Elder Neil L. Andersen was called to be a twelve apostle on 4 April 2009. Before his calling to the quorum of the twelve he served as a Seventy. His working career was in business. Learn more about Neil L. Andersen.
A Witness of God
From the miraculous intervention of God to Daniel came the prophesied future of the gospel of Jesus Christ being restored to the earth, a kingdom that would fill the whole earth, “never [to] be destroyed … [but to] stand for ever.”
President Thomas S. Monson has said: “Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together … to bring souls unto Him. … He will assist us in our labors if we will act in faith to fulfill His work.”
The divinely appointed responsibility that once rested primarily upon the shoulders of full-time missionaries now rests upon us all. We all want to share the restored gospel, and gratefully, thousands are baptized each week. But even with this wonderful blessing, our concern for our brothers and sisters and our desire to please God bring a compelling urgency to share and strengthen the kingdom of God across the world.
Guilt has an important role as it awakens us to changes we need to make, but there are limits to how far guilt will help us.
Guilt is like a battery in a gasoline-powered car. It can light up the car, start the engine, and power the headlights, but it will not provide the fuel for the long journey ahead. The battery, by itself, is not sufficient. And neither is guilt.
I suggest that you stop feeling guilty about any insufficiency you think you have in sharing the gospel. Rather, pray, like Alma taught, for opportunities “to stand as [a witness] of God at all times and in all things, and in all places … that [others] may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, [and] have eternal life.” This is a much stronger motivation than guilt.
I promise you that as you pray often and sincerely for opportunities to “stand as a witness of God,” those opportunities will come, and those who seek more light and knowledge will be put before you. As you respond to spiritual promptings, the Holy Ghost will carry your words to the heart of another, and one day the Savior will confess you before His Father.
Please don’t see your efforts to share the love of the Savior with another as a pass/fail test with your grade determined by how positively your friends respond to your feelings or invitation to meet the missionaries. With our mortal eyes, we cannot judge the effect of our efforts, nor can we establish the timetable. When you share the love of the Savior with another, your grade is always an A+.
Be careful; your blessings may come in unexpected ways.
Whoso Receiveth Them, Receiveth Me
And there are many families that are less unified in their love of God and willingness to keep His commandments.
In this increasing spiritual commotion, the restored gospel will continue to carry the standard, the ideal, the pattern of the Lord.
While a child’s earthly situation may not be ideal, a child’s spiritual DNA is perfect because one’s true identity is as a son or daughter of God.
President Thomas S. Monson has said: “Help God’s children understand what is genuine and important in this life. Help them develop the strength to choose paths that will keep them safely on the way to eternal life.” Let’s open our arms and our hearts a little wider. These youth need our time and our testimonies.
Faith Is Not By Chance, but by Choice
The Savior perceived the strength or weakness in the faith of those around Him. To one, He said approvingly, “Great is thy faith.” He lamented to another, “O ye of little faith.” He questioned others, “Where is your faith?” And Jesus distinguished yet another with, “[In all Israel] I have not found so great faith.”
I ask myself, “How does the Savior see my faith?” And tonight I ask you, “How does the Savior see your faith?”
Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is not something ethereal, floating loosely in the air. Faith does not fall upon us by chance or stay with us by birthright. It is, as the scriptures say, “substance …, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith emits a spiritual light, and that light is discernible. Faith in Jesus Christ is a gift from heaven that comes as we choose to believe and as we seek it and hold on to it. Your faith is either growing stronger or becoming weaker. Faith is a principle of power, important not only in this life but also in our progression beyond the veil. By the grace of Christ, we will one day be saved through faith on His name. The future of your faith is not by chance, but by choice.
But brethren, we have been given something more: the priesthood of God, the power of God restored to earth by holy angels. This makes you different. You no longer stand on neutral ground. Your faith will grow not by chance, but by choice.
How we live our lives increases or diminishes our faith. Prayer, obedience, honesty, purity of thought and deed, and unselfishness increase faith. Without these, faith diminishes. Why did the Savior say to Peter, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not”? Because there is an adversary who delights in destroying our faith! Be relentless in protecting your faith.
Using our mind without our heart will not bring spiritual answers.
Faith never demands an answer to every question but seeks the assurance and courage to move forward, sometimes acknowledging, “I don’t know everything, but I do know enough to continue on the path of discipleship.”
Immersing oneself in persistent doubt, fueled by answers from the faithless and the unfaithful, weakens one’s faith in Jesus Christ and the Restoration. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him.”
In a future day, you will have 100 times more information than from all of today’s search engines combined, and it will come from our all-knowing Father in Heaven.
