“And there shall be men standing in that generation, that shall not pass until they shall see an overflowing scourge; for a desolating sickness shall cover the land.
But my disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved; but among the wicked, men shall lift up their voices and curse God and die…
Heed the Lord’s counsel to the Saints of this dispensation:
Prepare yourselves for the great day of the Lord. [D&C 133:10]
This preparation must consist of more than just casual membership in the Church. You must learn to be guided by personal revelation and the counsel of the living prophet so you will not be deceived. Our Lord has indicated who, among Church members, will stand when he appears:
And at that day, when I shall come in my glory, shall the parable be fulfilled which I spake concerning the ten virgins.
For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day.
And the earth shall be given unto them for an inheritance; and they shall multiply and wax strong, and their children shall grow up without sin unto salvation.
For the Lord shall be in their midst, and his glory shall be upon them, and he will be their king and their lawgiver. [D&C 45:56–59; emphasis added]–Ezra Taft Benson, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brigham Young University fireside, 14 April 1981. (Click for full talk).
It is important to carefully listen to the counsel of those who preside over us who receive revelation for the entire church. More important, however, is to take the Holy Spirit for our guide because those who preside over the church are not infallible.
“You must work through the Spirit. If that leads you into conflict with the program of the Church, you follow the voice of the Spirit.” (Elder S. Dilworth Young, First Council of the Seventy, 1945; quoted here, p. 17)
“President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel–said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church–that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls–applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall–that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves…” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 237-38).
Perhaps the most compelling words come to us from ancient scripture:
“Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man, or maketh flesh his arm, or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost.” (2 Nephi 28:31)
Nephi cried unto the Lord before his heart was softened sufficiently to believe his father’s revelations, but Nephi went to the Lord to receive his own revelation directly from God that his father’s revelations were, in fact, from the Lord. Laman and Lemuel, unlike Nephi, did not bother to seek the Lord and became lost.
It is incumbent upon us to seek the Lord ourselves to verify revelations from those who preside over us, even when their counsel is to trust in the expertise of secular or worldly men. Nephi warned about this.
“O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish. But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.” (2 Nephi 9:28-29)
Are the learned men who are being trusted in their areas of expertise hearkening to the counsel of God or do these experts think they are wise? Who is trusting who? It is imperative to take the Holy Ghost for our guide above all else when seeking God’s own counsel.
“Because when we seek to hear—truly hear—His Son, we will be guided to know what to do in any circumstance.
The very first word in the Doctrine and Covenants is hearken. It means “to listen with the intent to obey.” To hearken means to “hear Him”—to hear what the Savior says and then to heed His counsel. In those two words—“Hear Him”—God gives us the pattern for success, happiness, and joy in this life. We are to hear the words of the Lord, hearken to them, and heed what He has told us!
As we seek to be disciples of Jesus Christ, our efforts to hear Him need to be ever more intentional. It takes conscious and consistent effort to fill our daily lives with His words, His teachings, His truths…
We also hear Him more clearly as we refine our ability to recognize the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. It has never been more imperative to know how the Spirit speaks to you than right now. In the Godhead, the Holy Ghost is the messenger. He will bring thoughts to your mind which the Father and Son want you to receive. He is the Comforter. He will bring a feeling of peace to your heart. He testifies of truth and will confirm what is true as you hear and read the word of the Lord.
I renew my plea for you to do whatever it takes to increase your spiritual capacity to receive personal revelation.
Doing so will help you know how to move ahead with your life, what to do during times of crisis, and how to discern and avoid the temptations and the deceptions of the adversary.”–President Russell M. Nelson, Sunday morning session of general conference, April 2020.
Even when a prophet speaks truth, you may fall. Lehi was a true prophet, yet Laman and Lemuel fell because they did not “inquire of the Lord” as Nephi did. Nephi did not take for granted that his father was truthful. Nephi went and inquired of the Lord and received greater revelations.
In the final analysis, we should hearken to all counsel given to us by those who preside over us and then inquire of the Lord, as Nephi admonished, in order to know whether the counsels given to us align with God’s will in each of our individual lives. If you do not take the Holy Ghost for your guide, you will stumble and fall. “For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day.” (D&C 45:57).