How Church leaders taught from the scriptures during October 2021 general conference

Focusing their messages on the Savior during October 2021 general conference, many leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints used the scriptures to teach pure truth, the pure doctrine of Christ and pure revelation

President Russell M. Nelson cited the Lord’s promise “if [we] are prepared [we] shall not fear” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:30) as he emphasized the need to strengthen one’s personal foundation.

“This assurance has profound implications today,” he said. “The Lord has declared that despite today’s unprecedented challenges, those who build their foundations upon Jesus Christ, and have learned how to draw upon His power, need not succumb to the unique anxieties of this era.”

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints tours the Salt Lake Temple in Salt Lake City on Saturday, May 22, 2021.
President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints tours the Salt Lake Temple in Salt Lake City on Saturday, May 22, 2021. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Like President Nelson, members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and other Church leaders used a variety of passages and stories from the Bible, Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants to help illustrate their messages. Here are some examples. 

Book of Mormon

In her talk about coming unto Christ, Young Women General President President Bonnie H. Cordon relayed the story of Jesus blessing the Nephites one by one in 3 Nephi 17. “Every time I read this I ask myself: Who will I bring to Christ? Who will you bring?” President Cordon said. “Can we look round about again as Jesus did, to make sure no one is missed and everyone is invited to come to know Him?”

The title of Elder David A. Bednar’s talk “With the Power of God in Great Glory” comes from 1 Nephi 14:14. “The phrase ‘armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory’ is not simply a nice idea or an example of beautiful scriptural language,” said the member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “Rather, these blessings are readily evident in the lives of countless latter–day disciples of the Lord.”

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles used the example of Alma declaring repentance to the people of Ammonihah as an example of how the yearning love of the prophets mirrors the love of God (see Alma 13:27, 29). 

In her message about God’s love, Sister Susan H. Porter, first counselor in the Primary general presidency, spoke of the prophet Nephi who was shown in a vision Mary holding the infant Jesus in her arms (1 Nephi 11:20-22). 

“At that sacred moment, Nephi understood that in the birth of the Savior, God was showing forth His pure and complete love,” she said.  

Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during the Saturday afternoon session of the 191st Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, broadcast from the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Oct. 2, 2021.
Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during the Saturday afternoon session of the 191st Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, broadcast from the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Oct. 2, 2021. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles used Nephi’s phrase “And upon these I write the things of my soul” (2 Nephi 4:15) as an introduction to his talk titled “The Things of My Soul.” 

“Nephi’s words raise the questions ‘What things do you ponder?’ ‘What things really matter to you?’ ‘What are the things of your soul?’” Elder Rasband said. “The things of our souls are often clarified and deepened by asking questions.”

To set the tone for his message about unity, Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles quoted the Savior’s admonition to the Nephites: “[T]here shall be no disputations among you. … [H]e that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another” (3 Nephi 11:28-29). 

Old Testament, New Testament

The Bible is clear on the origin of a church and the need for it now, said President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency. He cited verses in Ephesians 4 about Christ being the “head of the church” and officers being given “for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”

President Russell M. Nelson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, center; President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, left; and President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, right, enter the Saturday afternoon session of the 191st Semiannual General Conference at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021.
President Russell M. Nelson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, center; President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, left; and President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, right, enter the Saturday afternoon session of the 191st Semiannual General Conference at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

“In church attendance and participation, our hearts are, as the Bible says, ‘knit together in love,’” President Oaks said, quoting Colossians 2:2

President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, related the question Jesus asked Peter — “Lovest thou me more than these?” (John 21:15) — to individuals today. 

“He may be asking each of us if we love Him more than the things of this world,” he 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. … How would we answer the question ‘Lovest thou me more than these?’”

This verse was also referenced by Sister Sharon Eubank, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, as she closed her talk on caring for those in need: “Let me conclude by repeating the question Jesus asked His Apostle, Simon Peter: Do you love me? The essence of the gospel is contained in how we answer that question for ourselves and ‘feed His sheep.’”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland opened his Saturday morning address with the story of the rich young ruler who asked, “What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” The Savior’s directive to sell everything and take up his cross and follow Him caused the young ruler to leave sorrowing, “for he had great possessions” (Mark 10:17-22).

