It is certainly a great privilege and a greater inspiration to be here in your presence. I think that I have never seen this many people in this building before, and to know that you are all here worshipping God and wanting to hear more about his work makes me feel very humble before you.
But I want you to know that I am grateful for the privilege of being here; I am grateful for the inspiration you are to me; I am grateful for this great University and for the marvelous work that it is doing, not only on this campus but in many parts of the world as your groups travel from place to place.
I believe that you represent one of the finest testimonies for the truthfulness of this Church for which we could ask. It is a marvelous thing in a day like this, with all of the difficulties there are in the world, to have this many young people all under one roof—more than 20,000 of you—here believing in the Lord Jesus Christ and coming to worship him and to receive the gift of his Holy Spirit as you sit here. I think that it is a great tribute to the Church, and a great tribute to all of you and to the homes from which you come, and that it shows the depth of your conversion.
When President Pearson spoke about the Lord Jesus Christ, I thought it would be quite appropriate to read one of the testimonies that Paul gave of the Savior. It is one of the finest that we have in holy writ—it is found in the first chapter of Colossians, verses fourteen through eighteen. He is talking here about the Savior:
In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
For by him were all things created [and that is something that we should remember], that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
And he is before all things, and by him all things consist:
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
What a marvelous testimony to the Savior! You remember that when Paul wrote of the Savior to the Hebrews and said very much the same thing in the first and second verses of the first chapter of that epistle.
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past unto the fathers by the prophets,
Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.
Again Paul testifies that Jesus Christ is the Creator and that creation came about by an act of the Son of God. It did not come about by accident; it did not come about just spontaneously. It came about by an act of God working through the Son, Jesus Christ. And that is why John spoke as he did:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. [John 1:1–3]
I have become interested in some of the other translations of that first verse, because it has led many people astray and made them think that there was one God with three different names or personalities. It is interesting to see how some of these other translations read. William Barclay of the Church of Scotland wrote this as his translation:
When the world had its beginning, the Word was already there, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a God; he was the agent through whom all things were made.
The Goodspeed American Bible says:
In the beginning the Word existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was divine. It was he that was with God in the beginning. Everything came into existence through him and apart from him nothing came to be.
I like what the New World Translation has to say:
In the beginning the Word was; and the Word was with God, and the Word was a God. This one was in the beginning with God. All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.
We bear testimony with Paul and John and the others that Jesus Christ indeed is the Son of God. He lives! He is as much alive today as he ever was. He is a being, a real being—physical, resurrected, glorious, celestialized—and he has come back into the world in this day and raised up new prophets of God and speaks through them. It is the testimony of the modern prophets whom he has raised up that indeed Jesus Christ does live. He is the Son of God; he is divine. That is the testimony that we bear, and that is the testimony that we hope every one of you will bear in your hearts and in your actions and in your thoughts.
Jesus Christ lives. He is the Savior of the world, the Redeemer of all mankind, the Messiah of the Jews, the Savior of the Christians. Jesus Christ is the Son of God!
I am grateful for our first article of faith. Would you recite that with me? You remember that first article of faith—let us say it together. [Elder Petersen and congregation recite in unison] “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” And we mean it. We do believe, and we know that he is the Son of God, that God is our Father, and that the Holy Ghost is our minister.
Would you repeat another one? You remember the fourth article that speaks about the principles and ordinances of the gospel. Say that with me, will you? [Elder Petersen and congregation recite in unison] “We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
And tonight, because I would like to talk a bit about our great prophet, President Kimball, would you repeat the fifth and sixth articles also? The fifth: [Elder Petersen and congregation recite in unison] “We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands, by those who are in authority to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.”
And you remember the sixth one: [Elder Petersen and congregation recite in unison] “We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, etc.”
Very good; thank you. I hope that you said that not only as a recitation but as a pledge of allegiance also, because we surely love the great men who run this Church.
General conference begins this week. For us General Authorities, conference will begin Tuesday, when we will have training meetings with the brethren who come in from various parts of the world. All of the General Authorities will be here with the exception of Brother Busche in Germany, who has had an illness come upon him suddenly, and whose doctors said it would be better if he were not to come.
