Keep True to the Faith
Brothers and sisters, it’s a treat for me to be here with you today. I appreciate the choir. I was thinking as they were singing, it reminded me of a great-great-grandfather who built this building in which we are meeting—Henry Grow. He also designed the roof of the Tabernacle. So I feel at home—welcome to our family’s home, right? This is our house. It’s good to be here.
As I listened to that organ, it made me think of a privilege I have. I play the organ for our sacred meetings that we have in the temple with the First Presidency and the Twelve and the other general authorities on the first Thursday of every month. And that’s a sacred privilege. I appreciate the music very much.
President Richards, thank you for inviting me, or encouraging the First Presidency and the Twelve to send somebody—they assigned me, so thank you. Brother Cush, Sister Cush—I met them in Mexico. As you heard, I was the area president in the Mexico North Area as a general authority. I met them there, so it’s fun to see them here today. I appreciate the others here on the stand who are supporting us here today.
I thought about my dad and this building. My dad—I asked him, “How did you become an accountant? Why did you go into accounting?” He said he went to the university after being in the military in World War II. He had thought about being an architect like Henry Grow, my great-great-grandfather. So he signed up for that, but he found out that the equipment that you had to have to be an architect was about $200, and way back then that was a lot of money, back in the ’40s. And to be an accountant, all you needed to have was a pencil. And so that’s why he chose to go into accounting instead of architecture.
Now, I followed my dad’s lead, not by choice. I always thought I would be—I was a statistics major, and then went into economics, and eventually ended up in accounting in a roundabout way—and had the privilege of serving as an accountant for many, many years, and also here at Church headquarters as the chairman of the Church Audit Committee, for many years working directly with the First Presidency.
So it’s fun to be here with you today. I was thinking as the president was talking—talking about Tweets made me think of something. You know, we have in General Conference—you also heard I serve on the Communications Services Committee, as well as the Family History Committee. And we are kind of like the air traffic controllers for all of the media—all the media that goes out from Church headquarters. And President Richards talked about Tweets, and it reminded me of an experience. I was sitting on the stand in General Conference three-and-a-half years ago, nearly four now, when President Monson made the announcement regarding the reduction in age of missionaries.
First, he stated that the young men, instead of having to wait until age 19, could now go at 18. So we sat in those red chairs and looked out over that 22,000-member congregation, and so I watched all of the conversation taking place as he made that announcement. And then he made the announcement that the young women, instead of having to wait to age 21, could go at 19. And there was a big murmur through the congregation.
You may not realize it, but we monitor Tweets during General Conference. And during that announcement, just that first couple of minutes after that announcement, we had over 4,000 Tweets. I got a real kick out of one from a young man, probably a returned missionary, in reference to these young ladies going out earlier. He Tweeted out—it was for the brethren—and this is what he said. He said, “It’s time to get married, brethren; they’re all about to disappear.”
And they did! I served in the Area Presidency down in Lima, Peru, and we supervised—our closing prayer is from a person from Colombia—we supervised Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia. We had thirty missions there and 6,000 missionaries, and over 2,000 sisters. So as I served there, I had the privilege of serving with many, many sister missionaries, as well as elders.
How many of you are returned missionaries? Raise your hand. [Audience members raise their hands.] And if you are not a returned missionary, how many of you are planning on going on a mission? [Audience members raise their hands.] Good. Good for you. One of the greatest experiences in my life as a young man was to serve a mission in Mexico. You know, it is interesting—I think the Lord has a sense of humor. I thought I’d counsel the Lord; I’m from German ancestry—the name Grow may not sound very Germanic, but it was Groh and Grau, and then Anglicized here in the US.
I thought, well, being from German ancestry, and I thought Germany was a beautiful place and it would be fun to serve a mission there, so I decided to take German. So, I took German in high school. So, I put in my mission papers, and the Lord assigned me to Mexico. And it’s interesting how the Lord does things. That’s been a remarkable privilege for me. Latin America has been a major part of my life since living there more than twelve years as a general authority and as a mission president.
