As I stand here before you at this moment, I cannot help but think back to the day when I, as an investigator of the Church, was confronted with the missionaries’ challenge to prepare for my baptism. This step seemed to be too big for me to take, but because I already had a testimony burning within me of the truthfulness of this work, I knew that withstanding baptism would take away my right to speak to my Father in Heaven again in prayer.
So I accepted the challenge for baptism, with a fearful heart, but I told the missionaries that I would do it only on two conditions: First, that I would never be called to any Church position, and second, that I would never have to give a talk. Without the loving influence and the power and security of the Holy Ghost, which I received by the laying on of hands after baptism to help me, I could not have done anything in my various Church assignments by myself.
We, as members, have the privilege to bear witness of the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ through a divinely authorized man, Joseph Smith, in these latter days. As I bore this witness to a man just recently while I was serving as mission president in Germany, I saw that he felt very uneasy about my statement, and he, like so many others, responded with a question: “Don’t we all believe in the same God?” This question hurt me. It always hurts me when I see how many people are so indifferent and show such a lack of awareness in this most vital question in man’s life: Can I find thee, my Father in Heaven?
Yes, one could say that regardless of when, where, and in what circumstances we are raised, we all long for our Heavenly Father and desire after him, because we knew him before we came to this earth. But do we, on this earth, all believe in the same God? No—absolutely not! Men have created, in their use of free agency, all kinds of different interpretations of our Father in Heaven and the purpose of our lives.
In our mortal existence there is no place for an uncertain, indifferent awareness of our responsibility and obligation to decide whom we should follow. Either we must attain a knowledge of our Creator and God, who loves us, who wants to bring peace, dignity, light, and happiness into our lives, or by and by we will forget our divine origin and remain in the foggy mists of the deceiver—the adversary, who cannot stand the fact that we, as living souls, did not accept his plan in our premortal lives.
He is fighting, with all of his knowledge, to lead men astray as they exercise their free agency, that he might make them his slaves. We are witnesses that the fear, hatred, despair, loneliness, and ugliness that people experience in their lives are the fruits of the influence of the adversary. It is obvious that his long-range, ungodly strategy to destroy our ability to truly love and have faith is aimed at these latter days before the second coming of the Savior, when a decision is required of every man.
If we do not decide to search out and accept the truth in the only way authorized by God, with all our might, mind, and strength, even when it means changing our lives completely, we will have built our house on sand. The half-truths of men, often mingled with scripture, are sometimes strong enough to fulfill the expectations of the people for a season or for a generation, but they can neither bring them along the path of exaltation and eternal life nor bring satisfying answers to the demanding problems of mankind in these days.
Receiving and accepting Jesus Christ and his plan of salvation in its fulness and its truth means leaving the world and its earthly desires behind and building Zion around ourselves. When Christ walked the earth to prepare the way for his disciples, standing in purity and bearing testimony of the truth, he was a light in the darkness, and the darkness knew him not (see John 1:5). The darkness organized itself to destroy him. Christ knew that this would happen, not only to him but also to all his true disciples. He said, in speaking to his followers, in Matthew 10:22, “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.”
When we really follow Christ in his true restored church, it will be manifested in our lives. The fruit will follow. The Holy Ghost will lead us to make uncomfortable decisions, to develop true love and faith by learning to sacrifice and to discipline ourselves. Our abilities will grow and will bring satisfaction and joy and happiness. Through the instrument of an ongoing communication with our Heavenly Father—a constant prayer in our hearts for direction in the many little decisions in our lives—we feel the softness of the yoke of Christ, as he said in Matthew 11:28, 30:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. …
“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
We will be led to live our lives his way and not the world’s way.
The men of the world feel secure with the question “Don’t we all believe in the same God?” The answer to the question is “No.” The deceiver has initiated all kinds of philosophies and religions to lead people astray, to make them feel happy and safe in their man-made rationalizing and wickedness. He wants them to forget that someday we all have to stand in the judgment of Christ and report our deeds and words. The Savior said in Matthew 12:36, “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.”
We are living in the glorious days of fulfillment eagerly awaited by the prophets of old—Enoch, Isaiah, Daniel, Paul, and many others. In our day the works of the deceiver of all the ages are being revealed by Christ through a living prophet. The disciples of Christ—the Saints of the latter days under the leadership of a living prophet, even Spencer W. Kimball—are taking the offensive to show the world the fruits of righteous living in the gospel of Jesus Christ. We testify with the angels that these are the days of warning for the people of the nations of the world, and that the time is near when it will be too late. We testify with the words of Amulek, a Book of Mormon prophet, recorded in Alma 34:32–33 and 35:
“For behold, this life is the time for men … to perform their labors.
“And now, as I have said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; …
“For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.”
The saving priesthood powers from above operate only through the principle of the righteousness of men. These powers are working through the innocent and the pure in heart as prophesied since the days of old. Thirty thousand missionaries are sent out to teach with this power, searching for those who are seeking the eternal principles of truth that they have been waiting for during their whole lifetime. Hundreds of thousands of priesthood holders and women witness daily—through their righteous lives, their example, and their testimonies—that they have been sealed by the Holy Ghost with the knowledge that these things are true, that the kingdom of God is in the process of establishment in these days to prepare for the second coming of the Savior.
With great excitement, the disciples of Christ in these last days are learning to accept the word given to the Prophet Joseph Smith in Doctrine & Covenants 58:64:
“For, verily, the sound must go forth from this place into all the world, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth—the gospel must be preached unto every creature, with signs following them that believe.”
This work in these latter days is bringing to pass the prophecy of the prophet Enoch, the seventh from Adam, recorded in the Pearl of Great Price, Moses 7:62:
“And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men; and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem.”
My dear brothers and sisters, I bear you my testimony that this is the day of the establishment of the kingdom of Christ on this earth—that nobody will be able to escape the decision to accept God as he really is and not as he has been made to appear according to man-made philosophies. I know that this is the work of the living God, working through a living prophet, Spencer W. Kimball. I say this in humility in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.