A Compensatory Spiritual Power for the Righteous | Neil L. Andersen
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A Compensatory Spiritual Power for the Righteous | Neil L. Andersen


My dear brothers and sisters, I am humbled
to stand before you. Many of you will know that the First Presidency
originally assigned Elder L. Tom Perry to speak here today. I am honored to stand in his place. In the past ninety days we have witnessed,
as President Russell M. Nelson likes to say, “the graduation” of two extraordinary
Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. President Boyd K. Packer was made a General
Authority just after my tenth birthday. Elder L. Tom Perry was ordained an Apostle
before my wife, Kathy, and I were married, when we were students here at Brigham Young
University. For more than forty years they sat together
in the Quorum of the Twelve, and for more than half of that time they sat next to one
another. President Packer, with a smile, would say
that the Lord put Elder Perry next to him to kick him in the ankles when he got out
of line. During those many decades they moved across
the world and used every opportunity to testify of the divine mission of the Lord Jesus Christ
and of the restoration of His gospel. And as they bore witness of Him, He refined
them, purified them, and sanctified them. President Packer, who was by his nature a
very private man, would lament at times that members of the Quorum of the Twelve were destined
to die onstage. President Packer had a very quick wit. One Thursday morning before our meeting began
in the temple, Elder Perry was conversing with me at the junior end of the semicircle
of chairs. President Packer, speaking in a cheerful voice
so all could hear, said, “Tom, come up here where you belong. Ten good men have died to put you in this
chair.” They both moved through the veil with dignity
and spiritual power. On the week that Elder Perry passed away,
he attended our meeting on Tuesday. On Tuesday night, as recorded by his son,
Lee, he had a spiritual experience that let him know his time was soon. With Elder Russell M. Nelson on assignment
in eastern Europe, Elder Perry, on Wednesday morning, called Elder Oaks and Elder Ballard
to his apartment. He told them his time was short and that he
would not be coming back into the office. He recorded a six-minute message for the Quorum
of the Twelve, telling us he loved us, encouraging us in the work ahead, and bearing his sure
witness of the Savior. We were sobered as that recording was played
for us Thursday morning in the temple. The First Presidency went Thursday afternoon
to say their good-byes to their dear friend. Elder Nelson called Elder Perry from Bulgaria
Thursday evening. On Friday morning President Packer rose from
his feeble ­condition and traveled to Elder Perry’s apartment to say good-bye. They reflected on their many years together. President Packer reminded him that Elder Perry
had always said that he wanted to go through the veil at least one day before President
Packer. They rejoiced that they would soon see each
other on the other side. On Friday afternoon, just after 4:00 p.m.,
Kathy and I had the chance to visit with Elder and Sister Perry. Elder Perry was sitting in a comfortable chair,
weak but conversant. He asked us, as he did all the members of
the Twelve, to watch over and care for his dear Barbara. He expressed his love for us and we expressed
our love for him. I told him that in a few years, as I followed
him out of this earthly experience, I hoped he would be there to greet me. He promised that, if given permission, he
would. He told us he would do all that he could to
bless our work from the other side of the veil. Less than twenty-four hours later he stepped
through the veil. Thirty-four days later President Packer followed
him. I, with you, revere these two disciples of
Christ. I confirm to you that they were honest men,
holy men—devoted to the callings that they had received and full of the pure love of
Christ. I testify that we will yet see them again. My brothers and sisters, we live in very interesting
times. Here are some selected statistics from recent
studies: Worldwide there has been a 35 percent increase
in terrorist attacks in the past year. In 2013, 41 percent of all births in the United
States were to unmarried women, compared to 18 percent thirty-five years ago. Adult Americans claiming no religious affiliation
increased from 16 percent in 2007 to 23 percent in 2014. Nearly seven in ten Americans say doctors
should be legally allowed to assist terminally ill patients in committing suicide. There are now more than 43 million refugees
worldwide, displaced from their homes because of conflict or persecution. And how about this very recent concerning
headline: “California College Will Now Ask Students to Pick from Six [Different] Genders”
in their application for admission. And this one: “Another Day, Another Mass
Shooting in America.” Finally, this sobering headline: “Why Selling
Baby Parts Should Shock No One.” Let me close with a happy headline from the
