Follow the Prophet

2015-06-30 09:00:00 +0000

[This is the transcript of a talk I gave in church on Sunday, June 28, 2015.]

God is our Father and we are his children. His greatest desire is that we, as His children, grow to become like He is. He has prepared a plan, the Plan of Happiness, to accomplish this great work, “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

Every person in this room, every person in this city, every person who has ever been born or who will ever be born, made the choice to come to Earth to participate in this plan. We “sang together, and all the sons [and daughters] of God shouted for joy”.

Because of the fall of Adam, when we are born on Earth we are separated from God. We also pass through a veil of forgetfulness that blocks our memories of the premortal existence.

If we are separated from God, and we cannot remember what we knew before we were born, how then can we follow the Plan of Happiness that we were so excited about?

God our Father established a pattern to teach His children on Earth the Plan of Happiness so that we may return to live with Him. He teaches His plan to a prophet and gives that prophet the authority to teach others in His name.

God has followed this pattern, beginning with Adam, the first man, and continuing through the ages until we come to His prophet today, Thomas S. Monson.

How do we know this? The prophets did not just teach the people around them. They also recorded important revelations, which were handed down through generations as scripture. The scriptures record the beginning of prophets on earth:

And in that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam […]

And in that day 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 Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters.

We know of many ancient prophets because we have the scriptures before us. Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, and others in the Old Testament. Peter, James, John, Paul, and others in the New Testament. Lehi, Nephi, Jacob, Alma, Mormon, Moroni, and others in the Book of Mormon. Even our children know these names.

All these men were chosen by God, taught the Plan of Salvation, and given authority to speak in the name of God.

With the exception of the words of Christ recorded in the New Testament, and a handful of other sacred moments we know of, the majority of what we consider the “word of God” was delivered through a prophet.

We often sing:

Come, listen to a prophetʼs voice, And hear the word of God

The Lord has declared through modern-day revelation:

These words are not of men nor of man, but of me; wherefore, you shall testify they are of me and not of man;

For it is my voice which speaketh them unto you; for they are given by my Spirit unto you, and by my power you can read them one to another; and save it were by my power you could not have them;

Wherefore, you can testify that you have heard my voice, and know my words.

When we hear a prophet speak in the name of the Lord, we can testify that we have heard the voice of the Lord.

Sister Carol F. McConkie, who is currently serving in the Young Women General Presidency, recently taught us the importance of following the prophet. She said:

When we choose to live according to the words of the prophets, we are on the covenant path that leads to eternal perfection.

I am familiar with the sad story of a man who chose not to believe the revelation and counsel given through the prophet. At first, in order to get along with other members of his family, he did appear to follow the prophet. But his obedience proved to be only hollow actions. His heart was just not in it, and he often complained about the inconvenient things the prophet asked him to do.

You may be familiar with this story, too. The manʼs name was Laman.

Laman saw the prophet of God as merely a man, and did not recognize the divine calling and authority given by God to that man.

On the other hand, Laman had a brother that faithfully followed the prophet, doing whatever he was commanded to do. Because Laman did not seek to understand the ways of the Lord, he developed deep feelings of resentment toward his righteous brother, Nephi.

What was the legacy Laman left by not following the prophet? He hated his brother, Nephi, and wanted to kill him. He taught his children to hate the children of Nephi.

And thus [the Lamanites] have taught their children that they should hate [the Nephites], and that they should murder them, and that they should rob and plunder them, and do all they could to destroy them; therefore they have an eternal hatred towards the children of Nephi.

One manʼs choice brought hundreds of years of hatred, war, destruction, and death to generations of his descendants.

Sister McConkie continues:

The Lord [gives us] the opportunity to choose to believe and obey the words of the prophet.

We heed prophetic word even when it may seem unreasonable, inconvenient, and uncomfortable. According to the worldʼs standards, following the prophet may be unpopular, politically incorrect, or socially unacceptable. But following the prophet is always right.

If we are to follow the teachings of the living prophet, perhaps I should give some examples of recent counsel from our prophet today, President Monson. In General Conference just two months ago, he taught us the importance of worshipping in the temple. He said,

Inside this sacred sanctuary, we find beauty and order. There is rest for our souls and a respite from the cares of our lives.

As we attend the temple, there can come to us a dimension of spirituality and a feeling of peace which will transcend any other feeling which could come into the human heart. We will grasp the true meaning of the words of the Savior when He said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. … Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Such peace can permeate any heart – hearts that are troubled, hearts that are burdened down with grief, hearts that feel confusion, hearts that plead for help.

My brothers and sisters, in our lives we will have temptations; we will have trials and challenges. As we go to the temple, as we remember the covenants we make there, we will be better able to overcome those temptations and to bear our trials. In the temple we can find peace.

President Monson also recently admonished us to search the scriptures to learn specifically about the Savior so that we may follow His example:

We, with Jesus, can walk the path of obedience. […] We, like Jesus, can walk the path of service. […] Other instructions given to us by the Savior are at our fingertips, found in the holy scriptures. […] He instructs us to stand up bravely for our beliefs, even when we are ridiculed and persecuted. […] The Saviorʼs example provides a framework for everything that we do, and His words provide an unfailing guide. His path will take us safely home.

We are blessed to live in a glorious time, when the words of the prophets, both ancient and modern, are readily available. We find them in books, in magazines, on our televisions and computers and phones. Do we recognize and truly appreciate this great gift? Bishop Gérald Caussé, the First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric of the Church, said:

There are so many wonders in this world. However, sometimes when we have them constantly before our eyes, we take them for granted. We look, but we donʼt really see; we hear, but we donʼt really listen.

When we look at President Monson, do we really see a prophet of God? When we hear his words, do we really listen? I pray that we will not take the words of the prophets for granted.

We can know for ourselves that the prophets speak the word of God. Sister McConkie taught:

As we prayerfully read and study sacred prophetic word with faith in Christ, with real intent, the Holy Ghost will speak truth to our minds and hearts.

In 2008, when Thomas S. Monson became the president of the Church, I remember receiving a witness from the Holy Ghost that he was a true prophet of God. I felt a feeling of peace in my heart and I knew that I should follow his counsel.

As the years have gone by, I have strived to follow the prophet. My family and I have been blessed for heeding his counsel to hold Family Home Evening regularly, study the scriptures together, serve others, live within our means, and pray often.

With each step of obedience to the words of the Lord as delivered through His prophet, the Spirit of God has quietly confirmed truth to my heart and mind.

As we sing in the hymn, let us

heed the words of truth and light
That flow from fountains pure.

When the prophet speaks, will we be like Laman, or will we be like Nephi? The choice we make today to follow the prophet or not will affect generations to come.

I testify that God speaks through his prophet, Thomas S. Monson. Jesus Christ is at the head of this Church, and He directs the work of salvation through President Monson and those that serve with him.

I testify that I have heard the voice of the Lord through his prophets.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.