Jesus Christ offers relief and peace from heartache and turmoil, a special kind of rest that comes through a covenant relationship with God, President Russell M. Nelson said Sunday morning to a worldwide international conference.

“My message to you today is that because Jesus Christ overcame this fallen world and because he atoned for each of us, you too can overcome this sin-saturated, self-centered and often exhausting world,” President Nelson said during the penultimate session of the faith’s 192nd Semiannual General Conference.

The leader Latter-day Saints revere as the church’s 17th prophet said the current age is the most complicated in world history, a time when “complexities and challenges leave many people feeling overwhelmed and exhausted,” he said.

He said peace from “the spiritually and emotionally exhausting plagues of the world, including arrogance, pride, anger, immorality, hatred, greed, jealousy and fear” comes by overcoming the world, which “means growing to love God and his beloved Son more than you love anyone or anything else.”

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President Nelson said a “covenant relationship with God binds us to him in a way that makes everything about life easier.” He said that these covenant relationships and choosing to follow the doctrine of Christ are the keys to overcoming.

As he often does at conference, he issued invitations to listeners to act.

“Let him know,” he said, “through your prayers and your actions that you are serious about overcoming the world:

“Ask Him to enlighten your mind and send the help you need.”

“Each day, record the thoughts that come to you as you pray; then follow through diligently.”

“Spend more time in the temple and seek to understand how the temple teaches you to rise above this fallen world.”

He also asked listeners to follow the same charge he gave the church’s young adults in May, to take charge of their own testimonies.

“Work for it.”

“Nurture it so that it will grow.”

“Feed it truth.”

“Don’t pollute it with false philosophies of unbelieving men and women.”

“As you make the continual strengthening of your testimony of Jesus Christ your highest priority, watch for miracles to happen in your life.”

He promised that if they let God prevail in their lives, they would find “greater peace, confidence, joy and, yes, rest.”

President Nelson also issued additional promises.

“My dear brothers and sisters, so many wonderful things are ahead,” he said. “In coming days, we will see the greatest manifestations of the Savior’s power that the world has ever seen. Between now and the time he returns ‘with power and great glory,’ he will bestow countless privileges, blessings and miracles upon the faithful.”

The Sunday morning session also included remarks from three members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Young Men general president, a counselor in the Relief Society general presidency and an emeritus general authority.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Elder Holland offered an explanation for why Latter-day Saints generally don’t wear crosses or display them in churches or temples.

He said church members have “deep respect and profound admiration for the faith-filled motives and devoted lives of those who do” display crosses, but gave three reasons Latter-day Saints don’t.

  • One, the crucifixion was an agonizing form of execution long used against Christians who chose to convey their gospel identity in other ways for 300 years after Christ’s death and resurrection.
  • Two, the cross was introduced as a symbol of generalized Christianity, but Latter-day Saints believe theirs is “the restored New Testament church. Thus, our origins and authority go back before the time of councils, creeds and iconography.”
  • Three, Latter-day Saints focus on the completed miracle of Christ’s mission, including his resurrection.

He shared Christ’s call to those who would follow him to take up his cross:

“This speaks of the crosses we bear rather than the ones we wear. To be a follower of Jesus Christ one must sometimes carry a burden — your own or someone else’s — and go where sacrifice is required and suffering is inevitable. A true Christian cannot follow the Master only in those matters with which he or she agrees. No. We follow him everywhere, including, if necessary, into arenas filled with tears and trouble, where sometimes we may stand very much alone.”

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Elder Bednar used an extensive retelling of the parable of the royal marriage feast to explain the meaning of the phrase “many are called, but few are chosen.”

“To be or to become chosen is not an exclusive status conferred upon us. Rather, you and I ultimately can choose to be chosen through the righteous exercise of our moral agency.”

He said God does not have a list of favorites nor a limit to “the chosen.”

“Our hearts, our desires, our honoring of sacred gospel covenants and ordinances, our obedience to the commandments and, most importantly, the Savior’s redeeming grace and mercy determine whether we are counted as one of God’s chosen.”

“The Holy Ghost will help us to see ourselves as we really are.”

“As we appropriately seek for the spiritual gift of eyes to see and ears to hear, I promise that we will be blessed with the capacity and judgment to strengthen our covenant connection with the living Lord.”

Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Eternal happiness can be found through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, repentance, forgiveness and temple covenants, Elder Gong said.

“‘Happy and forever’ are not the imaginary stuff of fairy tales. True, enduring joy and eternity with those we love are the very essence of God’s plan of happiness. His lovingly prepared way can make our eternal journey happy and forever.”

He acknowledged not all relationships and families are perfect.

“Happy and forever do not mean that every relationship will be happy and forever. But a thousand millennial years when Satan is bound may give us needed time and surprising ways to love, understand and work things out, as we prepare for eternity.”

Elder Joseph W. Sitati, an emeritus General Authority Seventy

Elder Sitati, granted emeritus status on Saturday, spoke Sunday about patterns of discipleship, including patterns of faith, humility and love, which he called “realities that govern our lives that we cannot change.”

“When we respect and align what we do with these eternal realities, we experience internal peace and harmony. When we don’t, we are unsettled and things do not work as we expect.”

“When we focus our best efforts on loving God and others, we are enabled to discover our own true divine worth, as sons and daughters of God, with the complete peace and joy that this experience brings.”

Sister J. Anette Dennis, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency

Sister Dennis said disciples of Christ should love others as Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ do.

“Everyone needs to feel that they really do belong and are needed in the body of Christ.”

“We are commanded to love others, not to judge them. Let’s lay down that heavy burden; it isn’t ours to carry. Instead, we can pick up the Savior’s yoke of love and compassion.”

Young Men General President Steven J. Lund

Brother Lund said over 200,000 Latter-day Saint youth attended hundreds of the new For the Strength of Youth conferences this summer.

“They each have their own stories to tell of moments of clarity and of spiritual gifts washing through them and carrying them along that arc of growth. I, too, was changed by this summer of FSY as I have seen the Spirit of God relentlessly responding to the righteous desires of the individual hearts of these young multitudes who each found the courage to ‘trust him,’ with a week in his keeping.”

He said experiences like FSY conferences burnish testimonies but also raise the question of what to do to maintain those fires of faith.

“We must continue to do those things that brought us there in the first place like praying often, drenching ourselves in scripture and serving sincerely.

“Let there be no doubt, it is the very stuff of heroes displayed by our youth when they set their hearts and minds to standing upright against the shifting moral tectonics of our time.”

Songs and prayers

The prayers were offered by Elder Weatherford T. Clayton, a General Authority Seventy who serves as an assistant executive director in the Missionary Department and is the chairman of Missionary Health Services, and President Bonnie H. Cordon, the Young Women general president.

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square performed “How Wondrous and Great,” “With Songs of Praise,” “You Can Make the Pathway Bright,” “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet,” “How Great the Wisdom and the Love” and “Let Us All Press On.”