Monday, November 17, 2008

Sacrament Meeting Talk (11/16/08) "The Proclamation to the World"

“The Proclamation to the World”: the Purpose, the Power, and the Promise.

Purpose - The Lord has given us “The Family: The Proclamation to the World” in order to warn us against the threats to our families and to allow us to prepare and protect ourselves.

1 Cor. 14:8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? “The Proclamation to the World” is a certain sound and a warning trumpet!

President Packer “I know of nothing in the history of the Church or in the history of the world to compare with our present circumstances. Nothing happened in Sodom and Gomorrah which exceeds in wickedness and depravity that which surrounds us now.”Boyd K. Packer, “The One Pure Defense” (address to CES religious educators, Feb. 6, 2004), 4.

I know a little about Sodom and Gomorrah. I have heard a Prophet of God apply that description to Copenhagen. In Denmark, in 1973, I saw the future of the family in a secular and progressive society, with its tolerance and self-indulgence, with its lack of eternal context.

From Lehi to Moroni, Book of Mormon prophets saw our day; that future day is now upon us. They saw the wickedness that would come upon this land. They saw pride, when men would deny the power of God (Mormon 8:28-41). They saw people confused and lost in mists of darkness (1 Nephi 8:23-24; 12:17). They saw good called evil and evil good, and people caught up in self-indulgence, with no consideration for the consequences (2 Ne. 28:8). Paul also saw the future that is our present. “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come” (2 Tim. 3:1).

The financial world President Hinckley described in 1998 is now here, as is the moral world the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve saw in 1995 in “The Proclamation to the World”.

President Hinckley “I believe this is the best season for women in all the history of the world. In opportunities for education, for the training of your hands and minds, there has never before been a time when doors were so widely opened to you as they are today.

“But neither has there been a time, at least in recent history, when you have been confronted with more challenging problems. I need not remind you that the world we are in is a world of turmoil, of shifting values. Shrill voices call out for one thing or another in betrayal of time-tested standards of behavior. The moral moorings of our society have been badly shaken. So many of the youth of the world, and likewise so many of their elders, listen only to the seductive voice of self-gratification.

“With so much of sophistry that is passed off as truth, with so much of deception concerning standards and values, with so much of allurement and enticement to take on the slow stain of the world, we have felt to warn and forewarn. In furtherance of this we of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles now issue a proclamation to the Church and to the world as a declaration and reaffirmation of standards, doctrines, and practices relative to the family which the prophets, seers, and revelators of this church have repeatedly stated throughout its history. Gordon B. Hinckley, “Stand Strong against the Wiles of the World,” Ensign, Nov 1995

The future of yesterday’s tomorrow is now here. It is already in the “progressive” parts of the world. In northern Europe, marriages are at an all time low. When they finally happen, the couple are older. Fewer and fewer marriages contemplate children. The replacement rate is 1.2 to 1.4, meaning that each succeeding generation is but 2/3’s the size of the former.

Elder Ballard “Far too many people view marriage as a “couples relationship,” designed to fulfill the emotional needs of adults rather than an institution for rearing children. Children are considered a choice rather than a blessing... Almost every trend indicates that we are on a slippery slope downward from God’s plan for His children. The family, once universally hailed as the cornerstone of society, is losing its essential role.” M. Russell Ballard, “The Sacred Responsibilities of Parenthood,” Ensign, Mar 2006, 26–33

President Hinckley “How bitter are the fruits of casting aside standards of virtue. The statistics are appalling. More than one-fourth of all children born in the United States are born out of wedlock, and the situation grows more serious. Of the teens who give birth, 46 percent will go on welfare within four years; of unmarried teens who give birth, 73 percent will be on welfare within four years.” Gordon B. Hinckley, “Stand Strong against the Wiles of the World,” Ensign, Nov 1995, 98

The future is already in Europe, and on the west coast and on the east coast. It is in Hollywood and on TV, in movies and in music. And so, the proclamation was given as a prophetic response to the things that were happening in the world and those that would yet happen.

Elder Ballard “As a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, I participated in the process of drafting “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” It was a remarkable experience for all of us. As Church leaders travel the world, we see things—both within the Church and outside the Church. We were troubled by much of what we were seeing. We could see the people of the world wanting to define the family in ways contrary to God’s eternal plan for the happiness of His children.

“In the midst of all that was stirring on this subject in the world, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles could see the importance of declaring to the world the revealed, true role of the family in the eternal plan of God. We worked together, through the divinely inspired council system that operates even at the highest levels of the Church, to craft a proclamation that would make the Lord’s position on the family so clear that it could not be misunderstood. M. Russell Ballard, “The Sacred Responsibilities of Parenthood,” Ensign, Mar 2006, 26–33

It saw, and understood, the past with spiritual eyes. It saw the escalated attacks of the future as if they had already happened. It foresaw the effects of those attacks on families relative to God’s plan of happiness for His children.

