t popular?
Word of Wisdom
Sunday worship—attending church, serving
Church service—time and commitment
Temple attendance/family history
False teachings: no sin, no judgment, no absolute truths
Again: The Book of Mormon teaches over and over that if we keep His commandments (given through the prophets), and keep repenting and seeking the Lord through study and prayer, He will bless us and always fight our battles and be on our side.
Alma 36:3—“whosoever will put their trust in the Lord will be supported through all their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last days.”
This doesn’t say you won’t have any—but you’ll be supported!
The Book of Mormon also teaches over and over that rejecting God’s prophets leads to regret and sorrow—
“and thus we see the end of him who perverteth the ways of the Lord; and thus we see that the devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell.” Alma 30:60
Satan is in an open war to fight against the prophets speaking for the Lord:
Book of Mormon warns: “and that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, (disobey prophets) from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers.”
**Fight for your testimonies:
“Thus Satan thinketh to overpower your testimony in this generation, that the work may not come forth in this generation.” D & C 10:33
CONFERENCE—REVELATION FROM GOD TO PROPHETS/PERSONAL REVELATION TO YOU IN YOUR LIFE
Go to conference with your questions, problems, struggles with a prayerful heart and open your hearts and the Lord will answer you through the apostles and prophets as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost. You can receive it in the same spirit.