Talk given January 2019
I wish to speak today about revelation. Our beloved Prophet, Russell M. Nelson, gave a beautiful talk about revelation in the April 2018 conference, called Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives. I wish to highlight some of his thoughts, and expound upon them with words from other prophets and apostles.
In his talk, President Nelson said, One of the things the Spirit has repeatedly impressed upon my mind since my new calling as President of the Church is how willing the Lord is to reveal His mind and will. The privilege of receiving revelation is one of the greatest gifts of God to His children.
Speaking to the children of the church, President Ezra Taft Benson explained: “The Holy Ghost is … a gift from Heavenly Father. The Holy Ghost helps you to choose the right. The Holy Ghost will protect you from evil. He whispers to you in a still, small voice to do right. When you do good, you feel good, and that is the Holy Ghost speaking to you. The Holy Ghost is a wonderful companion. He is always there to help you.”
What a promise and blessing! I know that throughout my life, I have often felt the Holy Ghost’s guidance. He has warned me not to do something; He has gently chastised me when I have, prompting me to make it right; He has testified to me of truth as I pray; He has helped me say what I need to say to share the gospel; and most often, He has helped me feel peace and joy as I am in the right places and doing the right things. I know my life would be so different without the Holy Ghost.
Imagine the miracle of it! Whatever our Church calling, we can pray to our Heavenly Father and receive guidance and direction, be warned about dangers and distractions, and be enabled to accomplish things we simply could not do on our own. If we will truly receive the Holy Ghost and learn to discern and understand His promptings, we will be guided in matters large and small.”
Let’s make sure we know what revelation is. David A Bednar said: “Revelation is communication from God to His children on the earth and one of the great blessings associated with the gift and constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “The Holy Ghost is a revelator,” and “no man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations”.
He continued to say that the spirit of revelation is available to everyone who is baptized and receives the gift of the Holy Ghost. As long as we have sincere desire and are worthy, we invite the spirit of revelation into our lives.
That means everyone who has been baptized into this church has had and can continue to receive revelations!
Brothers and sisters, how can we become the men and women—the Christ like servants—the Lord needs us to be?
Elder James B Martino spoke about some men in the Book of Mormon and how their conversion, or lack of, to the gospel of Jesus Christ, affected them. He first compared Nephi to Laman and Lemuel. They were raised by the same goodly parents, and had very spiritual experiences. The difference is that Nephi believed and his brothers murmured and doubted. Laman and Lemuel would easily give up while Nephi would continue to pray and ask for God’s help to accomplish His commandments. His brothers would not pray to know the things of God, and they would not keep the commandments.
Nephi said to them, “How is it that ye do not keep the commandments of the Lord? How is it that ye will perish, because of the hardness of your hearts? Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things [will] be made known unto you.”11
Let us compare Laman and Lemuel to the sons of Mosiah. Both groups of men were raised in righteous families, yet both strayed. Both were called to repentance by an angel, but what was different about the experience of the sons of Mosiah?
For the sons of Mosiah, “this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation.”17 Prayer and fasting will allow us to be susceptible to spiritual promptings. Communicating with Heavenly Father while purposefully abstaining from food and drink allows us to “loose the bands of wickedness [and] to undo the heavy burdens.”18 Prayer, combined with fasting, will provide so that when we “call, … the Lord shall answer; … [and when we] cry, … he shall say, Here I am.”19
These personal religious habits—obedience, scripture study, prayer, and fasting—strengthened the sons of Mosiah. The lack of these same personal religious habits was a major reason that Laman and Lemuel were left vulnerable to the temptation to murmur and doubt.
If you have been tempted to murmur, if you have had doubt that leads to unbelief, if trials seem more than you can bear, turn to Him. If you are one who has turned away or rationalized your behavior, turn to Him. Can you remember when He did “speak peace to your mind … ? What greater witness can you have than from God?”20 Ask yourself, “Am I as close to living like Christ now as I was before?” Please, turn to Him.”
Let’s try to be like Nephi, the sons of Mosiah, and so many other righteous individuals in the Book of Mormon by being obedient, studying our scriptures, fasting, praying, and truly wanting to do the Lord’s will and be like Him.
How can we find answers to questions that perplex us? If Joseph Smith’s transcendent experience in the Sacred Grove teaches us anything, it is that the heavens are open and that God speaks to His children. The Prophet Joseph Smith set a pattern for us to follow in resolving our questions. Drawn to the promise of James that if we lack wisdom we may ask of God,8 the boy Joseph took his question directly to Heavenly Father. He sought personal revelation, and his seeking opened this last dispensation.