Washington Post: “World’s Youngest Double Hand Transplant Recipient ‘Woke up Smiling.’” As I said, we live in very interesting times,
yet marvelous times. We are in the dispensation of the fulness
of times, when the fulness of the gospel has been restored and as the world is being prepared
for the glorious Second Coming of the Savior. These are days of looking forward, of beautiful
anticipation. These are our days. We know as we approach the Second Coming of
the Savior that our world will be full of commotion and confusion. Many in society will disregard the commandments
of God. I have often quoted this statement by President
Thomas S. Monson: “Where once the standards of the Church and the standards of society
were mostly compatible, now there is a wide chasm between us, and it’s growing ever
wider.” As these temptations and distractions increase
and as the gospel of Jesus Christ becomes less palatable to the world, sadly we will
see more among us who will lose their way. When I was a young man growing up in southeastern
Idaho, I remember frequently hearing a quote from Elder Heber C. Kimball given in 1867: To meet the difficulties that are coming,
it will be necessary for you to have a knowledge of the truth of this work for yourselves. The difficulties will be of such a character
that the man or woman who does not possess this personal knowledge or witness will fall. . . . . . . The time will come when no man nor woman
will be able to endure on borrowed light. More than ever in the sixty-four years of
my life, this prophetic statement by Elder Kimball is coming to pass. Deep, continuing conversion is becoming much
more important for those desiring to keep their covenants. It is becoming more and more precarious to
stand on ­borrowed light. You may think that my message is sounding
a little gloomy, but stay with me. Hope is on the way. The Lord has long anticipated this important
period of human history. He knows the end from the beginning. The Savior has assured us in our day, “Be
of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you.” As we find our way in a world less attentive
to the commandments of God, we will certainly be prayerful, but we need not be overly alarmed. The Lord will bless His Saints with the added
spiritual power necessary to meet the challenges of our day. Here is my major theme this morning: As evil
increases in the world, there is a compensatory spiritual power for the righteous. As the world slides from its spiritual moorings,
the Lord prepares the way for those who seek Him, offering them greater assurance, greater
confirmation, and greater confidence in the spiritual direction they are traveling. The gift of the Holy Ghost becomes a brighter
light in the emerging twilight. To understand better, think of these comparisons:
If the world were growing more physically dark, He could give us enhanced night vision. If loud noises were constantly in our ears,
He could give us a filtering mechanism to block the unwanted sound. If the race we were running was extended,
He could give us increased lung and muscle capacity. If the exam we were taking was more difficult,
He could quicken our minds—a blessing many here at BYU would like to receive. My brothers and sisters, as evil increases
in the world, there is a compensatory power, an additional spiritual endowment, a revelatory
gift for the righteous. This added blessing of spiritual power does
not settle upon us just because we are part of this generation. It is willingly offered to us; it is eagerly
put before us. But as with all spiritual gifts, it requires
our desiring it, pursuing it, and living worthy of receiving it. “For what doth it profit a man if a gift
is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift?” Faith is the muscle of spiritual knowledge
and power. Faith is a spiritual gift of God, but it is
developed and magnified as we eagerly pursue our journey of embracing and following the
Savior. I remember once long ago, before I was serving
as a General Authority, having a man approach me whom I had known for some time in business. We talked about a challenge he was facing
in his life, and I gave him some of my thoughts. He then said to me, “Neil, you have something
I don’t have. You have faith in God.” The way he said it to me, I sensed he felt
that having faith was not something chosen or determined by me or by him but that somewhere
in the lottery of life my gene pool had brought a quality of believing and trusting in God
that his gene pool had not. This, my brothers and sisters, is not a correct
notion of faith in God or faith in Christ. And you believe it above all others because
you are here at Campus Education Week. Let us have confidence in the power of the
gospel of Jesus Christ to lift us and to lift those we love to greater heights. One of President Packer’s favorite scriptures
was in Alma 31—and he would read it to us in the way I will read it to you: As the preaching of the word had a great tendency
to lead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had [a] more powerful effect upon the
minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore
Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God. There is virtue in the word of God. There is power in the testimony of Jesus Christ. There is truth in the Savior’s gospel. It will shape us and mold us as we allow its
powerful effects to move upon our mind and upon our spirit. Our Heavenly Father desires that faith will
grow within the hearts of all His sons and daughters. As one repents, opens her heart, or seeks
to strengthen his faith, the Lord is magnanimous and generous in return. Alma said, “Remember, that God is merciful
unto all who believe on his name.” You of course will remember that Alma talked
about arousing our faculties, experimenting upon the words of Christ, and exercising faith
to give additional place for faith to grow. Never forget that the seed must be nourished. We need to help those we love to understand
that faith is not stagnant. It is either growing or it is diminishing. We have all been taught these things. Faith grows by repentance and obedience, by
prayer and scripture study, by attending Church and taking the sacrament, and by serving and
associating with other believers. I emphasize once again: As evil increases
in the world, the Lord does not leave us on the same footing. In a world that would diminish or discard
or impair belief, there is an added spiritual power for those who are willing to set their
course on increasing their faith in Jesus Christ. Let me give you three examples from our world
today that reveal the Lord’s hand at work in bringing more spiritual power to His Saints. It has only been in the last few years that
technology has allowed us to link our generations more completely. A year and a half ago we gave the challenge
to the youth to bring as many names to the temple as baptisms they perform in the temple. Elder Samuel Hepworth, a missionary in the
Chile Concepción Mission, wrote me just last month, explaining the spiritual power of finding
his ancestors. He began his letter this way: Dear Elder Andersen, I know that I am not to write the apostles
directly, but my mission president gave me permission. Thank you for [the] challenge from 2014. That changed my life completely. [It] was my catalyst to get me going on my
own. [My trips to the temple were] made even more
special by bringing my own names. . . . As I did my own work instead of just
following my mom’s instructions, I found a greater satisfaction than ever in the work,
and the Spirit entered my life even stronger. I have been sharing [the challenge] with all
of the missionaries and members here in Chile. . . . I have never seen more hearts turn to
their fathers than is happening right now. Along with Elder Hepworth, the youth of the
Church have responded by the thousands and tens of thousands, and names submitted by
youth have more than doubled since the challenge was issued only eighteen months ago. As the hearts of the children have turned
to their fathers, the youth have been given an added gift of spiritual power. If you have not seen this yet in the youth,
go to lds.org and read of their experiences or, better yet, talk to those youth who are
in your family or who live near you. If you or members of your family have not
committed yourselves to finding names from your family for your ordinances in the temple,
now is the time to begin. Let me share a second example: In the twenty-two
years that I have been serving as a General Authority of the Church, the number of temples
has increased from forty-four to 147. In only twenty years the Lord has given us
three times the number of temples. Why is that? We now have temples closer and more accessible
than ever before. But in these times of commotion the Lord expects
us to adjust our habits and be in His house more often. Listen to these beautiful words by President
Monson: As we enter through the doors of the temple,
we leave behind us the distractions and confusion of the world. Inside this sacred sanctuary, we find beauty
and order. There is rest for our souls and a respite
from the cares of our lives. As we attend the temple, there can come to
us a dimension of spirituality and a feeling of peace which will transcend any other feeling
which could come into the human heart. We will grasp the true meaning of the words
of the Savior when He said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. . . . Let not your heart be troubled, neither
let it be afraid.” My brothers and sisters, in our lives we will
have temptations; we will have trials and challenges. As we go to the temple, as we remember the
covenants we make there, we will be better able to overcome those temptations and to
bear our trials. In the temple we can find peace. Did you hear the promises from God’s prophet? We will be better able to overcome temptations,
bear our trials, and find peace. Let me read you a letter from a very ­righteous
woman who recently experienced a ­tragedy in her marriage that was not of her doing. She wrote: I had a beautiful experience in the temple
this morning. My husband and I usually went to the temple
