Thursday, July 3, 2008

In the Mouth of Two Witnesses

Within the space of a month’s time, two modern-day Apostles of Jesus Christ have taught and testified of the importance of heeding the prophet’s voice. President Henry B. Eyring and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have again reminded us that there is safety in the prophet’s counsel.

Wrote President Eyring, “In our own time we have been warned with counsel on where to find safety from sin and from sorrow. One of the keys to recognizing those warnings is that they are repeated.” (1)

Twice, now, we are reminded that God calls and sends prophets with the intent to “lead us to safety….” (1) President Eyring reminds us that “when the words of prophets seem repetitive, that should rivet our attention and fill our hearts with gratitude to live in such a blessed time.” (1)

Anciently, the Lord established the law of witnesses: “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Corinthians 13:1; see also Deuteronomy 17:6). So, in accordance with the ancient law, two modern prophets have testified to us of the importance of following the prophets and of the peace and safety gained in pursuing such a course.

President Uchtdorf asked, “Are we following the inspired counsel of the prophets?” (3) President Eyring added that “having listening ears requires humility.” (1) We can know that prophet is truly called of God by the power of personal revelation as given through the instrumentality of the Holy Ghost. This is not an exclusive knowledge; it is available to all who would seek it. But it requires humility and meekness to receive revelations from God and a real intent to live according to the knowledge gained.

Often, the Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, are criticized of blindly following the prophets. I can personally attest that such a view is not only false, but it is impossible. Latter-day Saints are free to choose whom they follow. To choose not to follow the prophet may mean straying from the fold, but that choice is given to each Church member. None of the prophets would, neither could (legally or morally), lead by compulsion, rather they lead by “persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness and pure knowledge…without hypocrisy, and without guile….” (D&C 121:41-42)

President Eyring further emphasized this point. He wrote,

...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. (1; emphasis added)

At this time of great turmoil in the world we can find peace in these words of President Uchtdorf:

“Today, we have again apostles, seers, and revelators who are watchmen on the tower, messengers of supernal, healing truth. God speaks to us through them. They are profoundly aware of the different circumstances we…are living in. They are in this world but not of this world. They point the way, and they offer help for our difficulties, not through the wisdom of this world but from an eternal Source.” (3)

Prophets, like the Savior, have our eternal interests in mind. Like the Savior, they cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. They know that no unclean thing can enter into the kingdom of heaven and live in the presence of God. Thus they preach repentance to a sinful world. In doing so they are often accused of being harsh, bigoted, or hateful. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Like the Savior, prophets are motivated by love for all of God’s children. God commissions them to lead us to safety and eternal life if we would follow their counsel.

President Eyring shared this insight about receiving counsel, “Sometimes we will receive counsel that we cannot understand or that seems not to apply to us, even after careful prayer and thought. Don’t discard the counsel, but hold it close. If someone you trusted handed you what appeared to be nothing more than sand with the promise that it contained gold, you might wisely hold it in your hand awhile, shaking it gently. Every time I have done that with counsel from a prophet, after a time the gold flakes have begun to appear, and I have been grateful.” (1) Time, as Hugh Nibley wrote, will always vindicate the prophets. (2)

Finally, a plea from President Uchtdorf, “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.” (3)


Sources:

1. Eyring, Henry B. “Safety in Counsel,” Ensign, June 2008.

2. Nibley, Hugh. The World and the Prophets, 3rd ed. Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1987.

3. Uchtdorf, Dieter F. “Heeding the Voice of the Prophets,” Ensign, July 2008.

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