General Conferences are online going back to 1971. Continuing to look at what the prophets and future prophets were saying through the years.
This was the first Conference after the death of Joseph Fielding Smith, and Harold B. Lee was called to be the next President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
HAROLD B. LEE - Prophet/President
SPENCER W. KIMBALL - President of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles
EZRA TAFT BENSON - 2nd Apostle
HOWARD W. HUNTER - 7th Apostle
GORDON B. HINCKLEY - 8th Apostle
THOMAS S. MONSON - 9th Apostle
In the mighty demonstration of this solemn assembly, I am moved with emotions beyond expression as I have felt the true love and bonds of brotherhood. There has been here an overwhelming spiritual endowment, attesting, no doubt, that in all likelihood we are in the presence of personages, seen and unseen, who are in attendance. Who knows but that even our Lord and Master would be near us on such an occasion as this, for we, and the world, must never forget that this is his church, and under his almighty direction we are to serve!...
The day after this appointment, following the passing of our beloved President Smith, my attention was called to a paragraph from a sermon delivered in 1853 in a general conference by Elder Orson Hyde, then a member of the Twelve. This provoked some soul-searching in me also.
The subject of his address was “The Man to Lead God’s People,” and I quote briefly from his sermon: “… it is invariably the case,” he said, “that when an individual is ordained and appointed to lead the people, he has passed through tribulations and trials, and has proven himself before God, and before His people, that he is worthy of the situation which he holds. … that when a person has not been tried, that has not proved himself before God, and before His people, and before the councils of the Most High, to be worthy, he is not going to step in and lead the Church and people of God. It has never been so, but from the beginning some one that understands the Spirit and counsel of the Almighty, that knows the Church, and is known of her, is the character that will lead the Church.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 123.)
As I have known of the lives of those who have preceded me, I have been made aware that each seemed to have had his special mission for his day and time...
I know, with a testimony more powerful than sight, that as the Lord declared, “The keys of the kingdom of God are committed unto man on the earth [from the Prophet Joseph Smith through his successors down to the present], and from thence shall the gospel roll forth unto the ends of the earth, as the stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands shall roll forth, until it has filled the whole earth.
“Wherefore, may the kingdom of God go forth, that the kingdom of heaven may come. …” (D&C 65:2, 6.)
I bear that testimony with all the conviction of my soul and leave my blessing upon the membership of the Church and the pure in heart everywhere, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
HBL - "Teach the Gospel of Salvation"
The ancient prophets seemed to have foreseen our day of complete frustration, when men would be looking for answers in the wrong places and the solutions to their problems in the wrong way. The prophets foresaw the day when there would be “a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.” Furthermore, said the prophet, “… they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.” (Amos 8:11–12.)...
Now the members of this church throughout the world must brace themselves for the never-ending contest between the forces of righteousness and the forces of evil. The Prophet Joseph Smith made this declaration to the Twelve, borne out of his experience, and to which many of us since that time can testify. He said:
“You will have all kinds of trials to pass through. And it is quite as necessary that you be tried as it was for Abraham and other men of God, and … God will feel after you, and he will take hold of you and wrench your very heart strings, and if you cannot stand it you will not be fit for an inheritance in the Celestial Kingdom of God.” (John Taylor, in Journal of Discourses, vol. 24, p. 197.)...
In conclusion, may I offer a humble prayer in behalf of the Church and the nation and the world. I realize that there is much more that might be said, but in this prayer may I indulge and ask that you might unite your faith with mine for a few moments:
“Our heavenly and eternal Father, hear our prayer this day, and sanctify to our good all that is being done by righteous men and women in the Church and throughout the world to bring to naught the evils that are rolling over the world like an avalanche. Increase within us the zeal to bring thy great plan of redemption to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, looking to that glorious day when thy prophecy will be realized when truth will cover the earth as waters cover the mighty deep.
“We appeal to the protection of thy almighty power to that end which accords with thy purpose concerning us and thy work. We put ourselves under the surveillance of thy watchful eye and pray that thou will never leave us alone, and continue to give the guidance necessary to the accomplishment of thy purposes.”
HBL - "Admonitions for the Priesthood of God"
There are some as wolves among us. By that, I mean some who profess membership in this church who are not sparing the flock. And among our own membership, men are arising speaking perverse things. Now perverse means diverting from the right or correct, and being obstinate in the wrong, willfully, in order to draw the weak and unwary members of the Church away after them.
