LDS Church, President Nelson preach refining spiritual self-reliance
Since the very first beginnings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1830, European converts were streaming into American strongholds of the church, including Kirkland, Ohio; Independence, Missouri; Nauvoo, Illinois; and onward to Salt Lake City. They came because of faith and testimony.
Now, in 2021, relying on a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ is paramount for members of the LDS Church to have, develop and draw upon, according to their Prophet Russell M. Nelson.
In the April 2018 Annual General Conference of the church, when Nelson was sustained as prophet, seer and revelator, and president of the church, the message of gaining spiritual self-reliance was established as the clarion call to members.
With the belief that the resurrected Jesus Christ will return to claim his own in what Christians call the Second Coming, Nelson has made it clear that members must develop a solid faith and testimony through the Holy Ghost to withstand the times before His coming.
“Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, will perform some of His mightiest works between now and when He comes again. We will see miraculous indications that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, preside over this Church in majesty and glory. But in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting and constant influence of the Holy Ghost,” Nelson said at the April 2018 conference.
President Dallin H. Oaks, selected to be the First Counselor in the First Presidency that includes Nelson, Oaks and Second Counselor President Henry B. Eyring, has spoken succinctly about knowing how the Holy Spirit speaks to us individually.
“Personal revelation — sometimes called ‘inspiration’ — comes in many forms. Most often it is by words or thoughts communicated to the mind, by sudden enlightenment, or by positive or negative feelings about proposed courses of action. Usually it comes in response to earnest and prayerful seeking. ‘Ask, and it shall be given you;’ Jesus taught, ‘seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you’ (New Testament, Matthew, 7:7). It comes when we keep the commandments of God and thus qualify for the companionship and communication of the Holy Spirit,”
Self-reliance is the ability, commitment and effort to provide for the spiritual and temporal well-being of ourselves and of our families, according to teachings from the Relief Society.
The Relief Society is the church’s organization for women ages 18 and over and is considered the largest women’s organization in the world.
“As we learn and apply the principles of self-reliance in our homes and communities, we have opportunities to care for the poor and needy and to help others become self-reliant so they can endure times of adversity,” the Relief Society teaches. “We have the privilege and duty to use our agency to become self-reliant spiritually and temporally.”
Speaking of spiritual self-reliance and our dependence on Heavenly Father, Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “We become converted and spiritually self-reliant as we prayerfully live our covenants — through worthily partaking of the sacrament, being worthy of a temple recommend and sacrificing to serve others.”
In the Relief Society manual on the Teachings of Heber J. Grant, there are numerous references to his hard work and spiritual self-reliance.
President Heber J. Grant, seventh president of the church, had “the will to labor” in his spiritual endeavors as well as his temporal pursuits. He was an untiring worker as a father, a gospel teacher and a special witness of the Lord Jesus Christ. All aspects of his life reflected a principle he often taught: “The law of success, here and hereafter, is to have a humble and a prayerful heart, and to work, work, WORK.”
Grant counseled: “If you have ambitions, dream of what you wish to accomplish and then put your shoulder to the wheel and work. Day-dreams without work do not amount to anything; it is the actual work that counts. Faith without works is dead, so James tells us, as the body without the spirit is dead [see James 2:17, 26]. There are any number of people who have faith, but they lack the works, and I believe in the people that have both the faith and the works and are determined to do things.”
In order to give members of the church encouragement to engage in being spiritually self-reliant, Nelson has introduced a variety of suggestions and programs during his presidency to give guidance.
In official messages from the church, one might more often here comments including, “let God prevail” or “stay on the covenant path” and presently “#HearHim.”
In everything Nelson says, the last and foremost message is to find that testimony by attending, or preparing to attend, the temple.
Over the past two years, a number of church leaders have shared by video on YouTube and the church’s website how they #HearHim. This marketing effort is meant to help all those who listen to gain or develop a personal relationship through prayer, scripture study and temple attendance.
In Nelson’s October 2020 Semiannual General Conference address, he posed a powerful question, “Are you willing to let God prevail in your life?”
LET GOD PREVAIL
Popular author and “Real Talk” podcast co-host Ganel-Lyn Condie shares seven key concepts that illustrate what the invitation to “let God prevail” means in a person’s life and how that will build an individual’s spiritual self-reliance.
Those concepts include:
- God promises to love you unconditionally.
- God promises that you are never alone.
- God promises to save you because you are worth saving.
- God promises to forgive you.
- God promises to strengthen you.
- God promises to hear your prayers.
- God promises to inspire you.
