Welcome to day three of our series about Ezra Taft Benson’s classic talk, “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet.” Here are the sixth, seventh, and eighth fundamentals In his own words:
Sixth: The prophet does not have to say “Thus saith the Lord” to give us scripture.
Sometimes there are those who haggle over words. They might say the prophet gave us counsel but that we are not obligated to follow it unless he says it is a commandment. But the Lord says of the Prophet Joseph, “Thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you” (D&C 21:4; italics added).
And speaking of taking counsel from the prophet, in D&C 108:1, the Lord states: “Verily thus saith the Lord unto you, my servant Lyman: Your sins are forgiven you, because you have obeyed my voice in coming up hither this morning to receive counsel of him whom I have appointed” (italics added).
Said Brigham Young, “I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call scripture” (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot], 13:95).
Seventh: The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know.
“Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear,” complained Nephi’s brethren. But Nephi answered by saying, “the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center” (1 Nephi 16:1, 3). Or, to put it in another prophet’s words, “Hit pigeons flutter.”
Said President Harold B. Lee:
You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. . . . Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow. . . . Let’s keep our eye on the President of the Church. [In Conference Report, October 1970, p. 152-153]
But it is the living prophet who really upsets the world. “Even in the Church,” said President Kimball, “many are prone to garnish the sepulchers of yesterday’s prophets and mentally stone the living ones” (Instructor, 95:257).
Why? Because the living prophet gets at what we need to know now, and the world prefers that prophets either be dead or mind their own business. Some so-called experts of political science want the prophet to keep still on politics. Some would-be authorities on evolution want the prophet to keep still on evolution. And so the list goes on and on.
How we respond to the words of a living prophet when he tells us what we need to know, but would rather not hear, is a test of our faithfulness.
Said President Marion G. Romney, “It is an easy thing to believe in the dead prophets.” And then he gives this illustration:
One day when President Grant was living, I sat in my office across the street following a general conference. A man came over to see me, an elderly man. He was very upset about what had been said in this conference by some of the Brethren, including myself. I could tell from his speech that he came from a foreign land. After I had quieted him enough so he would listen, I said, “Why did you come to America?” “I am here because a prophet of God told me to come.” “Who was the prophet;” I continued. “Wilford Woodruff.” “Do you believe Wilford Woodruff was a prophet of God?” “Yes, I do.” “Do you believe that President Joseph F. Smith was a prophet of God?” “Yes, sir.”
Then came the sixty-four dollar question. “Do you believe that Heber J. Grant is a prophet of God?” His answer, “I think he ought to keep his mouth shut about old age assistance.”
Now I tell you that a man in his position is on the way to apostasy. He is forfeiting his chances for eternal life. So is everyone who cannot follow the living Prophet of God.” [In Conference Report, April 1953, p. 125]
Eighth: The prophet is not limited by men’s reasoning.
There will be times when you will have to choose between the revelations of God and the reasoning of men—between the prophet and the politician or professor. Said the Prophet Joseph Smith, “Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof until long after the events transpire” (Scrapbook of Mormon Literature, vol. 2, p. 173).
Would it seem reasonable to an eye doctor to be told to heal a blind man by spitting in the dirt, making clay, and applying it to the man’s eyes and then telling him to wash in a contaminated pool? Yet this is precisely the course that Jesus took with one man, and he was healed. (See John 9:6-7.) Does it seem reasonable to cure leprosy by telling a man to wash seven times in a particular river? Yet this is precisely what the prophet Elisha told a leper to do, and he was healed. (See 2 Kings 5.)
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. [Isaiah 55:8, 9]
General Conference Preparation tip of the day: Three and a half years ago, I started an online General Conference Book Club here on the blog, and our next round will begin this coming weekend with the October 6-7, 2012 General Conference. I invite you to join us! (For the past six months, Becca at My Soul Delighteth has been babysitting my book club at her blog while I finished up my book, and I’m so grateful to her for doing that.) This coming Sunday, after you’ve soaked up all the amazing talks, come on back here and join in a conversation with us about your favorite moments and messages from conference. Then every Sunday a new talk will be posted, and we will study discuss them one at a time. It usually works out just perfectly to get through all the talks before the next conference. Here’s a button with a code that you’re welcome to grab or pin or whatever best reminds you to join us in carefully studying the prophetic counsel we are given at General Conference.
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