The answer to every doubt or faith challenge is the gospel of Jesus Christ, Elder Quentin L. Cook told young adults around the world during a broadcast that aired across various Church channels on Sunday, November 19.
“I promise you: If you faithfully read the scriptures, pray and have religious observance in your lives, you will over time find answers to your questions and resolve doubts that may arise from time to time,” said Elder Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
To help him prepare to speak to the young adults of the Church, leaders of Brigham Young University, BYU–Idaho, BYU–Hawaii, Ensign College, BYU–Pathway Worldwide and institutes of religion around the world helped gather questions representing what is most important to today’s Latter-day Saint young adults.
“It was a wonderful process,” Elder Cook said, “and in the end the questions were amazing,” Regardless of young adults’ location in the world, “they are unified in their faith in Jesus Christ “and share similar longings, aspirations and concerns.”
That is true whether a young adult is an institute student in Peru, an engineering student at BYU–Idaho, a BYU–Pathway student in West Africa or a working professional attending institute in Europe, the Philippines, or Utah.
“You are amazing and are such an important part of the future of this Church,” Elder Cook said.
Elder Cook was joined at the devotional by his wife, Sister Mary Cook, as well as Elder Clark G. Gilbert, a General Authority Seventy and the Church commissioner of education, and his wife, Sister Christine Gilbert. The devotional was recorded earlier in the Marriott Center on BYU’s campus in Provo, Utah.
Elder and Sister Cook and Elder and Sister Gilbert addressed questions grouped into five categories of interest to young adults today:
- Facing life and faith challenges
- Love and belonging
- Life planning and life balance
- Standing for truth
- Receiving personal revelation and prophetic guidance
Facing Life and Faith Challenges
Opposition in all things and an adversary who does not want us to have faith in God requires each generation “to discover and obtain their own knowledge and testimony of God” and of their eternal identity, Elder Cook said.
Questions about faith and anxiety about our true identity as children of God have always been present throughout history, Elder Cook said. “But the answer has always been the same. We are all spirit children of the same loving Heavenly Father.”
President Russell M. Nelson “has also encouraged us to not label ourselves or label others,” Elder Cook said, referring to the Prophet’s three designations of identity: child of God, child of the covenant and disciple of Jesus Christ (see “Choices for Eternity,” May 2022 Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults).
“Many of the problems we face would be resolved if we recognized ourselves as children of a loving Heavenly Father.”
Elder Cook explained that individuals who want to destroy faith may try to claim that faith is no longer relevant. They claim that a large number of people have their same views on social issues and are no longer faithful Church members.
The reality is that “youth and young adults are not less active or leaving the Church in higher numbers than in the past, as has been widely circulated,” Elder Cook said. “The number of missionaries called to serve has significantly increased. The percentage of Church participation for the rising generation shows a continuous upward trend. Moreover, the number of young adults attending institute has also been increasing.”
Having doubts is not the problem, but “how you face doubts is important,” he said. Don’t let doubts or disbelief overcome your faith, he said. “Diligent scripture study, sincere prayer, conscientious religious observance, and following the counsel of the Lord’s prophet will allow you to overcome faith challenges.”
Love and Belonging
Sister Cook testified that young adults are all children of God and belong to the Lord’s restored Church of Jesus Christ. “No matter our different situations, we all belong.”
“It is clear in the scriptures that God loves all His spirit children,” she said, quoting 2 Nephi 26:33: “He inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; … and all are alike unto God.”
“We all belong,” Elder Cook reiterated, sharing how in October, he and Sister Cook visited Ephesus, Turkey, where the apostle Paul once lived and taught. Paul declared in one of his epistles to the Ephesians: “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).
The greatest example of God’s love is the Atonement of Jesus Christ, Sister Cook explained. “We show our love for others as we love, share and invite others to come unto Christ.”
She then invited listeners to ask themselves: “Do my actions show my love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ? Am I helping others around me to believe? If I were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict me?”
Life Planning and Life Balance
When Elder Gilbert was working as the CEO of the Deseret News, he was also serving as bishop. He and his wife had seven children. “It was an incredibly demanding season,” he recalled.
One day, the late President Boyd K. Packer, who was then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, called and asked Elder Gilbert about his family, giving him an assignment to have a weekly date night with Christine because he would “be a husband for eternity.” President Packer then asked what time Elder Gilbert was going to bed each night. When Elder Gilbert responded, “1 or 2 a.m.,” President Packer gave him “an apostolic curfew, which I have strived to keep ever since,” Elder Gilbert said.
Sister Gilbert explained that the Gilberts manage all their significant responsibilities through planning (holding a regular calendaring session) and having a shared purpose and goals.
“Even when we have to be apart, we still feel united when we have a shared purpose,” she said. “So, when my husband was traveling with work, or I was up teaching an early morning seminary class, or he was out on a ward assignment, if we had calendared those responsibilities and were aligned in our purpose, we were together even when we had to be apart.”
When making certain choices, establish clear boundaries, Elder Gilbert told young adults. “For our family, this has included Sunday Church attendance, weekly family home evening, morning and evening family devotionals, and time together as a couple each week.”
Standing for Truth
The Cooks are perfect examples of how you can stand for truth with kindness, said Elder Gilbert. He described being present when Elder and Sister Cook met with several national prominent journalists and academic leaders during the open house for the Washington D.C. Temple. “The Cooks articulately shared the truths of the gospel, including the importance of temple marriage, moral cleanliness and covenants, all while building bridges of understanding with other people,” Elder Gilbert said.
Last year, Elder Gilbert also attended the Ensign College devotional where President Dallin H. Oaks, First counselor in the First Presidency, outlined five ways we can stand for truth with love.
- Avoid overly contentious settings.
- Love others, find common ground, even when disagreeing.
- Hold to truth.
- Be a light to others.
- Stay anchored in Jesus Christ.
“Peaceable followers of Christ do not [retreat from truth nor fail to love others],” Elder Cook encouraged last general conference. “We are warm, engaged members of the communities where we live. We [also] love, share and invite all of God’s children to follow Christ’s teachings” (“Be Peaceable Followers of Christ,” October 2023 general conference.
“I think this is what President Nelson has been teaching us in his call for us to be peacemakers, Sister Gilbert said. “He doesn’t want us to walk away from truth, but he does want us to do it with the love of the Savior.”
Personal Revelation and Prophetic Counsel
In his concluding comments, Elder Cook said that personal revelation is available to everyone. “The message, ministry and Atonement of Jesus Christ, our Savior, is our essential curriculum for receiving personal revelation. No scripture characterizes a proper quest for faith more than 2 Nephi 25:26. ‘And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.’”
The Book of Mormon plays a significant role in receiving personal revelation, Elder Cook taught. While some might disparage or underestimate these sacred scriptures, “a testimony of the restored gospel must be based on faith rather than external or scientific proof.”
Ultimately, the answer is found in Moroni’s invitation to read, ponder and ask God to confirm scriptural truths through the witness of the Holy Ghost —”the revealer and testifier of all truth,” he said. “Clearly, a dividing line, between those who hear the music of faith and those who are tone deaf or off-key, is the active study of the scriptures and following the counsel of the Lord’s prophet.”
We can receive our own testimony of the Book of Mormon, gospel truths, and living prophets through the Holy Ghost. Elder Cook testified that “continuous revelation has been received and is being received through channels the Lord has established” and that President Nelson is “the Lord’s Prophet,” just like Joseph Smith was.