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Prophets are Inspired
by Elder David B. Haight
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
From October 1996 General Conference
I am honored to be here. To be part of this great conference. I am glad that the First Presidency saw fit to have me back on the program!
As we get older, we have some limitations. I understand mine, and sometimes we can learn to sort of plow around them. And where we, if our vision starts getting a little weaker, I found that you can compensate by doing other things and plowing around that little weakness and maybe strengthening some others. But out of all of that I want you to know of my love for the gospel and for my knowledge of its truthfulness.
We were singing a great song as the intermediate hymn, ''Now Let Us Rejoice in the Day of Salvation,'' written by W. W. Phelps. That was written following an incident in Independence, Mo., where Brother Phelps was the editor of a little newspaper. He had a printing press. And the people who were unfriendly towards the church decided to do away with it. And a mob broke in and burned the building and destroyed the printing press. They burned some 200 homes of the Saints in showing their displeasure over the people following this movement.
In that despair, W.W. Phelps wrote those words. ''Now let us rejoice.'' Just imagine. ''In the day of salvation. No longer as strangers on earth need we roam.'' But to bringing hope to the people and encouragement that those things will happen in our lives. But we move on because of the truthfulness of what we are attempting to do.
I want all of you to know that I know that the work that we do is the gospel of our Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, as taught by him when he was upon the Earth. When he called apostles and the disciples followed him. And he carried on his ministry and teaching them.
I've often reflected on the experience as told by the apostle John. When John and Andrew, these two young men, were introduced to the Savior by John the Baptist. And they followed the Savior and stayed with him until the tenth hour, as is recorded by John. That they were in his presence. They were with him. They would have shaken hands with him. They would have felt the inflection in his voice.
They would have heard him testify who he is, that He came to do the will of the Father. They would have been in that holy presence. And Andrew, in that setting and after having that experience, had to share it with somebody. And Andrew went out and found his brother, Simon. And Andrew took Simon to Jesus. And the Savior made Peter out of Simon. But that feeling that Andrew had in his heart, that he had to share what he knew, and what he felt, and what he had seen. And of that beating that would have been in his heart that he had to share it with someone, he shared it with his own brother as he brought him to the Savior.
I have been impressed with all of the prophets since the time of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He who, by revelation, received the message, the visit from God the Father and the Son as Brother Porter has explained to us in detail this morning (See The Spirit of Prophesy by Elder L. Aldin Porter). I know that that happened, that that took place in ushering in this work. That that visitation took place in giving the Prophet Joseph Smith the desire and the determination and the ability to withstand all that he did in order to help bring about the restoration with heavenly messengers and the revelations that came to the Prophet Joseph Smith in ushering in this work, which we declare to all the world, and this work that I know to be true. And of the prophets that have followed since the time of the Prophet Joseph Smith. It's always thrilling to me to read more of the lives of all of those wonderful men. (See Restoration of the Gospel home page; Following the Prophets home page)
One of those that I would want to mention here this morning was President David O. McKay, who came into my life as the first (prophet) that I knew and had met. I was called to be a stake president in California about the time, just before President McKay was sustained at a Solemn Assembly as the president of the church and as our prophet. Ruby and I drove to Salt Lake to be in attendance at that conference. I felt of that spirit, of that leadership, and of the direction that President McKay gave to the church at that time, as we felt that out into the stakes.
Later on I invited him to come to California to dedicate a church building that we had just finished. That was in the days when we would raise half the money to buy the land, half the money to build a building. Not like it is today, but where we had a real ownership in the church property and in buildings.
But President McKay came as a result of my invitation, which surprised me. When we met him at the train and had these hours with him, to have him in our home, that gave me a new vision of the magnitude and the breadth and the importance of the mission that we have here upon the Earth to fulfill.
Later, President (Spencer W.) Kimball became a great influence in my life. And I'm only mentioning a few because of the shortness of time here this morning. But how President Kimball taught us, taught us in that wonderful manner of teaching, which President Kimball has, of not only teaching from the scriptures and teaching principles and policy and doctrine, but he would do it in a way that he would help lift our hearts and souls.
He told us the story of the young soldier who had gone into the army and he had written a letter home to his parents, and said they had been out on the firing line, or out on the shooting range learning to handle the rifle. And they were taught how to handle the hand grenade. And this young man, in writing home, said, in showing us how to handle the hand grenade, ''we were throwing duds -- ones that weren't real.'' And he said, ''When we were throwing duds, I was able to get 35 feet.
But today they gave us the real thing, and I got 80 feet.''
But he could touch our lives in a way that we could see and understand things to be done.
I want to remind you that six months ago, following conference on Sunday, we went home to listen to a television program. We were concerned and we wondered what would happen. Because we knew that President Gordon B. Hinckley, who I've had the privilege and the honor to watch for a number of years before he became our prophet and leader, but to watch in the careful way that he would carry on the affairs of the church and the responsibilities that had been his while he was a counselor to three presidents.
President Hinckley was to come on a nation-wide television program, and we wondered how it would come across. We knew of the importance of it and what it would mean to us. We knew of the work and the study and the hours of prayer and meditation and study that our prophet and leader had done in being prepared for this exposure, which would amount to some as the information that I understand has come through, of some 35 million people.
You will remember as I remember now the anticipation and the wonderment of how would this go. After that program was over, my heart was beating fast. I was filled with joy and thanksgiving to the Lord for the way our prophet and our leader had handled the interrogation by one who had a reputation of attempting to ask questions that might be difficult to handle. But for us to witness how our prophet and our leader had been blessed and magnified -- as I watched his face up on the television, and I'm sure you would have had the same reaction -- the world to see, with that vast number of people, to see what a prophet of God would look like: a handsome man, clean, you could see the outstanding character, the personality of our prophet and leader, who would be exposed to that vast audience of people.
And then when the interrogator said to President Hinckley: ''Do you really believe that story, that heavenly beings appeared to that young boy in that grove of trees. Do you really believe that to be true?'' And our prophet just instantly said: ''Of course I do. Isn't it great?'
Those words have been ringing through my ears ever since it happened. ''Of course I do. Isn't it great?' In making that pronouncement and that declaration, in doing it with such confidence and with that wonderful personality he has, to declare that out to all of the world.
And we want President Hinckley to know that since that time, missionary activity in the United States, or in the area of people who heard that program, has picked up and activity has picked up. More people seem to have become interested in the church because they had seen a living prophet in the flesh stand before that vast audience and declare to the world: ''Of course I do. Isn't it great?''
And we would hope and pray that the missionaries out throughout the world would have that same feeling and of that same understanding and that same determination to want to so declare this message of hope and salvation and eternal life out to all the world.
I leave you my love and my witness that this work is true. I only thank the Lord every day for the health that I have and the determination I have to make the best use of every hour that I have upon the Earth to help in the spreading of this work. I leave you my love, my witness, my own deep knowledge and conviction that it is true, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
(See October 1996 General Conference)
Copyright © 1996. THE CHURCH of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints. All rights reserved.
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