“Chapter 11: Revelation from God to His Children,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith (2010)
“Chapter 11,” Teachings: George Albert Smith
To teach about the importance of revelation to guide the Church, George Albert Smith told of an experience he had on an airplane flight from Los Angeles, California, to Salt Lake City, Utah:
“Near Milford, Utah, we suddenly flew into one of the worst fogs I have ever seen. I tried to look out of the window of the plane but could not see anything through the fog. Not a thing could be seen in any direction outside the plane.
“I knew that we were approaching the mountains at the approximate rate of three miles a minute, that we were compelled to pass over them to get into the Salt Lake Valley. I was worried and asked myself, ‘How can the pilot find the way when he cannot see a thing?’ He had his compass but the plane might drift off its course. He had instruments indicating our distance above sea level but he had no way of knowing how far we were from the ground. I thought he might fly high enough to clear the mountains between us and the Salt Lake Valley and try to find the landing field by the flash of the beacons if we got close enough, but I chilled when I thought of the danger of losing our way and missing the beacons and the airport.
“In my anxiety I went up into the space that was occupied by the pilot and the co-pilot to see how they knew where we were going. I could not tell whether we were a hundred feet, a thousand feet or ten thousand feet above the ground and I did not know how they could tell, except approximately. I noticed that the pilot had a little device over his ear like operators in telephone offices use to receive with. I inquired of the co-pilot how they could tell whether we were flying in the right direction or know if we were off course. He replied, ‘When we cannot see we are guided by the radio beam.’
“‘What is that?’ I asked. He explained that the beam might be likened to an electric highway between two points, and in our case the points were Milford and Salt Lake City. He said that the device over the pilot’s ear operated so that when the plane was in the beam a low, purring sound continued to be heard, but if the plane goes to the right or left the sound changes and the pilot is warned by clicking as of a telegraph key. If he … pulls back to the beam or highway, on to the path of safety, the clicking ceases and the purring resumes. If we continue on the beam we will arrive at our destination in safety.
“I returned to my seat greatly comforted to know that notwithstanding we were enveloped in fog and darkness and could neither see nor feel where we were, the pilot was receiving information constantly that we were on the highway and he knew that we would soon arrive at our destination. A few minutes later I felt the plane descending. We had passed over the mountain tops and were nearing the airport. When we were nearly down we could see the powerful lights of the field indicating where to land and the plane with its precious cargo touched the ground gently as a seagull lights on water, slowly came to a stop and we stepped from our conveyance to the ground, happy to be at home again. …
“I have thought many times of the lesson I learned on the plane and have applied it to experience in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. …
“Not only has the Lord given us the advice already recorded in the scriptures to guide us but he has placed a leader in this Church, one of his sons who has been chosen and ordained and set apart to be the President. He is our pilot and he will be directed by a voice that will enable him to lead us where we should go. If we are wise we will not set up our judgment against him but will be happy to honor him in his place as long as the Lord sustains him.”
President Smith also used his experience on the airplane to teach that each of us can receive revelation to guide our own lives if we are worthy:
“If we are living as we know that we should we are entitled to the whispering of a still small voice calling attention to danger, saying this is the pathway of safety, walk ye in it. … If we have erred in our conduct the voice will whisper to us ‘turn back, you have made a mistake; you have disregarded the advice of your Heavenly Father.’ Turn from the error of your way while there is yet time, for if you go too far from the right path you will not hear the voice and you may be hopelessly lost. …
“My advice to you is to get the Spirit of God and keep it and the only way we will retain it is by living near him, by keeping his commandments. … Listen to the still small voice that will always direct you if you are worthy of it in a path that means eternal happiness.”1 [See suggestion 1 on page 120.]
