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The importance of the word of the Lord...
I still have vivid memories of the time I spent in the old Salt Lake Mission Home as a young “Mission Mormonary”… there were many challenges and much needed stretching and growing as we prepared for the service we had been called to provide. However, the experience that made the deepest and most lasting impression on my young mind was entering into the solemn assembly hall of the Salt Lake Temple and there being addressed by a member of the first presidency of the church.
Elder Harold B. Lee, who was a counselor to President Joseph Fielding Smith, addressed us. We were allowed to ask any question or address any concern we might have. I can still remember how impressed I was as he answered many of our questions by turning to the scriptures and giving us the answers we sought in the Lord’s own words. That made a very deep impression on at least one young man, that’s for sure!
One bit of counsel that has remained firm in my mind over the years was the importance of sticking firmly to the “standard church works” as he called them. The following quote is a good summation of what he taught us that day:
“It is not to be thought that every word spoken by the General Authorities is inspired, or that they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost in everything they read and write. Now you keep that in mind. I don’t care what his position is, if he writes something or speaks something that goes beyond anything that you can find in the standard church works, unless that one be the prophet, seer, and revelator—please note that one exception—you may immediately say, ‘Well, that is his own idea.’ And if he says something that contradicts what is found in the standard church works (I think that is why we call them ‘standard’—it is the standard measure of all that men teach), you may know by that same token that it is false, regardless of the position of the man who says it.” (The Place of the Living Prophet, Seer, and Revelator [address delivered to seminary and institute of religion faculty, 8 July 1964], p. 14.)
President Lee even applied this same standard to himself or to the things that he might teach. So let us be clear about one thing, when attempting to understand the sequence and timing of the events leading up to the Lord’s Second Advent, we need to guard what we accept as accurate. We do this by measuring all statements, regardless of the source, against what the Lord has revealed in scripture, with but one noted exception as President Lee has stated.
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