We of the Seventy would like to extend a hearty welcome to the brethren who this day were sustained to the five quorums of Seventy.
We are blessed, brothers and sisters, to live in a world filled with almost daily announcements of progress against disease and other threats to mankind. There seems to be a never-ending march of man’s accomplishments in overcoming impediments to a long and healthy life. Most of us have become accustomed to a constant flow of wonders.
Yet, with it all, we are also faced with a relentless onslaught of soul-destroying distractions such as pornography, illegal drug use, and abuse of spouse and children. There is a parade of false philosophies which are trumpeted as new and modern answers to the problems of the world.
The extensive communication resources which the Lord has revealed for our day have, to a large degree, been appropriated for evil purposes. The print media, television and videos, and now the Internet constantly bring into our homes material that will pollute our souls and destroy our lives. Our homes in times past have generally been peaceful havens against the world. To retain that peace now takes an almost unrelenting vigilance.
Yet we have great reason for optimism. We are not left without defense against these wicked elements that would bring us sorrow and despair here and would deny us the joys of eternity hereafter.
“And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).
“This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
“I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:50–51).
He is the answer to the longings of the human heart for certainty. He is the answer to our individual sins and to our sorrows.
He is our protector in a world constantly seeking to solve problems through violence. He is our protector in a world where the minds of so many are filled with evil continually. We, of all people, should look to the future with enthusiasm and optimism. We have His word to direct us, to comfort us, and to give us hope for the future. There is so much that lies ahead of light and purity and virtue; and, in time, violence will disappear, for surely the lamb will lie down with the lion.
The Lord, of course, saw our day. He saw the devastating effects of transgression. And He prophesied that He would provide protection for His people.
He spoke to Enoch of the last days—the days of wickedness and vengeance—and He said:
“And the day shall come that the earth shall rest, but before that day the heavens shall be darkened, and a veil of darkness shall cover the earth; and the heavens shall shake, and also the earth; and great tribulations shall be among the children of men, but my people will I preserve;
“And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men; and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth” (Moses 7:61–62).
Did you note that He said, “Truth will I send forth out of the earth”? To do what? “To bear testimony of mine Only Begotten.”
The Book of Mormon was compiled and translated for our day. It came forth out of the earth as was prophesied to bless and guide the lives of the people of this day. It came in a day and time as the Lord knew it would when the dislocations caused by wickedness would be very intense.
As Moroni concluded the immense work of his father and others, he made a promise that has been shared widely in a multitude of languages. But I fear it has become too commonplace among us. We learn about it in Sunday School, in seminary, in family home evenings, and we even memorize it as missionaries. But today I would ask that you listen as I read this promise as if you had never heard of it.
“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost” (Moro. 10:4).
This is the promise, that our Eternal Father will give us a manifestation of truth—a personal revelation of eternal consequence.
The Book of Mormon was given to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, manifesting Himself unto all nations.
Do not treat lightly the revelations of God. Do not treat lightly this astonishing promise. I bear a solemn testimony to you that this promise has been fulfilled not only in my life but in the lives of hundreds of thousands, even millions, of people.
You will find that when Moroni’s promise is fulfilled and you are given the knowledge that the Book of Mormon is truly the word of God, there will come with it a witness that Jesus is the Christ, the Redeemer and Savior of the world. I have never known an instance where this did not occur. Moreover, I do not believe a violation of this principle will ever take place. A spiritual witness of the Nephite scripture will always bring the certainty of the Savior’s existence.
With that witness borne of the Holy Ghost will come a sure knowledge that Joseph Smith told the truth when he said that he had seen the Father and the Son on that spring morning of 1820.
A knowledge that Jesus Christ lives and is our Redeemer and Savior is worth whatever the cost may be. This is the fulfillment of Moroni’s promise in our lives.
After that, we then through study and prayer can come to know that He has given us life through the Resurrection. We will come to know that He has promised us a quality of life hereafter beyond our capacity to comprehend. We must understand that this testimony comes only through obedience to the principles and ordinances of the gospel.
Read the Book of Mormon. “With a sincere heart [and] real intent,” begin to read. Ponder the words. Often pause and ask your Heavenly Father “if these things are not true.” Continue to read, to ponder, and to ask. It will not be easy reading. There will be roadblocks along the way. Persist.
Approach your Father in Heaven having expelled your prejudices and biases. Leave your heart open to receive the impressions that come from eternal sources. Many inspiring treasures will be revealed to you. There will, in time, come into your heart and mind an assurance that Jesus Christ is the living Son of the living Father. With it will come a knowledge that Joseph Smith is the prophet of the Restoration and that there are apostles and prophets on the earth today. You will come to know with a sure knowledge that President Gordon B. Hinckley is the prophet to the world as well as the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Now I make this promise to those who are investigating the Church, to those who are members but who have lost enthusiasm for the work and are, therefore, in a state of confusion in a world that is in moral chaos. I make this promise to those who through transgression and faithless living are in despair over eternal things.
When this sacred witness comes, our love for Him will increase without bounds; our desire to know of Him will increase. We will sorrow as we read such words as King Benjamin’s prophecy of Him:
“And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.
“And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning” (Mosiah 3:7–8).
Our hearts will overflow with gratitude for His sacrifice in our behalf. This doctrine of personal revelation is not new. This eternal principle has been taught in ages past:
“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
“And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
“He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
“And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
“And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 16:13–17).
After this sacred witness comes, you will see His hand in a thousand things.
“And behold, all things have their likeness, and all things are created and made to bear record of me, both things which are temporal, and things which are spiritual; things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth, and things which are in the earth, and things which are under the earth, both above and beneath: all things bear record of me” (Moses 6:63).
We will find great joy in contemplating His life, and we will shortly realize that in truth all things do bear witness of Him. Furthermore, in the midst of our trials and challenges, we will find peace, knowing that in the end it will be all right. We will find serenity in the face of affliction. We will find this serenity in life even as chaos swirls around us.
Such is the power of a testimony and witness that Jesus is the Christ, the Redeemer, our Advocate with the Father, the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh, the very Savior of the world.
I bear witness of Him. I witness that He lived, He died, He came forth from the tomb a resurrected being, and He has gifted us with resurrection and a promise of an eternal life of joy and fulfillment through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel as revealed anew in our day through living prophets.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.