Gordon B. Hinckley, Conference Report, April 1964, pp. 36-39
My beloved associates in the work of the Lord: I seek the inspiration of the Spirit. My heart has been warmed, and my testimony has been strengthened by the things to which we have listened.
I would be remiss in my duty if before I get into my text I do not say a word in behalf of my faithful associates in the distant missions of the Far East. I was delighted with the reports of President Tuttle and of Elder Petersen concerning the work in South America, the Isles of Britain, and the lands of Europe.
The Gospel to Ancient Asia
I should like to add that a great work is going on among the people of the ancient lands of Asia. I have an appointment in the next few days in Hong Kong, where we shall meet in a conference of the Chinese Saints. There will be approximately a thousand of them gather in that city, and as I look into their faces, there will come into my mind renewed faith and increased testimony in the power of God to touch men's hearts everywhere.
My heart skipped a beat this morning when I looked into this group and saw a man from Korea, one of my beloved brethren. The Lord is pouring out his Spirit upon that part of the world, and I thank him for that manifestation. Now to my text.
Faith in Revelation
I believe all that God has revealed, all that he does now reveal, and I believe that he will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God (see A of F 1:9).
This paraphrase of a statement from the Prophet Joseph Smith is the creed and the guide of my life. It is the foundation of the faith of all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The "Fount" of Inspiration
God is the one sure source of truth. He is the fount of all inspiration. It from him that the world must receive direction if peace is to come to the earth and if goodwill is to prevail among men. This earth is his creation. We are his children. Out of the love he bears for us, he will guide us if we will seek, listen, and obey. "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secrets unto his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7).
Our world is changing. We live in an age of great material progress. Can religion remain static when all else is moving forward?
It is true that man's essential nature does not change, and that principles laid down centuries ago by the prophets are as applicable today as they were when they were first enunciated; but the world evidently knows not how to apply them. Today that application needs the direction of the Almighty as certainly as when Jehovah spoke to Enoch and Moses and Isaiah and Elijah.
"For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Pet. 1:21). And prophecy, which is revelation, comes not now, nor will it come in the future, by the will of man, but only as men of God speak as they are moved upon by that same spirit.
How poverty-ridden is our world in the wisdom of living one with another. The stresses, the strains, the tensions in human relationships, the wars and rumors of wars that constantly afflict us all become evidence that ". . . the wisdom of the wise has failed and the understanding of the prudent is hid" (see Isa. 29:14). Religion, to be effective, must be a vital and timely force in the lives of men.
The people today need a prophet as surely as Israel needed a prophet when it groaned in the toils of Egypt, and Moses was called to lead it from bondage.
Channels of Communication Open
Israel today has a prophet, and we give our witness to the world that the channel of communication is open between God and his appointed servant.
We would not take from men of goodwill anywhere the standards of truth by which they live. But we say to all, "Come, feast upon that which the Lord has offered in our day. To that which you have and cherish, we invite you to add that which your Father has further offered, for there is a prophet in the land today as certainly as there was in ancient Israel."
There are those who have declared that the canon of scripture is full, that revelation ceased with the ancient Apostles, that the heavens are sealed. Well might we ask such, "Why, then, do you pray? If God is unwilling to speak, is unwilling to guide, if there can be no revelation, why seek him?" The fallacy of this position is evident; yet the world would deny the possibility of modern revelation.
Opening of Mission in the Philippines
Three years ago I had the opportunity of participating in the opening of our mission in the Philippines. It was an inspirational experience. We gathered at dawn in the American military cemetery on the outskirts of the city of Manila. There before us stood "row on row" the crosses that mark the graves of more than 17,000 American dead, and inscribed on marble tablets we saw the names of some 36,000 more who died in the battles of the Pacific and whose remains were never found—a grim and solemn reminder of man's foolish inhumanity to man.
Among those who spoke on that sacred occasion was a young Filipino. He recounted the story of how, when he was a child, he had found an old magazine in a pile of trash. It contained an article on the history of our people. It spoke of Joseph Smith. It described him as a prophet. That word "prophet" caught in his consciousness. It impressed him. It raised questions in his young mind. "Could there really be a prophet in the earth in this time of the world?" he asked himself.
