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Strength, comfort

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One of the signs of the true Church is its organization — a system that mirrors the one Jesus Christ established when He was on earth, and which can provide continuing revelation to bless the lives of true believers. When Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf and Elder David A. Bednar were called last weekend to join the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, it was further evidence that the Lord is guiding His Church, and that He continues to speak through living oracles today.

Also called was Elder Robert C. Oaks to the Presidency of the Seventy.

The Church's semiannual general conference always serves as a source of strength and comfort to members worldwide. It allows them to hear directly from a living prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley, as well as from apostles and other General Authorities and leaders the Lord has called to be stewards over His Church and His followers at this point in history.

This conference was no exception. Clear instructions, warnings and comfort were given in ways applicable to this specific time.

But conference also serves as a great source of comfort to members of the Church. Since April, Elders David B. Haight and Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve have passed on, and their absence has left a void and caused sorrow. It is a great comfort to know that the Lord does not leave us alone; that He has prepared two others to take their places as special witnesses of Christ in this dispensation, ready to lend their own unique talents, backgrounds and perspectives toward the building up of the kingdom on earth.

In the meridian of time, after Judas betrayed the Lord and hanged himself, the remaining apostles gathered to fill the vacancy among them. "And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.

"And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts and souls of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place" (Acts 1:23-25).

Through this process of revelation, the Lord chose Matthias to be a member of the Twelve. And it is that same revelatory process by which Elder Uchtdorf and Elder Bednar were chosen. Their calling, as President Hinckley said, came after much fasting and prayer.

Years ago, following the calling of two other men to the apostleship, President Hinckley noted how both of them had impressive credentials in their professional lives and in their Church service, but this wasn't why they were called.

"They were called because the Lord wanted them in this office as men who have a witness of His divinity, and whose voices have been and will be raised in testimony of his reality.

"Each is a man of faith. After they are ordained to the holy apostleship and are set apart as members of the Council of the Twelve, they will be expected to devote themselves primarily to the work of the ministry. They will place first in their lives, above all other considerations, the responsibility to stand as special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world" (April 1984 General Conference, Ensign, May 1984).

The value of living prophets and apostles cannot be overstated. This conference offered many examples. President Hinckley's warnings about the evils of pornography, delivered during the priesthood session, offered a clear voice, piercing the fog of confusion in the stormy world like the powerful beam from a lighthouse.

His announcement of new temples, his progress report on the growth of the Church and his touching and inspired teachings on the value of women, among other things, were proof that the Church is a living organization, with a strong and continuing link to the living Savior.

That is reason to rejoice.