Elder L. Tom Perry: The Power of Deliverance
Prophecies foretelling the life and mission of Jesus Christ speak of the deliverance only He can provide. “His Atonement and Resurrection provide all of us an escape from physical death, and, if we repent, an escape from spiritual death, bringing with it the blessings of eternal life,” said Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during the Sunday afternoon session of conference.
“I wish to speak about how the Book of Mormon, which is a tender mercy of the Lord preserved for these latter-days, delivers us by teaching us, in a pure and ‘most correct’ way, the doctrine of Christ,” he said.
Telling of a young friend named Scott, Elder Perry spoke of Scott’s boldness in sharing the gospel. On a flight to visit his brother, Scott spoke with a person seated next to him about the Book of Mormon. “This year in Sunday School classes, we are studying of the Book of Mormon. As we prepare and participate, may we be motivated to follow Scott’s bold example to share our love of this special scripture with others not of our faith,” Elder Perry said.
He then directed his address to two stories from the Book of Mormon about deliverance. The first was about the people of Limhi who were in bondage to the Lamanites. “When Limhi’s people had their fill of Lamanite abuses, they convinced the king to go against them in battle. Three times they were defeated. Heavy burdens were laid upon them,” he said. “The Lord was slow to hear their cries. …”
The second story was about the people of Alma who were also subject to the Lamanites. When the Lamanites placed heavy burdens on the people of Alma, “The people of Alma were delivered from the hands of the Lamanites and safely made their way back to be united with the people of Zarahemla.”
Elder Perry asked, “What was the difference between the people of Alma and the people of Limhi? ... The people of Alma were peaceful and more righteous; they had already been baptized and entered into a covenant with the Lord; they humbled themselves before the Lord even before their tribulations started.”
To close his remarks, Elder Perry noted an additional two stories, one from the Old Testament and one from the Book of Mormon. He first spoke of Lot who “pitched his tent facing Sodom, a city of great wickedness.” The second story was about King Benjamin and his instruction to his people gathered to hear his final words. “King Benjamin instructed them to position the doors of their tents facing the temple,” he said. “We can be delivered from the ways of evil and wickedness by turning to the teachings of the Holy Scriptures.”
“I declare that Jesus is the Christ, and we can draw close to Him by reading the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. The first testaments of Jesus Christ are the Old and New Testaments—or the Bible.”
Elder M. Russell Ballard: That the Lost May Be Found
The Lord has provided a navigational tool far more powerful than the most advanced GPS system, said Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
“Everyone loses their way at some point, to some degree,” he said Sunday afternoon. “It is through the promptings of the Holy Ghost that we can be brought safely back onto the right path; and it is the atoning sacrifice of the Savior that can return us home.”
Much of the world has lost its way, particularly in regard to the values and priorities within the home. “It is in our home and families that need reforming in this increasingly materialistic and secular world,” he added.
Elder Ballard then spoke of the connection between prosperity and education and traditional families and values. The question is about cause and effect. Do some sectors of society have stronger values and families because they are more educated and prosperous—or are they more educated and prosperous because of their values and strong families?
“In this worldwide Church we know that it is the latter,” he declared. “When people make the family and religious commitments to gospel principles, they begin to do better spiritually and often temporally as well.”
Societies are strengthened as families grow stronger.
“When couples marry and make commitments to each other, they greatly increase the chances of economic well-being. When children are born in wedlock and have both a mom and a dad, their opportunities and their likelihood of occupational success skyrocket. And when families work and play together, neighborhoods and communities flourish, economies improve, and less government and fewer costly ‘safety nets’ are required.”
Societal and economic ills, he added, can be remedied by living correct principles and values.
Elder Ballard said that a spiritual divide gets ever wider as evil becomes more deceptive and subtle, pulling people toward it like a dark magnet—even as the gospel attracts the honest in heart who seek what is moral and good.
“We may be relatively small in number, but as members of this Church we can reach across these widening gaps. We know the power of Christ-centered service that brings together God’s children regardless of their spiritual or economic status.”
The Church remains a mooring in a tempestuous sea—an anchor in the churning waters of change and division. So what can be done to avoid becoming lost?
First, he said, prioritize. “Put everything you do outside the home in subjection to and in support of what happens inside your home.”
Make time for prayer and scripture and family activity. Give children responsibilities in the home that teach them how to work. Teach them that gospel living helps protect them from the filth of the world.
Second, do things in the right order. “Marriage first, and then family.”
Third, husbands and wives should be equal partners in marriage.
And finally, he concluded, use the family resources of the Church.
