Each of us is to come to Christ with uncompromised commitment to His gospel.
Touching on the nature of pure teaching, pure doctrine of Christ, and pure revelation – we turn to the message Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave. His address opens up with the story of the Rich Young Ruler and the encounter he had with Jesus Christ (See Mark 10: 17-22). Many of us are familiar with this story. A young man, quite wealthy and affluent, comes to the Messiah to seek after wisdom and guidance related to attaining eternal life. His question is the very question many of us are asking. What shall we do. Christ simply responds that one is to keep the commandments. To which the young man replied he has throughout his youth. The Lord challenged the young man with a specific direction – go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. This simple directive caused the young man to possibly hang his head in grave disappointment. He turned and walked away from the Savior. His possessions, wealth, affluence, and all that went with worldly prestige appeared to be more important than what he desired – eternal life.
And there are plethora of messages, sermons, scripture studies, devotions on the nature and application of this story. Elder Holland remarks:
Obviously, this is an important cautionary tale about the uses of wealth and the needs of the poor. But ultimately it is a story about wholehearted, unreserved devotion to divine responsibility. With or without riches, each of us is to come to Christ with the same uncompromised commitment to His gospel that was expected of this young man.The Greatest Possession: Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; General Conference – October 2021.
I agree. The great cost of discipleship. The great cost of picking up our cross and following Christ is a weighty and serious commitment we ought not to take lightly. The directive, as Elder Holland instructs, is to Come completely and wholeheartedly. It is a call for us to take up [our] cross, however, heavy it may be, and follow Him (see Mark 10:21).
Elder Holland also shares this insight where there can be no halfway measures, no starting and stopping, no turning back as it relates to us pondering how we may inherit eternal life. He also shares that when difficult things are asked of us, even things contrary to the longing so four heart, remember that the loyalty we pledge to the cause of Christ is to be supreme devotion of our lives.
The promised blessing is given unto us where God … our Father … is exceptionally good at forgiving and forgetting sins we have forsaken.
Speaking to the mother of the sons of Zebedee – the Savior asks this:
Then came to him the mother of Zebedees children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said to her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my father.Matthew 20:20-23, KJV
The cup Christ drank from is the bitter cup of suffering. In the beatitudes, we find Christ teaching that those who are persecuted, reviled, and slandered with false accusations will be blessed because of their faithfulness and righteousness in following Christ (See Matthew 5:10-12).
Not only are we taking upon ourselves the name of Christ and suffer with Christ; we are also suffering with others as a commitment to our faith (see Mosiah 5:7-8; Mosiah 18:7-17). This is a covenant made through baptism by immersion for the remission of sins. The Apostle Paul, writing to the Christians at Rome reflects on the nature and covenant of baptism in Romans 6:1-18 as a reminder of their covenant and commitment in following Christ.
Cyril of Jerusalem is probably one of the most interesting patristic church fathers that teaches us the mysteries of baptism:
As soon, then, as ye entered, ye put off your tunic; and this was an image of putting off the old man with his deeds. Having stripped yourselves, ye were naked; in this also imitating Christ, who was stripped naked on the Cross, and by His nakedness put off from Himself the principalities and powers, and openly triumphed over them on the tree. For since the adverse powers made their lair in your members, ye may no longer wear that old garment; I do not mean this visible one, but the old man, which waxeth corrupt in the lusts of deceit. May the soul which has once put him off, never again put him on, but say with the Spouse of Christ in the Song of Songs, I have put off my garment, how shall I put it on? O wonderous thing! ye were naked in the sight of all, and were not ashamed; for truly ye bore the likeness of the first formed Adam, who was naked in the garden, and was not ashamed.
