What is the real definition of church
The true and living Church
As we sustained Thomas Spencer Monsonal as prophet, seer, and revealer and President of the Church, and D. Todd Christofferson as apostle and member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, we saw the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints both true and alive is. The Lord spoke through those through whom He restored the Church in the latter days. He said of them that they “may have the power to lay the foundation for this Church and to bring it out of darkness and out of darkness, the only true and living Church on the face of the whole earth, on which I, the Lord, be pleased, speaking to the Church as a whole and not to the individual -
for I, the Lord, cannot look upon sin with the slightest degree of approval;
but whoever repents and does the commandments of the Lord will be forgiven,
and whoever does not repent, the light that he received will be taken from him himself; for my spirit will not always struggle with man, says the Lord of Hosts. "1
This is the true church - the only true church because the keys of the priesthood are in it. It is only in this church that the Lord anchored the power to seal on earth and to seal in heaven, just as he did in the time of the apostle Peter. These keys were given at the Restoration to Joseph Smith, who was then authorized to transmit them to members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
When the Prophet Joseph Smith was murdered, the enemies of the Church thought that was their end. They thought she was a mortal man's creation and therefore would perish with him. But their hopes were dashed. It was the true Church, and it had the power to continue even after those who were chosen to lead it for a period died.
Today we have been shown that this is the true and living Church. Mortal people hold the keys of the priesthood, but the Lord prepared the way for the keys to remain in effect on the earth as long as people believe that the keys are on the earth and that they are to be given to His chosen servants according to the will of God were passed on.
The people of God have not always been worthy of the wonderful experience we have had today. The apostles continued to wield the keys that he left them after Christ's ascension. However, the disobedience of the members and their renunciation of the faith resulted in the apostles' death without the keys being passed on to successors. We call this tragic event “the apostasy”. If Church members had the ability and will then to exercise faith as you do today, the Lord would not have removed the keys of the priesthood from the earth. So today is a day of historic importance in the history of the world and of eternal consequence for Heavenly Father's children.
Now we must remain worthy of the faith we will need to keep our promise to support those called today. The Lord was delighted with the Church at the beginning of the Restoration and it is today. But he warned the members then, and so he warns us today, that he cannot look upon sin with the slightest degree of approval. To support those called today, we must examine our lives, repent if necessary, vow to keep the Lord's commandments, and follow His servants. The Lord warns us that if we don't do this, the Holy Spirit will withdraw. Then we lose the light we received and cannot keep the promise we made today to support the Lord's servants in His true Church.
Each of us must examine ourselves. First, we need to determine how deep our gratitude is that we are members of the true Church of Jesus Christ. Second, through the power of the Holy Ghost, we must see how we can get better at keeping the commandments.
Thanks to prophecies, we not only know that the true and living Church will no longer be taken from the earth, but also that it will become even better. Our lives will change for the better as we practice repentance faith, keep thinking of the Savior, and keep trying harder to keep His commandments. The scriptures make promises that the Lord's Church will be spiritually ready to receive the Lord when he returns. So we have every reason to be determined and optimistic. We have to be better. We can - and we will do it!
Today we do well to make the decision to support everyone who serves us in the kingdom of God with our faith and our prayers. I know the power of faith with which members of the Church support those who are called. In the past few weeks I have felt the prayers and faith of people I don't know, who only know me as someone called to ministry by the keys of the priesthood. President Thomas S. Monson will benefit greatly from the faith with which you carry him. Many blessings will also be poured on his families through your faith and prayers. All who have been vindicated by you today will be sustained by God because of their own belief and because of your belief.
There are opportunities for each member to provide this support by serving in the name of God. The Church is a tremendous force for the benefit of its members and all people on earth. For example, the Church has provided significant humanitarian aid around the world. All of this is possible because members and friends believe that God lives and that the Lord wants to stand by all those in need that He can reach through His faithful disciples.
In addition, thanks to the Church and the ordinances in her, the blessings associated with the sealing power can extend into the spirit world. This is a true and living Church that reaches even those who are no longer alive. If you have the faith that you will find the names of your ancestors when you go to the house of the Lord to perform ordinances on their behalf, you will be your supporter in this great work that aims to help all of Heavenly Father's children who are born to offer salvation.
Let me give you a few reasons why I am deeply grateful for this true and living Church. Then let me share some examples of how the Church is being prepared for the Savior's return. Finally, I want to share my testimony of how I have come to know that this is the true and living Church.
Most of all, however, I am grateful to have experienced the cleansing power that can be harnessed through the ordinances that are performed with the power of the priesthood. I felt myself being forgiven and purified when I was baptized by someone with authority. I felt the burning in my heart that is only possible because servants of God utter the words, "Receive the Holy Spirit."
The gratitude I feel also comes from the blessings my family received. The sealing power and our knowledge of it changes our family life here and also our expectations for the joy that family life will bring us in the world to come. The thought and hope that my relationships can last forever carry me through the painful separation and loneliness that are part of earth life. The faithful in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are promised that they will enjoy human relationships forever and their families will continue to grow. This assurance changes all of our family relationships forever and for the better.
