Monday, February 25, 2019

Elder Neal A. Maxwell on the Holy Ghost and emulating Christ

Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926-2004) served as a Seventy from 1976-1981, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve until his death from cancer in 2004.
"We desperately need the Holy Ghost to help us choose the right. He will also help by preaching to us necessary sermonettes from the pulpit of memory. He will also testify to us of the truths of the gospel.
"Given where we must go, we need the Holy Ghost as a constant companion, not just as an occasional influence.
"We can also be further fortified after baptism by regularly partaking of the sacrament as we reflect on the Atonement and renew our covenants, including those made at the time of baptism. This process of emancipation and fortification is made possible by applying Jesus' Atonement to ourselves and to those we teach. We should regularly apply the Atonement for self-improvement, while enduring to the end. If we choose the course of steady improvement, which is clearly the course of discipleship, we will become more righteous and can move from what may be initially a mere acknowledgment of Jesus on to admiration of Jesus, then on to adoration of Jesus, and finally to emulation of Jesus. In that process of striving to become more like Him through steady improvement, we must be in the posture of repentance, even if no major transgression is involved."
- Neal A. Maxwell, "Testifying of the Great and Glorious Atonement," Church satellite broadcast on conversion and retention, Provo MTC, 29 August 1999; see Ensign, Oct. 2001, pp. 10-12
Click here to read the full talk

Elder Maxwell's remarks are always packed with insight. He explains how the Holy Ghost can preach "sermonettes" to us "from the pulpit of memory" as we are prompted and reminded of important things. That, of course, requires that there be things stored in the pulpit of memory from which to draw. The Holy Ghost can truly "bring all things to [our] remembrance" (John 14:26)—how critical for us to be continually adding good and virtuous things to the store. And then, having the Holy Ghost as a "constant companion" instead of "occasional influence" is one of the key to success and happiness.

And then, the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ becomes the great enabling power in our lives:

What a perfect description of our course of gradual and steady progress and improvement, as we draw close to the Savior: acknowledgement, admiration, adoration, emulation. We may perhaps enter and re-enter that sequence repeatedly as we come to know Him more accurately and intimately. As true disciples, the ultimate goal is complete emulation.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

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