My beloved brothers and sisters, as we begin this conference, I desire publicly to thank the Lord for preserving me once again—as He has done so many times before. I extend my love and gratitude to all of you for the many prayers that you have offered in my behalf.
I am so grateful to have such loyal, devoted, and able counselors in the First Presidency—President Tanner, President Romney, and President Hinckley. I am grateful, too, for President Benson and the members of the Council of the Twelve and the other General Authorities. These wonderful and faithful Brethren lead out so that the Lord’s work goes forward. It is His work, and He is at the helm.
Even though my strength will not permit me to do all that I would like at the moment, I am blessed and I will continue to do my part to the best of my ability. I wish I had more strength, but as long as I have any strength, I will continue to bear my testimony to the truth of this great latter-day work and to pray for the Lord’s blessings and His guidance to be upon us all!
I am so thankful to be here with you in this general conference. My feelings are those of gratitude to my Heavenly Father for giving me a part to play in His kingdom as it rolls onward to its divine destiny.
It was exactly one year ago that I last attended conference here in the Tabernacle. As you may know, I was in the hospital at the time of the October 1981 conference. Last April I stated that the mission of the Church is threefold:
First, to proclaim the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people;
Secondly, to perfect the Saints by preparing them to receive the ordinances of the gospel and by instruction and discipline to gain exaltation;
Thirdly, to redeem the dead by performing vicarious ordinances of the gospel for those who have lived on the earth. (See Ensign, May 1981, p. 5.)
All three are part of one work—to assist our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ, in their grand and glorious mission “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39.) I renew that declaration today.
Let us keep these sacred principles in mind and make them an integral part of our lives: that is, to proclaim the gospel, to perfect the Saints, and to redeem the dead.
We are grateful for the growth of the Church throughout the world, as we now have reached the five million mark in membership. As I have said before, if we will do our part there will be major growth, not only in numbers, but in the righteousness of our people.
With the announcement just made of the plans to build four more new temples—one in Boise, Idaho; another in Denver, Colorado; another in Taipei, Taiwan; and in Guayaquil, Ecuador—there continues the most intensive period of temple building in the history of the Church. These four, when completed, will bring to forty-one the number of temples operating worldwide.
The building of these temples must be accompanied by an ever stronger emphasis on genealogical research on the part of all the members of the Church. Furthermore, implicit in the building of temples is the principle of regular temple attendance by the Saints. Nothing builds spirituality and our understanding of the priesthood principles more than regular temple attendance.
Now, my brothers and sisters, as you read of troubles in so many parts of the world, remember that the Lord knew these problems would come, and that even with these problems He has foreseen the growth of this Church and its people. Be of good cheer, for the Lord is guiding His church. For nearly forty years as a General Authority, I have watched Him guide this church. I marvel at how He can work to bring to pass His purposes by using us in our weaknesses, but He does!
Love one another, brothers and sisters! Have love in your homes and in your hearts! Be peacemakers even though we must live in a world filled with wars and rumors of wars! (See D&C 45:26.) Follow the counsel you will receive in this general conference. And I’ll do my best to do likewise. Trust the Lord and His unfolding purposes even when His purposes are not always completely clear to us at the moment.
Brothers and sisters, be good member missionaries. Follow the Brethren. Study the new editions of the scriptures. Plant your gardens. Clean up, paint up, fix up your homes and your yards. Live within your means. Be good neighbors. Be good citizens in whatever land you live. Keep the Sabbath day holy. (See Ex. 20:8.) Hold your family home evenings regularly every Monday night. These are my words of counsel to you now, as they have been so many times in the past.
Brothers and sisters, pray for the critics of the Church; love your enemies. (See Matt. 5:44.) Use wisdom and judgment in what you do and say, so that we do not give cause to others to hold the Church or its people in disrepute. This work, which Satan seeks in vain to tear down, is that which God has placed on earth to lift mankind up!
When this conference is over, let us return to our homes, our stakes and wards and branches with fresh determination to do better and to be better. The Lord watches over you. He will see you through your personal trials and challenges if you will stay close to Him. I can testify to that as one who has known a few challenges himself.
The Lord has not promised us freedom from adversity and affliction. Instead, he has given us the avenue of communication known as prayer, whereby we might humble ourselves and seek His help and divine guidance. I have previously said that “they who reach down into the depths of life where, in the stillness, the voice of God is heard, have the stabilizing power which carries them poised and serene through the hurricane of difficulties.” (Ensign, Jan. 1974, p. 17.)
Now, I have lived for more than half the 152 years the restored Church has been upon the earth in this dispensation. I have witnessed its marvelous growth until it now is established in the four corners of the earth. As the Prophet Joseph said:
“Our missionaries are going forth to different nations, and in Germany, Palestine, New Holland, Australia, the East Indies, and other places, the Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done.” (History of the Church, 4:540.)
Let us, then, press on confidently in the work of the Lord as we look forward to the glorious years of promise ahead. Through our faithfulness, all that God has promised will be fulfilled.
Again, I express my love for the Lord, for my wife and family, for my Brethren, and for each of you. I feel your love, and I hope that you feel mine in return. I leave my blessings with you. God, our Heavenly Father, lives. Jesus is the Christ, the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh. He lives. He is our Elder Brother, our Savior, and our Redeemer. This is my solemn testimony to you, my beloved brothers and sisters, and I share it with you in love and in gratitude and in humility, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.