But I am glad to be able to tell you that President Kimball will be there, and we are thrilled by that. He has had a serious illness, but he has also had a most remarkable recovery. His expectation is that he will attend all of the sessions of the conference and that he will speak in most of them. We are very grateful for that.
It is going to be a significant occasion. I mentioned to some people earlier that I thought this would be a different kind of conference, because it will be a culmination of the faith and prayers of all of the Saints throughout the world looking toward President Kimball’s recovery. Now he will be there and they can see him, either in the flesh in the Tabernacle or over the television.
We are thrilled with President Kimball’s recovery. He is such a marvelous, remarkable man—humble, but so devoted and so dedicated in every way to the work. And we are grateful for his counselors, who have stood by his side through this illness especially, but also all through the five or six years in which he has served; and for the Council of the Twelve, who stand by and about him and sustain him in every way. They are the prophets of God.
Years ago one of the minor prophets, as we sometimes refer to him, gave us one of the basic doctrines of the Church. It is one that each of us needs to remember; it is one that has particular application to us as a result of the restoration of the gospel. This was the prophet Amos, and the statement he made that is so significant is: “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).
That precept is so true and has held so firmly all through the years that every one of us must recognize it; God simply does not work except through prophets. There has never been a period in the history of the Church from Adam down through all the dispensations when he has labored with the people that he did not so labor through prophets. That is one of the fundamental principles of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ: God will work only through prophets.
When the apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians, he spoke to them as new converts to the Church—and I suppose that most of them were, because he had helped to convert them. Apparently some of them were not fellowshipped very well, as is the case even now with some of our new people, because Paul wrote and said, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” He then went on to the subject about which I would like to talk tonight: that they, the members of the Church, and the Church itself were
built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
In whom all the building fitly famed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord. [Ephesians 2:19–21]
We do not hear this taught very much, and I do not know why. Try to grasp the significance of this, if you will. What is the foundation of the Church of Jesus Christ? The apostles and the prophets, together with Christ, who is the chief cornerstone.
Get it clearly in mind. The apostles and prophets are not ordinary appointees or officers in the Church. We have many officers in the Church, but the apostles and prophets are entirely different because they are actually the foundation on which the Church is built, with Christ being the chief cornerstone. We cannot separate Christ from the apostles, and we cannot separate the apostles from Christ; they are the foundation of this Church, with the Christ being the chief cornerstone.
I would like to read to you what some of the other Bible translations say about this, in case anyone should argue about it. The American Translation by Goodspeed put it this way: “You are built upon the apostles and prophets as your foundation [note that wording], and Jesus Christ himself is the cornerstone.”
The Moffatt version says: “You are a building that rests on the apostles and prophets as your foundation with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone.”
The Standard Revised Version says: “Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone.”
The Roman Catholic Church has recently produced a wonderful translation of the Bible. It was published in 1972 and is known as the New American Bible. It says: “You form a building which rises on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.”
The Church of Scotland Bible by Barclay: “It is on the foundation of the prophets and apostles that you have been built up, and the cornerstone is Christ himself.”
The New World Bible: “You have been built up upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets while Christ Jesus himself is the foundation cornerstone.”
And the Knox, another Catholic Bible, says: “Apostles and prophets are the foundation on which you are built, and the chief cornerstone is Jesus Christ.”
And a third Catholic Bible, the Jerusalem Version: “You are a part of a building that has the apostles and prophets for its foundation, and Christ himself for its main cornerstone.”
Do you see the significance of what I am trying to point out? Do you see that when you listen this coming week to President Kimball and his counselors and the members of the Council of the Twelve you should think of them in terms of the very foundation of the Church? That is the way it was anciently, and there has been a restoration of everything in this day.
You remember when Peter spoke on that marvelous day when he announced the second coming of Christ. You remember that he said that Christ would come again, but that he would be retained in heaven “until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets” from the beginning of the world. (See Acts 3:20–21.) Everything was to be restored.
That is indication, of course, that there would be a complete and universal apostasy. That is why there had to be a complete and universal restoration, and part of that restoration was the restoration of the foundation of the Church: the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, with he himself as the chief cornerstone.
We can understand a little better, then, why Amos spoke as he did. “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants, the prophets.”
