As you love Him, trust Him, believe Him, and follow Him, you will feel His love and approval.
A reporter from a leading Brazilian magazine studied the Church in preparation for a major news article.1 He examined our doctrine and visited the missionary training and humanitarian centers. He spoke with friends of the Church and with others who were not so friendly. In the interview with me, the reporter seemed honestly puzzled as he asked, “How could someone not consider you Christian?” I knew he was referring to the Church, but my mind somehow framed the question personally, and I found myself silently asking, “Does my life reflect the love and devotion I feel for the Savior?”
Jesus asked the Pharisees, “What think ye of Christ?”2 In the final assessment, our personal discipleship will not be judged by friends or foes. Rather, as Paul said, “We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”3 At that day the important question for each of us will be, “What thinks Christ of me?”
Even with His love for all mankind, Jesus reprovingly referred to some around Him as hypocrites,4 fools,5 and workers of iniquity.6 He approvingly called others children of the kingdom7 and the light of the world.8 He disapprovingly referred to some as blinded9 and unfruitful.10He commended others as pure in heart11 and hungering after righteousness.12 He lamented that some were faithless13 and of the world,14 but others He esteemed as chosen,15 disciples,16 friends.17 And so we each ask, “What thinks Christ of me?”
President Thomas S. Monson has described our day as moving away “from that which is spiritual … [with] the winds of change [swirling] around us and the moral fiber of society [continuing] to disintegrate before our very eyes.”18 It is a time of growing disbelief in and disregard for Christ and His teachings.
In this turbulent environment, we rejoice in being disciples of Jesus Christ. We see the Lord’s hand all around us. Our destination is beautifully set before us. “This is life eternal,” Jesus prayed, “that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”19 Being a disciple in these days of destiny will be a badge of honor throughout the eternities.
The messages we have heard during this conference are guideposts from the Lord on our journey of discipleship. As we have listened during the past two days, praying for spiritual guidance, and as we study and pray about these messages in the days ahead, the Lord blesses us with customized direction through the gift of the Holy Ghost. These feelings turn us even more toward God, repenting, obeying, believing, and trusting. The Savior responds to our acts of faith. “If a man [or woman] love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”20
Jesus’s call “Come, follow me”21 is not only for those prepared to compete in a spiritual Olympics. In fact, discipleship is not a competition at all but an invitation to all. Our journey of discipleship is not a dash around the track, nor is it fully comparable to a lengthy marathon. In truth, it is a lifelong migration toward a more celestial world.
His invitation is a call to daily duty. Jesus said: “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”22 “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”23 We may not be at our very best every day, but if we are trying, Jesus’s bidding is full of encouragement and hope: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”24
Wherever you now find yourself on the road of discipleship, you are on the right road, the road toward eternal life. Together we can lift and strengthen one another in the great and important days ahead. Whatever the difficulties confronting us, the weaknesses confining us, or the impossibilities surrounding us, let us have faith in the Son of God, who declared, “All things are possible to him that believeth.”25
Let me share two examples of discipleship in action. The first is from the life of President Thomas S. Monson, demonstrating the power of simple kindness and Jesus’s teaching, “He that is greatest among you shall be your servant.”26
Nearly 20 years ago, President Monson spoke in general conference about a 12-year-old young woman suffering from cancer. He told of her courage and the kindness of her friends to carry her up Mount Timpanogos in central Utah.
A few years ago I met Jami Palmer Brinton and heard the story from a different perspective—the perspective of what President Monson had done for her.
Jami met President Monson in March 1993, a day after being told that a mass above her right knee was a fast-growing bone cancer. With her father assisting, President Monson administered a priesthood blessing, promising, “Jesus will be on your right side and on your left side to buoy you up.”
“Upon leaving his office that day,” Jami said, “I unfastened a balloon tied to my wheelchair and gave it to him. ‘You’re the Best!’ it announced in bright letters.”
Through her chemotherapy treatments and limb-saving surgery, President Monson did not forget her. Jami said, “President Monson exemplified what it means to be a true disciple of Christ. [He] lifted me from sorrow to great and abiding hope.” Three years after their first meeting, Jami again sat in President Monson’s office. At the end of the meeting, he did something that Jami will never forget. So typical of President Monson’s thoughtfulness, he surprised her with the very same balloon that she had given to him three years before. “You’re the Best!” the balloon proclaimed. He had saved it, knowing she would return to his office when she was cured of cancer. Fourteen years after first meeting Jami, President Monson performed her marriage to Jason Brinton in the Salt Lake Temple.27
We can learn so much from the discipleship of President Monson. He often reminds the General Authorities to remember this simple question: “What would Jesus do?”
