|ROSWELL, GEORGIA -- November 19, 2001 -- Elder
Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
addressed Latter-day Saints in the Roswell Stake Conference
sessions on November 17-18 in Roswell, Georgia. Elder Oaks
covered a wide range of topics as he counseled members of
the stake during the leadership and general sessions of the
"I have been coming to this part of
the world for 43 years – as a lawyer, then as a university
president, and now as an Apostle," Elder Oaks declared.
"This is a choice land. There are great, God-fearing
people in Georgia. And it is our blessing to share with them
the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ."
During a leadership session, Elder Oaks
facilitated a discussion on how members of the stake could
increase their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In a session
to members of the ward and stake councils, he discussed the
importance of tithing. Quoting Malachi chapter 3, Elder Oaks
declared that entire nations are blessed as their citizens
pay tithes. He challenged church members to share their
testimonies of tithing with their families and with one
In the general session held Sunday
morning, Elder Oaks posed the following question:
"Suppose a servant of the Lord said that the Lord had
come and that you were invited to meet him at 9:00 PM that
evening. What would you do between now and then to prepare
for that meeting?" Elder Oaks then challenged the
Saints to think what might need straightening out in their
lives. "There is not an inexhaustible amount of time.
This is the time to make amends with our fellowmen. This is
the time to serve. This is the time to teach the children
what God expects us to teach them…. This is the time to
share the gospel message with our friends and neighbors.
This is the time."
Elder Oaks also discussed a question he
has received again and again over the years. "We are
often asked, 'How is this church different?' Since we have some
that are here who are not members of our church, and some
new members whom I met prior to this meeting…I would like
to answer that question…. I say our church is complete. It
is complete -- and here are some of the measures of
completeness. We have temples. Ancient Israel had temples.
There was a temple in Jesus’ time. He honored it; he went
there to teach. Where are the temples today in Christianity?
There aren’t any except in this church. Why not? In
temples we perform ordinances for those who are dead. We are
the only Christian denomination that does that. Baptism for
the dead was a practice following Jesus. It was known by the
people of that day. It was so familiar that the Apostle Paul
used that as an argument for the resurrection, in teaching
people the resurrection. ‘Else what shall they do which
are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why
are they then baptized for the dead?’ (1 Corinthians
15:29). Where is that teaching in Christianity today?
Christianity today is incomplete. There was a falling away
– a loss. [There was] a loss of gospel understanding, a
loss of priesthood authority – and that had to be
restored. There is nothing unique about that. It happened
after Adam, and Noah had to restore gospel understanding. It
happened after Noah, and Abraham had to restore gospel
understanding. It happened after Abraham, and Moses had to
restore gospel understanding. And it happened after Moses
and Jesus, coming to fulfill prophecy in the meridian of
time, he restored the fullness of the gospel and preached it….
What this church has that makes it different is a fullness
of the gospel. A revealed understanding of the way God
organized his Church for the growth of his children."
He counseled the youth of the stake to not
defile their bodies. He declared, "One of the things
the Apostle Paul said to the saints in Corinth in one of his
great letters ‘Know ye not that ye are the temple of God,
and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man
defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the
temple of God is holy, which temple ye are’ (1 Corinthians
3:16-17). Our bodies are temples. A temple is the most
sacred thing on the face of the earth. We have a temple of
bricks and mortar that we dedicate to the Lord….But each
of us has in the wonderful body that God has created
something that is also called a temple. Now would anyone in
this audience take a can of spray paint and go over and put
graffiti on the House of the Lord? That would be a
defilement of the temple … [and a] very evil act. None of
us would dream of doing that. Now, Paul warned us against
defiling our own temple. We can defile a temple by
unrighteous acts, but we can also defile our temple by
marking it up. And here I want to say something to young
people: don’t get tattoos. Is that plain enough? God gave
you that body. He didn’t give it to you to paint up….
But there are a lot more serious things, young people, to
defile your body than to get a tattoo. Don’t take things
into your bodies that defile it. Stay away from drugs. Stay
away from alcohol. Stay away from tobacco. Stay away from
things that addict you – that take away part of that
wonderful power of choice that God gave to his children….
Young people, stay away [from those things] and be grateful
that God has given us commandments that protect us…. If we
defile ourselves with substances, if we defile ourselves
with transgressions, the spirit of the Lord leaves and we no
longer have [the Spirit] to guide us."
In every session, Elder Oaks closed with
his personal testimony of the Savior. "I testify to you
that this is His church. I testify of Christ who is our
Savior. Because of His resurrection we have the certainty of
immortality --- that is a gift to everyone…. But there is
more than immortality. There is eternal life – the
greatest of all the gifts of God, the glory of the sun, the
potential to have the ‘stature of the fullness of Christ’
(Ephesians 4:13) as the Bible says. I testify to you that
that gift is available through the doctrine and the
authority in this church. And I pray God will bless us, that
we may follow the teachings of the Book of Mormon prophet
Benjamin [who declared in Mosiah 4:10], ‘Now if ye believe
these things, see that ye do them.’"