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New apostle testifies of Jesus Christ; God's grace

Pledging his whole soul and "all of my energy to this sacred work," Elder David A. Bednar stood for the first time in general conference as a newly called member of the Quorum of the Twelve.

"I will go where the Lord and the leaders of His Church want me to go," Elder Bednar, who is president of BYU-Idaho, said Sunday morning. "I will do what they want me to do. I will teach what they want me to teach, and I will strive to become what I should and must become. In the strength of the Lord and through His grace, I know that you and I can be blessed to accomplish all things."

Elder Bednar was sustained, along with Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, who had been serving in the Presidency of the Seventy, to the Quorum of the Twelve on Saturday morning, Oct. 2. (Please see page 2 for a report from a press conference and page 23 for biographies of the two new apostles.)

In his remarks, which were offered quietly and at times with emotion, Elder Bednar related that in the hours after President Gordon B. Hinckley extended the call Friday afternoon, he "heeded the admonition of Nephi to 'liken all scriptures unto us' (1 Nephi 19:23) with a greater sense of purpose and intensity than ever before. I have reflected on the teaching of Paul that 'God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty' (1 Corinthians 1:27). Today I take great comfort in knowing that I am one of the truly weak things of the world."

After quoting from Jacob 4:6-7, including the words of verse 7, "The Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescension unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things," the new apostle pointed out the word grace "as it is used in the verse I just read. In the Bible Dictionary we learn that the word grace frequently is used in the scriptures to connote a strengthening or enabling power. . . . Thus, the enabling and strengthening aspect of the Atonement helps us to see and to do and to become good in ways that we could never recognize or accomplish with our limited mortal capacity."

"I testify and witness that the enabling power of the Savior's Atonement is real. Without the strengthening power of the Atonement, I could not stand before you this morning," Elder Bednar added.

Continuing, he recalled the night of June 20, 2000, when he and several colleagues were working late in preparation for the announcement from the First Presidency that Ricks College would become BYU-Idaho. A colleague asked him, "President, are you scared?"

"As best as I can recall," Elder Bednar related, "I answered something like: 'If I thought we had to execute this transition relying exclusively upon our own experience and judgment, then I would be terrified. But we will have help from heaven. Because we know Who is in charge and that we are not alone, then no, I am not scared.'

"And we who serve at BYU-Idaho unitedly testify that there has been help from heaven, miracles have occurred, revelations have been received, doors have been opened, and we have been greatly blessed as individuals and as an institution."

After expressing gratitude to his progenitors, and to his and his wife's parents, he spoke of his wife, Susan, "a virtuous woman and a righteous mother. You will quickly see that purity and goodness are evident in her countenance. I love her and appreciate her more than words can express. I thank her for the woman she is, for the lessons she has taught me, and for the love we share."

"As one of the weakest of the weak," he continued, "I testify that God lives. I testify and witness that Jesus is the Christ. He is our Redeemer and our Savior, and He lives."