“The Holy Ghost will guide you and your family,” promised Elder Ballard. “You will have a spiritual GPS to tell you always where you are and where you are going.”
Elder O. Vincent Haleck: Having the Vision to Do
Elder O. Vincent Haleck of the Seventy presented his talk as an answer to the question, “How do we, amidst the challenges of our lives, gain the vision necessary to do those things that will bring us closer to the Savior?”
Using an example from his childhood, when his parents desired a bright future for their children and sent them from American Samoa to the United States for schooling, he said, “[My parents] acted on this vision, and they exercised their faith by seeking the Lord’s blessings.”
Like the vision his parents had for him and his siblings, Elder Haleck said the Savior has a vision for each child of God.
“If we are to prosper rather than perish, we must gain a vision of ourselves as the Savior sees us,” he said.
For example, Elder Haleck recounted how the Savior “saw more in those humble fishermen whom He called to follow Him than they initially saw in themselves; … With that vision, these faithful and devoted disciples were able to do hard things as they traveled to preach the gospel and establish the Church after the Savior departed.”
Scriptural figures aren’t the only examples for whom the Savior has visions, Elder Haleck continued.
“In our own day, many young men, young women, and senior couples have answered the call of a prophet of God to serve missions. … As they act on their vision to serve, they bless the lives of many and, in the process, change their own lives.”
Elder Haleck reminded conference participants that the Holy Ghost and inspired Church leaders can help give “a deeper understanding of our Savior’s vision for us.”
He taught, “Throughout this conference, we have received inspired counsel from prophets and apostles. Study their teachings and ponder them in your hearts, while seeking the Spirit of the Holy Ghost to help you catch a vision of these teachings in your life.”
Elder Haleck also cautioned against things that can weaken vision and faith. Difficult life experiences, busy schedules, and feelings of being overwhelmed can all dim that vision, he said.
Instead, he encouraged each person to “focus [their] vision on the Savior and His teachings.”
“I know that as we gain a vision of ourselves as the Savior sees us and as we act on that vision, our lives will be blessed in unexpected ways,” he promised.
Elder Larry Y. Wilson: Only upon the Principles of Righteousness
Recounting a long road trip early in his marriage, when he mistakenly told his new bride that he had the “right” to tell her how to drive the car simply because he was her husband and he held the priesthood, Elder Larry Y. Wilson used the experience to teach that husbands and wives, parents and leaders can lead “only upon the principles of righteousness.”
“The Doctrine and Covenants explains that the right to use the priesthood in the home or elsewhere is directly connected with righteousness in our lives,” he explained. “We lose our right to the Lord’s Spirit and to whatever authority we may have from God when we exercise control over another person in an unrighteous manner.”
Elder Wilson taught that when one tries to “compel someone to righteousness who can and should be exercising his or her own moral agency,” he warned, “we are acting unrighteously.” Instead, he admonished, “when setting firm limits for another person is in order, those limits should always be administered with loving patience and in a way that teaches eternal principles.”
Elder Wilson explained that compulsion created by unrighteous dominion prevents learning opportunities for those being coerced. He taught that parents need to be especially cautious of making this mistake with their children.
“Wise parents must weigh when children are ready to begin exercising their own agency in a particular area of their lives,” he said, adding, “if parents hold on to all decision-making power and see it as their ‘right,’ they severely limit the growth and development of their children.”
Elder Wilson expanded his talk about leading with principles of righteousness to comfort those who may have lost trust in God’s love due to the unfortunate unrighteous dominion of others.
“If we are going to help those in our stewardships make the all-important link with heaven, we must be the kind of parent and leader described in Doctrine and Covenants section 121,” he said. Closing by speaking to everyone in the Church—parents, leaders, children, and everyone in between—Elder Wilson promised, “Even if you’ve been mistreated in the past, I know the Lord wants you to come unto Him. All are loved. All are welcomed.”
Elder David F. Evans: Was It Worth It?
“What can I do to help build up the Lord’s Church and see real growth where I live?” So asked Elder David F. Evans of the Seventy, who spoke Sunday afternoon about strengthening the Church through serving families, ward members and “the one” whom the Spirit may prompt reaching out to, he said.
First, Elder Evans said, real Church growth occurs in families. “Our most important work in this and every other endeavor is always within our own home and family,” he said.
Second, Elder Evans said growth occurs as members “labor diligently to … persuade [their] brethren to believe in Christ and be reconciled to God” (see 2 Nephi 25:23).
He spoke of Dave Orchard, a Salt Lake native who had many Latter-day Saint friends but wasn’t a member himself. One day in his young adulthood, however, one of Dave’s friends invited him to accompany him to an interview with his bishop.
