Growth of Church incites efforts to obstruct the work

In 1980, as the Church was observing its 150th anniversary, President Ezra Taft Benson spoke at the April general conference about the growth of the Church. Although it had endured and overcome much opposition, the Church had, as Daniel prophesied, become a spiritual kingdom "cut out of the mountain without hands" (Dan. 2:45) to fill all the earth.

"As we indulge in retrospect after 150 years of existence, we rejoice and declare the progress has been marvelous and wonderful," President Benson said. "We thank the Lord for His merciful blessings. We do not hesitate to ascribe the success and progress of the Church to His omnipotent direction.

"But now — what of the future?

"We assuredly expect additional progress, growth, and increased spirituality. We will see our missionaries cover the earth with the message of the Restoration. We will see temples in every land where the gospel has penetrated, symbolizing the truth that families, living and deceased, may be joined together in love and eternal family associations. But we must also be reminded that there will be ever-present efforts to obstruct the work.

"In 1845, the Quorum of the Twelve issued an epistle to the heads of state in the world. I quote from one paragraph:

" 'As this work progresses in its onward course, and becomes more and more an object of political and religious interest and excitement, no king, ruler, or subject, no community or individual, will stand neutral. All will at length be influenced by one spirit or the other; and will take sides either for or against the kingdom of God.' (James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1:257.)

"That day is now here," President Benson said. "Opposition has been and will be the lot of the Saints of the kingdom of any age. The finger of scorn has been pointed at us in the past, and we may expect it in the future. We also expect to see men in high places defend the Church; there will also be 'pharaohs' who know neither Joseph nor his brethren. The seed planted and watered in 1830 has now matured to a fully grown tree for all to see. Some will seek the refuge of its shade in the heat of the day, but none will be neutral in their appraisal of its fruit.

"The Church will continue its opposition to error, falsehood, and immorality. The mission of the Church is to herald the message of salvation and make unmistakably clear the pathway to exaltation. Our mission is to prepare a people for the coming of the Lord. As the world drifts further away from God and standards of virtue and honor, we may expect opposition to the work of the Church. We may expect to see the time, as the Book of Mormon forecasts, when 'multitudes . . . among all the nations of the Gentiles [will gather] to fight against the Lamb of God.' (2 Ne. 14:18.) The power of God and the righteousness of the Saints will be the means by which the Church will be spared. (See 1 Ne. 14:14-15.)

"Never before in our . . . history has there been greater need for faithfulness among our members. Now is the time for all who claim membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to stand firm and demonstrate their allegiance to the kingdom of God. It cannot be done as a critic or as an idle spectator on the sidelines."

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