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To accomplish the tasks you have been foreordained to do, your faith must be firmly centered on our Savior, Jesus Christ. You must remember that faith is not only a principle of power but of action. You must act on the faith you already possess. In the premortal realms you exhibited not just faith but “exceeding faith and good works” (Alma 13:3). As Alma said, each of you were “called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God” (Alma 13:3). Young men, you were prepared to receive the priesthood, which would enable you to exercise the power of God while here on the earth. Young women, you were given the noble gift and responsibility to nurture others and become mothers to other choice spirits. You were entrusted with the very powers of godliness—to create a mortal life. Virtuous people are committed to the sanctity of life. They respect God’s counsel on how life is to be conceived, protected, and nurtured. There is no strength that is greater than the strength of virtue nor any confidence that is more sure than the confidence of a virtuous life.
Today I know that my young testimony benefited greatly from the testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith and many friends in the Church who knew “by the Holy Ghost … that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world” (D&C 46:13). Their good examples, caring love, and helping hands blessed me to receive another special gift of the Spirit described in the scriptures as I was yearning for more light and truth: “To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue [faithfully]” (D&C 46:14). What a wonderful and precious gift this is!
As we truly humble ourselves, we will be blessed with this gift to have faith and to hope for things which are not seen but are true (see Alma 32:21). As we experiment upon the words given to us by the scriptures and the living prophets—even if we only have a desire to believe—and do not resist the Spirit of the Lord, our souls will be enlarged and our understanding will be enlightened (see Alma 32:26–28).
The Savior Himself explained this merciful principle clearly to all the world in His great intercessory prayer, given not only for His Apostles but for all the Saints, even for us today, wherever we might be living. He said:
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:20–21; emphasis added).
This is how Joseph Smith’s First Vision blesses our own personal lives, the lives of families, and eventually the whole human family—we come to believe in Jesus Christ through the testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Prophets and apostles throughout the history of mankind have had divine manifestations similar to Joseph’s. Moses saw God face-to-face and learned that he was a son of God “in the similitude of [His] Only Begotten” (seeMoses 1:1–6). The Apostle Paul testified that the resurrected Jesus Christ appeared to him on the road to Damascus and made Paul one of His great missionaries (see Acts 26:9–23). Hearing Paul’s witness of his heavenly vision during the trial at Caesarea, the powerful King Agrippa admitted, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:28).
And there were many other ancient prophets who also bore powerful testimony of Christ. All of these manifestations, ancient and modern, lead those who believe to the divine source of all righteousness and hope—to God, our Heavenly Father, and to His Son, Jesus Christ.
God has spoken to Joseph Smith for the purpose of blessing all of God’s children with His mercy and love, even in times of uncertainties and insecurities, of wars and rumors of wars, of natural and personal disasters. The Savior said, “Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive” (3 Ne. 9:14). And all who accept this invitation will be “encircled about with the matchless bounty of his love” (Alma 26:15).
Through our faith in the personal witness of the Prophet Joseph and the reality of the First Vision, through study and prayer, deep and sincere, we will be blessed with a firm faith in the Savior of the world, who spoke to Joseph “on the morning of a beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty” (JS—H 1:14).
Faith in Jesus Christ and a testimony of Him and His universal Atonement is not just a doctrine with great theological value. Such faith is a universal gift, glorious for all cultural regions of this earth, irrespective of language, race, color, nationality, or socioeconomic circumstance. The powers of reason may be used to try to understand this gift, but those who feel its effects most deeply are those who are willing to accept its blessings, which come from a pure and clean life of following the path of true repentance and living the commandments of God.
As we remember and honor the Prophet Joseph Smith, my heart reaches out to him in gratitude. He was a good, honest, humble, intelligent, and courageous young man with a heart of gold and an unshaken faith in God. He had integrity. In response to his humble prayer, the heavens opened again. Joseph Smith had actually seen a vision. He knew it, and he knew that God knew it, and he could not deny it. (See JS—H 1:25.)
Through his work and sacrifice, I now have a true understanding of our Heavenly Father and His Son, our Redeemer and Savior, Jesus Christ, and I can feel the power of the Holy Ghost and know of Heavenly Father’s plan for us, His children. For me, these are truly the fruits of the First Vision.
I am grateful that early in my life I was blessed with a simple faith that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, that he saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, in a vision. He translated the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God. That testimony has been confirmed to me over and over again.
As one of the least among you, but in my calling as one of the Apostles of Jesus Christ, I testify that He truly lives, that He is the Messiah. I do have a personal witness of Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind. I received this knowledge by the unspeakable peace and power of the Spirit of God. The desire of my heart and of my mind is to be pure and faithful in serving Him now and forever.
