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Christoffel Golden Jr.|Feb. 8, 2011 In preparing my remarks for today, I could not help remembering a recent experience of mine. Some months ago, I enjoyed the privilege of presiding at a stake conference alongside Elder Donald J. Keyes, one of our noble Area Seventies. During the course of the Saturday evening session—often one of the highlights of a stake conference—we were required to adjust our program at short notice because of the inclusion of some additional speakers. In view of the fact that a duet, sung by a young couple, was to be moved in the program to follow Elder Keyes’s remarks and precede mine, I accordingly quietly whispered the proposed change in the program to him. After doing so, it was quickly apparent that he had not fully grasped what I had just said, which required me to repeat my message a second time. Unfortunately, this time, and to my dismay, his lack of understanding was now amplified by a look of incredulity and utter disbelief. Realizing now that I had somehow failed in my attempt to clearly convey the change in our program, I repeated my message in a manner that could not be mistaken: I said, and this time more clearly and slowly than I had done previously, but with some added emphasis, “Don, the duet will be sung between you and me!” This time my message hit the mark, for now his incredulity and disbelief were replaced by a nervous giggle and a hint of terror. I then reviewed carefully in my mind what I had just said and at last realized my terrible error: When I had said, “The duet will be sung between us,” he had taken my words literally. In other words, he had understood that the duet would be sung by the two of us! I am pleased to reassure all of you here today that neither I, nor President Samuelson, have any intention of singing any duet, anywhere, at anytime, to anyone! My beloved brothers and sisters, it is truly a rare privilege to be in your presence today. As I speak, our children and their families are viewing this broadcast in our home, back in South Africa, where it is just after eight o’ clock in the evening. Just think about the power of modern technology! One day, when I am released from this calling, Diane and I expect to sit alongside our children in our home in Featherbrooke, South Africa, and continue to enjoy the blessings of these great gatherings via satellite broadcast. I am pleased to convey the love and greetings of the First Presidency to you. Alongside your parents and loved ones, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, as stewards of the keys of the kingdom of God, have a deep interest in you and an abiding faith in your progress and development. When one considers the glorious work of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, nothing surpasses in importance and power the restoration of a true knowledge and understanding of God the Eternal Father and His Son, our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. In the world in which we
Rollin H. Hotchkiss|Dec. 8, 2009 I testify that God, our Heavenly Father, loves each of you. He knows your name. He knows your circumstances. He hears your prayers and wants to bless you in every righteous desire through His Son, Jesus Christ. Like Alma, “I testify unto you that I do know that these things . . . are true. . . . They are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God” (Alma 5:45–46). I know these things because of my own journey. And if Heavenly Father loves me and knows of me—since He is no respecter of persons—He loves you as well. My purpose today is to share with you five facets of my testimony that show God loves us. These are simple and quite personal. I pray that your testimony of God’s love for you will grow as you think of your own experiences and that together we may receive the “word of truth” through the Holy Ghost (D&C 50:17). I hope that as I speak, you will contemplate the many ways that God loves you. As I conclude today, I will ask you a question: “So what are you going to do?” First: I testify that God loves us because He grants unto us the revelator known as the Holy Ghost. It was October of 1972, a clear and sunny Sunday. I was a freshman at BYU. I rode my bicycle up Provo Canyon to Upper Falls. There I contemplated what in the world I was doing here. You see, I came to BYU as a nonmember. Why? Well, several friends at high school were going to BYU, and they simply invited me along. I applied to BYU, and when my parents and I visited campus, coming from smoggy and dry Southern California, we were sold. I knew very little about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints except that they didn’t smoke or drink. I had arrived on campus a week or so early to attend a late summer honors program. There I met my first roommate, Rahn Price. After a long day we were ready to go to sleep in our room in Deseret Towers (may they rest in peace). Then something unusual happened. Rahn rolled out of bed, knelt at his bedside, and prayed silently. I didn’t know what to do. I was quite astonished. I finally said my own prayer: Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep; Should I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen. I was done well before he was. Much later, Rahn said that was the most awkward prayer he had ever said. However, I’m grateful that he did say that prayer. As the semester began, I learned about agency from a Book of Mormon teacher named Bruce Hafen. I learned of the Atonement. Although I had grown up in a Christian church and was raised by “goodly parents” (1 Nephi 1:1), these concepts were certainly deeper than the wading pool of doctrine I had grown up with. Once the semester began, my friends in Helaman Halls invited me to church, but I respectfully declined. They did not pester me or make me feel out of place. On Sundays I would just do my ow