Jesus told the leader of the synagogue, “Be not afraid, only believe.”28Discipleship is believing Him in seasons of peace and believing Him in seasons of difficulty, when our pain and fear are calmed only by the conviction that He loves us and keeps His promises.
I recently met a family who is a beautiful example of how we believe Him. Olgan and Soline Saintelus, from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, told me their story.
On January 12, 2010, Olgan was at work and Soline was at the church when a devastating earthquake struck Haiti. Their three children—Gancci, age five, Angie, age three, and Gansly, age one—were at home in their apartment with a friend.
Massive devastation was everywhere. As you will remember, tens of thousands lost their lives that January in Haiti. Olgan and Soline ran as fast as they could to their apartment to find the children. The three-story apartment building where the Saintelus family lived had collapsed.
The children had not escaped. No rescue efforts would be devoted to a building that was so completely destroyed.
Olgan and Soline Saintelus had both served full-time missions and had been married in the temple. They believed in the Savior and in His promises to them. Yet their hearts were broken. They wept uncontrollably.
Olgan told me that in his darkest hour he began to pray. “Heavenly Father, if it be thy will, if there could be just one of my children alive, please, please help us.” Over and over he walked around the building, praying for inspiration. The neighbors tried to comfort him and help him accept the loss of his children. Olgan continued to walk around the rubble of the collapsed building, hoping, praying. Then something quite miraculous happened. Olgan heard the almost inaudible cry of a baby. It was the cry of his baby.
For hours the neighbors frantically dug into the rubble, risking their own lives. In the dark of the night, through the piercing sounds of hammers and chisels, the rescue workers heard another sound. They stopped their pounding and listened. They couldn’t believe what they were hearing. It was the sound of a little child—and he was singing. Five-year-old Gancci later said that he knew his father would hear him if he sang. Under the weight of crushing concrete that would later result in the amputation of his arm, Gancci was singing his favorite song, “I Am a Child of God.”29
As the hours passed amid the darkness, death, and despair of so many other precious sons and daughters of God in Haiti, the Saintelus family had a miracle. Gancci, Angie, and Gansly were discovered alive under the flattened building.30
Miracles are not always so immediate. At times we thoughtfully wonder why the miracle we have so earnestly prayed for does not happen here and now. But as we trust in the Savior, promised miracles will occur. Whether in this life or the next, all will be made right. The Savior declares: “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”31 “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”32
I testify that as you love Him, trust Him, believe Him, and follow Him, you will feel His love and approval. As you ask, “What thinks Christ of me?” you will know that you are His disciple; you are His friend. By His grace He will do for you what you cannot do for yourself.
We eagerly await the concluding remarks of our beloved prophet. President Thomas S. Monson was ordained an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ when I was 12 years old. For more than 48 years we have been blessed to hear him bear witness of Jesus Christ. I testify that he now stands as the Savior’s senior Apostle upon the earth.
With great love and admiration for the many disciples of Jesus Christ who are not members of this Church, we humbly declare that angels have returned to the earth in our day. The Church of Jesus Christ as He established it anciently has been restored, with the power, ordinances, and blessings of heaven. The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ.
I witness that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. He suffered and died for our sins and rose the third day. He is resurrected. In a future day, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is the Christ.33 On that day, our concern will not be, “Do others consider me Christian?” At that time, our eyes will be fixed on Him, and our souls will be riveted on the question, “What thinks Christ of me?” He lives. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
May you ponder the truths you have heard, and may they help you to become even better than you were when conference began.
My heart is full as we come to the close of this glorious conference. We have been so richly blessed as we have listened to the counsel and testimonies of those who have spoken to us. I think you will agree with me that we have felt the Spirit of the Lord as our hearts have been touched and our testimonies strengthened.
Once again we have enjoyed beautiful music, which has enhanced and enriched each session of conference. I express my gratitude to all who have shared with us their talents in this regard.
My heartfelt thanks go to each who has spoken to us as well as to those who have offered prayers at each of the sessions.
There are countless individuals who work either behind the scenes or in less visible positions each conference. It would not be possible for us to hold these sessions without their assistance. My thanks go to all of them as well.
