Following the Prophet
"Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet" by Ezra Taft Benson
BYU Devotional – 26 February 1980
"Stand United in Tribute to the Living Prophet" by Brother Ryan Gardner
BYU-Idaho Devotional – 2 May 2017
"Uphold the Hands of the President of the Church" by President Harold B. Lee
General Conference – October 1970
(All underline or bold emphasis is my own.)
President Joseph Smith
“Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof until long after the events transpire” (Scrapbook of Mormon Literature, vol. 2, p. 173).
“Look to the Presidency and receive instruction,” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938], p. 161).
President Brigham Young
“Some of the leading men in Kirtland were much opposed to Joseph the Prophet, meddling with temporal affairs. … In a public meeting of the Saints, I said, ‘Ye Elders of Israel, … will some of you draw the line of demarcation, between the spiritual and temporal in the Kingdom of God, so that I may understand it?’ Not one of them could do it. … I defy any man on earth to point out the path a Prophet of God should walk in, or point out his duty, and just how far he must go, in dictating temporal or spiritual things. Temporal and spiritual things are inseparably connected, and ever will be.” [Journal of Discourses, 10:363–364]
“I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call scripture” (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot], 13:95).
“I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way” (Discourses of Brigham Young,135).
(As told by Wilford Woodruff) “I will refer to a certain meeting I attended in the town of Kirtland in my early days. At that meeting some remarks were made that have been made here today, with regard to the living oracles and with regard to the written word of God. The same principle was presented, although not as extensively as it has been here, when a leading man in the Church got up and talked upon the subject, and said: ‘You have got the word of God before you here in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants; you have the written word of God, and you who give revelations should give revelations according to those books, as what is written in those books is the word of God. We should confine ourselves to them.’ Brother Joseph turned to Brother Brigham Young and said, ‘Brother Brigham I want you to take the stand and tell us your views with regard to the written oracles and the written word of God.’ Brother Brigham took the stand, and he took the Bible, and laid it down; he took the Book of Mormon, and laid it down; and he took the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and laid it down before him, and he said: ‘There is the written word of God to us, concerning the work of God from the beginning of the world, almost, to our day.’ ‘And now,’ said he, ‘when compared with the living oracles [living prophets] those books are nothing to me; those books do not convey the word of God direct to us now, as do the words of a Prophet or a man bearing the Holy Priesthood in our day and generation. I would rather have the living oracles than all the writing in the books.’ That was the course he pursued. When he was through, Brother Joseph said to the congregation: ‘Brother Brigham has told you the word of the Lord, and he has told you the truth’” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1897, 22–23; emphasis added).
President John Taylor
“We require a living tree—a living fountain—living intelligence, proceeding from the living priesthood in heaven, through the living priesthood on the earth. … And from the time that Adam first received a communication from God, to the time that John, on the Isle of Patmos, received his communication, or Joseph Smith had the heavens opened to him, it always required new revelations, adapted to the peculiar circumstances in which the churches or individuals were placed. Adam’s revelation did not instruct Noah to build his ark; nor did Noah’s revelation tell Lot to forsake Sodom; nor did either of these speak of the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt. These all had revelations for themselves, and so had Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Jesus, Peter, Paul, John, and Joseph. And so must we” (The Gospel Kingdom, sel. G. Homer Durham , 34; see alsoTeachings of Presidents of the Church: John Taylor, 158).
President Wilford Woodruff
“The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty” (Official Declaration 1, “Excerpts from Three Addresses by President Wilford Woodruff Regarding the Manifesto”; emphasis added).
President Joseph Fielding Smith
“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, p. 88.)
