14 Fundamentals in Following the Prophet, Day 1

In preparation for General Conference, I wanted to do a series about the importance of heeding the words of our living prophet. It has pained me to see a lot of online and media discussion, both among non-members and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where people freely criticize some of the counsel and direction we have been given by our prophets and apostles. Some people claim that the Church is misguided on certain doctrinal principles that have social and political implications. Others suggest that the prophets are slow in bringing about change that they are sure the Church needs to make. I personally reject this kind of speculation. I think Heavenly Father knows exactly what He is doing, and I believe the prophets are acting and speaking with authority. I am convinced that when I heed their counsel, I am protected from dark forces that seem to be railing with greater and greater intensity. I really believe that there is safety in their counsel, and I really believe that our prophet is a spokesman for the Lord in as much of a sense as Moses, Noah, Isaiah, Joseph Smith, and other great prophets were in their time.

Anyway, in 1980, Ezra Taft Benson, then a counselor to President Spencer W. Kimball, gave a devotional at BYU called Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet.  It’s a great talk; a classic, really, and it has been on my mind quite a bit. I wanted to share these points two or three at a time. I acknowledge that this is hardly cutting-edge blogging, but I don’t care. I know it won’t generate a lot of traffic or comments, but it felt important to me, so here it is.  In President Benson’s own words, starting with fundamental number one:

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First: The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything.

In section 132, verse 7, of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord speaks of the Prophet—the President—and says: “There is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred.”

Then in section 21, verses 4–6, the Lord states:

Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;

For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.

For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.

Did you hear what the Lord said about the words of the prophet? We are to “give heed unto all his words”—as if from the Lord’s “own mouth.”

Second:The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works.

President Wilford Woodruff tells of an interesting incident that occurred in the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith:

I will refer to a certain meeting I attended in the town of Kirtland in my early days. At that meeting some remarks were made that have been made here today, with regard to the living oracles and with regard to the written word of God. The same principle was presented, although not as extensively as it has been here, when a leading man in the Church got up and talked upon the subject, and said: “You have got the word of God before you here in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants; you have the written word of God, and you who give revelations should give revelations according to those books, as what is written in those books is the word of God. We should confine ourselves to them.”

When he concluded, Brother Joseph turned to Brother Brigham Young and said, “Brother Brigham, I want you to take the stand and tell us your views with regard to the living oracles and the written word of God.” Brother Brigham took the stand, and he took the Bible, and laid it down; and he took the Book of Mormon, and laid it down; and he took the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and laid it down before him, and he said: “There is the written word of God to us, concerning the work of God from the beginning of the world, almost, to our day. And now,” said he, “when compared with the living oracles those books are nothing to me; those books do not convey the word of God direct to us now, as do the words of a Prophet or a man bearing the Holy Priesthood in our day and generation. I would rather have the living oracles than all the writing in the books.” That was the course he pursued. When he was through, Brother Joseph said to the congregation: “Brother Brigham has told you the word of the Lord, and he has told you the truth.” [In Conference Report, October 1897, pp. 18–19]

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At the bottom of each of these “Fourteen Fundamentals” posts, I will be sharing some kind of tip, testimony, or idea to get the most out of General Conference.  The first is a link full of invitations that you can share with friends and family, maybe via email or Facebook or your own blog, to invite them to join us in watching what the Lord is saying today through living prophets.  Here’s a quick glance at the video invitation you can share.

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The winner of the $50 gift certificate for a Family Proclamation Photo Book courtesy of VioVio is Carin @ Building Eternity.

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7 thoughts on “14 Fundamentals in Following the Prophet, Day 1

  1. Thanks for doing this! It was kind of a let down when the family proclamation celebration ended. This will be nice to have.

  2. This talk (and the two talks based on it from two conferences ago) are definitely my favorites of “all time?”…very reassuring, very grounding in what our priorities should be. Thanks for focusing on it!

  3. I love this idea for preparing for General Conference. I think people forget that the prophet’s words are scripture, too. We don’t get to pick and choose what commandments we follow. I may link to this on my blog as a way for adults to prepare for Conference.

  4. I have actually been thinking about this talk for the past week. It is one of my all time favorites~! This is just what I need to get ready for Conference, which I love!!

  5. I am very excited you are doing this- and I love that story of Brigham and Joseph. I testify that it is true. Living prophets are were to keep our eyes.

  6. Thanks for this post. Love how you said, “I think Heavenly Father knows exactly what He is doing, and I believe the prophets are acting and speaking with authority. I am convinced that when I heed their counsel, I am protected from dark forces that seem to be railing with greater and greater intensity.”
    Couldn’t agree more.

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