I know you join with me in expressing profound gratitude to those brethren and sisters who have been released during this conference. We will miss them. Their contributions to the work of the Lord have been enormous and will be felt throughout generations to come.
We have also sustained, through uplifted hands, brethren and sisters who have been called to new positions during this conference. We welcome them and want them to know that we look forward to serving with them in the cause of the Master. They have been called by inspiration from on high.
We have had unprecedented coverage of this conference, reaching across the continents and oceans to people everywhere. Though we are far removed from many of you, we feel of your spirit and your dedication, and we send our love and appreciation to you wherever you are.
How blessed we are, my brothers and sisters, to have the restored gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives and in our hearts. It provides answers to life’s greatest questions. It provides meaning and purpose and hope to our lives.
We live in troubled times. I assure you that our Heavenly Father is mindful of the challenges we face. He loves each of us and desires to bless us and to help us. May we call upon Him in prayer, as He admonished when He said, “Pray always, and I will pour out my Spirit upon you, and great shall be your blessing—yea, even more than if you should obtain treasures of earth.”1
My dear brothers and sisters, may your homes be filled with love and courtesy and with the Spirit of the Lord. Love your families. If there are disagreements or contentions among you, I urge you to settle them now. Said the Savior:
“There shall be no disputations among you. …
“For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.
“[But] behold, this is not my doctrine … ; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.”2
As your humble servant, I echo the words of King Benjamin in his address to his people when he said:
“I have not commanded you to … think that I of myself am more than a mortal man.
“But I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind; yet I have been chosen … by the hand of the Lord … and have been kept and preserved by his matchless power, to serve you with all the might, mind and strength which the Lord hath granted unto me.”3
My beloved brothers and sisters, I desire with all my heart to do God’s will and to serve Him and to serve you.
Now as we leave this conference, I invoke the blessings of heaven upon each of you. May you who are away from your homes return to them safely. May you ponder the truths you have heard, and may they help you to become even better than you were when conference began two days ago.
Until we meet again in six months’ time, I ask the Lord’s blessings to be upon you and, indeed, upon all of us, and I do so in His holy name—even Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior—amen.
Sacred things are to be treated with more care, given greater deference, and regarded with deeper reverence.
Some 1,500 years before Christ, a shepherd was drawn to a burning bush on the slopes of Mount Horeb. That divine encounter began the transformation of Moses from a shepherd to a prophet and his work from herding sheep to gathering Israel. Thirteen hundred years later, a privileged young priest in a king’s court was captivated by the witness of a condemned prophet. That encounter began Alma’s evolution from a civil servant to a servant of God. Nearly 2,000 years later, a 14-year-old boy entered the woods seeking an answer to a sincere question. Joseph Smith’s encounter in the grove placed him on the path to prophethood and a restoration.
Moses’s, Alma’s, and Joseph Smith’s lives were all changed by encounters with the divine. These experiences strengthened them to remain faithful to the Lord and His work throughout their lives despite overwhelming opposition and subsequent difficult trials.
Our experiences with the divine may not be as direct or dramatic nor our challenges as daunting. However, as with the prophets, our strength to endure faithfully depends upon recognizing, remembering, and holding sacred that which we receive from above.
Today authority, keys, and ordinances have been restored to the earth. There are also scriptures and special witnesses. Those who seek God may receive baptism for the remission of sins and confirmation “by the laying on of hands for the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost” (D&C 20:41). With these precious restored gifts, our divine encounters will mostly involve the third member of the Godhead, the Holy Ghost.
Through a still small voice, the Spirit speaks to me
To guide me, to save me.
(“The Still Small Voice,” Children’s Songbook, 106)
Let the Holy Spirit guide;
Let him teach us what is true.
He will testify of Christ,
Light our minds with heaven’s view.
(“Let the Holy Spirit Guide,” Hymns, no. 143)
As we seek answers from God, we feel the still, small voice whisper to our spirits. These feelings—these impressions—are so natural and so subtle that we may overlook them or attribute them to reason or intuition. These individualized messages testify of God’s personal love and concern for each of His children and their personal mortal missions. Daily reflecting upon and recording the impressions that come from the Spirit serve the dual purposes of helping us (1) to recognize our personal encounters with the divine and (2) to preserve them for ourselves and our posterity. Recording them is also a formal recognition and acknowledgment of ourgratitude to God, for “in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things” (D&C 59:21).