President Heber J. Grant
(As told by Marion G. Romney) “I remember years ago when I was a Bishop I had President [Heber J.] Grant talk to our ward. After the meeting I drove him home. … Standing by me, he put his arm over my shoulder and said: ‘My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.’ Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, ‘But you don’t need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.’ [In Conference Report, October 1960, p. 78]
President Harold B. Lee
“We have some tight places to go before the Lord is through with this church and the world in this dispensation, which is the last dispensation, which shall usher in the coming of the Lord. The gospel was restored to prepare a people ready to receive him. The power of Satan will increase; we see it in evidence on every hand. There will be inroads within the Church. There will be, as President Tanner has said, ‘Hypocrites, those professing, but secretly are full of dead men’s bones.’ We will see those who profess membership but secretly are plotting and trying to lead people not to follow the leadership that the Lord has set up to preside in this church. Now the only safety we have as members of this church is to do exactly what the Lord said to the Church in that day when the Church was organized. We must learn to give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through His prophet, “as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; … as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith” (D&C 21:4–5). There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory.’ (D&C 21:6.) … Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow. … Let’s keep our eye on the President of the Church.” [In Conference Report, October 1970, p. 152–153]
“When there is to be anything different from that which the Lord has told us already, he will give it to his prophet not to some Tom, Dick, or Harry that is thumbing his way across the country as we have had people tell the story; and not through someone, as another story relates, who swooned and came up and gave a revelation. I have said, ‘Do you suppose that when the Lord has his prophet on the earth, that he is going to take some round-about means of revealing things to his children? That is what he has a prophet for, and when he has something to give to this Church, he will give it to the President, and the President will see that the presidents of stakes and missions get it, along with the General Authorities; and they in turn will see that the people are advised of any new change’” (“The Place of the Living Prophet, Seer, and Revelator” [address to CES religious educators, July 8, 1964], 11; emphasis added).
“You keep your eye upon him whom the Lord called, and I say to you now, knowing that I stand in this position, you don’t need to worry about the President of the Church ever leading people astray, because the Lord would remove him out of his place before He would ever allow that to happen” (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams , 533)
"Look to the President of the Church for your instructions. If ever there is a conflict, you keep your eyes on the President if you want to walk in the light." (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams , 532)
"If our people want to be safely guided during these [troubled] times of deceit and false rumors, they must follow their leaders and seek for the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord in order to avoid falling prey to clever manipulators who, with cunning sophistry, seek to draw attention and gain a following to serve their own notions and sometimes sinister motives." (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams , 437)
“I have a banker friend in New York. Years ago when I met him in company with President Jacobson, who was then presiding over the Eastern States Mission, we had quite a discussion. President Jacobson had given him a copy of the Book of Mormon, which he had read, and he spoke very glowingly of what he called its ‘tremendous philosophies.’ Near the close of the business hour he invited us to ride to the mission home in his limousine, and we accepted. On the way, as he talked about the Book of Mormon and his reverence for its teachings, I said, ‘Well, why don’t you do something about it? If you accept the Book of Mormon, what is holding you back? Why don’t you join the Church? Why don’t you accept Joseph Smith, then, as a prophet?’ And he said, very thoughtfully and carefully, ‘Well, I suppose the whole reason is that Joseph Smith is too close to me. If he had lived two thousand years ago, I suppose I would believe. But because he is so close, I guess that is the reason I can’t accept him as a prophet.’ Here was a young man saying, ‘I believe in the dead prophets that lived a thousand-plus years ago, but I have great difficulty believing in a living prophet.’ That attitude is also taken toward God. To say that the heavens are sealed and there is no revelation today is saying that we do not believe in a living Christ today, or a living God today—we believe in one long-since dead and gone. So this term living prophet has real significance” (“The Place of the Living Prophet, Seer, and Revelator,” in Charge to Religious Educators, 2nd ed. , 105).
“Soon after President David O. McKay announced to the Church that members of the First Council of the Seventy were being ordained high priests in order to extend their usefulness and to give them authority to act when no other General Authority could be present, a seventy I met … was very much disturbed. He said to me, ‘Didn’t the Prophet Joseph Smith say that this was contrary to the order of heaven to name high priests as presidents of the First Council of the Seventy?’ And I said, ‘Well, I have understood that he did, but have you ever thought that what was contrary to the order of heaven in 1840 might not be contrary to the order of heaven in 1960?’ He had not thought of that. He again was following a dead prophet, and he was forgetting that there is a living prophet today. Hence the importance of our stressing that word living. Years ago as a young missionary I visited Nauvoo and Carthage with my mission president, and we were holding a missionary meeting in the jail room where Joseph and Hyrum had met their deaths. The mission president related the historical events that led up to the martyrdom and then he closed with this very significant statement: ‘When the Prophet Joseph Smith was martyred, there were many saints who died spiritually with Joseph.’ So it was when Brigham Young died: so it was when John Taylor died. … Some Church members died spiritually with Wilford Woodruff, with Lorenzo Snow, with Joseph F. Smith, with Heber J. Grant, with George Albert Smith. We have some today willing to believe someone who is dead and gone and to accept his words as having more authority than the words of a living authority today. … Sometimes we die spiritually and cut ourselves off from pure spiritual light and forget that today, here and now, we have a prophet” (Stand Ye in Holy Places , 152–53; emphasis added).