Let me read you some thing from Brigham Young:
Could Joseph Smith have built the kingdom without first being an apostle? No, he never could. The keys of the eternal priesthood which is after the order of the Son of God are comprehended by being an apostle. All the priesthood, all the keys, all the gifts, all the endowments and everything preparatory to entering back into the presence of the Father and the Son is in, composed of, circumscribed by, or I might say incorporated within the circumference of the apostleship. [Millennial Star 15 (April 6, 1853):489]
Do you see how the apostles and the prophets are the very foundation of the Church of Jesus Christ, and why we cannot separate them from Christ and why Christ is not separated form them? Can you see how this becomes a great evidence for the restoration of the gospel? Why, all through the centuries, have the Christian churches declared that there was to be no more prophecy, no more apostles, no more current revelation? In so saying they repudiated the very foundation of the Church of Jesus Christ. But we declare, as you know, that the Church was fully restored and was built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, just as Paul said.
I would like to review with you now Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians, fourth chapter, eleventh and twelfth verses. If you have Bibles, I would be glad if you would follow with me. Here he is talking about the Savior’s gift to us before he ascended to heaven:
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.
I shall read more of that scripture in a few moments, but note the wording used here. Why was it that provision was made “for the perfecting of the saints”? Why should the saints become perfect? Why should anyone become perfect? This comes to the very heart of our religion.
You remember that in the Sermon on the Mount the Savior gave us one of the marvelous commandments: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). What is the meaning of that, anyway? We cannot understand it unless we comprehend the fact that God is our Father. Just as we say in the first article of faith, “We believe in God the Eternal Father”; but not only that—we believe in him as the Eternal Father. We believe, as Paul told the people on Mars’ Hill that day, “we are the offspring of God”—his literal children. Remember what he said to the Hebrews in the twelfth chapter, ninth verse: “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?”
It is fundamental to our religion to believe that we are dual beings. We have a spirit within us, and we have a body of flesh and bones in which we live. But the real person is the spirit, and the spirit is in the form of the body, if it is a healthy one. The body is merely the house in which we live. If my spirit were to stand alongside my body here, you would think that you were seeing twins, because my body is tailored after the proportions of my spirit.
But what about my spirit? My spirit, as yours, is the offspring of God. We are his literal children. That is the reason the Savior told us to pray, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name” (Matthew 6:9). You remember also that when he was resurrected and Mary came to touch him he said, “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God” (John 20:17). To reject the fatherhood of God is to reject the whole gospel of Christ. We are the children and the offspring of God.
Do you remember what Paul said in his epistle to the Romans, the eight chapter, sixteenth and seventeenth verses? This is a very significant scripture.
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.
What does that mean? It means, coming back to the Savior’s command: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
Why should we become perfect? Because we are to become like God. That is our destiny. It is natural for us to become like our Father in Heaven—just as natural as it is for us to become like our parents here on this earth. Because we are the offspring of God we have a spark of divinity within us; and because we have divinity within us it is possible for us to blossom and grow to become like God, who is divine.
And so we are commanded to become perfect, even as our Father which is in heaven is perfect. So what did the Savior do? He gave us a church founded on the apostles and prophets. And their primary function was what? “For the perfecting of the saints, . . . the edifying of the body of Christ.” In other words, these apostles and prophets are to train us in such a way that we can become perfect like God.
So the gospel becomes the curriculum of perfection, and the Church becomes the school of perfection in which we develop perfection by living the gospel. But we do not perfect ourselves or develop in the gospel unless we are active in the Church, do we?
I have a friend who has a membership with the gymnasium, and he is sick half the time. I have asked him why he does not use his membership to the gymnasium, because he never goes over there. What good does the gymnasium membership do him when he never goes over there and is not actively exercising? It is exactly the same thing with the Church. Unless we are active in the Church we do not develop these potential talents of perfection that are inherent in us because we are the offspring of God.
Therefore, the reason God gave us this Church, based on this foundation of the apostles and prophets, was so that we could develop and become like him, inasmuch as we are his children and inasmuch as we have this spark of divinity within us which eventually will grow until we become like our Father in Heaven. That is why we have apostles and prophets in the Church, and that is why they are the foundation of the Church.
