The Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ is the heart and core and center of revealed religion.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie Christ and the Creation

By , on November 2, 2015

Humility, Joseph F. Smith, Sacrifice, Tests


There is a circumstance recorded in the Scriptures, that has been brought forcibly to my mind while listening to the remarks of the elders who have spoken to us during conference. A young man came to Jesus and asked what good things he should do that he might have eternal life. Jesus said unto him, “Keep the commandments.” The young man asked which of them. Then Jesus enumerated to him some of the commandments that he was to keep-he should not murder, nor commit adultery, nor steal, nor bear false witness, but he should honor his father and mother, and love his neighbor as himself, etc. Said the young man, “All these I have kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?” Jesus said, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.”

And we are told that he turned away sorrowful, because he had great possessions. He would not hearken to, nor obey the law of God in this matter. Not that Jesus required of the young man to go and sell all that he possessed and give it away; that is not the principle involved. The great principle involved is that which the elders of Israel are endeavoring to enforce upon the minds of the Latter-day Saints today. When the young man turned away in sorrow, Jesus said to his disciples, “A rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (See Matt. 19:16-23.)

Is this because the rich man is rich? No. May not the rich man, who has the light of God in his heart, who possesses the principle and spirit of truth, and who understands the principle of God’s government and law in the world, enter into the kingdom of heaven as easily, and be as acceptable there as the poor man may? Precisely.

God is not a respecter of persons. The rich man may enter into the kingdom of heaven as freely as the poor, if he will bring his heart and affections into subjection to the law of God and to the principle of truth; if he will place his affections upon God, his heart upon the truth, and his soul upon the accomplishment of God’s purposes, and not fix his affections and his hopes upon the things of the world.

Here is the difficulty, and this was the difficulty with the young man. He had great possessions, and he preferred to rely upon his wealth rather than forsake all and follow Christ. If he had possessed the spirit of truth in his heart to have known the will of God, and to have loved the Lord with all his heart and his neighbor as himself, he would have said to the Lord, “Yea, Lord, I will do as you require, I will go and sell all that I have, and give it to the poor.”

If he had had it in his heart to do this, that alone might have been sufficient, and the demand would probably have stopped there; for undoubtedly the Lord did not deem it essential for him to go and give his riches away, or to sell his possessions and give the proceeds away, in order that he might be perfect, for that, in a measure, would have been improvident. Yet, if it had required all this to test him and to prove him, to see whether he loved the Lord with all his heart, mind, and strength, and his neighbor as himself, then he ought to have been willing to do it; and if he had been, he would have lacked nothing and would have received the gift of eternal life, which is the greatest gift of God, and which can be received on no other principle than the one mentioned by Jesus to the young man.

If you will read the sixth lecture on faith, in the book of Doctrine and Covenants, you will learn that no man can obtain the gift of eternal life unless he is willing to sacrifice all earthly things in order to obtain it. We cannot do this so long as our affections are fixed upon the world.

It is true that we are in a measure of the earth, earthy; we belong to the world. Our affections and our souls are here; our treasures are here, and where the treasure is there the heart is. But if we will lay up our treasures in heaven; if we will wean our affections from the things of this world, and say to the Lord our God, “Father, not my will, but thine be done,” then may the will of God be done on earth as it is done in heaven, and the kingdom of God in its power and glory will be established upon the earth. Sin and Satan will be bound and banished from the earth, and not until we attain to this condition of mind and faith will this be done.

Then let the Saints unite; let them hearken to the voices of the servants of God that are sounded in their ears; let them hearken to their counsels and give heed to the truth; let them seek their own salvation, for, so far as I am concerned, I am so selfish that I am seeking after my salvation, and I know that I can find it only in obedience to the laws of God, in keeping the commandments, in performing works of righteousness, following in the footsteps of our file leader, Jesus the Exemplar and the Head of all. He is the Way of life, he is the Light of the world, he is the Door by which we must enter, in order that we may have a place with him in the celestial kingdom of God.

President Joseph F. Smith,
Journal of Discourses, Vol. 18, 1877, pp. 133-135 (paragraph breaks added to enhance online readability)

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