“The Sure Word of God,” Ensign, Jan. 1973, 94
The Sure Word of God
My beloved brethren of the priesthood: I would like you to know tonight that I am humbled in your presence. I have thought of questions that might enter the mind of a young Aaronic Priesthood bearer. One such question would be, Where can I go to get a commitment to the Church like the brethren, the bishops in the wards, the stake presidents? What is it that causes a man to go early in the morning and work late at night, and give his heart and soul to the kingdom of God? Where can I go to find a commitment to the Savior like you have? And then another question, Where can I get a testimony?
I would like to brush away the fluff if we could and maybe go to that source where I gained my special testimony. It happened to be in the scriptures.
Let’s go back first to the young man Enoch. As Enoch journeyed in the land, the voice of the Lord came unto him and told him to prophesy and call the people to repentance. And Enoch answering said unto the Lord:
“Why is it that I have found favor in thy sight, and am but a lad, and all the people hate me; for I am slow of speech; wherefore am I thy servant?
“And the Lord said unto Enoch: Go forth and do as I have commanded thee, and no man shall pierce thee. …
“… and the mountains shall flee before you, and the rivers shall turn from their course; and thou shalt abide in me, and I in you.” (Moses 6:31–32, 34.)
These powers would be given to Enoch if he would but follow this great lead and accept the call. Enoch accepted the call. And then you will recall the tremendous thing that happened—and I think this is absolutely beautiful, the way it is described in the scriptures, how the people described Enoch after he received the call. They said: “… and there is a strange thing in the land; a wild man hath come among us.” (Moses 6:38.) I think that is a tremendous description of one who serves totally and fully in the Lord’s service.
Enoch, of course, had some great associations. He happened one time to be conversing with the Lord, and he said, “How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity?
“And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations; and thy curtains are stretched out still; … and also thou art just; thou art merciful and kind forever.” (Moses 7:29–30.)
I want you to know that when I read those sacred words, I felt and had the feelings, I believe, that Enoch might have had in some small degree. And each of you can have those same feelings.
And then, I believe, later on Enoch had the privilege of seeing all the generations of man and beholding them in their wickedness, and then Enoch wept and stretched out his arms; and the scripture says, “And his heart swelled wide as eternity. …” (Moses 7:41.) I think that is a beautiful description.
I heard our modern prophet say something similar. He wept and then he said, “As I thought about my responsibility, my heart and soul went out to the entire membership of the Church.” Doesn’t that have a familiar ring of the prophets?
Then what about Jeremiah? The Lord called Jeremiah and said, I knew thee before thou wast born, “and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” And then the scripture records: “Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.” (Jer. 1:5–6.) And yet the Lord took this young man and made of him the great prophet Jeremiah.
And then again, let’s take a look at Amos. The Lord called Amos to go down to Israel and prophesy; Amos did this, and Amaziah, the king’s priest, was wroth and angry. He came to Amos and said, “O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, … But prophesy not again any more at Bethel: for it is the king’s chapel, and it is the king’s court”—go to Judah and prophesy there and eat bread and leave us alone. And then Amos said, I think with all the courage and all the dignity of a prophet, “I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit. And the Lord … said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel. Now therefore hear thou the word of the Lord.” (Amos 7:12–16.) And with all the righteous integrity of one who had this calling, he did exactly that.
Then I want to tell you the type of experience I had when I read the Book of Mormon, and this great soul Enos, a young man, the son of a prophet in this case, said:
“Behold, it came to pass that I, Enos, knowing my father that he was a just man—for he taught me in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord—and blessed be the name of my God for it—
“And I will tell you of the wrestle which I had before God, before I received a remission of my sins.
“Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.
“And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, … in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.
“And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.
“And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away.
“And I said: Lord, how is it done?
“And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ. …” (Enos 1:1–8.)
Young men, did you hear those words? Because of thy faith in Christ!
And then a wayward son of another prophet, Alma the Younger, told his son Helaman in testimony:
“For I went about with the sons of Mosiah, seeking to destroy the church of God; but behold, God sent his holy angel to stop us by the way.
“And behold, he spake unto us, as it were the voice of thunder, and the whole earth did tremble beneath our feet; and we all fell to the earth, for the fear of the Lord came upon us.
