Thursday, September 30, 2021

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin on following prophetic counsel

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917-2008) served as a Seventy from 1976 to 1986, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles from 1986 until his passing in 2008 at age 91.
"The Lord has given us prophets to guide us and keep us from evil if we will accept and follow their instruction. The Lord would say to us today as he said to the ancient Israelites: 'Be not afraid nor dismayed... for the battle is not yours, but God's.... The Lord will be with you.... Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe the prophets, so shall ye prosper.' (2 Chronicles 20:15, 17, 20; emphasis added)
"In our conferences, we sustain the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators. The Lord has appointed them as watchmen to warn the people....
"The statements of the prophets are not given to compel, coerce, dictate, control, or infringe on any person's right to choose. Church leaders are guided by the Lord's injunction in the Doctrine and Covenants: 'No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile.' (D&C 121:41-42.)
"The prophets and other Church leaders have never misled the Latter-day Saints on a principle of righteousness. Every principle is for our benefit. However, if we choose to ignore the prophets, we choose the consequences that follow. We have the God-given agency to either follow the prophets or not, but we cannot choose the consequences of exercising that agency. They will follow with absolute certainty. If we ignore the prophets, we become like the people the Savior chastised when he said, 'Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?' (Luke 6:46.)"
- Joseph B. Wirthlin, "The Lord's Side," address given at a Brigham Young University nineteen-stake fireside, 2 August 1992; see Ensign March 1993, p. 69
Click here to read the full talk

In the setting of General Conference, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are given the privilege to sustain leaders. This is not a "vote" on whether we like the selections that are made; it's a chance for us to commit our hearts and deed to listen and follow counsel. Elder Wirthlin points out that the divine call comes from the Lord; these prophets will "guide us and keep us from evil if we will accept and follow their instruction." Quite a promise — but that "if" provides the all-important conditional to claim the promise! And "if" we choose to ignore their counsel, we also claim the consequences.

I love that message.  We choose whether or not to sustain — as demonstrated not only by raising our hand, but also by our discipleship that will follow.  But we can not choose the consequences of our commitment to sustain or not sustain. If we raise our hand but then ignore their counsel, we receive no blessing.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
October 3, 2015

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