Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, sustained by millions worldwide as prophets and apostles, taught doctrine and principles as they addressed various gospel topics during the 181st semiannual general conference of the Church at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, on October 1-2, 2011.
The President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, President Boyd K. Packer, addressed his message to the youth of the Church. He described how the gospel helped him during the uncertainty of World War II. He then told the youth how it could help them face today’s challenges and temptations, saying, “As a servant of the Lord, I promise that you will be protected and shielded from the attacks of the adversary if you will heed the promptings that come from the Holy Spirit.”
Elder L. Tom Perry encouraged members of the Church to share the gospel in person and online by boldly testifying of Christ and being a righteous example to others. “If you will respond to invitations to share your beliefs and feelings about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said, “A spirit of love and a spirit of courage will be your constant companion[s].”
Elder Russell M. Nelson taught about the power of being a covenant-keeping people. He enumerated the blessings received by those who keep their covenants, saying, “When we realize that we are children of the covenant, we know who we are and what God expects of us. His law is written in our hearts. He is our God and we are His people. Committed children of the covenant remain steadfast, even in the midst of adversity. When that doctrine is deeply implanted in our hearts, even the sting of death is soothed and our spiritual stamina is strengthened.”
Elder Dallin H. Oaks encouraged members to decide to follow the Savior and to focus on eternal life. “Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten and Beloved Son of God,” Elder Oaks testified. “He is our Creator. He is the Light of the World. He is our Savior from sin and death. This is the most important knowledge on earth, and you can know this for yourself.”
Elder M. Russell Ballard said it is important to use the Church’s full name to help those not of our faith to understand that we follow Christ. “Surely it would be easier for them to understand that we believe in and follow the Savior if we referred to ourselves as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Elder Ballard said. “In this way those who hear the name Mormon will come to associate that word with our revealed name and with the people who follow Jesus Christ.”
Elder Richard G. Scott reminded listeners that although the challenges all people face during their mortal probation can, at times, be almost overpowering, Heavenly Father has provided tools that can be used to overcome these challenges. He named the scriptures as one of these tools, saying, “The scriptures provide the strength of authority to our declarations when they are cited correctly. They can become stalwart friends that are not limited by geography or calendar. They are always available when needed. Their use provides a foundation of truth that can be awakened by the Holy Ghost. Learning, pondering, searching, and memorizing scriptures is like filling a filing cabinet with friends, values, and truths that can be called upon anytime, anywhere in the world.”
Elder Robert D. Hales encouraged the faithful to wait upon the Lord, explaining that means to stay steadfast even as one anticipates solace in and deliverance from trials. “The purpose of our life on earth is to grow, develop, and be strengthened through our own experiences,” he said.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland stressed the need for missionaries who can assist in the battle for the souls of men. Speaking during the priesthood session, he said, “From every man, young and old, who bears the priesthood, I ask for a stronger and more devoted voice, a voice not only against evil and him who is the personification of it, but a voice for good, a voice for the gospel, a voice for God. Brethren of all ages, unbind your tongues and watch your words work wonders in the lives of those ‘who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it.’”
Elder David A. Bednar urged the youth of the Church to experience the spirit of Elijah by seeking out their ancestors and providing saving ordinances of the gospel for them. “Family history is not simply an interesting program or activity sponsored by the Church," he said. "Rather, it is a vital part of the work of salvation and exaltation. You have been prepared for this day and to build up the kingdom of God. You are here upon the earth now to assist in this glorious work.”
Elder Quentin L. Cook shared principles that will help those who are dealing with trials and tragedies. He said faith in Heavenly Father’s plan and in the Savior’s Atonement can help us make it through difficult times. "Among the most frequently asked questions of Church leaders are: Why does a just God allow bad things to happen, especially to good people? Why are those who are righteous and in the Lord’s service not immune from such tragedies?" Elder Cook said.
"While we do no know all the answers, we do know important principles that allow us to face tragedies with faith and confidence that there is a bright future planned for each of us," he said.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson spoke of the necessity of repentance. “Pretending there is no sin does not lessen its burden and pain,” he said. “Suffering for sin does not by itself change anything for the better. Only repentance leads to the sunlit uplands of a better life. And, of course, only through repentance do we gain access to the atoning grace of Jesus Christ and salvation. Repentance is a divine gift, and there should be a smile on our faces when we speak of it. It points us to freedom, confidence, and peace.”
Elder Neil L. Andersen testified of the great blessings of bearing children. “It is a crowning privilege of a husband and wife who are able to bear children to provide mortal bodies for these spirit children of God,” he said. “We believe in families, and we believe in children. When a child is born to a husband and wife, they are fulfilling part of our Heavenly Father’s plan to bring children to earth.”