In 1997 I gave a presentation to Mormon educators called “The Miracle of the Doctrine and Covenants.” As I studied in preparation for this lecture, I typed the phrase these words into my scripture search program and found ten statements from the Lord about His words and the proper response to them. As I thought about those ten phrases, I decided to search for my words. Again I discovered a number of verses giving great insights into the feelings of the Lord about His words in His scriptures.
Then, later, I tried the phrase, my voice. That search taught me something significant.
The Holy Scriptures (Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price) all make reference to the voice of Christ. And He has a voice. If He were in the room and spoke, your eardrums would resonate with the sound waves His vocal cords created, the amount of resonation depending on the purpose for which He spoke.
The concept of hearing His voice certainly includes this reality. His body has vocal cords and ours have ears. But there is more to this than sound waves-more than the voice of “perfect mildness” in 3 Nephi 11 and more than a sound like the “rushing of great waters” in Doctrine and Covenants 110, and more than the simple spoken voice that Samuel heard in 1 Samuel 3. The Lord has another voice.
He begins the Doctrine and Covenants with His personal preface, and He begins His preface with this:
Hearken. O ye people of my church, saith the voice of him who dwells on high . . . Hearken ye people from afar, and ye that are upon the islands of the sea, listen together. For the voice of the Lord is unto all men . . . (Doctrine and Covenants 1:1, 2)
What form of His voice is “unto all men”? The penetrating whisper? The great rushing of mighty waters? The simple spoken words that sound like the voice of Eli?
In Doctrine and Covenants 25 the Lord explains to Emma Smith and all women what it means to be an elect lady. At the end of that section (25:16) He announces, “
And verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my voice unto all.” What is His voice unto all? The context is perfectly clear. The revelation He has just given is His voice-the voice that “is unto all men.”
The verse that showed me this reality with penetrating clarity was Doctrine and Covenants 84:60 in which the Lord says, “I say unto you which now hear my words, which are my voice . . .” Those who were hearing His words were hearing them read and recited in a meeting of disciples. They were not in the Lord’s presence. Their ears were not responding to the sound waves from His voice.
The message is this: His words in the scriptures are also His voice. The inspired words of the scriptures are more than His words written. They are His voice.
I remember the wonder of hearing the voice of the Astronauts from the moon in 1969. I remember the awe of hearing the voice of President Wilford Woodruff from a recording made in 1888. I remember the joy of hearing the voices of my children as they called home from Chile and the Canary Islands and El Salvador and Puerto Rico. But now I realize that in a literal, divinely defined manner, I have heard the voice of Christ speaking from the sanctuaries of heaven. In Doctrine and Covenants 18:34-36 the Savior said:
These words are not of men nor of man, but of me; wherefore, you shall testify they are of me and not of man; For it is my voice which speaketh them unto you; for they are given by my Spirit unto you, and by my power you can read them one to another; and save it were by my power you could not have them; Wherefore, you can testify that you have heard my voice, and know my words (Doctrine and Covenants 18:34-36).
We have access to the written words of the Savior only because of His Spirit and His power. And those written words are His voice.
I once bore my testimony about my love for the Savior and about His reality in my life. I said, “In a way, I have heard the voice of Christ.” I now know that I was wrong. There was no reason for me to qualify my witness of the sound of His voice by saying “in a way.”
I have heard His voice! The words I have read in the scriptures are as much His voice as any audible words He has ever spoken.
That insight has caused me to construct another phrase for daily direction and contemplation: “Ted, have you heard His voice today?”