Elder Lawrence Corbridge, in his talk on Joseph Smith said,
“The revelations poured out upon Joseph Smith affirm that he was a prophet of God.”
He gave a huge list of some of the light and truth he received from Heavenly Father, one being that
“Revelation has not ceased, and the heavens are not closed. God speaks to prophets today, and He will speak to you and me as well.”
And this is only a part of the flood of revelation poured out upon Joseph Smith. Where did it all come from, these revelations which give light to darkness, clarity to doubt, and which have inspired, blessed, and improved millions of people? Which is more likely, that he dreamed it all up on his own or that he had the help of heaven? There is no dispute about what Joseph Smith accomplished, only how he did what he did and why. He was either pretender or prophet. Either he did what he did alone, or he had the help of heaven. Look at the evidence, but look at all of the evidence, the entire mosaic of his life, not any single piece. Most importantly, do as young Joseph and “ask … God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given [you].”17 This is not only how you may learn the truth about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith; it is also the pattern to know the truth of all things.
In like manner, what will your seeking open for you? What wisdom do you lack? What do you feel an urgent need to know or understand? Follow the example of the Prophet Joseph. Find a quiet place where you can regularly go. Humble yourself before God. Pour out your heart to your Heavenly Father. Turn to Him for answers and for comfort. Pray in the name of Jesus Christ about your concerns, your fears, your weaknesses—yes, the very longings of your heart. And then listen! Write the thoughts that come to your mind. Record your feelings and follow through with actions that you are prompted to take. As you repeat this process day after day, month after month, year after year, you will “grow into the principle of revelation.”9
Ezra Taft Benson – “When you pray—when you talk to your Heavenly Father—do you really talk out your problems with Him? Do you let Him know your feelings, your doubts, your insecurities, your joys, your deepest desires—or is prayer merely a habitual expression with the same words and phrases. Do you ponder what you really mean to say? Do you take time to listen to the promptings of the Spirit? Answers to prayer come most often by a still voice and are discerned by our deepest, innermost feelings. I tell you that you can know the will of God concerning yourselves if you will take the time to pray and to listen” (Ezra Taft Benson, “To ‘the Rising Generation,’” New Era,June 1986, 8).
President Henry B. Eyring: “I have had prayers answered. Those answers were most clear when what I wanted was silenced by an overpowering need to know what God wanted. It is then that the answer from a loving Heavenly Father can be spoken to the mind by the still, small voice and can be written on the heart” (“Write upon My Heart,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 86).
It sounds like we need to be sincere, take time to listen, and truly want to know what God wants for us. This will help us receive the answers to the longings of our hearts.
You don’t have to wonder about what is true.11 You do not have to wonder whom you can safely trust. Through personal revelation, you can receive your own witness that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, that Joseph Smith is a prophet, and that this is the Lord’s Church. Regardless of what others may say or do, no one can ever take away a witness borne to your heart and mind about what is true.
In the introduction to the Book of Mormon, the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book”
Bishop Dean Davies said, “In the introduction to the Book of Mormon, we are taught that “those who gain [a] divine witness from the Holy Spirit [that the Book of Mormon is the word of God] will also come to know by the same power that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, that Joseph Smith is His revelator and [prophet of the Restoration], and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s kingdom once again established on the earth.”
If we have a testimony of these key doctrines, we will remain strong in the gospel of Christ throughout our lives. I urge each of you who are struggling with any of these testimonies, to take what you are learning today, and put it to the test. You can receive personal revelation that the Book of Mormon is true, that Jesus Christ is your Savior, that Joseph Smith is a prophet o God, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s church on the earth.
Always remember this from Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin: Joseph b wirthlin – “[The Holy Ghost] is a revelator and teacher who conveys information to our spirits with far more certainty than is possible by our natural senses. He can guide us in every choice and decision and never will deceive or mislead us. He is a comforter who brings peace to our souls in times of need.”
Nothing opens the heavens quite like the combination of increased purity, exact obedience, earnest seeking, daily feasting on the words of Christ in the Book of Mormon,14 and regular time committed to temple and family history work.
