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missionjrh5 (Elder Holland, June 2019 ** )

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Sunday devotional,  June 23, 2019

Sunday devotional, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, June 23, 2019.  This being the week of training for new mission presidents, every member of the Quorum of the Twelve, along with their wives, was present at the devotional.  There were 164 newly-called mission presidents, along with their wives, also in attendance at the devotional.  President Dallin H. Oaks was also present, representing the First Presidency.  This first section contains my notes of his masterful discourse.  The second section contains the report of Elder Holland’s talk as recorded in the Church News, June 30, 2019.  The title of Elder Holland’s talk was ‘Your purpose and the doctrine of Christ”.

  • Elder Holland thanked the missionary choir for their beautiful rendition of “Sweet Hour of Prayer”  and then reminded all of us that every hour should be an hour of prayer, and that every prayer should be sweet.
  • I don’t know what other meetings are being held at this time throughout the world, rather it be a meeting of kings or presidents or clerics, but I do know that this meeting in this location at this time is the most important and powerful meeting being held anywhere on this planet!
  • Everyone here has a name plaque with the Savior’s name on it, everyone here has been duly set-apart for holy purposes.  That represents an enormous amount of power in this room.
  • The ‘Standard of Truth’, proclaimed by the prophet Joseph, is very much in force today.  No unhallowed hand will stop this work, and the truth will go forth nobly and boldly until it has visited every clime and every people.
  • There is absolutely nothing in this world that can compare with this work, in importance or significance.
  • You missionaries are an integral part of this great work.  You are not sent forth to yield to history, but to SHAPE it!
  • Christ has promised us, “Lo, I am with you alway…”
  • I loved my mission as a young man more than I can express.  Sister Holland believes that I never returned home from my mission, that I am still on it!  For 56 and one-half years I have thought about my mission.  Every good or great thing that has happened to me in my life is, in some way, connected to my missionary service as a young man.
  • On June 23, 1994, exactly 25 years ago today, President Howard W. Hunter called me to serve as an apostle of the Lord.  How I wish I could adequately relate to you the miracles I have witnessed during my 25 years of service.
  • I would like to discuss the doctrine of Christ with you, not just discussing the ‘what’, but more importantly, the ‘why’ of Christ’s doctrine.  Your missionary purpose is a continuation of the charge given to the ancient and the modern apostles, to go into every nation, preaching repentance and baptism (Matthew 28:19-20).
  • You are to invite, to help, to preach the Atonement.  The word ‘Atonement’ is right in the middle, the heart, of your purpose statement.  As the prophet Joseph declared, every aspect of this Gospel is an appendage to the Atonement of Christ.  There is no other name nor means under heaven whereby men can be saved, only in and through Christ and his sacrifice for us.
  • The Atonement brings two types of salvation into our lives:  1) salvation from physical death through resurrection (universal), and 2) salvation from spiritual death (conditional).  Salvation from spiritual death requires obedience, covenants, ordinances, living the Gospel of Christ.
  • Jesus declared that He was the way, the truth, and the light, and no man would come unto the Father but by Him.
  • Paul, ‘the greatest missionary of all time’, stated that ‘we teach Jesus Christ crucified’.
  • The ‘gospel’ is good news or glad tidings.  Due to Christ, every tomb will be empty after the Resurrection.
  • Without understating the importance of faith in Jesus and in repentance, I want to emphasize the importance of baptism.  Baptism is for THE REMISSION OF SIN!  Yes, we become members of the Church through baptism and confirmation, but baptism is primarily for THE REMISSION OF SIN.
  • He reviewed 2 Nephi 31:2, 11-12, 20-21.
  • The doctrine of Christ was plainly presented in the pre-mortal existence.  We all understood it, and its importance.
  • Let’s look at the dilemma faced by our first parents, Adam and Eve.  In the following graph, the points along the left represent the critical areas of concern for Adam and Eve, with the pluses and minuses showing advantages and disadvantages.
  •                           Stay in Garden      Partake of fruit      Effect of the Atonement
     Relationship with God         +                    -                       ++++
     Eternal life                  +                    -                       ++++
     Eternal progress              -   (2 Ne 2:22)      +                       ++++
     Eternal families              -   (2 Ne 2:23)      +                       ++++
  • What was the answer to Adam and Eve’s dilemma?  The Atonement of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 15:45, a ‘second’ Adam was needed).
  • The power and spirit of the Atonement will carry us as missionaries, as well as all those we teach.
  • In the mission field, when you are spit upon, ridiculed, or rejected, just remember that you are standing with Christ, who was also spit upon, ridiculed, and rejected, He being the greatest of all to receive such treatment.  He, and only He, can turn every negative into a positive.  He was the Chief Apostle then, AND HE IS THE CHIEF APOSTLE NOW!
  • The entire triumph of the plan of salvation is THAT HE LIVES!
  • When Mary Magdalene first saw someone in the garden tomb area, she thought she saw a gardener.  In fact, she did!  He is the ultimate Gardener, having cultivated the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Life, the Roses of Sharon, the lilies of the field, the Cedars of Lebanon.
  • I solemnly declare Him to be the Savior of the world.
  • We are lifted up unto ‘life’ because He was lifted up unto ‘death’.
  • He was wounded for our transgressions.  He came from the presence of the Father to bind up the brokenhearted.  He can set us free.
  • Personal note:  I was overwhelmed by the Spirit as Elder Holland bore his fervent testimony of the Savior.  It stands as one of the great witnesses given by an apostle of the divinity of the Savior.  All who heard his testimony will never forget it.  Several of his fellow-apostles were in tears as his testimony was sweetly but fervently given.  There was no doubt in my mind that this great apostle doesn’t just know about Jesus, he KNOWS Him!