“[I]f the children of the Lord, which includes all who are upon this earth, regardless of nationality, color, or creed, will heed the call of the true messenger of the gospel of Jesus Christ, … each may in time see the Lord and know that He is.” (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams (1996), 522.)
"Until the members of this church have that conviction that they are being led in the right way, and they have a conviction that these men of God are men who are inspired and have been properly appointed by the hand of God, they are not truly converted." (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams (1996), 542–43.)
"Now, may this be the day for us to reflect seriously, to remember what the Lord has already told us. His prophet is upon the earth today, and if you want to know the last revelation that has come to this people, you get down the last conference report and read carefully especially what the First Presidency said. … You will have the best and the last word that has been given from our Heavenly Father. We don’t have to depend solely upon what is in the standard Church works. In addition to what the scriptures have told us, we have what the prophets today are telling us here and now, and it is for us if we want to be saved on Zion’s hill, when these perils come, to hear and obey." (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams (1996), 471.)
"So often today when our brethren do speak authoritatively, we have some who rise up to challenge and say, ‘Now, just where can I find some authority that you can cite for what you are saying?’ We are tempted to say, ‘You go back and read the speech of the present leader of the Church on this subject, and you have all the authority that you should look for, because this is the Lord’s way. His prophet is here, and revelation is just as needed and is just as much in evidence as it has been in any time in any dispensation of the gospel upon the earth.’” (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams (1996), 428–29.)
President Spencer W. Kimball
“Even in the Church, many are prone to garnish the sepulchers of yesterday’s prophets and mentally stone the living ones” (Instructor, 95:257).
“I bear witness to the world today that more than a century and a half ago the iron ceiling was shattered; the heavens were once again opened, and since that time revelations have been continuous.… Since that momentous day in 1820, additional scripture has continued to come, including the numerous and vital revelations flowing in a never-ending stream from God to his prophets on the earth.… We testify to the world that revelation continues and that the vaults and files of the Church contain these revelations which come month to month and day to day. We testify also that there is, since 1830 when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, and will continue to be, so long as time shall last, a prophet, recognized of God and his people, who will continue to interpret the mind and will of the Lord. Now, a word of warning: Let us not make the error of the ancients. Numerous modern sectarians believe in the Abrahams, the Moseses, and the Pauls, but resist believing in today’s prophets. The ancients also could accept the prophets of an earlier day, but denounced and cursed the ones who were their contemporaries. In our day, as in times past, many people expect that if there be revelation it will come with awe-inspiring, earth-shaking display. For many it is hard to accept as revelation those numerous ones in Moses’ time, in Joseph’s time, and in our own year—those revelations which come to prophets as deep, unassailable impressions settling down on the prophet’s mind and heart as dew from heaven or as the dawn dissipates the darkness of night. Expecting the spectacular, one may not be fully alerted to the constant flow of revealed communication. I say, in the deepest of humility, but also by the power and force of a burning testimony in my soul, that from the prophet of the Restoration to the prophet of our own year, the communication line is unbroken, the authority is continuous, a light, brilliant and penetrating, continues to shine. The sound of the voice of the Lord is a continuous melody and a thunderous appeal. For nearly a century and a half there has been no interruption” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1977, 114–15; or Ensign, May 1977, 77–78; emphasis added).
President Ezra Taft Benson
“Of all mortal men, we should keep our eyes most firmly fixed on the captain, the prophet, seer, and revelator, and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is the man who stands closest to the fountain of living waters. There are some heavenly instructions for us that we can only receive through the prophet. A good way to measure your standing with the Lord is to see how you feel about, and act upon, the inspired words of his earthly representative, the prophet-president. The inspired words of the president are not to be trifled with. All men are entitled to inspiration, and various men are entitled to revelation for their particular assignment. But only one man stands as the Lord’s spokesman to the Church and the world, and he is the president of the Church. The words of all other men should be weighed against his inspired words” (“Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations,” New Era, May 1975, 16).
