Sunday May 9, 2010
"Chapter 9: Prophets of God,” Gospel Principles, (2009), 39-43
Goal of the Lesson
To develop an understanding of the roles of prophets and to strengthen our testimonies of the living oracles of God.
1. Prophets Are God’s Representatives on the Earth
2. Through the Ages God Has Called Prophets to Lead Mankind
3. We Have a Living Prophet on the Earth Today
4. We Should Sustain the Lord’s Prophet
5. Great Blessings Follow Obedience to the Prophet
Prophets Are God’s Representatives on the Earth
What powers and gifts does a prophet have?
From “The Guide to the Scriptures” under Prophet, “A person who has been called by and speaks for God. As a messenger of God, a prophet receives commandments, prophecies, and revelations from God. His responsibility is to make known God’s will and true character to mankind and to show the meaning of his dealings with them. A prophet denounces sin and foretells its consequences. He is a preacher of righteousness. On occasion, prophets may be inspired to foretell the future for the benefit of mankind. His primary responsibility, however, is to bear witness of Christ. The President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God’s prophet on earth today. Members of the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles are sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators.”
Ninth Article of Faith: “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”
Through the Ages God Has Called Prophets to Lead Mankind
In what ways have prophets guided God’s children in the past?
Moses led the Children of Israel out of Egypt.
Lehi and Nephi started a civilization.
Mormon compiled the Book of Mormon.
Joseph Smith restored the Gospel.
John the Baptist prepared the people for Jesus Christ.
What have you learned from the lives and teachings of prophets?
Personally, as I’ve read the Book of Mormon recently, I’ve been greatly impressed with the urgency the prophets of the Book of Mormon taught the people about Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon is indeed another testament of Jesus Christ.
We Have a Living Prophet on the Earth Today
Why do we need a living prophet today?
D&C 43:25 says, “How oft have I called upon you by the mouth of my servants, and by the ministering of angels, and by mine own voice, and by the voice of thunderings, and by the voice of lightnings, and by the voice of tempests, and by the voice of earthquakes, and great hailstorms, and by the voice of famines and pestilences of every kind, and by the great sound of a trump, and by the voice of judgment, and by the voice of mercy all the day long, and by the voice of glory and honor and the riches of eternal life, and would have saved you with an everlasting salvation, but ye would not!”
The missionaries recently visited us for dinner. Elder Clove and Lybbert gave a great spiritual thought. We were sitting in the living room. In the little hall at our entrance hangs a picture of Jesus Christ. Elder Clove had Erick stand in that hallway. As we sat in the living room, we could not see the picture of Jesus, but Erick could. Elder Clove taught us that just as Erick could see Jesus and tell us that the picture was there, so can the prophets tell us that Jesus lives and they can tell us the will of the Lord.
The living prophet knows the will of the Lord and as such he is the one person who has the right to receive revelation for the Church.
We depend on the prophet for that revelation. He can steer us in ways we cannot. We need that guidance if we want to be happy and return our Heavenly Fathers.
President Eyring said, “Looking for the path to safety in the counsel of prophets makes sense to those with strong faith. When a prophet speaks, those with little faith may think that they hear only a wise man giving good advice. Then if his counsel seems comfortable and reasonable, squaring with what they want to do, they take it. If it does not, they either consider it faulty advice or they see their circumstances as justifying their being an exception to the counsel. Those without faith may think that they hear only men seeking to exert influence for some selfish motive. They may mock and deride, as did a man named Korihor, with these words recorded in the Book of Mormon: “And thus ye lead away this people after the foolish traditions of your fathers, and according to your own desires; and ye keep them down, even as it were in bondage, that ye may glut yourselves with the labors of their hands, that they durst not look up with boldness, and that they durst not enjoy their rights and privileges” (Alma 30:27).”
“Korihor was arguing, as men and women have falsely argued from the beginning of time, that to take counsel from the servants of God is to surrender God-given rights of independence. But the argument is false because it misrepresents reality. When we reject the counsel that comes from God, we do not choose to be independent of outside influence. We choose another influence. We reject the protection of a perfectly loving, all-powerful, all-knowing Father in Heaven, whose whole purpose, as that of His Beloved Son, is to give us eternal life, to give us all that He has, and to bring us home again in families to the arms of His love. In rejecting His counsel, we choose the influence of another power, whose purpose is to make us miserable and whose motive is hatred. We have moral agency as a gift of God. Rather than the right to choose to be free of influence, it is the inalienable right to submit ourselves to whichever of those powers we choose.”(Henry B. Eyring, “Safety in Counsel,” Ensign, Jun 2008, 4–9)
In what ways has the living prophet influenced the Church?
At least in my lifetime, it seems that each of the prophets has a “theme” they wish to teach the Church. President Kimball was the prophet when I was born. I remember listening to him at General Conference. When he died, it felt a little shocking. President Benson became the prophet. He seems to be remembered for his teaching of the Book of Mormon and his talks on pride. President Hunter was prophet for a mere nine months. I was called as a missionary under President Hunter. His theme from the very beginning was for all the saints to attend and love the temple. When he passed away, President Hinckley became the prophet. In his first press conference, he said his theme would be to “carry on.” Indeed he carried on by presiding over an explosion of temple building. In 1998, there were only 51 temples. He set a goal to have 100 temples in operation by 2001. There were 102 temples built before 2001. Under his direction, the number of temples grew from 47 to 124.
Now President Monson is the prophet. What do you think his “theme” is?
