I feel it a great honor, brothers and sisters, to share with you a few moments in this the last session of this inspired conference. I am sure, as we have listened to the messages of our brethren during these various sessions, we can’t help but feel a deep appreciation in our hearts that the Lord saw fit to institute in his restored church the practice of holding conferences.
Just think of the inspiring counsel and advice we have had here to help us put our own lives in order, the lives of our loved ones, of our families, and of the young people. It has taught us how to treat our neighbors and friends, and in all that has been said here today, we have learned of the responsibilities that are ours in the political affairs in which we should participate in our own communities.
We have just listened to this lovely song, so beautifully rendered by our choir, “Oh, How Lovely Was the Morning.” Just think, that is the most important message to go out to all the world today. In President Smith’s opening address he said, “The Lord’s work shall triumph. No power on earth can prevent the spread of truth and the preaching of the gospel in every nation.”
In the general priesthood meeting last night he added, “The gospel shall roll forth until it shall fill the whole earth.” If the gospel is going to roll forth and fill the whole earth, what a responsibility we Latter-day Saints have, with our families, in helping it to roll forth into all the earth. There is no message in this world today that could be told that would be as valuable to our neighbors and our friends who are not members of this church as to bear witness of this great event, about which the choir has just sung.
I think of the words of the apostle Peter of old. He said to the saints of his day:
“… ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; [Why?] that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” (1 Pet. 2:9.)
We have been admonished in this conference to let our light so shine, as Jesus said, that others seeing our good works may be led to glorify our Father which is in heaven. (See Matt. 5:16.)
Paul tells us: “… faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10:17.)
“… and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? …” (Rom. 10:14–15.)
Therefore, there rests upon this people the great responsibility of bearing witness to the entire world of what the Lord has done in restoring his truth to the earth in this dispensation.
When Jesus was asked by his disciples for the sign of his second coming, you will recall he told them about the wars and rumors of wars, and pestilence, and earthquakes, and famine, and that nation should rise against nation. And then he added:
“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matt. 24:14.)
Where would one look today to find that gospel of the kingdom that Jesus referred to? Not according to man’s interpretation of the scriptures, but where the divine power rests, such as Jesus gave to his Twelve when he said:
“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you. …” (John 15:16.)
“… and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven. …” (Matt. 16:19.)
Anybody could organize a church and take from the scriptures certain passages and base their church upon that, but how can they take a living branch from a dead tree? How can they put in it the power and the authority to act in the name of the Lord?
They couldn’t do that any more than they could act for the mayor of the city, the governor of the state, or the president of the United States, without being duly commissioned so to do. Neither can any work effectively in the kingdom of our Father in heaven unless they have divine authority given to them by those who have the right to so convey it.
And so we stand here as witnesses of the restoration of the gospel and bear our witness to all the world that we do know that Christ lives, that our Father lives, that they have visited this earth. As was sung in that song about the Prophet Joseph, he announced that in answer to his inquiry as to which of all the churches he should join, he was told he should join none of them, for they taught for doctrines the commandments or precepts of men.
I think if people were just open-minded, it wouldn’t be so hard for them to know where to find the truth. Of course, we take the Bible as our guide to help us in our search for the truth. I have always been greatly impressed by the experience that Elder Orson F. Whitney had. He was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, and he related this in one of our conferences. I would like to read it to you. He said:
“Many years ago a learned man, a member of the Roman Catholic Church, came to Utah and spoke from the stand of the Salt Lake Tabernacle. I became well-acquainted with him, and we conversed freely and frankly. A great scholar, with perhaps a dozen languages at his tongue’s end, he seemed to know all about theology, law, literature, science and philosophy. One day he said to me: ‘You Mormons are all ignoramuses. You don’t even know the strength of your own position. It is so strong that there is only one other tenable in the whole Christian world, and that is the position of the Catholic Church. The issue is between Catholicism and Mormonism. If we are right, you are wrong; if you are right, we are wrong; and that’s all there is to it. The Protestants haven’t a leg to stand on. For, if we are wrong, they are wrong with us, since they were a part of us and went out from us; while if we are right, they are apostates whom we cut off long ago. If we have the apostolic succession from St. Peter, as we claim, there is no need of Joseph Smith and Mormonism; but if we have not that succession, then such a man as Joseph Smith was necessary, and Mormonism’s attitude is the only consistent one. It is either the perpetuation of the gospel from ancient times, or the restoration of the gospel in latter days.’” (LeGrand Richards, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder [Deseret Book Co., 1950], pp. 3–4.)
It seems to me that if people would just think, they must come to the conclusion that this is a correct statement, if they want to find the gospel that Jesus said is the everlasting gospel that should be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations before he would come again to the earth.
One can’t study the holy scriptures without knowing that the prophets have declared an apostasy from the original church. When John the Revelator was banished on the Isle of Patmos, the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him: “Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” (Rev. 4:1.)