"Sometimes there are those who feel their earthly knowledge on a certain subject is superior to the heavenly knowledge which God gives to His prophet on the same subject. They feel the prophet must have the same earthly credentials or training which they have had before they will accept anything the prophet has to say that might contradict their earthly schooling. How much earthly schooling did Joseph Smith have? Yet he gave revelations on all kinds of subjects. We haven’t yet had a prophet who earned a doctorate in any subject, but as someone said, ‘A prophet may not have his Ph.D. but he certainly has his LDS.’ We encourage earthly knowledge in many areas, but remember, if there is ever a conflict between earthly knowledge and the words of the prophet, you stand with the prophet, and you’ll be blessed and time will vindicate you." ("Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet" President Ezra Taft Benson, 1980 Devotional Speeches of the Year, 1981, 26–30)
"Did you hear what the Lord said about the words of the prophet? We are to ‘give heed unto all his words’—as if from the Lord’s ‘own mouth.'" ("Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet" President Ezra Taft Benson, 1980 Devotional Speeches of the Year, 1981, 26–30)
"Sometimes there are those who haggle over words. They might say the prophet gave us counsel but that we are not obligated to follow it unless he says it is a commandment. But the Lord says of the Prophet Joseph, ‘Thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you‘ (D&C 21:4). And speaking of taking counsel from the prophet, in D&C 108:1, the Lord states: “Verily thus saith the Lord unto you, my servant Lyman: Your sins are forgiven you, because you have obeyed my voice in coming up hither this morning to receive counsel of him whom I have appointed.” ("Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet" President Ezra Taft Benson, 1980 Devotional Speeches of the Year, 1981, 26–30)
“If we are living the gospel, we will feel in our hearts that the First Presidency of the Church not only have the right, but are also duty bound under heaven to give counsel on any subject which affects the temporal or spiritual welfare of the Latter-day Saints” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1950, p. 148).
"The living prophet has the power of TNT. By that I mean “Today’s News Today.” God’s revelations to Adam did not instruct Noah how to build the ark. Noah needed his own revelation. Therefore, the most important prophet, so far as you and I are concerned, is the one living in our day and age to whom the Lord is currently revealing His will for us. Therefore, the most important reading we can do is any of the words of the prophet contained … each month in our Church magazines. Our marching orders for each six months are found in the general conference addresses, which are printed in the Ensign magazine." ("Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet" President Ezra Taft Benson, 1980 Devotional Speeches of the Year, 1981, 26–30)
"Beware of those who would pit the dead prophets against the living prophets, for the living prophets always take precedence." ("Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet" President Ezra Taft Benson, 1980 Devotional Speeches of the Year, 1981, 26–30)
"But it is the living prophet who really upsets the world. … Why? Because the living prophet gets at what we need to know now, and the world prefers that prophets either be dead or mind their own business. Some so-called experts of political science want the prophet to keep still on politics. Some would-be authorities on evolution want the prophet to keep still on evolution. And so the list goes on and on." ("Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet" President Ezra Taft Benson, 1980 Devotional Speeches of the Year, 1981, 26–30)
"How we respond to the words of a living prophet when he tells us what we need to know, but would rather not hear, is a test of our faithfulness." ("Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet" President Ezra Taft Benson, 1980 Devotional Speeches of the Year, 1981, 26–30)
"There will be times when you will have to choose between the revelations of God and the reasoning of men—between the prophet and the politician or professor. … Would it seem reasonable to an eye doctor to be told to heal a blind man by spitting in the dirt, making clay, and applying it to the man’s eyes and then telling him to wash in a contaminated pool? Yet this is precisely the course that Jesus took with one man, and he was healed. (See John 9:6–7.) Does it seem reasonable to cure leprosy by telling a man to wash seven times in a particular river? Yet this is precisely what the prophet Elisha told a leper to do, and he was healed. (See 2 Kings 5.) ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.’ [Isaiah 55:8, 9]" ("Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet" President Ezra Taft Benson, 1980 Devotional Speeches of the Year, 1981, 26–30)
"When a people are righteous they want the best to lead them in government. Alma was the head of the Church and of the government in the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith was mayor of Nauvoo, and Brigham Young was governor of Utah. Isaiah was deeply involved in giving counsel on political matters and of his words the Lord Himself said, “Great are the words of Isaiah” (3 Nephi 23:1). Those who would remove prophets from politics would take God out of government." ("Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet" President Ezra Taft Benson, 1980 Devotional Speeches of the Year, 1981, 26–30)
