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GOD SPEAKS WITH MAN TODAY AS HE DID IN PAST; HE FAVORS ALL EQUALLY

The Articles of Faith were penned by Joseph Smith 150 years ago, and printed in the Times and Seasons on March 1, 1842. During 1992, the Church News is featuring a monthly article on one of the Articles of Faith.One of the most significant truths taught by the Prophet Joseph Smith was that God not only communicated with man in the past, but He also continues to communicate with man in the present.

God is a loving Father who favors all of His children equally. He spoke to those before us through prophets and He speaks to us today through His servants. The Prophet Joseph's joy is apparent as he proclaimed "Now, what do we hear in the gospel which we have received? A voice of gladness! A voice of mercy from heaven; and a voice of truth out of the earth; . . ." (D&C 128:19.)Truth transmitted directly from heaven is of unequaled importance to our eternal salvation. Certain of God's dealings with mankind have been written and canonized as scripture. The restored Church of Jesus Christ accepts the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price as communications from the Lord. We are spiritually moved by the experiences of those who have lived before us. We are taught the plan of life and salvation by the revelations given to previous prophets.

The scriptures, the revelations given to prophets of old, impact many lives on a daily basis. Examples can be found all over the world of prayers being answered through the scriptures; personal revelation being imparted through a study of past revelation; an investigator of the gospel seeking the truth; a young man or woman preparing to go on a mission and seeking personal knowledge of the truthfulness of their message; a world-worn parent searching for divine guidance to earthly problems; a lonely soul soliciting solace from above.

The prophet Moroni exhorts us that when we read "these things," the true records of God's dealings with man, that we should remember how merciful the Lord has been unto His children, from Adam down to the present. We should ponder in our hearts the fact that He has always given mankind truth from heaven.

Moroni also promises to all who receive the scriptures that if they will "ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ," the power of the Holy Ghost will manifest the truth of all things to them. (Moroni 10:3-5.) We have been counseled by President Ezra Taft Benson to read the scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon. "His word is one of the most valuable gifts He has given us. I urge you to recommit yourselves to a study of the scriptures. Immerse yourselves in them daily so you will have the power of the Spirit to attend you . . . . Read them in your families and teach your children to love and to treasure them." (April 1986 general conference.) There is great profit in believing all that God has revealed.

While the standard works are of vast importance to our eternal progression, a vital characteristic of the living Church is continuous revelation. Individual lives and circumstances change rapidly and the world changes drastically from day to day and year to year. It would be difficult to move forward without ongoing revelation from the Lord.

Our present prophets, seers, and revelators provide guidance to each of us who will listen to their counsel. The Lord made it clear that when his servants speak as priesthood leaders as "moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation." (D&C 68:4.)

Twice each year members of the Church gather around the world to listen to general conference. Through modern technology we are able to listen to the inspired words of the First Presidency, the Twelve Apostles, and other General Authorities of the Church.

It is with great anticipation that Latter-day Saints assemble to listen to their prophets' voices.

As a young missionary in Spain I recall receiving word that a session of general conference would be broadcast in that country for the first time. Though membership in the city of Barcelona was sparse there was much excitement and preparation. These Spanish saints would be able to hear the messages of the prophet and apostles as they were being spoken. My companion and I had made arrangements to return to the apartment where we lived and listen to the session on a small borrowed transistor radio.

It seemed that ages had passed since I had last heard President Spencer W. Kimball speak, even though it had been only 18 months before that I sat in the Missionary Training Center watching April conference. I was looking forward to taking notes and savoring the words that were to be spoken. As the time approached I envisioned the sights of the Tabernacle and made plans to enjoy the sounds of the choir.

My companion and I spoke of the conference and our expectations of what we would hear and learn. We arrived at our apartment after dark. As we climbed the stairs, our excitement continued to grow. The radio was placed on a table. I could scarcely believe it when all that could be located was static! Our spirits sank as we determined that perhaps our calculation of the time difference had been inaccurate. We checked and rechecked our notes, the radio, the time, the date. We were crushed!

Finally, after moving the radio to various locations in our room we decided we may have found the right station. The best spot was near the window. A wire coat hanger was devised as an antenna of sorts. The best reception was gained by holding the hanger-antenna outside the window - I think we were on the fifth or sixth floor of the building - and pressing it against the window frame. It wasn't a crystal clear signal, it wasn't even clear at all much of the time, but we could hear the voices! We could hear the servants of God! We had missed most of the session because of our difficulties, but we heard all of the message from President Kimball.

It felt as if we were alone in the wilderness and hearing God's voice from the Garden of Eden. It caused me to ponder on the blessing it is to know that someone speaks for God. I can still hear that voice the way it sounded that night and feel the joy I felt at that moment. When the broadcast was over I believe I had a better understanding of the admonition to feast upon the word of the Lord. The words of our prophets, seers, and revelators can truly fill our souls.

The messages from our inspired leaders will guide us "when dark clouds of trouble hang o'er us and threaten our peace to destroy." As President Gordon B. Hinckley said at the close of our most recent general conference: "These have been two wonderful days. I hope that we will review and ponder what we have heard. We have feasted on the word of God. The music has been wonderful. The prayers have been inspired. The talks have been uplifting and enlightening, and our lives will be richer for our experience if we strive to do better in harmony with the teachings to which we have listened." (April 1992 general conference.) How blessed we are to believe all that God does now reveal through His prophets.

With all the truth that we have received from heaven, it is difficult to imagine what additional great and wondrous things yet await us. We are observing a world where change is the order of the day. The Lord has promised to those who will endure, "A time to come in the which nothing shall be withheld. . . . " (D&C 121:28.)

In a joyous proclamation of hope the prophet Joseph explained the reason for the Lord's method of revealing truth as we are able to receive it, " . . . giving line upon line, precept upon precept; here a little, and there a little; giving us consolation by holding forth that which is to come, confirming our hope!" (D&C 128:21.) The prophet continues to encourage us to be valiant, ". . . shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory!" (D&C 128:22.) We wait with confident expectation the eternal gain that will be realized by believing in all the great and important things that the Lord will yet reveal.