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Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: 'Pressing forward and holding fast'

Prophecies regarding the last days often refer to large-scale calamities such as earthquakes, famines or floods, which may be linked to widespread economic or political upheavals of one kind or another, said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve in his Sunday afternoon conference address.

However, Elder Holland said there is one kind of latter-day destruction or a kind of spiritual destruction, of which the Savior warned that in the last days even those of the "covenant," the very elect, could be deceived by the enemy of truth.

The Savior prophesied that in the last days, "men's hearts [shall fail] them" (Luke 21:26).

"The encouraging thing ... is that Father in Heaven knows all of these latter-day dangers, these troubles of the heart and the soul, and has given counsel and protections regarding them," Elder Holland declared.

"In light of that it has always been significant to me that the Book of Mormon, one of the Lord's powerful 'keystones' in this counter-offensive against latter-day ills, begins with a great parable of life, an extended allegory of hope versus fear, of light versus darkness, of salvation versus destruction."

Elder Holland spoke of Lehi's vision and the path that the ancient prophet's family and others traveled through a mist of darkness, which descended upon all the travelers: "the faithful and the determined ones (the elect we might even say) as well as the weaker and ungrounded ones."

Lehi grasped the rod of iron — the word of God — and arrived at the tree of life, a representation of the love of God, and "beheld the Redeemer of the world ... [who] went forth ministering unto the people,..." He saw multitudes who healed and cleansed, devils and unclean spirits cast out. (See 1 Nephi 11.)

"Love. Healing. Help. Hope. The power of Christ to counter all troubles in all times — including the end of times," said Elder Holland. "That is the safe harbor God wants for us in personal or public days of despair. That is the message with which the Book of Mormon begins and that is the message with which it ends, calling all 'to come unto Christ, and be perfected in him' " (Moroni 10:32).

That phrase, Elder Holland said, was Moroni's final testimony.

Elder Holland referred to a modern "last days" testimony, that of Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum. He told of Hyrum reading to Joseph from the 12th chapter of Ether before they left for Carthage, and their deaths. Hyrum turned down the page on which is recorded Moroni's final testimony.

"I hold in my hand that book, the very copy from which Hyrum read, the same corner of the page turned down still visible," Elder Holland said. Before death, Joseph bore powerful testimony to his guards of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon and the restoration of the gospel.

Elder Holland said perhaps no other book in religious history has been examined and attacked, denied and deconstructed, targeted and torn apart as has the Book of Mormon. Yet it still stands "because there is no other answer than the one Joseph gave as its young unlearned translator."

Elder Holland testified that one cannot "come to full faith in this latter-day work — and thereby find the fullest measure of peace and comfort in these our times — until he or she embraces the divinity of the Book of Mormon and the Lord Jesus Christ of whom it testifies."

Watch video of this talk and other conference talks at ksl.com