Neil L. Andersen: Joseph Smith

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President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency conducts the Saturday morning session of general conference, 4 October 2014. (Mormon Newsroom)
Elder Neil L. Andersen, of the Quorum of the Twelve, speaks at the Saturday afternoon session of general conference, Oct. 4, 2014. (Mormon Newsroom)

SALT LAKE CITY — Elder Neil L. Andersen, of the Quorum of the Twelve, spoke in Saturday afternoon’s session of the 184th Semiannual General Conference of the LDS Church about gaining a personal testimony of Joseph Smith.

Elder Andersen opened his talk by illustrating how Joseph Smith was persecuted throughout his life. He said seekers of truth must ask God for direction to discover for themselves whether Joseph Smith was a prophet.

“Why does the Lord allow evil speaking to chase after the good?” Elder Andersen said. “One reason is that opposition against the things of God sends seekers of truth to their knees for answers. … The importance of Joseph’s work requires more than intellectual consideration; it requires that we, like Joseph, ‘ask of God.'”

Elder Andersen then illustrated ways members can respond to those with questions about Joseph Smith. “Let us offer kindness to those who criticize Joseph Smith, knowing in our own hearts that he was a prophet of God,” he said.

Elder Andersen reminded members that questions and criticisms of Joseph Smith sometimes arise from information taken out of context. He cautioned that members turn to correct sources for information. “Internet information does not have a truth filter. Some information, no matter how convincing, is simply not true.”

He taught that those looking to find the truth about Joseph Smith should seek revelation, saying, “Spiritual questions deserve spiritual answers from God.”

In an analogy, Elder Andersen explained the importance of gaining a personal testimony before trying to help others gain theirs. The analogy involved emergency safety instructions from an airline that advise passengers to ensure that their oxygen masks are properly applied before helping others.

“Now is the time to adjust your own spiritual oxygen mask so that you are prepared to help others who are seeking the truth,” he said.

Elder Andersen closed by challenging the youth to strive early to gain a strong testimony of Joseph Smith by studying the scriptures. He ensured members of the validity of Joseph Smith’s calling and influence.

“This great cause will continue to go forth, changing and blessing lives,” Elder Andersen said, quoting Thomas S. Monson. “(God) chose a holy man, a righteous man, to lead the restoration of the fullness of His gospel. He chose Joseph Smith. In that not-too-distant day, you and I and millions more ‘shall know Brother Joseph again.’”

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