Receive the Oracles of God
By DeeAnn Cheatham
A few months ago I reread President Benson’s talk “Beware of Pride,[i]” given on April 1, 1989. It had been many years since first hearing this talk and it was as powerful as I remembered. I was so affected by it, in fact, that I printed it off to carry with me as a reminder to beware of pride. In his talk President Benson clearly teaches what pride is:
The central feature of pride is enmity—enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means “hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.” It is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us.
Pride is essentially competitive in nature. We pit our will against God’s. When we direct our pride toward God, it is in the spirit of “my will and not thine be done.” As Paul said, they “seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.” (Philip. 2:21.)[ii]
We aren’t here on this earth to make God conform to our will. We are here to learn to conform our will to God’s. Not because He is some arbitrary being who wants to control us, but because He knows what will bring us happiness. He knows how we can best reach our potential.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught often on this topic. He once stated:
The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we “give,” brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give![iii]
One way we submit our will to the Lord is by listening to and sustaining the people that He has chosen to lead us. Doctrine and Covenants 90:5, part of this weeks reading, explains it very clearly:
And all they who receive the oracles of God, let them beware how they hold them lest they are accounted as a light thing, and are brought under condemnation thereby, and stumble and fall when the storms descend, and the winds blow, and the rains descend, and beat upon their house.”
Our oracle today is President Russell M. Nelson. How do we hold him in our esteem? Are we taking his counsel lightly? Do we value the wisdom of his age, the inspiration of his calling and the steadiness of his counsel? Or do we pick and choose the things we want to hear and follow?
Elder Jeffrey R Holland has first-hand experience on why we can trust the prophet, First Presidency, and other general leaders of our church:
Not often but over the years some sources have suggested that the Brethren are out of touch in their declarations, that they don’t know the issues, that some of their policies and practices are out-of-date, not relevant to our times.
As the least of those who have been sustained by you to witness the guidance of this Church firsthand, I say with all the fervor of my soul that never in my personal or professional life have I ever associated with any group who are so in touch, who know so profoundly the issues facing us, who look so deeply into the old, stay so open to the new, and weigh so carefully, thoughtfully, and prayerfully everything in between. I testify that the grasp this body of men and women have of moral and societal issues exceeds that of any think tank or brain trust of comparable endeavor of which I know anywhere on the earth. I bear personal witness of how thoroughly good they are, of how hard they work, and how humbly they live. It is no trivial matter for this Church to declare to the world prophecy, seership, and revelation, but we do declare it. It is true light shining in a dark world, and it shines from these proceedings.[iv]
There have been many issues over the years, and there will probably be many more, where members have struggled with prophetic counsel. In each case, one can see why people are struggling. These are real issues that cause pain, and confusion, and are often being fed by misinformation and even outright lies. We can trust that our oracle, President Nelson, along with the combined First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve and other general church leaders, are there to help us understand and find peace. There is safety in following the counsel of our prophet. He has no political agenda.
President Wilford Woodruff once said,
We, as a people, should not treat lightly this counsel, for I will tell you in the name of the Lord—and I have watched it from the time I became a member of this Church—there is no man who undertakes to run counter to the counsel of the legally authorized leader of this people that ever prospers. … you will find that all persons who take a stand against this counsel will never prosper. …
… We have been governed by counsel instead of commandment in many things, which has been a blessing to the saints. …” (JD, vol. 14, pp. 33, 36.)[v]
It takes humility to follow counsel that is in conflict with deeply held beliefs. It takes stripping away the pride of our own intellect and humbly asking the Lord if we should follow the counsel of the prophet and being willing to follow the direction we receive.
President Nelson counseled:
I am optimistic about the future. It will be filled with opportunities for each of us to progress, contribute, and take the gospel to every corner of the earth. But I am also not naive about the days ahead. We live in a world that is complex and increasingly contentious. The constant availability of social media and a 24-hour news cycle bombard us with relentless messages. If we are to have any hope of sifting through the myriad of voices and the philosophies of men that attack truth, we must learn to receive revelation.
Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, will perform some of His mightiest works between now and when He comes again. We will see miraculous indications that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, preside over this Church in majesty and glory. But in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.[vi] (Revelation for the Church, Revelation for our Lives, Russell M. Nelson, April 2018 General Conference Sunday morning Session)
I am positive President Nelson seeks revelation along with his counselors and other church leaders before they give us counsel or pronouncements. Instead of praying for confirmation that we don’t have to follow certain counsel, I hope that we have the humility to ask the Lord to confirm that we should follow the counsel given to us by our modern day oracle. And that we have the courage to follow the direction we receive.
More Come, Follow Me resources here.
DeeAnn Cheatham has been involved with FAIR for close to 20 years. She’s a homeschooling mom of two (one graduated and getting ready to serve a mission to Paris, France, and one almost there!) who enjoys continuing to learn, studying the gospel, and spending time with family. She’s been a stay at home mom for 19 years and has a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and a Master’s in Public Administration from BYU. She served a mission from 1990-1992 in Warsaw, Poland. She lives in Burleson, Texas with her husband Dale, and two kids.