President Eyring said: “To have the Holy Ghost as your companion you must be worthy, cleansed by the Atonement of Jesus Christ. So, your obedience to the commandments, your desire to do His will, and your asking in faith will determine how clearly the Master can guide you” (“Rise to Your Call,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2002, 76).
To add to President Nelson’s words with more of his words, in this past women’s conference, he gave the women of the church four challenges, two of which related to his list of items to help open the windows of heaven.
One challenge was inviting the sisters to read the Book of Mormon before the end of the year. He said, “As impossible as that may seem with all you are trying to manage in your life, if you will accept this invitation with full purpose of heart, the Lord will help you find a way to achieve it. And, as you prayerfully study, I promise that the heavens will open for you. The Lord will bless you with increased inspiration and revelation.”
This invitation from President Nelson was my favorite. For years, I have read scriptures with my children every night, and with my husband every night, but I haven’t done regular individual study for a long time. This challenge got me to start delving into the scriptures by myself again. As I read, I did as he suggested – underlining scriptures about Christ. I realized very quickly that The Book of Mormon is FULL of scriptures about Christ. He is interwoven into the entire book, and it increased my testimony of the truthfulness of it. I felt the Spirit so many times as I read The Book of Mormon, and by reading it quickly, I was able to get the connections between stories better, and get the full message of what a prophet was trying to teach. I felt like I underlined or starred half of the verses I read!
The best part of my whole reading experience was on December 31. I hadn’t read my final reading yet, which was the book of Moroni. I was feeling really down that day, but instead of focusing on my issues, I decided to start reading the book of Moroni.
I immediately felt the Spirit so strongly the minute I started reading. I loved the book, and read it with eagerness, underlining and starring so many verses. When I read the last verse, I felt so much peace and warmth. I decided to kneel down by my bed and pray so I could do Moroni’s challenge to ask if The Book of Mormon were true.
When I knelt to pray, I felt the Spirit so strongly, I didn’t even have to ask if it were true. I remember expressing gratitude for The Book of Mormon, and I felt the Spirit lead me to ask God how I can spread Christ’s gospel of love and peace to the world – messages that are so evident and clear in The Book of Mormon.
I believe with all of my heart that because my mother, my nana, and I did this challenge faithfully, that it helped my sister-in-law open her heart to investigating the gospel of Christ. The past few weeks of meeting with the missionaries with her and answering her questions has brought so much joy into my life and into the life of my family. We are so overjoyed that she has chosen to be baptized on January 26!
I want everyone reading to know that I know The Book of Mormon is true. I have always known it, but by doing this challenge, I have grown to love it even more than I ever have. This book is holy scripture, and will bring you to Christ. That is its purpose – to bring souls to Christ and to testify that He lives, and that through Him we can be saved.
Another challenge the prophet gave that night was to establish a pattern of regular temple attendance. He said:
“More regular time in the temple will allow the Lord to teach you how to draw upon His priesthood power with which you have been endowed in His temple. For those of you who don’t live near a temple, I invite you to study prayerfully about temples in the scriptures and in the words of living prophets. Seek to know more, to understand more, to feel more about temples than you ever have before.”
I’ve been to the temple twice since his challenge, and felt the Spirit and great peace both times. I can’t wait to go again soon, hopefully with my sister-in-law for her first baptism trip!
To be sure, there may be times when you feel as though the heavens are closed. But I promise that as you continue to be obedient, expressing gratitude for every blessing the Lord gives you, and as you patiently honor the Lord’s timetable, you will be given the knowledge and understanding you seek. Every blessing the Lord has for you—even miracles—will follow. That is what personal revelation will do for you.
Richard G Scott said of Heavenly Father: “He is our perfect Father. He loves us beyond our capacity to understand. He knows what is best for us. He sees the end from the beginning. He wants us to act to gain needed experience:
“When He answers yes, it is to give us confidence.
“When He answers no, it is to prevent error.
“When he withholds an answer, it is to have us grow through faith in Him, obedience to His commandments, and a willingness to act on truth. We are expected to assume accountability by acting on a decision that is consistent with His teachings without prior confirmation. We are not to sit passively waiting or to murmur because the Lord has not spoken. We are to act. Most often what we have chosen to do is right. He will confirm the correctness of our choices His way. That confirmation generally comes through packets of help found along the way. We discover them by being spiritually sensitive. They are like notes from a loving Father as evidence of His approval. If, in trust, we begin something which is not right, He will let us know before we have gone too far. We sense that help by recognizing troubled or uneasy feelings.”