“I pray we will succeed where that rich young man failed, that we will take up the cross of Christ however demanding it may be regardless of the issue and regardless of the cost,” Elder Holland said.  

Primary General President Camille N. Johnson based her talk on the description of Christ found in Hebrews 12:2. “I testify that the Savior is ‘the author and finisher of our faith.’ Will you invite Him to be the author and finisher of your story?” she asked. 

She pointed to David overcoming Goliath (1 Samuel 17) and Esther saving her people (Esther 4) as examples of individuals who were willing to let God prevail and write their story. 

Primary General President Camille N. Johnson speaks Sunday morning, Oct. 3, 2021, during The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 191st Semiannual General Conference, which was held in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.
Primary General President Camille N. Johnson speaks Sunday morning, Oct. 3, 2021, during The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 191st Semiannual General Conference, which was held in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles highlighted the story of the children of Israel in the book of Judges. Within a generation after Joshua died, the people had abandoned the way and began walking according to their own desires (Judges 2). 

“No matter how strong our spiritual experiences have been in the past, as human beings we tend to wander. That has been the pattern from the days of Adam until now,” Elder Uchtdorf said, before pointing out spiritual landmarks that can help one evaluate their life course. 

Concluding his talk on trust, Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles referenced the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) and asked: “Brothers and sisters, would you please consider Jesus is asking us to open our hearts, our understanding, compassion and humility, and to see ourselves in both roles?  

“Like the first son or daughter, we may wander and later seek to return home. God waits to welcome us. And, like the other son or daughter, God gently entreats us to rejoice together as we each come home to Him.” 

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints delivers a message Sunday morning, Oct. 3, 2021, during the 191st Semiannual General Conference held in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints delivers a message Sunday morning, Oct. 3, 2021, during the 191st Semiannual General Conference held in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

To illustrate the importance of treating others with compassion, Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles told of Jesus’ visit to the home of Simon. A certain woman, considered a sinner, entered Simon’s home while Jesus was there. Simon judged unjustly both the woman and Jesus for his forgiveness (Luke 7:36-50)

“This account demonstrates … that the Savior acted compassionately toward all who would come unto Him — without distinction — and most especially toward those who most needed His help,” Elder Soares said. 

Doctrine and Covenants, Joseph Smith–History

The method to receiving revelation has not changed since the days of Adam and Eve — it is always done by exercising faith, said President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency. He used the example of teenage Joseph Smith who had faith sufficient to ask a question of God (Joseph Smith—History 1:13-26). 

“I know from experience that answers will come to fit your needs and your spiritual preparation,” President Eyring said. “If you need an answer that is important to your eternal welfare or that of others, the answer is more likely to come. Yet, even then, you may receive — as did Joseph Smith — the answer to be patient.”

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stands in the Historic Liberty Jail in Liberty, Missouri, on Friday, May 28, 2021.
Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stands in the Historic Liberty Jail in Liberty, Missouri, on Friday, May 28, 2021. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles described a recent visit to Liberty Jail and recalling the words the Prophet Joseph Smith declared while confined there (Doctrine and Covenants 121:1-8). 

“As I stood in Liberty Jail I was deeply touched as I read the Lord’s answer, ‘My Son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high,’” Elder Cook said. “It is clear that opposition can refine us for an eternal, celestial destiny.”

Emphasizing the name of the Church, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated that the influence of the restored Church of Jesus Christ will be a light on the hill in a darkened world. “Although many may allow the world to cloud their faith in the Redeemer, we will ‘not be moved out of [our] place,’” he said, citing Doctrine and Covenants 101:17

Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that the divinely appointed responsibilities — living the gospel of Jesus Christ, caring for those in need, inviting all to receive the gospel and uniting families for eternity — align with priesthood keys restored by Moses, Elias and Elijah (Doctrine and Covenants 110).