General conference Saturday afternoon: LDS members advised to follow ‘covenant path,’ find joy through Jesus
President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, conducted the Saturday afternoon session of the general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Business of the church was conducted by Preside Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency.
Following the business of the church, a combined choir from Brigham Young University, which provided the music for the session, sang “How Firm of Foundation” and set the tone for the variety of talks given in the session.
Elder Dale G. Renlund spoke on accessing God’s power through covenants. “Before the earth was created, God established covenants as the mechanism by which we, His children, could unite ourselves to Him,” he said. “Based on eternal, unchanging law, He specified the non-negotiable conditions whereby we are transformed, saved and exalted. In this life, we make these covenants by participating in priesthood ordinances and promising to do what God asks us to do, and in return, God promises us certain blessings.”
“We become covenant children of God and inheritors of His kingdom, especially when we identify ourselves completely with the covenant,” Renlund explained.
“The term ‘covenant path’ refers to a series of covenants whereby we come to Christ and connect to Him. Through this covenant bond, we have access to His eternal power,” Renuind said. “The path begins with faith in Jesus Christ and repentance, followed by baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost. Jesus Christ showed us how to enter the path when He was baptized.”
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of Jesus Christ being the strength of parents. “Have you ever thought about the tremendous risk our father in heaven takes each time He sends a child to earth? These are His spirit sons and daughters. They have limitless potential. They are destined to become glorious beings of goodness, grace and truth,” he said. “And yet they come to earth completely helpless, barely able to do anything besides cry for help. The memory of their time in God’s presence is veiled over, along with the knowledge of who they really are and who they can become. They form their understanding of life, love, God and His plan based on what they observe from the people around them — especially their parents, who, honestly, are still trying to figure things out themselves.”
Uchtdorf said God gave parents a “sacred duty” to raise their children lovingly and with righteousness, provide for their every need — both physical and spiritual — and teach them to heed God’s commandments.
“Satan will oppose you, distract you, try to discourage you,” he said. “But every child has received the light of Christ as a direct line to heaven. And the savior will help you, guide you and encourage you. Seek His help. Inquire of the Lord! Just as Jesus Christ is the strength of youth, Jesus Christ is also the strength of parents.”
Uchtdorf added, “Your efforts may seem small compared to the loud voices your children hear in the world. At times, it may not feel like you’re accomplishing much. But remember that ‘by small means the Lord can bring about great things.'”
Elder Peter F. Meurs of the Seventy testified that Christ has the power to heal his followers’ pains and sorrows.
“When our savior Jesus Christ looks upon us, He sees and understands the pain and burden of our sins. He sees our addictions and challenges. He sees our struggles and afflictions of any kind — and He is filled with compassion toward us,” he said.
Meurs invoked the words of the church’s current prophet when said, “President (Russell M. Nelson) taught: ‘When the Savior atoned for all mankind, He opened a way that those who follow Him can have access to His healing, strengthening and redeeming power. These spiritual privileges are available to all who seek to hear Him and follow Him.'”
Elder Randall K. Bennett of the Seventy spoke of the directions received through personal patriarchal blessings.
“Each patriarchal blessing is sacred, confidential and personal,” Bennett said. “A person who receives a patriarchal blessing should treasure its words, ponder them and live to be worthy to receive the promised blessings in this life and in eternity.”
“President Russell M. Nelson has repeatedly taught about the importance of a patriarchal blessing … that it gives each recipient ‘a declaration of lineage back to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’ and that it is ‘personal scripture to you,'” Bennett noted.
Elder Craig C. Christensen of the Seventy stated that God’s children “were created to have joy.”
“It is our intended destiny as children of a loving Heavenly Father,” he said. “He wants to share His joy with us. The prophet Lehi taught that God’s plan for each of us is that we ‘might have joy.’ Because we live in a fallen world, joy often seems beyond our reach. But Lehi also explained that ‘the Messiah (came to) … redeem (the faithful) from the fall.'”
Christensen told conference listeners that joy is made possible via redemption by Jesus Christ.
“The gospel message is a message of hope, of ‘good tidings of great joy’ and the means whereby all can experience peace and occasions of joy in this life and receive a fullness of joy in the life to come,” he said. “The joy we speak of is a gift for the faithful, yet it comes with a price. Joy is not cheap nor casually given. Rather, it was bought ‘with the precious blood of Christ.’ If we really understood the value of true, godly joy, we would not hesitate to sacrifice any worldly possession or make any necessary life changes to receive it.”
Elder Evan A. Schmutz of the Seventy spoke to members about trusting in the doctrine of Christ.
“The word trust has been defined as ‘an assured reliance on the character, ability, strength or truth of someone or something.’ That someone is Jesus Christ and that something is His doctrine,” Schmutz said. “So, how would intentionally trusting the doctrine of Christ change the way we live our lives? If we trust the doctrine of Christ, we will trust Christ enough to live by His every word. We will make a lifelong study of Jesus Christ, His ministry, His teachings and His infinite atonement. We will study His promises and the conditions upon which those promises are given.”
“As we study, we will be filled with greater love for the Lord. If we trust the doctrine of Christ, we will approach our Heavenly Father every day in humble, secret prayer, where we can express gratitude for the gift of His Son and for our blessings,” he added.
Elder Benjamin De Hoyos of the Seventy spoke of the blessings of the temple and the sealing keys restored and the beginning of family history research. Latter-day Saints are asked to engage in family research to help families unite for eternity.
“The FamilySearch Centers have been designed so that almost everyone with little help can find their families,” De Hoyos said. “Doing this will stir our hearts. The work of the temple and the work of family is one in the same.”