“What an invitation!” Elder Evans declared. “But in the context of their friendship and circumstances, it was both natural and normal.” Dave, said Elder Evans, received a testimony and was baptized by that bishop.
“As Dave spoke of his conversion and bore his testimony regarding these events, he asked … 'So, was it worth it?'” Dave recounted the effort of friends and Church leaders through the years, with the result being “just one boy [being] baptized.” As Dave pointed to his own family, he said, “Well, at least for my wife and our five children, the answer is ‘yes.’”
“Whenever the gospel is shared,” Elder Evans said, “it is never ‘just one boy.’ Whenever conversion happens or someone returns to the Lord, it is a family that is saved. … Was it worth it? Oh, yes, it was worth it.”
Elder Evans offered several ways members can act on spiritual promptings to serve others.
“If we will pray and ask Heavenly Father who we can help and promise to act on the promptings He gives us letting us know how we can help, He will answer our prayers and we will become instruments in His hands to do His work.”
Elder Evans reminded members that they may have even thought about someone whom they could reach out to during the conference proceedings.
“My invitation is to act, without delay, on that prompting,” he admonished. “Talk to your friend or family member. Do it in a natural and normal way. Let them know of your love for them and for the Lord. … Watch as our Heavenly Father uses your willingness to act to bring about a miracle in your life and in the life of the person you care about.”
Elder Paul B. Pieper: To Hold Sacred
“Moses, Alma, and Joseph Smith’s lives were all changed by encounters with the divine,” Elder Paul B. Pieper of the Seventy said during the Sunday afternoon session of general conference. “These experiences strengthened them to remain faithful to the Lord and His work throughout their lives, despite overwhelming opposition and subsequent difficult trials.
“Our experiences with the divine may not be as direct or dramatic, nor our challenges as daunting. However, as with the prophets, our strength to endure faithfully depends upon recognizing, remembering, and holding sacred that which we receive from above.”
It is through seeking light and truth that individuals are able to feel the still, small voice whisper to their spirits, Elder Pieper said.
“These feelings—these impressions—are so natural and so subtle that we may overlook them or attribute them to reason or intuition,” he said.
Daily reflection upon and recording the impressions that come from the Spirit serves the dual purpose of helping individuals recognize their personal encounters with the divine, and to preserve them for themselves and their posterity, he said.
“Recording them is also a formal acknowledgement of our gratitude to God, …” he said. “Light and knowledge from heaven is sacred. It is sacred because Heaven is its source.”
As individuals exercise agency and choose to accept and hold sacred impressions from God, they are able to recognize it as light and knowledge sent from heaven.
“But, there is an opposition in all things,” Elder Pieper said. “The opposite of sacred is profane or secular—that which is temporal or worldly. The worldly constantly competes with the sacred for our attention and priorities. Knowledge of the secular is essential for daily living. Further, the Lord instructs us to seek learning and wisdom, to study and learn out of the best books, and to become acquainted with languages, tongues, and people. Therefore the choice to place the sacred above the secular is a choice of relative priority, not exclusivity.”
But, just as in ancient times, there is a battle for priority between the sacred and the secular in each human heart, he said.
“Secular voices are growing in volume and intensity,” he noted. “Because we see through a ‘glass darkly’ and do not know the ‘meaning of all things,’ … We may feel that we may need greater spiritual assurances.”
In those cases, individuals must rely on and hold sacred the things that had already been received from God.
“The sacred cannot be selectively surrendered,” Elder Pieper said. “Those who choose to abandon even one sacred thing will have their minds darkened and, unless they repent, the light they have shall be taken from them. Unanchored by the sacred, they will find themselves morally adrift on the secular sea. In contrast, those who hold sacred things sacred receive promises.”
Elder Neil L. Andersen: What Thinks Christ of Me?
Each and every person, said Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, will one day stand before the judgement seat of Christ. Each will have to face the important question: “What thinks Christ of me?”
“Even with His love for all mankind, Jesus reprovingly referred to some around Him as hypocrites, fools, and workers of iniquity,” he said. “He approvingly called others children of the kingdom and the light of the world. He disapprovingly referred to some as blinded and unfruitful; He commended others as pure in heart, and hungering after righteousness. He lamented that some were faithless and of the world, but others He esteemed as chosen, disciples, friends.
“And so we each ask, ‘What thinks Christ of me?’”
It is a time of growing disbelief and disregard for Christ and His teachings, he added.
“In this turbulent environment, we rejoice in being disciples of Jesus Christ. We see the Lord’s hand all around us. Our destination is beautifully set before us. … Being a disciple in these days of destiny will be a badge of honor throughout the eternities.”
