Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, sustained by millions worldwide as prophets, seers, and revelators, taught doctrine and principles as they addressed various gospel topics during the 182nd annual general conference of the Church at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, on March 31-April 1, 2012.
The President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, President Packer spoke about the importance of families and children, saying, “The ultimate end of all activity in the Church is to see a husband and his wife and their children happy at home, protected by the principles and laws of the gospel, sealed safely in the covenants of the everlasting priesthood. Husbands and wives should understand that their first calling—from which they will never be released—is to one another and then to their children.
“One of the great discoveries of parenthood is that we learn far more about what really matters from our children than ever we did from our parents.”
Elder L. Tom Perry spoke about the Book of Mormon and its testimonies of deliverance. He told listeners that the scriptures will deliver us from evil and wickedness, saying, “Prophecies foretelling the life and mission of Jesus Christ promise us the deliverance that He will provide. His Atonement and Resurrection provide for all of us an escape from physical death and, if we repent, an escape from spiritual death, bringing with it the blessings of eternal life. The promises of the Atonement and Resurrection, the promises of deliverance from physical and spiritual death, were declared by God to Moses when He said, ‘For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.’”
Elder Russell M. Nelson talked about the many reasons we have to be grateful. He spoke about the miracle of our bodies and of the plan of salvation, saying, “I thought of some people I know who are just as oblivious to their Creator and their true ‘bread of life.’ They live from day to day without an awareness of God and His goodness unto them.
“How much better it would be if all could be more aware of God’s providence and love and express that gratitude to Him. Ammon taught, ‘Let us give thanks to [God], for he doth work righteousness forever.’ Our degree of gratitude is a measure of our love for Him.”
Elder Dallin H. Oaks spoke of the sacrifice many members make, saying, “Today the most visible strength of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the unselfish service and sacrifice of its members. Prior to the dedication of one of our temples, a Christian minister asked President Gordon B. Hinckley why it did not contain any representation of the cross, the most common symbol of the Christian faith. President Hinckley replied that the symbols of our Christian faith are ‘the lives of our people.’ Truly, our lives of service and sacrifice are the most appropriate expressions of our commitment to serve the Master and our fellowmen.”
Elder M. Russell Ballard spoke about the need to prioritize our lives so that families and living the gospel are our top priorities. He asked listeners to make sure all activities support family duties, saying, “As you seek to live the gospel and doctrine of Christ, the Holy Ghost will guide you and your family. You will have a spiritual GPS to tell you always where you are and where you are going. I bear witness that the resurrected Redeemer of mankind loves all of us, and He has promised if we will follow Him, He will lead us safely back into the presence of our Heavenly Father.”
Elder Richard G. Scott talked about inspiration and revelation. He said that when the experience is crisp, clear, and essential, it’s revelation. If it’s a series of promptings then it’s inspiration. He encouraged those attending general conference to be worthy of and receptive to communication from the Holy Ghost, saying, “One of the great lessons that each of us needs to learn is to ask. Why does the Lord want us to pray to Him and to ask? Because that is how revelation is received.”
“When I am faced with a very difficult matter, this is how I try to understand what to do. I fast. I pray to find and understand scriptures that will be helpful. That process is cyclical. I start reading a passage of scripture; I ponder what the verse means. I pray for inspiration. I then ponder and pray to know if I have captured all the Lord wants me to do. Often more impressions come with increased understanding of doctrine. I have found that pattern to be a good way to learn from the scriptures.”
Elder Robert D. Hales exhorted listeners to remember covenants they have made. He urged them to prepare for the sacrament, to go to the temple and to serve others, saying, “As our spiritual desires increase, we become spiritually self-reliant. How, then, do we help others, ourselves, and our families increase our desires to follow the Savior and live His gospel? How do we strengthen our desires to repent, become worthy, and endure to the end? How do we help our youth and young adults let these desires work in them until they are converted and become true ‘saint[s] through the atonement of Christ’?
“We become converted and spiritually self-reliant as we prayerfully live our commandments—through worthily partaking of the sacrament, being worthy of a temple recommend, and sacrificing to serve others.”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland used the parable of the laborers in the vineyard to encourage members to not envy the blessings of others, and to encourage those who have stayed away from the blessings of the gospel to embrace it now, saying, “If you have made covenants, keep them. If you haven’t made them, make them. If you have made them and broken them, repent and repair them. It is never too late so long as the Master of the vineyard says there is time. Please listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit telling you right now, this very moment, that you should accept the atoning gift of the Lord Jesus Christ and enjoy the fellowship of His labor.”
Elder David A. Bednar told those attending the priesthood session that they need to have both authority and power in the priesthood, saying, “Receiving the authority of the priesthood by the laying on of hands is an important beginning, but it is not enough. Ordination confers authority, but righteousness is required to act with power as we strive to lift souls, to teach and testify, to bless and counsel, and to advance the work of salvation.
“In this momentous season of the earth’s history, you and I as bearers of the priesthood need to be righteous men and effective instruments in the hands of God. We need to rise up as men of God.”
Elder Quentin L. Cook urged those listening to get in tune with the music of faith. He encouraged scripture study and recognized members’ service in the Church, saying, “We acknowledge that there are members who are less interested and less faithful to some of the Savior’s teachings. Our desire is for these members to awaken fully to faith and increase their activity and commitment. God loves all His children. He wants all of them to return to Him. He desires everyone to be in tune with the sacred music of faith. The Savior’s Atonement is a gift for everyone.
“It needs to be taught and understood that we love and respect all of the people that Lehi described. Remember, it is not up to us to judge. Judgment is the Lord’s. President Thomas S. Monson has specifically asked us to have the “courage to refrain from judging others.” He has also asked every faithful member to rescue those who have tasted of the gospel fruit and then have fallen away, as well as those who have not yet found the strait and narrow path. We pray that they will hold to the rod and partake of the love of God, which will fill their ‘soul with exceedingly great joy.’
Elder D. Todd Christofferson spoke about the role of prophets in revealing doctrine, saying, “While there is much we do not yet know, the truths and doctrine we have received have come and will continue to come by divine revelation. In some faith traditions, theologians claim equal teaching authority with the ecclesiastical hierarchy, and doctrinal matters may become a contest of opinions between them. Some rely on the ecumenical councils of the Middle Ages and their creeds. Others place primary emphasis on the reasoning of post-apostolic theologians. … We value scholarship that enhances understanding, but in the Church today, just as anciently, establishing the doctrine of Christ or correcting doctrinal deviations is a matter of divine revelation to those the Lord endows with apostolic authority.”
Elder Neil L. Andersen talked about the importance of living as a disciple of Christ in a world that is becoming more secular. He said that we can follow the Savior by heeding the counsel given in general conference. He said, “I testify that as you love Him, trust Him, believe Him, and follow Him, you will feel His love and approval. As you ask, ‘What thinks Christ of me?’ you will know that you are His disciple; you are His friend. By His grace He will do for you what you cannot do for yourself.”