In not many years, the Earth will be cleansed and Jesus Christ will return, "this time in power and great glory to vanquish his foes and to rule and reign on the Earth," the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said Sunday.
President Ezra Taft Benson was the concluding speaker of the church's 158th Semiannual Conference, which attracted thousands of church members from around the world to Temple Square.Other afternoon speakers focused on parents' responsibilities in rearing children, missionary work and the quality of eternal life. Music for the session was provided by the Tabernacle Choir.
Throughout the two-day conference, faithful Mormons, either witnessing the proceedings in person or via television or satellite broadcasts in 12 languages, received counsel from church leaders, including the 89-year-old prophet, who bore testimony and witness "to that which I know to be true."
"I testify that wickedness is rapidly expanding in every segment of our society. It is more highly organized, more cleverly disguised and more powerfully promoted than ever before," he said. "Secret combinations lusting for power, gain and glory are flourishing. A secret combination that seeks to overthrow the freedom of all lands, nations and countries is increasing in its evil influence and control over America and the entire world."
But President Benson also testified that the LDS Church - and the kingdom of God - is increasing in strength.
"Its numbers are growing as is the faithfulness of its faithful members. It has never been better organized or equipped to perform its divine mission."
According to the church president, as the forces of evil increase under Lucifer's leadership, and as the forces of good increase under the leadership of Jesus, there will be growing battles between the two until the final confrontation.
"As the issues become clearer and more obvious, all mankind will eventually be required to align themselves either for the kingdom of God or for the kingdom of the devil," he said. "As these conflicts rage, either secretly or openly, the righteous will be tested. God's wrath will soon shake the nations of the Earth and will be poured out on the wicked without measure. But God will provide strength for the righteous and means of escape, and eventually and finally truth will triumph."
President Benson emphasized that it's time for every man to set his house in order - both temporally and spiritually.
"It is time for us, as members of the church, to walk in all ways of the Lord, to use our influence to make popular that which is sound and to make unpopular that which is unsound," he said. "We have the scriptures, the prophets and the gift of the Holy Ghost.
"Now we need eyes that will see, ears that will hear and hearts that will hearken to God's direction."