With respect to that which we receive by the Spirit, the Lord said, “Remember that that which cometh from above is sacred” (D&C 63:64). His statement is more than a reminder; it is also a definition and an explanation. Light and knowledge from heaven is sacred. It is sacred because heaven is its source.
Sacred means worthy of veneration and respect. By designating something as sacred, the Lord signals that it is of higher value and priority than other things. Sacred things are to be treated with more care, given greater deference, and regarded with deeper reverence. Sacred ranks high in the hierarchy of heavenly values.
That which is sacred to God becomes sacred to us only through the exercise of agency; each must choose to accept and hold sacred that which God has defined as sacred. He sends light and knowledge from heaven. He invites us to receive and treat it as sacred.
But “there is an opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11). The opposite of sacred is profane or secular—that which is temporal or worldly. The worldly constantly competes with the sacred for our attention and priorities. Knowledge of the secular is essential for our daily temporal living. The Lord instructs us to seek learning and wisdom, to study and learn out of the best books, and to become acquainted with languages, tongues, and people (see D&C 88:118; 90:15). Therefore, the choice to place the sacred above the secular is one of relative priority, not exclusivity; “to be learned is good if [we] hearken unto the counsels of God” (2 Nephi 9:29; emphasis added).
The battle for priority between the sacred and the secular in each human heart can be illustrated by Moses’s experience at the burning bush. There Moses received his sacred calling from Jehovah to deliver the children of Israel from bondage. However, initially his worldly knowledge of the power of Egypt and the pharaoh caused him to doubt. Ultimately, Moses exercised faith in the Lord’s word, subjugating his secular knowledge and trusting in the sacred. That trust provided him power to overcome temporal trials and lead Israel out of Egypt.
After escaping from the armies of Noah only to fall into slavery at the hands of Amulon, Alma could have doubted the spiritual witness he had received while listening to Abinadi. However, he trusted the sacred and was given strength to endure and escape his temporary trials.
Joseph Smith faced a similar dilemma in the early days of translating theBook of Mormon. He knew the sacred nature of the plates and the work of translation. Yet he was persuaded by Martin Harris to give priority to the worldly concerns of friendship and finances, contrary to sacred instructions. As a result, the manuscript of the translation was lost. The Lord upbraided Joseph for delivering “that which [is] sacred, unto wickedness” (D&C 10:9) and deprived him for a time of the plates and the gift to translate. When Joseph’s priorities were properly reestablished, the sacred things were returned and the work continued.
The Book of Mormon provides other examples of the struggle to give priority to the sacred. It speaks of believers whose faith led them to the tree of life to partake of its sacred fruit, the love of God. Then the mocking of those in the great and spacious building caused the believers to shift their focus from the sacred to the secular. (See 1 Nephi 8:11, 24–28.) Later the Nephites chose pride and denied the spirit of prophecy and revelation, “making a mock of that which was sacred” (Helaman 4:12). Even some eyewitnesses of the signs and miracles associated with the Lord’s birth chose to reject sacred manifestations from heaven in favor of secular explanations (see 3 Nephi 2:1–3).
Today the struggle continues. Secular voices are growing in volume and intensity. They increasingly urge believers to abandon beliefs the world considers irrational and unreasonable. Because “we see through a glass, darkly” (1 Corinthians 13:12) and “do not know the meaning of all things” (1 Nephi 11:17), at times we may feel vulnerable and in need of greater spiritual assurances. The Lord told Oliver Cowdery:
“If you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things.
“Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?” (D&C 6:22–23).
The Lord reminded Oliver and us to rely on sacred personal witnesses already received when our faith is challenged. Like Moses’s, Alma’s and Joseph’s before, these divine encounters serve as spiritual anchors to keep us safe and on course in times of trial.
The sacred cannot be selectively surrendered. Those who choose to abandon even one sacred thing will have their minds darkened (see D&C 84:54), and unless they repent, the light they have shall be taken from them (see D&C 1:33). Unanchored by the sacred, they will find themselves morally adrift on a secular sea. In contrast, those who hold sacred things sacred receive promises: “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day” (D&C 50:24).
May the Lord bless us to ever and always recognize, remember, and hold sacred that which we have received from above. I testify that as we do, we will have power to endure the trials and overcome the challenges of our day. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.