"The learned may feel the prophet is only inspired when he agrees with them; otherwise, the prophet is just giving his opinion—speaking as a man. The rich may feel they have no need to take counsel of a lowly prophet." ("Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet" President Ezra Taft Benson, 1980 Devotional Speeches of the Year, 1981, 26–30)
"As a prophet reveals the truth it divides the people. The honest in heart heed his words, but the unrighteous either ignore the prophet or fight him. When the prophet points out the sins of the world, the worldly either want to close the mouth of the prophet, or else act as if the prophet didn’t exist, rather than repent of their sins. Popularity is never a test of truth. Many a prophet has been killed or cast out. As we come closer to the Lord’s second coming, you can expect that as the people of the world become more wicked, the prophet will be less popular with them." ("Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet" President Ezra Taft Benson, 1980 Devotional Speeches of the Year, 1981, 26–30)
"In conclusion, let us summarize this grand key, these ‘Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet,’ for our salvation hangs on them. First: The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything. Second: The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works. Third: The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet. Fourth: The prophet will never lead the Church astray. Fifth: The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time. Sixth: The prophet does not have to say ‘Thus saith the Lord’ to give us scripture. Seventh: The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know. Eighth: The prophet is not limited by men’s reasoning. Ninth: The prophet can receive revelation on any matter, temporal or spiritual. Tenth: The prophet may be involved in civic matters. Eleventh: The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are rich. Twelfth: The prophet will not necessarily be popular with the world or the worldly. Thirteenth: The prophet and his counselors make up the First Presidency—the highest quorum in the Church. Fourteenth: The prophet and the presidency—the living prophet and the First Presidency—follow them and be blessed; reject them and suffer. I testify that these fourteen fundamentals in following the living prophet are true. If we want to know how well we stand with the Lord, then let us ask ourselves how well we stand with His mortal captain." ("Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet" President Ezra Taft Benson, 1980 Devotional Speeches of the Year, 1981, 26–30)
“Keep your eye on the Prophet, for the Lord will never permit his Prophet to lead this Church astray. Let us live close to the Spirit, so we can test all counsel.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1966, p. 123.)
President Gordon B. Hinckley
“The Church is true. Those who lead it have only one desire, and that is to do the will of the Lord. They seek his direction in all things. There is not a decision of significance affecting the Church and its people that is made without prayerful consideration, going to the fount of all wisdom for direction. Follow the leadership of the Church. God will not let his work be led astray” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1983, 68–69; or Ensign, Nov. 1983, 46; emphasis added).
President Marion G. Romney
“It is an easy thing to believe in the dead prophets. … One day when President Grant was living, I sat in my office across the street following a general conference. A man came over to see me, an elderly man. He was very upset about what had been said in this conference by some of the Brethren, including myself. I could tell from his speech that he came from a foreign land. After I had quieted him enough so he would listen, I said, ‘Why did you come to America?’ ‘I am here because a prophet of God told me to come.’ ‘Who was the prophet,’ I continued. ‘Wilford Woodruff.’ ‘Do you believe Wilford Woodruff was a prophet of God?’ ‘Yes, I do.’ ‘Do you believe that President Joseph F. Smith was a prophet of God?’ ‘Yes, sir.’ Then came the sixty-four dollar question. ‘Do you believe that Heber J. Grant is a prophet of God?’ His answer, ‘I think he ought to keep his mouth shut about old age assistance.’ Now I tell you that a man in his position is on the way to apostasy. He is forfeiting his chances for eternal life. So is everyone who cannot follow the living Prophet of God.” [In Conference Report, April 1953, p. 125]
“In response to a contention that [following the First Presidency] is tantamount to surrendering one’s ‘moral agency,’ suppose a person were in a forest with his vision limited by the denseness of the growth about him. Would he be surrendering his agency in following the directions of one who stands on a lookout tower, commanding an unobstructed view? To me, our leaders are true watchmen on the towers of Zion, and those who follow their counsel are exercising their agency just as freely as would be the man in the forest. For I accept as a fact, without any reservation, that this Church is headed by the Lord Jesus Christ, and that He, through the men whom He chooses and appoints to lead His people, gives it active direction. I believe that He communicates to them His will, and that they, enjoying His spirit, counsel us. … That we may all have the vision and the courage to be loyal to the truth and loyal to the men whom God has chosen to lead in the cause of truth.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1942, p. 20.)
President J. Reuben Clark Jr.