It is rare, and noteworthy, when we receive a statement signed by all of those currently bearing the apostolic mantle.

President Joseph Fielding Smith “Now, brethren, I think there is one thing which we should have exceedingly clear in our minds. Neither the President of the Church, nor the First Presidency, nor the united voice of the First Presidency and the Twelve will ever lead the Saints astray or send forth counsel to the world that is contrary to the mind and will of the Lord.” “Eternal Keys and the Right to Preside,” Ensign, July 1972, 88.

We may be confident that this warning represents the mind and will of the Lord to us for our day.

Elder Eyring “Because our Father loves his children, he will not leave us to guess about what matters most in this life concerning where our attention could bring happiness or our indifference could bring sadness. Sometimes he will tell a person such things directly, by inspiration. But he will, in addition, tell us these important matters through his servants. In the words of the prophet Amos, recorded long ago, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). He does this so that even those who cannot feel inspiration can know, if they will only listen, that they have been told the truth and have been warned.” Henry B. Eyring, The Family,” Ensign, Feb 1998, 12

The attacks on the family are intentional and are a continuation of the war that commenced in heaven before this earth was created. The proclamation exposes the current attacks as not just being the progressivism of modern society, but the purposeful work of the father of all lies, in his work to make all men miserable like unto himself.

President Wilford Woodruff, in October Conference, 1896 - “There are two powers on the earth and in the midst of the inhabitants of the earth—the power of God and the power of the devil. In our history we have had some very peculiar experiences. When God has had a people on the earth, it matters not in what age, Lucifer, the son of the morning, and the millions of fallen spirits that were cast out of heaven, have warred against God, against Christ, against the work of God, and against the people of God. And they are not backward in doing it in our day and generation. Whenever the Lord set His hand to perform any work, those powers labored to overthrow it.” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff (2004), 220.

Similar comments have recently been made by President Hinckley, President Faust, and Elder Hamula.

The Proclamation warns us that a terrible peril is upon us and that we should flee from it. Look back to Southeast Asia at Christmas time of 2004. If you had forewarning of the tsunami, how close would you have wanted to be? How long would you have stayed? How many more trinkets and souvenirs and vacation photos would you have lingered to acquire?

Today, we are warned to not be a part of the world, to not follow after its temptations.

We are wise to heed President George Albert Smith’s warning to those involved in real war. “If you cross to the devil’s side of the line one inch, you are in the tempter’s power, and if he is successful, you will not be able to think or even reason properly, because you will have lost the spirit of the Lord.” Sharing the Gospel with Others, ed. Preston Nibley (1948), 43.

To paraphrase Elder Maxwell, the days are past when we could lightly have our home in Zion, but keep a summer place in Babylon.

This peril, this threat, is intended to strike at the very heart of God’s eternal plan of happiness for all of His children.

"We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children."

"Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets."

Elder Ballard “When you stop and think about it from a diabolically tactical point of view, fighting the family makes sense... When Satan truly wants to disrupt the work of the Lord, he attempts to confuse gender and he attacks God’s plan for His children. He works to drive a wedge of disharmony between a father and a mother. He entices children to be disobedient to their parents. He makes family home evening and family prayer inconvenient. He suggests family scripture study is impractical. That’s all it takes, because Satan knows that the surest and most effective way to disrupt the Lord’s work is to diminish the effectiveness of the family and the sanctity of the home.” M. Russell Ballard, “The Sacred Responsibilities of Parenthood,” Ensign, Mar 2006, 26–33

Every attack against the family is an attack against the eternal plan of our God!

The Proclamation establishes the central place of marriage and the family in God’s eternal plan and in the world. Marriage is the foundation of the family, with the husband as the cornerstone. He is to preside. Properly positioned, the family takes their orientation off of him. It also gives us clear direction for building celestial families. It gives us the strong timbers of the eternal family.

“Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”

Power – Those who honor and obey this warning and counsel will receive power, through their prayers, faith, and priesthood, to call down the powers of heaven in order to receive its promised blessings.

It will not be easy to live according to its counsel. It is so contrary to the ways of the world and to the prince of this world. The adversary will fight you and your children as you work in faith to live according to it. You will not be able to do it alone, but you don’t have to.

You will seek the Lord’s guidance and then you will be obedient, and obedience will empower your faith.

Elder Eyring “We may have to pray with faith to know what we are to do, and after obtaining such knowledge we must pray with a determination to obey. But we can know what to do and be sure that the way has been prepared for us by the Lord. As we read what the proclamation tells us about the family, we can expect—in fact, we must expect—impressions to come to our minds as to what we are to do. And we can be confident it is possible for us to do according to those impressions.” Henry B. Eyring, The Family,” Ensign, Feb 1998, 12

The Lord always sends strength and power to those who are obedient and live by faith.

