Elder Perry Visits our Sacrament Meeting


We had a visit from Elder Perry to our ward in Camarillo today. He told us he was in town on one of the last days of a week-long series of meetings in California. He started in San Jose on Tuesday and had one more half day Monday in San Fernando. He has been meeting each day with the missionaries for a few hours and then with the Priesthood leadership of multiple stakes.

We were expecting a large crowd for the missionary farewell of the youngest sister of our bishop. I’ll bet she’ll always remember that she spoke on the same program as an apostle. When he walked in, nine year-old Whitney Peterson handed him a piece of paper with four questions. He delighted us by answering them candidly and directly. I paid close attention to what he said.

Four Questions for an Apostle

Her first question was “How many churches have you visited?” I think she meant different wards or stakes “You do the math,” he answered. “I’ve been doing this for forty years. We go out three weeks out of every month. We have five weeks off in the summer and two weekends off each year for General Conference.” I did the math. Without duplicates, that would be 1,320 churches.

Next, Whitney asked, “How many temples are there in the world?” He laughed as he replied, “I don’t know. I can’t keep track anymore.” Somebody apparently looked it up as he was talking and told him – 136. He told the story of president Hinckley going to Stake Centers while on visits to Mexico looking for properties large enough to accommodate temples to be built next door.

The next question was “Where do you live?” I expected him to simply say Salt Lake, but he told us he lived a half block north of the conference center and that he walks to work each day. He has a key to a side door so he walks the rest of the way through the tunnels to his office in the church administration building. Now I know how this almost 90 year-old apostle keeps in shape.

An Apostle’s Witness of the Savior

The last question was the best. “Have you ever seen an angel or the Savior?” I listened closely to hear how an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ would answer this question. He told a couple of stories. First, he described one of the weekly meetings with the twelve way back when Elder LeGrand Richards was still alive. The meeting had to do with changes being made in the temple.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Elder Richards said that President Woodruff had been there. When asked why, he said that Elder Richards was the only one of the twelve present who had attended the 1893 dedication of the Salt lake Temple (as a child). President Woodruff was vitally concerned with the temple that he had dedicated. To Elder Perry, this was a visit by an angel.

The 1978 Revelation on the Priesthood

He then told the story of the 1978 revelation that all worthy men could hold the priesthood. He said that there were only three of the twelve still alive who had been there. He described how President Kimball asked to be the voice in the weekly prayer circle and how he poured out his heart in petitioning the Lord for understanding of his will on what should be done on this issue.

He said that the outpouring of the spirit was so great that at the conclusion of the prayer they each went back to their offices without saying a word. They usually go have lunch together. Something sacred had happened. To Elder Perry, this was evidence the Lord had visited them in the temple. The next Thursday, President Kimball submitted the new revelation to the twelve.

The Savior Directs This Church

Elder Perry then answered Whitney’s question directly. He said that the heavens only open on rare occasions. He spoke for a moment about placing our tent door toward the temple. He then closed by bearing testimony. He said, “There is only one man who receives revelation for all. This is not a man-made church. The Savior directs this church from above.”

“This is how he continues to reach out to each of us. There is an order and a system in place. Twelve are given the keys but only one may use them at a time. In the church there is order and uniformity. This provides absolute certain direction that comes from the Lord. I know without any doubt God lives and that the Savior directs this church.”

29 Responses

  1. Thank you for this post. Our apostles and prophets also are good people.

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  2. “Elder Perry then answered Whitney’s question directly. He said that the heavens only open on rare occasions.”

    I find this comment a little disconcerting coming from an Apostle. Our cultural expectations are much different.

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  3. I agree Michael, especially in light of Jacob 1:5-6 which I read today in prep for next weeks Gospel Doctrine lesson.
    The Book of Mormon and early LDS history clearly teaches the opposite. If the heavens are mostly closed, isn’t it because of lack of faith?

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  4. Interesting Elder Richards died in 1983, nothing more recient?

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  5. It makes me wonder about the PoF and the new truths introduced in that document conceding the eternal nature of gender and the fixed roles articulated for men and women. It also makes me wonder about the Prop 8 fight.

