We are at a time in the history of the world and the growth of the Church when we must think more of holy things and act more like the Savior would expect his disciples to act. We should at every opportunity ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” and then act more courageously upon the answer. We must be about his work as he was about his Father’s. We should make every effort to become like Christ, the one perfect and sinless example this world has ever seen. . . Let us make the temple, with temple worship and temple covenants and temple marriage, our ultimate earthly goal and the supreme mortal experience. Let us share with our children the spiritual feelings we have in the temple. And let us teach them more earnestly and more comfortably the things we can appropriately say about the purposes of the house of the Lord. Let us prepare every missionary to go to the temple worthily and to make that experience an even greater highlight than receiving the mission call. Let us plan for and teach and plead with our children to marry in the house of the Lord. Let us reaffirm more vigorously than we ever have in the past that it does matter where you marry and by what authority you are pronounced man and wife. All of our efforts in proclaiming the gospel, perfecting the Saints, and redeeming the dead lead to the holy temple. This is because the temple ordinances are absolutely crucial; we cannot return to God’s presence without them. I encourage everyone to worthily attend the temple or to work toward the day when you can enter that holy house to receive your ordinances and covenants.
Let me say to you, if it is true that no man can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of the water and of the Spirit, God must provide a plan by which those who have died ignorant of the Gospel may have the privilege of doing so, or he would appear to be a partial being. Has He provided that way? He has. The Christian world have taught, preached, contemplated, meditated, sung about and prayed for the Millennium. What are you going to do during that period, Christians? Do you know what the Millennium is for, and what work will have to be done during that period? Suppose the Christian world were now one in heart, faith, sentiment and works, so that the Lord could commence the Millennium in power and glory, do you know what would be done? Would you sit and sing yourselves away to everlasting bliss? No, I reckon not. I think there is a work to be done then which the whole world seems determined we shall not do. What is it? To build temples. We never yet commenced to lay the foundation of a temple but what all hell was in arms against us. That is the difficulty now: we have commenced the foundation of this temple. What are we going to do in these temples? Anything to be done there? Yes, and we will not wait for the Millennium and the fullness of the glory of God on the earth; we will commence, as soon as we have a temple, and work for the salvation of our forefathers; we will get their genealogies as far as we can. By and by, we shall get them perfect. In these temples we will officiate in the ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for our friends, for no man can enter the kingdom of God without being born of the water and of the Spirit.
And what is this responsibility that rests upon every member of the Church? I turn to the 107th section of the D&C, and there find enumerated the duties of the various organizations of the priesthood, and I read in the 99th paragraph the following: “Wherefore now let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence.” Two principles in that admonition stand out as the duty of the officers to whom this revelation was given. First, the learning the knowing what one’s duty is; second, to act in all diligence in the performance of that duty. To know one’s duty, to learn the truth, is the duty of every Latter-day Saint, of every man and woman in the world, including those outside of this Church. All mankind, I believe, are being impelled, lifted upward by that Spirit which makes them desire the truth. In the political world even, you find great men who have been searching for political truth, for truths that would relieve political situations. In the world of morality you find great reformers reaching out for truths that will alleviate harmful social conditions. . . The Latter-day Saints have learned the truth that the everlasting Gospel has been restored. And what does this knowledge bring to them? It brings to all, who have honestly and sincerely obeyed the principles of repentance and baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, which enlightens their minds, quickens their understandings, and imparts unto them a knowledge of Christ. The Latter-day Saints have a guide, a help, a means to assist in their acquisition of truth, in their desire to know what their duty is, that the world does not possess. And this guide is necessary; man cannot find out truth; he cannot find out God by intellect alone. It has been said that no man can find out God by a microscope. Reason alone is not a sufficient guide in searching for truth. There is another, higher, more sure guide than reason even.
