The bicentennial proclamation President Russell M. Nelson announced in the April general conference “came by revelation” and “is the mind and will of the Lord,” said Elder Ronald A. Rasband in a devotional for missionaries around the world.
“In counsel with my Brethren in the Quorums of the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles, I saw the Restoration of the gospel and the Church of Jesus Christ roll forward with this new proclamation,” said the member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Speaking from the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City in a devotional released June 4, Elder Rasband testified of truths found in the proclamation — a “valuable resource for missionaries” containing clear tenets of Latter-day Saint faith.
“We are so blessed by the truths elaborated in this bicentennial proclamation to the world,” he told missionaries. “Know it, use it, study it, pray about it, find with it, teach it, bear testimony of it and make it a part of your very lives.”
Elder Rasband invited eight sister missionaries in the audience from the Salt Lake City Temple Square Mission to read aloud the proclamation, paragraph by paragraph, as he emphasized some of the many key truths.
1. Heavenly Father loves His children
“We solemnly proclaim that God loves His children in every nation of the world. God the Father has given us the divine birth, the incomparable life, and the infinite atoning sacrifice of His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. By the power of the Father, Jesus rose again and gained the victory over death. He is our Savior, our Exemplar, and our Redeemer.”
With the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, missionaries unequivocally declare the reality of a loving Father in Heaven who gave His Only Begotten Son to be the Savior of the world, Elder Rasband said.
Video: A behind-the-scenes look at filming the bicentennial proclamation in the Sacred Grove with President Nelson
The Savior’s love is exhibited through the power of His atoning sacrifice — a constant force for good that allows all to become pure and worthy of exaltation. “While we are changing for the better by drawing upon Christ’s Atonement, He is unchangeable. He is our Rock and our Redeemer,” he said.
2. The Lord will direct your path
“Two hundred years ago, on a beautiful spring morning in 1820, young Joseph Smith, seeking to know which church to join, went into the woods to pray near his home in upstate New York, USA. He had questions regarding the salvation of his soul and trusted that God would direct him.”
Instead of turning to the popular ministers or publications of his time, Joseph Smith turned to the Lord for answers, Elder Rasband said. “As missionaries, if you will trust in the Lord as you never have before, He will direct your path as well” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
3. Be humble and ‘Hear Him’
“In humility, we declare that in answer to his prayer, God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to Joseph and inaugurated the “restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21) as foretold in the Bible. In this vision, he learned that following the death of the original Apostles, Christ’s New Testament Church was lost from the earth. Joseph would be instrumental in its return.”
In counseling with the senior Brethren since his call to the Quorum of the Twelve in 2015, Elder Rasband has witnessed “complete humility” as they strive to be worthy to receive the Lord’s will. “Be humble in your calling as a missionary,” he said. “Be willing to listen to those with whom you serve.”
When appearing to Joseph Smith, God the Father introduced Jesus Christ saying, “This is My Beloved Son, Hear Him.”
“In those two words — ‘Hear Him’ — God gives us the pattern for success, happiness and joy in this life,” President Nelson said during April general conference. “As we seek to be disciples of Jesus Christ, our efforts to hear Him need to be ever more intentional.”
Joseph Smith restored the gospel established by the Savior during His earthly ministry, Elder Rasband said. “This ‘restitution of all things’ is why we send missionaries throughout the world.”
4. Heavenly messengers re-established His Church
“We affirm that under the direction of the Father and the Son, heavenly messengers came to instruct Joseph and re-establish the Church of Jesus Christ. The resurrected John the Baptist restored the authority to baptize by immersion for the remission of sins. Three of the original twelve Apostles — Peter, James and John — restored the apostleship and keys of priesthood authority. Others came as well, including Elijah, who restored the authority to join families together forever in eternal relationships that transcend death.”
Covenants and ordinances are “divinely designed to draw us to Him that we may be like Him,” Elder Rasband said. Prophets in each dispensation, — including Adam, Noah, Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith — hold priesthood keys to direct the Savior’s work and teach the gospel and plan of salvation.