    Are these new things merely the reasoning of men?

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  6. He’s referring to the priesthood revelation type of heavens opening. That was described by others as a kind of Kirtland Temple outpouring of the spirit. Otherwise, it’s the still small voice.

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  7. So, now we define a “special witness” of Jesus Christ not as one who has had a special experience (as Paul), but as one with a special calling. Didn’t Joseph Smith tell the apostles in his day that after receiving their calling, they were to strive to have a personal visitation?

    Such a personal visitation is not just the right and privaledge of the Apostles, but of everyone who is baptized and continues worthy. The Second Comforter.

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  8. As I read this and read the comments, I was reminded of the saying that “those who know don’t tell, and those who tell don’t know.” I don’t think he is going to announce to a strange congregation about sacred experiences without a very strong prompting of the Spirit. It sounds like he tried to answer the question without saying anything he shouldn’t say. And I also don’t think he was saying that the heavens are closed as in no revelation. Are we so limited to think that the Lord is only directing His church through direct visitation? Don’t the prophet and Apostles receive revelation the same way we do – through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost? I never imagined that the Savior came to see the Prophet every day to tell him face to face how to direct the Church. Not everything requires an actual visitation from the Savior. Even in the scriptures, the Lord didn’t visit with His prophets all the time. I have full faith in the leaders of the Church to lead us in the paths of the Lord through the power of the Spirit, which is plain to feel each time they speak to us.

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  9. Friends,

    If I were Elder Perry, this is why I would hesitate before speaking in sacrament meeting about sacred things. What has been clearly said over and over by these special witnesses is that Christ personally and directly leads His church.

    As a church, we tend to be overly casual in our relationship with Him. Quick, repetitive prayers, referring to Him as our brother in the same sense that we talk about someone with whom we would share a hockey game or poker night.

    In truth, He is the living Savior and while He does love and care for us individually, and He is our spiritual brother, we are not His equal. Those called as special witnesses understand this relationship and while they are guided by Him, they treat those relationships as sacred trust. Not something to be casually discussed in sacrament meeting.

    I believe Elder Perry did a great job answering this questions. He said, yes we have special spiritual experiences, yes I will briefly recount a few that have been publically mentioned before and No, I won’t’ talk about my own specific experiences but I will testify that Christ does lead this church.

    I was once told that when it comes to sacred things there are two kinds of people. Those who have very special, sacred experiences with the Lord and those who talk about them. And the two are never in the same group.

    Elder Perry’s talk would be a good example of that.

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  10. What a neat experience! I loved the four questions and Elder Perry’s answers.

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  11. Well said Adam, I couldn’t agree more. Thank you.

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  12. Concerning the calling of an Apostle as a special witness, President Joseph Fielding Smith taught the following:

    “All men may, by virtue of the priesthood and the gift of the Holy Ghost, become witnesses for Christ. In fact that is just what every elder in the Church should be, but there is a special calling which is given to the Twelve special witnesses that separates them from other elders of the Church in the nature of their calling as witnesses. These twelve men hold the fulness of authority, keys, and priesthood, to open up the way for the preaching of the gospel to every nation, kindred, and tongue. Others who go forth go under their direction and are subject unto them. This work of proselyting is in their hands, and under the counsel of the First Presidency they are called upon to conduct all the affairs of the Church and the preaching of the gospel to every creature.” ( Doctrines of Salvation, 3:146.)

    “The word apostle means ‘one sent forth.’ This was the name our Lord gave to the twelve whom he chose to be his companions during his ministry on earth and whom he sent forth to represent him after his ascension into heaven. . . .

    “They are special witnesses for Jesus Christ. It is their right to know the truth and to have an abiding witness. This is an exacting duty upon them, to know that Jesus Christ is in very deed the Only Begotten Son of God, the Redeemer of the world, and the Savior of all those who will confess their sins, repent, and keep his commandments.” (“The First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve,” Improvement Era, Nov. 1966, pp. 978–79.)