Cyril of Jerusalem continues his lecture on the mystery of Baptism – reminding us of the sacredness and oath of the covenant we take:
Then, when ye ere stripped, ye were anointed with exorcised oil, from the very hairs of your head to your feet, and were made partakers of the good olive-tree, Jesus Christ. For ye were cut off from the wild olive-tree, and grafted into the good one, and were made to share the fatness of the true olive-tree. The exorcised oil therefore was a symbol of the participation of the fatness of Christ, being a charm to drive away every trace of hostile influence. For as the breathing of the saints, and the invocation of the Name of God, like fiercest flame, scorch and drive out evil spirits, so also this exorcised oil receives such virtue by the invocation of God, and by prayer, as not only to burn, and cleanse away the traces of sins, but also to chase away all the invisible powers of the evil one.
After touching upon the anointing of oil and it’s power, authority, and symbolism, Cyril continues to describe the ordinance of baptism:
After these things, ye were led to the holy pool of Divine Baptism, as Christ was carried from the cross to the Sepulchre which is before our eyes. And each of you was asked whether he believed in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and ye made that saving confession, and descended three times into the water, and ascended again; here also hinting by a symbol at the three days burial of Christ. For as our Saviour passed three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, so you also in your first ascent out of the water, represented the first day of Christ in the earth and by your descent the night: for as he who is in the night, no longer sees, but he who as in the day, remains in the light, so in the descent, as in the night, ye saw nothing, but in ascending again ye were as in the day. And at the self-same moment ye were both dying and being born; and that Water of salvation was at once your grave and your mother.Cyril of Jerusalem: On the mysteries, II; On Baptism (Lecture XX)
Cyril of Jerusalem continues his lecture on the mysteries of the Chrism and the sacramental partaking of bread and wine as related to the covenant of baptism for the remission of sins, covenant of God’s divine grace and salvation of humanity.
[For More Information See: The Nature and Covenant of Baptism As a Religious Rite and Sacred Ordinance]
Coming unto Christ requires Spiritual Transformation – A New Birth
Elder Holland points out the scriptures that reflect a real and significant change that occurs within our hearts and minds. This is evidenced by the conversation Nicodemus (a Pharisee) had with Christ (See John 3:1-21) At the outset of their conversation, Christ reveals that no one can see the Kingdom of God except he that is born again. Perplexed by this statement, the Pharisee asked – how can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb to be born? The Savior answered and said … except a man be born of water and spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. Here, born of water is referencing baptism by immersion for the remission of sins. And being born of spirit is the anointing of the Holy Spirit as a witness that bears record to the Son and the Father that we have made a sacred covenant to take up on ourselves the name of Christ. Without baptism or the gift of the Holy Spirit, one may not be able to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven and be partakers of God’s Holy Kingdom.
Upon our baptism, we are given a new heart and a new mind. According to Elder Holland, there is divine help for every one of us at any hour we feel to make a change in our behavior. He also observes that:
- God gave Saul “another heart” (see, 1 Samuel 10:9)
- Ezekiel called upon all of Ancient Israel to cast off her past and “make … a new heart and a new spirit.” (see, Ezekiel 18:31; Ezekiel 36:26)
- Alma called for a “mighty change” that would cause the soul to expand (See, Alma 5:9-14)
Along with this, Paul called Christian believers to not be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of the mind (See, Romans 12:1-3). This spiritual transformation and change occurs as a blessing and gifts of God for our welfare and benefit.
Because of this spiritual transformation – new birth – we are able to put aside all strife, contention, divisions, and strive to live in harmony with family, friends, co-workers, and within the community. The love of God ought to begin dwelling within our hearts. And since we have the love of God dwelling within our hearts, we come to realize the true nature of happiness and sets the tone for our own lives, for our relationships to each other and ultimately our feeling for all humankind …
The heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is based on the founding truths of loving God and loving others (See Mark 12:30). Christ said that upon the two commandments (love for God and love for others) hang all the prophets and the law. It is the love of God that transforms us and renews us with a new heart and a new spirit. We truly become a new creation through Jesus Christ. And it is through the love of Christ that we are able to minister to others, call them unto repentance, be reconciled with others, and bring restoration, rest, and new life where there is despair, disappointment, and a sense of feeling lost. It is the ability where we love others in a manner that minister the healing power of Christ upon those suffering.
