Posted by: 2thdocbob | 20 January 2019

Following the Living Prophet Through Continuing Revelation

I spoke today in my home ward and felt the guidance of the Spirit as I prepared for this one. That made it a humbling experience for me. The Stake Presidency was in attendance in our meeting, which also made it humbling. I am grateful for the privilege and responsibility that I enjoy as a High Councilor to speak regularly.


Dear brothers and sisters, I am thankful to be here with you today, to worship our Heavenly Father on this beautiful Sabbath morning. I hope you heard the birds singing this morning. It’s a reminder to me that the Lord is still at work in the world.

I bring you love and greetings from President Garvin and his counselors. They pray for you and are aware of many of your concerns.

Brother Ashton and I are here today by assignment from the Stake Presidency.

I pray for the guidance of the Spirit as I speak, so that each of us may understand what the Lord would have us learn.

In Primary, I learned a great truth: “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”[1]

In Seminary, additional truths were added that made a deep impression on me. One of these was in the Doctrine and Covenants. “If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.”[2]

In the chorus of a beloved hymn, we sing

“Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with him someday.”[3]

What is the common thread here? I believe it is the doctrine of revelation. The 9th Article of Faith declares our belief in continuing revelation, Section 42 contains the promise of personal revelation, and I Am A Child of God reminds us of our need for personal revelation.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of revelation. It was established in our day with a glorious revelation of God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ to the boy Joseph Smith. The restoration of the gospel came by revelation through Joseph Smith and subsequent prophets, and it continues today under President Russell M. Nelson, our living prophet.

When we look at these great revelations and these great revelators, we may be tempted to ask ourselves why we need personal revelation when these prophets are here to guide us. I think that is a fair question.

Do we need personal revelation? And if so, why is it important to us?

To me, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” We need personal revelation more than ever.

The prophets of our dispensation have taught some important principles concerning revelation.

Joseph Smith said:

“We believe that we have a right to revelations, visions, and dreams from God, our heavenly Father; and light and intelligence, through the gift of the Holy Ghost, in the name of Jesus Christ, on all subjects pertaining to our spiritual welfare; if it so be that we keep his commandments, so as to render ourselves worthy in his sight.”[4]

“It is the privilege of the children of God to come to God and get revelation. … God is not a respecter of persons; we all have the same privilege.”[5]

Pres. Nelson, in April Conference last year, gave us this memorable counsel:

“In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.

“My beloved brothers and sisters, I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation. … Choose to do the spiritual work required to enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost and hear the voice of the Spirit more frequently and more clearly.

“If we are to have any hope of sifting through the myriad of voices and the philosophies of men that attack truth, we must learn to receive revelation.”[6]

Not only are we entitled to personal revelation within our own stewardships; we are obligated to seek it. This is a principle of personal revelation.

However, we are only entitled to revelation within our own stewardships. What are our stewardships?

Brigham Young offered this comment:

“There is no doubt, if a person lives according to the revelations given to God’s people, he may have the Spirit of the Lord to signify to him his will, and to guide and to direct him in the discharge of his duties, in his temporal as well as his spiritual exercises. I am satisfied, however, that in this respect, we live far beneath our privileges.[7]

Think of that, brothers and sisters, we could be receiving much more direction from the Lord than we are now. We must simply be willing to do the work, as President Young and President Nelson instructed.

So, our stewardships are our temporal and our spiritual duties. They include

  1. Ourselves;
  2. Our employment and volunteer activities;
  3. Our families;
  4. Those to whom we minister, while respecting their stewardships;
  5. Our callings and assignments, within the bounds designated by our file leaders and the Lord.

There are limitations placed on our stewardships. My stewardship over my family is a shared stewardship with my dear companion. Our temple covenants make this clear. I would be a poor steward without her inspiration.

Although I have been called to counsel with the Bishop and with our Elder’s Quorum Presidency, and to counsel with our Stake Presidency, I recognize that they hold the keys for our ward and our stake. Because of these keys, I can advise, but not direct them in their responsibilities. I do not have the right to receive revelation for them.

And I am certainly not entitled to receive revelation on matters of Church doctrine or policy. Only one person has that right at any given time. As soon as we begin to think otherwise, we no longer stand in holy places, but are on shaky ground.

Remember, President Nelson told us that we need to develop our ability to receive personal revelation. He promised us that “Through the manifestations of the Holy Ghost, the Lord will assist us in all our righteous pursuits.”[8]

Elder Rasband stated that “The Holy Ghost binds us to the Lord.” Isn’t that what we really need? Don’t we want to bound more securely to the Savior?

What revelation do we need in our lives? Let me suggest six areas as a starting point.

  1. Revelations leading to testimony.

You have certainly received some of these revelations.

We are familiar with Joseph Smith’s experiences; we are familiar with Moroni’s promise, in which he counsels us to “ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true;” and he promises if we “shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto [us], by the power of the Holy Ghost.”[9]

If we follow this formula, not only will we gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon, but also a testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ and his atonement. Indeed, we may receive a revelatory witness from the Spirit regarding any and all doctrines and principles of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Moroni testified that “by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”[10]

  1. Revelations to assist in making important decisions.

President Nelson, in speaking of his own family, said “Each of these blessings has come as a result of seeking and heeding the promptings of the Holy Ghost.”[11]

Over the years, many of the apostles have echoed this sentiment as they spoke of their decisions to marry their wives in the temple.

I have sought the Lord’s direction many times in my life. Most noteworthy was when I felt that I needed Heidi in my life and asked for the Lord’s guidance. The Lord has also given me guidance in choices regarding schooling, career opportunities, and even a career change. He has directed us in countless other decisions, large and small. I know he will provide direction, if we ask.

