In 1982, two years before he was called as a General Authority, then-Brother Russell M. Nelson said, “I never ask myself, ‘When does the prophet speak as a prophet and when does he not?’ My interest has been, ‘How can I be more like him? … My philosophy is to stop putting question marks behind the prophet’s statements and put exclamation points instead.”
“This is how a humble and spiritual man chose to order his life,” Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said during the Saturday morning session of general conference on March 31. “Now, 36 years later, he is the Lord’s prophet.”
As the concluding speaker in the morning session, Elder Andersen shared his witness of the sustaining of a new prophet.
“Our heaven-directed assembly is not in this Conference Center alone, but across the world; in chapels in Asia, Africa, and North America; in homes in Central and South America and Europe; on covered patios in the Pacific and the islands of the sea; this assembly is in whatever part of the world you might be, even if your connection is no more than the audio of your smart phone,” he said. “Our raised hands were not counted by our bishops, but they were surely noted in heaven, as our covenant is with God, and our action is recorded in the Book of Life.”
Recognizing that there is "no campaigning, no debates, no posturing for position, no dissension, no distrust, no confusion or commotion" when a new prophet is called, Elder Andersen said the selection of a prophet is made by the Lord. He offered his witness that President Russell M. Nelson is God’s chosen prophet on the earth today.
“I, too, confirm that the power of heaven was with us in the upper room of the temple as we prayerfully encircled President Nelson and felt the undeniable approval of the Lord upon him.”
While there are many logical reasons to follow President Nelson — his brilliance, wisdom, good judgment and life experiences — it is his calling from the Lord that designates him as “a watchman on the tower” for the world today.
“A prophet does not stand between you and the Savior. Rather, he stands beside you and points the way to the Savior,” he said. “A prophet’s greatest responsibility and most precious gift to us is his sure witness, his certain knowledge, that Jesus is the Christ.”
Elder Andersen reminded listeners that they have the privilege of receiving a personal witness that President Nelson’s call is from God.
“While my wife, Kathy, has known President Nelson personally for nearly three decades and has no question about his divine mantle, upon his setting apart, she began reading all his general conference talks of the past 34 years, praying for an even deeper assurance of his prophetic role,” he said. “I promise you that this greater witness will come to you as you humbly and worthily seek it.”
For those who are diligently seeking eternal life, the prophet’s voice brings spiritual safety in very turbulent times, he said.
“We live on a planet clamoring with a million voices,” he said. “The internet, our smart phones, our bloated boxes of entertainment, all plead for our attention and thrust their influence upon us, hoping we will buy their products and adopt their standards. ... Following the prophet in a world of commotion is like being wrapped in a soothing, warm blanket on a freezing cold day.”
In a world of reason, debate, argument, logic and explanation, "the Lord’s voice often comes without explanation,” he said, "such as 'Thou shalt not commit adultery,' and 'Thou shalt not steal.' The 'whys' are not always apparent. Obtaining spiritual knowledge requires a dimension of understanding beyond the intellect alone — it requires the Holy Ghost."
“The prophet’s voice, while spoken kindly, will often be a voice asking us to change, to repent, and return to the Lord,” he said. “When correction is needed, let’s not delay. And don’t be alarmed when the prophet’s warning voice counters popular opinions of the day.”
At times when a person’s personal views may not initially be in harmony with the teachings of the Lord’s prophet, Elder Andersen said “these are moments of learning, of humility, when we go to our knees in prayer. We walk forward in faith, trusting in God, knowing that with time we will receive more spiritual clarity from our Heavenly Father."
Elder Andersen said in his personal life he has found "that as I prayerfully study the words of the prophet of God, and carefully, with patience, spiritually align my will with his inspired teachings, my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ always increases. If we choose to set his counsel aside and determine that we know better, our faith suffers and our eternal perspective is clouded.
“I promise you that as you remain resolute in following the prophet, your faith in the Savior will increase.”