Grampa Bill's General Authority Pages
George Albert Smith Mission Report

Delivered 6 October 1921

    Elder George Albert Smith presided over the British and then the European Missions from 1919 until mid 1921. This is his first address to the Saints, given as the concluding talk in the first session of the 92nd Annual General Conference after his return from the mission field. Note that World War I had just concluded as he began his mission.

    I am indeed in a frame of mind this afternoon that I desire the faith and prayers of this vast congregation, that the Lord will bless me that I may say such things as will be profitable to all.

    This is the first time I have had the privilege of being with you for more than two years, and during that time I have visited the countries of Europe where the Latter-day Saints have established missions. During my absence there has not been much change in conditions in the European field except that the way has again been opened in some nations for the elders from America to enter and preach the gospel. The same opposition exists in most countries to the teaching of the truth by our missionaries, but we have not been molested or seriously hampered in any place. Quite a change has occurred in Germany, in that our missionaries are made welcome, our congregations are so large that the meeting places are taxed to their capacity, and in some of the cities we have two congregations. Most of the work in Germany is being accomplished by local elders, about one hundred in number, with not to exceed six missionaries from America. Norway, Sweden and Denmark have limited the number of missionaries allowed to enter there. Norway has only one missionary from home, at the present time, and no more are permitted to enter. Prest. August Schow has labored there with the assistance of a few local men during the past two years. During the first year I was in Great Britain, our missionary force consisted of twelve elders from home, three sisters and a few good local men who rendered assistance. Tracting and other work of that kind was done by women in many places under the presidency of Elder George F. Richards, and that continued till about a year ago, when elders began to arrive from Zion, and today there are over one hundred missionaries from this land laboring in the British Isles. Some of the local missionaries were excellent men, and rendered splendid service.

    All of the elders were withdrawn from South Africa, many of them serving long-term missions. President Nicholas G. Smith and his family, consisting of a wife and three sons, remained there nearly eight years, and were succeeded about eight months ago by President J. Wyley Sessions who took with him his wife and two children. South Africa has opened her doors to our missionaries, and others will be sent now as rapidly as possible to continue the work in that land.

    Holland is a fruitful field and Switzerland has many excellent branches of the Church. Our difficulty is that millions of people in all parts of the world have been deceived and made to believe that we are a wicked people. Evil stories have been circulated about us and those falsehoods have gained ground and have been given credence by many intelligent men and women. The adversary has sown the seeds of suspicion and hatred against the Church, and but for that reason our missionaries would be made welcome in every land. PREJUDICES AGAINST OUR MESSAGE TO THE WORLD SOMEWHAT ALLAYED.

    We are teaching the same gospel that the Savior taught, and the same influences that opposed him and his associates is potent in the world today. The adversary is determined that the gospel of Jesus Christ shall not be taught in its purity. We have the truth, and he knows that we have it, and he knows that millions of our Father's children would accept it gladly if they could hear it with unprejudiced minds.

    If we have the opportunity, to visit with intelligent men and women with sufficient time to explain our mission in the world, prejudice that has existed in their minds is dissipated and they are more friendly to the truth. The missionaries of this Church have gone into those lands to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ as it is recorded in the Holy Scriptures. They have desired to bestow a blessing on the people, and have endeavored to inspire hope, courage, and faith in the children of our heavenly Father, whose minds have been darkened because of the absence of the gospel in its purity.

    The prejudice that has existed against us in the past has in large measure been dissipated and hundreds and thousands of men and women have been made aware of the labor we are performing, but there still remains a feeling, and a determination, on the part of the leaders of some of the churches of the world, to prevent, if possible, the promulgation of the gospel of our Lord, as revealed in this latter day. Our problem is to find a way whereby we may present to all the people the gospel of our Lord. It is our problem, and with divine assistance we will find a way to solve it. It is incumbent upon us to ascertain if there is not some means whereby we may be able to do more than we have already done, if we would satisfy the requirements of our heavenly Father.

    I congratulate the Latter-day Saints who have sons in the mission field. I have met many of them and they are splendid, humble, prayerful men, who are desirous of doing something to improve the conditions of the world and to teach mankind to prepare for the world to come.

