JOSEPH FIELDING SMITH - Prophet/President
HAROLD B. LEE - First Counselor in First Presidency/President of the Quorum of the 12
SPENCER W. KIMBALL - Acting President of the Quorum of the 12
EZRA TAFT BENSON - Apostle
HOWARD W. HUNTER - Apostle
GORDON B. HINCKLEY - Apostle
THOMAS S. MONSON - Apostle
According to this great and eternal plan, salvation is in Christ. It comes because of the infinite and eternal atonement which he wrought by the shedding of his blood. He is the Son of God, and he came into the world to ransom men from the temporal and spiritual death that came because of what we call the fall.
Through his goodness and grace all men will come forth from the grave, to be judged according to the deeds done in the flesh. Then those who have believed and obeyed his laws shall receive an inheritance of eternal life in his Father’s kingdom. This glorious blessing is available because of his atoning sacrifice, and it is given to those who love and serve him with all their strength...
This is the appointed time for the preaching of the gospel in all the world and for the building up of the Lord’s kingdom in every nation. There are good and upright people in all nations who will respond to the truth; who will come into the Church; and who will become lights to guide their own people.
JFS - "Blessings of the Priesthood"
This priesthood administers the gospel. It is a delegation of authority from the Lord himself and has been given to us so we can do whatsoever is necessary to save and exalt ourselves and our fellowmen in the celestial kingdom of heaven.
In one of the early revelations to the Prophet Joseph Smith the Lord said: “If thou wilt do good, yea, and hold out faithful to the end, thou shalt be saved in the kingdom of God, which is the greatest of all the gifts of God; for there is no gift greater than the gift of salvation.” (D&C 6:13.)
Now salvation, which is the greatest blessing any man can receive, comes by obedience to the laws of the gospel; and the gospel is administered by the power of the priesthood; and so the priesthood is given to us to bless ourselves and our Father’s other children.
It is by the power and authority of the priesthood that the gospel is preached, and what greater blessing can come into the life of anyone than to receive the gospel?
It is by the power of the priesthood that men are baptized for the remission of sins, and that they receive the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost in their lives.
JFS - "Let the Spirit of Oneness Prevail"
I feel in my heart to bless the faithful members of the Church. Just as surely as they continue to walk in paths of truth and virtue, they shall have the desires of their hearts in righteousness and shall go on to eternal reward in our Father’s kingdom in due course of time.
I have sought all my days to keep the commandments and do those things which will please the Lord, and I desire to bear testimony of his goodness to me and likewise his goodness to all his children who have made covenant to keep his commandments.
As I stand now, in what I might call the twilight of life, with the realization that in a not-far-distant day I shall be called upon to give an account of my mortal stewardship, I bear testimony again of the truth and divinity of this great work.
I know that God lives and that he sent his beloved Son into the world to atone for our sins.
During the past several months we have spent much time in countries of the Far East and in the European countries, where we have been brought face to face with large congregations of our members and with others not of our faith.
Never, it seems, has there ever been more unmistakable evidence of a need for spiritual guidance, as we met throughout our visits in these countries those who are seeking for answers to problems that confront them on every side. We have sensed that everywhere there is much dissatisfaction with the churches to which they have belonged...
They are clamoring for security or a salvation, not just in the world to come, but for a temporal salvation here and now that they don’t have to die to get. There is a need for their churches to have concern about the personal welfare of the individual, so that each one could be aided to help himself through a unified church effort and a brotherhood in the Church that concerns itself with temporal and social, as well as spiritual, needs.
They are looking for a church where there is not only unity to be found within their local congregations, but which reaches out to a unification of effort in meeting the challenging problems confronting mankind; where a church congregation in one nation links hands with those of a common faith that spans the continents and the oceans and proclaims a universal brotherhood to which they may look with confidence in matters of health and education, strengthening of home ties, and in evolving and promoting constructive church activities where youth are taught correct principles so that they can learn to become effective leaders themselves; where wholesome activities are in such abundance that there is less time to engage in the evils that beckon on every side.