    The knowledge the Apostles have of Christ is no casual thing. They must know for certain by personal revelation that Jesus is the Christ and that he lives as a resurrected, exalted being. President Joseph F. Smith made clear the sacredness of their calling:

    “These twelve disciples of Christ are supposed to be eye and ear witnesses of the divine mission of Jesus Christ. It is not permissible for them to say, I believe, simply; I have accepted it simply because I believe it. Read the revelation, the Lord informs us they must know, they must get the knowledge for themselves. It must be with them as though they had seen with their eyes and heard with their ears and they know the truth. That is their mission, to testify of Jesus Christ and Him crucified and risen from the dead and clothed now with almighty power at the right hand of God, the Savior of the world. That is their mission, and their duty, and that is the doctrine and the truth that it is their duty to preach to the world and see that it is preached to the world.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1916, p. 6; or Gospel Doctrine, p. 178.)

    One question often asked about the qualifications of an Apostle was answered by Elder Boyd K. Packer:

    “Occasionally . . . I have been asked a question. Usually it comes as a curious, almost an idle, question about the qualifications to stand as a witness for Christ. The question they ask is, ‘Have you seen Him?’

    “That is a question that I have never asked of another. I have not asked that question of my brethren in the Quorum, thinking that it would be so sacred and so personal that one would have to have some special inspiration, indeed, some authorization, even to ask it.

    “There are some things just too sacred to discuss. . . .

    “They [the Twelve Apostles] are special witnesses for Jesus Christ. It is their right to know the truth and to have an abiding witness. This is an exacting duty upon them, to know that Jesus Christ is in very deed the Only Begotten Son of God, the Redeemer of the world, and the Savior of all those who will confess their sins, repent, and keep his commandments.

    “The question frequently arises: ‘Is it necessary for a member of the Council of the Twelve to see the Savior in order to be an apostle?’ It is their privilege to see him if occasion requires, but the Lord has taught that there is a stronger witness than seeing a personage, even of seeing the Son of God in a vision. Impressions on the soul that come from the Holy Ghost are far more significant than a vision. When Spirit speaks to spirit, the imprint upon the soul is far more difficult to erase. Every member of the Church should have impressions that Jesus is the Son of God indelibly pictured on his soul through the witness of the Holy Ghost.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, “The First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve,” Improvement Era, Nov. 1966, p. 979.)

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    • It is implied by Packer’s statement, that asking an apostle if he has seen the Lord is just and idle curiosity. What a perspective. Adam admonished us to seek true messengers, didn’t he?

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  13. Matthew 5:37 – But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

    No word games are allowed of true disciples of Christ. Speak clearly, truthfully and without ambiguity.

    Definitions – the significant differences between Inspiration and Revelation (they are not the same):

    in·spi·ra·tion/ˌinspəˈrāSHən/
    Noun:
    The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, esp. to do something creative: “flashes of inspiration”.
    The quality of having been so stimulated, esp. when evident in something: “a moment of inspiration in an otherwise dull display”.
    Synonyms:
    afflatus – inhalation

    rev·e·la·tion/ˌrevəˈlāSHən/
    Noun:
    A surprising and previously unknown fact, esp. one made in a dramatic way.
    The making known of a secret or the unknown.
    Synonyms:
    disclosure – exposure – detection – apocalypse

    Was the 1978 experience “inspiration” or “revelation”?

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  14. Michael,

    I confess I am a just seeing this blog for the first time today, and I’ve not taken the time to read up on the past comments of the people who post here. As such, it’s hard for me to tell if you are asking a sincere question of just trolling for an argument. Either way, I’ll bite and respond.

    By claiming that “No word games are allowed of true disciples of Christ” you are making an argument that, if true, would mean that we have to toss out half of the scriptures. Christ taught in parables, the most quoted book of scripture, Isaiah, is full of dualism, imagery, and esoteric term. Isaiah’s words are similar to the parables of Jesus in their manner of teaching. When Jesus’ disciples asked Him why He taught in parables, He said: “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them [the people in general] it is not given. . . . Therefore I speak to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. . . . For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart. . . . But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.” (Matthew 13;11, 13, 15–16.)

