When the text for the October 2023 general conference was made available earlier this month, I started looking through the footnotes for each message. As I did so, I noticed a pattern: I had heard speakers reference President Nelson’s talks during conference, but I was surprised to see just how often his name came up as references for other thoughts the speakers shared.
Though many of us learned the song “Follow the Prophet” as children in Primary, looking at the sources for these leaders’ talks testified to me that they have also taken its message to heart. Here is one talk from conference that referenced President Nelson in the footnotes that was especially insightful for me.
This was one of the first talks of general conference, and its message was incredibly poignant. Do we really know Christ? Or is it hard for us to recognize Him as a person? Am I spiritually face-blind?
It seems clear not only from his talk but also from the talk’s footnotes that Elder Robert M. Daines is not face-blind to our Savior. Using the words of our prophet, Elder Daines reminded us of the importance of coming to know God and wanting to live with Him again, not just to get to heaven again.
Throughout his talk, Elder Daines referenced several President Nelson addresses, including “The Answer Is Always Jesus Christ” (2023), “Christ Is Risen; Faith in Him Will Move Mountains” (2021), and “The Everlasting Covenant” (2022). I especially appreciated the extra reminders from our prophet included after the following statement: “We’re not finished [seeking God’s face] until we see Jesus as the face of our Father’s love and follow Him, not just His rules.” The footnote reads:
“This is an important theme. It’s not just the work of salvation and exaltation but His work of salvation and exaltation (see General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1.2, Gospel Library). I don’t just go to a temple but to the house of the Lord; it’s not the Mormon Church but the Church of Jesus Christ (see Russell M. Nelson, “The Correct Name of the Church,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2018, 87–89). Our leaders point us to Him and even remind us that there “is no amorphous entity called ‘the Atonement’ upon which we may call for succor, healing, forgiveness, or power. Jesus Christ is the source” (Russell M. Nelson, “Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2017, 40).
There is something striking about tying together these two separate thoughts given at separate times by our prophet. The main messages of these talks might seem different—using the correct name of the Church versus the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ—but Elder Daines bridges the two messages, reminding me that President Nelson also knows His Savior Jesus Christ and is constantly pointing our vision and efforts back to Him.
Later in his talk, Elder Daines brings in another important, interconnected theme: getting to know, love, and serve God’s children. Elder Daines shares, “This Church is a work party of people with picks and shovels trying to help clear the channel for the river of God’s love to reach His children at the end of the row. Whoever you are, whatever your past, there is room for you in this Church.” The footnote inserted here contains a reminder from President Nelson about being peacemakers and avoiding labeling others.
What I find most interesting about this particular footnote, however, is that the talk referenced (“Blessed Are the Peacemakers”) was given in 2002—long before President Nelson was the prophet. To me, this illustrates the fact that sometimes the words of a prophet might seem new, but really, we have heard these messages before, and we may need lots of reminders before that message sticks. Knowing that President Nelson has addressed the topic of being a peacemaker for so long tells me that it is an important principle to our beloved prophet and that it is an important principle that I—and we—need to better learn and practice in order to come to know our Savior.
▶ You may also like: How heeding prophets’ counsel changed President Russell M. Nelson’s life
This was not the only talk overflowing with reminders of the teachings of President Nelson. I believe the words of our living prophet are on the minds of all our leaders, and they want to help us learn from and remember them, too. And the best way to do that is to read his words again.
To help you get started, I have compiled a list of both past and recent talks, articles, or books from President Russell M. Nelson that were found in the October 2023 general conference footnotes. I look forward to studying them and hope you will too!
- “The Answer Is Always Jesus Christ” (May 2023, referenced twice)
- “Christ Is Risen; Faith in Him Will Move Mountains” (May 2021)
- “The Correct Name of the Church” (November 2018, referenced four times)
- “Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives” (April 2017)
- “The Everlasting Covenant” (October 2022, referenced three times)
- “Blessed Are the Peacemakers” (November 2002)
- “Choices for Eternity” (May 2022, referenced five times)
- “Let God Prevail” (November 2020, referenced five times)
- “As We Go Forward Together” (April 2018)
- “Hope of Israel” (June 2018, referenced twice)
- “Children of the Covenant” (May 1995)
- Heart of the Matter: What 100 Years of Living Have Taught Me by President Russell M. Nelson (Available now at Deseret Book)
- “Come, Follow Me” (May 2019, referenced twice)
- “Overcome the World and Find Rest” (November 2022, referenced 10 times)
- “Hear Him” (May 2020, referenced twice)
- “Peacemakers Needed” (April 2023, referenced 10 times)
- “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives” (May 2018, referenced three times)
- “In Orlando, President Nelson Shares 7 Truths That Have the Power to Change Lives” (June 2019 Church News article)
- “The Mission and Ministry of the Savior: A Discussion with Elder Russell M. Nelson” (June 2005)
- “Senior Missionary Moments” (April 2016)
- “Senior Missionaries and the Gospel” (November 2004, referenced twice)
- Teachings of Russell M. Nelson (2018 book)
- “Joy and Spiritual Survival” (November 2016)
- “We Are All Children of God” (Blog post from May 2021)
- “President Nelson Shares Social Post about Racism and Calls for Respect for Human Dignity” (Church News article from June 2020)
- “Witnesses, Aaronic Priesthood Quorums, and Young Women” (November 2019)
- “President Nelson Introduces New Edition of ‘Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ” (June 2023)
- “We Can Do Better and Be Better” (May 2019, referenced twice)
- “Focus on the Temple” (November 2022)
- “Pure Truth, Pure Doctrine, and Pure Revelation” (November 2021)
- “Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods” (May 1996)
- “Becoming Exemplary Latter-day Saints” (November 2018)
- “Salvation and Exaltation” (May 2008)
- “The Sabbath Is a Delight” (May 2015)
Journals will begin shipping in November.