In short, the demand everywhere is for a church that is holding fast to the basic ideals of Christianity, as the apostle James has defined it: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1: 27.)
HBL - "Responsibilities of the Priesthood"
Now we want to put a weight of responsibility on every holder of the priesthood and on every father in every home. You must remember that if we are to multiply the number of those who are so-called inactives, who haven’t been to the temple, by the average-size family, you are counting up to hundreds of thousands of members of this church who, unless we do something about it, will not be sealed together in the temple and will not, therefore, belong together in family relationships in the hereafter.
Remember that activity is the soul of spirituality.
We propose that you introduce this kind of program: We want the bishops now to instruct the home teachers and quorum leaders to submit the names of inactive members to their bishops, along with suggestions as to how these individuals might be approached and involved. We want the bishops, in turn, to submit these names to their stake presidents in the same manner, so that there is a continuing effort and evaluation over a period of time in which we focus on individuals rather than numbers, in which we test our love and creativity in terms of how we can best reach and assist fellow members in giving them the opportunity of serving others.
“When the eternal marriage was solemnized, and as the subdued congratulations were extended, a happy father, radiant in his joy, offered his hand and said, ‘Brother Kimball, my wife and I are common people and have never been successful, but we are immensely proud of our family.’ He continued, ‘This is the last of our eight children to come into this holy house for temple marriage. They, with their companions, are here to participate in the marriage of this, the youngest. This is our supremely happy day, with all of our eight children married properly. They are faithful to the Lord in church service, and the older ones are already rearing families in righteousness.’
“I looked at his calloused hands, his rough exterior, and thought to myself, ‘Here is a real son of God fulfilling his destiny.’
“‘Success?’ I said, as I grasped his hand. ‘That is the greatest success story I have heard. You might have accumulated millions in stocks and bonds, bank accounts, lands, industries, and still be quite a failure. You are fulfilling the purpose for which you were sent into this world by keeping your own lives righteous, bearing and rearing this great posterity, and training them in faith and works. Why, my dear folks, you are eminently successful. God bless you.’”...
Heaven is a place, but also a condition; it is home and family. It is understanding and kindness. It is interdependence and selfless activity. It is quiet, sane living; personal sacrifice, genuine hospitality, wholesome concern for others. It is living the commandments of God without ostentation or hypocrisy. It is selflessness. It is all about us. We need only to be able to recognize it as we find it and enjoy it.
EZRA TAFT BENSON - "Satan's Thrust - Youth"
We live in a wicked world. Never in our memory have the forces of evil been arrayed in such deadly formation. The devil is well organized. Never in our day has he had so many emissaries working for him. Through his many agents, his satanic majesty has proclaimed his intentions to destroy one whole generation of our choice young people.
Evidence of the dastardly work of evil forces is increasingly evident. On every side we see the sad and heart-rending results. The devil-inspired destructive forces are present in our literature, in our art, in the movies, on the radio, in our dress, in our dances, on the TV screen, and even in our modern, so-called popular music. Satan uses many tools to weaken and destroy the home and family and especially our young people. Today, as never before, it seems the devil’s thrust is directed at our youth...
Using life as a laboratory, we can observe and study the lives of others as we might through a microscope. Observe that the man of God is a happy man. The hedonist, who proclaims “Do your thing,” who lives for sinful, so-called pleasure, is never happy. Behind his mask of mock gaiety lurks the inevitable tragedy of eternal death. Haunted by its black shadow, he trades the useful, happy life for the bleak forgetfulness of drugs, alcohol, sex, and rock.
A study of Satan’s methods can alert us to his seductions. In his cunning he knows where and how to strike. It is in youth when his victims are most vulnerable. Youth is the springtime of life when all things are new. Youth is the spirit of adventure and awakening. It is a time of physical emerging when the body can attain the vigor and good health that may scorn the caution of temperance. Youth is a time of timelessness when the horizons of age often seem too distant to be noticed. Thus, the “now” generation forgets that the present will soon be the past that looks to a life left in waste or a past rich in works. These are the ingredients in youth that make Satan’s plan of “play now and pay later” so irresistible. Yes, the devil uses many tools...