Although your beginning fire of faith may be small, righteous choices bring greater confidence in God, and your faith grows. The difficulties of mortality blow against you, and evil forces lurk in the darkness, hoping to extinguish your faith. But as you continue to make good choices, trust in God, and follow His Son, the Lord sends increased light and knowledge, and your faith becomes settled and unwavering. President Thomas S. Monson said: “Fear not. … The future is as bright as your faith.”
My dear friends, your faith did not begin at birth, and it will not end at death. Faith is a choice. Strengthen your faith, and live to be deserving of the Savior’s approving words: “Great is thy faith.” As you do, I promise you that your faith, through the grace of Jesus Christ, will one day allow you to stand with those you love, clean and pure in the presence of God, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Thy Kingdom Come
We have taken His name upon us, and each week as we partake of the sacrament, we pledge that we will remember Him and keep His commandments. We are far from perfect, but we are not casual in our faith. We believe in Him. We worship Him. We follow Him. We deeply love Him. His cause is the greatest cause in all the world.
We live, brothers and sisters, in the days preceding the Lord’s Second Coming, a time long anticipated by believers through the ages. We live in days of wars and rumors of wars, days of natural disasters, days when the world is pulled by confusion and commotion.
But we also live in the glorious time of the Restoration, when the gospel is being taken to all the world—a time when the Lord has promised that He “will raise up … a pure people” and arm them “with righteousness and with the power of God.”
Brothers and sisters, seeing and believing the Lord’s miracles in establishing His kingdom on earth can help us see and believe that the Lord’s hand is at work in our own lives as well.
As you keep the commandments and pray in faith to see the Lord’s hand in your life, I promise you that He will open your spiritual eyes even wider, and you will see more clearly that you are not alone.
Our faith grows as we anticipate the glorious day of the Savior’s return to the earth. The thought of His coming stirs my soul. It will be breathtaking! The scope and grandeur, the vastness and magnificence, will exceed anything mortal eyes have ever seen or experienced.
In that day He will not come “wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger,” but He will appear “in the clouds of heaven, clothed with power and great glory; with all the holy angels.” We will hear “the voice of the archangel, and … the trump of God.” The sun and the moon will be transformed, and “stars [will] be hurled from their places.” You and I, or those who follow us, “the saints … from [every quarter] of the earth,” “shall be quickened and … caught up to meet him,” and those who have died in righteousness, they too will “be caught up to meet him in the midst … of heaven.”
Then, a seemingly impossible experience: “All flesh,” the Lord says, “shall see me together.” How will it happen? We do not know. But I testify it will happen—exactly as prophesied. We will kneel in reverence, “and the Lord shall utter his voice, and all the ends of the earth shall hear it.” “It shall be … as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder.” “[Then] the Lord, … the Savior, shall stand in the midst of his people.”
There will be unforgettable reunions with the angels of heaven and the Saints upon the earth. But most important, as Isaiah declares, “All the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God,” and He “shall reign over all flesh.”
In that day the skeptics will be silent, “for every ear shall hear … , and every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess” that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of the world.
Today is Easter. We rejoice with Christians all over the world in His glorious Resurrection and in our own promised resurrection. May we prepare for His coming by rehearsing these glorious events over and over in our own minds and with those we love, and may His prayer be our prayer: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” I testify that He lives. “Come, O thou King of Kings.” In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Many of those who dismiss the work of the Restoration simply do not believe that heavenly beings speak to men on earth. Impossible, they say, that golden plates were delivered by an angel and translated by the power of God. From that disbelief, they quickly reject Joseph’s testimony, and a few unfortunately sink to discrediting the Prophet’s life and slandering his character.
Each believer needs a spiritual confirmation of the divine mission and character of the Prophet Joseph Smith. This is true for every generation. Spiritual questions deserve spiritual answers from God.
Brothers and sisters, let me give you a caution: you won’t be of much help to others if your own faith is not securely in place.
The negative commentary about the Prophet Joseph Smith will increase as we move toward the Second Coming of the Savior. The half-truths and subtle deceptions will not diminish. There will be family members and friends who will need your help.
In our society beyond the veil of death, we will clearly understand the sacred calling and divine mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith. In that not-too-distant day, you and I and “millions [more] shall know ‘Brother Joseph’ again.” In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
My young friends, the world will not glide calmly toward the Second Coming of the Savior. The scriptures declare that “all things shall be in commotion.” Brigham Young said, “It was revealed to me in the commencement of this Church, that the Church would spread, prosper, grow and extend, and that in proportion to the spread of the Gospel among the nations of the earth, so would the power of Satan rise.”
