In a world where gospel standards and worldly standards are growing farther apart, it is up to us to testify of Christ in word and deed.
This speech was given on July 29, 2003.
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"Thank you for your attendance today and for the Spirit you bring and for the faith in my behalf. I need that so very much. Well, you look good to me! Each speaker who addresses the student body must wonder who he’s really speaking to. Who of us could predict what you will have become 10 or 20 years from now? Each of you will be famous to somebody. I heard Dr. Clayton Christensen of the Harvard Business School, one of the world’s leading business strategists, speak at the BYU forum. He was graduated from this university, and how could he dream then of the prestigious accomplishments that he has since achieved? He is proud of his BYU roots, and so am I.
The Lord thinks you are great! And because of this, the Lord, your Redeemer, suffered death in the flesh. He voluntarily gave His own life that as many as would believe might become the sons and daughters of God.
In the world of commerce—of expensive cars and expensive houses—we expect higher prices to assure us of greater value. Who can measure the value of the Savior’s sacrifice? When we ponder the horrendous price He paid for our salvation, our sense of personal worth must be enormously enhanced. Shouldn’t this be reassurance enough to secure our self-esteem? As children of the royal birthright, you were born to be great.
When I was a young missionary, I was intrigued with the intellectual giants of the Church who masterfully confounded its critics. I wanted to imitate them. Now, with increased age, I would rather strive for ability to speak simply, with clarity and the Spirit, and not worry about profundity. What about our critics? Well, I’m persuaded they do not need my help to be confounded. They do pretty well on their own.
In the halls of justice the lives of men and women often hang on the single thread of an eyewitness’s testimony—on the accuracy of the testimony and the reliability of the witness.
It is a pattern followed also in the scriptures: The Lord personally, or through His angels, reveals truths to prophets who bear testimony of Him and declare with power and boldness the true doctrines of salvation. When the prophet’s voice is silenced, the people are left to conjecture, debate, and philosophize. The result is spiritual darkness.
The poet Robert Browning described the silencing of the prophetic voice as he lamented the passing of the last living apostle, John the Beloved, in his poem “A Death in the Desert”:
Still, when they scatter, there is left on earth
No one alive who knew (consider this!)
—Saw with his eyes and handled with his hands
That which was from the first, the Word of Life.
How will it be when none more saith “I saw”?
[1864, lines 129–33; see Hugh Nibley, The World and the Prophets (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1954), 5]
Prophetic testimony has seldom been popular among the worldly. Pure testimony of revealed truth arouses rejection, scorn, and often wrath from the “natural man.”
The Apostle Paul explained:
We speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth. . . .
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. [1 Corinthians 2:13–14]
Jesus reproved Nicodemus, ruler of the Jews, for his spiritual insensitivity. The Master declared, “We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness” (John 3:11).
In the Old Testament the Lord called prophets to testify of Him and to call rebellious Israel to repentance.
The prophet obeys the Lord and delivers the message. He is not responsible for its acceptance. He is responsible to speak with clarity and spiritual power.
The world generally does not understand the prophetic commission...."