For example, I am currently in a phase of my life in which, due to the great distance, I cannot get to know some grandchildren and, over time, also great-grandchildren. There are also people who have never had the opportunity to get married and become parents and who have the same desire as I do to be close to a family. As the knowledge that the family will last forever has been restored, we display more hope and kindness in all of our family relationships. The greatest joys in this life are anchored in the family, and so will they be in worlds to come. I am very grateful for the assurance that if we are faithful, the same social relationship we enjoy here in this life will forever have in the world to come, in eternal glory.2
I see signs of the prophesied perfecting of the Church. For example, in my travels, when I meet members of the Church, I see that they are constantly improving. Thanks to her simple faith and obedience, she walks and edifies the Atonement. Often in meetings I meet people who are evidently very humble and have been given the power to teach and preach with a power such as that bestowed upon Lehi and Nephi, the sons of Mosiah. You probably know the story:
"And it came to pass that Nephi and Lehi preached to the Lamanites with great power and authority, for power and authority were given to them that they might speak, and also that what they should speak was given them."3
I believe that President Gordon B. Hinckley's wish will be fulfilled. He said that all who come to church must be nourished by the good word of God so that they can fully integrate into the community and remain active. I remember when he said that his very last words would be, “Stay active, stay active, stay active.” His words live on under the guidance of President Monson and in all of us as we prepare for them, the power of a lehi and having a Nephi to nourish others with the good word of God. I believe that like me, you will be amazed how humble Latter-day Saints speak with increasing power in home teaching, visiting teaching, and in conversations with non-Church friends.
For years we have thought of the words of President David O. McKay, “Every member is a missionary!” I believe that the day will come when we will see more and more people are invited thanks to the faith of members Hear the Word of God and join the true and living Church.
I am convinced that there will be another improvement. Throughout the Church, families strive to empower their children and protect them from the evils that are everywhere around them. Some parents are desperate to bring back a child who has strayed astray. I am convinced that it will become increasingly clear that God is rewarding your efforts. Those who never give up will find that God never gave up and that He helps them.
Much of this help comes from those who are called to serve in the Church. The desire to care for others will grow so that many, like the young Bishop Thomas Monson, will be inspired and aware of the ways to invite and encourage those who temporarily fail to see the blessings God has in store for them. To this day, President Monson has not forgotten the people whom he worked so diligently as a bishop to rescue. Hopefully we all have the confidence that God will guide us when we turn around and shake hands with those whom God wants us to take with us on our way back to him.
Another improvement I see coming in the kingdom of God is the desire and ability to serve the poor and needy. I have seen Church members feel more compassionate for the victims of natural disasters around the world. Obituaries indicate a request that donations be made to the Perpetual Education Fund or the Church Humanitarian Fund.
The Prophet Joseph Smith foresaw this amazingly good development. He taught that one who is truly converted wants to travel the world to care for Heavenly Father's children.4 This is already happening with more and more members of the Church. I find it remarkable that those in need are also helped by those who have little of their own, and that help does not seem to depend on whether we are living in good or difficult times in economic terms. To me, this is a sign that the Atonement is making more and more change among our members.
My testimony that this is the true and living Church came from my childhood. One of my earliest memories is a conference meeting that was not held in a room like this but in a rented room in a hotel. A man I did not know spoke there. To this day I don't know what his name was. All I knew was that he had been sent to our little district by someone who held the priesthood. I don’t know what he said. But I received a strong, clear testimony - even before I was eight years old, before I was baptized - that I was listening to a servant of God in the true Church of Jesus Christ. It wasn't because of the rented room, not because of the number of people who were listening, but it was the certainty that at that moment I was allowed to attend a meeting of the true Church.
Then, when my teenage family and I moved to an area where the Church had stakes, I first saw the power of priesthood quorums and a loving bishop. I well remember the feeling of sitting next to the bishop in the quorum knowing that he holds the keys of a true judge in Israel.
I received the same testimony early in life on two specific Sundays. Once in Albuquerque, New Mexico and once in Boston, Massachusetts. In both cases, I was there when a district became a stake. Ordinary looking men I knew well were called to serve as stake presidents. As you did today, I raised my hand and received the testimony that God had called His servants and that I would be blessed in their service and also because I supported them. I have now seen the same miracle countless times across the Church.
In the days and months that followed confirmation, I saw these stake presidents lifted up and qualified for their duties. I saw the same miracle with President Monson when he was called to serve as prophet and President of the Church and to exercise all of the keys of the priesthood on earth. I was there when he received revelation and inspiration, and it confirms to me that God honors these keys. I've seen it with my own eyes. They are keys to a priesthood that, as the Lord said, "has no beginning or end."5 is.
I bear solemn testimony to you that this is the true and living Church of Jesus Christ. Heavenly Father will answer you if you plead heartily with him to know this from your own knowledge. You can gain a testimony that the callings you have confirmed today come from God. In addition, you can know that ordinances are performed in this Church that can purify the soul and are binding on earth and in heaven, as in the days of Peter, James, and John. These keys and ordinances were fully restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith and passed down through his successors. Jesus is the Messiah. He lives. I know that. I testify that Thomas S. Monson is his living prophet. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true and ongoing. I testify to this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
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