Thursday, March 31, 2016

Wilford Woodruff on the need and blessing of living oracles

Wilford Woodruff (1807-1898) was called as an apostle in 1839 by Joseph Smith, and sustained as the 4th president of the Church in 1889.  He served until his death in 1898 at age 91.
"We have had a great deal of good counsel and instruction in this Conference; the truth has been simplified, doctrine elucidated and made plain to our understandings through the revelations of Jesus Christ, and I really feel that we have great cause to rejoice. There is one truth that becomes still more evident to my mind, and I think to the minds of this people generally, and that is the importance and necessity of our being governed and controlled day by day by the revelations of God.
"Now, we may take the Bible, the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants, and we may read them through, and every other revelation that has been given to us, and they would scarcely be sufficient to guide us twenty-four hours.  We have only an outline of our duties written; we are to be guided by the living oracles....
"We have got to be governed by the mind and will of God, and this must be apparent to this people; it shows itself more and more. President Young tells us that the living oracles should be our guide, that, in fact, we should have the living oracles within us always. Every man and woman has the privilege of being baptized, but it is not the privilege of every man to lead the Church. It is my privilege to have revelation to know truth from error....
"It is the privilege of every man and woman in this kingdom to enjoy the spirit of prophecy, which is the Spirit of God; and to the faithful it reveals such things as are necessary for their comfort and consolation, and to guide them in their daily duties."
- Wilford Woodruff, "Necessity of the Living Oracles Among the Saints," remarks in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, April 8, 1862; see JD 9:324
Click here to read the full talk

As we anticipate in upcoming General Conference of the Church, this thought was helpful to me. President Woodruff appreciated the instruction that had been given during an 1862 conference. But he was impressed by this principle: the critical need for current, ongoing revelation. As valuable as the scriptures are, they don't provide the current instruction that the "living oracles" can provide:

Note the interesting distinction that comes out in his further remarks. The "living oracles" that President Woodruff is describing actually refers to two things: the inspired words of leaders, and the personal inspiration that comes to every worthy member as he "enjoy[s] the spirit of prophecy." That is the way to receive "comfort and consolation" as well as guidance in our daily activities.

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