Thursday, February 1, 2018

President Howard W. Hunter on simple faith and obedience

President Howard W. Hunter (1907-1995) was called to the Quorum of Twelve in 1959.  He served as Church President from June 5, 1994 to his death on March 3, 1995.
"I think there is no more beautiful story in all of history than the simple, sweet story of the lad who went into the woods near his home, kneeling in prayer and receiving heavenly visitors.
"Now we look into his life and into his works. Many have pried into them to find the mystery of it all behind the written word, but there is no mystery.... There was a simple faith, the faith of a young boy who was to be trained in the things that pertained to God. And as time went by, this young man, without scholarly achievements and without education, was educated by the Lord for the things which should come.
"Now we have been given intelligence and a mind. We only need to train and cultivate it as the Lord instructed Joseph and have a simple faith as he had and be willing to follow simple instructions. When we do so and follow the path that [the Lord] would have us follow and learn the lessons that He would have us learn, we find that our lives are purged of all things which are contrary to the purposes of God, and so it was with Joseph. He came to be a man nearer perfection, for he had cleansed his soul and his mind and lived close to the Lord and could talk with Him and hear Him speak the things which he has left for us through his revelations. Through his spiritual eyes he has been able to see that which has passed and that which lies ahead, and we have had proof of the truthfulness of that which he has seen."
- Howard W. Hunter, "Joseph Smith the Seer," in The Annual Joseph Smith Memorial Sermons, 2 vols. (1966), 2:197–98

President Hunter summarizes the miracle of Joseph Smith's achievements this way: "There was a simple faith." The Lord was able to build on that faith over time to make him into a wonderful tool to achieve great things.

The basic tools of what made Joseph great are also in each of us: "intelligence and a mind" that can be trained along with that simple faith. As we learn to consistently "follow simple instructions" then we know we will be on the path the Lord would have us follow. In doing so, the things of the world fall away; "our lives are purged of all things which are contrary to the purposes of God." That's what happened to Joseph, and that's what can happen to us.

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

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