As I look out over this vast congregation, in my mind’s eye I see not only those present in the Conference Center, but those of you who are participating in this conference in meetinghouses and homes throughout the world. Although you may be near or far away, you are so vital to the work of the Lord and the establishment of the Church where you live.
We are united in our love for God our Eternal Father. We honor His name and that of His Only Begotten Son, the Savior of the world, even Jesus Christ. In this conference, there will be communicated to us—through the power of the Holy Ghost—feelings that will increase our faith in the Father and the Son and our love for the principles of the restored gospel. In turn, those feelings will draw us nearer to Them as we feel Their presence in our lives and desire with all our hearts to know Their will and to become like Them.
My message and testimony to you is that prophets and apostles stand at the head of this work today as it goes forth to all the world. They have been called of God by revelation. They are indeed prophets, seers, and revelators. The Lord loves them, and as members of the Church, we honor them and look to them as servants of the living God. The clarion call of the prophets is as clear today as it ever was in the past, and the testimony of the prophets will continue to the very moment that the Lord Jesus Christ returns to reign in glory.
We live in wonderful but perilous times. Throughout the earth, the fabric of nations and the collective world appears to be deteriorating. We see discord and enmity between leaders and nations, conflicts between communities, and contention within families. The solution to the ills of the world is found in understanding the doctrines and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ and the application of those principles in the lives of every human being. Divine doctrines and teachings have been taught with clarity by prophets, both ancient and modern, as moved upon by the Holy Ghost. As we hear those truths, they are communicated to our hearts and minds by that same Spirit.
As we consider the role of prophets, it is vital to understand that, first, prophets are called of God and He testifies to the world of their calling. The ancient book of Abraham describes an event that occurred in the premortal existence as God looked over the spirits He had created: “And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born” (Abr. 3:23).
Of Samuel, the Old Testament prophet, the scriptures record that “Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan even to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord” (1 Sam. 3:19–20).
The Book of Mormon quotes the Savior in ancient America when He emphasized the value of Isaiah’s Old Testament prophecies:
“And now, behold, I say unto you, that ye ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently; for great are the words of Isaiah.
“For surely he spake as touching all things concerning my people which are of the house of Israel; …
“And all things that he spake have been and shall be, even according to the words which he spake. …
“… Search the prophets, for many there be that testify of these things” (3 Ne. 23:1–3, 5).
Second, the role of prophets is to teach of Christ and testify of His divinity and His mission. Adam, the first prophet, with his wife, Eve, heard the voice of the Lord and initiated the pattern for the dispensations that would follow. Of that momentous event it is recorded that “Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.
“And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.
“And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters” (Moses 5:10–12).
Helaman, an ancient American prophet, taught his sons Nephi and Lehi: “And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall” (Hel. 5:12).
Perhaps the most powerful testimony of the Savior in this dispensation was given in 1832 by the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon:
“And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
“For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—
“That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created” (D&C 76:22–24).
The third characteristic of prophets is that their teachings are recorded and are taught by succeeding prophets and teachers to the inhabitants of the earth. The Lord said to the Old Testament prophet Moses, “Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them” (Ex. 24:12).
The Lord’s living prophets today have given an equally compelling testimony when in 1995 they testified to the world of the sacred nature of marriage and the family:
“We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. …
“We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan. …
“We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Liahona, Oct. 1998, 24; Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102).
Later they also gave their personal witness, as the Lord’s Apostles, to the mission of Jesus Christ:
“We solemnly testify that His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary. He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world. …
“We testify that He will someday return to earth. … He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts” (“The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles,” Liahona and Ensign, Apr. 2000, 2–3).
At their very core, the doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are intended to convey to the soul of every sincere person who will ask of God in faith a personal testimony of our Lord and Savior and the role of the prophets from the dawn of time to this very moment. I testify that the succession of prophets has continued from Joseph Smith, the first prophet of this dispensation, to Gordon B. Hinckley, the Lord’s prophet today. Of that I bear my witness and testimony. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.