  1. Revelations to help guide loved ones.

In our study of Come, Follow Me this year, we have already seen how Joseph received revelations that blessed his family.

An angel told him in a dream that he should take Mary as his wife; he was warned by an angel in a dream to take Mary and her son into Egypt; and he was warned once again by an angel to go to Nazareth in Galilee. His obedience to these revelations blessed his young family.

As parents and grandparents, our children and grandchildren are a significant part of our stewardship.  However, we must respect their agency, especially as adults.

Heidi has always been better at this than I have been. Even when our children were young, she helped them to seek the Lord’s guidance in deciding whether to have a surgery, for example. Because of her inspired guidance, they learned early to “counsel with the Lord in all [their] doings,” and they received his directions for good.[12]

They have been blessed beyond measure because they learned to rely on the Lord. I have been blessed as well.

  1. Revelations leading to repentance and forgiving.

Why do I mention this one? Because these revelations have been important in my life.

If we are open to the Spirit, the Lord will reveal to us the things we need to repent of. Sometimes that revelation comes through our spouses or children. This kind of revelation is not always easy to accept.

I have also experienced instances in my life where the Lord revealed to me that I needed to forgive certain individuals. This was also difficult, but it led to some choice spiritual experiences in my life. I am grateful that I have been directed to utilize the Atonement of Jesus Christ in both repenting and forgiving.

  1. Revelations regarding our callings.

I testify to you that our leaders are inspired of God in issuing callings to us. I have seen inspiration at work many, many times in the various councils I have participated in.

If we are called by inspiration, why shouldn’t we use inspiration in fulfilling our callings?

Many of the Sections in the Doctrine and Covenants came because early members came to Joseph Smith to learn God’s will for them.

The Lord is eager to inspire us to help us to magnify our callings. You have felt this as you seek to magnify your callings; I have felt it in connection with my callings. Sometimes these promptings come after much prayer and effort; other times, they come spontaneously. It may be revelation on how to teach a particular gospel truth, or on how to reach an individual in a class or quorum. The Lord is eager to provide assistance.

Most importantly, in our roles as ministering brothers and sisters, we cannot properly fulfill our responsibilities and change lives without revelation. A committed, effective, ministering brother or sister will be praying for the Lord’s guidance to bring their brother or sister closer to the Savior. Many of you have experienced this as you have served.

  1. Revelations when preparing and giving talks. 

Have you ever prepared a talk that just seemed to write itself? That has become a common but much appreciated experience for me as I have served as a High Councilor. At other times, I have had to struggle to know what the Lord would like me to say. Either way, I have come to trust in the Lord’s willingness to help. If I humbly seek to deliver the message he wants me to deliver, he will guide me to say what he wants me to say.

And honestly, we should all be preparing to listen to the talks every week, so we can reap the benefits of being at church.

As we listen to the speakers in our meetings, we frequently have insights given us by the Holy Ghost. Interestingly, most of these insights have little to do with the words being spoken, and more to do with the spirit that we and the speakers invite into our meetings.

And this is why reverence before sacrament meeting is so important. We all need this revelation. We all have the right to ponder quietly before the meeting in preparation to receive the promptings that are vital to us. We all have the responsibility to allow others to enjoy this quiet communion with the Spirit before our meetings.

Of course, there are many other areas of our lives where we need revelation, information from someone far wiser than we.

We often think of the temple as a house of revelation, and it should be for all of us. But the chapel should also be a place of revelation. And our homes should be just as sacred. We should stand in holy places and make the places holy where we stand.

Isaiah counseled us to:

“Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:

“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon”.[13]

The Lord counseled Moses:

“But if … thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.”[14]

We are commanded to seek the Lord, and we are given the wonderful promise that if we seek him, he will reveal himself to us, if we seek him sincerely.

I believe very strongly that when we seek the Lord, and when we counsel with him in our doings, it should be with the desire to know his will, not to justify our own will.

Nor will the Lord force his will on us. In the hymns, we sing–or perhaps not; I have only sung this once in 60 years—the following:

“He’ll call, persuade, direct aright,
And bless with wisdom, love, and light,
In nameless ways be good and kind,
But never force the human mind.”[15]

This is the revelation we seek as we strive to follow the prophet.

I testify that God lives, and that he does reveal his mind and will to his children on earth.

I testify that Russell M. Nelson is his living prophet on earth today, and that he receives direction for the church and for the world, from our Heavenly Father.

And I know that when we receive personal revelation from our Heavenly Father, we will be enabled to follow the prophet with greater faith. God wants us to receive that revelation, I testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

[1] Articles of Faith 9.

[2] Doctrine and Covenants 42:61.

[3] Randall, NW, I Am A Child of God, Hymns, 301.

[4] Letter from Joseph Smith to Isaac Galland, Mar. 22, 1839, Liberty Jail, Liberty, Missouri, published in Times and Seasons, Feb. 1840, p. 54.

[5] Discourse given by Joseph Smith about July 1839 in Commerce, Illinois; reported by Willard Richards, in Willard Richards, Pocket Companion, pp. 75, 78–79, Church Archives.

[6] Nelson, RM, Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives, April 2018 General Conference, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2018/04/revelation-for-the-church-revelation-for-our-lives?lang=eng

[7] Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. and arr. by John A. Widtsoe, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1973, p. 32; emphasis added.

[8] Nelson, RM, Ibid.

[9] The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Moroni 10:4.

[10] Op. cit. Moroni 10:5. Italics mine.

[11] Nelson, RM, op. cit.

[12] Op. cit. Alma 37:37.

[13] KJV, Isaiah 55:6-7.

[14] KJV, Deuteronomy 4:29.

[15] Anonymous, Know This, That Every Soul Is Free, Hymns, 240.

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