Elder Robert D. Hales: Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
“Being a More Christian Christian”
Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve started the afternoon session answering the question, “What does it mean to be a Christian?”
“A Christian has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, that He is the literal Son of God, sent by His Father to suffer for our sins in the supreme act of love we know as the Atonement,” Elder Hales said. “A Christian believes that through the grace of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, we can repent, forgive others, keep the commandments, and inherit eternal life.”
He went on to define the actual word “Christian.”
“The word Christian denotes taking upon us the name of Christ,” he said. “We do this by being baptized and receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, by those holding His priesthood authority.”
Elder Hales clarified that because of LDS belief in these principles, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are Christians.
“With these doctrines as the foundation of our faith, can there be any doubt or disputation that we as Mormons are Christian?” Elder Hales said.
He went on to describe how to make the conversion to being a true Christian.
“Denying ourselves of ungodly behavior is the beginning of repentance, which brings a mighty change of heart until we have ‘no more disposition to do evil,'” Elder Hales said. “This change, called conversion, is possible only through the Savior. As we are made new in Christ, our very natures change and we no longer want to go back to our old ways.”
He also gave encouraging words to those that are discouraged when the call to be a true Christian comes.
“For many, the call to be a Christian can seem demanding, even overwhelming,” Elder Hales said. “But we need not be afraid or feel inadequate. The Savior has promised that He will make us equal to His work.”
For those looking to be more Christlike, Elder Hales summarized ten Christlike qualities that will help members be more Christian Christians, some of which included: Christian love, faith, sacrifice, caring, service, patience, peace, forgiveness and conversion.
He asked members to evaluate how they are doing in strengthening these qualities.
“These are some of the characteristics of those who hear and heed the Savior’s voice,” Elder Hales said. “Come walk the path that leads to eternal happiness, joy, and everlasting life in the kingdom of our Heavenly Father.”
Elder Richard G. Scott: Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
“The Joy of Redeeming the Dead”
Elder Richard G. Scott, also of the Quorum of the Twelve, discussed the blessings that are associated with doing both temple work and family history work together.
“Temple and family history work is one work divided into two parts,” Elder Scott said. “They are connected together like the ordinances of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
For those looking for ways to make their time in the temple more sacred, Elder Scott gave some advice.
“Any work you do in the temple is time well spent, but receiving ordinances vicariously for one of your own ancestors will make the time in the temple more sacred, and even greater blessings will be received,” he said.
He also gave a sure way for the youth to combat the influence of the adversary.
“Do you young people want a sure way to eliminate the influence of the adversary in your life?” he asked. “Immerse yourself in searching for your ancestors, prepare names for the sacred various ordinances available in the temple, and then go to the temple to stand as proxy for them to receive the ordinances of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. As you grow older you will be able to participate in receiving the other ordinances as well. I can think of no greater protection from the influence of the adversary in your life.”
Elder Scott shared a recent example from Russia to emphasize this principle. In this example, youth from the Russia Rostov Mission were invited to each index 2,000 names and then try to do at least one name from their own family to do ordinances for themselves. At the end of this invitation, one Russian boy recognized the blessings it brought him because he was able to pull himself away from playing video games too much.
He also shared how some in the next life may be waiting for their ordinances to be performed because some people are holding names in reserve.
“Many names have been reserved for years. Ancestors who have been found are no doubt anxious and thrilled when their names are cleared for ordinances,” Elder Scott said. “They, however, may not be very happy when they have to continue to wait for their ordinances to be performed.”
To help this, Elder Scott shared some practical advice to help clear out names that are still being held.
“We encourage those of you who have a large reservation of names to share them so that members of your extended family or ward and stake can help you in completing this work,” he said.
President Russell T. Osguthorpe: Sunday School General President
“One Step Closer to the Savior”
President Russell T. Osguthorpe, president of the Sunday School General Presidency, invited members of all ages to come unto Christ, and described that this is done by properly teaching, especially of teaching proper conversion to youth.
“We want every young person to understand. We teach them to learn, teach, and live the gospel of Jesus Christ every day.”
He announced that in order to help youth to do this, the First Presidency approved some new learning resources.
“The First Presidency recently approved new learning for youth that will support the innate desire of young people to learn, live and share the gospel,” said President Osguthorpe.
These new resources are available to view online now, but will not be used in classrooms until January.
He shared that the new resources incorporated teaching principles exemplified by the Savior.
“When the Savior taught, the learner’s agency was paramount,” President Osguthorpe explained. “He showed us not only what to teach but also how to teach. He focused on the needs of the learner. He helped individuals discover truth for themselves. He always listed to their questions. These new learning resources will help us all learn and teach in the Savior’s way in our homes and in our classrooms.”
President Osguthorpe shared many examples of these principles already in action in classrooms. He shared an example of two autistic kids that helped each use their agency by teaching the gospel to their Sunday School class together. When one of the kids began to struggle, the other would whisper in his ear and help him complete the lesson.