Now the name Grow, and the name that I have—C. Scott Grow—I’ll tell you why I use that initial instead of the full name. The first time my name was sustained in General Conference, they sustained me as Cecil Scott Grow. Cecil is my father’s name. He never intended for me to go by that name; I was always Scott. So after the conference session, I was out in the congregation in the Tabernacle, and a woman came up to me. I was 47; she was obviously in her 70s. She, thinking that I was my father, having heard the name Cecil sustained, she came up to me and said, “Cecil, it’s been so long since I have seen you in high school.” And I thought, “It’s longer than you think.” I decided from that moment forward that I would be me and let my dad be him, and so I would be Scott, and then they like us to use an initial, so I use the initial C. So here I am C. Scott Grow.
Now, many folks think that’s a funny name. In fact, my wife says that I’m the only person she knows whose name is a sentence. And she said years ago she had a mailman come to the house and brought a letter and it said “C. Scott Grow,” and he came up, rang the doorbell, talked to her, and said, “I just have to tell you, your husband has a very funny name.” And she kind of said to herself, “You didn’t have to tell me that.”
You know, my parents should have known better because my father’s name is Cecil Wood Grow. Now, Wood is W-O-O-D, but it’s a sentence—Cecil would grow, and he is 6’ 3”. And I’m shorter than he is. My mother’s name is Elsie May Grow, but she is only 5’ 2”. She didn’t make it.
Well, enough about names. I appreciate the opening hymn that we sang, “True to the Faith.” I remember as a kid—I don’t know about you, but as a young kid I always wanted to be faithful in the Church. I hope you’ve always felt that way. I remember just about five or six years old singing the hymn, “Joseph’s First Prayer.”
Oh, how lovely was the morning…
and then He comes to that point:
“Joseph, this is My Beloved;
Hear Him!” Oh, how sweet the word!
When I heard that song sung, even as a little kid, a testimony came into my heart that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God. And then as I got older, the song “True to the Faith” got my attention.
True to the faith that our parents have cherished,
True to the truth for which martyrs have perished,
To God’s command,
Soul, heart, and hand,
Faithful and true we will ever stand.
And that is what I wanted to be, faithful and true forever.
Now, there is a scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 52:14 that says that “Satan is abroad in the land” and goes about “deceiving the nations.” And therefore, the Lord says, “I will give you a pattern in all things, that ye may not be deceived.”
So, today I want to talk about some patterns of faith that will help you remain true to the faith. I want to begin—before I get into those patterns, I want to talk about what is conversion. The missionary emphasis now in the Missionary Department is to teach repentance, baptize converts. What is a convert? What’s somebody that is really converted?
I was looking at that the other day and looking at 3 Nephi. It says: “And it came to pass that from this time forth there began to be lyings sent forth among the people,” sent forth by Satan. Remember, Satan is abroad—always has been. It’s been a long time, thousands of years. Satan is abroad deceiving the nations. He is an accuser of the Brethren from the beginning. “Sent forth among the people, by Satan, to harden their hearts, to the intent that they might not believe.”
Now before I continue reading that verse, I think it is Doctrine and Covenants 29:7, you returned missionaries know it. “You are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts.” So, here we talk about Satan trying to get hearts hardened, and the people need to hear the voice of the Lord. In verse 17 of that same section, the Lord says: “For behold, my blood shall not cleanse them if they hear me not.” And how do we hear Him? It’s when we respond to Him.
So this verse, 3 Nephi 1:22, goes on—the lyings that are sent forth by Satan “to harden the hearts” so they wouldn’t believe. But it says that the people who are “converted unto the Lord” believed and did not fall away.