Report from Church News, Volume 90, Number 26, June 30, 2019

  • The title of Elder Holland’s talk, as recorded in the Church News, was: ‘A missionary’s purpose? Teach Christ’s Atonement’.
  • “Your missionary message is that with a complete offering of His body, His blood, and the anguish of His spirit, Christ atoned for the initial transgression of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and also paid the personal price for the accumulated sins of every one else who would ever live in this world, from Adam to the end of time.”
  • “Thus the Atonement of Christ, which makes that return to the Father possible, is rightfully seen as the central fact, the crucial foundation and the chief cornerstone of the great and eternal plan of salvation — the doctrine of Christ, which you as missionaries are called to teach.”
  • Elder Holland stated that the doctrine of Christ is summarized best by “…one of the most beautiful chapters of scripture…”, that being 2 Nephi 31.
  • “I must speak concerning the doctrine of Christ … The Father said: ‘Repent ye, … and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son.’ … And … to him will the the Father give the Holy Ghost, … wherefore follow (have faith in) me … and endure to the end, behold thus saith the Father: ‘Ye shall have eternal life, … This is the doctrine of Christ’ ” .
  • “The Atonement of Christ lies at the heart of the doctrine of Christ and is found in the middle of the Missionary Purpose, accompanied by the first principles and ordinances of the gospel.  It reads, as found in Preach My Gospel, ‘Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.”
  • Elder Holland likened this devotional to a massive zone conference teaching moment, reviewing how the doctrine of Christ was first outlined by God the Father in a pre-mortal council, with Jehovah and Michael (later Jesus and Adam in mortality) active as the Father’s principal assistants.  He also noted that in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve realized that transgression would be necessary to get out of the garden and into mortality, with such a step being known as the ‘Fall of Adam’.
  • Elder Holland listed several key issues facing Adam and Eve (and essentially all of mankind) before and after the Fall.  They included 1) one’s relationship with God  2) life and death  3) progression  4) family.  He then look at each of the four issues both before and after the Fall as well as following the Atonement of Jesus Christ, looking at the POSITIVE or NEGATIVE aspects:
    • Before the Fall
      • Relationship with God — in His presence, walking and talking with Him = POSITIVE
      • Life and death — alive and no possibility of death = POSITIVE
      • Progression — none possible (see 2 Nephi 2:22) = NEGATIVE
      • Family — no possible family (see 2 Nephi 2:23 and Moses 5:10-11) = NEGATIVE
    • After the Fall
      • Relationship with God — out of His immediate presence, having suffered ‘spiritual death’ = NEGATIVE
      • Life and death — physical death is introduced and inevitable = NEGATIVE
      • Progression — able to progress = POSITIVE
      • Family — able to have children = POSITIVE
    • At this point Elder Holland asked what was to be done in this dilemma.  “It’s half and half.  We are divided against ourselves.  We are in a muddle.  Any way you look at it, we have a problem.  What is the answer?”  He explained that the answer was to be found in the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  Adam’s situation was hopeless without a Savior, and Christ’s Atonement was fruitless and without purpose if there was no Fall.
    • With the Atonement of Jesus Christ
      • Relationship with God — not only with God, but able to become like God = POSITIVE !!!
      • Life and death — not only resurrected life, but eternal life = POSITIVE !!!