Andrew C. Skinner|Apr. 11, 2006 Several years ago, during a challenging and hectic period in my life, I read a statement by President Brigham Young that has meant a great deal to me ever since. He said: When you . . . see our Father, you will see a being with whom you have long been acquainted, and He will receive you into His arms, and you will be ready to fall into His embrace and kiss Him. . . . You will be so glad and joyful. . . . When you are qualified and purified, . . . you can endure the glory of eternity. [JD 4:54–55] How blessed we are to know what President Young taught us about our Heavenly Father—what kind of a being He is, what He is really like. How many people over the space of thousands of years have not even known that there is a Father in Heaven? How many individuals’ lives might have been different if they could only have known about our loving, merciful, and caring Heavenly Father? Indeed, how blessed we are to have such teachings that center on the nature of our Father in Heaven. It is about God, our Eternal Father, that I wish to speak today. The first article or principle in our declaration of faith as Latter-day Saints states, “We believe in God, the Eternal Father” (Articles of Faith 1:1). I do not think it is accidental or coincidental that this statement comes first in our 13 Articles of Faith. The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God” (Teachings, 345). In other words, one of the foundation stones of the restored gospel is a knowledge of what kind of being God actually is. But not only do we need to understand what kind of being God is, we must come to know God. In the same sermon from which we just quoted, the Prophet Joseph further stated, “If any man does not know God, . . . he will realize that he has not eternal life; for there can be eternal life on no other principle” (Teachings, 344). In His great high-priestly or Intercessory Prayer, the Savior confirmed that life eternal was to “know . . . the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom [the Father] hast sent” (John 17:3). Thus everything of sacred significance connected with our future rests on both our coming to know about God the Eternal Father and, ultimately, our coming to know Him. “If men do not comprehend the character of God,” said Joseph Smith, “they do not comprehend themselves” (Teachings, 343). God and men are of the same divine, eternal species, and if we do not comprehend the nature of God, we cannot appreciate our divine parentage nor the very real potential we possess to become like our heavenly parents. God Must Be Revealed Coming to know God is not for the spiritually lazy. He can only be known through revelation. And powerful personal revelation, as many of you know, is predicated upon righteous living and spiritual discipline. Elder Bruce R. McConki
Mary Williams|July 17, 2001 In a revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith to David Whitmer, we are told that eternal life “is the greatest of all the gifts of God” (D&C 14:7). When we understand that the entire work and glory of the Savior is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39), a most significant question for us is “How do we obtain eternal life?” The Savior provided the key in His great intercessory prayer recorded by John, the beloved apostle: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). The key, then, to eternal life is to know God the Father and Jesus Christ. Here at BYU, as at any university, we are engaged in the business of knowing. Our knowledge is tested in exams, papers, laboratories, and applied settings. If you are like me, some of those things we know just long enough to take a test for, and there are other things we know and retain long past any examination. I believe that the “knowing” spoken of by the Savior is far above a knowing of facts, techniques, or theories. To know Jesus Christ requires a different kind of knowledge. To gain eternal life we cannot merely be acquainted with Him or recall some factoid about His life as if we were playing a trivia game. We cannot simply read about Him. Knowing Him is more than knowing His doctrine and certainly more than professing His doctrine. The New Testament tells of many who spent time with Jesus, who heard His words and even saw His miracles, but who, sadly, never knew Him. Knowing Him in the way that He has counseled and pled with us to know Him requires everything we are and, in the end, changes our beings forever. Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone described the transforming power of knowing Him in this way: One who truly knows Him does not—nor cannot, nor will not—forget Him, ever. Whatever daily task, pleasure, sport, or activity we may be involved in, His desires are supreme in our lives. If we become careless in the way we wear the garment, haphazardly use the Lord’s name, or serve only socially in the Church, we clearly do not “know” the Master. We might even know the Church is true, but actually knowing Jesus Christ would dramatically change our conduct. We would no longer have a disposition to do evil; rather, we would feel absolutely submissive to His will and turn our lives over to Him. Knowing Him is much, much more than knowing about Him. [Vaughn J. Featherstone, The Incomparable Christ: Our Master and Model (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1995), 26] We gain understanding of the power of knowing Him when we reflect on His visit to the American continent. What happened changed the way those people “knew” the Savior. His words had been available to them for their entire lifetimes. Believers among them had taught of Him and prophesied of Him. But when the people really “knew Him,” their
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