What a privilege it is to live in an age of the world when we know that God lives, when we know that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and our Redeemer, and when we know that the Lord continues to manifest himself to his children who have prepared themselves to receive his blessings! I am looking into the faces of a great audience this morning [at a session of general conference], most of whom enjoy the inspiration of the Almighty, and when they pray, they pray to their Father in heaven knowing that their prayers will be answered in blessings upon their heads. … We know there is a God in heaven, that he is our Father, that he does interest himself in our affairs, and he has done that ever since the world began, when his first children were placed upon the earth.2
The distinction between this great Church and that of all other churches from the beginning has been that we believe in divine revelation; we believe that our Father speaks to man today as he has done from the time of Adam. We believe and we know—which is more than mere belief—that our Father has set his hand in this world for the salvation of the children of men.3
It is not only because we have faith in these books [the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price] that we are considered a peculiar people but also because we confidently believe that our Father in heaven has spoken in this day and age. In fact, we know that there is communication with the heavens. We believe that Jehovah has the same feeling towards us, the same influence over us that he had for and over his children who lived in this world in times that are past.
By the unbeliever, the members of the Church of Jesus Christ in all ages of the world have been considered a peculiar people. When the Lord has spoken through his servants, there have been at different periods of time many people in the earth who have said, “I do not believe in revelation.” This age is no exception to the rule. The thousands, yes, the millions, of our Father’s children who live in the earth are but repeating the history of the past when they deny that God has revealed again his will to the children of men, and say that they have no need of any further revelation.4
We do not believe that the heavens are sealed over our heads, but that the same Father who loved and cherished the children of Israel loves and cherishes us. We believe that we are as much in need of the assistance of our Heavenly Father in the directing of our lives as they were. We know that in the day and age in which we live the seal has been broken, and God has again spoken from the heavens.5 [See suggestion 2 on page 120.]
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized by direct commandment from our Heavenly Father. Upon the rock of revelation this Church was founded and by revelation it has been guided.6
It is unique these days to belong to a church, wherein those who are members believe that the Lord speaks through their leaders. When we are instructed by the President of this Church, we believe he tells us what the Lord would have us do. To us it is something more than just the advice of man. We believe that, and it searches our souls, and we are prompted to renew our determination to be what God would have us be.7
We have had misguided souls in the Church who have, in their ignorance, opposed the advice of the [President of the Church], not sensing the fact that they were opposing the Lord and they have fallen into darkness and sorrow, and unless they repent they will not find a place in the celestial kingdom.
Let us remember that the President of this Church has been officially designated as the pilot of the Church here in mortality to represent the Master of heaven and earth.8
When men, as they have sometimes done in order to win their success along some line or another, have come to an individual or individuals and said, “I have had this dream and this is what the Lord wants us to do,” you may know that they are not on the Lord’s side of the line. The dreams and visions and revelations of God to the children of men have always come through his regularly appointed servant. You may have dreams and manifestations for your own comfort or for your own satisfaction, but you will not have them for the Church. … We need not be deceived.9
My soul is filled with gratitude this day to know that as we continue our membership in the Church we do have a pilot who knows the way, and if we will follow his direction … we will not meet the spiritual disasters that the world is meeting but we will go about doing good, blessing mankind, and rejoicing in the companionship of those we love.10 [See suggestion 3 on page 120.]
I believe in you, my brethren and sisters. … You are entitled to the same knowledge that he is who presides over the Church. You are entitled to the same inspiration that flows to those whom God has caused to be ordained as His leaders. You are entitled to the inspiration of the Spirit, and the knowledge that He is your Father, and when I say “you” I speak of all those who have obeyed the commandments of our Father, and have partaken of the sweet influence of the Spirit of the Lord in the Church of Christ. … Each of us is entitled to the inspiration of the Lord in proportion to the manner in which we live a godly life.11
Go where you will, you will find no other group assembled, each of whom has faith in God; and if we were to ask all of you how many have a testimony, not a belief because somebody else has said so, but how many of you have an assurance that this is God’s work, that Jesus is the Christ, that we are living eternal lives, that Joseph Smith was a prophet of the Living God, you would answer that you have this testimony that buoys you up and strengthens you and gives you satisfaction as you go forward in the world. …
… I learned when I was a boy that this is the work of the Lord. I learned that there were prophets living upon the earth. I learned that the inspiration of the Almighty would influence those who lived to enjoy it, so we are not dependent upon one or two or a half dozen individuals. There are thousands of members of this Church who know—it is not a question of imagination at all—they know that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ and that we are the children of God.12
You are not dependent alone upon history, nor upon the teachings of any man, to know that this is the work of the Lord, because you have had it burned into your souls by the gift of the Holy Ghost. There is no doubt in your mind as to your origin, nor as to the place you will go to when this life is over, if you are faithful to the trust reposed in you.13
A testimony cannot be given to us by somebody else. The conviction comes from our Heavenly Father.14
I stand here today profoundly grateful for the knowledge that has come to me. I am thankful that I am not dependent upon any individual for the testimony that I possess. Of course, I am grateful for the encouragement I received from others who possess light and truth, and who give encouragement by lives of righteousness, but I do not depend on any of them for a knowledge that God lives, that Jesus Christ is the Redeemer of mankind and Joseph Smith is a prophet of the Lord. These things I know for myself.
