Every principle the Lord has revealed carries with it its own conviction, President Gordon B. Hinckley declared to a congregation of some 17,328 at a regional conference in Tacoma, Wash., Aug. 20.
The conference, held in the Tacoma Dome, was attended by members of the 11 stakes comprising the Tacoma Region. The region encompasses the area from Tacoma south almost to the Oregon border.Other speakers at the conference were Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve and his wife, Sister June Oaks; and Elder Glenn L. Pace of the Seventy and his wife, Sister Jolene Pace.
President Hinckley drew his theme from a statement made by Brigham Young Jan. 12, 1862. On that occasion, President Young said: "Every principle God has revealed carries its own convictions of its truth. . . ."
Commenting on the quotation, President Hinckley said: "Those who live the Word of Wisdom know the truth of the Word of Wisdom. Those who engage in missionary service know the divine wisdom behind that service. Those who are making an effort to strengthen their families in obedience to the call of the Lord know that they yield the blessings of doing so. Those who engage in temple work know the truth of that work, its divine and eternal implications. Those who pay their tithing know the divine promise underlying that great law, the law of finance for the Church. Those who keep the Sabbath know the divine wisdom which provided for the Sabbath day."
Regarding the Word of Wisdom, the prophet mentioned current discussion in government and industry in the United States regarding the dangers of tobacco use, particularly by young people. He said he had read an editorial that noted 400,000 Americans die each year from smoking and 3 million die worldwide. He quoted an eminent English scientist as saying, "More people alive today will die from the effects of tobacco smoke than have died in all the wars of the 20th Century, which has been the most violent century in human history."
President Hinckley quoted from the Word of Wisdom revelation in D&C 89 and commented: "This is an admonition. Some people argue over whether it is a commandment. I do not need to argue. As far as I am concerned, whether it is a commandment or counsel, that which the Lord counsels becomes a commandment to Gordon B. Hinckley. I hope it does to you."
But, he said, the remarkable thing is that with the admonition comes a promise, citing verses 18-20.
"That statement of the Lord which we call the Word of Wisdom carries with it to all who have accepted it the conviction of its own divine origin and of its own eternal truths," he remarked.
Regarding missionary work, President Hinckley noted that "anybody who has ever had a missionary in the field need not be converted to the principle of missionary work. It carries with it the conviction of its own truth."
Turning to the admonition to strenghthen families, he read a letter from a man who recounted the following story.
Living in Salt Lake City 30 years ago, the man attended general conference and then discussed with a non-member co-worker the teachings of President David O. McKay on the home and family. The acquaintance ridiculed the emphasis on family, saying it was "as obvious to all thinking persons as mom and apple pie" and adding "it doesn't take a prophet to tell me that."
Instead, the acquaintance told him, he should focus on his career and the social issues of the day "like all of the so-called enlightened persons of the '60s who were engaged in public demonstrations."
But the man did not get caught up in the mood of the '60s and '70s. He followed the prophet's teachings. Moving to Arizona, he and his wife held regular family prayer and home evening and tried to do what they were asked to do.
President Hinckley quoted from the letter: "Now all of these years have passed. I have seen my friend. His life has dwindled into a zero and I have looked about in my own home and into my own life. I now count the fruits of following that counsel. All five of our children have been married in the temple. All five of our sons and sons-in-law served full-time missions. . . . We get on our knees, my beloved companion and I, and thank the Lord that we had the conviction in our hearts to do that which we were asked to do when others were ridiculing that which we were doing."
President Hinckley commented: "I thank the Lord for the conviction he had concerning these great and sacred principles. I have been interviewed by a lot of reporters. The one thing they say is, `Now what is going to be your theme during your presidency?' I simply say, `The same theme which I have heard repeated in this Church by the presidents of the Church and the apostles for as far back as I can remember: Simply live the gospel, and every one who does so will receive in his heart a conviction of the truth of that which he lives."
Pertaining to temple work, the prophet recounted an experience told by Wilford Woodruff, who said that when the principle of baptism for the dead was revealed, Elder Woodruff, the Prophet Joseph Smith and others went immediately to the Mississippi River to be baptized for a hundred of their forebears. They did not record the baptisms because they did not know at the time that they had to record them. They were simply filled with joy that they could help bring salvation to those who had gone before. (See Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p. 153.)
Commenting on the incident, President Hinckley said: "I wish, my brethren and sisters, we could get more enthusiastic about temple work. I know this, that everyone who engages in that service has revealed unto him that conviction of the truth of the principles underlying the service."
It is the same with Sabbath-day observance, he said, reading Lev. 26:2-6 about all the blessings that flow therefrom.
"Great are the promises of the Lord," he declared. "The marvelous thing to me is that the Lord never asks us to do anything that He does not attach to it a blessing. It is not a sacrifice to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is never a sacrifice when you get back more than you give. It is an investment. And the living of the gospel of Jesus Christ becomes a greater investment than any of which we know because its dividends are eternal and everlasting."
President Hinckley concluded with his testimony: "I know that the peace of the Latter-day Saints, the progress of Latter-day Saints, the prosperity of the Latter-day Saints, the happiness of the Latter-day Saints, lies in following the commandments of God. I leave my blessing with you and my love."