Now there’s another reference, and I want you to think about that phrase “converted unto the Lord.” Not just converted unto the Church, or unto the programs, or anything else, but converted unto the Lord. As we look in Alma 23:6, it also talks about those who were the converts of Ammon, sometimes called the people of Ammon or the Anti-Nephi-Lehites. This verse talks about their conversion. It says,
And as sure as the Lord liveth, so sure as many as believed, or as many as were brought to the knowledge of the truth, through the preaching of Ammon and his brethren, according to the spirit of revelation and of prophecy, and the power of God working miracles in them—yea, I say unto you, as the Lord liveth, as many of the Lamanites as believed in their preaching, and were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away.
Let me just take a little aside there and go the next chapter. Those converted Lamanites were in such a precarious situation with other Lamanites that were coming in overpowering the Nephite nation, and the Nephites were protecting these thousands of converted Lamanites who had, as you recall, made a solemn oath with God and buried their swords, made a covenant that they would never take up their swords again. And converted Lamanites, feeling that they needed to help the Nephites, were on the point of taking up those swords again. And then their king counseled them, and reminded them of the covenant that they had made. And listen to his words. He said:
I also thank my God, yea, my great God, that he hath granted unto us that we might repent of these things, and also that he hath forgiven us . . . and taken away the guilt from our hearts, through the merits of his Son.
“And now behold, my brethren, since it has been all we could do . . . to repent of all our sins and the many murders which we have committed, and to get God to take them away from our hearts, for it was all we could do to repent sufficiently before God that he would take away our stain.
Now, there is a scripture in 2 Nephi 25:23, and you’ve heard it quoted frequently: “that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” Sometimes our non-member friends accuse us of thinking that we can earn our way into heaven, that we do all that we can, and then Jesus will make up the difference. In fact, I’ve heard LDS people teach that. I don’t believe it for a minute.
Here’s what I do believe: that Jesus Christ bore the sins of all mankind, all the pains and sorrows, everything. And the scriptures say that “he descended below all things” so that he could put all things beneath his feet. He did it all, 100%. So if He did it all, what can we do? What does that mean? It is by His “grace that we are saved, after all we can do”—and all we can really do is repent and then be obedient to His commandments. Then we are saved by His grace. By saved I mean the whole sense of it: receiving the ordinances, keeping the covenants—including the temple—and being exalted.
Now, with that little background of being converted unto the Lord, let’s go back to these patterns of faith that will help us remain true to the faith. Remember in Primary or in Young Men or Young Women, you always gave a pat answer even if you weren’t paying attention; you could give this answer, right? Whatever the teacher asked, the answer could be either “Read,” “Pray,” or “Attend church.” That was safe.
So I want to talk about those three but in a very much more profound way than just the reading. First, number one, I want to talk about the first pattern of faith that will help you remain true to the faith— which would be that of scripture study. We are admonished to “feast upon the word of Christ” in 2 Nephi. And then that verse tells us that the scriptures, the words of Christ, “will tell [us] all things what [we] should do.” And then a couple of verses later it goes on to say that the Holy Ghost will show us all things that we should do.
So, as we study the scriptures, we receive the Spirit, and the Spirit helps us to interpret what we have read and sustain us when we need to be sustained. So I’m not just talking about reading chronologically. I’d also encourage you to study the doctrine by topic. In my index here in the back of my triple combination, I’ve gone through many, many topics and studied every single reference and then underlined those that really had profound significance for me. So on any given topic, if I hear it discussed in a meeting or whatever, scriptures begin to come to my mind. So the Lord preaches His own sermon to me and I recognize His voice because I have become familiar with His voice as I studied the scriptures.
Now, the scripture that I have found that is the most effective and critical is the Book of Mormon. I’ve had many meetings over the 21 years I have been serving in this capacity—many meetings with new converts. I find that the new converts who are still active in those meetings—those are the active ones—they come, and I ask them about the Prophet Joseph and what they think about the First Vision, or I ask them about the Book of Mormon. And I hear testimony after testimony that it is the Book of Mormon and their witness of that that has kept them true to the faith.
In Doctrine and Covenants 17:6 the Lord Himself talks about Joseph and the translation. He says, talking about the part that Joseph has translated—and then the Savior Himself says, “As your Lord and your God liveth it is true.” God Himself bears witness that the Book of Mormon is true.