    There is no reason why all the children of men should not provided with the necessities of life, if the products of the earth were equitably distributed, and they could be more evenly divided, if men would turn to the Lord and keep his commandments.

    There is a real famine in the world for the words of the Lord, and many honest souls are earnestly seeking to know what our heavenly Father desires of them. I have met a number of the leaders of the churches of the world, and have found among them noble characters devoted to doing good, but I have rarely found among those who have been called to the ministry in the various church organizations, men who have an understanding of the purposes of their being, or who realize why we are here in this world. Men cannot teach what they do not themselves know. These good men, not understanding the gospel and the necessity for the ordinances of the same, confine their teachings very largely to moral lessons and to reading the psalms to their congregations. Isolated passages of scripture are chosen as texts for addresses on virtue, honesty, etc., etc., all of which are helpful and uplifting, but few sermons are preached explaining the requirements made of every soul before we can enter the kingdom of heaven. It is this information of which the world is most in need. Few ministers have a message for their congregations that inspires in them the belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ and the necessity of partaking of the ordinances of the gospel prescribed by him.

    I believe that we have a duty to perform and we will have labor more earnestly in the future than we have done in the past discharge it, if we fulfil the requirements of our heavenly The Lord has blessed us with a knowledge that he lives, and has a body, and that we are created in his image. We do not believe that he is some kind of essence or that he is incomprehensible. If you have received the witness that has come to me and know as I know that our heavenly Father has revealed himself to the children of men, that he is a personal God, that we are created in his image, that our spirits were begotten by him, that he has given us an opportunity to dwell upon the earth to receive a physical tabernacle, in order that we may be prepared to return into his presence and live eternally with him, I say, if you have received that assurance, then you have a foundation upon which you may build your faith. Take that from you, the knowledge that God really lives, the assurance that Jesus Christ was the manifestation of God in the flesh, take from you the assurance that there will be a literal resurrection from the dead, and you will find yourselves in the condition that our Father's children are in throughout the world, and I ask you, what comfort remains to you then? These are the truths that are fundamental.

    The Redeemer of mankind was more than a good man who came into the world to teach us ethics. The Redeemer of mankind possessed more than ordinary intelligence. He was indeed the Son of God, the only begotten of God in the flesh. He was sent into this world to remove from the minds of men the delusion that had confounded them for many generations. He came to call men to repentance, to turn them from the error of their way. He went among them representing God the Eternal Father, proclaiming that he was in the image of his Father, and that those who had seen him had seen the Father, and told them that he had been sent to do the will of his Father, and called on all men to turn from the error that had crept in among them, to repent of their sins and go down into the waters of baptism. Following repentance there was something for them to do that was, and is, necessary to obtain salvation. Our brothers and sisters of the world in many cases do not believe that baptism is essential. They say it is an outward form of inward grace. If that were true, then why was it necessary for the only perfect man who ever lived upon the earth to be baptized? When Jesus presented himself to John, at the waters of Jordan, and bade him baptize him, John replied: "I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou me?", to which the Savior responded: "Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness." He did not say: "John, it is not necessary for me to be baptized, because I am the Savior of the world." He did not indicate that he thought it was unnecessary, but to him it was so important that he submitted himself to a mortal man possessing divine authority to preach repentance and baptism for the remission of sins.

    There is no doubt in our minds that baptism is essential to salvation. Evidently the Redeemer of mankind believed it was. He in whose name we hope to gain eternal exaltation, and through whom we hope for a glorious resurrection, who came into the world and laid down his life that we might live again, thought it was important and necessary, and yet there are, many of our Father's children who do not understand and do not believe that the Lord requires it of all men. The Scriptures contain several instructions regarding it. When the Savior sent his disciples out he said unto them: "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel unto every creature." Was that all required? That is what the man of today says who doesn't believe in the divine mission of our Lord. Even the ministers of many churches fail to emphasize the remainder of that same paragraph, but the Redeemer of mankind said: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel unto every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned." He didn't say that they might believe just whatever they pleased. He didn't say that good intentions were sufficient. He didn't say, preach any gospel that you please, but he told them to preach his gospel and observe all the things he had commanded. He said: "And they that believe and are baptized shall be saved," but he didn't promise salvation to others. Our heavenly Father has made this clear to your understanding, my brethren and sisters, in this Church, and he will hold you responsible to teach it to others. You understand it and they do not. It is a duty of us all to see that it is made as plain as possible, and that the other ordinances of the gospel are taught to all men.