“But behold, the voice said unto me: Arise. And I arose and stood up, and beheld the angel.
“And he said unto me: If thou wilt of thyself be destroyed, seek no more to destroy the church of God.
“And it came to pass that I fell to the earth; and it was for the space of three days and three nights that I could not open my mouth, neither had I the use of my limbs.
“But I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins.
“Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, … yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, … and had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction; yea, and in fine so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror.
“Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds.
“And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked … with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.
“Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart, O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.
“And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more. …
“And … my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!
“… there could be nothing … so bitter as were my pains. Yea, … my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.
“Yea, methought I saw, even as our Father Lehi saw, God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praising their God, … and my soul did long to be there.” (Alma 36:6–10, 12–22.)
Now, contrast those two experiences of Alma: one, that he would be banished and extinct, both soul and body; and the other, that he longed to be in the presence of God.
I believe that the scriptures have every dimension of life that we can cleave unto and find a pattern for living, if we will just go back to the scriptures and study them and learn of them.
Let me tell you the greatest experience I believe I have had in all my readings of the scriptures—and I am sharing something that is very tender with me. I remember the night that I read 3 Nephi the 17th chapter [3 Ne. 17]. That is when I discovered the Lord Jesus Christ, my Redeemer, the Lord of lords, the King of kings, my Savior, my personal Savior; and I believe that is where I finally found the description of the Savior as I thought him to be.
He had been with the Nephite people all the day long, you will recall, and finally said:
“I perceive that ye are weak, that ye cannot understand all my words which I am commanded of the Father to speak unto you at this time.
“Therefore, go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and … I come unto you again [on the morrow].
“But now I go unto the Father, and also to show myself unto the lost tribes of Israel, for they are not lost unto the Father, for he knoweth whither he hath taken them.”
And here I believe is where I found him.
“And … when Jesus had thus spoken, he cast his eyes round about again on the multitude, and behold they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them.
“And he said unto them: Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you.
“Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or maimed, or leprous, or … that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.
“For I perceive that ye desire that I should show unto you what I have done unto your brethren at Jerusalem, for I see that your faith is sufficient that I should heal you.”
And then you will recall that he had all those who were sick or halt or blind or lame come forth, and the scripture says, “And they did all, both they who had been healed and they who were whole, bow down at his feet, and did worship him; and as many as could come for the multitude did kiss his feet, insomuch that they did bathe his feet with their tears.”
And when he had blessed all those who were sick and halt and blind and leprous, then he called the little children round about him; and then he commanded that the multitude should kneel down, and they knelt down, and he knelt in their midst and prayed; and the scripture says:
“The eye hath never seen, neither hath the ear heard, before, so great and marvelous things as we saw and heard Jesus speak unto the Father.
“… neither can the hearts of men conceive so great and marvelous things as we both saw and heard Jesus speak; and no one can conceive of the joy which filled our souls at the time we heard him pray for us unto the Father.”
And then you will recall, after he had finished praying, he arose, but so great was the joy of the multitude that they were overcome, and he commanded that they should arise, and he said, “And now behold, my joy is full.”
And then Jesus wept. He blessed the little children, one by one, and when he had done this, he wept again, and then he said unto the multitude, “Behold your little ones.
“And as they looked to behold they cast their eyes towards heaven, and they saw the heavens open, and they saw angels descending out of heaven as it were in the midst of fire; and they came down and encircled those little ones about, … and the angels did minister unto them.
“And the multitude did see and hear and bear record … and they were in number about two thousand and five hundred [and ONE] souls” who were in that beautiful experience with the Savior. (See 3 Ne. 17.)
I want you to know I was there. I wouldn’t know any more surely if I had been there than I would know having read this book. And I promise you that vicariously every single young man in the Church can read the scriptures and have that same experience with all of the prophets. And you can gain your own testimony, and it need not be pinned on someone else’s coat sleeve. You can actually know. You can know that we have a modern prophet. Read his words. Listen to him.
I want you to know that I have had burned into my soul like nothing else in my life the knowledge that President Harold B. Lee is a prophet. I so testify and admonish you to read the scriptures, to go back to the sure word of God. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.