Home News Sunday morning session: Christlike discipleship

Sunday morning session: Christlike discipleship

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held the Sunday morning session of the 192nd Semiannual General Conference at 10 a.m. in the Conference Center. Under the direction of President Henry B. Eyring, President Russell M. Nelson presided. The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square opened the meeting with How Wondrous and Great as the speakers followed.

The congregation and church leadership stand to sing "We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet"
The congregation and church leadership stand to sing "We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet" Photo credit: Tatum Troescher

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: Lifted Up Upon the Cross

Elder Holland, from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, opened his talk by sharing an experience of a graduate school discussion and why members of the Church do not use the cross, but why members should show respect to those religious organizations who do.

“Because crucifixion was one of the Roman Empire’s most agonizing forms of execution, many early followers of Jesus chose not to highlight that brutal instrument of suffering,” Elder Holland said. “By the fourth and fifth centuries, a cross was being introduced as a symbol of generalized Christianity, but ours is not a ‘generalized Christianity’.”

He went on to explain that as members of the Church, a cross is worn, but it is more of a metaphorical cross to bear rather than a physical cross to wear in memory of the suffering of Christ.

“This speaks of the crosses we bear rather than the ones we wear,” Elder Holland said. “To be a follower of Jesus Christ one must sometimes carry a burden — your own or someone else’s — and go where sacrifice is required and suffering is inevitable.”

Elder Holland ended his talk by promising a blessing to those who would bear the cross of Christ upon themselves. According to him, these blessings may come soon or they may come later, but they will come to devoted followers of Christ.

Sister J. Annette Dennis: His Yoke is Easy and His Burden is Light

Following Elder Holland’s remarks, Sister J. Annette Dennis, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, spoke about ministering in the Church, just like Christ did during His earthly ministry.

“Many talks have been given by our Church leaders on charity, unity, love, kindness, compassion, forgiveness and mercy,” Dennis said. “I believe the Savior is inviting us to live a higher, holier way — His way of love where all can feel they truly belong and are needed.”

Sister Dennis continued in her address by explaining that members of the Church are imperfect, but by ministering Christlike love to those who need it, blessings will come.

“When we seek to empathize with others who also experience challenges and imperfections, it can help them feel that they are not alone in their struggles,” Sister Dennis said. “Everyone needs to feel that they really do belong and are needed in the body of Christ.”

Sister Dennis ended by reminding members of the Church that everyone is a child of God. People who may be easier to judge than others are valuable opportunities to show Christlike love and minister as He ministers.

Photo credit: Tatum Troescher

Elder Gerrit W. Gong: Happy and Forever

Elder Gong, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, started his message by asking the congregation if they remember believing in a “happily ever after.” He explained that this is not something of fairy tales, but an achievable way of living through the plan of salvation.

“True, enduring joy and eternity with those we love are the very essence of God’s plan of happiness,” Elder Gong said. “His lovingly prepared way can make our eternal journey happy and forever.”

ElderGong continued by sharing two sacred experiences of friends whose lives had been enhanced by following the plan of salvation and participating in temple work. He then explained that these two experiences highlighted five key gospel principles:

— The plan of salvation promises to unite the body and spirit of everyone.

— One’s becomes full as they feel Jesus Christ’s grace and forgiveness.

— God knows each of His children perfectly.

— The Lord offers the opportunity to become like Him through performing temple ordinances for those who are unable to do it themselves.

— A balance of repentance and forgiveness invites people to offer to others that which they desire most.

Elder Gong ended his remarks by inviting the congregation to draw closer to Christ through compassion, truth and mercy for one another.

Elder Joseph W. Sitati: Patterns of Discipleship

Elder Sitati, who was recently released from the Quorum of the Seventy, centered his address on various patterns of being Christlike such as patterns of faith, humility, love and service.

“Day and night is one example of patterns that God has given to everyone who has ever lived on earth, of things as they really are,” Elder Sitati said. “Whenever we care to notice, we see that Heavenly Father has given us sufficient witnesses of truth to govern our lives so we will know Him and have the blessings of peace and joy.”