    The necessity of faith, repentance, baptism, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost must be emphasized by us. Many leaders throughout the religious world claim authority to preach the gospel and yet they do not believe that baptism and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost are essential. The Lord has revealed to us the necessity of these ordinances. He has organized his Church in this day, and has conferred upon men divine authority and has commanded them, as he commanded men of old, to preach the gospel in all the world. We are only a little handful of people among all our Father's children, but I want to say to you that I believe we are more numerous than the members of the Church were at the time our Savior was crucified. The mission devolving upon us is the same as that given to his disciples in Palestine when he sent them into all the world with the command to teach his truth, and our reception by mankind is the same. He told his followers that they would be hated for his name's sake, should be put out of the synagogues, and some should be put to death, and the hatred that had been his portion would come upon them. The same persecutions have befallen the elders of his Church in this latter day, as a result of teaching his truth. The same influences that sought to destroy the Church in the meridian of time, and finally overcame the men who held the holy Priesthood, are active in the world today -- the same power that has tried to destroy every good man who has held the Priesthood from that time until the present.

    Our brethren and sisters of the world do not understand, as you do, that there is an active Lucifer; they do not realize that there are evil spirits, tangible influences, abroad in the world, seeking to lead men to do the things that will deprive them of the Spirit of the Lord. You understand these things, and some of you have known by personal contact with the powers of evil how potent they are in this world. Our Father has given us the knowledge that this life is a probation, that we are building for the future, and how grateful we ought to be for this assurance, and Oh, how sad we would be if we thought that death terminated our career. If, when our life's labor on earth was finished, we had no opportunity to go on developing, there would be little to inspire us to live as we should here. The knowledge that all the good we accomplish here, and all development we make, will enhance our happiness eternally, encourages us to do our best. Millions of our Father's children in the world do not understand that truth, but they have a right to know it. Our heavenly Father has commissioned us to take that message to the ends of the earth and to declare it in such a way that men must consider it, and either take advantage of it or be left without excuse.

    The Lord has not called the great Catholic church to perform this labor, nor the Methodist, nor the Presbyterian, nor the Baptist church. There are men in all these churches that our heavenly Father loves because of their virtue and because of the good they are doing, but they have not been divinely appointed to officiate in the ordinances of the gospel. He has commissioned you for a special work. You have been ordained and had conferred upon you his holy Priesthood. He has called you out of the world that you might unite in building Zion, and in disseminating his truth. Are you doing your full duty? Are you discharging the responsibility that has come upon you in return for your blessing?

    We are a wonderfully blessed people, notwithstanding the fact that many are in the bondage of debt. I wish that were the only bondage. I fear many of the people of this great land are suffering much more from the bondage of iniquity. Many have need of repentance, and if those who have received the word of the Lord and a witness of the divinity of this work will set their houses in order, if they will teach their sons and daughters the way of eternal life, and exemplify the gospel of our Lord in their daily conduct, I have no fear of the financial outcome. Our Father in heaven has made a wonderful promise that has been realized in the nations of the earth. He said: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness." Mind you, not last, but, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and other things will be added." There are those in this audience today whose parents came into this land in the depths of poverty, with scant clothing and no shelter, depending upon others for food to sustain life. They came seeking first the kingdom of God, and today their descendants live in comfortable homes, are educated in the best schools that there are in the world today, and enjoy surroundings that are ideal, as far as conditions in this world can make them so. They are honored among the children of men, known for their virtue, for their strength of character and their intellectual power. I ask you if the promise of the Lord in many of these cases has not been fulfilled? Surely "all other things have been added."

