Boyd Matheson: Nothing will give more confidence than being able to say ‘I know for myself’

President Russell M. Nelson concluded his landmark address in a Brigham Young University devotional by challenging listeners to “ask your Heavenly Father if we truly are the Lord’s apostles and prophets. Ask if we have received revelation on this and other matters.” 

Then he punctuated his message by inviting all to ask if the truths he had presented were true. In so doing, he was following the prophetic pattern God’s servants have used since the beginning of time to connect human beings with the divine love of their Father in Heaven.

Read President Nelson’s full BYU devotional on the love and laws of God, 2015 LGBT policy

As prophet, Alma taught the people about God’s love and God’s law and how both truths were manifest in the gift of Jesus Christ and His infinite, atoning sacrifice. As Alma concluded his address he asked his listeners, “Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety? Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me” (Alma 5:45-46).

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, walk into the Marriott Center prior to a devotional at Brigham Young University in Provo on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019.
President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, walk into the Marriott Center prior to a devotional at Brigham Young University in Provo on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

In both the pattern and the invitation, prophets ancient and modern are imploring the people of the world to discover eternal truth in order to be able to individually say, “I know for myself.”

One of the five truths President Nelson shared this week was “The Lord Jesus Christ, whose Church this is, appoints prophets and apostles to communicate His love and teach His laws.”

Each of the living apostles strives to tune their voice to the voice of the Good Shepard so that they can communicate His love and teach His law to people everywhere. Our responsibility is to learn to recognize and respond to that voice. The Savior Himself declared, “My sheep hear my voice” (John 10:27).

For many years I collected audio cassette tapes of general conference. I constantly had them playing in my car and in my home office.  I loved hearing the distinct voices of special witnesses and determined disciples.  The voices of Elder LeGrand Richards, Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Elder Marvin J. Ashton, President Spencer W. Kimball and President Howard W. Hunter, among many others, echoed in my car and reverberated God’s love and law deep into my soul. 

When my children were young, we often played a game in the car to see who could guess which apostle we were listening to just from the sound of his voice. My daughters learned to tune their ears and then their hearts to these voices of truth. Even though they were very young, they could beat anyone in a contest to see who could recognize most quickly the special voices of the special witnesses of the Savior.

“Whether by mine own voice or the voice of my servants, it is the same” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:38).

President Nelson explains LGBT 2015 policy, asks young adults to pray ‘if we truly are the Lord’s apostles and prophets’

There are many loud, contentious and confusing voices in the world today. In his unique voice, echoing the intonation of the Master, President Nelson issued a challenge today that, if followed, will change and transform the members of the Church and the inhabitants of the world forever. The prophet said, “You may know for yourself what is true and what is not by learning to discern the whisperings of the Spirit.”

Garrett and Madison Brown, brother and sister, listen to President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during a devotional at Brigham Young University in Provo on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019.
Garrett and Madison Brown, brother and sister, listen to President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during a devotional at Brigham Young University in Provo on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

The Doctrine and Covenants records it this way:

“These words are not of men nor of man, but of me; wherefore, you shall testify they are of me and not of man;

“For it is my voice which speaketh them unto you; for they are given by my Spirit unto you, and by my power you can read them one to another; and save it were by my power you could not have them;

“Wherefore, you can testify that you have heard my voice, and know my words” (Doctrine and Covenants 18:34-36).

Nothing will give us more confidence to face the challenges and uncertainties of life than being able to say, “I have heard His voice and know His words.”

President Nelson and the living apostles do not travel the world and speak in general conference just to deliver interesting speeches. They are helping us hear the voice of our Savior Jesus Christ, sense His love, live His law and bring the world His truth. Above all, we have been invited to live so that we can be worthy to receive revelation and say, “I know for myself.”