Elder Andersen said the messages heard during general conference were guideposts from the Lord on the journey of discipleship. Remember, Jesus’ call to “come, follow me” is not only for those prepared “to compete in a spiritual Olympics.”
“Discipleship is not a competition at all, but an invitation to all,” he said. “Our journey of discipleship is not a dash around the track, nor is it even comparable to a lengthy marathon. It is a life-long migration toward a more celestial world.”
The road of discipleship is always the right road. It is the road to eternal life.
Elder Andersen shared accounts of discipleship in action. He spoke of President Thomas S. Monson, who administered a priesthood blessing nearly 20 years ago to a 12-year-old girl named Jami who was battling bone cancer. In the blessing, President Monson promised Jami that Christ “will be on your right side and on your left side to buoy you up.” Following the blessing, the girl presented President Monson with a balloon that read “You’re the Best” in bright letters.
President Monson’s blessing lifted Jami’s spirit as she endured chemotherapy and limb-saving surgery. President Monson did not forget her. Three years after their first meeting, Jami met again with President Monson in his office. He surprised her with the same balloon she had given him three years earlier.
“He had saved it knowing she would return to his office when she was cured of cancer,” said Elder Andersen. “Fourteen years after their first meeting, President Monson performed the marriage of Jami Palmer and Jason Brinton in the Salt Lake Temple.”
Miracles are not always immediate. “But as we trust in the Savior, promised miracles will occur. Whether in this life or the next, all will be made right.”
Elder Andersen testified that “as you love Him, trust Him, believe Him, and follow Him, you will feel His love and approval.”
President Thomas S. Monson: As We Close This Conference
Following is the text of President Thomas S. Monson’s concluding remarks during the Sunday afternoon session of the 182nd Annual General Conference on April 1.
My heart is full as we come to the close of this glorious conference. … We have been so richly blessed as we have listened to the counsel and testimonies of those who have spoken to us. I think you will agree with me that we have felt the Spirit of the Lord as our hearts have been touched and our testimonies strengthened.
Once again we have enjoyed beautiful music, which has enhanced and enriched each session of conference. I express my gratitude to all who have shared with us their talents in this regard.
My heartfelt thanks go to each who has spoken to us, as well as to those who have offered prayers at each of the sessions.
There are countless individuals who work either behind the scenes or in less visible positions each conference. It would not be possible for us to hold these sessions without their assistance. My thanks go to all of them as well.
I know you join with me in expressing profound gratitude to those brethren and sisters who have been released during this conference. We will miss them. Their contributions to the work of the Lord have been enormous and will be felt throughout generations to come.
We have also sustained, through uplifted hands, brethren and sisters who have been called to new positions during this conference. We welcome them and want them to know that we look forward to serving with them in the cause of the Master. They have been called by inspiration from on high.
We have had unprecedented coverage of this conference, reaching across the continents and oceans to people everywhere. Though we are far removed from many of you, we feel of your spirit and your dedication, and we send our love and appreciation to you wherever you are.
How blessed we are, my brothers and sisters, to have the restored gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives and in our hearts. It provides answers to life’s greatest questions. It provides meaning and purpose and hope to our lives.
We live in troubled times. I assure you that our Heavenly Father is mindful of the challenges we face. He loves each of us and desires to bless us and to help us. May we call upon Him in prayer, as He admonished when He said: “Pray always, and I will pour out my spirit upon you, and great shall be your blessing—yea, even more than if you should obtain treasures of earth.”
My dear brothers and sisters, may your homes be filled with love and courtesy and with the Spirit of the Lord. Love your families. If there are disagreements or contentions among you, I urge you to settle them. Settle them now. Said the Savior, There shall “be no disputations among you. … For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. But behold, this is not my doctrine … but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.”
As your humble servant, I echo the words of King Benjamin in his address to his people, when he said, “I have not commanded you to … think that I of myself am more than a mortal man. But I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind; yet I have been chosen … by the hand of the Lord … and have been kept and preserved by his matchless power, to serve you with all the might, mind and strength which the Lord hath granted unto me.” My beloved brothers and sisters, I desire with all my heart to do God’s will and to serve Him and to serve you.
Now, as we leave this conference, I invoke the blessings of heaven upon each of you. May you who are away from your homes return to them safely. May you ponder the truths you have heard, and may they help you to become even better than you were when conference began two days ago.
Until we meet again in six months’ time, I ask the Lord’s blessings to be upon you and, indeed, upon all of us, and I do so in His holy name—even Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, Amen.