    Many of the people of Jesus’ time were spiritually immature and unprepared to receive the doctrines He taught. Through parables He was able to teach the more spiritually mature and at the same time veil His teachings from those who were not prepared to understand or follow them. In that manner He kept many from being condemned for having a knowledge of principles they were unable to live (see Alma 12:9–11; Jacob 4:14).

    In the same spirit we are taught as fast as we are able to handle it. There are often messages taught in General Conference that pass right over the many members of the church. It requires spiritual maturity to understand them.

    As for splitting hair over the definition of inspiration and revelation, you only have to look to the first line of Official Declaration -2 to get your answer. “In early June of this year, the First Presidency announced that a revelation had been received by President Spencer W. Kimball…….”

    It was a revelation.

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  15. Thank you, Joe and Adam!

    It looks like you are “steadfast and immovable”, humble –”teachable”, andknowledgeable.

    How can we judge if an experience is the “right way” to receive a witness, when we are not the one to experiience it? To me, it is more important to know that the apostles KNOW the Savior, than it is to know by what method they received that knowledge. I hope, I will always correct myself as I find I have a wrong perspective.

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  16. Hmmmm….interesting thoughts and perspectives from everyone. I don’t know if I agree but I always listen to other viewpoints. I am not a troll. I am sincerely exploring thoughts, re-evaluating common assumptions we make, and questioning everything.

    Just one comment to share with Carol – we have all been commanded to KNOW the Saviour. Each and everyone one of us. If we don’t ask those who already know Him how to go about it then we will not be successful in fulfilling that commandment. We are told to NEVER rely upon anyone else for that knowledge but to seek it personally and to never stop until we have it.

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  17. I know you had the best of intentions on posting this experience and these notes. What a wonderful experience it must have been to hear Elder Perry! You were probably unaware of this when you posted your experience, but the Church Handbook #2 advises against this, warning that notes from such meetings are for personal use only, as found in section 21.1.39 in Handbook 2, accessible from lds.org. Thank you for understanding.

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    • Thought police alert!! Take warning! Don’t discuss anything that the Apostles say in sacrament! It is too, too personal…. Even if you have the “best intentions”. In other words, shut up. Hmm…. This is so wrong, yet so consistent with current church policies. It seems to reflect a desire of the leaders to absolutely control dialogue.

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  18. That is funny. It made my evening.

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  19. Based upon the Handbook of Instructions we should remove D&C 76 from the scriptures. Perhaps we should also remove the First Vision as well.

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  20. To Elizabeth: Thank you for reminding me of the policy that we not share personal notes from visits by General Authorities. I should have checked first with Elder Perry. I did the next best thing. I asked him after it was posted if he felt it needed to be removed or if it erroneously reflected anything he said. He replied that he doesn’t see anything wrong with what I wrote and that he is fine with me leaving it up on my personal blog.

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  21. I love Elder Perry and so appreciate his insight! Elder Perry is an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ and represents the Savior’s church, here upon the earth. For those who don’t recognize who he represents, how would they ever recognize the Savior?

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  22. So Elder Perry answers the question “Have you ever seen an angel or the Savior?” with Elder Richards’ report of a pre 1983 manifestation of President Woodruff and the 1978 outpouring of the spirit regarding lifting the priesthood ban. And he said that the heavens only open on rare occasions. Then the apologists hurry to fill in the perceived gaps for him! Can’t he speak for himself? Didn’t he? Apparently he did and according to Tim he let it stand.

    So nothing more recent than 30 years ago? Apparently not!

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  23. I was there and heard his entire talk.

    This is not a criticism of Tim’s recording of the event, but it’s an interesting lesson on how peoples’ interpretations of events can be quite different.

    Section 21.1.39 does have some wisdom in it! (By the way, the section would allow D&C 76 and the First Vision since they are in official Church publications.)

    After reading Whitney’s last question, Tim wrote, “He told a couple of stories.” However, before he related the 2 stories, Elder Perry’s immediate response to the question was to say something to the effect that the heavens are NOT closed [placing vocal emphasis on the "NOT"].