Now, as a family, when we were young marrieds, we tried to get in the habit of reading the Book of Mormon everyday as a family. We tried for a few years and failed—you know how you try and fail, try and fail. Eventually, when our oldest was about seven, we got to the point where it stuck, and we had a habit. And with that habit then, every morning—we found that the best time to read was in the early morning because there were no conflicts. We didn’t have early morning seminary, so the kids had to get up really early. At 5:45 we would get up as a family and read. I remember that our youngest, when she was just two, would get up with us because she wanted to “read” with the family. She wanted to be part of the family. So there was a bonding and binding taking place with the family, but more importantly than that, the children were being bound to the Lord as they would read the Book of Mormon every morning. We found that was the best thing to do. The scriptures are great, but the Book of Mormon is the converting tool.
Now, our kids have been easily entreated. We didn’t have to preach to them much—in fact, not much at all. We would counsel with them, but I think the reason they were so easily entreated is that every morning they would hear the word of God and become familiar with His voice, so that during the day if there were temptations that would come, as the Holy Spirit would speak to them, they recognized the voice because they became familiar with that very voice in the morning as they heard the voice of the Lord as revealed to prophets and apostles in the scriptures.
There is a scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 11:21 given to Hyrum in 1829. It says, “Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and . . . if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.” I think of that as a mathematical formula: spirit plus work equals the power of God. And the word He was referring to—the Savior was in this reference—was the Book of Mormon. That’s why it says seek not to declare it until ye first obtain it. The Book of Mormon was in the process of translation. Then you go and teach it and testify. The Book of Mormon is the great tool of the restoration. It is the scripture of the restoration, which leads to the conversion of the restored Church of Jesus Christ in these days.
Let me share with you something from Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who gave his last conference talk in 1985. He died 11 days later. Those of us that are old enough tend to remember that. Any of you remember that talk? Can you remember any words that he said, anybody?
President J. Lawrence Richards: It was something akin to, in a future day, I will bathe the Savior with my tears, but I know now as much as I would know then that He lives.
Elder Grow: Perfect. You see? Everybody that heard that talk can say that. He said, “In a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears. But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son.” Eleven days later he had that opportunity to be before the Savior. It’s a final witness. Those who heard the talk tend to remember that part, but most don’t remember how he began his talk.
I’ll paraphrase: He said, “I’m going to quote a bunch of scriptures.” That’s kind of how he began. If you read the talk, it’s scripture after scripture after scripture, and then His witness at the end. Now, he said, “You think that these were revelations that were given to other prophets and apostles.” He said, “Truly, they were given to other prophets and apostles in the first place, but I have studied them to such an extent”—and here’s the point—“I have studied them to such an extent that they are now mine.” So when he bore his witness, he was revealing his very soul of those eternal truths that had become a part of who Elder McConkie was.
I would encourage you in your personal study to study the doctrine to such an extent—don’t just read chronologically. I do that every morning, read the Book of Mormon chronologically. But when I study, I study by topic. And then as you do study, those doctrines will become part of you. They will become who you really are.
Second point. That’s the first one—read the scriptures and study the doctrine. Second point: prayer. When we talk of prayer, I want to talk about the Prophet Joseph and that first prayer again. Remember he said that the scripture in James came with great power. It seemed to enter with a force into every feeling of his being, and that’s what prompted him to go and pray vocally for the first time. And then that great epiphany, that great revelation that came. And I’ve often wondered, why did that scripture—we’ve read other scriptures in the Bible—why did that scripture have such an impact on him?
It was the epistle of James, which is a letter from James, and I looked at how James began that letter. Then I looked at all the other epistles in the New Testament—all the other epistles that are either sent to a congregation, like the Corinthians, or they are sent to an individual, like Timothy. Except for this epistle, this letter, the letter of James—James begins by saying, “James, a servant of . . . the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes [of Israel] . . . scattered abroad” throughout the globe. Where do you send that letter? I’m convinced that the Lord foreordained that letter to be sent to the heart and soul of the boy Joseph Smith so that it would be the catalyst to the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in these latter days.