each year on our anniversary. I decided a week ago that it might be good
for my emotional recovery to go to the temple even though, of course, he would not be with
me on this day that we should have celebrated our twentieth anniversary. For the past two years I have researched and
done the ordinances for a family. In a miraculous series of events, around the
time I first became involved in family history (after everything happened with my husband),
I found a brother of my great-great-great-grandmother . . . was missing from the family tree and
had not had his temple work completed and had not been sealed to his parents although
my grandfather had had the rest of the family’s work completed years ago. I asked my brother-in-law to do his temple
work, and then I did the work for his wife. When I was completing the initiatory work,
I felt her presence so strongly, and in my mind I heard her say the words “find my
family,” with the implied message to complete their temple work. Through researching I would discover that
she had seven sons! Two had had their temple work done by others,
but I was able to submit the information for the other five sons and their wives. My 17-year-old son did the baptisms for the
sons, my brother-in-law did the initiatories, and my missionary son and his fellow missionaries
did the endowments. My teenage daughter and I completed the ordinances
for the sons’ wives. Even though all the preliminary ordinances
had been done, because of my own marriage situation I had not wanted to go to the temple
to participate in the sealings for this family. It was too painful. However, as time passed I have found that
in the last few months I have been doing better and have been thinking about it. During the last few weeks especially, I have
felt compelled to complete the sealings for this family. The work that needed to be done included sealing
the woman whose words “find my family” had made such an impression on me as well
as her two younger sisters to their parents. So I made the decision I would go today, a
day I celebrated my own wedding anniversary for so many years. I was very nervous, but I took courage. I have never done sealings in the temple without
my husband, so this was really a new experience for me . . . , but the reality is that it
is now necessary for me to do many things requiring faith that I have never done before
alone. I felt very grateful for a kind and compassionate
sealer in the temple today . . . , and one of the other men in the session was our stake
patriarch, who gave my son his patriarchal blessing. I don’t think he recognized me, but having
him there put me at ease. The temple workers were very nice to me, and
I really appreciated it because (unknown to them) I was very nervous. I am sure the Lord knew how I felt. Somewhat surprising to me, I deeply appreciated
the time of sitting in the sealing room waiting for my turn and thinking about the blessings
in the sealing ordinance as they were repeated over and over again. I participated in the last sealing of the
session, acting as proxy for my great-great-great-great grandmother with her husband, as their son,
Benjamin, missing from the family for so many years, was now sealed to them. I felt an overwhelming and unexpected feeling
that they were there. It was a beautiful testament to me of the
power of eternal families as, first, their son was sealed to them and then I acted as
proxy for the woman whose words “find my family” had touched me so much, and our
stake patriarch was proxy for the couple’s five sons. They were then sealed, linking this family
together. It was truly an amazing experience. Afterward I went to the celestial room . . . and
had a few minutes to ponder on eternity alone—or maybe not alone—as I read 2 Kings 6:16,
which speaks of unseen heavenly hosts that are at times “with us.” I felt that feeling today in the temple. On a hard day, I was not expecting this, but
I’m sure it was a special blessing for me and another assurance in my life that I can
move forward. . . . I felt very blessed today in the temple! It gives me hope for happy days ahead. Listen to the poetic words of my friend, Thomas
L. Kay: I will leave the tumult of the world. I will leave the world behind. I will go to where the Spirit is,
In God’s temple I will find. I will find the things the world can’t give. I’ll escape this mortal strife. I will find the things that matter most. I will hear the words of life. The temple is an added gift from heaven to
us. We need to embrace it with renewed dedication. Our children will need the temple even more
in the years ahead. Teach them to love the temple. Help them to be ready to receive their endowment
and eventually their sealing. Teach them how to prepare for these sacred
ordinances and help them see how doing these ordinances will be a constant gift to them
throughout their lives. As they do temple work, they will not only
go through the temple but, as Brother Truman G. Madsen used to say, they will allow the
temple to go through them. Our world of technology and communication,