I am optimistic about the future. It will be filled with opportunities for each of us to progress, contribute, and take the gospel to every corner of the earth. But I am also not naive about the days ahead. We live in a world that is complex and increasingly contentious. The constant availability of social media and a 24-hour news cycle bombard us with relentless messages. If we are to have any hope of sifting through the myriad of voices and the philosophies of men that attack truth, we must learn to receive revelation. Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, will perform some of His mightiest works between now and when He comes again. We will see miraculous indications that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, preside over this Church in majesty and glory. But in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.
President Henry B. Eyring explained- “Just as the Holy Ghost strengthens us against evil, He also gives us the power to discern truth from falsehood. The truth that matters most is verified only by revelation from God. Our human reason and the use of our physical senses will not be enough. We live in a time when even the wisest will be hard-pressed to distinguish truth from clever deception.
The truths that mark the way home to God are verified by the Holy Ghost. We cannot go to the grove and see the Father and the Son speak to the young Joseph Smith. No physical evidence or any logical argument can establish that Elijah came as promised to confer the priesthood keys now held and exercised by a living prophet.
Confirmation of truth comes to a son or daughter of God who has claimed the right to receive the Holy Ghost. Since falsehoods and lies may be presented to us at any time, we need a constant influence of the Spirit of Truth to spare us moments of doubt.
While a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, George Q. Cannon urged that we make a constant quest for the Spirit to be with us. He promised, and I promise it as well, that if we pursue that course, we “will never lack for knowledge” of the truth, “never be in doubt or in darkness,” and our “faith will be strong, [our] joy … full.”2
My beloved brothers and sisters, I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation.
Let’s talk about a few ways to do that by reading quotes from other prophets and apostles. First, let’s talk about avoiding things of the world.
Joseph B Wirthlin taught, “The promptings of the Holy Ghost may come to you in a still, small voice. You cannot grow into the [person] you must become unless you first rise above the things of the world that clamor for your attention. For example, some of the world’s music is degrading, vulgar, and inappropriate and will drown out the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Bringing into your body substances forbidden by the Lord in the Word of Wisdom will prevent you from feeling and recognizing the promptings of the Holy Ghost. The failure to live a clean and chaste life deadens the promptings of the Spirit. Take your thoughts to higher levels than the vulgar and immoral. Avoid objectionable television shows and movies, evil Internet sites, and all forms of entertainment that portray or encourage immorality and violence. Shun pornography like a deadly, contagious sin and disease. You cannot afford to become addicted to its bondage and slavery. It will drive the Holy Ghost and His influence from your life.”
Second, following God’s will rather than our own.
Richard G Scott – “Sometimes answers to prayer are not recognized because we are too intent on wanting confirmation of our own desires. We fail to see that the Lord would have us do something else. Be careful to seek His will.“I confess I don’t know how to make a correct decision except where there is righteousness and trust in a Heavenly Father. The principles simply will not work when agency is intentionally used at variance with the will of God. If there is unrepented sin, we are left to our own devices to flounder and struggle on our own. We can be rescued through our own repentance.”
Third, never forgetting to ask for the Spirit.
Heber J Grant – “The minute a man stops supplicating God for his spirit and directions just so soon he starts out to become a stranger to him and his works. When men stop praying for God’s spirit, they place confidence in their own unaided reason, and they gradually lose the spirit of God, just the same as near and dear friends, by never writing to or visiting with each other, will become strangers. We should all pray that God may never leave us alone for a moment without his spirit to aid and assist us in withstanding sin and temptation.”
We are followers of Jesus Christ. The most important truth the Holy Ghost will ever witness to you is that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. He lives! He is our Advocate with the Father, our Exemplar, and our Redeemer.
Joseph b wirthlin “The principal mission of the Holy Ghost is to testify of our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. If you are careful in keeping the commandments, the Holy Ghost will help you learn more about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. He will enlighten your mind as you ponder and study the scriptures each day.”
To end, here are some final words from President Nelson: Oh, there is so much more that your Father in Heaven wants you to know. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught, “To those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, it is clear that the Father and the Son are giving away the secrets of the universe!”13
I have a strong testimony that our Heavenly Father loves us more than we will ever know –and because of that love, He wants to tell us so many things. That is why Christ left the Holy Spirit with the world when He ascended back into Heaven. Through the Spirit, we can know what is really true, and we can receive the guidance we need to help us through our lives into eternity. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.