FOURTEEN FUNDAMENTALS IN FOLLOWING THE PROPHET
BY
ELDER Ezra Taft Benson
February 26, 1980

My beloved brothers and sisters, I am honored to be in your presence today. You students are a part of a choice young generation--a generation which might well witness the return of our Lord. Not only is the Church growing in numbers today, it is growing in faithfulness and, even more important, our young generation, as a group, is even more faithful than the older generation. God has reserved you for the eleventh hour--the great and dreadful day of the Lord. It will be your responsibility not only to help bear off the kingdom of God triumphantly but to save your own soul and strive to save those of your family and to honor the principles of our inspired constitution.

To help you pass the crucial tests which lie ahead I am going to give you today several facets of a grand key which, if you will honor them, will crown you with God's glory and bring you out victorious in spite of Satan's fury. Soon we will be honoring our prophet on his eighty-fifth birthday. As a Church we sing the song, "We Thank Thee, O God, For a Prophet." Here then is the grand key: follow the prophet. And here now are fourteen fundamentals in following the prophet, the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

First: The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything.

In section 132, verse 7, of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord speaks of the Prophet--the President--and says: "There is never but one on the earth at a time on whom his power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred." Then in section 21, verses 4-6, the Lord states:

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."

Second: The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard works.

President Wilford Woodruff tells of an interesting incident that occurred in the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith:

Third: The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.

The living prophet has the power of TNT. By that I mean "Todays 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 week in the Church Section of the Deseret News, and any 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.

I am so grateful that the current conference report is studied as part of one of your religion classes--the course entitied "Teachings of the Living Prophets," number 333. May I commend that class to you, and suggest that you get a copy of the class manual at your bookstore, whether you're able to take the class or not. The manual is entitled "Living Prophets for a Living Church."

Beware of those who would pit the dead prophets against the living prophets, for the living prophets always take precedence.

Fourth: The prophet will never lead the Church astray.

President Wilford Woodruff stated: "I say to Israel, The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of the Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God." (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, selected by G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1946], pp. 212-213.)

President Marion G. Romney tells of this incident, which happened to him:

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.

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.

Sixth: The prophet does not have to say "Thus saith the Lord" to give us scripture.

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".

Said Brigham Young, "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).

Seventh: The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know.

"Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear," complained Nephi's brethren. But Nephi answered by saying, "the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center" (1 Nephi 16:1, 3). Or, to put it in another prophet's words, "Hit pigeons flutter."

Said President Harold B. Lee:

But it is the living prophet who really upsets the world. "Even in the Church," said President Kimball, "many are prone to garnish the sepulchres of yesterday's prophets and mentally stone the living ones" (Instructor, 95:257).

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.

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.

Said President Marion G. Romney, "It is an easy thing to believe in the dead prophets." And then he gives this illustration:

Eighth: The prophet is not limited by men's reasoning. 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. Said the Prophet 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).

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.)

Ninth: The prophet can receive revelation on any matter--temporal or spiritual.

Said Brigham Young:

Tenth: The prophet may be involved in civic matters.

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.

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.

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.

In the Book of Mormon we read:

Twelfth: The prophet will not necessarily be popular with the world or the worldly.

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.

Thirteenth: The prophet and his counselors make up the First Presidency--the highest quorum in the Church.

In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord refers to the First Presidency as "the highest council of the Church" (107:80) and says, "whosoever receiveth me, receiveth those....the First Presidency, whom I have sent" (112:20).

Fourteenth: The prophet and the presidency--the living prophet and the First Presidency--follow them and be blessed; reject them and suffer.

President Harold B. Lee relates this incident from Church history:

The story is told in the early days of the Church--particularly, I think, at Kirtland--where some of the leading brethren in the presiding councils of the Church met secretly and tried to scheme as to how they could get rid of the Prophet Joseph's leadership. They made the mistake of inviting Brigham Young to one of these secret meetings. He rebuked them, after he had heard the purpose of their meeting. This is part of what he said: "You cannot destroy the appointment of a prophet of God, but you can cut the thread that binds you to the prophet of God and sink yourselves to hell." [In Conference Report, April 1963, p. 81]

In a general conference of the Church President N. Eldon Tanner stated:

The Prophet spoke out clearly on Friday moming, telling us what our responsibilities are... .

"Look to the Presidency and receive instruction," said the Prophet Joseph Smith (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938], p. 161). But Almon Babbitt didn't, and in the Doctrine and Covenants section 124, verse 84, the Lord states:

In conclusion, let us summarize this grand key, these "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet," for our salvation hangs on them.

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. How closely do our lives harmonize with the words of the Lord's anointed--the living prophet, the President of the Church, and with the Quorum of the First Presidency?

May God bless us all to look to the prophet and the presidency in the critical and crucial days ahead, is my prayer. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.


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