One thing that I’ve noticed as I’ve read through older conference talks is that there are a great abundance of talks which focus on the points that we consider to be very basic doctrine. For instance, there have probably been a half dozen talks in the three conferences that we have read through so far that discuss in detail material from what is now the first missionary lesson. These talks emphasize prophetic dispensation, apostasy, and restoration, and invite those not of our faith to come and learn for themselves whether the Church is true. I’ve usually read through these talks quickly and am guilty of feeling that I don’t need to listen closely.
This week though I was struck by Elder Ezra Taft Benson’s talk Come Listen to a Prophet’s Voice which was directed to non-members and told this familiar story.
What I love about the story of restoration most is that it is ultimately a tale that fits well with what we are inviting others to do. The story and the ask go hand in hand. Joseph Smith sought to know what Church was true and we invite others to do the same. He prayed to God and received revelation and we invite others to do the same. There is a leveling effect to that message. We preach of prophets with special authority, but also that the windows of heaven are open to all.
“Prophets of God have known him–they have told us of him and of his commandments. They have been sent of God and through revelation have instructed us in the way we should go. There is no more crucial question that a man should be constantly asking than that which Paul asked: “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” There is no more essential answer than that which he received–of going to those who are authorized by the Lord to give directions.”
President Benson emphasized that this message of the restoration of Christ’s Church is the most vital message that we can preach to the world. And it is one accessible to all.
“Now this marvelous message–that God has spoken to prophets in our day and reestablished his church–is for all the world. When Nathanael questioned Philip, telling him that he had found Jesus, Philip responded by saying, “Come and see.” (John 1:46.)
So do we respond, “Come and see.” Men can deceive you, but God will not. If you sincerely desire to know of the truthfulness of this message, then make it a matter of fervent prayer, study it out, test it out, and God will let you know.”
While there are many who are unwilling to ask the essential question that Joseph asked of God in the sacred grove, there is a promise given to those who do. God will tell you the truth of these things. He will answer you. He will bless you.
I love this central truth of the restoration.