Today some are sowing seeds on stony places because they, too, doubt the authority of those who give counsel and direction. There is a tendency on the part of some to ignore, criticize, or rebel because they cannot accept the human delivery system. Some will not accept Jesus Christ as the Savior because they are waiting for a Prince of Peace to come who is not quite as human as Jesus of Nazareth. Questions such as, “Is not this the carpenter’s son?” “Is not this the one born in a manger?” “Can any good … come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46) are evidences of the weakness of men who are unwilling to accept the human qualities of those who are called and raised up to give direction and counsel.
(Elder Marvin J. Ashton, Who Will Forfeit the Harvest?, October 1978 General Conference) ↗
Suppose you were able to travel back in time and have a conversation with people who lived a thousand or even a hundred years ago. Imagine trying to describe to them some of the modern technologies that you and I take for granted today. For example, what might these people think of us if we told them stories of jumbo jets, microwave ovens, handheld devices that contain vast digital libraries, and videos of our grandchildren that we instantly share with millions of people around the world?
Some might believe us. Most would ridicule, oppose, or perhaps even seek to silence or harm us. Some might attempt to apply logic, reason, and facts as they know them to show that we are misguided, foolish, or even dangerous. They might condemn us for attempting to mislead others.
But of course, these people would be completely mistaken. They might be well-meaning and sincere. They might feel absolutely positive of their opinion. But they simply would not be able to see clearly because they had not yet received the more complete light of truth.
It seems to be a trait of humanity to assume that we are right even when we are wrong. And if that is the case, what hope is there for any of us? Are we destined to drift aimlessly on an ocean of conflicting information, stranded on a raft we have poorly pieced together from our own biases? ...
My dear friends, here is a fairly straightforward experiment, with a guarantee from God, found in a book of ancient scripture available to every man, woman, and child willing to put it to the test:
First, you must search the word of God. That means reading the scriptures and studying the words of the ancient as well as modern prophets regarding the restored gospel of Jesus Christ—not with an intent to doubt or criticize but with a sincere desire to discover truth. Ponder upon the things you will feel, and prepare your minds to receive the truth. “Even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you … that ye can give place for [the word of God].”
Second, you must consider, ponder, fearlessly strive to believe, and be grateful for how merciful the Lord has been to His children from the time of Adam to our day by providing prophets, seers, and revelators to lead His Church and help us find the way back to Him.
Third, you must ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, to manifest the truth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unto you. Ask with a sincere heart and with real intent, having faith in Christ.
There is also a fourth step, given to us by the Savior: “If any man will do [God’s] will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” In other words, when you are trying to verify the truth of gospel principles, you must first live them. Put gospel doctrine and Church teachings to the test in your own life. Do it with real intent and enduring faith in God.
If you will do these things, you have a promise from God—who is bound by His word—that He will manifest the truth to you by the power of the Holy Ghost. He will grant you greater light that will allow you to look through the darkness and witness unimaginably glorious vistas incomprehensible to mortal sight.
Some may say that the steps are too hard or that they are not worth the effort. But I suggest that this personal testimony of the gospel and the Church is the most important thing you can earn in this life. It will not only bless and guide you during this life, but it will also have a direct bearing on your life throughout eternity. ...
The more we incline our hearts and minds toward God, the more heavenly light distills upon our souls. And each time we willingly and earnestly seek that light, we indicate to God our readiness to receive more light. Gradually, things that before seemed hazy, dark, and remote become clear, bright, and familiar to us.
By the same token, if we remove ourselves from the light of the gospel, our own light begins to dim—not in a day or a week but gradually over time—until we look back and can’t quite understand why we had ever believed the gospel was true. Our previous knowledge might even seem foolish to us because what once was so clear has again become blurred, hazy, and distant. ...
The Church is a place of welcoming and nurturing, not of separating or criticizing. It is a place where we reach out to encourage, uplift, and sustain one another as we pursue our individual search for divine truth.
In the end, we are all pilgrims seeking God’s light as we journey on the path of discipleship. We do not condemn others for the amount of light they may or may not have; rather, we nourish and encourage all light until it grows clear, bright, and true. ...
My dear friends, please do not delay the moment to seek and strengthen your own personal testimony of God’s divine work, even the work of light and truth.
Your personal testimony of light and truth will not only bless you and your posterity here in mortality, but it will also accompany you throughout all eternity, among worlds without end.
(President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Receiving a Testimony of Light and Truth, October 2014 General Conference) ↗
Some of the things that stand out to me are where President Hunter describes how members will not go amiss "if we follow the advice, counsel, and teachings of the leaders of the Church." How interesting that he does not refer only to grand commandments, decrees, and official declarations, but specifically mentions following "advice, counsel, and teachings" in order to avoid going amiss. This is certainly worth noting in light of our discussion in this thread.At the head of the Church is Jesus Christ, who directs his prophet. … His counselors [and] the members of the Council of the Twelve … are also prophets, seers, and revelators. … Members of the Church do not have to listen to an uncertain trumpet. They can believe the voice of their leaders, knowing they are guided by the Lord. ...
If we follow the advice, counsel, and teachings of the leaders of the Church in their instruction to us, we will not go amiss in that which is important for our own personal salvation and exaltation. ...
How can I help others partake of the goodness and blessings of our Heavenly Father? The answer lies in following the direction received from those we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators, and others of the General Authorities. Let us study their words, spoken under the Spirit of inspiration, and refer to them often. ...
Our modern-day prophets have encouraged us to make the reading of the conference editions of our Church magazines an important and regular part of our personal study. Thus, general conference becomes, in a sense, a supplement to or an extension of the Doctrine and Covenants.
(President Howard W. Hunter, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Howard W. Hunter, Ch. 7: Continuous Revelation through Living Prophets) ↗
I have enjoyed studying the teachings of our prophets in quorum/group meetings these many years.