I would like to read to you again from some of these other Bible translations, if you do not mind. Again, the reference is Ephesians, fourth chapter, beginning with the eleventh verse. Here is the Moffatt Bible, and this is very interesting. “He granted some men to be apostles and some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, some to shepherd and to teach, for the equipment of the saints.” Think about that for a minute—the Church had to be equipped in order to operate.
The Philips Bible has the same idea and says that these officers were put in the Church “that Christians might be properly equipped for the service that the whole body might be built up until the time comes when, in the unity of common faith and common knowledge of the Son of God, we arrive at that measure of development which is meant by the fullness of Christ.”
The Knox Catholic Bible says that these officers are in the Church to “order the lives of the faithful, minister to their needs, and build up the frame of Christ’s body.”
And the New English Bible uses the same expression: “Some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors, and teachers, to equip God’s people for the work of his service.”
Apostles and prophets and other such officers exist for the equipment of the people and for the equipment of the Church; and we cannot function without this equipment. That is why the equipment, if I may use that expression, had to be restored as part of the restoration of the gospel in these the last days. It was necessary.
Schonfield in his Bible says that they were placed in the Church “for the training of the saints, for the work of administration and the development of the body of Christ.”
Let us look further at this question. Most of the Christian churches laugh at this idea of current revelation and living apostles and prophets. They forget that Paul, when he described the Christian church, said that these officers are to be in the Church “till we all come in the unity of the faith”—and yet we have hundreds of different, conflicting denominations today. We are farther from the unity of the faith, and [further,] of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man.” You see, they are to teach us to become perfect; and what kind of perfection is he talking about? “Unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13.)
They are also to be in the Church “for the work of the ministry.” That does not mean just that they should preach, but also that they should call people into the ministry. How are people to be called into the ministry? Again, it requires prophets. Surely the Lord God will do nothing, except through prophets. He will not even call a man to the ministry except through a prophet, and how do we know that? You remember that Paul talked to the Hebrews on that subject; he said that “no man taketh this honor [to have the priesthood] unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron” (Hebrews 5:4).
And how was Aaron called? In Exodus, chapter twenty-eight, verse one, God in heaven gave a current revelation to a living prophet, Moses, and commanded him to call Aaron and his sons into the ministry; and that is the pattern by which people are called. There has to be a prophet because “surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret to his servants, the prophets.”
You remember that Paul was called in this way. Acts, chapter thirteen, verses two and three, records that the Christian prophets were having a meeting in Antioch, and
As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
Here was a perfect example again: God, through the Holy Ghost, spoke to the Christian prophets assembled there in Antioch and commanded that Barnabas and Saul be set apart. And chapter fourteen, verse fourteen, says that they were then apostles: “Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes,” and so on.
That is the way in which men are to be called to the ministry—by revelation. The Lord cannot possibly guide his Church unless he speaks to it and communicates his will. We talk much about communication these days; it should be obvious to us that God cannot run his Church without communication and that he will not do anything except through prophets. Therefore, he places prophets in the Church as the foundation upon which the Church is built.
I have always been interested in what the Savior said about his apostles when he first chose them, as we read in the tenth chapter of Matthew. You remember that he made it abundantly clear that they were his representatives, and that if the people would accept them it would be the same as if they accepted him. Then he said this in verses fourteen and fifteen:
And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.
[And verse fifteen is particularly interesting:] Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.
Think of the significance of that, if you will: people who rejected the apostles in that day would have a more severe condemnation than Sodom and Gomorrah. That is something to think about, is it not? And essentially the same thing was said by the Savior in this day about the modern apostles. I think that that is extremely significant.
Paul says something else about these apostles and prophets who were in the Church “for the perfecting of the saints” and who should stay in the Church until there was a unity in all of Christianity: he says that they were in the Church “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” (Ephesians 4:14).
These apostles and prophets, the revelators of God, were to act as a protection for the people against false prophets and false teachings. Therefore, if somebody secretly comes to you claiming to have had a secret revelation and trying to lead you astray, all you have to do is remember that this person is not an apostle. If you want to know what the word of God is, go to the Council of the Twelve or the First Presidency. They are the foundation of the Church; they will keep you on the right track so that you will not need to worry.