“We must have in mind … that only the President of the Church, the Presiding High Priest, … has the right to receive revelations for the Church, either new or amendatory, or to give authoritative interpretations of scriptures that shall be binding on the Church. … He is God’s sole mouthpiece on earth for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the only true Church. He alone may declare the mind and will of God to his people. No officer of any other Church in the world has this high right and lofty prerogative. … We can tell when the speakers are ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost’ only when we, ourselves, are ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost.’ In a way, this completely shifts the responsibility from them to us to determine when they so speak.” (Church News, 31 July 1954, p. 9.)
“There are those who insist that unless the Prophet of the Lord declares, ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ the message may not be taken as a revelation. This is a false testing standard. For while many of our modern revelations as contained in the Doctrine and Covenants do contain these words, there are many that do not.” (Church News, 31 July 1954, p. 10.)
“You will never make a mistake by following the instructions and the counsel of him who stands at the head as God’s mouthpiece on earth” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1945, p. 166).
President N. Eldon Tanner
“The Prophet spoke out clearly on Friday morning, telling us what our responsibilities are. … A man said to me after that, ‘You know, there are people in our state who believe in following the Prophet in everything they think is right, but when it is something they think isn’t right, and it doesn’t appeal to them, then that’s different.’ He said, ‘Then they become their own prophet. They decide what the Lord wants and what the Lord doesn’t want.’ I thought how true, and how serious when we begin to choose which of the covenants, which of the commandments we will keep and follow. When we decide that there are some of them that we will not keep or follow, we are taking the law of the Lord into our own hands and become our own prophets, and believe me, we will be led astray, because we are false prophets to ourselves when we do not follow the Prophet of God. No, we should never discriminate between these commandments, as to those we should and should not keep.” [In Conference Report, October 1966, p. 98]
Elder Mark E. Petersen
“People who are not members of this church may not sense the great significance attached to his ministry. Even some Latter-day Saints have not yet discovered it. But the president of the Church is in fact a prophet raised up in these last days to give inspired guidance, not only to Latter-day Saints, but to all mankind everywhere” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1972, 15; or Ensign, July 1972, 40).
President Boyd K. Packer
“Procedures, programs, the administrative policies, even some matters of organization are subject to change. We are quite free, indeed, quite obliged to alter them from time to time. But the principles, the doctrines, never change” (“Principles,” Ensign, Mar. 1985, 8).
Elder John A. Widstoe
“Whenever moved upon by the Spirit of the Lord, the man called to the prophet’s office assumes the prophetic mantle and speaks as a mouthpiece of the Lord. He may then interpret the word of God, apply it to the conditions of the day, governmental, social, or economic, warn against impending evil. … Such inspired deliverances are binding upon all who believe that the latter-day work came and is directed by revelation.” (Evidences and Reconciliations, 1:182.)
Joseph Smith said “A prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such” (History of the Church, 5:265). Elder John A. Widtsoe commented on the Prophet Joseph’s words: “That statement makes a clear distinction between official and unofficial actions and utterances of officers of the Church. In this recorded statement the Prophet Joseph Smith recognizes his special right and duty, as the President and Prophet of the Church, under the inspiration of the Lord, to speak authoritatively and officially for the enlightenment and guidance of the Church. But he claims also the right, as other men, to labor and rest, to work and play, to visit and discuss, to present his opinions and hear the opinions of others, to counsel and bless as a member of the Church.” (Evidences and Reconciliations, 1:182.) Elder Widtsoe went on to say, however, the “unofficial expressions [of a prophet] carry greater weight than the opinions of other men of equal or greater gifts and experience but without the power of the prophetic office. … The unofficial views and expressions of such a man with respect to any vital subject, should command respectful attention.” (Evidences and Reconciliations,1:183–84.)
Elder George Q. Cannon
“A friend … wished to know whether … we considered an honest difference of opinion between a member of the Church and the authorities of the Church apostasy. … We replied that we had not stated that an honest difference of opinion between a member of the Church and the authorities constituted apostasy; for we could conceive of a man honestly differing in opinion from the authorities of the Church and yet not be an apostate; but we could not conceive of a man publishing those differences of opinion, and seeking by arguments, sophistry and special pleading to enforce them upon the people to produce division and strife, and to place the acts and counsels of the authorities of the Church, if possible, in a wrong light, and not be an apostate, for such conduct was apostasy as we understood the term. We further said that while a man might honestly differ in opinion from the authorities through a want of understanding, he had to be exceedingly careful how he acted in relation to such differences, or the adversary would take advantage of him and he would soon become imbued with the spirit of apostasy, and be found fighting against God and the authority which He had placed here to govern His Church.” (Deseret News Weekly,3 Nov. 1869, p. 457.)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie
“Let us, then—and let all men who desire righteousness—accept the Lord and his prophets, hearken to their teachings, and strive to be like them, for it is written: ‘He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward.’ (Matt. 10:41.) And a prophet’s reward is eternal life in the kingdom of God.” (Promised Messiah,p. 41.)