The Spirit of the Lord blesses that which edifies and leads men to Christ. Would his Spirit bless with its presence these festering festivals of human degradation cured in LSD, marijuana, and Speed? Would he be pleased by the vulgar display of unashamed nudity and immorality? The speech of the rock festival is often obscene. Its music, crushing the sensibilities in a din of primitive idolatry, is in glorification of the physical to the debasement of the spirit. In the long panorama of man’s history, these youthful rock music festivals are among Satan’s greatest successes. The legendary orgies of Greece and Rome cannot compare to the monumental obscenities found in these cesspools of drugs, immorality, rebellion, and pornophonic sound. The famed Woodstock festival was a gigantic manifestation of a sick nation. Yet the lurid movie and rock recordings of its unprecedented filth were big business in our own mountain home.
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord:
“And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” (Mal. 4:5–6.)
No passage in scripture gives students of the Old Testament greater problems of interpretation than this one in the Book of Malachi regarding the sending of Elijah to turn the heart of the fathers to the children and the heart of the children to the fathers. Who is the prophet Elijah who is to come before the great and dreadful day of the Lord?...
In centuries past many people have lived and died without knowing of the gospel. How will they be judged in the absence of this knowledge? Peter said that after Christ was crucified, “but quickened by the Spirit … he went and preached unto the spirits in prison.” (1 Pet. 3:18–19.) Then he adds, “For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.” (1 Pet. 4:6.) Thus, those who die without knowledge of the gospel will have the opportunity to hear and accept it and to accept baptism.
Does it seem reasonable that persons who have lived upon the earth and died without the opportunity of baptism should be deprived throughout eternity? Is there anything unreasonable about the living performing the baptisms for the dead? Perhaps the greatest example of vicarious work for the dead is the Master himself. He gave his life as a vicarious atonement, that all who die shall live again and have life everlasting. He did for us what we could not do for ourselves. In a similar way we can perform ordinances for those who did not have the opportunity to do them in lifetime.
Not only may baptisms be performed for the dead, but endowments; also sealings, by which wives become eternal companions to husbands and their children sealed to them as a family. The sealing of family units can be continued until the family of God is made perfect. This is the great work of the dispensation of the fulness of times, by which the hearts of the fathers are turned to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers. The uniting and redemption of the family of God was the divine plan before the foundations of the earth were laid.
I bear witness that the same prophet who was fed by the ravens, by the never-depleting handful of meal and cruse of oil, who brought back life to the widow’s son, whose sacrifice was consumed by an unkindled fire, who was taken into heaven in a chariot of fire, has appeared in this day, as foretold by Malachi. He is turning the hearts of this and the past generations toward each other.
What marvelous things happen when men walk with faith in obedience to that which is required of them! I recently read the interesting story of Commander William Robert Anderson, the naval officer who took the submarine Nautilus beneath the polar ice from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, a daring and dangerous feat. It recounted a number of other exploits of similar danger. It concluded with a statement that he carried in his wallet a tattered card that had on it these words, which I commend to you:
“I believe I am always divinely guided.
I believe I will always take the right road.
I believe God will always make a way where there is no way.”
I too believe that God will always make a way where there is no way. I believe that if we will walk in obedience to the commandments of God, if we will follow the counsel of the priesthood, he will open a way even where there appears to be no way.
Not only by precept did Jesus teach, but also by example. He was faithful to his divine mission. He stretched forth his hand that others might be lifted toward God.
At Galilee there came to him a leper who pleaded: “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” (Matt. 8:2–3.) The hand of Jesus was not polluted by touching the leper’s body, but the leper’s body was cleansed by the touch of that holy hand.
In Capernaum, at the house of Peter, yet another example was provided. The mother of Peter’s wife lay sick of a fever. The sacred record reveals that Jesus came “and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her. …” (Mark 1:31.)
So it was with the daughter of Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue. Each parent can appreciate the feelings of Jairus as he sought the Lord, and, upon finding him, fell at his feet and pleaded, “My little daughter lieth at the point of death; I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.” (Mark 5:23.)