Then he showed him all things from the war in heaven to the final winding-up scene, and he showed him the power that would be given to Satan to make war with the saints (and the saints were the followers of Christ in his church); and he said that power was given him over all kindreds and tongues and nations. (See Rev. 13:7.) Why should that be in the holy scriptures if the gospel was to remain upon the earth from the days of St. Peter down to the present time?
Paul was constantly warning the people in his day that they should not look for the coming of Jesus until there should be a falling away, and the man of sin would be revealed. (See 2 Thes. 2:1–4.) And others of the prophets have likewise testified of the day when there should be a famine in the land. The prophet Amos said:
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:
“And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.” (Amos 8:11–12.)
Why? Because it was not upon the earth to be found.
If the gospel were to remain upon the earth, then when the angel of the Lord showed John that Satan would make war with the saints and overcome all kindreds and tongues and nations, he would have had to make an exception for those who still possessed the everlasting gospel. That is a witness that the truth should not be upon the earth at that time.
The scriptures are replete with promises of a restoration in the latter days. I like the statement by Peter following the day of Pentecost, when he said to those who had put to death the Christ:
“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
“And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:
“Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” (Acts 3:19–21.)
If Peter was a prophet of God, we can’t look forward to the second coming of Christ, and neither can the world, without a restitution—and not a reformation. There is a great difference between remodeling an old house and building a new one. As far as I know, in all the missionary work that I have done, there is no other church in this world that claims a restitution of all things, as was spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began.
This event we heard sung by the choir—of the coming of the Father and the Son—was followed by Moroni, a prophet who lived upon this earth 400 years after the time of Christ, and he brought the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated.
John the Baptist, who was beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, returned as a resurrected being and conferred upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery the Aaronic Priesthood, with power to baptize by immersion for the remission of sins. He told them that later the Melchizedek Priesthood would be restored, which would be the power to administer the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Peter, James, and John, the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, who were with him on the Mount of Transfiguration, returned and brought back that Melchizedek Priesthood. Could all the money in the world buy things that would mean as much to the children of our Father in heaven as these events that transpired? And what could come to us individually, and to our families and to our friends and our loved ones, like the coming of these holy messengers?
And that isn’t all. Then there came Elijah the Prophet, of whom Malachi spoke, that were it not for his coming before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming. He said:
“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. 4:6.)
That opened the door for an understanding of the words of the apostle Paul, when he said that the Lord had revealed the mystery of his will unto him:
“That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth. …” (Eph. 1:10.)
We live in the dispensation of the fulness of times, and the coming of Elijah has brought the keys of his mission, and that is why we build these holy temples. That is why we have this great genealogical program, the like of which can’t be found anywhere in all this world. And so the prophets have foreseen the coming of these holy prophets.
John, while he was on the Isle of Patmos, didn’t only see the power that Satan would have to make war with the saints and to reign over them all, but he “saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.” (Rev. 14:6.)
This would not have been necessary if there had been a continuation of the gospel. And then he said: “Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come. …” (Rev. 14:7.) And we live in the day of his judgment.
Then he adds: “… and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” (Rev. 14:7.)
At the time that Joseph Smith had his marvelous vision, there wasn’t a church in the world worshiping the God who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and the fountains of waters, and created man in his own image. They worshiped an essence everywhere present. They described him as being without body, parts, or passions, who sits on the top of a topless throne, and that is about the best explanation of nothing as a person could write. If he doesn’t have a body, how could he speak? How could he hear? How could he understand and talk?
Moses made mention of this when he was leading the children of Israel into the promised land. He told them that they would not remain there long, but that they would be scattered among the nations, and then he said: “And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.” (Deut. 4:28.)
That is the kind of god this world was worshiping at the time Joseph Smith had his marvelous vision.
But Moses saw something more. He saw that in the latter days (and we live in the latter days), if his people would search for him, they should surely find him. (See Deut. 4:29.) And Joseph Smith, answering that admonition in James, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5), went and sought after him, as Moses advised, and he found the true and the living God. We have a testimony to bear to all of the world to this event.
I think of the words of the apostle Paul when he said that he determined to know nothing but Jesus and him crucified. (See 1 Cor. 2:2.) That doesn’t mean that he didn’t know the old prophets or appreciate them, but a new day had come.
The Son of God had come, of whom the prophets had spoken, and then he said: “… for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16.)
In that same sense, we know nothing but the restoration of the gospel, that it was brought by the Son of Man himself, so that there is no separation from the prophets of this dispensation, and woe be unto us if we share not these marvelous truths with the world!
Brothers and sisters, I know that this is the work of God the Eternal Father. It is the greatest movement in all the world today. There isn’t an honest man or an honest woman in this world, who really loves the Lord, who wouldn’t join this church if they would take time to find out what it is and would ask God the Eternal Father, who will not mislead them.
That is my witness and testimony to you, and I leave it in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.