"And now it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had read these things which were engraven upon the plates of brass, my brethren came unto me and said unto me: What meaneth these things which ye have read? Behold, are they to be understood according to things which are spiritual, which shall come to pass according to the spirit and not the flesh? And I, Nephi, said unto them: Behold they were manifest unto the prophet by the voice of the Spirit; for by the Spirit are all things made known unto the prophets, which shall come upon the children of men according to the flesh." (1 Nephi 22:1-2)
"He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward." (Matthew 10:40-41)
"Cursed are all those that shall lift up the heel against mine anointed, saith the Lord, and cry they have sinned when they have not sinned before me, saith the Lord, but have done that which was meet in mine eyes, and which I commanded them. But those who cry transgression do it because they are the servants of sin, and are the children of disobedience themselves. And those who swear falsely against my servants, that they might bring them into bondage and death— Wo unto them; because they have offended my little ones they shall be severed from the ordinances of mine house. Their basket shall not be full, their houses and their barns shall perish, and they themselves shall be despised by those that flattered them. They shall not have right to the priesthood, nor their posterity after them from generation to generation. It had been better for them that a millstone had been hanged about their necks, and they drowned in the depth of the sea." (D&C 121:16-22)
"Yea, wo unto this people, because of this time which has arrived, that ye do cast out the prophets, and do mock them, and cast stones at them, and do slay them, and do all manner of iniquity unto them, even as they did of old time. And now when ye talk, ye say: If our days had been in the days of our fathers of old, we would not have slain the prophets; we would not have stoned them, and cast them out. Behold ye are worse than they; for as the Lord liveth, if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him; yea, you will say that he is a false prophet, and that he is a sinner, and of the devil, because he testifieth that your deeds are evil." (Heleman 13:24-26)
“And with my servant Almon Babbitt, there are many things with which I am not pleased; behold, he aspireth to establish his counsel instead of the counsel which I have ordained, even that of the Presidency of my Church.” (D&C 124:84)
"And the arm of the Lord shall be revealed; and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people" (D&C 1:14).
“Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith. For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you.” (D&C 21:4-6)
"For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people." (Acts 3:22-23)
"And this shall ye have of my hand—ye shall lie down in sorrow. Behold, and lo, there are none to deliver you; for ye obeyed not my voice when I called to you out of the heavens; ye believed not my servants, and when they were sent unto you ye received them not." (D&C 133:70-71)
"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." (D&C 90:5)
"For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me" (D&C 84:36).
"And if my people will hearken unto my voice, and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, they shall not be moved out of their place. But if they will not hearken to my voice, nor unto the voice of these men whom I have appointed, they shall not be blest, because they pollute mine holy grounds, and mine holy ordinances, and charters, and my holy words which I give unto them." (D&C 124:45-46)
"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 1:38)
"And also that a feast of fat things might be prepared for the poor; yea, a feast of fat things, of wine on the lees well refined, that the earth may know that the mouths of the prophets shall not fail" (D&C 58:8).
"Behold, thus saith the Lord unto my people—you have many things to do and to repent of; for behold, your sins have come up unto me, and are not pardoned, because you seek to counsel in your own ways." (D&C 56:14)
"And behold, verily I say unto you, blessed are you who are now hearing these words of mine from the mouth of my servant, for your sins are forgiven you." (D&C 50:36)
"These words are not of men nor of man, but of me; wherefore, you shall testify they are of me and not of man; For it is my voice which speaketh them unto you; for they are given by my Spirit unto you, and by my power you can read them one to another; and save it were by my power you could not have them; Wherefore, you can testify that you have heard my voice, and know my words." (D&C 18:34-36)
"And calling upon the name of God, he beheld his glory again, for it was upon him; and he heard a voice, saying: Blessed art thou, Moses, for I, the Almighty, have chosen thee, and thou shalt be made stronger than many waters; for they shall obey thy command as if thou wert God." (Moses 1:25)
“And this is the ensample unto them, that they shall speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost. And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.” (D&C 68:3–4)