A day of pure doctrine to build faith that heals the world
‘One of the plagues of our day is that too few people know where to turn for truth. I can assure you that what you will hear today and tomorrow constitutes pure truth,’ said President Russell M. Nelson
Jesus Christ’s pure gospel provides those trying to follow him with healing, security and power against the plagues besetting the world, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints told millions Saturday during global broadcasts of the faith’s 191st Semiannual General Conference.
A day after COVID-19 deaths surpassed 700,000 in the United States and 5 million worldwide, the biannual gathering’s return to the vast Conference Center auditorium in Salt Lake City for the first time since the coronavirus emerged was accompanied by ubiquitous reminders of the pandemic.
But a global pandemic and other natural disasters and plagues leaders described can be met with a global response of faith, church leaders said.
“One of the plagues of our day is that too few people know where to turn for truth,” President Russell M. Nelson said. “I can assure you that what you will hear today and tomorrow constitutes pure truth.”
He declared that the church’s general authorities and officers would focus on messages about Jesus Christ, his mercy and his redeeming power, and each of Saturday’s 24 speakers in three conference sessions urged believers to fully embrace and comprehend God’s profound, perfect love for them, and to put prophetic counsel ahead of the world’s norms.
“There has never been a time in the history of the world when knowledge of our Savior is more personally vital and relevant to every human soul,” President Nelson said, adding an invitation to listen to the conference for “pure truth, the pure doctrine of Christ and pure revelation.”
“The pure doctrine of Christ is powerful,” he said. “It changes the life of everyone who understands it and seeks to implement it in his or her life.”
Completely understanding and knowing the unfailing love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have for all of God’s children and loving God and one’s neighbor helps with the plagues of mental illness, division, confusion, complexity and distractions, other leaders said.
Membership and activity in the Church of Jesus Christ adds to personal spirituality, blessing both individual lives and nations, providing opportunities for growth and service, said President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency.
“Personal disappointments should never keep us from the doctrine of Christ, who taught us to serve, not to be served,” he said, adding that “in service we find heaven-sent opportunities to rise above the individualism of our age.”
Two other senior leaders described faith and belief.
Faith can be an action as simple as asking a question like the prophet Joseph Smith, the answer to which was revelation that changed the world, said President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency.
He said he experiences personal revelation, which he said is available to everyone, by feeling an internal quiet and submission to God’s will, he said.
“To believe,” said President M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “is to love and follow our Savior and keep the commandments, even in the midst of trials and strife.”
Strife was on the minds of many speakers, who shared heart-rending, personal stories of lost loved ones, mental illness, divorce and more. They connected those stories to God’s love and what Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said distinguishes the Church of Jesus Christ — a living prophet who calms fears and lifts sights.
“That is staggering when you think about it,” Elder Rasband said, “but it is critical to realize that his clear direction will shield us all from the deceit, craftiness and secular ways gaining momentum in the world today,” he said.
Elder Rasband repeated the Biblical story of Naaman, who at first balked at a prophet’s direction to wash seven times in the River Jordan to be healed of leprosy.
“The account of Naaman reminds us of the risks of picking and choosing the parts of prophetic counsel that fit our thinking, expectations or today’s norms,” he said. “Our prophet continually points us to our own River Jordans to be healed.”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles told church members they have a divine responsibility to follow Christ and his prophet with wholehearted, unreserved devotion, to be “all in.”
He said the first great commandment in the universe is to love God completely, “but the first great truth in the universe is that God loves us exactly that way — wholeheartedly, without reservation or compromise, with all of his heart, might, mind and strength.”
Each person is beloved by our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon said.
“The Savior’s love for us is unfailing — even when we fail,” she said. “Nothing can separate us from the love of God.”
A world beset by “divisions and subdivisions, sets and subsets ... with more than enough hostility to go around,” Elder Holland said, distracts from and diminishes that love.
Alternately, allowing deity’s love for oneself to dwell in one’s heart is the key to contented, happy living, he added.