The gospel gives purpose to our lives. It is the way to happiness. Our success, individually and as a church, will largely be determined by how faithfully we focus on living the gospel in the home. Only as we see clearly the responsibilities of each individual and the role of families and the home can we properly understand that the priesthood quorums and the auxiliary organizations, even wards and stakes, exist primarily to help members live the gospel in the home. However, church programs should always support and never detract from gospel-centered family activities. Members should achieve personal and family preparedness, assisting and strengthening their own family members and others temporally and spiritually in the Lord’s way. All should work together to make home a place where we love to be, a place of listening and learning, a place where each member can find mutual love, support, appreciation, and encouragement. . . Now the Lord has said that to every man, woman, and child in this congregation and in this world who has joined his church: “Lovest thou me?” Then show me! Show me: feed my sheep. We have in many of the lands of this world large, fast-growing, delightful, wonderful congregations; and we say to you again that the Lord is saying, “Feed my sheep.” And he knows whether we are or not. He knows all the time. We don’t need to put it into words; we don’t need to express that for ourselves. All we need to do is to feed his sheep. . . All of us have this responsibility. Not all of us are able, but many, many of us are. Hundreds of thousands of Latter-day Saints are able to preach the gospel in a careful, splendid way as the gospel is given to them. The Lord has promised us that he would give us all the help and the strength and the inspiration that we need, and so all he says is, “Feed my sheep; feed my lambs.” And there are thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of little sheep, little lambs that need feeding in all these countries in the world. So we ask you again to do the things that we have suggested, brothers and sisters, such as keeping up your homes and writing in your journals. Every person should keep a journal and every person can keep a journal. It should be an enlightening one and should bring great blessings and happiness to the families. If there is anyone here who isn’t doing so, will you repent today and change—change your life?
May we so conduct our lives that our Father in heaven will preserve us from the attacks of those who misunderstand us; and that our brothers and sisters of the world may be constrained to acknowledge we are a good people, because we do good to our fellow men. May we so conduct our lives that the children our Father shall bless us with may, by reason of the righteous teachings and the good example we give unto them, rise up and call us blessed. When the time shall come that we shall all be called to present ourselves before our Father in heaven to give an account for our actions here, may it be said of us that the world was better for our having lived in it, that we never harmed one of our Father’s creatures, that we sustained the hands of His servants, that we understood the spirit of revelation, and that we listened to it as it came from God to His servants. My prayer is that our lives may reflect the purity of the Gospel, that our homes may be the abode of the Spirit of our Father in heaven, that our every action may be scanned in vain for any evil, and that when men shall look over our lives, they may be led to say we are consistent followers of the meek and lowly Nazarene. In the end, when our labors are complete, may we receive from our Father, who reigns supreme in the heavens, that welcome plaudit, “Well done, good and faithful servant, you have been faithful in a few things, and I will make you ruler over many. Enter into the joy of your Lord.”
I am grateful for membership in a church whose religion fits men for the struggle with the forces of the world and enables them to survive in this struggle. One of these acting forces is the responsibility of teaching and the opportunity afforded in this church for our local officers — stake presidencies, bishoprics, priesthood quorums, and others — to share in this responsibility. The obligation of teaching is placed by the Church first upon the parents, and the responsibility thereof has been placed upon them by divine command. But besides parents, there are tens of thousands of men and women who have accepted the responsibility of leading and teaching the young and the adults. In the priesthood quorums alone the number runs into many thousands. And if we add mothers and fathers, general officers, and young men and women in the Sunday School, the Mutual Improvement Associations, the Primary, the seminaries, and women in the Relief Society, we have an army of teachers who have the privilege and responsibility of exercising what Martin Luther calls “one of the highest virtues upon earth.”
You have seen evidence, as I have, that we are moving toward becoming one. The miracle of unity is being granted to us as we pray and work for it in the Lord’s way. Our hearts will be knit together in unity. God has promised that blessing to His faithful Saints whatever their differences in background and whatever conflict rages around them. He was praying for us as well as His disciples when He asked His Father that we might be one. The reason that we pray and ask for that blessing is the same reason the Father is granting it. We know from experience that joy comes when we are blessed with unity. We yearn, as spirit children of our Heavenly Father, for that joy which we once had with Him in the life before this one. His desire is to grant us that sacred wish for unity out of His love for us. He cannot grant it to us as individuals. The joy of unity He wants so much to give us is not solitary. We must seek it and qualify for it with others. It is not surprising then that God urges us to gather so that He can bless us. He wants us to gather into families. He has established classes, wards, and branches and commanded us to meet together often. In those gatherings, which God has designed for us, lies our great opportunity. We can pray and work for the unity that will bring us joy and multiply our power to serve.
