April 11-15, 2023
"How Often Will I Gather You"
Our theme this year focuses on the willingness of God, in the name of Jesus Christ, to gather us to Himself. Only in this state of being gathered are the greatest blessings of God the Father made available to us through the covenant over which He presides.
We live in a day when evil in its corporate, visible form has become manifest in the world. The secret works of darkness are not so secret anymore. The Book of Mormon describes a period in history which seems to parallel the days in which we live. It is found in 3 Nephi chapters 1 and 2, where there were three main groups of people described: the Nephites, the Lamanites and the Gaddiantons.
The Gaddiantons were robbers, people who were gathered together according to the secret oaths and fellowship of the devil. These groups infiltrated the government and commerce on the one hand, while stealing and killing on the other hand. As they gained strength, they came out of the shadows in boldness, with many threats to the remainder of the Nephite and Lamanite population.
For generations, the Nephites and Lamanites had been adversaries. When they realized the common threat of the Gaddiantons, they agreed to labor together against their mutual foe. Among the Nephites and Lamanites were found believers in Christ and unbelievers. Neither society had a claim of superiority to make.
The story unfolds in 3rd Nephi 2 where the people who were not Gaddiantons submitted themselves to be led by revelation and to act in the wisdom God gave them. Eventually, God allowed them to prevail over the Gaddiantons, although after many years and with much sacrifice. All of this took place less than 20 years before the coming of Jesus Christ.
The church of Jesus Christ is weak when divided. It is weak when it abandons the word of God and the pure principles of light and truth. This is a day for those who call themselves after the name of Jesus to seek the Lord's blessing in gathering, not in division and separation.
There are many expressions of the Restoration in existence today. Most are relatively small, but even the larger elements feel the encroachment of new thought and dissatisfaction with "ancient" scripture which affects the integrity of the body of Christ. The lure of social justice and personal freedom of expression are drawing many away from the pure worship of the Father in the name of Jesus Christ, or as John wrote, "in spirit and in truth."
This year's General Conference has work to do regarding the essential business of the conference. There is also time for worship in prayer, study and instruction in the word of God. We invite the Saints to gather with us at this General Conference. We invite you to yield to the spirit of gathering and the call of the Spirit to be one (D&C 38:6). Remember the lesson of the Book of Mormon: there are Gaddiantons around us, but Jesus Christ is coming again. This is the sure word of faith.
We extend the hand of welcome to the Saints to attend and participate with us in conference.
In Gospel Bonds,
Gary R. Whiting
2023 General Conference President