… I rejoice to testify that I know the gospel is true, and with all my soul I thank my Heavenly Father that he has revealed it to me.15
Of all the blessings that have come to me in life the most precious is the knowledge that God lives and that this is his work, because that comprehends all other blessings that I may hope to enjoy in this life or in the life that is to come.16 [See suggestion 4 on page 120.]
The companionship of [God’s] Spirit … is a safe guide along the pathway of mortal life and a sure preparation for a home in his celestial kingdom.17
We read in Job that there is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth him understanding [see Job 32:8]. If we keep the commandments of God we are entitled to that inspiration, and if we live as the sons of God ought to live, we will have that inspiration, and nobody can prevent it, and the result will be our own physical and mental and moral development in mortality, and continued development throughout the ages of eternity.18
The companionship of the spirit of the Lord is an antidote for weariness, … for fear and all those things that sometimes overtake us in life.19
When the disciples of the Savior were with him they admired him not knowing how great he really was, but not until the power of the Holy Ghost came upon them, not until they had the baptism of fire were they able to face the problems and endure the persecutions that almost made life unendurable. When the inspiration of the Almighty gave them understanding they knew they were living [an] eternal life, and if they proved faithful they knew that when they laid their bodies down in death they would be raised from the tomb to glory and immortality.
That was the result of the inspiration of the Spirit of God that came upon them, the inspiration of the Almighty that gave them understanding. …
I pray that that Spirit which keeps us in the pathway of truth and righteousness may abide with us, and I pray that that desire that comes from the inspiration of our Heavenly Father may direct us on that pathway of life.20
When life’s labor is complete may we find that we have listened to the whispering of that still, small voice that always guides us in the path of righteousness, and know that it has meant for us the opening of the door to the Celestial kingdom, for ourselves and those we love, to go forward throughout the ages, … happy eternally.21 [See suggestion 5 on page 120.]
Consider these ideas as you study the chapter or as you prepare to teach. For additional help, see pages v–vii.
As you read “From the Life of George Albert Smith” (pages 111–14), consider how President Smith’s analogy applies to our journey through mortality. What could the fog, the radio beam, and the clicking sound represent? How has the Lord warned you of danger and helped you stay on the path to eternal life?
On pages 114–15, President Smith declares that revelation is as necessary today as it was in biblical times. How would you respond to someone who says the revelations in the scriptures are sufficient for our day? What experiences have taught you that Heavenly Father “does interest himself in our affairs”?
Review the section that begins on page 115. How have you come to know that the counsel of the prophet comes from the Lord and is “more than just the advice of man”? (page 116). How can personal revelation help you accept and apply revelation given through the prophet?
As you study the section that begins on page 116, think about how you gained a testimony of the gospel. How did the testimonies of others help you? What did you do to come to know the truth for yourself?
In the last section of teachings (pages 118–19), look for words and phrases that describe ways the Holy Ghost can help us. Consider what you can do to be worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost more often in your life.
Teaching help: “Do not be concerned if learners are silent for a few seconds after you have asked a question. Do not answer your own question; allow time for learners to think of responses. However, prolonged silence may indicate that they do not understand the question and that you need to rephrase it” (Teaching, No Greater Call, 69).