David O. McKay's Last
General Conference Talk as LDS Church President
President David O. McKay
9th President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
137th Semiannual General Conference
Sunday Afternoon Session
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bears testimony to the world that this will of God has been made manifest in this dispensation, that the principles of the gospel, the principles of life, have been revealed."
And now, my brethren and sisters, we have come to the closing session of another great conference of the Church. My soul, with yours, has been filled with thanksgiving and gratitude to our Heavenly Father for the outpouring of his Holy Spirit throughout the entire conference. We have heard inspirational and uplifting messages from the leaders of the Church. I love these associates of the general authorities, and love them in the spirit of the true meaning of that word-the love of the brotherhood of Christ. God bless them!
Testimonies of the conference reviewed
During these various sessions of conference, we have had testimony of the Spirit that we are children of our Father in heaven. We have had testimony that God is a living being. We have had testimony that Christ, who was crucified and who rose the third day a resurrected being, is the head of his Church. We have had testimony of the Spirit that he has revealed in this dispensation the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is again established on earth in all its fullness. The gospel of Jesus Christ, as revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith, is in very deed in every way the power of God unto salvation. It gives to every man the perfect life here, and through obedience to gospel principles it gives us eternal life.
What is eternal life? In that glorious prayer of intercession offered by Jesus, our Redeemer just before he crossed the brook cedron and received the traitor's kiss that betrayed him into the hands of the soldiers, we find these words: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." (John 17:3.) To know God and his Son is eternal life. There is the key. Life eternal is what I desire. I desire it more than I desire anything else in the world-life eternal for me and mine, for you, and for all the world. And there in the words of the Redeemer himself we have the secret.
How may we know Him?
But how may we know him? That is the next question. Has he at any time, or on any occasion, answered that question? If so, we want the answer, because it is vital. In searching the record as it is given to us by men who associated daily with the Lord, we find that upon one occasion men who were listening to him cried out against him. They opposed his works, as men today oppose him. And one voice cried out and said in effect, "How do we know that what you tell us is true? How do we know that your profession of being the Son of God is true." And Jesus answered him in just a simple way (and note the test):"If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." (John 7:17. Italics added.)
That test is most sound. It is most philosophical. It is the most simple test to give knowledge to an individual of which the human mind can conceive. Doing a thing, introducing it into your very being, will convince you whether it is good or whether it is bad. You may not be able to convince me of that which you know, but you know it because you have lived it. That is the test that the Savior gave to those men when they asked him how they should know whether the doctrine was of God or whether it was of man.
We have answered the question that if we shall do his will we shall know but now comes the question, what is "the will"? And therein is the whole essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Just as plainly as Jesus stated and defined what eternal life is, or how we shall know it, just as plainly as he laid down that test, just as plainly has he expressed what his will is.
The will of God is revealed to the world
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bears testimony to the world that this will of God has been made manifest in this dispensation, that the principles of the gospel, the principles of life, have been revealed. They are in harmony with the principles that Christ taught in the meridian of time. It is impossible to give here all the principles that constitute that will, but they are so simple that, as the scriptures say, "the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein." (Isaiah 35:8)
After obeying the principles and ordinances of the gospel, "the will" of God is to serve your fellowmen, benefiting them, making this world better for your having lived in it. Christ gave his all to teach us that principle. And he made the statement: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (Matthew 25:40) This is the message God has given to us. This Church is God's Church, which is so perfectly organized that every man and every woman, every child, may have an opportunity to do something good for somebody else. It is the obligation of our priesthood members, it is the responsibility of the auxiliary organizations and of every member to serve and do God's will. If we do, and the more we do it, the more we shall become convinced that it is the work of God, because we are testing it. Then, by doing the will of God, we get to know God and get close to him and to feel that life eternal is ours. We shall feel to love humanity everywhere, and we can cry out with the apostles of old, "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." (1 John 3:14)
God does reveal today to the human soul the reality of the resurrection of the Lord, the divinity of this great work, the truth, the divine and eternal truth that God lives, not as a power, an essence, a force, but as our Father in heaven. Oh, why do men try to make that power, recognized by science and religion everywhere, a mere force? I sometimes wish men would kneel down and try to pray to electricity or atomic power. Imagine trying to pray to these forces. You cannot do it, and yet they are great and known forces. You can, however, pray to God the Father, a personal being. God reveals to the soul his existence. He reveals the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, who came to make known to us the great reality of the existence of God and his Son; and in that spirit, and with such witness in my soul, I bear testimony today that Jesus Christ is the Redeemer of the world.
"I know that my Redeemer lives;
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, He lives, who once was dead.
He lives, my ever-living head.
"He lives, all glory to his name!
He lives, my Savior, still the same;
O sweet the joy this sentence gives:
`I know that my Redeemer lives!' " (Samuel Medley)
Blessings for everyone
God help us and all the world to sense the reality that the gospel of Jesus Christ is established among men, and that through obedience to it the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man may be realities to every mother and father, every son and daughter. God hasten the day when that testimony will be real in every heart.
God bless you men of the priesthood. May you hold it in dignity and righteousness that comes from within, not from without.
God bless our friends of the radio and television audience and the managers and owners of the stations who have made these broadcasts possible. God bless our friends with whom we associate and who are contributing to the advancement of this great Church. We are grateful for their fellowship.
God bless us that we may go home with a firmer resolve than we have ever had before to live the gospel of Jesus Christ, to be kind to our families and to our neighbors, to be honest in all our dealings so that men seeing our good works may be led to glorify our Father in heaven.
I leave my blessings with you, with the sick and afflicted, with our soldier boys, some of whom are paying the supreme sacrifice for freedom, with our missionaries scattered around the world. I pray that God's protecting care will be with them wherever they are.
May God bless you all, and may he guide and help you that righteousness, harmony, and love for one another may dwell in each home, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.