Brethren, your eye should be single to the glory of God, to hearkening to the counsel of brother Brigham, and to the building up of Zion, then your bodies would be filled with spirit, and your understandings with light, and your hearts with joy, and your souls would be quickened into eternal life with the power of the Holy Ghost, you would then become the depositories of that wisdom and knowledge which would qualify you to be saviors unto your brethren and your posterity. . . The men who are sitting here this day ought to be, when in the presence of their families, filled with the Holy Ghost, to administer the word of life to them as it is administered in this stand from sabbath to sabbath. When they kneel down in the presence of their wives and children they ought to be inspired by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost, that the husband may be such a man as a good wife will honor, and that the gift and power of God may be upon them continually. They ought to be one in their families, that the Holy Ghost might descend upon them, and they ought to live so that the wife through prayer may become sanctified, that she may see the necessity of sanctifying herself in the presence of her husband, and in the presence of her children, that they may be one together, in order that the man and the wife may be pure element, suitable to occupy a place in the establishment and formation of the kingdom of God, that they may breathe a pure spirit and impart pure instruction to their children, and their children’s children.
As we perform our duties and exercise our priesthood, we will find true joy. We will experience the satisfaction of having completed our tasks. We have been taught the specific duties of the priesthood which we hold, whether it be the Aaronic or the Melchizedek Priesthood. I urge you to contemplate those duties and then do all within your power to fulfill them. In order to do so, each must be worthy. Let us have ready hands, clean hands, and willing hands, that we may participate in providing what our Heavenly Father would have others receive from Him. If we are not worthy, it is possible to lose the power of the priesthood; and if we lose it, we have lost the essence of exaltation. Let us be worthy to serve. . . The call of duty can come quietly as we who hold the priesthood respond to the assignments we receive. President George Albert Smith, that modest but effective leader, declared, “It is your duty first of all to learn what the Lord wants and then by the power and strength of His holy Priesthood to [so] magnify your calling in the presence of your fellows … that the people will be glad to follow you.” . . Brethren, the world is in need of our help. Are we doing all we should? Do we remember the words of President John Taylor: “If you do not magnify your callings, God will hold you responsible for those whom you might have saved had you done your duty”? There are feet to steady, hands to grasp, minds to encourage, hearts to inspire, and souls to save. The blessings of eternity await you. Yours is the privilege to be not spectators but participants on the stage of priesthood service. Let us hearken to the stirring reminder found in the Epistle of James: “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” Let us learn and contemplate our duty. Let us be willing and worthy to serve. Let us in the performance of our duty follow in the footsteps of the Master. As you and I walk the pathway Jesus walked, we will discover He is more than the babe in Bethlehem, more than the carpenter’s son, more than the greatest teacher ever to live. We will come to know Him as the Son of God, our Savior and our Redeemer.
I am deeply impressed by the way our Church members extend themselves to others. As we hear of your selfless sacrifice and overwhelming compassion, our hearts swell with gratitude and happiness. You are a shining light to the world, and you are known for your goodness and compassion all around the globe. Unfortunately, from time to time we also hear of Church members who become discouraged and subsequently quit coming to and participating in our Church meetings because they think they don’t fit in. . . I hope that we welcome and love all of God’s children, including those who might dress, look, speak, or just do things differently. It is not good to make others feel as though they are deficient. Let us lift those around us. Let us extend a welcoming hand. Let us bestow upon our brothers and sisters in the Church a special measure of humanity, compassion, and charity so that they feel, at long last, they have finally found home. . . Love is what inspired our Heavenly Father to create our spirits; it is what led our Savior to the Garden of Gethsemane to make Himself a ransom for our sins. Love is the grand motive of the plan of salvation; it is the source of happiness, the ever-renewing spring of healing, the precious fountain of hope. As we extend our hands and hearts toward others in Christlike love, something wonderful happens to us. Our own spirits become healed, more refined, and stronger. We become happier, more peaceful, and more receptive to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit.