Brothers and Sisters, Aloha! Sister Hafoka and I are honored to be with you. President Kauwe, thank you for the invitation to share our testimony with your faculty, staff, and students. We have fond memories of this special place. This is where we met and started our eternal family forty-plus years ago. We're forever grateful for BYU–Hawaii.
Our world today is filled with chaos and confusion, wars and rumors of wars, and many are lost because of the conflicting messages received from all directions. As the Lord hastened His work, so as Satan. Satan knows he is running out of time, so he tries his very best to take down as many people as he can with him. Fortunately, we have the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and the living prophet to safely guide us.
Today, I want to speak about the living prophet, seer, and revelator and why we should follow him if I can tell the why maybe you can figure out the what and how to follow the prophet.
Heavenly Father loves us so much that He provides a Savior and Redeemer to save us. In addition, He provides a watchman on the tower to warn us when the enemy is approaching and provide the direction to safety. I love the words of the Primary song:
Follow the prophet, follow the prophet,
Follow the prophet; don't go astray.
Follow the prophet, follow the prophet,
Follow the prophet; he knows the way.
In this confusing world, it's very comforting to follow someone who knows the way. Someone who speaks to God and God speaks to him, someone the Lord trusts to share His plan with and even His secrets. Someone who sees the future and gives us the needed warnings. Receiving the warnings and following the warnings are two different things. I pray that we follow the counsels of the living prophet by doing the things he invited us to do. It's not what we know, but what we do will bless and protect us.
Since January of this year, we studied the Old Testament and learned of prophets like Enoch, Noah, and Abraham. The Book of Mormon and the teaching of the living prophets have increased our understanding of the prophets of old and their experiences. I pray that we learn from the past so don't have to make the same mistake again. Let us review a few principles regarding the prophet of God.
First: God Speaks to the Prophet
In Moses 6: 26-27, we read, "And it came to pass that Enoch journeyed in the land, among the people; and as he journeyed, the Spirit of God descended out of heaven, and abode upon him. And he heard a voice from heaven, saying: Enoch, my son, prophesy unto this people, and say unto them—Repent, for thus saith the Lord: I am angry with this people, and my fierce anger is kindled against them; for their hearts have waxed hard, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes cannot see afar off." 1
God told Enoch, first, "you're my son," and second, to warn the people and tell them to repent. God was specific and direct on why His anger is kindled against the people. First, their hearts have waxed hard. Second, their ears are dull. Third, their eyes cannot see afar. Today, we continue to have the same problems, and we're given the same warnings from our living prophet. The message of prophets, Seers, and Revelators is to warn people and invite them to come unto Christ through repentance. When we change, we have a new heart full of compassion with ears that can truly listen for understanding and eyes that can see differentiate between good and bad. Brothers and Sisters, have we heed the prophet's counsels? It's not what we know, but what we do will save us.
God also spoke to Noah in Moses 8:16-17. "And it came to pass that Noah prophesied and taught the things of God, even as it was in the beginning. And the Lord said unto Noah: My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for he shall know that all flesh shall die; yet his days shall be a hundred and twenty years; and if men do not repent, I will send in the floods upon them." 2
God gave Noah the same message with a specific consequence: He would send in the floods upon them if they did not repent. We know very well the outcome of the story; only Noah and his family were saved. The restored Gospel of Jesus Christ and the living prophet will guide us to safety.
God spoke to Abraham and said, "And it came to pass when I was come near to enter into Egypt, the Lord said unto me: Behold, Sarai, thy wife, is a very fair woman to look upon; Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see her, they will say—She is his wife, and they will kill you, but they will save her alive; therefore see that ye do on this wise: Let her say unto the Egyptians, she is thy sister, and thy soul shall live. And it came to pass that I, Abraham, told Sarai, my wife, all that the Lord had said unto me- Therefore say unto them, I pray thee, thou art my sister that it may be well with me for thy sake, and my soul shall live because of thee." 3
God spoke to Abraham with a great sense of humor. I love what He said to Abraham. Please forgive me but allow me to add my non-scriptural version here. God said to Abraham, "Look- you have a young, fair, and beautiful wife. I know the Egyptian men very well; if they see her with you as her husband, you're gone; you're history, so here is the plan. Have her tell them you are her brother, don't say anything, and just let her do the talking, okay? If you do that, your life will be spared." Off they went. Abraham thanked his "sister" later for saving his life. God spoke to His prophets of old and continues to speak to His living prophet today. What are President Nelson's invitations to us today? Have we applied his counsel in our lives? It's not what we know but what we do.
Second: God Allows His Prophet to See the Future
We refer to the prophet as a Seer. According to the Guide to the Scriptures, a Seer is someone God authorized to see with spiritual eyes things that God has hidden from the world and knows the past, present, and future.
Nephi had desired to see the things his father had seen.
1 Nephi 11: 13-18 says, "And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the great city of Jerusalem and other cities. And I beheld the city of Nazareth, and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white. And it came to pass that I saw the heavens open, and an angel came down and stood before me; and he said unto me: Nephi, what beholdest thou? And I said unto him: A virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins. And he said unto me: Knowest thou the condescension of God? And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things. And he said unto me: Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh." 4
God allowed Nephi to see things, events, and people ahead of his time, even the Messiah and Mary's mother. Nephi also saw John the Baptist that would baptize the Lamb of God. He saw the Savior teaching and ministering to people. He even saw the Savior lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sin of the world. Our living prophet today, President Nelson, sees the past, present, and future just like Nephi.
Let me share my very first experience with a living prophet many years ago in Auckland, New Zealand. When I was in high school and not yet a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, my uncle, and his family, who were members of the Church, invited me to attend a special conference where the prophet would be speaking. Prior to this, I didn't know there was a living prophet on earth. I knew of prophets in the Old and New Testaments but never knew of a living prophet, so I accepted the invitation, and we went.
I was told the saints in New Zealand were anxiously preparing for the special conference and the arrival of President Spencer W. Kimball, the living prophet at the time. Russell M. Nelson told the story.
Both President and Sister Kimball had temperatures of 104 degrees before they left American Samoa to New Zealand. They were coughing violently, nauseated, and most miserable.
Russell M. Nelson, the prophet's attending physician at the time, recalled that President Kimball was very sick as he and D. Arthur Haycock, President Kimball's secretary, assisted him onto the airplane for the flight to New Zealand. One official scolded Dr. Nelson for allowing President Kimball to get on the plane, saying, "Anyone can see that he's too sick to get on an airplane and fly to New Zealand. You should leave him here in Pago Pago, where he can go to the hospital and get his aid." Nevertheless, President and Sister Kimball were settled on the plane with blankets while their fevers raged between 102 and 104 degrees.
When they arrived in New Zealand, President and Sister Kimball were rushed not to the hospital but to the home of the temple president, and they immediately went to bed. President Kimball asked President Eldon Tanner, his counselor, to handle the planned reception with the Maori queen since he himself was too sick to go. He continued, "Sister Kimball and I will not make it to the cultural activities planned for this evening because of our illness. The doctor thinks we should not attend. Therefore, will you please excuse us and begin the meeting on time. Express our regrets to the congregation. We will try to conserve our strength in order to make it to the general sessions of the area conference tomorrow morning."
President Tanner agreed and left. Dr. Nelson remained with President and Sister Kimball while his wife, Dantzel, went with the other Brethren and their wives to the Church College of New Zealand stadium for the cultural program. All was quiet at the temple president's home while the prophet and his wife slept. Brother Nelson recalls what happened then:
"I was reading in President Kimball's room when he awakened and said, 'Brother Nelson, what time was that program to begin this evening?' I said, 'At seven o'clock, President Kimball.' He said, 'What time is it now?' I replied, 'It's almost seven.' Noting that he was soaked in perspiration, I thought his fever may have broken, which indeed it had. His temperature was now 98.6 degrees. He said, 'Tell Sister Kimball we're going!'
"Several thoughts flashed through my mind in that instant, culminating in a decision that it would be inadvisable for me to say anything about it being medically inadvisable for him to go. So I quickly went in and said to Sister Kimball, 'We're going.' They each hurriedly prepared and went to the car that had been made available.
"So President and Sister Kimball, Brother Haycock, and I drove the short distance from the temple president's home to the Church College stadium, where the activities were being held. As the car entered the stadium, a very loud shout erupted spontaneously. It was so sudden that I wondered if it might have been a clap of thunder. The car was driven around the track to the place where President and Sister Kimball could be ushered to their seats; Brother Haycock and I took our seats beside our companions as well. I asked Dantzel (Sister Nelson) what was the cause of that enormous shout. I got the story from her point of view.
"She said that President Tanner had called the meeting to order at seven pm and explained that President and Sister Kimball could not attend because of illness. They were to proceed without them to preserve their strength to join with the Saints the following day. Then one young man was called upon to give the opening prayer. With a faith typical to these Saints in the islands, this young New Zealander gave what my wife described as a rather lengthy prayer. During the course of his prayer, he supplicated the Lord and said: 'We are three thousand New Zealand youths. We are assembled here, having prepared for six months to sing and dance for thy prophet. Wilt thou heal him and deliver him here.'
"Then, as the 'amen' was pronounced, the car entered carrying President and Sister Kimball. They were immediately identified by the assembled thousand youths, who all spontaneously issued that shout for joy on having their prayer answered so directly." 5
I was there that night. I saw a living Prophet for the first time, President Kimball and his medical doctor Dr. Russell M. Nelson, who, after 42 years, became the prophet.
I knew it there and then because the Spirit spoke loudly and clearly to my heart that Spencer W. Kimball is a true Prophet of God. I learned of this truth first before I knew the Church is true, and because of that spiritual experience, I was baptized into the Church a few months later. When I became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I studied and read many of President Spencer W. Kimball's teachings and counsels. I loved his theme of "Do It and Do It Now." One of my favorite books is called "Miracle of Forgiveness" by Spencer W. Kimball. Many priesthood leaders are still referring to that book today. In fact, some of you may have studied it in your mission. I named one of my sons Spencer after Spencer W. Kimball, the prophet many years later.
I testify God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We do have a living Prophet today, his name is President Russell M. Nelson, and God speaks to him today as He did to Noah, Abraham, Nephi, and even President Kimball in the past. Our challenge is to follow him in words and in deeds. It's not what we know but what we do to become like our Savior.
Prior to leaving on our mission in June 2018, we attended the Missionary Training Center for a few days. We were blessed to be taught and inspired by the prophets, seers, and revelators. We were honored to speak with our beloved Prophet, President Russell M. Nelson. He then asked Lucy and I to take a personal message to the people of Papua New Guinea. He said, "President, tell the good people of Papua New Guinea I love them."
His message was simple yet very powerful, and everywhere I went, and every time I spoke, I gave his message to all. They were so touched that the Prophet of God, President Nelson, remembers and loves them, and they felt the power of his love. Oh, how I wish you could see their reaction. I testify He is the true and living prophet today.
In the October 2018 General Conference, President Nelson said: "As Latter-day Saints, we have become accustomed to thinking of "church" as something that happens in our meetinghouses, supported by what happens at home.
We need an adjustment to this pattern. It is time for a home-centered Church, supported by what takes place inside our branch, ward, and stake buildings." Did we know that our chapels would be closed two years later, and we would have no church meetings in our chapels? In 2018, we didn't know that we would have the pandemic, and all of our temples and chapels would be closed for a while. We all enjoyed the spiritual experiences received when we had the sacrament meeting in our home and the Spirit we felt therein. We realized now our home is a sacred place like chapels and temples."
President Nelson also taught, "My dear brothers and sisters, the assaults of the adversary are increasing exponentially, in intensity and in variety. Our need to be in the temple on a regular basis has never been greater. I plead with you to take a prayerful look at how you spend your time. Invest time in your future and in that of your family. If you have reasonable access to a temple, I urge you to find a way to make an appointment regularly with the Lord—to be in His holy house—then keep that appointment with exactness and joy. I promise you that the Lord will bring the miracles He knows you need as you make sacrifices to serve and worship in His temples." 6
I don't think we knew in 2018 that in 2020, all the temples would be closed, and we had to make appointments to attend the temple when opened again literally. I like when He said to keep that appointment with exactness and joy. I hope we make our appointments and try our best to keep them, and if we can't make it, please go back and cancel it so others can attend. I think making an appointment online to attend the temple will be around for a while.
Since his call as the prophet in January 2018, he has used general conference and social media to extend many invitations to us. One of those invitations said: "Now, to each member of the Church, I say: Keep on the covenant path. Your commitment to follow the Savior by making covenants with Him and then keeping those covenants will open the door to every spiritual blessing and privilege available to men, women, and children everywhere." 7
Brothers and Sisters, we're bound to the Savior through the ordinances and covenants we make in the temple. The power of godliness is manifest in our lives when we keep the covenants made with God. It's not what we know but what we do will strengthen us, and the promised blessings will be ours.
President Nelson also urged us to increase our spiritual capacity to receive revelation when he said "In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting and constant influence of the Holy Ghost." 8
How many of us follow his invitation? Do we strive to always have the Spirit with us? Have we learned to recognize and follow the prompting of the Spirit? It is not what we learn but what we do.
In the October 2021 General Conference, President Nelson invited all of us to strengthen our spiritual foundations and said: "My dear brothers and sisters, these are the latter days. If you and I are to withstand the forthcoming pressures, it is imperative that we each have a firm spiritual foundation built upon the rock of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. So I ask each of you: How firm is your foundation? And what reinforcement to your testimony and understanding of the gospel is needed? Please believe me when I say that when your spiritual foundation is built solidly upon Jesus Christ, you have no need to fear." 9 President Nelson invited us to reinforce our spiritual foundation so we don't have to worry when the wind and challenges come.
In the Book of Mormon, Helaman taught his sons the same thing and said: "And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall." 10
President Nelson knows the only way to safety is to build and reinforce our foundation upon the rock, the Savior and Redeemer of the world, Jesus Christ. The words of the Primary song remind us that the wise man built his house upon the rock, but the foolish man built his on the sand. May we be wise to build on the rock, Jesus Christ.
In conclusion, I want to review what we discussed today:
- God speaks to His Prophet, and the prophet sees the past, present, and future.
- President Kimball said to do it and do it now.
- President Nelson invited us to remodel our home for a home-centered church, make and keep appointments with God, make and keep covenants made in the temple.
- To survive spiritually, we must have the constant influence of the Spirit and build and reinforce our spiritual foundations on Jesus Christ.
Brothers and Sisters, I've given you the why we should follow the prophet; your responsibility now is to develop the how and what to do.
These are but a few of President Nelson's invitations. If you haven't started, I plead with you to just pick one and start today. I invite you to exercise your faith in the Savior Jesus Christ and make the necessary changes you need. As you do so, the promised blessings given by the prophet will be yours. I pray that we're doers of the word, not hearers, only because it is not what we know, but what we do will change us. As disciples of Jesus Christ, our goal is to become like Him. Thank you for your faith and examples, especially your temple service and temple worship. Thank you for who you are.
I testify that Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God. President Russell M. Nelson is a true and living prophet today. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. He lives, and this is His Church. We have a loving Heavenly Father. I testify these things are true in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
1. Moses 6: 26-27.
2. Moses 8:16-17.
3. Abraham 2: 22-25.
4. 1 Nephi 11: 13-18.
5. Russell M. Nelson, "From Heart to Heart: An Autobiography," 1979.
6. Russell M. Nelson, Opening Remarks, General Conference, October 2018.
7. Russell M. Nelson, "As We Go Forward Together", April 2018.
8. Russell M. Nelson, "Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives," April 2018.
9. Russell M. Nelson, "The Temple and Your Spiritual Foundation," October 2021.
10. Helaman 5:12.