It is good to be here and have you participate in this message that will go across the world. I have prayed very fervently for the power of the Spirit to be with me.
When the Doctrine and Covenants was assembled, the revelations were pulled together by the Prophet Joseph Smith, who was then still in his 20s. A revelation was given as an introduction. It is now section one of the Doctrine and Covenants, although it was given much later than most of the revelations there. There is one phrase in that revelation that changed the work of the Church, and if they will, changed the work of the Christian churches forever. That was simply “that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world” (D&C 1:20).
To imagine putting together a church where the authority of the priesthood was to be given to every worthy adult male would seem like a very reckless, dangerous thing, but that is the way it is. So as we look at you across the world, you members of the Church, we are never afraid of the progress of the Church, because we know that there will come by conversion and baptism a little group of brethren upon whom the fulness of the priesthood can be conferred.
Any elder holds as much priesthood as does the President of the Church or as I do as an Apostle—different offices. But the priesthood is not delegated out and parceled a little here and a little there. It is given all at once. In the ordinance where ordinations take place, the priesthood is conferred, and then the office is conferred. So a young man as young as 18 planning to go on a mission has this ordinance, and they first say, “We confer upon you the Melchizedek Priesthood” and then ordain you to the office of elder in that priesthood.
That priesthood has some other titles: “The priesthood … after the holiest order of God” (D&C 84:18) and “the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God” (D&C 107:3). It is the consummate power on this earth. It is the power by which the earth was created—and all other things in the vast universe that are a part of our life.
We know that every father can, or should be, an officer in the priesthood, meaning that he holds the priesthood and presides over his family in righteousness.
We are sometimes charged with being unkind to the sisters in that they do not hold the priesthood and therefore do not hold the offices that the brethren do. But it is well understood that whether or not we are exalted depends upon the sister who is at our side—the wife, the mother of our children—and no holder of the priesthood would in any way depreciate or mitigate the value and power of his wife. When I hear those comments that the sisters are less than the brethren, I wish that they could see inside the heart of every worthy holder of the priesthood and understand how he feels about his wife, the mother of his children—a reverence, not quite worship but a kind of worship, a respect for the companion in life that causes it to be that he can be exalted ultimately.
The Church is very practical in its organization. We are not confined to having one prelate or priest or pastor or vicar given authority then to rule over the congregation, but as that simple expression in the Doctrine and Covenants says, “Every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world” (D&C 1:20). We are very careful to set standards of worthiness so that when a man is prepared for the priesthood he must give up a lot of things that other men enjoy in life, and every one of them is a protection for him and his family. The Word of Wisdom was given at a time when the dangers of tea and coffee, liquor and tobacco, and all those things were not known. And yet the early brethren, bowing to what the Prophet said, would obediently accept the fact that there are standards if you are going to be ordained into the priesthood. And that is a great thing for a father, a husband, to live the gospel and teach it by example.
There is the responsibility in the Church that is permanent. We call a man to be a stake president or a bishop or some other presiding officer, and we pay proper respect for that authority, and yet the tenure of it is temporary. One day a stake president will be released, or a bishop will be released, but an elder is not released, and a high priest is not released, and a Seventy is not released. They hold that authority, and the honor of presiding over a family and being a father is eternal.
That gives me a lot of comfort at my young age when we have been married for 65 years, and I think that could come to an end. Then I realize that the gospel is true, and it will never come to an end. I have been very careful, and am very careful, to treat my wife with that respect and reverence that is due her in performing that thing that is of most worth for a woman in this life to live the gospel, to be the wife and the mother of the children of a worthy holder of the priesthood.
In putting the Church together, the priesthood was restored, the Aaronic Priesthood first and then the Melchizedek Priesthood. The Church was not given all at once as a blueprint that the Prophet could just look at and then announce. It came “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” (2 Nephi 28:30; see also D&C 128:21). But as it came together in the fulness of time, we finally had it all restored.
The Church is growing very rapidly, and we see you in our mind’s eye in the congregations across the world listening to this program. It is through the blessing of translation that we can speak your language. That is the only way I can speak perfect language to the people of the world. I have had hard enough trouble with English! And yet we know that the words are translated into equal words in the other languages, but more than that, they are accompanied by the power and the Spirit and the intent.
We perform the ordinances “in the name of Jesus Christ.” There are one or two that vary from that a little. One of them, interestingly enough, is baptism, where the prayer says, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (3 Nephi 11:25; D&C 20:73). There are some ordinances in the temple that are expressed the same way. So everything that can be given is given, and in due time, we come to know our Father in Heaven, a loving Father whose concern for us is such that He rejoices at our happiness and, I am sure, sheds tears for our disobedience and mistakes.
When we have children of our own and hold the priesthood and those two things are together in our life, then we know what the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ is about, and we know who He is: Christ, the Son of God, the Only Begotten of the Father, who wrought the Atonement through which we can have erased all of the mistakes we have made in life and stand clean and pure before the Father in that day of judgment.
It is an interesting thing that across the world “every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world” (D&C 1:20).
You out there speaking languages, one or two of you speak in many languages. I have known one or two of the General Authorities that just seem to inhale languages. With Jacob de Jager, I used to travel with him, and we went to China and to other places. It just seemed like he stepped off the plane and took a deep breath, and he could speak the language and speak it well.
We can that way have men better than we are in many ways leading the Church out there and adequate and complete because they are attached to the powers of heaven. They are looked after by the arm of the Almighty and know that Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten of the Father, is the head of the Church. We are His servants, all of us, and we are His sons, and we are His daughters.
It is a source of great comfort to me to know that as I go through life and make mistakes—I have said I wish that my last mistake was my worst one and my next mistake would not come. I do not have hope of either. You make mistakes and look back on your life and wonder, “Well, where am I now near the end of my life to face the judgment?” That does not worry me because I have repented and taken hold of that great Atonement that is offered by living the gospel of Jesus Christ.
As a holder of the priesthood, we respond to every call that comes to perform every service that will come, the most important of which is within the walls of our home. The last few Presidents of the Church, conscious of what the adversary was doing, have centered their teaching, their preaching on the home and the family. And we have done that in this meeting as well. The Church is made up of families. We talk about the organization and how many wards and stakes we have, and they are incidental and temporary. When we talk about how many families we have, then we see the real growth in the Church.
I want to conclude with a witness and a testimony. I have lived a long time. I have traveled widely—2½ million miles in the countries across the world. Many of them I have visited dozens of times. I have learned that we are the children of God, and I have come to know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. When we come to you as leaders in the auxiliaries and in the priesthood and in the stakes, we come with a fervent testimony and knowledge, for we know that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Only Begotten of the Father, and all that we do, we do in His name as His agents. And what we do as His agents in governing the Church as an Apostle or in guiding a ward as a bishop or a counselor in an elders quorum presidency—all of these are secondary to being a father and a husband who holds the priesthood and lives worthily of it. That is the source of happiness and the great achievement in mortality.
I know that God lives. I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know the Lord. This is His Church, and His guiding hand is with it and is with every worthy holder of the priesthood and every wife and mother and even with little children, watched over by the benevolent hand of Him who is the Son of God. Of Him I bear witness, and of the Father I bear witness, and my witness is true, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.