The following is excerpted from the Church Newsroom. To read the full article, CLICK HERE

The idea that God speaks to men and women in modern times is an article of faith for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Learning how to discern God’s voice is a frequent topic of discussion among the faithful.

At a devotional in the Marriott Center during Brigham Young University’s Education Week on Tuesday, August 22, 2023, Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave an in-depth sermon on how observation, reason and faith work together to facilitate the discernment of God’s voice — or revelation, as Latter-day Saints call it.

By themselves, observation, reason and faith are unreliable, the Apostle taught. This trio must work together.

“I wish we could transmit faith the way we transmit the common cold,” Elder Renlund said. “We could just sneeze on people and their faith would increase. But that is not how faith grows. … Faith, ‘without works,’ will not amplify itself. Faith will only grow by observation and reasoning, coupled with other spiritual work. In addition, observation, reason, and faith are often prerequisites not only to receive personal revelation but to understand that revelation.”

These truths are illustrated, Elder Renlund said, by Church President Joseph F. Smith’s (1838–1918) experience in 1918 that led to what is now section 138 of the Doctrine and Covenants. President Smith was in poor health. His oldest son and his son’s wife had recently died. World War I was raging. And a deadly strain of influenza was claiming many millions.

As President Smith reflected on the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the redemption of the world through Him, he read from the New Testament about Jesus preaching to those who had died. Then the Holy Spirit “descended upon [President Smith], opening [the] eyes of [his] understanding,” leading to a vision of how the dead are redeemed.

President Smith saw Jesus Christ appear to many righteous people who had died before the Savior’s ministry in the Holy Land. And the president wondered how Jesus could preach to everyone who had died in only the time between His death and Resurrection.

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