I wrote recently about the importance of preparing for LDS General Conference.
As part of that process, I’ve decided to read some of the articles from the April 2011 General Conference.
The other night I read “An Ensign to the Nations” by Elder Holland. I could summarize this article in one simple title:
“Why we have General Conference as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
Some of the highlights I got from this article:
Twenty-five hundred years earlier the prophet Isaiah had declared that in the last days “the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains,” and there “he shall set up an ensign for the nations.”1
…this general conference and the other annual and semiannual versions of it are the continuation of that early declaration to the world.
We testify to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people that God not only lives but also that He speaks, that for our time and in our day the counsel you have heard is, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, “the will of the Lord, … the word of the Lord, … the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.”3
Perhaps you already know (but if you don’t you should) that with rare exception, no man or woman who speaks here is assigned a topic. Each is to fast and pray, study and seek, start and stop and start again until he or she is confident that for this conference, at this time, his or hers is the topic the Lord wishes that speaker to present regardless of personal wishes or private preferences.
Consider the variety of the messages that you hear—all the more miraculous with no coordination except the direction of heaven.
In the course of a general conference, we always stress the eternal verities of faith, hope, charity,4 and Christ crucified5 even as we speak forthrightly on very specific moral issues of the day. We are commanded in the scriptures to “say nothing but repentance unto this generation,”6 while at the same time we are to preach “good tidings [to] the meek … [and] bind up the brokenhearted.” Whatever form they take, these conference messages “proclaim liberty to the captives”7 and declare “the unsearchable riches of Christ.”8
If we teach by the Spirit and you listen by the Spirit, some one of us will touch on your circumstance, sending a personal prophetic epistle just to you. (this reminds me of the scripture in D&C about teaching and listening by the Spirit – D&C 42:14)
Brothers and sisters, in general conference we offer our testimonies in conjunction with other testimonies that will come, because one way or another God will have His voice heard. “I sent you out to testify and warn the people,” the Lord has said to His prophets.15
Now, these mortal angels who come to this pulpit have, each in his or her own way, sounded “the trump of God.” Every sermon given is always, by definition, both a testimony of love and a warning, even as nature herself will testify with love and a warning in the last days.
I love listening to and reading the words of Jeffrey R. Holland. He’s direct, to the point, educated, and testifies lovingly yet boldly.
Other Articles I Like from Elder Holland
- A Testimony, a Covenant, and a Witness
- My Words…Never Cease
- “In general conference last October, I said there were two principal reasons The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is accused, erroneously, of not being Christian. At that time I addressed one of those doctrinal issues—our scripturally based view of the Godhead. Today I would like to address the other major doctrine which characterizes our faith but which causes concern to some, namely the bold assertion that God continues to speak His word and reveal His truth, revelations which mandate an open canon of scripture.”
- “Continuing revelation does not demean or discredit existing revelation. The Old Testament does not lose its value in our eyes when we are introduced to the New Testament, and the New Testament is only enhanced when we read the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. In considering the additional scripture accepted by Latter-day Saints, we might ask: Were those early Christians who for decades had access only to the primitive Gospel of Mark (generally considered the first of the New Testament Gospels to be written)—were they offended to receive the more detailed accounts set forth later by Matthew and Luke, to say nothing of the unprecedented passages and revelatory emphasis offered later yet by John? Surely they must have rejoiced that ever more convincing evidence of the divinity of Christ kept coming. And so do we rejoice.”
- “Thus one of the great purposes of continuing revelation through living prophets is to declare to the world through additional witnesses that the Bible is true. “This is written,” an ancient prophet said, speaking of the Book of Mormon, “for the intent that ye may believe that,” speaking of the Bible. 8 In one of the earliest revelations received by Joseph Smith, the Lord said, “Behold, I do not bring [the Book of Mormon forth] to destroy [the Bible] but to build it up.” 9
- “With a love and affection born of our Christianity, we invite all to inquire into the wonder of what God has said since biblical times and is saying even now.”
- “In a sense Joseph Smith and his prophetic successors in this Church answer the challenge Ralph Waldo Emerson put to the students of the Harvard Divinity School 170 years ago this coming summer. To that group of the Protestant best and brightest, the great sage of Concord pled that they teach “that God is, not was; that He speaketh, not spake.” 15 “
- “In our heartfelt devotion to Jesus of Nazareth as the very Son of God, the Savior of the world, we invite all to examine what we have received of Him, to join with us, drinking deeply at the “well of water springing up into everlasting life,” 16 these constantly flowing reminders that God lives, that He loves us, and that He speaks. I express the deepest personal thanks that His works never end and His “words … never cease.””
I shared this last article on my Facebook status as follows: “RELIGIOUS STATUS UPDATE: “Are Mormons Christian? Why do some say they are not?” This article from Jeffrey R. Holland answers these questions really clearly:…”
My intent with sharing things like this in social media is only to educate and hopefully help others see that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do believe and worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That only in Him and through Him can we be saved.
I am grateful for the words of the prophets, both ancient and modern. I know that prophets exist today to guide us and direct us through tumultuous times. I look forward to conference on Saturday and Sunday and plan to take notes.