The Saturday afternoon session of the 193rd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was presided over by President Russell M. Nelson and conducted by President Henry B. Eyring.
The session kicked off with a rendition of How Firm a Foundation sung by a combined choir from Brigham Young University.
Following the release and sustaining of several General Authorities and General Officers, and the 2022 Audit Report, the audience heard from seven speakers.
Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
“As you come to Christ and are connected to Him and our Heavenly Father by covenant, something seemingly unnatural happens. You are transformed and become perfected in Jesus Christ.”
Drawing a comparison to the Amazon River which has a natural downward flow but will be moved upward during certain tides, Elder Renlund said that in life we do what comes naturally, but through Heaven’s help we can do the unnatural like being humble and willing to submit to God’s will.
Unlike the Amazon, we can choose to do the unnatural and access the power of God by keeping covenants. Covenants give us power to stay in the Covenant Path and become connected to God and Jesus through a covenant bond. By making and keeping temple covenants we receive direction for our lives, receive increased capacity to fulfill our purposes and are protected from evil. They also help us overcome trials.
Elder Renlund’s grandparents, Lena and Leander, were baptized in Finland in 1912. Leander died five years later. Lena spent twenty years supporting her family and taking care of dying family members. She found power and hope by keeping her baptismal covenants.
Though she never received the endowment or was sealed in the temple, she submitted records so that her family members could receive temple ordinances by proxy. Living as though she had made temple covenants, she found the power to endure.
Peter F. Meurs of the Seventy
“I believe that His compassion was much more than a response to the people’s (the Nephites) tears. It seems that He could see them through the eyes of His Atoning sacrifice.”
Referring to the Savior’s visit to the Nephites in the Americas, Elder Meurs talked about how Jesus can comfort, succor and heal us from our physical and spiritual pains. Through his suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross at Golgotha, Jesus knows how to succor us. He is filled with compassion when he sees our struggles.
In a car accident in Australia, Elder Meurs’ five-month-old son became unresponsive. His daughter told Elder Meurs he needed to give the boy a blessing. By the time the ambulance arrived, his son was conscious. Despite his family’s recovery, Elder Meurs struggled with guilt over the incident. Later on, as a priesthood leader that guided others in the repentance process, he learned that the Savior could heal him. We all have access to His healing and redeeming power.
Randall K. Bennett of the Seventy
“It was vital for me to receive my patriarchal blessing while I was young and while my testimony was still growing. I am forever grateful that my parents and bishop understood that my desire indicated I was ready.”
At a young age, Elder Bennett developed anxiety when he was told his parents would one day divorce and he would have to choose who to live with. At age 12 he received a patriarchal blessing so he could receive direction. He quoted President Russell M. Nelson who said that a patriarchal blessing is “personal scripture to you.” His blessing affirmed to him that he was a son of God, increased his faith in Jesus Christ and helped him desire to draw closer to Them.
As a youth, he studied his blessing daily. It helped reduce his anxiety as he followed the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Even after his parents’ divorce, his patriarchal blessing was a “personal Liahona”. Even though he still made mistakes, it helped him overcome temptation and repent.
Elder Craig C. Christensen of the Seventy
“We speak often of the pain and suffering of Gethsemane and Calvary, but seldom do we speak of the great joy the Savior must have anticipated as He offered His life for us. Clearly, His pain and His suffering were for us, that we might experience the joy of returning with Him to the presence of God.”
Elder Christensen spoke on the relationship between joy, repentance and inviting others to come unto Christ and repent. It is our destiny to have joy. The Fall made it harder for us to feel joy, but the Savior redeems us from the effects of the Fall and give us the ability to have joy.
Repentance is painful and difficult but joy and comfort are not the same thing. Complacency limits our joy. Joy comes from the Holy Ghost and increases as we work to have the Spirit daily. Our joy increases when we share the Gospel with others. Elder Christensen also said the Savior must have felt great joy when He made the atoning sacrifice.
Evan A. Schmutz of the Seventy
“When we have built our houses on the foundation of a covenantal relationship with Christ, we are trusting the doctrine of Christ and, as we come unto Him, we have His promise of eternal life. People who trust the doctrine of Christ endure to the end.”
Elder Schmutz called Nephi’s treatise on the Doctrine of Christ a “treasure.” The Doctrine of Christ comprises five key elements: Faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. But Elder Schmutz said, it is more profound than that. It is the law of the Gospel.
He quoted President Nelson who said overcoming the world means “trusting the Doctrine of Christ more than the philosophies of men.” If we trust it, we will live by Christ’s every word, approach God in humble prayer, set aside the things of the world to focus on the Savior and live in a covenantal relationship with God. Trusting the Doctrine of Christ will help us endure hardships and consecrate our afflictions for our gain.
Benjamin De Hoyos, Emeritus General Authority Seventy
“As we follow the guidance of the prophets and learn how to do our family history and perform the temple ordinances for our ancestors, we will experience great joy to the point that we will not want to stop doing it.”
Elder Hoyos talked about his experience attending the Mesa Arizona Temple dedication and continued that Elijah came to Joseph Smith to restore the keys of the fulness of this dispensation. The Lord encourages us as members to preserve our family history, learn from our ancestors and perform ordinances for them to help them get onto the covenant path.
Those of you who do not feel capable of accomplishing their family history and temple work are not alone. This work is more than finding names, it is uniting families. Performing family history work endows us with God’s healing and strengthening power.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
“In Heavenly Father’s plan, families’ relationships are meant to be eternal. This is why, as a parent, you never give up, even if you are not proud of how things went in the past.”
Nurturing children is as sacred — and irreplaceable — as serving in the Church. Heavenly Father rejoices when parents nurture their children on Earth. Parents learn just as much about faith, hope and charity as their children do from them. The Lord stands beside parents as they guide their children in becoming righteous. A parent’s love for their child is eternal and is “one of the strongest forces in the universe.”
The Savior’s power can heal the relationship between parents and children. Parents can be the primary influence in a child’s life with consistent, small deeds. As parents listen to the Spirit, the Lord can provide them with personal revelation about their children and as they open their hearts to the Savior, He will make their weaknesses into strengths. He finished by saying that “Jesus Christ is the strength of parents.”