Recall the stories of support He has sent. Alma freeing the people of Limhi from captivity. Nephites and Lamanites at the time of His birth.

You will pray in faith for the support you will need.

You will pray in faith for your marriage, to have the strength to live up to the high counsel and instructions of the proclamation. You have faith because you have exerted yourself and sacrificed to improve your marriage in accordance with its counsel. You have faith because you have experienced the Lord’s tender mercies in your marriage as you have honored your sacred covenants.

You will pray in faith for your children, that they may resist the pull of the world. You have faith because you have taught them diligently. You have taught them the gospel in family home evening. You have taken the words of Christ in your mouth daily as you read from holy scripture. You have taught them to pray in family prayer. You have taught them of the atonement and the Savior’s love for them through the sacred covenants of baptism and the sacrament. You will have taught them “in such a way that they could not misunderstand the Gospel of Jesus Christ”. You have faith because you have kept the covenants you made when you received the priesthood and in the temple.

You will pray in faith that the Lord will daily help you provide the means to support your family. In the troubling times we face, that will be a frequently offered prayer.

You will pray in faith that you may understand the threats that your family is facing, that you might prepare them and protect them.

You will pray in faith that you may meet the individual needs of your family as you follow the guidance to nurture them. You have faith because of the many hours you have spent serving them. You have faith because of the many hours you have spent on your knees praying for their benefit.

You will pray in faith for your friends and neighbors, who are looking for refuge from this same storm. You will invite them to functions that demonstrate the time-honored dignity of fathers and mothers. You will share with them your experiences with prayer and faith for your family, where you have felt the hand of God lifting you up. You will share your testimony of the gospel and of living prophets in quiet, heartfelt moments, when the Spirit is close.

Because you know that Isaiah prophesied that in the last days, people will be searching for truth and will seek out God and His ways.

Isaiah 2:2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. 3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

Elder Ballard “If we live and act upon this knowledge, we will attract the world to us. Parents who place a high priority on their families will gravitate to the Church because it offers the family structure, values, doctrine, and eternal perspective that they seek and cannot find elsewhere.” M. Russell Ballard, “What Matters Most Is What Lasts Longest,” Liahona, Nov 2005, 41–44

But faith alone may not be enough.

You will call down the powers of heaven by the power of the Holy Priesthood as you feel your responsibilities as a father more acutely. And you will be joined by your eternal companion, according to your covenants.

You will lay your hands on the heads of your family members; to bless them with the power to resist temptation, to bless them with outpourings of the Spirit that they might be strengthened in their testimony, to bless them with courage and hope in times of discouragement.

You will raise your right arm to the square to bless and consecrate your home, that it might be a refuge from the temptations of the world.

You will work miracles, prompted by the Holy Spirit, in your hours of need. You will heal their spirits as well as their bodies. You will turn back the forces of evil. You will speak prophetic words given you in the very moment. You will see the threats before they are manifest. You will receive a renewing of your body, and you will run and not be weary and walk and not faint.

You will have the testimony that God supports His children as they seek to serve Him.

And He will send angels to lift you up as you struggle to follow His counsel.

Elder Holland “My beloved brothers and sisters, I testify of angels, both the heavenly and the mortal kind. In doing so I am testifying that God never leaves us alone, never leaves us unaided in the challenges that we face. “[N]or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man [or woman or child] upon the face thereof to be saved. Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men;” Moroni 7:36-37, Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Ministry of Angels,” Ensign, Nov 2008, 29–31

Promise – Those who abide by the counsel and vision of “The Proclamation to the World” will one day see the fulfillment of its promises, namely that they will be united as eternal families, having overcome the world. As you strive to live up to the counsel, wisdom, and vision of the proclamation, you will become the patriarchs and matriarchs of eternity. You will lay claim to the promises and assurances of God’s prophets in every dispensation regarding those who keep His commandments and follow His counsel.

D&C 84:88 And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.

D&C 1:37-38 37 Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled. 38 What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.

D&C 82:8-10 8 And again, I say unto you, I give unto you a new commandment, that you may understand my will concerning you; 9 Or, in other words, I give unto you directions how you may act before me, that it may turn to you for your salvation. 10 I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.

The Proclamation to the World was given to us in our day, to meet the challenges of our day.

It was given to warn us of the threats to the family, which God Himself established in order to bring about eternal life.

The strength and power we will need to resist the adversary will come to us as we reject the world and follow this counsel in prayer and faith.

God will reward our faith and sacrifice by supporting us in this life and raising our families up in the eternities.

I testify that this is true and that we are led by a living prophet in these trying times,
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen

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