More concerning than the prophesied earthquakes and wars are the spiritual whirlwinds that can uproot you from your spiritual foundations and land your spirit in places you never imagined possible, sometimes with your barely noticing that you have been moved.
The worst whirlwinds are the temptations of the adversary. Sin has always been part of the world, but it has never been so accessible, insatiable, and acceptable. There is, of course, a powerful force that will subdue the whirlwinds of sin. It is called repentance.
In nature, trees that grow up in a windy environment become stronger. As winds whip around a young sapling, forces inside the tree do two things. First, they stimulate the roots to grow faster and spread farther. Second, the forces in the tree start creating cell structures that actually make the trunk and branches thicker and more flexible to the pressure of the wind. These stronger roots and branches protect the tree from winds that are sure to return.
You are infinitely more precious to God than a tree. You are His son or His daughter. He made your spirit strong and capable of being resilient to the whirlwinds of life. The whirlwinds in your youth, like the wind against a young tree, can increase your spiritual strength, preparing you for the years ahead.
How do you prepare for your whirlwinds? “Remember … it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, … his shafts in the whirlwind, … when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power … to drag you down … because of the rock upon which ye are built.” This is your safety in the whirlwind.
President Thomas S. Monson has said, “Where once the standards of the Church and the standards of society were mostly compatible, now there is a wide chasm between us, and it’s growing ever wider.” This chasm, for some, stirs strong spiritual whirlwinds. Let me share an example.
He designated the purposes of marriage to go far beyond the personal satisfaction and fulfillment of adults to, more importantly, advancing the ideal setting for children to be born, reared, and nurtured. Families are the treasure of heaven.
You need the strength that comes from trusting the Lord’s prophets. President Harold B. Lee said: “The only safety we have as members of this church is to … learn to give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through His prophet. … There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes. … It may contradict your political views … your social views … interfere with … your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, … ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against you … and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you …’ (D&C 21:6).”
There is a tangible feeling of holiness in the temple. The peace of the Savior subdues the swirling whirlwinds of the world.
As you do, I promise you that you will see the whirlwinds for what they are—tests, temptations, distractions, or challenges to help you grow. And as you live righteously year after year, I assure you that your experiences will confirm to you again and again that Jesus is the Christ. The spiritual rock under your feet will be solid and secure. You will rejoice that God has placed you here to be a part of the final preparations for Christ’s glorious return.
The Savior said, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” This is His promise to you. I know this promise is real. I know that He lives, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Power In The Priesthood
There are special blessings from God for every worthy person who is baptized, receives the Holy Ghost, and regularly partakes of the sacrament. The temple brings added light and strength, along with the promise of eternal life.
All of the ordinances invite us to increase our faith in Jesus Christ and to make and keep covenants with God. As we keep these sacred covenants, we receive priesthood power and blessings.
As surely as we know that God’s love is “alike” for His sons and His daughters, we also know that He did not create men and women exactly the same. We know that gender is an essential characteristic of both our mortal and eternal identity and purpose. Sacred responsibilities are given to each gender.
We know that the power of the holy priesthood does not work independently of faith, the Holy Ghost, and spiritual gifts.
We know that worthiness is central to performing and receiving priesthood ordinances. Sister Linda K. Burton, general president of the Relief Society, has said, “Righteousness is the qualifier … to invite priesthood power into our lives.”
For example, consider the plague of pornography sweeping across the world. The Lord’s standard of worthiness gives no allowance for pornography among those officiating in the ordinances of the priesthood.
Another thing we know is that there is an abundance of priesthood blessings in families where a righteous mother and father are united in guiding their children. But we also know that God eagerly provides these same blessings to those in many other situations.
This is our opportunity, our responsibility, and our blessing. This is our destiny—to prepare the kingdom of God for the return of the Savior. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
It's A Miracle
“All nations”? “All the world”? “Every creature”? Was it possible? Although Jesus reassured them, they must have wondered if miracles really would accompany them in spreading the gospel.
Faith overcame doubt, and Peter lifted his voice,
As the Church of Jesus Christ was restored to the earth 183 years ago, the Lord’s charge to His small band of disciples echoed His words spoken centuries before: “The voice of warning shall be unto all people.” “For, verily, the sound must go forth … into all the world, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.”
“All people”? “All the world”? “The uttermost parts of the earth”? Was it possible?
The Savior reassured His Latter-day Saints, but could they foresee the reach and destiny of this marvelous work? They must have wondered if miracles really would accompany them in spreading the gospel.
Again, faith overcame doubt, and thousands were baptized.
Our day is no different.
Our day is a remarkable time of miracles.
Faith overcame doubt, and young men and women moved forward.
