Talk Summary: In this talk by Joseph Fielding Smith, he emphasizes the importance of missionary work in spreading the gospel worldwide. He believed that missionaries play a crucial role in bringing peace through the gospel and urged people to seek God’s guidance and follow the leaders of the Church.
Source: Conference Report, April 1953, pp. 19-21
Editor’s Note: This talk is part of The Forgotten Talks series. As we search for the sources of the quotes we use in our newsletter and on our website, we often stumble across popular quotes that are difficult to locate the source of. When this is the case, we will spend the necessary time to uncover the source, if possible. We have discovered that many of these quotes are locked away in talks that haven’t been digitized or are behind a paywall. We make the effort to secure the talk and share it on our website under public domain.
Missionaries Labor to Fulfil Promise
President Joseph Fielding Smith
President of the Council of the Twelve Apostles
Yesterday, with my Brethren, I was in session with some thirty missionary presidents. We heard a report from all in relation to their work and the work of the missionaries who labor under them. At the close of the meeting, and all through the meeting, we felt to rejoice because of the glowing reports that they were able to give to us.
There is one reason why these missionaries go forth and that is to fulfil the promise that was made by our Redeemer that his gospel of the kingdom should be preached in all the world as a witness before the time of his second coming Matt. 24:14 In his discourse as recorded in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew which came in response to the request of his disciples to know concerning his second coming, and the events that would take place before his coming, he told them of the calamities, the distress among the nations, the wars, the rumors of wars, the commotions, men’s hearts failing them, and that they would turn away from the truth JS-M 1:28–30 Luke 21:26 Then speaking of the latter days he said to them:
“And again, because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold; but he that shall not be overcome the same shall be saved.
“And again, this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come, or the destruction of the wicked” JS-M 1:30–31
Fulfilling that prediction that the gospel would again be preached, inferring that there would be a time when it would not be preached and it would have to be restored, these missionaries are going forth and spending their time which is appointed among the nations of the earth.
Unfortunately, because of conditions which cannot be controlled by the Church, our missionary forces are reduced. We need missionaries. It is true today, as it was one hundred years ago, that the field is wide; the harvest is great; but the laborers are few Luke 10:2 Likewise the field is white and ready for the harvest D&C 4:4 In a revelation given to the Church November 1, 1831, the Lord said he would send forth his missionaries, or his servants.
“And the voice of warning shall be unto all people, by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these last days.
“And they shall go forth and none shall stay them, for I the Lord have commanded them.
“Behold, this is mine authority, and the authority of my servants, and my preface unto the book of my commandments, which I have given them to publish unto you, O inhabitants of the earth.
“Wherefore, fear and tremble, O ye people, for what I the Lord have decreed in them shall be fulfilled” D&C 1:4–7
Now the Lord has said that his missionaries shall not be stayed and that they shall go forth until he says the work is finished. In this same revelation he also says this:
“For they [the people of the earth] have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant;
“They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own God, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall.
“Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments;
“And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world; and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets—
“The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh—
“But that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world;
“That faith also might increase in the earth;
“That mine everlasting covenant might be established;
“That the fullness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world, and before kings and rulers” D&C 1:15–23
And so in fulfillment of these promises to the world, our missionaries go forth. No power has been able to stay their hands. It has been tried. Great efforts were made in the very beginning when there was only a handful of missionaries, but the progress of this work could not be stopped. It cannot be stopped now. It must and will go forth that the inhabitants of the earth may have the opportunity of repenting of their sins and receive the remission of their sins and come into the Church and kingdom of God, before these final destructions come upon the wicked, for they have been promised.
There is in the world today distress, turmoil, trouble, commotion, and contention among the nations. There is no peace. There will be no peace until the Prince of Peace comes to bring it. And his warning is to the world to repent D&C 18:41 This I might have read, for it is the first verse of this revelation I have been quoting. The righteous have been called on to come out of Babylon D&C 133:5 or the world, to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ as it has been restored, and find a place in the kingdom of God.
And these missionaries, mostly young men, untrained in the ways of the world, go forth with this message of salvation and confound the great and the mighty, because they have the truth. They are proclaiming this gospel; the honest and sincere are hearing it and are repenting of their sins and coming into the Church. The ungodly will not repent. This truth is also stated in this revelation. They will not repent because today, as in times of old, men love darkness more than light John 3:19 D&C 10:21 D&C 29:44–45
I wish to testify to you, my brethren and sisters, and to all the world, that God lives, that he has spoken again from the heavens, and the heavens have never been closed against those who are honest and true, who earnestly seek the guidance of the Lord. The Lord never closed the heavens. Men closed the heavens and said there should be no more revelation, no more commandments, only those which are in the canon of scripture. It was men who said that, not God. Men have said that the Lord finished his work. They have said there could be no more coming of angels, no more scripture, and that we would have to depend on the dead letter of the law as it is recorded in the books contained within the lids of the Bible. Men are saying that—God did not say it.
And he has restored to us the everlasting gospel and has given us revelation and made known to us many of the plain and important things pertaining to his kingdom—things revealed anciently, and also in the day in which we live, and he will give revelation to this Church from time to time according to the needs of the people, for the heavens are not sealed, only as men have sealed them against themselves.
Let us seek to know his will, hearken to the counsels of the First Presidency of this Church, and the President, who is the mouthpiece, the servant of God, with the authority to receive revelation for the guidance not only of the Latter-day Saints, but also for the people of all the world if they will only hearken to it. The Lord bless you, I pray, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.