“‘You Are a Marked Generation,’ President Benson Tells Students,” Ensign, Apr. 1987, 73–74
“Make no mistake about it, you are a marked generation,” President Ezra Taft Benson told 8,500 seminary and institute students assembled in the Anaheim, California, Convention Arena February 8.
“There has never been more expected of the faithful in such a short period of time than there is of us,” he said. “Never before on the face of this earth have the forces of evil and the forces of good been so well organized.”
The students had responded to a challenge given by President Benson last April general conference: “I bless you with increased understanding of the Book of Mormon. I promise you that from this moment forward, if we will daily sup from its pages and abide by its precepts, God will pour out upon each child of Zion and the Church a blessing hitherto unknown.” (Ensign, May 1986, p. 78.)
Seminary and institute students in southern California regions determined to read the Book of Mormon for at least ten minutes a day from the beginning of the school year until December 23, the birthday of the Prophet Joseph Smith. A book of remembrance containing the pictures and names of all students who completed the challenge was presented to President Benson at the special student devotional.
Pointing to the special mission of this generation, President Benson said, “While our generation will be comparable in wickedness to the days of Noah, when the Lord cleansed the earth by flood, there is a major difference this time: God has saved for the final inning some of His stronger and most valiant children, who will help bear off the kingdom triumphantly. … You are the generation that must be prepared to meet your God.”
President Benson assured: “The final outcome is certain—the forces of righteousness will finally win. But what remains to be seen is where each of us personally, now and in the future, will stand in this battle—and how tall will we stand?”
Building on his theme, “In His Steps,” President Benson said that Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and men, and to be like Him we must follow those steps.
“Wisdom is the proper application of true knowledge,” President Benson said, adding that “not all knowledge has the same worth, nor are all truths equally valuable. The truths upon which our eternal salvation rests are the most crucial truths that we must learn.”
Commenting on the abundance of books available today, he said, “It is a mark of a truly educated man to know what not to read,” noting that “many novels and modern publications are corrupters of morals or distorters of truth.”
President Benson noted: “That which affects our bodies also affects our souls.” He then pointed out four basics of personal health.
“First—righteousness,” he said. “Sin debilitates. It affects not only the soul, but the body. … unrepented sin can diffuse energy and lead to both mental and physical sickness.”
Next, he pointed to food. “To a great extent we are physically what we eat,” he said.
Third, he mentioned exercise. “The body needs the rejuvenation that comes from exercise.”
Finally, he emphasized the need for adequate rest. “‘Early to bed and early to rise’ is still good counsel,” he said.
President Benson counseled that the best way to increase in favor with God is to ask, “Lord, what will thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6.) He advised that God’s plans for us can be determined from the scriptures, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and personal prayer.
“For the Holy Ghost to be fully operating” in our lives, he said, “we must keep our channels clear of sin.” He warned, “If our channels are not clear of sin, then we may think we have received inspiration on a matter when it is really promptings from the devil.”
After discussing the role of young men and young women in the Church and giving guidelines for choosing an eternal companion, President Benson concluded by telling the audience, “You are a royal generation. Rise up, O youth of Zion. You hardly realize the great potential that lies within you.”
Correspondent: DeLynn Decker, a member of the San Diego Seventh Ward, San Diego North stake.