Friday, October 5, 2012

Preparing for General Conference

Recently I have been studying King Benjamin's speech in the Book of Mormon.  A few thoughts have been impressed upon my mind in preparation for the fast approaching October general conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. First of all, President Uchtdorf has reminded church members that at least three key concepts will help people to prepare to receive the messages that will be given at general conference: 1. Those who listen to and study the messages of general conference are entitled to personal revelation 2. Don't discount a message because it sounds familiar and 3. the words spoken at general conference provide a compass for the coming months.

The entire story of King Benjamin's final days can be read as a type of the general conferences of the church. At the end of his reign, King Benjamin was not only conferring the records upon his son, but he was also conferring stewardship over the kingdom.  King Benjamin had labored diligently to unite his people and to teach them correct principles, and he had labored diligently to establish peace.  Mosiah was prepared to follow in his father's footsteps, but first the Lord commanded that a proclamation be made to the people, and that it be written and distributed among the people.

I could not help but think that, in the same pattern of King Benjamin's testimony of Christ to his people, and his testimony of becoming the children of Christ, there are modern equivalents in the Living Christ and The Family: A Proclamation to the World.  King Benjamin's speech at the temple contains testimony and principles that can help us to prepare our hearts and minds for general conference, and help individuals to apply the teaching of the living prophets.

Not coincidentally, one of the most oft repeated scriptures in general conference comes from King Benjamin's Speech, namely Mosiah 3:19.  Repetition is the law of learning, and I suspect that some of the talks in general conference will refer to this scripture, as well as to the testimonies already given in The Living Christ and The Family: A Proclamation to the World.  As President Uchtdorf has reminded, this repetition is not evidence of a lack of creativity on the part of general authorities.

After his speech, the people were so moved upon by the Spirit of God and the joy of receiving a remission of their sins that they had "no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually" (Mosiah 5:2) They desired to enter into a covenant, and their names were recorded, and they became the children of Christ (Mosiah 5:7).  King Benjamin's people were prepared for such a blessing because they were willing to make and keep the necessary covenants, as also were many of the early pioneers of the church who received this revelation through the Prophet Joseph Smith: "And thus ye shall become instructed in the law of my church, and be asanctified by that which ye have received, and ye shall bind yourselves to act in all holiness before me—" (D&C 43:9)

By following President Uchtdorf's counsel and the patterns set forth by King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon, we are sure to enjoy and appreciate general conference more fully.