Ultimately, it is our love for God and others that leads us to where we are able to faithfully endure with patience and long suffering those trials and adversities that may come upon us.
Come Follow Me – The Cost of Discipleship and Crucified Life
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland concludes his General Conference Address and shares his own thoughts and insights related to the encounter between the Rich Young Ruler and our Savior:
Brothers and sisters, I pray we will succeed where that rich young man failed, that we will take up the cross of Christ, however demanding it may be, regardless of the issue and regardless of the cost. I bear witness that when we pledge to follow Him, the path will, one way or another, pass by way of a crown of thorns and a stark Roman cross. No matter how wealthy our young ruler was, he wasn’t wealthy enough to buy his way out of a rendezvous with those symbols, and neither can we. For the blessing of receiving the greatest of all possessions – the gift of eternal life – it is little enough that we are asked to stay the course in following the High Priest of our Profession, our Day Star, Advocate, and King.
Elder Holland also shares that each one of us, as Amaleki taught, are to be willing and committed in surrendering our whole souls as an offering unto him (See, Omni 1:26). This is because the Grace of God is one that is of great Cost.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer observes the following:
Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.Cost of Discipleship, p. 45; Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.
Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs it man his life: and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the incarnation of God.
How we take up our cross daily to follow Christ and be transformed by the renewing of our minds is based on our willingness to walk in faithful obedience to God’s will. Recognizing the hidden treasure and the great possession of eternal life that is bestowed upon us. When we lose our lives for the sake of Christ and His infinite atonement, we shall find it (See, Matthew 16:24-27).
A. W. Tozer also observed the following:
Many Christians talk about living the crucified life, but nothing in their lives indicates they have even begun the journey. … there is much joy that they have been saved but no anticipation of continuing on the journey toward spiritual perfection. They are so happen they are not what they used to be that they cannot see what God wants them to be.The Crucified Life: The Foundation of the Christian Experience, pp 23-24
He also observes:
Many are not willing to pay the cost associated with the victorious Christian life. Erroneously, many are taught and believe that the Christian life is a free ride that eventually ends in heaven. After all, Jesus paid it all.
Are we willing to pay the cost of coming unto Christ and following him? Willing to pay the cost of walking in the process of repentance in order to be reconciled? Ready and committed in putting to death our former self? How does the rich young ruler represent you? What are some of the great possessions that you have whereby it may interfere with you committing to immerse yourself in following Christ? And, as Tozer asks – as the only two questions that truly matter in the hearts of men – what are you to think of Christ? Furthermore, what are you going to do with Christ?
How we answer these questions may reflect on our present spiritual condition. There is no other means and no other way. As Christ Himself declared: I am the way, the truth, and the Life (John 14:6)
Meditate and Reflect on Today’s Message
Share your Thoughts in the Comment Section Below
Take a moment and reflect on the questions above.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland presents us with a message of hope, a message that challenges us, and a message that provides blessings and truth. Reflecting upon the encounter of the Rich young Ruler and Jesus Christ ought to stir our hearts and minds to reflection and seeking revelation. How do you respond to this challenge? this pure teaching, pure doctrine of Christ, and pure revelation? What areas in your own personal life are you struggling to give up and walk away from? Do you consider the cost of following Christ in these challenging times too much? How so? What prevents you from immersing yourself into a deep and enriching fellowship with Jesus Christ? Please provide any thoughtful response in the comment section. Share this with others on your social media platforms.
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Apologia of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a volunteer based website that believes each one of us is on our own spiritual path and journey. The goal is to encourage personal revelation from God in order to produce a rule of faith and conduct, and a superior spiritual mindset and conscience and reason. It is also a means to respond, refute, and correct misleading and false understanding of the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint faith.