“They were both teaching that day,” he said. “They were teaching what the Savior taught, but they were also teaching how the Savior taught. When the Savior taught, he acted out of love for the one he was teaching, just as this classmate did for his friend.”
President Osguthorpe continued by teaching about the connection between teaching and conversion.
“Conversion is the goal of all gospel learning and teaching,” he taught. “Conversion is not a one-time event … learning for conversion is a continual process of knowing, doing, and becoming. Likewise, teaching for conversion requires key doctrine, invitations to action, and promised blessings. When we teach true doctrine, we help the learner to know.”
He also stated that the main goal of these new learning resources was to help the younger generation become converted in this way.
“The new learning resources for youth have one central goal: to help youth become converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ,” President Osguthorpe said.
Elder Marcus B. Nash: First Quorum of the Seventy
“By Faith All Things Are Fulfilled”
Elder Marcus B. Nash of the First Quorum of the Seventy taught about using faith as an anchor during the difficult climbs of life through the experience he had using cables to stay on the paths of at Huayna Picchu.
“Like the path on Huayna Picchu, our mortal journey is a steep and difficult climb, one that requires our Heavenly Father’s help to successfully complete,” Elder Nash said. “For this reason, He established the principles and ordinances of the gospel. The first of those principles, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, is like the cables on Huayna Picchu: if strong and securely attached to rock of our Redeemer, faith will help us to safely climb the gospel path, overcome every challenge of mortality, and return to the majestic presence of our Heavenly Father. All things are fulfilled by faith.”
Elder Nash then went on to explain the principle of faith.
“Faith is both a principle of action and of power,” he said. “It is an assurance that moves us to action, to follow the example of the Savior, and prayerfully keep his commandments, even through times of sacrifice and trial.”
He used an example of Sister Rowley, a pioneer woman who was part of the Willy-Martin handcart company and worried about her family starving, to portray the principle of faith.
“Ann Rowley was living the gospel at great personal sacrifice, needed help and asked for it in prayer,” Elder Nash said. “Because of her faith, she was filled with hope and miraculously provided with food for her family.”
Elder Nash shared three things that can challenge this faith.
“First, unbelief in the Lord or His gospel will cause us to resist the Spirit of God,” Elder Nash said. “Second, fear distracts from, and undermines faith in, the Savior. Third, sin diminishes the presence of the Spirit in our lives, and without the Holy Ghost, we will lack the spiritual stamina to hold onto and exercise faith.”
Elder Nash testified that the Lord will help everyone to overcome these challenges.
“Brothers and sisters, the Lord will, according to our faith, fulfill His promises and work with us to overcome every challenge,” he testified.
Elder Daniel J. Johnson: First Quorum of the Seventy
“Becoming a True Disciple”
Elder Daniel L. Johnson of the First Quorum of the Seventy explained what it takes to become a true disciple of Christ.
He explained that discipleship for members begins at the waters of baptism.
“Those of us who have entered into the waters of baptism and received the gift of the Holy Ghost have covenanted that we are willing to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ or, in other words, we declare ourselves to be disciples of the Lord,” Elder Johnson said.
Elder Johnson used an example of some men in Northern Mexico choosing to go to the temple and helping others despite a frost that killed most of their fruit crop to describe discipleship in action.
“Making the covenant to be a disciple of Christ is the beginning of a lifelong process, and the path is not always easy,” Elder Johnson taught. “Become like Him and being one with Him is the ultimate goal and objective, and essentially the very definition of true discipleship.”
He mentioned that some disciples are faced with spiritual trials, whereas some are burdened with more physical trials like the one these men from Northern Mexico faced. He taught, however, that it does not matter which trials people are given, but rather how they endure them.
“Our discipleship will be developed and proven, not by the type of trials that we are faced with, but how we endure them,” Elder Johnson said.
Elder Johnson concluded by summarizing the list his grandson Benjamin gave him in answer to his inquiry about discipleship.
“Discipleship is all about doing and becoming,” Elder Johnson said. “As we obey His commandments and serve our fellow men, we become better disciples of Jesus Christ.”
Elder Don R. Clarke: First Quorum of the Seventy
“Blessings of the Sacrament”
Elder Don R. Clarke of the First Quorum of the Seventy testified of the blessings of the Sacrament and shared five things that will help make the partaking of the sacrament a more meaningful experience.
He started by sharing a personal example of how he learned to focus more on the Savior during the sacrament. As a youth, he was asked to write on a card things he had thought about during the sacrament that day. It started out with things like the basketball game that he won, and only further down in the list did it mention the Savior. He decided that day to fill out the card each Sunday until he learned to focus more on Jesus Christ.
“Each Sunday the card was filled out,” Elder Clarke said. “For a young Aaronic Priesthood holder, the sacrament and sacrament meeting took on a new expanded and spiritual meaning. I anxiously looked forward to Sundays, and the opportunity to partake of the sacrament, as understanding the Savior’s Atonement was changing me. Every Sunday, to this day, as I partake of the sacrament, I can see my card and review my list. Always on my list now, first of all, is the Savior of Mankind.”