Condie asks, “Are you willing to let God be the most important influence in your life? Will you allow His words, His commandments and His covenants to influence what you do each day? Will you allow His voice to take priority over any other? Are you willing to let whatever He needs you to do take precedence over every other ambition? Are you willing to have your will swallowed up in His?”
“Mighty miracles are coming,” Condie said. “God has invited you to choose to let Him prevail in your life and He will prevail in every aspect of your life if you let Him because He always keeps His promises.”
Ronald O. Barney served for 34 years as an archivist and historian in the History Department of the LDS Church. He is a former associate editor of the Joseph Smith Papers and creator and executive producer of “The Joseph Smith Papers” documentary.
In Barney’s book “Joseph Smith: History, Methods & Memory,” he speaks of the early saints.
“One of the significant factors influencing the 20th century silent and baby boomer generations’ perceptions of what a prophet was in the ancient world, especially among the Mormons, arguably came from the mid-1950s Cecil B. DeMille’s ‘The Ten Commandments,'” Barney said. “Depiction of God’s thunderous voice and fiery stylus left no mystery to the audience about how God captured the attention of His designated appointee. It was then up to the chosen one to deliver the message with courage and without restraint.”
Today, the “chosen one,” Nelson, 97, has the age of technology and social media to help him deliver God’s messages. He does it with a soft-spoken, tender voice and in some cases a near whisper so members of the church must intentionally listen.
“It is the same if an individual wants to hear God in his own life,” Nelson said. “The adversary is clever. For millennia, he has been making good look evil and evil look good. His messages tend to be loud, bold and boastful. However, messages from our Heavenly Father are strikingly different. He communicates simply, quietly and with such stunning plainness that we cannot misunderstand Him.”
“We live in the day that our forefathers have awaited with anxious expectation. We have front-row seats to witness live what the prophet Nephi (from the Book of Mormon) saw only in vision, that ‘the power of the Lamb of God’ would descend ‘upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.'” Nelson said. “You, my brothers and sisters, are among those men, women and children whom Nephi saw. Think of that!”
“As individuals seek to be disciples of Jesus Christ, their efforts to hear Him need to be ever more intentional. It takes conscious and consistent effort to fill a person’s daily life with His words, His teachings, His truths,” Nelson said.
“We simply cannot rely upon information we bump into on social media. With billions of words online and in a marketing-saturated world constantly infiltrated by noisy, nefarious efforts of the adversary, where can we go to hear Him?” Nelson asks.
“We (also) hear Him more clearly as we refine our ability to recognize the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. It has never been more imperative to know how the Spirit speaks to you than right now,” Nelson said. “In the Godhead, the Holy Ghost is the messenger. He will bring thoughts to your mind which the Father and Son want you to receive. He is the comforter. He will bring a feeling of peace to your heart. He testifies of truth and will confirm what is true as you hear and read the word of the Lord.”
“I renew my plea for you to do whatever it takes to increase your spiritual capacity to receive personal revelation. Doing so will help you know how to move ahead with your life, what to do during times of crisis, and how to discern and avoid the temptations and the deceptions of the adversary, Nelson added.
The LDS Church has developed many tools, such as websites, magazine, lessons, videos and more, to help today’s members learn how to develop a self-reliant testimony by learning how the Holy Spirit speaks to them and how they can #HearHim.
The church’s new program for children and youth is built on the foundation of learning to seek revelation, discovering what the Lord would have them do and then acting on that direction, according to Sister Michelle Craig of the Young Women’s Presidency.
Nelson is famous for his devotion to building temples close to the Saints. In April’s conference, he announced an unprecedented 20 temples to be built. Those temples will serve the people from Oslo, Norway; Brussels, Belgium; Vienna, Austria; and Kuasi, Ghana; to Beira, Mozambique; Singapore; Cali, Colombia; and Smithfield, Utah.
With that announcement, the church now has 251 temples announced, under construction or operating.
In temples, Latter-day Saints learn about Jesus Christ, the purpose of life and the importance of marriage and family, according to church information. The temple is a place where the most cherished human relationships are made eternal. LDS couples are joined together in marriage in a temple ceremony called a sealing. Church members believe this bond unites the couple and any children they have together forever, according to church information.
Members consider the temple to be the House of the Lord, holy ground, where they can build their spiritual self-reliance and receive revelation for their personal use.
This coming Semiannual General Conference of the church will most likely continue the commitment for members to let God prevail in their lives and to learn how to #HearHim, so as the world gets harsher, tougher and crueler, members can find peace in knowing they can rely on their own faith in God and in Jesus Christ.