LeGrand Richards, Conference Report, April 1960, pp. 103-105
I am happy, brothers and sisters, to have the privilege of attending this great conference with you, and I have been thrilled with the wonderful messages we have heard. During the conference great stress has been laid upon the great missionary program of the Church, a subject dear to my heart, having been a missionary most all of my life and having had a desire to be a missionary long before I was old enough to go on a mission, particularly when I read the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith by George Q. Cannon, for from that time on I not only lived for but also prayed for the day when I would be privileged to go into the mission field.
One of those whom I admired most in my youth as a great missionary, was the Apostle Paul. I liked his testimony, as he stood before King Agrippa and the most noble Festus and told his story how the Savior appeared to him as he was on the way to Damascus, and you remember Festus said, "Paul, thou art beside thyself, much learning doth make thee mad," to which he replied, "I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness." King Agrippa then said, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian" (Acts 26:24-28).
And you remember Paul's reply was:
"I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds" (Acts 26:29).
He had already asked them:
"Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?" (Acts 26:8).
I was reading a statement from his missionary journey the other day that impressed me, and I would like to read it:
"For he mightily convinced the Jews and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ" (Acts 18:28).
And I thought it would be wonderful if we could hear some of his marvelous testimonies as he took the scriptures in his hands to prove that Jesus was the Christ.
I recall the words of the Savior where he said that we should "Search the scriptures; for . . . they are they which testify of me" (John 5:39). Then he said to the Pharisees that they did err, not understanding the scriptures (Matt. 22:29), and we have his testimony to the two disciples as he walked along the way to Emmaus and their eyes were holden that they did not recognize him, and he listened to their conversation about his crucifixion and he said, "O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken" (Luke 24:25).
He explained the scriptures to them, and he opened their understanding that they might understand the scriptures (see (Luke 24:26-32).
I feel that we do not place the value we should on the scriptures, and in the few moments I have this morning, I would like to relate an experience I had less than a year ago. By appointment from the First Presidency and at their request, I was privileged to meet with a group of ministers here in Salt Lake City who were holding a convention. They gave me two hours and a half to explain Mormonism to them.
I explained the great organization of the Church and how it came into existence and bore my testimony of its divinity. I thought of the Apostle Paul, if he had the scriptures and was with us today, and had to convince publicly the people out of the scriptures how much more he would have to explain to them pertaining to this latter-day gospel dispensation and the second coming of the Redeemer of the world than he had in his day.
I used this illustration with these ministers: I told them that when we built the Los Angeles Temple, I was still the Presiding Bishop, and we took the plans and showed them to the First Presidency one day, and we had eighty-five pages about four feet long and two and a half-feet wide, and we did not have the plans complete for the electrical work or the plumbing, and yet there were eighty-five pages. Now I said to these men, "You could take those plans and go all over this world and try to fit them to any other building in the world, and you could not fit them. There is only one building that those plans will fit and that is the Los Angeles Temple." I said, "Of course, you could find heating plants and light fixtures and plumbing and cement in other buildings just as you do in that temple, but you could not find a building that would fit perfectly those plans."
Then I took the Bible and I said, "The Prophet Isaiah tells us that the Lord declared his work from the beginning (Isa. 46:10) and he said that the 'grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever' (Isa. 40:8). And as I see it, the Bible is the Lord's blueprint of his work from the beginning until the final winding up scene."
Of course, there is not time for me to go into details here today, but I took scripture after scripture that appeared in the Bible, and I said to these men, "Do you know anywhere in all the world where you can find a fulfillment of that promise? Take for instance Peter's statement to those who crucified the Christ that before his coming the heavens were to receive him, until the restitution of all things spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began (see Acts 3:19-21). Do any of You know anywhere in this world, in the history of the world or the history of the people or churches, where that promise has had its fulfillment, and yet people look for his coming?" But if Peter was a prophet of God, Christ cannot come until there is a restitution, and I had explained already to them the fulfillment of that promised restitution of all things.
Then I took the coming of the angel that John saw, flying in the midst of heaven (Rev. 14:6). I said, "Do you know anywhere in the world that there is a record of the coming of an angel with the everlasting gospel to be preached in all the world, to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, since the time that that prophet's promise was made?"
Then I went through many other of the passages of scripture pertaining to our day, like the coming of Elijah the prophet (Mal. 4:5-6), and so forth, and then I said this to them, "Now, that Bible is just as much the Lord's blueprint of what he intended to do in this world as the blueprint for that temple was the plan by which that building was to be built."
I said, "It is true that you can find some of the things that are in the Bible in the churches, that is why we have hundreds of them, but you cannot find any other church in all the world that has all of the things that the Lord has promised."
I remember as a boy hearing this statement made that one of the great evangelists of the United States, well-known all over the nation, in talking to a Mormon elder was asked questions by this elder, and his answer was: "Well, if we were to believe all that is in the Bible, we would all have to be Mormons."
That is my testimony to the entire world: if you believe all that is in the Bible, you would all have to be Mormons, and I come back again to the importance of the scriptures and the work of the Apostle Paul,
"For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ" (Acts 18:28).
And we can mightily show by the scriptures that he was not only the Christ, but that he will also come again and that he has restored his kingdom to the earth, as we have had testimony after testimony in this conference, and I bear you that testimony, if Paul were here today and knew of the coming of the Father and the Son and all the holy angels that have visited this earth to give us this restitution of all things, think how much more and much greater power he would have to convince the world and that publicly.
I close with this thought: We have heard about the marvelous progress the world has made scientifically. We read in the newspapers constantly about the day when men will make trips to the moon—I have always said that if I were going I would want to be sure I got a round-trip-ticket—but you know, if they ever make a trip to the moon, and they come back again, every newspaper in all the world will spread it on their front pages and tell what has happened. But how would such an event, as marvelous as it would be, compare with the coming of God the Eternal Father and his Son Jesus Christ to the boy Prophet, Joseph Smith? And why, I say in the words of Paul, "Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you" (Acts 26:8) that God should set his hand to do the thing that he promised he would do and as is detailed in the plans of his work.
I leave you my testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet, that President McKay is his duly appointed successor, and that the power of Almighty God is in this work. I have seen it all my life and I bear you that witness, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.