This is a personal/religious article that I am posting so be warned! I am not an official spokesmen or representative of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or affiliated with the church, what I say in this article does not represent my churches official position, nor does it necessarily represent the general beliefs of the members therein.
This article was designed for a LDS audience. In it, I assume that the Old Testament, New Testament , Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and the Doctrine and Covenants are inspired by God, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saintsofficial doctrine is legitimated and its claims true.
This is the talk or sermon I gave in my church on January 10th, 2009. My church is a Lay Ministry church, and although we have a hierarchy, generally on the weekend services in the first portion of the meeting (called Sacrament Meeting) members are asked to give a talk or a sermon to the congregation on a specific topic. This is my first talk that I gave to the Maple Ridge Ward(Congregation) since returning from a full time two year mission for the LDS Nevada, Las Vegas Mission. Enjoy.
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Good morning brothers and sisters, for those who do not know me I’m Lynden Jensen, I just recently came back from a two year mission from the Las Vegas Nevada mission which covers the eastern side of Nevada.
As a missionary there are a couple things that I had the opportunity to do more then the large majority of people, that is study the Scriptures (2 hours a day plus religious discussion or lessons(average 3 times a day(1hour a piece)) missionary meetings, and church), Pray (Minimum of 14 set times + lessons (average of 7))(Overall Average 20+), engage in Religious Conversations with people of a variate of beliefs, some pleasant and accepting and other not so much. When I left I imagined my friends, many of them atheists or agnostic, thinking that I was going to my fantasy land, immersing myself in myth and an unreality. On my mission I was closer to reality then I had ever been, it made everything so clear, I saw people of all walks of life, to the multimillionaire to the drug addicted pan handler on the street. From world renown publishing scholars to the illiterate farmer. I talked about religion to every major religious devision. I could see the hand of god so clearly, many physical evidences but overwhelming spiritual evidences. I feel closer to the savior, I feel that I walked in his shoes, if only for a few steps. I was never crucified but I was reviled. Today I want to speak about discipleship. The first question is obviously:
What and who is a Disciple?
The word disciple has roots in several languages and is tied with the idea of learning, being a student and practicing discipline; the concept that there are sacrifices that are to be made to achieve a higher level of understanding. A Disciple is a student.
We are to be students or disciples of Christ, we are to learn of him and apply what he has taught. We are all on the path of discipleship. And what is our study? Christ and his teachings. This knowledge is our key to become disciples.s a child I was fascinated and confused by miracles, I read about all theses amazing larger than life people doing things that don’t seem to happen anymore; parting the red sea, pillars of fire, walls falling down at the command of God, mountains moving, healings, raising the dead, walking on water. I wondered if this was possible, I wondered why I couldn’t do it if they did. I read about accounts of God talking to people like Nephi (Helaman 10:4-10) when he said:
“(4) Blessed art thou, Nephi... all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt notask that which is contrary to my will.”
I wondered how people had this power and honestly why crazy things didn’t seem to happen much at all, because I know that if I could do ANYTHING at my whim I would defiantly use it. There is a simple reason why I don’t have that power, and I just demonstrated why. On the next line it reads
This is our purpose of our discipline, of our practice, to receive this power, to apply the atonement. The only way we can access the power of God is through emulating his Son Jesus Christ, by being a disciple of him. This is the destination of discipleship; to fully apply the atonement of Christ.
This scripture demonstrates the fulfillment of the atonement in Nephi’s’ life, the word Atonement is an interesting word. It is used only once in New Testament in the book of revelation but you can’t go into a Mormon church for any period of time without hearing this word, though many other churches do not use this word frequently. What does it mean? It is not as many people think Greek or Hebrew word, it is an English word, a compound word “At-One-Ment”, it is the act which Christ preformed to save us, to bring us back from out estrangement to be “At One” with God. Christ teaches us of his role and of the atonement in his great intercessory prayer (John 17:20-21) saying:
“(20) Neither pray I for these alone(speaking of the twelve apostles), but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;(21) That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”
Here Christ prays that we are all to be at one with Christ and God, no physically but as Nephi was, at one in mind, in heart, in purpose, to come to point where we would do nothing but the Lords will. The true power of a disciple comes when we know what Christ wants us personally to do and to follow that at all costs, to fulfill our callings here on earth, whatever they may be, to be able to say as Bruce R McConkie said:
“I am called of God. My authority is above that of the kings of the earth. By revelation I have been selected as a personal representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is my Master and he has chosen me to represent him. To stand in his place, to say and do what he himself would say and do if he personally were ministering to the very people to whom he has sent me. My voice is his voice, and my acts are his acts; my words are his words and my doctrine is his doctrine. My commission is to do what he wants done. To say what he wants said. To be a living modern witness in word and deed of the divinity of his great and marvelous latter-day work, how great is my calling!”(See Source)
We have been called to represent Christ, to “stand in his place”, the disciple is an extension of the master.
