Thursday, October 16, 2008

October 2008 General Conference: The Truth of God Shall Go Forth

Elder M. Russel Ballard in his most recent conference address, reviews the history of the restoration and the continuing growth of the church, as a witness of the prophetic vision of Joseph Smith, and subsequent church leadership who follow his example.

He relates details regarding Joseph Smith's remarkable vision for the future of the church:

Many people, including Latter-day Saints, forget that Joseph Smith was very much aware that the Church would eventually be relocated to the great American West. In August of 1842 he prophesied “that the Saints would continue to suffer much affliction and would be driven to the Rocky Mountains, many would apostatize, others would be put to death by our persecutors or lose their lives in consequence of exposure or disease, and some [would] live to . . . build cities and see the Saints become a mighty people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains” (History of the Church, 5:85).

Then, Elder Ballard shows how that prophetic vision was so dramatically fulfilled:

Nearly 18 decades have passed since the organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1830. We have had 178 years to observe the fulfillment of prophecy and to watch “the truth of God” as it goes “forth boldly, nobly, and independent.”

The growth of the church through the years has increased steadily. Elder Ballard asserts further:
Now, my brothers and sisters, my purpose in this brief review of Joseph’s prophetic vision of the destiny of this Church and its literal fulfillment through the decades is to remind us of this simple truth:

“The works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught.

“For God doth not walk in crooked paths, . . . neither doth he vary from that which he hath said, therefore his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round.

“Remember . . . that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men” (Doctrine and Covenants 3:1–3).

God has spoken through His prophet and announced to the world that “the Standard of Truth has been erected” and that “no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing.” That is undeniably and indisputably true. We have seen it for ourselves, in decade after decade, from the time of the Prophet Joseph Smith to the time of President Thomas S. Monson. Persecutions have raged. Calumny and lies and misrepresentation have attempted to defame. But in every decade from the time of the Restoration forward, the truth of God has gone “forth boldly, nobly, and independent.” The little Church that started in 1830 with just a handful of members has now grown to more than 13 million Latter-day Saints in many different nations around the world, and we are well on our way to penetrating every continent, visiting every clime, sweeping every country, and sounding in every ear.

As he suggests in his counsel, we must continue to work and strive, as those who faithfully faced challenges before us, to build up the church and kingdom of God:

This is not to suggest that our challenges today are more severe than the challenges faced by those who have gone before us. They are just different. The Lord isn’t asking us to load up a handcart; He’s asking us to fortify our faith. He isn’t asking us to walk across a continent; He’s asking us to walk across the street to visit our neighbor. He isn’t asking us to give all of our worldly possessions to build a temple; He’s asking us to give of our means and our time despite the pressures of modern living to continue to build temples and then to attend regularly the temples already built. He isn’t asking us to die a martyr’s death; He’s asking us to live a disciple’s life.

I have long characterized my own life as a disciple's efforts. Elder Ballard lays out where the efforts of our predecessors have led us, and challenges us to continue on a faithful course.

To do so is a noble cause. My effort and my concentration are focused on that end. I only hope to be found worthy when my humble struggle is done.

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