My beloved brothers and sisters, it is a joy to be with you today in this special sacrament meeting. I would venture to say that this may be the largest sacrament meeting held in Nauvoo since the 1840s. There is a special and sacred spirit in this lovely community. We appreciate the faithful Saints who live here and who continue to set the example of gospel living taught by our Savior and exemplified through the life and mission of Joseph Smith, who founded this city.
As I have contemplated the foundation laid by the early Saints, I have reviewed with reverence the sacrifice and devotion which they showed for the cause of truth. The pillars of their faith are still resident with us as a people today. We, like the early Saints, believe and testify, as the first pillar of our faith, that the Prophet Joseph Smith did indeed see the Father and the Son in the grove of trees in the spring of 1820. Said he, “I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me” (JS—H 1:25). To those who questioned his experience, Joseph wrote, “Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and … why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it” (ibid.).
We share with our early brothers and sisters a witness and testimony of the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ. This represents the second pillar of our faith. It is through reading and studying the Book of Mormon, and prayerfully seeking confirmation of its contents, that we receive a testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that the Church of Jesus Christ has been restored to the earth. How thankful we are for the efforts of President Ezra Taft Benson in encouraging us to read and study this sacred book.
Through the instrumentality of the Prophet Joseph and the visitation of heavenly messengers, the sacred and holy priesthood was restored to the earth. This represents the third pillar of our faith. Without the holy priesthood, exaltation would not be possible inasmuch as the necessary ordinances and covenants come through the use of that sacred power. The history of the Church is replete with examples, both in the early days of our people up to and including today, of the blessings of the restored priesthood in our individual lives. I venture to say there is not one among us today who has not been blessed in some way through the righteous exercise of the priesthood.
Lastly, there comes the pillar of faith related to salvation for the dead. The temple and its ordinances became Joseph’s chief concern in Nauvoo. Here he wrote to the Saints, “It may seem to some to be a very bold doctrine that we talk of—a power which records or binds on earth and binds in heaven. Nevertheless, in all ages of the world, whenever the Lord has given a dispensation of the priesthood to any man by actual revelation, … this power has always been given” (D&C 128:9). Further, he wrote concerning the salvation of the dead that “they without us cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect” (D&C 128:15). Joseph was determined to see the temple completed here in Nauvoo. While the physical completion of the temple occurred after his martyrdom, the groundwork laid by the Prophet and the keys and authority given to the Twelve, including instruction regarding the ordinances of the temple, laid the foundation for the numerous temples which now dot the whole earth.
May we each live our lives in such a way as to be worthy to receive a temple recommend and enter into the temple to provide opportunity for salvation for the dead and for the personal blessings of temple worship which will come into our lives.
I pray our Heavenly Father’s blessings upon each of you for your devotion and faith. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.