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Teachings of Howard W. Hunter Lesson 7: "Continuous Revelation through Living Prophets"

One of the main points I have taken away from this lesson is the privilege that is ours to have living prophets. As you look at some of the quotes from the lesson, try to see your life and what it would be like without a living prophet available in it to make a difference. Where would we really be without continuous revelation?

What is a Prophet?

The definition of what makes a prophet is not cut and dried. For example, all of us should be prophets of a sort. That doesn’t make us THE prophet, but that also doesn’t change the fact that we should also be prophets. Here is President Hunter’s definition of a prophet.

A prophet is one who has been called and raised up by the Lord to further God’s purposes among his children. He is one who has received the priesthood and speaks with authority. Prophets are teachers and defenders of the gospel. They bear witness of the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. Prophets have foretold future happenings, but this is not the most important of their responsibilities, although it may be some evidence of prophetic power.

Are we not all teachers and defenders of the gospel? Should we not all be bearing witness of the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ? We have all been called and raised up in this day and time to help further God’s purposes. We don’t have the responsibility of the living prophet, but we do have to answer to our Lord for every opportunity He has given us to share this gospel with others.

Just as we expect our living prophet to be in constant communication with the Lord, we too are going to be held accountable to God for our efforts to stay in constant contact with the Spirit who guides and leads us to do what we should at any one point in time. But enough about us. Let’s look at the mantle of leadership possessed by the living prophet of God.

Continuous Revelation

“A study of the revelations of the Lord in holy writ confirms the fact that it is continuous revelation that guides prophets and the Church in any age.” This sentence caused me to stop and think a bit. As I look at the Old Testament prophets, I only have their main prophecies to read. It seems almost like they are normal people most of the time, but then when things get bad they suddenly have revelations that steer the people in the right direction.

This goes against the pattern of spirituality we all know. One simply cannot ignore the Lord and mind one’s own business each and every hour of every day then suddenly get super spiritual at a moment’s notice. Spirituality doesn’t work that way. Spirituality is not an event, but a lifestyle. One who is spiritual is living close to the Spirit at all times. They don’t do things that jeopardize their relationship with the Spirit. That isn’t who they are.

We can safely say that all the great prophets of scriptural fame lived pretty close to the Spirit so when the Lord needed to speak to them they were prepared to listen. That means they were living under the influence of the Holy Ghost on a daily basis. This is the very lifestyle we are taught to live. This includes studying the scriptures daily, having daily prayer, and private time to commune with the Lord.

Under Divine Leadership

Some have problems following the prophet because they believe the prophet is “just” a man. Well, he is “just” a man. He is a man like any other man, except that this very mortal man holds the priesthood of God, and has been given, by the laying on of hands, the mantle of apostleship, that of being a prophet, seer, and revelator.

He may be mortal and fallible, but he does not direct the Church. The prophet is the President of the Church, but he is not the head of the Church. The Savior is the head of the Church. The Savior is the one who directs the work and direction of His kingdom. He does this through constant communication with his prophet.

At the head of the Church is Jesus Christ, who directs his prophet. … His counselors [and] the members of the Council of the Twelve … are also prophets, seers, and revelators. … Members of the Church do not have to listen to an uncertain trumpet. They can believe the voice of their leaders, knowing they are guided by the Lord.

The trumpet reference refers back to Old Testament times when the cities were surrounded by walls. If someone was going to attack the city, the guards would blow horns to warn the people of the coming dangers. The horns had to be sounded confidently. Who would take the warning seriously if they sounded timid, like they weren’t sure if they should be sounding an alarm or not? President Hunter assures us that those who have been called as apostles, and that includes the prophet, are always sure of their warnings. We can listen to them with confidence.

These men have been called of God and are directed by Him. When the Brethren give us direction, it comes from the Lord, not from them. They always seek the mind and will of the Lord before they make any decision. Every decision is unanimous before it is announced to the world. There are never dissenting voices to cause an “uncertain sound.”

The Lord has revealed his mind and will to his anointed prophets. There is an unending stream of revelation flowing constantly from the headwaters of heaven to God’s anointed servants on earth.

A Famine in the Land

The Old Testament prophet Amos prophesied that in the last days there would be a famine in the land (Amos 8:11 - 12).

11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:
12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.

Think back on the whole Protestant revolution. People argued over the interpretation of the Bible and couldn’t come to any consensus because there was no such thing as a voice of authority. New churches were set up to follow the teachings of Calvin, Luther, Wesley, and more. Now there are thousands of Christian churches, all teaching their own flavor of Christianity, because the people have been seeking the truth, but couldn’t find it, so they did the best they knew how.

This is the famine Amos spoke of. This is a famine for the word of God. The people have been perishing with spiritual thirst, not knowing where to find the truth. But since the restoration of the gospel of Christ the truth has been among them. As people are able to recognize the truth they join the Lord’s Church and find spiritual rest and are filled by His teachings. This is all thanks to the living prophets.

Prophets for Our Day

Each dispensation has seen prophets who have been raised up by the Lord to address the needs of their day. Every generation has special needs for their time. The prophets are there to give each generation the word and guidance of the Lord to meet the challenges of their day.

In our day we have the breakdown of the family, something unheard of in the whole history of the earth. We recently had policy changes instituted about how the Church would handle same-sex marriages and the children belonging to those homes. President Russell M. Nelson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve, on January 10, 2016 told the whole Church that these changes to the Church’s policy were the mind and the will of the Lord. He explained the process by which the decisions were made, and it involved personal revelation by each and every member of the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency. They all received confirmation of what the Prophet, Thomas S. Monson declared was the will of God.

Final Thoughts

I can’t imagine having to live in any other time of the earth. I can’t imagine having to live out my entire life with no direction from a living prophet. It would be like having to live without any of the modern conveniences or medicines, conveyances or electricity. You wonder how everyone survived without them.

We are so blessed to have living prophets among us. We are never far from the mind and will of the Lord. Each of us has the responsibility to take the pronouncements of the Brethren to the Lord and receive confirmation of their truthfulness, just as the Brethren have received confirmation of the words of the prophet. What a privilege is ours to have such immediate guidance and direction from our loving Father in Heaven.