    During his talk he never made any statement that the 2 instances he mentioned were the ONLY 2 instances.

    Tim wrote, “Elder Perry then answered Whitney’s question directly.” I’m not so sure he ever answered “directly,” because she asked if HE saw such and such. In example #1, he said that Elder Richards said Wilford Woodruff was there. Regarding example #2, Tim wrote, “To Elder Perry, this was evidence the Lord had visited them in the temple.” However, I do not recall him using any such words.

    Tim wrote that he said (in quotations), “. . . I know without any doubt God lives and that the Savior directs this church.” On the other hand, I thought he said, “I know without a doubt that God lives, and that Jesus IS the Christ” [placing vocal emphasis on the "IS"]. I will admit he could have said something about directing the Church after that.

    Anyway, it’s fascinating to realize that when we record events we are selectively emphasizing or de-emphasizing certain things by the way we include (or don’t include) them in our report.

    Tim’s statement that Elder Perry reviewed what he wrote is also interesting to ponder and apply to oneself. . . . To what degree do I scrutinize and edit what someone else has said about my words?

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  24. Thank you Eric for adding the additional detail, and the insights about using emphasis – both mine and from Elder Perry. I also thought of adding that the when he answered Whitney’s questions, he did not say these were the only instances of recent heavenly visitations. And there’s no mistake that there was some unintended editorializing in there: “To Elder Perry, this was….”

    If I remember correctly, there were several recorded accounts of the King Follett discourse, each one adding additional insight by the phrases they included or emphasized. I would estimate there were 400 or 500 people in attendance that day. I imagine each one could add something interesting and each one would be different depending on where they are in their lives.

    For example, I have been reading Denver Snuffer’s books for the last six weeks. My focus has been on the idea that regular, everyday members of the church like you and me can and should be seeking to receive the Lord. We were commanded to receive the Holy Ghost and most of us have done so. We should encourage each other to go on to also receive the Lord.

    I confess I was hoping for a simple, quiet and direct answer from Elder Perry to the last question. I was hoping to hear, “Yes, I have seen angels and I have seen the Lord. He has ministered to me. You can also see him. You should strive to do so. Here’s how to do that…” But then, this was not a private setting and in my opinion, the instances he cited were appropriate.

    Finally, it’s not fair to give everyone the impression that we can have the General Authorities review or comment on our notes. My case is highly unusual since I have a conduit into Elder Perry’s office – my sister is his secretary. She was very gracious, as was he, when I asked her to get his opinion if I should remove the post after being reminded of the policy.

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  25. I was at a priesthood leadership meeting years ago with BKP. In that meeting, he told us he had NEVER had a personal visitation from a heavenly bean or even seen one. He said he had NEVER even heard an audible voice from above. But he did say that he has had undeniable feelings and promptings from the spirit.

    So, was BKP not telling the truth because it was too sacred? was this lying for the Lord?

    Or do we expect too much of the 15? Do we expect that they walk and talk with the Lord on a daily basis? Was BKP just trying to re-set our expectations? Was LTP doing the same in Tim’s ward?

    BTW, I too was at the same meeting as Tim, and thought he did a good job of capturing LTP”s thoughts.

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  26. Hi again Closet Doubter,

    I’ve been pondering your comment for several weeks. I always appreciate what you have to say. You cause me to think deeply about revelation and how I communicate with the Lord. I think you nailed it when you asked if we expect too much of the 15, that they walk and talk with the Lord on a daily basis. But I’m not so sure that BKP was trying to reset our expectations.

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and make a personal judgment that many, if not most of our apostles have not had a personal visit from the Lord. That’s a totally subjective opinion, without any basis in personal knowledge. But it makes sense to me based on so many things I have read about our prophets and apostles over the years from biographies and informed commentary.

    This does not reduce my opinion or respect of them in any way. As I watched and listened to General Conference last week, I specifically had a prayer in my heart that my testimony of the divine calling of these Brethren would be re-confirmed. I wanted to know, that even if what I have been reading in Passing the Heavenly Gift is true, that these were still the Lord’s anointed.