Now, your prayers and mine may not be that earth-shattering as Joseph’s was, but for our own salvation, they are every bit as important. We are asked to pray with “all the energy of [our] heart,” that we can be filled with the love of Christ, which is part of “all who are true followers” of the Savior. We are counseled to “watch and pray continually” that we will not be “tempted above that which [we] can bear.”
In Omni, we are invited to offer our “whole souls as an offering,” and to “continue in fasting and praying. . . . And as the Lord liveth”—as you endure to the end—“ye will be saved.” Prayer is a great protection for you. And direction, as well as protection. When you combine scripture study and prayer, revelation flows. The Prophet Joseph said there is no salvation without personal revelation.
Third: attend church. Attending church is not just going to a building. It’s not about social obligation. It’s about an opportunity to demonstrate our faith and our humility to God. I particularly want to tell you about the sacrament as we go to church.
In that sacramental prayer that we have, it begins—each prayer begins by saying “sanctify this bread” or “sanctify this [water].” It’s not just about sanctified bread or water; it’s about the sanctification of your soul. It continues “sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it.” Well, what does it mean to be sanctified?
The Savior said that we are to offer “a broken heart and a contrite spirit” as a sacrifice to Him. As we come to partake of the sacrament, we should come with that broken heart and contrite spirit. Isaiah said that the Lord, the Savior, would be sent to “bind up the broken-hearted,” and the Lord cannot heal a heart unless it has been broken, so He can bind it up and make it whole. We become whole through Him.
As we come with a repentant spirit—for that’s all we can do is to repent and be obedient—then the Lord can literally cleanse our soul and He can even heal us. So we’re not just clean for a moment in time and then may possibly fall back into sin, but we become healed so we have no more disposition to sin or to do evil, even to the point where we cannot look upon sin save it be with abhorrence. Sanctified souls.
Another part the sacrament prayer talks about is that we take His name upon us. I find it interesting that in the very prayer it says those who are willing to take His name upon them. There is no force; that agency is respected even in the very prayer, that we are willing to take His name upon us. What does that mean?
Well, in a figure of speech, it is symbolic of all that the Savior is and all He represents, His very life, His mission, His sinless sacrifice, His perfect sinless life. And so as we take His name upon us, we desire to become like Him. We strive to become like Him and as He is. It also means in that process that we are willing to serve as He did, in whatever calling in the Church the Lord would have us have.
We’re also—in the prayer we commit that we will “always remember Him.” Have you ever wondered why there are two sacramental prayers and not just one? It says that the Lord suffered “both body and spirit.” The bread is an emblem of His body and reminds us of His resurrection. And the water, which used to be the wine—the water is a reminder of His blood, His atoning blood that was shed for us that allows us to be cleansed on conditions of repentance.
And then we commit that we will always remember Him. If we really understand who He is and what He did for us, how can we ever forget Him? So once a week we have an opportunity to come with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and in humility kneel down with Him our own souls—as we sit on a bench—kneel down before the Lord and commit to Him that we will follow Him, and we will do His will, and that we will always remember Him. And thus we can become like Him as we take His image upon our countenances and as we continue as we should.
Now in summary, we’ve talked about three different things, very simple: read, pray, and attend church. But they’re much more profound than that. “Feast upon the word of Christ.” The importance of prayer. And each of those three things, do them as an individual and as a family: family scripture study, family prayer, individual study, individual prayer. And then third, as we attend church and partake of the emblems of His body and His blood we renew our commitment to Him.
I bear my witness that this is the Lord’s Church and kingdom. Every day, I have the privilege of literally eating lunch with those whom you sustain and I sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators. It’s always interesting to see who I get to eat with each day. It’s just the luck of the draw; we have an hour and a half time slot that we can go, and as we go it’s not unusual for me to sit at a table of four with three members of the Twelve and just visit with them. These are wonderful men. But more importantly, they are ordained and anointed servants of the Lord, prophets, seers, and revelators.