Elder Clarke learned the importance of the sacrament from this process and from the stories of the sacrament being administered by the Savior in the New Testament and the Book of Mormon.
He ended by sharing five principles that he said, if followed during sacrament meeting, would bless those that partake of the sacrament:
1. Have a feeling of gratitude for the Atonement of Jesus Christ
2. Remember that we are renewing baptismal covenants
3. During the Sacrament we can feel forgiven of our sins
4. We can receive inspiration for solutions to our problems during sacrament meeting
5. Partaking of the sacrament worthily will help us be filled with the Holy Ghost
Elder David A. Bednar: Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
“Converted unto the Lord”
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve discussed what it means to be truly converted unto the Lord.
“My message focuses upon the relationship between receiving a testimony that Jesus is the Christ and becoming converted to Him and His gospel,” Elder Bednar began. “Typically we treat the topics of testimony and conversion separately and independently. However, we can gain precious perspective and greater spiritual conviction as we consider these two important subjects together.”
Elder Bednar described the blessings that come first from gaining a testimony.
“Testimony brings increased spiritual accountability and is a source of purpose, assurance and joy,” he said.
Because of these blessings, Elder Bednar described the fundamentals of gaining a testimony.
“Fundamental components of a testimony are knowing that Heavenly Father lives and loves us, that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that the fullness of the gospel has been restored to the earth in these latter days,” he said.
For those that are discouraged about gaining a testimony and becoming converted, Elder Bednar reminded members of the Apostle Peter’s experience.
“Even Peter needed additional instruction from Jesus about the converting and sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost and his obligation to serve faithfully,” Elder Bednar explained.
Elder Bednar then explained what true conversion is.
“True conversion brings a change in one’s beliefs, heart, and life to accept and conform to the will of God and includes a conscious commitment to become a disciple of Christ,” he taught. “Conversion is an enlarging, a deepening and a broadening of the undergirding base of testimony. It is the result of revelation from God, accompanied by individual repentance, obedience and diligence. Any honest seeker of the truth can become converted by experiencing the mighty change of heart and being spiritually born of God.”
He then went on to use several instances from the Book of Mormon as examples of true conversion.
“As these examples highlight, the key characteristics associated with conversion are experiencing a mighty change in our hearts, having a disposition to do good continually, going forward in the path of duty, walking circumspectly before God, keeping the commandments and serving with unwearied diligence,” Elder Bednar said. “Clearly, these faithful souls had become deeply devoted to the Lord and His teachings.”
Elder Bednar continued with other examples that showed testimony leading to true conversion.
“Testimony is the beginning of and a prerequisite to continuing conversion,” he said. “Testimony is a point of departure; it is not an ultimate destination. Strong testimony is the foundation upon which conversion is established.”
He ended by encouraging all to become truly converted.
“I promise that as we come to the knowledge of the truth and are converted unto the Lord, we will remain firm and steadfast and never fall away,” Elder Bednar said.
President Thomas S. Monson: President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“God Be with You Till We Meet Again”
President Thomas S. Monson concluded Conference by encouraging all to be of good cheer and asking God to be with the members of the Church until the next session of General Conference.
“Let us be of good cheer as we go about our lives,” President Monson said. “Although we live in increasingly perilous times, the Lord loves us and is mindful of us. Our lives can also be filled with joy as we follow the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
He also admonished members to read the talks given in this General Conference in the Liahona and Ensign when they are published next month.
“As always, the proceedings of this Conference will be available in the coming issues of the Ensign and the Liahona magazines,” he said. “I encourage you to read the talks once again and to ponder the messages contained therein. I have found in my own life that I gain even more from these inspired sermons when I study them in greater depth.”
President Monson also wanted members to make sure and watch over each other.
“May we ever watch over one another, assisting in times of need,” he said. “Let us not be critical and judgmental but let us be tolerant, ever emulating the Savior’s example of loving kindness.”
He also mentioned that he realized the depth of the coverage of this Conference.
“We have unprecedented coverage of the Conference, reaching across the continents and the oceans to people everywhere,” President Monson said.
He wanted the members, however, to still feel his love.
“Though we are far removed from many of you, we feel of your spirit and send our love and appreciation to you.”
Before he closed, he took the opportunity to thank those who were released.
“To our Brethren who have been released at this Conference, may I express the heartfelt gratitude of all of us for your many years of devoted service. Countless are those who have been blessed by your contributions to the work of the Lord.”
He also wanted to make sure to express his gratitude for the prayers given in his behalf.
“As I have mentioned at previous conferences, I thank you for your prayers in my behalf. I need them; I feel them. We as General Authorities also remember all of you and pray for our Heavenly Father’s choicest blessings to be with you.”
Quoting the LDS hymn, President Monson ended by praying that God be with each and every member until the next General Conference.
“Now, my beloved brothers and sisters, we adjourn for six months,” President Monson concluded. “May God be with you until we meet again at that time.”