    I am pleased to report that my testimony was indeed strengthened by the proceedings of General Conference. These are all good men. I sustain them as prophets, seers and revelators. I gladly accept that they have authority over the church. I am more than willing to listen to their counsel, which I consider to be inspired and offered with the desire to bless and to help the members.

    I believe President Packer was telling the truth and we should take his word for it. I’ve always been troubled by the phrase, “Lying for the Lord,” even though I know what is being attempted to communicate with this unique twist of words. I wrote extensively about that very topic earlier in this blog. I have experienced having the spirit confirm things to me as I was speaking them.

    In other words, even though before I knew from a personal witness that some doctrine or principle was true, I studied what others had written, and then proceeded to teach it as if I knew it was true. In the process of doing so, the Holy Ghost bore witness to my soul that what I was teaching was true. I have had this happen to me numerous times. It is a tried and true principle.

    No, I don’t believe Elder Perry was “Lying for the Lord.” He shared sacred experiences that to him were evidence that visits by angels and the Savior, even though it came to others and not to him personally. Perhaps what my friend Bryce Haymond says is right, “Those who know, don’t talk about it.” If Elder Perry has seen the Lord, it is his prerogative when he shares that witness.

    As I’ve written in previous comments, I’m on a quest right now in my spiritual journey to find out for myself if the promise in D&C 93:1 is meant to be fulfilled in this life or in the next. I am also a little concerned that I don’t hear this doctrine taught much from the pulpit anymore. Is the Lord willing to appear and minister to the faithful saints in this mortal life? Then teach us how!

    Denver Snuffer, a regular member of the church, who claims to have never served in a leadership position other than a High Counselor, claims that he has seen the Lord. He says The Lord then commanded to write about it so other regular members of the church like you and I would be encouraged to believe we can also be taught by the Savior face to face. I believe this doctrine.

    I think we do expect too much from the twelve. After all, they are men just like you and me with trials and temptations that all men experience. But I for one appreciate their efforts to magnify their callings, even if they haven’t received a personal visit from the Savior. I’m not saying they haven’t because I don’t know. But even if they haven’t, I still believe they are inspired by God.

    I have full confidence that God loves me and that Jesus was resurrected. Even with everything I have studied about Joseph Smith, I am convinced that he was a prophet in every sense of the word. The Book of Mormon to me is scripture and binding as the word of the Lord. Further, I am convinced that the ordinances performed in the temple are valid in the life to come.

    But, they are conditional upon me doing my part to have them ratified by the Holy Spirit of Promise. And that, my friend, is my quest. I want to receive the fullness of the priesthood and I am on a mission to receive it in this life before I die. I will do whatever the Lord requires of me in order that I may receive that more sure of prophecy and know my standing before the Lord.

    Apostles and prophets like President Packer and L Tom Perry are helping me to come onto Christ. I appreciate their witness, even if it is incomplete or imperfect and desire to give heed to their words as if they came from the Lord. When they speak under the spirit of inspiration, I am edified and uplifted. I love these fifteen men and pray the Lord’s choicest blessings upon them.

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  27. A companion of mine on my mission had the opportunity while a missionary to go pick up Apostle H. W. Hunter at the airport and drive him to the mission office. During this time my companion was alone with Elder Hunter while they waited for somebody. Elder Hunter started up what sounded like small talk, but was something much more profound. He said to my companion “ Elder, you know when people bare their testimony, and they say ‘I know Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus’”. My companion answered in the affirmative, and he had heard that often. Elder Hunter continued “ Well, it really isn’t right that they say ‘I know’ unless they were actually in the sacred grove with Joseph. They should say ‘I believe’ instead of ‘I know’ They believe Joseph saw God, but they don’t know because they didn’t see it” My companion agreed, and then Elder Hunter looked him square in the eye and said in a forceful voice “ I Know that Jesus is the Christ”.
    I believe this is the closest that any Apostle will come to inferring that they have seen Christ. I’ve always thought that we use “I Know” way too much in church, and in fact always use the words “I believe” when I bear my testimony, even when I held leadership positions and would bare my testimony before the ward.

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