with all of its distractions, provides the third example of a compensatory spiritual
blessing for the righteous. The words of the Lord’s prophet, the First
Presidency, and the Quorum of the Twelve are always available to lighten our path and help
show us the way. Their united voice, if followed, will help
set aside the enticing voices of the world. The men who occupy these positions would claim
no personal perfection, but I witness to you that as the First Presidency and the Quorum
of the Twelve prayerfully approach the Lord, He shapes our thinking and direction and reveals
His will for His covenant people, and indeed for all the world. In recent months the First Presidency and
the Twelve have felt an undeniable direction from the Lord to declare and reemphasize the
Sabbath day and the importance of worthily partaking of the sacrament. As we take the sacrament, we remember the
Savior and His Atonement. We come repenting of our sins, pledging our
loyalty to covenants made with Him, and hearing again the promises He makes to us. To always have His Spirit with us is a pearl
of enormous value. Receiving the sacrament on Sunday is more
and more like an oasis in the desert—bubbling with cool spring water, quenching our spiritual
thirst and relieving our parched souls. President Russell M. Nelson’s April general
conference talk was titled “The Sabbath Is a Delight.” President Nelson explained how he approached
the Sabbath: In my much younger years, I studied the work
of others who had compiled lists of things to do and things not to do on the Sabbath. It wasn’t until later that I learned from
the scriptures that my conduct and my attitude on the Sabbath constituted a sign between
me and my Heavenly Father. With that understanding, I no longer needed
lists of dos and don’ts. When I had to make a decision whether or not
an activity was appropriate for the Sabbath, I simply asked myself, “What sign do I want
to give to God?” That question made my choices about the Sabbath
day crystal clear. In our day the Lord has promised that honoring
the Sabbath will help us in keeping ourselves “unspotted from the world.” Can you see the Lord’s hand in giving us
the technology to turn our children toward their fathers? Can you see why the Lord would greatly increase
the temples upon the earth? Can you see the Lord’s purposes in helping
us to more fully honor the Sabbath day? These are compensatory spiritual gifts from
heaven for the righteous. And there are many, many more. As we recognize and embrace them, they heighten
our spiritual sensitivities, offering greater assurance and confidence. The precious gift of the Holy Ghost becomes
a stronger beacon, and we more clearly see those things that are unseen. This added spiritual power does not just fall
upon us. It comes as we act. The scriptures tell us that “Noah found
grace in the eyes of the Lord,” but he and his family still needed to build and enter
the ark. God prepared the means for the children of
Israel to be healed from the fiery flying serpents, but He still required that they
look upon the serpent of brass attached to Moses’ staff. The Saints sang in our dispensation, “We’ll
find the place which God for us prepared,” but they still had to pick up their handcarts
and go west. Let me return to the beautiful quote by Brother
Heber C. Kimball: To meet the difficulties that are coming,
it will be necessary for you to have a knowledge of the truth of this work for yourselves. The difficulties will be of such a character
that the man or woman who does not possess this personal knowledge or witness will fall. . . . . . . The time will come when no man nor woman
will be able to endure on borrowed light. I like to think of it this way: If two people
are walking together along a very gentle terrain, one lantern is often sufficient. But when the time comes, as it does with each
child, that he or she steps away from us to take his or her own journey, our light is
no longer sufficient to light his or her way. And while one may be linked tightly to a companion—if
you are fortunate enough to have a companion of faith—if we unexpectedly face jagged
rocks and uneven cliffs, each needs his or her own lantern to light the path. In this month’s First Presidency message,
President Monson said: We must develop the faith necessary to survive
spiritually and to project a light for others. We must nurture our testimony until it becomes
an anchor to our lives.30 I pray that your faith in Him will always
be an anchor to your souls. I give you my sure witness that Jesus is the
Christ. He is resurrected. He lives and He guides His holy work upon
the earth. As you look to the Lord Jesus Christ in all
you do, may your faithfulness, I pray, bless those you love as they also seek to follow
the Savior and follow in your path. I promise you that as you embrace the spiritual
gifts prepared for the righteous, He will steady you, strengthen you, shape you, and
secure you. You will be His. I so witness, in His holy name, the name of
Jesus Christ, amen.

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