You notice that even in Paul’s day people went astray wholesale because they would not accept the apostles and prophets of the Church. It is interesting to note how Paul spoke, for instance, to the Galatians.
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. [Galatians 1:6–9]
These same principles were established in our day—exactly the same ones. Everything had to be restored. You remember that Peter said that all things were to be restored, whatsoever “God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets” from the beginning of the world. One of the great prophecies is in Revelation, chapter fourteen, verse six, you remember. You missionaries will remember that, especially all of you who have returned from your missions. And what does it say? It says that in the hour of God’s judgment an angle should fly through the midst of heaven, bringing the everlasting gospel back to earth again, and that it would be preached unto “every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.”
Immediately the question arises: To whom would the angel come? There were no prophets, and Christianity did not believe in modern-day prophets; and yet the prophet Amos said, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” To whom would the angel come to restore the gospel without a prophet on the earth? For God has said that he will not act except through a prophet.
What would be done? Only one thing: God would raise up a new prophet, just as he did in the days of Moses. So what did he do? He raised up the Prophet Joseph Smith as the great new modern prophet and dealt with him in fulfillment of the words of Amos, and the angel came to Joseph Smith as did likewise so many others who came afterward. Thus we have prophets established in the Church, together with the apostles.
You remember what is recorded in the twentieth section of the Doctrine and Covenants, verses one and two:
The rise of the Church of Christ in these last days, being one thousand eight hundred and thirty years since the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the flesh, it being regularly organized and established agreeable to the laws of our country, by the will and commandments of God, in the fourth month, and on the sixth day of the month which is called April—
Which commandments were given to Joseph Smith, Jun., who was called of God, and ordained as apostle of Jesus Christ, to be the first elder of this church.
Then we have this in verse twelve of section twenty-seven, where the Lord speaks about those who came to Joseph Smith to restore powers: “And also with Peter, James, and John, whom I have sent unto you, by whom I have ordained you and confirmed you to be apostles, and especial witnesses of my name.” Then again, in section eighty-four, he speaks of the same subject and in verse sixty-three says, “And as I said unto mine apostles, even so I say unto you, for you are mine apostles . . .; ye are they whom my Father hath given me; ye are my friends.”
When the Church was organized on April 6, 1830, a revelation was given:
Behold, there shall be a record kept among you [this addressed to Joseph Smith, who was to be the President of the Church]; and in it thou [that is, the President of the Church]shall be called a seer, a translator, a prophet, an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of the church through the will of God the Father, and the grace of your Lord Jesus Christ,
Being inspired of the Holy Ghost to lay the foundation thereof, and to build it up unto the most holy faith.
Joseph had been chosen as a prophet while still a fourteen-year-old boy and had received revelations, angels, and ordinations; but when the Church was formally organized on April 6 there came the formal appointment of the President of the Church as the prophet, seer, and revelator—a thing which, of course, has been perpetuated right down to our day. And the Lord gave with this formal appointment a promise which I hope you will keep in mind during this general conference as you listen to the prophet of God and the other men who are called to these high offices.
Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he [that is, the President of the Church] shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;
For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.
For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory.
[And again speaking about the President of the Church, Joseph Smith:] For thus saith the Lord God: Him have I inspired to move the cause of Zion in mighty power for good, and his diligence I know, and his prayers I have heard. [D&C 21:1–2, 4–7]
I would like to read you something else about the Prophet Joseph Smith. You remember that the Prophet Joseph was inspired to know that he was to become a martyr to the cause and therefore would be taken out of the ministry. All the angels had given to him the keys of these previous dispensations, just as Peter had said when he spoke of a restoration of all things from the beginning of the world. These ancient prophets came to Joseph Smith and gave to him the keys of their various dispensations, and that is how it came about that this dispensation in which we live is the fullness of times—that is, all the former times brought together in one in this dispensation. Joseph Smith held all these keys and powers bestowed upon his head by these previous prophets all the way back to Adam; and even Adam came, you remember, and gave the keys of the First Presidency.