I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
I know that each one of you faces overwhelming challenges. Sometimes they are so concentrated, so unrelenting, that you may feel they are beyond your capacity to control.
Don’t face the world alone. “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5.)
In many ways, the world is like a jungle, with dangers that can har
m or mutilate your body, enslave or destroy your mind, or decimate your morality. It was intended that life be a challenge, not so that you would fail, but that you might succeed through overcoming. You face on every hand difficult but vitally important decisions. There is an array of temptations, destructive influences, and camouflaged dangers, the like of which no previous generation has faced. I am persuaded that today no one, no matter how gifted, strong, or intelligent, will avoid serious problems without seeking the help of the Lord.
I repeat: Don’t face the world alone. Trust in the Lord.
Continuing revelation does not demean or discredit existing revelation. The Old Testament does not lose its value in our eyes when we are introduced to the New Testament, and the New Testament is only enhanced when we read the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. In considering the additional scripture accepted by Latter-day Saints, we might ask: Were those early Christians who for decades had access only to the primitive Gospel of Mark (generally considered the first of the New Testament Gospels to be written)—were they offended to receive the more detailed accounts set forth later by Matthew and Luke, to say nothing of the unprecedented passages and revelatory emphasis offered later yet by John? Surely they must have rejoiced that ever more convincing evidence of the divinity of Christ kept coming. And so do we rejoice.
To the thoughtful woman and man, it is “a matter of surpassing wonder” that the voluntary and merciful sacrifice of a single being could satisfy the infinite and eternal demands of justice, atone for every human transgression and misdeed, and thereby sweep all humankind into the encompassing arms of His merciful embrace. But so it is.
Our mission in life, as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, must be a mission of saving. . . .
If we are to build that Zion of which the prophets have spoken and of which the Lord has given mighty promise, we must set aside our consuming selfishness. We must rise above our love for comfort and ease, and in the very process of effort and struggle, even in our extremity, we shall become better acquainted with our God.
If any of us are imperfect, it is our duty to pray for the gift that will make us perfect. Have I imperfections? I am full of them. What is my duty? To pray to God to give me the gifts that will correct these imperfections. If I am an angry man, it is my duty to pray for charity, which suffereth long and is kind. Am I an envious man? It is my duty to seek for charity, which envieth not. So with all the gifts of the Gospel. They are intended for this purpose. No man ought to say, ‘Oh, I cannot help this; it is my nature.’ He is not justified in it, for the reason that God has promised to give strength to correct these things, and to give gifts that will eradicate them.
Believe in God our Eternal Father, He who is greatest of all, who stands ever ready to help us and who has the power to do so. Believe in Jesus Christ, the Savior and the Redeemer of mankind, the worker of miracles, the greatest who ever walked the earth, the Intercessor with our Father. Believe in the power of the Holy Ghost to lead, to inspire, to comfort, to protect. Believe in the Prophet Joseph, as an instrument in the hands of the Almighty in ushering in this the dispensation of the fulness of times.
Believe in the sacred word of God, the Holy Bible, with its treasury of inspiration and sacred truth; in the Book of Mormon as a testimony of the living Christ. Believe in the Church as the organization that the God of Heaven established for the blessing of His sons and daughters of all generations of time.
Believe in yourselves as sons and daughters of God—men and women with unlimited potential to do good in the world. Believe in personal virtue. There is no substitute for it anywhere under the heavens. Believe in your power to discipline yourselves against the evils that could destroy you.
How deeply do we love him? Does our love depend on favorable environments? Is it diminished or strengthened by our experiences? Is our love for him evident by our behavior and our attitude? Charity, or love forChrist, sustains us in every need and influences us in every decision.
Love for Christ. This concept proclaims Jesus as the object of our love, and our lives should be an external expression of our gratitude for him. Sometimes that is difficult to do. I once visited a high priests group meeting where an older brother taught us. He noted that “as a people we often pray, ‘We thank thee for all the blessings we enjoy.’ But what about the blessings we don’t enjoy? It can be very hard to be thankful for those.” This dear man had just experienced his first Christmas without his sweetheart in more than fifty years. It is difficult to be grateful to the Lord under circumstances we don’t enjoy.
Our beloved President Benson told some of his experiences with the Saints in war-torn countries and shared the following: “One sister walked over a thousand miles with four small children, leaving her home in Poland. She lost all four to starvation and the freezing conditions. Yet she stood before us in her emaciated condition, her clothing shredded, and her feet wrapped in burlap, and bore testimony of how blessed she was.” (Ensign, Nov. 1980, p. 33.) Things we don’t enjoy must not overshadow our reasons to maintain our love for the Savior. Otherwise we may lose our perspective or become bitter, and our love for Christ may be lost.