And as the apostle Paul said, it is likewise a marvel to us today, as it was in that day, that some members are so soon removed from those who taught them the gospel and are removed from the true teachings of the gospel of Christ to be led astray into something that corrupts the true doctrines of the gospel of Christ into vicious and wicked practices and performances.
These, as have been evidenced by shocking events among some of these splinter groups, have been accursed, as the prophets warned; and they are obviously in the power of that evil one who feeds the gullible with all the sophistries which Satan has employed since the beginning of time...
Now there is another danger that confronts us. There seem to be those among us who are as wolves among the flock, trying to lead some who are weak and unwary among Church members, according to reports that have reached us, who are taking the law into their own hands by refusing to pay their income tax because they have some political disagreement with constituted authorities.
Others have tried to marshal civilians, without police authority, and to arm themselves to battle against possible dangers, little realizing that in so doing they themselves become the ones who, by obstructing the constituted authority, would become subject to arrest and imprisonment.
We have even heard of someone claiming Church membership in protest against pornographic pictures being displayed in theaters, having planted bombs, and therefore becoming subject to punishment by the law and subsequently standing judgment before the disciplinary bodies of the Church....
The trouble with us today, there are too many of us who put question marks instead of periods after what the Lord says. I want you to think about that. We shouldn’t be concerned about why he said something, or whether or not it can be made so. Just trust the Lord. We don’t try to find the answers or explanations. We shouldn’t try to spend time explaining what the Lord didn’t see fit to explain. We spend useless time.
If you would teach our people to put periods and not question marks after what the Lord has declared, we would say, “It is enough for me to know that is what the Lord said.”...
Brethren of the priesthood, if the gospel of Jesus Christ is true—and it is true—what else matters? The Lord may bless us with that rock-bottom testimony that will guide us through all the perils of life if we will just continue to say to ourselves, “Because I know that the gospel is true, nothing else matters.”
I bear you my solemn witness that it is true, that the Lord is in his heavens; he is closer to us than you have any idea. You ask when the Lord gave the last revelation to this church. The Lord is giving revelations day by day, and you will witness and look back on this period and see some of the mighty revelations the Lord has given in your day and time.
HBL - "A Blessing for the Saints"
Never is the gospel of Jesus Christ more beautiful than in times of intense need, or in times of a severe storm within us as individuals, or in times of confusion and turmoil.
I come now to the closing moments of this session when I have time for some sobered reflections. Somehow I have had the feeling that during the expressions here, whenever my name has been mentioned, they were talking of somebody other than myself. And I really think that is so, because one cannot go through the experience that I have gone through these last three days and be the same as before. I am different than I was before Friday morning.
I cannot go back to where I was because of the love and faith and confidence that you, the people of the Lord, have reposed in me. So you have been talking of somebody else. You have been talking of somebody that you want me to become, which I hopefully pray God I may, with his help, become.
SPENCER W. KIMBALL - "We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet"
President Harold B. Lee became the President of the Church on July 7, 1972, but was ordained an apostle April 10, 1941, and was undoubtedly foreordained to these responsibilities in the far, far-away past as were his predecessors. The Prophet Joseph Smith made this statement over a century ago:
“Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, comp., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 1940 ed., p. 365.)....
Full provision has been made by our Lord for changes. Today there are fourteen apostles holding the keys in suspension, the twelve and the two counselors to the President, to be brought into use if and when circumstances allow, all ordained to leadership in their turn as they move forward in seniority.
There have been some eighty apostles so endowed since Joseph Smith, though only eleven have occupied the place of the President of the Church, death having intervened; and since the death of his servants is in the power and control of the Lord, he permits to come to the first place only the one who is destined to take that leadership. Death and life become the controlling factors. Each new apostle in turn is chosen by the Lord and revealed to the then living prophet who ordains him.
The matter of seniority is basic in the first quorums of the Church. All the apostles understand this perfectly, and all well-trained members of the Church are conversant with this perfect succession program.
God the Father has given Jesus Christ a name above all others, so that eventually every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the light, and no one can come back into the presence of our Father in heaven except through him. Christ is God the Son and possesses every virtue in its perfection. Therefore, the only measure of true greatness is how close a man can become like Jesus. That man is greatest who is most like Christ, and those who love him most will be most like him.
How, then, does a man imitate God, follow his steps, and walk as he walked, which we are commanded to do? We must study the life of Christ, learn his commandments, and do them. God has promised that to follow this course will lead a man to an abundant life and a fullness of joy and the peace and rest which those who are heavy-burdened long for. To learn of Christ necessitates the study of the scriptures and the testimonies of those who know him. We come to know him through prayer and the inspiration and revelation that God has promised to those who keep his commandments...
