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Discipleship

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As baptized members of the Church and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, Latter-day Saints become His disciples. Mormons have a belief and testimony of the doctrines and teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ and of the Church and Kingdom of God here upon the earth. They seek to be obedient to the commandments, to stand as witnesses at all times and in places (see Mosiah 18:8-9), and to share the gospel with all mankind (see Mormon 9:22). They seek to become like Him (see 3 Nephi 27:27). They truly become His disciples as they love and serve their fellowman (see John 13:34-35) and seek always to do the will of God in all things.

THE SCRIPTURES TEACH US

John 13:34-35—34 "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Love, the great commandment, when expressed, surely is a symbol of one’s discipleship of the Lord Jesus Christ. Love is the righteous motive for all that is good, and it is expressed through service.

Doctrine and Covenants 41:5— "He that receiveth my law and doeth it, the same is my disciple; and he that saith he receiveth it and doeth it not, the same is not my disciple, and shall be cast out from among you;

Discipleship requires action. We are to be doers of the word and not hearers only (see James 1:22).

Doctrine and Covenants 103:28— "And whoso is not willing to lay down his life for my sake is not my disciple."

True discipleship requires the willingness for a total and complete sacrifice of all things. The Lord does not often require this sort of sacrifice on the part of His children, but He can discern whether we are willing. Our love of God and willingness to follow Him, no matter what, is what qualifies us for His kingdom.

MODERN PROPHETS SPEAK

"Heavenly power can be accessed only by those who are Christ-like; it is a power whose continued availability is maintained by meekness along with the other virtues. Nor can we have the loving empathy or understanding mercy necessary for true discipleship without meekness."

(Neal A. Maxwell, Meek and Lowly [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 85.)

"Discipleship is not simply surviving and enduring; discipleship is a pressing forward, a creative Christianity. Discipleship does not wait to be acted upon, but instead acts upon men and circumstances to make things better."

(Things As They Really Are, p. 100.)

"The act of loving one’s enemies and submissiveness are the greatest and crowning things in discipleship. It shouldn’t surprise us that they don’t come early in one’s discipleship. Instead they come near the end of the trail, when we are less selfish and less caught up with ego."

(Searching for God in America, p. 132.)

"Keeping our sense of proportion whatever we do, keeping our precious perspective wherever we are, and keeping the commandments however we are tested-these reflect being 'settled in our discipleship.'”

(We Will Prove Them Herewith, p. 12.)

"True discipleship is for volunteers only. Only volunteers will trust the Guide sufficiently to follow Him in the dangerous ascent which only He can lead."

(Not My Will, But Thine, p. 89.)

"Sustained discipleship includes resisting, and chopping back again and again, the encroaching crabgrass cares of the world.

(Cory H. Maxwell, ed., The Neal A. Maxwell Quote Book [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 91.)

"Scriptural tests establishing true discipleship include: 1. Believing the true doctrines of Christ (Ether 4:10-12); 2. Obeying the principles of the gospel (John 8:31); 3. Having “love one to another” (John 13:35); 4. Accepting the message and aiding the work of the missionaries (Doctrine and Covenants 84:87-91); and 5. Bringing forth works of righteousness (John 15:4-8.)"

(Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966], 198.)


“The Higher Perspective”

In the first of the worldwide priesthood training sessions conducted by satellite on January 11, 2003, Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught a precious lesson in discipleship when recounting his challenges with leukemia. As he spoke on the subject of revelation and how the “mind and heart, intellect and feeling” are to be in tune with the Spirit, he shared with the audience that he had pleaded one day with the Lord concerning matters of health and continued service in the kingdom. As Elder Maxwell recounted it, the answer came to him in a thirteen word statement: “I have given you leukemia that you might teach my people with authenticity.” What a transcendent expression concerning the nature of true discipleship and how each of us—despite the adversities of life placed in our pathway of progress—can rise to all occasions for service in the spirit of humility and acceptance, always viewing things from a higher, more spiritual perspective. (Richard J. Allen)


SUMMARY

Devoted followers are true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. The sacrifice is great; the reward is eternal life. We live His doctrine and precepts. We preach and teach His word and His gospel. We all can be true disciples. There is no comparison among disciples by title, position, or station; there is no competition with others. There is only one question: Do we keep the commandments and do we do the will of God?

  • This article has been adapted from What We Need to Know and Do, by Ed Pinegar and Richard J. Allen.

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