Now Joseph knew that he was going to die. Was he to take all these keys and powers with him into the grave? Of course not—these keys and powers were for building up the Kingdom and preparing the way for the second coming of Christ; therefore, they would have to stay on the earth. So what did he do? Again, keep in mind who the twelve apostles are. Joseph Smith laid his hands on the head of each of the Twelve and gave to all the Twelve individually all the keys and powers and authorities which all the angels had given to him. In that way these keys were perpetuated, and now every time a new apostle is ordained he receives all of these keys and powers that the angels gave to Joseph Smith and that Joseph Smith then gave to all of the Twelve. Thus they have been handed down even to our day.
Here is what the Prophet Joseph said regarding the apostles: “They are to hold the keys of this ministry, to unlock the door of the Kingdom of heaven unto all nations, and to preach the gospel to every creature” (History of the Church, 2:200). On another occasion he said about the Twelve: “These men that are set behind me here on this stand, I have conferred upon them all the power, Priesthood and authority that God ever conferred upon me” (in Journal of Discourses, 1:206). And then again he said:
Now I have received, as prophet, seer and revelator, standing at the head of this dispensation, every key, every ordinance, every principle, and every priesthood that belongs to the last dispensation and fullness of times. And I have sealed all these things upon your [the twelve apostles’] heads. [in Conference Report, April 1898, p. 89]
And that is why Brigham Young said at one time: “There is no church without the apostles.”
You remember that the Savior made quite a point of the fact that the Twelve in his day represented him, and that if people rejected the apostles they rejected him and their condemnation would be worse than that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Here is what he has said in modern scripture:
And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord;
For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me;
And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father;
And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.
And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood. [D&C 84:35–39]
And then he said this: “And the arm of the Lord shall be revealed; and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people” (D&C 1:14).
We have false prophets that arise right here in this city. They have been right here on this campus and in a number of places. How can you tell whether or not they are divinely called? Verse eleven in section forty-two of the Doctrine and Covenants gives us the key; I read it to you. “Again I say unto you, that it shall not be given to any one to go forth to preach my gospel, or to build up my church, except he be ordained by some one who has the authority, and it is known to the church that he has authority and has been regularly ordained by the heads of the church” (emphasis added).
Ask any of these false prophets if they have been ordained by the heads of the Church. “For verily I say unto you, that he that is ordained of me shall come in at the gate and be ordained as I have told you before” (D&C 43:7). They have to come through the gate, and what is the gate? Nobody can preach for the Lord Jesus Christ except he be called of God as was Aaron, and that means by revelation through the prophet and head of the Church. So unless this false prophet can prove to you that he has been called by modern revelation through the President of the Church and has been duly ordained—coming in at the gate—you may know that he is a false prophet.
There is one further caution: “And all things shall be done by common consent in the church, by much prayer and faith, for all things you shall receive by faith” (D&C 26:2). He must be accepted by common consent. So if a man is going to come to you and preach his doctrine, in order to justify himself he has to prove that he was called by modern revelation through the President of the Church, that he was duly ordained by those having authority, and that it was well known by everybody that they did have authority—that he came in at the gate—and then that it was confirmed by the voice and vote of the people. Not one of them can ever do that—not one!
We will be holding general conference in a few days. I would like to bear you testimony that President Kimball is the divinely appointed prophet of God for this time. He has been raised up for this purpose. And I testify to you that he, by the laying on of hands, has received all the powers that the angels ever gave to Joseph Smith, and that he exercises these powers; and as such he is the greatest prophet on earth and one of the greatest of all time.
Which of the prophets before Joseph Smith ever had all these keys? None of them. It is only the prophets of the restored Church who have all these keys—nobody else. And remember that they, with the Twelve, form the foundation of the Church, and that they cannot be separated from the Christ and that Christ is not separated from them. Together, as a group, they form the foundation of the Church, with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone.
I bear you testimony that these things are true, and I bear you testimony that when you hear the Brethren speak on the coming weekend you will hear revelation through the mouths of these apostles and prophets who have been divinely called of God. I earnestly hope and pray that we will not only listen, but that we will obey. Remember that salvation comes through activity in the Church, not by passive membership—by activity in the Church under the direction of the apostles and the prophets who are in the Church for the perfecting of the Saints. This is my testimony to you, given to you in all earnestness, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Mark E. Petersen was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when this fireside address was given at Brigham Young University on 30 September 1979.
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