We Should Sustain the Lord’s Prophet
President Uchtdorf said, “Only a few years ago, in a First Presidency Message, President Thomas S. Monson said: “The problems of our day loom ominously before us. Surrounded by the sophistication of modern living, we look heavenward for that unfailing sense of direction, that we might chart and follow a wise and proper course. He whom we call our Heavenly Father will not leave our sincere petition unanswered.”
“We have a living prophet on the face of the earth again, even President Thomas S. Monson. He knows our challenges and fears. He has inspired answers. There is no need to fear. We can have peace in our hearts and peace in our homes. We can each be an influence for good in this world by following the commandments of God and relying on true repentance, the power of the Atonement, and the miracle of forgiveness.
“The prophets speak to us in the name of the Lord and in divine plainness. As the Book of Mormon confirms, “For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding” (2 Nephi 31:3).
“It is our responsibility not only to listen but also to act upon His word that we may claim the blessings of the ordinances and covenants of the restored gospel. He said, “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise” (D&C 82:10).
“There may be times when we feel overwhelmed, hurt, or on the edge of discouragement as we are trying so hard to be perfect members of the Church. Be assured, there is balm in Gilead. Let us listen to the prophets of our day as they help us to focus on the things that are central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. The Lord knows us, He loves us, He wants us to succeed, and He encourages us by saying: “And see that all … things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that [men or women] should run faster than [they have] strength. … [But] it is expedient that [they] should be diligent” (Mosiah 4:27)” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Heeding the Voice of the Prophets,” Ensign, Jul 2008, 4–7)
As a side note, it is interesting that in June 2008, President Eyring spoke of prophets and then in July 2008, President Uchtdorf wrote on the same topic.
What can we do to follow and sustain the prophet?
We should pray for him.
We should study his words.
We should follow his inspired teachings completely.
What has the President of the Church taught or emphasized recently?
In the Priesthood session in the April conference last month, he taught that we should consider our callings, reflect on our responsibilities and that we should follow Christ. In the Sunday morning session, he taught about the resurrected Christ.
Great Blessings follow Obedience to the Prophet
What experiences have you had when you have obeyed the counsel of the prophet?
President Eyring said, “Every time in my life when I have chosen to delay following inspired counsel or decided that I was an exception, I came to know that I had put myself in harm’s way. Every time that I have listened to the counsel of prophets, felt it confirmed in prayer, and then followed it, I have found that I moved toward safety. Along the path, I have found that the way had been prepared for me and the rough places made smooth. God led me to safety along a path that was prepared with loving care, sometimes prepared long before.” (June 2008)
President Eyring recounts a story of a man who followed the counsel of the prophet. “An example from Church history is that of Reddick Newton Allred. He was one of the rescue party sent out by President Brigham Young (1801–77) to bring in the Willie and Martin handcart companies. At the Sweetwater River near South Pass, Captain George Grant asked Reddick Allred to remain there with a few men and wagons and be ready to help when the rescuers returned with the handcart pioneers.
“The rescuers found the Willie company mired in the snow, freezing, starving, and dying. Some of the rescuers continued to search for the Martin company, while the others helped the Willie company make that heartrending pull up and over Rocky Ridge. Soon after they made camp, Reddick Allred and his men came to deliver essential assistance and supplies.
“Allred then waited for Captain Grant to return with the Martin company. Week after week passed with no sign of them. As blizzards howled and the weather became life threatening, two of the men decided it was foolish to stay. They thought the Martin company had either wintered over somewhere or perished. They decided to return to the Salt Lake Valley and tried to persuade everyone else to do the same. Allred refused to budge. President Young had sent them out, and Captain Grant, Reddick Allred’s priesthood leader, had told him to wait there.
“Those who returned took several wagons, filled with needed supplies, and started back to the Salt Lake Valley. Even more tragic, they turned back 77 wagons that were coming from the valley to help. Some of these wagons returned all the way to Big Mountain before messengers sent by President Young met them and turned them back around.
“Finally, more than three weeks after Reddick Allred had assisted the Willie company, Captain Grant arrived with the Martin company. These pioneers were even more destitute and had suffered dozens of deaths. Captain Grant’s rescue team was small and low on provisions—and still more than 200 miles (320 km) from the Salt Lake Valley. Once again, because Reddick Allred had stayed true to his assignment, even in the most trying circumstances, he was able to provide life-sustaining assistance and supplies.” (June 2008)
Bear testimony of the importance of prophets.
Personally speaking, the time President Hinckley and Elder Nelson came to Guatemala stands out foremost in my mind. Both missionaries and members travelled from all over the country to Guatemala City to listen to the prophet speak. I remember getting up early in the morning to board a charter bus to drive to the capital. The bus was so full, I ended up sitting on the floor. When we got there, it was a beautiful day. As all of us missionaries entered the stake center, the feeling of overwhelming joy came over me. I felt immensely happy. Then 600 missionaries all sang at once, “We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet.” I had Goosebumps all over. The Spirit was strong and I doubt I’ll ever forget the feelings I felt that day. (Read article of his visit on the Church News website.)
I know the living prophets are indeed prophets of God and they will lead us to salvation.
One of the neatest things about the Internet is being able to hear a prophet testify to you directly at any time of the day.
Here is a precious video of President Hinckley speaking to the British saints. Watching this brought tears to my eyes. I'm sure it will do the same to you.
Watch this video of President Monson share his testimony from the recent General Conference.