Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hear the Words of the Prophet

What would you do if you heard that Moses (or any other prophet) had returned and was going to be speaking to the world for two days? Would you make sure you tuned using whatever means possible to listen? What if you knew that Noah was going to tell you how you can better deal with the natural, economic, and spiritual catastrophes of today? What if Paul were going to tell you what you should do today in order to live a happier life and better prepare for what the future holds? What if Peter, James, and John were to offer you comforting words from our Savior and reassure you that you have a Father in Heaven and that He loves you and looks after you? Would you listen? Would you make any sacrifice necessary to hear what they had to say?

“One important way that God shows His love for us is by calling prophets, who are given the priesthood—the power and authority given to man to act in God’s name for the salvation of His children. Prophets learn the gospel of Jesus Christ by revelation. They in turn teach the gospel to others and testify of Jesus Christ as the Savior and Redeemer. The teachings of prophets are found in sacred books called scriptures” (Preach My Gospel, 32).


Prophets, Apostasy, and Patterns

Since the creation of man, God has revealed His will through prophets (see Luke 1:70) for, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, save he revealeth his secrets unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). God called Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and many others to be prophets and their words are recorded in the Old Testament. John the Baptist was called as a prophet to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus Christ. Before Jesus Christ was crucified, He called Peter to be a prophet and lead the church and his words along with the words of the other prophets and apostles are recorded in the New Testament. For the people on the western hemisphere God called prophets whose words are recorded in the Book of Mormon. Indeed, Heavenly Father shows His love for us by calling prophets “that [we] may know to what source [we] may look for a remission of [our] sins” (2 Nephi 25:26; see whole chapter).

Of course, across the ages most people have not and today do not believe or give heed to the words of the prophets. People either individually or as a people reject the prophets. When enough people reject the prophets, this rejection leads to a general apostasy and the Lord ceases to call prophets for a time. The persecution, rejection, and death of Jesus Christ and of His chosen apostles and prophets led to the greatest apostasy in the history of the earth. For almost 2,000 years, God did not call any prophets, gave no one His priesthood authority to perform saving ordinances, and Jesus Christ did not head any Church on the earth. Many people sought after God and they compiled the teachings of the previous prophets into one book called which they called the Bible, meaning library or sacred books. Subsequent generations clung and continue to cling to the teachings of the prophets in the Bible as their only source of knowledge concerning God’s will.

The Great News for Our Day

However, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He called prophets and the wonderful news is that He continues to call prophets in our day. His arms of mercy are extended unto all those who believe in His name. When the circumstances were right, Heavenly Father once again reached out to His children in love. He called a young man named Joseph Smith as a prophet. Through him the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the earth (see Joseph Smith—History 1).

This April marks the 180th anniversary of the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On April 6, 1830, the Church was restored on the earth for the first time since the apostles’ deaths and subsequent general apostasy. God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ called Joseph Smith to be a prophet and They also called twelve apostles. Later, seventies were called and additional church organization was set up, including bishops, priests, teachers, deacons, and patriarchs. The organization of the Church today is as the apostle Paul described it in Ephesians 4:

12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

Following the death of Joseph Smith and with each of the subsequent deaths of the modern-day apostles and prophets, the Lord continues to call new men as prophets and apostles just as in days of old. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is indeed “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Eph 2:20).

General Conference

Let us return to the original question: What would you do if you heard that Moses (or any other prophet) had returned and was going to be speaking to the world for two days? Would you listen? Would you make any sacrifice necessary to hear what they had to say?

There are prophets and apostles in our day! They do speak to us and they are just as much apostles and prophets as Moses, Noah, Paul, Peter, James, and John. They tell us of the will of God. They teach us how we can better deal with the natural, economic, and spiritual catastrophes of today. They teach us what we should do today in order to live a happier life and better prepare for what the future holds. And they absolutely offer comforting words from our Savior and reassurance that we have a Father in Heaven who loves us and looks after us.

The living prophet today is Thomas S. Monson. He has two counselors, Henry B. Eyring and Dieter F. Uchtdorf and together they make up the First Presidency of the Church. There is a Quorum of Twelve Apostles. There are multiple Quorums of Seventies. There is a Presiding Bishopric. These men are called the General Authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The first weekend in April, Saturday and Sunday April 3-4, the General Authorities will speak generally to the world and specifically to the members of the Church. The introduction to this General Conference states that, “members and officers of the Church have come from all areas of the world to receive counsel and instruction from their Church leaders.”

Listening to or watching General Conference is very easy. For most of Utah and Idaho, Conference is broadcast on TV and on the radio. General Conference will also be broadcast to various church buildings across the world. But you can also watch General Conference a couple different ways online.

The counsel and instruction given to us at General Conference from the prophets and apostles is just as sacred and important as the counsel and instruction recorded in the ancient scriptures. What the modern-day prophets and apostles teach is even more relevant to us because they expound on the words of the ancient prophets and teach us how we can apply those teachings in our own lives. The teachings that we receive at General Conference and at any time the prophets speak to us throughout the year are the mind and will of God and help us gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

I love listening to, watching, or otherwise participating in General Conference. I get so excited at the opportunity to listen to a prophet of God. I love the spirit I feel when they speak. The Spirit is always present because “by the Spirit are all things made known unto the prophets, which shall come upon the children of men according to the flesh” (1 Nephi 22:2). The Spirit testifies to any sincere soul within the sound of the prophet’s voice that that which the prophet speaks is the word of God.

Listen to General Conference next weekend. Come, listen to a prophet’s voice. Let the Spirit speak to your heart and testify of truth. Hear what the Lord has to say to you that you may be happy and prepared for what is to come, doing so will only bless your life.

Jeremy


Further readings:

Paul V. Johnson, “The Blessings of General Conference,” Ensign, Nov 2005, 50
Michael F. Watson, “His Servants, the Prophets,” Ensign, May 2009, 106-8
Jeffrey R. Holland, "Prophets in the Land Again," Ensign, Nov 2006, 104-7