Now, there are aspersions against the Prophet Joseph Smith and even against our current leaders. But as I think of the Prophet, I think of the appearance of Moroni in September 21, 1823 when Moroni came to Joseph—remember when he prayed to know his standing before the Lord—and Moroni prophesied that Joseph’s name would be known for good and for evil throughout the world. This was a 17-year-old kid, two years of education, poor, and of no consequence to anybody in the world—and yet it was prophesied that his name should be known for good and evil throughout the world.
I’ve been all over the world, from Russia to Mongolia to China to Japan and the islands of the Pacific and to South America and Africa and Europe and Eastern Europe and everywhere. And you hear the name of Joseph Smith being maligned or respected. What a wonderful fulfillment of prophecy.
I testify that Joseph is a prophet, that he is the prophet of the Restoration. I testify that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, was translated by the gift and power of God, and that a man can get closer to God by reading it and abiding by its precepts, than by any other book, as Joseph Smith said. I love the Book of Mormon. I love the Book of Mormon. It is the great tool of conversion not just to join the Church, but to be converted day after day after day.
I testify that Jesus Christ is our Savior and our Redeemer, that in that garden called Gethsemane He knelt in anguish of soul and poured out His soul, His whole soul, as an offering unto God in your behalf and mine.
Years ago my wife and I went to that garden called the Garden Tomb, another one in Jerusalem, where the body of Christ was laid. Some of our prophets have been there and said that they had that confirmation that that’s where it is. It’s a cave, and you see a large slab of rock—the length of a man, the width of a man—and to think that He who, under the direction of His Father, created the very earth upon which I was standing as I looked at that slab of rock, that the Savior would condescend to give His very life and to suffer both body and spirit for you and me was an overwhelming feeling.
As my wife and I stepped out of that little tomb and looked into the empty tomb, I seemed to hear the words of two angels across the millennia: “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen” from the dead, as He said.
I bear my solemn witness that He has risen from the dead. If we were to see Him here with us today, we would see Him as a resurrected man, a glorified resurrected being, retaining in His hands and in His side and in His feet the emblems of His love.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
God loves you. He does not condemn you. And the Savior’s arms are continually extended to you and to me, that we will come unto Him and be perfected in His doctrine, in His life, by His example, and through His eternal love.
There’s another hymn I love: “I Know That My Redeemer Lives.” And the concluding verse:
Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives:
“I know that my Redeemer lives!”
And I so testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
 “True to the Faith,” Hymns, no. 254.
 “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer,” Hymns, no. 26.
 “True to the Faith,” Hymns, no. 254.
 3 Nephi 1:22.
 Alma 24:10–11.
 D&C 88:6.
 2 Nephi 25:23.
 2 Nephi 32:3.
 2 Nephi 32:5.
 Bruce R. McConkie, “The Purifying Power of Gethsemane,” April 1985 General Conference.
 McConkie, “The Purifying Power of Gethsemane.”
 See McConkie, “The Purifying Power of Gethsemane.”
 Joseph Smith History—1:11–14
 James 1:1.
 Moroni 7:48.
 Alma 13:28.
 Omni 1:26.
 See “Chapter 16: Revelation and the Living Prophet,” Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (2011), p. 192–205.
 Moroni 4:3.
 Moroni 5:2.
 Moroni 4:3.
 3 Nephi 9:20.
 D&C 138:42.
 See Mosiah 5:2.
 See Alma 13:3.
 Moroni 4:3.
 Moroni 4:3.
 D&C 19:18.
 See Alma 5:14,19.
 2 Nephi 32:3.
 See Joseph Smith—History 1:28–33.
 See Book of Mormon introduction.
 Luke 24:5–6.
 John 3:16–17.
 “I Know that My Redeemer Lives,” Hymns, no. 136.