A Filipino Seeks a Prophet
Years passed. There came to his land the terrible tragedies of Corregidor and Bataan and the death march to Tarlac; the strafing and bombing of Clark Field near his home; the hunger and fear and oppression of the enemy occupation; and then, finally, the liberation of the Philippines and the re-establishment of Clark Field as an American air base. He secured employment there. One day he heard that one of the American officers for whom he worked was a Mormon. There flashed again into his mind the word "prophet." He found courage to ask the man if a prophet really stood at the head of his Church. Without equivocation the officer replied yes, and there followed an explanation, a recounting of the simple and beautiful story of the appearance of God the Eternal Father, and his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to a boy who had come in faith and prayer to find wisdom. That testimony touched this young Filipino's heart. His life has been changed by the conviction that revelation from God is available to man in our time. Today he holds the priesthood and walks in the dignity of that priesthood, a leader of the Church in his own land.
Can one doubt the need for revelation in this day of complex human problems? Some weeks ago news was broadcast over the country that at a particular hour on a particular day the surgeon general of the United States would issue a report on the effects of smoking. The release time was carefully planned, presumably to affect the stock market least seriously. Then, as President McKay indicated this morning, at the appointed hour radio, television, and the news services dramatically announced the finding of causal relationships between the smoking of cigarettes and lung cancer. Lengthy tables of statistics, page upon page of data, were enumerated to produce the conclusion that cigarette smoking is harmful to health.
"Tobacco Is Not Good for Man"
I thumbed through that 387-page report, and then I turned to the revelation of the Lord given through the Prophet Joseph Smith wherein he said simply but unequivocally, ". . . tobacco . . . is not good for man" (D&C 89:8).
I am grateful for the work of those scientists who made the report on smoking. I am confident that their discoveries will save untold suffering and add untold years of useful living to those who will heed their counsel. But how much suffering, how many deaths upon which their conclusions were based, might have been avoided had those who became statistics for a government report listened to the word of revelation given by a prophet of God.
As I reflected on that situation—the months of research by able men of science, the vast calculations of electronic computers, the great fanfare of announcements, the background stories, the editorials, the debates, all of this and more, in contrast with the simple, revealed word of the Lord—there came to mind the experience of Elijah on Mt. Horeb, as sung so beautifully by this chorus at the opening of this meeting: ". . . and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake:
"And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice" (1 Kgs. 19:11-12).
Such almost invariably has been the word of God as it has come to us, not with trumpets, not from the council halls of the learned but in the still small voice of revelation. Listening to those who seek in vain to find wisdom and who declaim loudly their nostrums for the ills of the world, one is prone to reply with the Psalmist, "Be still, and know that I am God" (Ps. 46:10) and with the Savior, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear" (Matt. 11:15).
Wisdom by Revelation
I wish to make it clear that I do not disparage education, research, study, counsel. I believe most strongly in these. But I believe more so that this troubled world would do well to listen to the source of all true wisdom, to accept all that God has revealed, all that he does now reveal, and to believe that he will yet reveal many great and important things (A of F 1:9).
Let it be remembered that "the things of God are understood by the Spirit of God" (1 Cor. 2:11), and that revelation is fruitless unless it be listened to and obeyed.
We have a simple and marvelous hymn among us. It came from the pen of an English convert, an orphan boy, a man of Sheffield, a cutler in the steel mills, who more than a century ago wrote out of the testimony of his soul this great song of gratitude, "We thank thee, O God, for a Prophet to guide us in these latter days."
Revelation for the Atomic Age
To the world we give our witness that there is revelation of the word of God as certainly in the atomic age as there was in the age of Jeremiah. It is just that simple and just that true.
Joseph Smith was the anointed of the Lord to this dispensation. Well might we repeat the words of the Lord: ". . .What power shall stay the heavens? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints" (D&C 121:33). Knowledge has been and is being revealed. Those who accept is and obey it find that peace which passeth understanding (Philip. 4:7) and that growth which leads to eternal life.
As surely as Joseph was a Prophet, so also is his successor in office, President David O. McKay, who has stood before us this day. Who, seeing this man of God this morning standing at this pulpit and speaking to the world words that would save them, could doubt that God is manifesting his will through him?
God help us to be obedient to his counsel.
Of these truths we testify and invite men of goodwill everywhere to listen and learn and partake of that peace and that growth which our Father would have us enjoy, I humbly pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.