      • Progression — eternal, unending, and eternal progress = POSITIVE !!!
      • Family — the return and union with our own family, and eternal progeny possible = POSITIVE !!!
  • The Atonement of Jesus, if understood and honored, will carry not only those whom the missionaries teach, but even more importantly, the missionaries themselves.
  • “Remember that when you struggle on your mission, when you are rejected, when you are spit upon, and cast out and made a hiss and a byword, you are standing with the best person this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lived.  You have every reason to stand tall and be grateful that the Living Son of the Lining God knows all about your sorrow and your afflictions, and that He came to turn every minus in your life into a plus.”
  • Elder Holland cautioned that missionaries sometimes become so preoccupied with the ordinance of baptism as their purpose that they may slide over effectively teaching the preliminary gospel principles that prepare for baptism as well as why baptism is absolutely essential.
  • “Elders and sisters, don’t treat lightly the principles of faith and repentance as essential steps to having belief take root in the hearts of those you teach.  Teach every step on the path of salvation or you may find your friends unprepared to take the big step of baptism.  Baptism is not primarily for the purpose of joining the Church, but rather comes after faith and repentance and allows one to focus on the Atonement and the opportunity of becoming clean again through baptism by immersion for the remission of sins and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
  • “I testify that the living God is our Eternal Father, and that Jesus Christ is His living and Only Begotten Son in the flesh.  I testify that this Jesus, who was slain and hanged on a tree, was the chief Apostle then and is the chief Apostle now, the Great High Priest, the great chief cornerstone of His church in this last and greatest of all dispensations.  I testify that He lives, that the whole triumph of the gospel is that He lives, and because He does, so will we.  On that Resurrection Sunday, Mary Magdalene first thought she saw a gardener.  Well, she did – the Gardener who cultivated the Garden of Eden and who endured Gethsemane, the Gardener who gave us the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valley, the cedars of Lebanon, and the tree of life.”
  • “I declare Him to be the Savior of the world, the Bishop and Shepherd of our souls, the Bright and Morning Star.  I know that our garments can be washed white only in the blood of that Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world.  I know that we are lifted up unto life because He was lifted up unto death, that He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows, and with His stripes we are healed.  I bear witness that He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities, that He was a man of sorrows acquainted with grief because upon Him were laid the transgressions of us all.”
  • “I bear witness that He came from God as a God to bind up the brokenhearted, to dry the tears from every eye, to proclaim liberty to the captive and open the prison doors to them that are bound.  I promise that because of your faithful response to this mission call, He will bind up your broken hears, dry your tears, and set you and your families free forever.  All these promises flow from the truthfulness of the doctrine of Christ.  To teach that good news, to teach those glad tidings, is your missionary purpose and is my apostolic witness to you tonight.  I testify of its truthfulness, of its divinity, in the sacred name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.”

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