He continued by explaining that a major aspect of discipleship is showing love and service to others just as Christ did before He was crucified. Faith is an important aspect, but a true disciple is one who practices that which they preach.

“As we each individually grow in our knowledge and love of the Father and the Son, we grow in appreciation and love for one another,” Elder Sitati said.

President Russell M. Nelson and the first presidency entering the conference center
President Russell M. Nelson and the first presidency entering the conference center Photo credit: Tatum Troescher

President Steven J. Lund: Lasting Discipleship

President Lund, the Young Men General President, opened his talk by sharing an experience in which over 150,000 youth attended one week-long session of FSY, For the Strength of Youth. He explained how many of these youth were hesitant to attend, but finished the week as disciples of Christ.

“Experiences like FSY conferences, camps, sacrament meetings and missions can help to burnish our testimonies, taking us through arcs of growth and spiritual discovery to places of relative peace,” President Lund said.

He continued by explaining that lasting discipleship means soaking the truth of scriptures and modern-day prophets even in distracting moments — not only when convenient.

“It is one thing to ‘hear Him’ in a quiet place of contemplation with scriptures wide open,” President Lund said. “But it is quite another thing to carry our discipleship into this mortal flurry of distractions where we must strive to ‘hear Him’, even through the blur of self-concern and faltering confidence.”

Elder David A. Bednar: Put on Thy Strength, O Zion

From the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Bednar started his message by sharing the Biblical parable, The Royal Marriage Feast. He likened this parable to members of the Church in the latter days with the final line of “many are called, but few are chosen.”

He went on to explain that Joseph Smith made an adjustment to that line when translating the book of Matthew. Many were called to the wedding, but not all of them had the wedding garment. They were not all prepared adequately for the wedding. They were not chosen because they were not prepared.

“To be or to become chosen is not an exclusive status conferred upon us,” Elder Bednar stated. “Rather, you and I ultimately can choose to be chosen through the righteous exercise of our moral agency.”

Elder Bednar expanded on what it means to be chosen and how one may choose to be chosen, as he had said. According to him, the Lord does not have a limit on who can and who can’t be chosen. He invites all to be chosen by Him.

“He does not limit ‘the chosen’ to a restricted few,” Elder Bednar said. “Instead, our hearts, our desires, our honoring of sacred gospel covenants and ordinances, our obedience to the commandments, and most importantly, the Savior’s redeeming grace and mercy determine whether we are counted as one of God’s chosen.”

President Nelson and church leadership exiting the conference center
President Nelson and church leadership exiting the conference center Photo credit: Tatum Troescher

President Russell M. Nelson: Overcome the World and Find Rest

President Russell M. Nelson, President of the Church, concluded the session with remarks about staying on the covenant path and remaining in the world while not being of the world.

“The reward for keeping covenants with God is heavenly power — power that strengthens us to withstand our trials, temptations and heartaches better,” President Nelson said. “Thus, covenant-keepers are entitled to a special kind of rest that comes to them through their covenantal relationship with God.”

He went on to explain that Jesus Christ had overcome the world when performing the Atonement and resurrecting after His crucifixion. Just as Christ overcame the world, Nelson explained to the congregation that they, too, could overcome the world. He invited them to ask themselves these three questions:

1. What does it mean to overcome the world?

2. How do we do it?

3. How does overcoming the world bless our lives?

After going into the specifics of each of these questions and what they mean, President Nelson made an invitation to those listening and promised various blessings to those who would accept this invitation.

“My plea to you this morning is to find rest from the intensity, uncertainty and anguish of this world by overcoming the world through your covenants with God,” Nelson said. “With the power of the holy apostleship vested in me, I bless you in your quest to overcome this world. I bless you to increase your faith in Jesus Christ and learn better how to draw upon His power. I bless you to be able to discern truth from error. I bless you to care more about the things of God than the things of the world. I bless you to see the needs of those around you and strengthen those you love.”

The Sunday afternoon session of conference will begin at 2 p.m. and can be viewed here.

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