Friday, July 2, 2021

Elder M. Russell Ballard on discipleship and scripture study

Elder M. Russell Ballard (1928- ) was called as a Seventy in 1976, and has served as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1985.
"The most important knowledge you can acquire, and the area of learning that will keep everything else in focus for you and bring you true happiness and joy, will be your solid anchor of assurance that you are a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.
"The word disciple comes from the Latin word discipulus; it means to learn or to know. Many people think that being a disciple means simply to follow, with an unfortunate connotation of following blindly. Becoming a true disciple is nothing of the sort! It requires us to learn and to know of Jesus Christ, to study the principles of truth for ourselves and to receive answers—in other words, to receive knowledge. Because President Benson knows this, he has called upon Church members to study the scriptures every day. Once we have knowledge of the simple principles of the Restoration, coupled with a deep and abiding faith in the truths we do not yet know, we become true disciples of Jesus Christ and not simply followers. The difference between a disciple and a follower is like the difference between a ship's anchor that is lodged solidly at the bottom of the sea, holding the ship fast, and an anchor that is merely suspended in water because the chain is too short. Such an anchor may appear to be doing its job when the seas are calm, but serves no purpose during storms or high waves."
- M. Russell Ballard, "Anchor to the Soul," BYU Fireside, September 6, 1992
Click here to read the full talk

It's a bold statement to define "the most important knowledge you can acquire." Perhaps not everyone would agree; but Elder Ballard's explanation of the importance of knowing assuredly "that you are a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ" is persuasive. The key is in the qualifier—true disciple.

I've long appreciated the insight of what a disciple really is; not simply a follower, but a learner, one who is devoted to understanding and following the teachings or principles espoused by another.

We become "true disciples," Elder Ballard teaches, by studying the scriptures to learn the "simple principles" of the Gospel, "coupled with a deep and abiding faith" for the areas where knowledge is still pending. And having that personal assurance of our devotion to the Savior will bring us joy along with the anchor of safety in the midst of storms. What a great invitation to us all!
(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2021)
March 13, 2015

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