5. The Book of Mormon is sacred text
“We further witness that Joseph Smith was given the gift and power of God to translate an ancient record: The Book of Mormon — Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Pages of this sacred text include an account of the personal ministry of Jesus Christ among people in the Western Hemisphere soon after His Resurrection. It teaches of life’s purpose and explains the doctrine of Christ, which is central to that purpose. As a companion scripture to the Bible, the Book of Mormon testifies that all human beings are sons and daughters of a loving Father in Heaven, that He has a divine plan for our lives, and that His Son, Jesus Christ, speaks today as well as in days of old.”
Reflecting on an experience in which he learned the significance of the war chapters in the Book of Mormon, Elder Rasband said: “Elders and sisters, we are at war today with the adversary for the souls and hearts of the children of men. We have to develop strategies to proclaim the gospel.
“Take your armor — that would be perhaps your companion, scriptures, your prayers, your ‘Preach My Gospel,’ and your testimony — and hoist this proclamation up for all to see and hear your testimony that Jesus Christ lives and that His Church is restored.”
6. Priesthood authority is restored
“We declare that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, organized on April 6, 1830, is Christ’s New Testament Church restored. This Church is anchored in the perfect life of its chief cornerstone, Jesus Christ, and in His infinite Atonement and literal Resurrection. Jesus Christ has once again called Apostles and has given them priesthood authority. He invites all of us to come unto Him and His Church, to receive the Holy Ghost, the ordinances of salvation, and to gain enduring joy.”
President James E. Faust, Elder Rasband’s boyhood stake president, taught, “caring for others is the very essence of priesthood responsibility. It is the power to bless, to heal, and to administer the saving ordinances of the gospel.”
“That ‘caring for others’ is what missionary work is all about,” Elder Rasband said.
7. Missionaries carry the message of the Restoration
“Two hundred years have now elapsed since this Restoration was initiated by God the Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Millions throughout the world have embraced a knowledge of these prophesied events.”
When President Wilford Woodruff, fourth president of the Church, embarked on his first mission, he wrote in his journal about walking 40 miles in a day through knee-deep mud and water.
After a sharp pain in his knee, “I knelt down in the mud and prayed, and the Lord healed me, and I went on my way rejoicing … [for] I was a preacher of the gospel,” he wrote.
Relating this story to the missionaries, Elder Rasband said, “I want each one of you daily, hourly if necessary, when you encounter hardship on your mission, put it behind you and follow the example of Elder Woodruff saying, ‘I went on my way rejoicing.’”
8. The Restoration is ongoing
“We gladly declare that the promised Restoration goes forward through continuing revelation. The earth will never again be the same, as God will ‘gather together in one all things in Christ’” (Ephesians 1:10).
At the conclusion of his South America ministry in October 2018, President Nelson said, “If you think the Church has been fully restored, you’re just seeing the beginning. There is much more to come. … Eat your vitamin pills. Get your rest. It’s going to be exciting.”
Elder Rasband highlighted the ninth article of faith that promises God “will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”
9. You can know for yourself
“With reverence and gratitude, we as His Apostles invite all to know — as we do — that the heavens are open. We affirm that God is making known His will for His beloved sons and daughters. We testify that those who prayerfully study the message of the Restoration and act in faith will be blessed to gain their own witness of its divinity and of its purpose to prepare the world for the promised Second Coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Elder Rasband invited missionaries to read, study and pray about the proclamation. “I can assure you by doing these things, it will become more and more meaningful to you.”
“Know it, use it, study it, pray about it … and make it a part of your very lives.”
He concluded his message with a blessing: “I leave you with my blessing that you will rejoice in His service, that your knowledge of the gospel and the love of the Father and His Son will increase, that peace will accompany your labors and faith will fill your souls. The Lord loves you; we love you; we need you; the entire Church is praying for you during these difficult times.”
Prior to Elder Rasband’s address, Sister Melanie Rasband shared a lesson she learned about prayer while serving with her husband as he presided over the New York New York North Mission. She felt anxious about the possibility of speaking at an area-wide mission leadership seminar and almost prayed to not have to speak.
The Holy Ghost spoke to her heart. “Haven’t I taught you better than that?” she said were the words that came to her, and she asked for forgiveness.
Quoting the Lord’s intercessory prayer in John 17, Sister Rasband said, “We hope and pray that your prayers will be meaningful … that we may all be united as one with the Father and the Son.”