(find the talk here)
Elder Kevin R. Duncan’s talk is one of the other talks that I mentioned in this post about the prophets. It came as no surprise to me that two separate General Authorities spoke of President Ezra Taft Benson’s Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet. It is interesting to me that these two brethren spoke of following and trusting in the prophets, and shortly after the prophets spoke, President Boyd K. Packer was publicly attacked for his words in General Conference – even by some members of the Church. People who just one day before he spoke rose their hands in a sustaining vote – sustaining President Packer as a “prophet, seer, and revelator.” I imagine that Heavenly Father knew that there would be those who would struggle with the words of the prophets that weekend, and prepared us with inspired words from both Elder Costa and Elder Duncan to remind us why we attend General Conference, and what the role really is of the men who speak to us.
Elder Duncan testifies that “the only sure and secure road to protection in this life comes through trusting in and obeying the counsel from the prophets of God.” He speak of the early Saints settling in the Salt Lake Valley – some did not want to heed the words of the prophet, Brigham Young. Some wanted to move on to California or other areas in the west. But Brigham Young’s instruction was clear - “This is the right place.” He said, “We have been kicked out of the frying-pan into the fire, out of the fire into the middle of the floor, and here we are and here we will stay.” Brigham Young proceeded to tell the Saints that the Lord would bless the land for their sakes. And He did.
The Fourteen Fundamentals deserve repeating, so I will:
1. “The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything...”
2. “The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works.”
3. “The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.”
4. “The prophet will never lead the Church astray.”
5. “The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time.”
6. “The prophet does not have to say ‘Thus saith the Lord’ to give us scripture...”
7. “The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know.”
8. “The prophet is not limited by men’s reasoning, ...”
9. “The prophet can receive revelation on any matter – temporal or spiritual.”
10. “The prophet may be involved in civic matters.”
11. “The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are rich.”
12. “The prophet will not necessarily be popular with the world or the worldly.”
13. “The prophet and his counselors make up the First Presidency – the highest quorum in the Church.”
14. “The prophet and the presidency – the living prophet and the first presidency – follow them and be blessed; reject them and suffer.”
“What the prophets teach may to some seem outdated, unpopular, or even impossible.” These are inspired words, as President Packer would go on the next day to talk about things that are very “unpopular” with the world. And then, a petition with hundreds of thousands of signatures would be delivered to Church Headquarters, protesting the words of the prophets. There were even members of the Church who found President Packer’s words to be “unpopular.” But, “‘our [very] salvation hangs on’ following the prophet.” Fundamental number thirteen speaks directly to this dilemma - “The prophet will not necessarily be popular with the world or the worldly.” It cannot get more true than that.
I’ll end with one last quote from the talk:
This world is full of so many self-help books, so many self-proclaimed experts, so many theorists, educators, and philosophers who have advice and counsel to give on any and all subjects... It is easy to get caught in the trap of looking to the “arm of flesh” for advice on everything from how to raise children to how to find happiness... we have access to the source of pure truth, even God himself. We would do well to search out answers to our problems and questions by investigating what the Lord has revealed through His prophets... [W]e have at our fingertips access to the words of the prophets on nearly any subject.
You can find the words of the prophets on nearly any subject by searching at LDS.org, or by simply reading the words of General Conference, the words of the First Presidency Messages, and other messages by the prophets that are published monthly in the Ensign magazine. There is no excuse for not searching out the words of the prophets. Technological tools provide us nearly instant access to their words 24/7. Not to mention the ability we have to pray and receive confirmation of their words on our own.
I testify with Elder Duncan that “there is no safer way to approach life, find answers to our problems, gain peace and happiness in this world, and protect our very salvation than by obeying their words.
What is the first place you turn to for advice and for instruction? Do you look for the words of the prophets? Or do you head directly to the “arm of flesh”? How can you increase your faith in the prophets and search out their instruction?