    The promise of the Lord that we may enjoy eternal life is conditional. That is, we must serve the Lord our God with all our hearts, we must serve him by caring for his children, by blessing mankind wherever our influence can be exerted to bring them into the marvelous light of the glorious gospel. We must impart of our temporal blessings as well as exert our spiritual influence for the uplift of our fellows. I stand here today profoundly grateful for the knowledge that has come to me. I am thankful that I am not dependent upon any individual for the testimony that I possess. Of course, I am grateful for the encouragement I received from others who possess light and truth, and who give encouragement by lives of righteousness, but I do not depend on any of them for a knowledge that God lives, that Jesus Christ is the Redeemer of mankind and Joseph Smith is a prophet of the Lord. These things I know for myself.

    I have been in the valley of the shadow of death in recent years, so near the other side that I am sure that for the special blessing of our heavenly Father I could not have remained here. But, never for one moment did that testimony that my heavenly Father has blessed me with become dimmed. The nearer I went to the other side, the greater was my assurance that the gospel is true. Now that my life has been spared I rejoice to testify that I know the gospel is true, and with all my soul I thank my heavenly father that he has revealed it to me.

    I have been permitted to perform missionary work in different parts of the world, an opportunity that I gratefully accepted. I have been permitted to live with and associate most of my life with real Latter-day Saints, the best men and women that can be found in this world, and our Father knows how thankful I am for these blessings. I love my brothers and sisters, and I have affection for my Father's children who are not members of this Church, and inasmuch as he will give me physical strength and mental power, I desire to so order my life that I may be an uplift to all those with whom I come in contact. I desire to so exemplify the teachings of our Lord, and I presume all my brothers and sisters feel as I do, that when we stand in the presence of the Great King, after the labors of this life shall have been completed, and we answer to, him for the time that we have spent here on earth, that there will be none who can truthfully say we were careless about dividing the truth with any of our Father's children, that none will be able to say of us that we knew these things were true but made no effort to explain them to our neighbors. Surely we would be condemned if one of our associates in life should stand-in the presence of the Great Judge and say of us that we could have taught him the gospel, if we had made an effort, but that because of our neglect he would be deprived of a place in the celestial kingdom. Let none of us, my brethren and sisters, be justly accused in that way. Unto us much has been given, and of us much will be expected by our Father in heaven. We cannot be indifferent to the teachings of the gospel, we must not drift down the stream of life without an effort. Every day we should do something worth while.

    The Lord has revealed to us so many truths in this latter day that we are aware of, that we cannot plead ignorance, if we sin. Men have been commissioned with divine authority, our Father has organized his Church, and has placed in it the ordinances of the gospel, he has commissioned men to do the same work that the Savior and his disciples did in the Old World, and upon this western hemisphere, among the ancestors of the American Indians. The greatest blessings and opportunities of all times have been bestowed upon us, and the question that should arise in our minds for all these mercies is: Are we grateful? Are you, my brethren and sisters, thankful to the Lord for this knowledge that has come to you? Do you really appreciate what it means? If you do, and desire that the Lord shall know that you appreciate it, then divide your blessings with his children. To his disciple of old the Savior said: "If you love me, then feed my sheep." Let us render service to our Father's children, and let it be of such nature that others observing our good work will be constrained to glorify our heavenly Father. Let us sustain those whom God has called to preside over us. Let our homes be the abiding place of the Spirit that comes from on high. Let us radiate an influence for peace and happiness among the children of men, so that our lives will he happy here, and when we are summoned to the great beyond we will be welcomed by those who have been our companions in life, and by our Father in heaven because of what we have done for his children.

    I am grateful to be home again, I thank you one and all for the companionship of the past, and hope that I may have the privilege of meeting you in your wards and in the stakes of Zion, and when I do that I may be favored of the Lord that through me you may receive a blessing. I desire to cooperate with you to increase the power of this Church for good, not only at home, but throughout all the world, and I humbly pray to our heavenly Father that we may so order our lives that when our work here is completed we may obtain eternal life in his celestial kingdom and enjoy the companionship of those we love who have been our associates here on earth, and I ask it in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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