When a student enrols or begins apprenticeship he takes on the name of the tutor or school, the Greeks, the fathers of philosophy, were very fond of this noting with pride their masters name, and creating great schools for the great philosophers of the day, today the most prestigious institutes are named after people, people who the school tries to represent, and people who live on in the education of their institutes pupils. When tour master takes on us and we covenant with him we also bring upon ourselves his name.
As we just heard in the Sacrament prayers (Moroni 4- 5) we ourselves are in the process of taking on the name of Christ. The way that we accept Christ is through Ordinances and Covenants; these will allow us to return to God’s presence. Most of us have already started the process of taking on the name of Christ through the initiatory ordinance of Baptism. Each week we recommit ourselves by coming to this chapel and take the sacrament (Moroni 4) where we:
“(3)...Witness unto God, the Eternal Father, that [we] are willing to take upon [us] the name of his Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments...”
As we continue to progress in the gospel we also continue to promise and covenant to the lord to further take on ourselves his name, until all we are is his, until our voices are his, our acts are his and our words are his.
To do this we need to know the will of God;(John 17:3)
“ (3)this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”
This is the purpose of life, to know God and to do his will, or in other words to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ at all times, all things, and all places, all else is secondary. Thomas S. Monson said
“The sweetest experience I know in life is to feel a prompting and act upon it and later find out it was the fulfillment of someone's prayer or someone's need. And I always want the Lord to know that if he needs an errand run, Tom Monson will run that errand for him.”
I have a testimony of this principle, on my mission I covered an area that had in it one of the largest hospitals in Las Vegas, usually once ever week or so we would get a phone call from the mission office or maybe an individual asking us to go by the hospital and give a blessing to someone in need. One night around 9:30-9:45we had just gotten home from along hot 120F (50C) degree day and finished out nightly plans for tomorrow when we got a phone call that there was a woman who urgently needed a blessing in the hospital. We grabbed the other Elders in our apartment who had a car and drove to the hospital, we went in the emergency entrance, two met us there and we quickly made our way upstairs, one man was the woman’s husband, a non member, the other his member friend who had suggested that he call us. They were visiting Vegas from Hawaii, his wife had just had a heart attack and was in trouble, as we walked into the small room I, even with no knowledge of medicine knew she was in trouble, the small room was crammed, there were doctors and nurses bending over her doing things which I had no clue about. The woman had a bunch of tubes and needles, and was unconscious with her eyes lying open, the machine showed that he vitals where down, the doctors and nurses gave us room, four 20 year olds, we anointed her and blessed her with a blessing of full healing with about 15 onlookers, as we finished a nurse said to me “that was very interesting”, as we left her vitals where much closer to normal then they had previously been. The man thanked us so much for what we had done and seemed to be more at ease. As we left I had faith that the blessing we gave would be in effect, but inside of me I wondered how. A week from that point we were sitter in a sushi restaurant with this couple who had paid for all out meals, they were well and joking, they thanked us for what we had done.
We did not do it, the Lord did through us, through the faith of the receiver and the administrators. We all have periods of test in our life, times where we question. Times when we are unsure, the key to leading a successful life and to get through the moments is to have a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ and his voice, and have the courage to act on it. My goal is to know and trust the Lord so well that I will follow without hesitation; he is my source, not the Bible, not the Book of Mormon, not Thomas S. Monson. My first and final source is God himself and what he tells me, not what he has told others. Nephi was asked to kill Laban when the law clearly states thou shalt not kill but he knew God and what God wanted for him, and trusted that over what God had given the people through Moses.
The path of discipleship is the path to Christ, taking upon ourselves his image and his name until his we become even as he is, as John said: (1 John 3:2)
“(2) ...now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”
We need to be loyal to the truths that God gives to us, we need to be fearless in our following of those prompting. Elder Hamula of the 70 said this”
”There is only one rule in this church, that is the rule of the spirit; you do what you feel it right.”
I know that to have the spirit in our lives we must first find out who God is, what he wants us personally to do, then do it! Christ Taught that "If any man will do [My] will he will know of the doctrine whether it be of God or whether I speak of Myself"(John 7:17) I can testify that this is true, "God is not dead nor doth he sleep"(I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day), he is working in this world around us, but we must have eyes to see and ears to hear. For "no ear can hear his coming, but in this world of sin, where meek souls will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in".(O Little Town of Bethlehem)
I know Christ is there, it is not an argument for me, for it is first hand experience, a true lunatic and a fool is one who denies what he has seen. He has helped me so much, and for that, and so much more, I will be eternally in his debt and his service. A Disciple of Christ. I say these things in solemnity, through his Holy Name, Jesus Christ Amen.