Men’s hearts are failing them, spiritually and temporally. Is it of interest for you to know that God has revealed many things for your blessing? He has revealed to a modern prophet a law of health, which, if obeyed, promises a man that he can run and not be weary, and walk and not faint.
Do you think men would despair so much or commit suicide if they knew through latter-day revelation about their preexistent state, where they came from, why they are here, where they are going, and the great possibilities that lie in store for them?..
Are you concerned about the increasing subversion in this blessed country, and other countries of the free world, and the spread of wickedness by a giant conspiracy? Would you be interested in reading the Book of Mormon, which records the downfall of two great ancient American civilizations as a result of internal secret conspiracies and contains a warning to us today that when we see these conditions in our midst, the Lord commands us to awake to our awful situation? With the increasing amount of aid and trade that we are providing the enemy of freedom, you might be interested to know what the Book of Mormon says will happen to a nation that upholds this conspiracy. Would you like to know of the warnings of the prophets about our increasing descent down the soul-destroying road of socialism and what they have told us to do about it?
HOWARD W. HUNTER - "Spiritual Famine"
In the year 1838, 134 years ago and only eight years after the organization of the Church, Ralph Waldo Emerson delivered an address before the senior class of the Divinity School at Cambridge University. In it he asked questions that were then unanswered and are unanswered for many individuals of our time. He said this:
“And it is my duty to say to you that the need was never greater of new revelation than now. … In how many churches, by how many prophets, tell me, is man made sensible that he is an infinite Soul? … It is the office of a true teacher to show us that God is, not was; that He speaketh, not spake. … Men have come to speak of … revelation as somewhat long ago given and done, as if God were dead.” (See The Complete Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, pp. 37–45.)
That is an interesting statement to have been made nearly a century and a half ago. It has the sound of an echo from some of today’s modern pulpits...
The confusion and frustrations from which the world is suffering are not common to faithful members of the Church. The proof is provided by the loyalty and dedication of its members for nearly a century and a half.
That loyalty and dedication is not diminishing—it is increasing. Hundreds are going daily from the darkness and uncertainty of unbelief and disbelief into the eternal life of the gospel by having faith, complying with the law of repentance, and accepting of baptism. Their lives are made bright and luminous by the gift of the Holy Ghost, and their souls are lifted up by their service to God and man.
There is hope—God does live—and there is a believable voice to those who have faith and the will to believe.
I would that I had the capacity, the gift of the Spirit, to speak with such power that your hearts would burn with a resolution so to live as to grow in favor with both God and man.
The wonderful thing is that this is not beyond your capacity. The course of our lives is not determined by great, awesome decisions. Our direction is set by the little day-to-day choices which chart the track on which we run....
Be clean for your own peace of mind. I spoke the other day with a young man who wished to go on a mission. In previous months he had been immoral. He and the girl with whom he had been associated thought they had done a clever thing. But he had come to realize that he had taken from her something precious that could never be restored, and that he had lost something of his own for which there was no compensation. With tears running down his cheeks he made his own judgment that he was unworthy to go into the world to teach to others a standard of behavior he had been unable to live himself. He had neither peace nor gladness.
Be clean, for the sake of your posterity. Someday each of you will meet the girl of your dreams. If you truly love her, you would rather cut off your right arm than hurt her. Never lose sight of the fact that you are the line through which will pass the qualities of your forebears to the posterity who will come after you. Pause and think. Will those qualities be diminished or enhanced because of your behavior? Be clean, and your strength will be as the strength of ten because your heart is pure.
Finally, may we speak of yet another hand—even the hand of the Lord. This was the hand which guided Moses, which strengthened Joshua—the hand promised to Jacob when the Lord declared: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God; … I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isa. 41:10.)
This was the determined hand which drove from the temple the money changers. This was the loving hand that blessed little children. This was the strong hand that opened deaf ears and restored vision to sightless eyes. By this hand was the leper cleansed, the lame man healed—even the dead Lazarus raised to life. With the finger of this hand there was written in the sand that message which the winds did erase but which honest hearts did retain. The hand of the carpenter. The hand of the teacher. The hand of the Christ. One called Pontius Pilate washed his hands of this man called King of the Jews. Oh foolish, spineless Pilate! Did you really believe that water could cleanse such guilt?