I am continuing in my quest to study the seventy General Conference addresses given by Elder Russell M. Nelson between the time that he became an Apostle and when he became the President of the Church. I was about ten days into my journey of reading his talks when I was prompted to start over and take notes on them. I was obedient and started over. I discovered the genius in the counsel to take notes because I have used them numerous times. I will use them again to share some of the insights that I gained in my study.
In April 1987 Elder Nelson spoke on the topic of “Life after Life.” He spoke of being approached to share some of the life-after-death experiences that he witnessed as a doctor. He declined to do it because of privacy issues and the sacredness of the experiences. He continues by saying, “To me, much more logical and convincing would be a study of well-documented and carefully witnessed evidences of life after life.” He then proceeds to discuss nineteen different times that Jesus Christ appeared to individuals or groups of individuals after His Resurrection. He mentions thirteen times to His associates in the Holy Land, three times to the Nephites, five times to the dead, three times to the Lost Tribes, and three definite times – plus “numerous other times” – in this dispensation. He then closes his remarks: “This great priesthood power of resurrection is vested in the Lord of this world…. But obedience to the commandments of God is requisite if one is to be resurrected with a celestial body.”
In October 1987 Elder Nelson spoke on the topic of “Lessons from Eve.” He begins his address by stating, “Without women, the whole purpose of the creation of this world would be vain.” He continues, “The very purpose of creation was to provide bodies, to enable these eagerly awaiting spirits to enjoy mortal life and experiences.” He speaks of priesthood and then adds, “Thus, priesthood is the power of God. Its ordinances and covenants are to bless men and women alike. By that power, the earth was created…. But, in spite of the power and glory of creation to that point, the final link in the chain of creation was still missing. All the purposes of the world and all that was in the world would be brought to naught without woman – a keystone in the priesthood arch of creation.” He then launches into the body of his addresses: “From our study of Eve, we may learn five fundamental lessons of lasting importance: (1) She labored beside her companion (see Moses 5:1). (2) She and Adam bore the responsibilities of parenthood (see Moses 5:2). (3) She and her partner worshipped the Lord in prayer (see Moses 5:4).
(4) She and Adam heeded divine commandments of obedience and sacrifice (see Moses 5:5, 6).
(5) She and her husband taught the gospel to their children (see Moses 5:12). He then elaborated on the five lessons from Eve.
In April 1988 Elder Nelson spoke on the topic of “With God Nothing Shall Be Impossible.” He begins his talk by discussing the challenges faced by people in biblical times, by Joseph Smith and his associates, and by other people in accomplishing seemingly impossible tasks. He quotes Matthew 19:26: “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” He then says, “A century and a half later, the burdening baton of that opportunity has been passed to us…. Challenges lie ahead for the Church and for each member divinely charged toward self-improvement and service.” He asks, “How is it possible to achieve the `impossible’?” and then answers his own question: “Learn and obey the teachings of God. From the holy scriptures, heaven-sent lift will be found for heaven-sent duties. To so achieve, at least three basic scriptural themes loom repeatedly as requirements.” He then discusses those three requirements, the first two being faith in Jesus Christ and focus our vision until we see things as God sees them. He combines two words for the third requirement because they are often linked together in the scriptures – strength and courage. He closes his talk: “Foster your faith. Fuse your focus with an eye single to the glory of God. `Be strong and courageous’ (2 Chron. 32:7), and you will be given power and protection from on high.”
In October 1988 Elder Nelson spoke on the topic of “Addiction or Freedom.” He discusses the problems of addiction to alcohol, drugs, tobacco, and other substances. “The solution to this problem ultimately is neither governmental nor institutional. Nor is it a question of legality. It is a matter of individual choice and commitment…. Often agency [power to choose] is misunderstood. While we are free to choose, once we have made those choices, we are tied to the consequences of those choices. For relief of an ailment, as a doctor of medicine, I might write a prescription. As an ordained Apostle, I would invoke the spiritual blessing of eternal perspective. Combined, my spiritual prescription would return the gift of agency to its rightful owner.” His spiritual prescription includes six choices: (1) Choose to be alive, (2) Choose to believe in God, (3) Choose to change/repent, (4) Choose to be different from the worldly crowd, (5) Choose to exercise the body, the spirit, and faith in God, and (6) Choose to be free from addiction.
In April 1989 Elder Nelson spoke on the topic of “The Canker of Contention.” He quotes Jesus Christ as saying, `Peace I leave with you’ … (John 14:27). He continues: “His peace is not necessarily political; His peace is personal. But that spirit of inner peace is driven away by contention. Contention does not usually begin as strife between countries. More often, it starts with an individual, for we can contend within ourselves over simple matters of right and wrong. From there, contention can infect neighbors and nations like a spreading sore.” He ends his talk with this counsel: “Shun contention. Seek godliness. Be enlightened by eternal truth. Be like-minded with the Lord in love and united with Him in faith.”
In October 1989 Elder Nelson spoke on the topic of “Woman – of Infinite Worth.” He begins, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does more to enlighten understanding about and to lift the cause of women than any other institution on earth. It provides the path to her eternal destiny.” He says, “Each daughter of God is of infinite worth because of her divine mission.” He speaks of the missions of Eve, Sarah, and Mary: “The stories of these and other scriptural heroines show that women are essential in God’s plan for His children. Likewise, men have important but different assignments.” He says that “Blessings of the priesthood are shared by men and women” and “Opportunities for development of spiritual and intellectual potential are equal.” He ends his talk, “A woman’s richest rewards will come as she rises to fulfill her destiny as a devoted daughter of God. To all faithful Saints He has promised thrones, kingdoms, principalities, glory, immortality, and eternal lives. That is the potential for women in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is exalting, everlasting, and divine.”
As you can see, Elder Nelson speaks with power and authority on numerous subjects. While studying his talks, I have gained much knowledge as well as respect for his brilliance of intellect and testimony. I am grateful to know that he is now the Lord’s prophet on earth today.