President Thomas S. Monson has said: “We take most seriously the Savior’s mandate …, ‘Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’” “This … cause … will continue to go forth, changing and blessing lives. … No force in the entire world can stop the work of God.”
We are witnessing the miracles of the Lord as His gospel is spreading across the world.
Brothers and sisters, as surely as the Lord has inspired more missionaries to serve, He is also awakening the minds and opening the hearts of more good and honest people to receive His missionaries. You already know them or will know them. They are in your family and live in your neighborhood. They walk past you on the street, sit by you in school, and connect with you online. You too are an important part of this unfolding miracle.
Our desire to share the gospel takes all of us to our knees, and it should, because we need the Lord’s help.
With the confusion and commotion of today’s world, it’s not surprising that fewer people are attending their places of worship. Although many want to be closer to God and to better understand the purpose of life, they have unanswered questions. Many have hearts open to the truth, but as the prophet Amos described, “they [are running] to and fro [seeking] the word of the Lord, and [cannot] find it.” You can help answer their questions. In your everyday conversations you can add to their faith in Christ.
Opportunities will open to you. Faith will overcome doubt, and the Lord will bless you with your very own miracles.
For those using the Internet and mobile phones, there are new ways to invite others to “come and see.” Let’s make sharing our faith online more a part of our daily life.
Pray to your Heavenly Father. This is His sacred work. He will guide you in what to do. He will open doors, remove roadblocks, and help you overcome obstacles. The Lord declared, “The voice of warning shall be unto all people, by the mouths of my disciples, … and none shall stay them.”
I testify that “the voice of the Lord [shall be] unto the ends of the earth, that all that will hear may hear.” It’s a miracle. It is a miracle. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Trial Of Your Faith
Peter later encouraged others: “Think it not strange,” he said, “concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.”
These fiery trials are designed to make you stronger, but they have the potential to diminish or even destroy your trust in the Son of God and to weaken your resolve to keep your promises to Him. These trials are often camouflaged, making them difficult to identify. They take root in our weaknesses, our vulnerabilities, our sensitivities, or in those things that matter most to us. A real but manageable test for one can be a fiery trial for another.
How do you remain “steadfast and immovable” during a trial of faith? You immerse yourself in the very things that helped build your core of faith: you exercise faith in Christ, you pray, you ponder the scriptures, you repent, you keep the commandments, and you serve others.
When you are faced with a test of faith, stay within the safety and security of the household of God. There is always a place for you here. No trial is so large we can’t overcome it together.
By definition, trials will be trying. There may be anguish, confusion, sleepless nights, and pillows wet with tears. But our trials need not be spiritually fatal. They need not take us from our covenants or from the household of God.
Like the intense fire that transforms iron into steel, as we remain faithful during the fiery trial of our faith, we are spiritually refined and strengthened.
With faith come trials of faith, bringing increased faith.
What Thinks Christ of Me?
Jesus asked the Pharisees, “What think ye of Christ?” In the final assessment, our personal discipleship will not be judged by friends or foes. Rather, as Paul said, “We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” At that day the important question for each of us will be, “What thinks Christ of me?”
Being a disciple in these days of destiny will be a badge of honor throughout the eternities.
The Savior responds to our acts of faith.
Our journey of discipleship is not a dash around the track, nor is it fully comparable to a lengthy marathon. In truth, it is a lifelong migration toward a more celestial world.
Wherever you now find yourself on the road of discipleship, you are on the right road, the road toward eternal life. Together we can lift and strengthen one another in the great and important days ahead. Whatever the difficulties confronting us, the weaknesses confining us, or the impossibilities surrounding us, let us have faith in the Son of God, who declared, “All things are possible to him that believeth.”
Jesus told the leader of the synagogue, “Be not afraid, only believe.” Discipleship is believing Him in seasons of peace and believing Him in seasons of difficulty, when our pain and fear are calmed only by the conviction that He loves us and keeps His promises.
By His grace He will do for you what you cannot do for yourself.
I witness that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. He suffered and died for our sins and rose the third day. He is resurrected. In a future day, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He is the Christ. On that day, our concern will not be, “Do others consider me Christian?” At that time, our eyes will be fixed on Him, and our souls will be riveted on the question, “What thinks Christ of me?” He lives. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Children: "I testify of the great blessing of children and of the happiness they will bring us in this life and in the eternities."
Preparing the World for the Second Coming: "Your mission will be a sacred opportunity to bring others to Christ and help prepare for the Second Coming of the Savior."
Never Leave Him: As you choose not to be offended or ashamed, you will feel His love and approval. You will know that you are becoming more like Him.