A prominent theme of the Lord’s love and the Lord’s laws emerged from numerous messages in Saturday’s first day of the October 2021 general conference on Oct. 2.
“There has never been a time in the history of the world when knowledge of our Savior is more personally vital and relevant to every human soul,” said President Russell M. Nelson in his opening remarks.
In the message immediately following President Nelson’s, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was the first to speak on the love of God.
“When the love of God sets the tone for our own lives, for our relationship to each other and ultimately our feeling for all humankind,” he said, “then old distinctions, limiting labels, and artificial divisions begin to pass away, and peace increases.”
If Latter-day Saints “love God enough to try to be fully faithful to Him, He will give us the ability, the capacity, the will and the way to love our neighbor and ourselves,” he add.
The love of Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ includes expectations, he added.
“Because They love you, They do not want to leave you ‘just as you are,’” Elder Christofferson said. “Because They love you, They want you to repent because that is the path to happiness.
“But it is your choice — They honor your agency. You must choose to love Them, to serve Them, to keep Their commandments. Then They can more abundantly bless you as well as love you.”
And Sister Susan H. Porter, first counselor in the Primary general presidency, acknowledged it can be difficult at times to feel God’s love. Prayer can help people to see His hand in their lives, she said, adding “God’s love is not found in the circumstances of our lives, but in His presence in our lives.”
President Nelson set the tone in opening the Saturday morning session, noting that the general authorities and general officers who would speak over the five sessions “will focus their messages on our Savior, Jesus Christ, His mercy and His infinite redeeming power.”
“There has never been a time in the history of the world when knowledge of our Savior is more personally vital and relevant to every human soul,” he said. He invited listeners and viewers to note three things during the conference — pure truth, the pure doctrine of Christ and pure revelation.
“Please make this conference a time of feasting on the messages from the Lord through His servants. Learn how to apply them in your life.”
“We cannot lose our love for and hope in Jesus, even if we face seemingly overwhelming challenges,” he said. “Heavenly Father and Jesus will never forget us. They love us.”
President Ballard referenced Christ’s asking Peter if he loved Him; in relating this question to individuals today, the Lord may be asking about the influences competing for time and attention.
“He may be asking each of us if we love Him more than the things of this world,” President Ballard said. “This may be a question about what we really value in life, who we follow and how we view our relationships with family members and neighbors. Or, maybe He is asking what really brings us joy and happiness.”
He later extended an invitation: “I pray that you may answer as Peter did so long ago, ‘Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee’ and then show it by loving and serving God and those around you.”
While listing seven “things of the soul,” Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles included “love God the Father and Jesus Christ, our Savior” and “love thy neighbor” as numbers 1 and 2, mirroring the two great commandments taught by the Lord, as taught in Matthew 22:34-40.
“When we are heavy laden with mistakes, heartaches, feelings of inadequacy, disappointment, anger or sin,” he said, “the power of the Savior’s Atonement is, by divine design, one of the things that lifts the soul.”
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles testified and promised that honoring covenants and ordinances arms Latter-day Saints with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.
“Covenant promises and blessings are possibly only because of our Savior, Jesus Christ,” he said. “He invites us to look to Him, come unto Him, learn of Him and bind ourselves to Him through the covenants and ordinances of His restored gospel.”
President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, warned that Latter-day Saints who forgo Church attendance and rely only on individual spirituality separate themselves from gospel essentials — the priesthood’s power and blessings, the fullness of restored doctrine, the motivations and opportunities to apply that doctrine, and the opportunity to qualify for an eternal perpetuation of their family.
Saying church attendance can open hearts and sanctify souls, President Oaks added, “Our worship and application of eternal principles draw us closer to God and magnify our capacity to love.”