Thursday, January 4, 2018

President Russell M. Nelson on sustaining modern prophets

President Russell M. Nelson (born Sept 9, 1924) was an internationally-renowned heart surgeon when he was called to serve as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1984. He was set apart as president of the Quorum of Twelve on July 15, 2015. With the death of President Monson, at age 93 he currently presides over the Church as senior apostle.
"If the Restoration did anything, it shattered the age-old myth that God had stopped talking to His children. Nothing could be further from the truth. A prophet has stood at the head of God's Church in all dispensations, from Adam to the present day. Prophets testify of Jesus Christ—of His divinity and of His earthly mission and ministry. We honor the Prophet Joseph Smith as the prophet of this last dispensation. And we honor each man who has succeeded him as President of the Church....
"All leaders in the Lord’s Church are called by proper authority. No prophet or any other leader in this Church, for that matter, has ever called himself or herself. No prophet has ever been elected. The Lord made that clear when He said, 'Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you' (John 15:16). You and I do not 'vote' on Church leaders at any level. We do, though, have the privilege of sustaining them.
"The ways of the Lord are different from the ways of man. Man’s ways remove people from office or business when they grow old or become disabled. But man’s ways are not and never will be the Lord’s ways. Our sustaining of prophets is a personal commitment that we will do our utmost to uphold their prophetic priorities. Our sustaining is an oath-like indication that we recognize their calling as a prophet to be legitimate and binding upon us."
- Russell M. Nelson, "Sustaining the Prophets," General Conference October 2014
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

It's fascinating to read President Nelson's witness of living prophets. Truly, "A prophet has stood at the head of God's Church in all dispensations, from Adam to the present day." When he spoke these words in 2014, President Monson was healthy and two additional senior apostles (Boyd K. Packer and L. Tom Perry) also were ahead of then-Elder Nelson, who was already 90 years old at the time and probably had little expectation he would ever become the senior apostle. But now he finds himself "called" by the Lord to stand in that responsibility, "chosen" by the Lord to fill the sacred role.

And what does the change mean for us as Church members? President Nelson himself offered this suggestion:

What a solemn privilege it is to sustain our divinely-appointed leaders! Among other things, it shows our willingness and commitment to "uphold their prophetic priorities" as they are shared and expressed, and to recognize the prophetic calling as "legitimate and binding upon us."

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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