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How ‘we can change the world,’ Elder Holland tells young adults

Speaking to the students of the Ephraim Utah Institute of Religion, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland teaches to love God, to study the scriptures and to be more holy

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Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles waves to the crowd as he and his wife, Sister Patricia T. Holland, take the stand prior to his speaking at a young adult devotional in Ephraim, Utah, on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News


How ‘we can change the world,’ Elder Holland tells young adults

Speaking to the students of the Ephraim Utah Institute of Religion, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland teaches to love God, to study the scriptures and to be more holy

merlin_2946768.jpg

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles waves to the crowd as he and his wife, Sister Patricia T. Holland, take the stand prior to his speaking at a young adult devotional in Ephraim, Utah, on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

EPHRAIM, Utah — On the same frigid day of the first snowfall of the season, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland brought the warmth of the Spirit as he spoke to nearly 1,300 young adults on Sunday, Oct. 23. 

Elder Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke to students of Snow College and the Ephraim Utah Institute of Religion about loving God and God’s love for them. Sister Patricia Holland, Elder Holland’s wife, attended the devotional with him. 

“Do more of what He would do if He were here,” Elder Holland told the full-house crowd of young adults. He promised that if they would follow the commandments and do what Christ would do, “we can change the world.”

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Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during a young adult devotional in Ephraim, Utah, on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

He counseled that many other entities try to change the world for good, but he said the only thing that can truly induce individuals to change the world for good is the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

One particular part of Elder Holland’s message seemed to strike a chord with many of the young adults in attendance. 

He talked about the daunting challenge of being an Apostle of Jesus Christ and how paralyzing it can be to try to live up to the ideal of being a full-time disciple and special witness of the Savior. 

He said in trying to be that, while at one of his lowest points, he felt as though the Lord said, “OK, now I think I can work with you.” 

In that moment, he said he began to recognize the need to broaden his horizon regarding the work which the Lord had begun during His mortal ministry. 

“His ministry? Thirty-six months, more or less. For me? It will soon be 36 years. For Him? He traveled 95 miles. ... For me? I have circled the globe.” 

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Crowd members listen as Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks at a young adult devotional in Ephraim, Utah, on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

“We can’t be more than He was, but we get to go farther and serve longer than He did in mortality,” Elder Holland said.

For Sarah Hill, a student at Snow College from Boise, Idaho, she said this was something that stood out to her.

“The thought that he came here because the Savior couldn’t? That was powerful. [The Apostles] really are messengers of the Lord,” she said.

A message just for them

Chad McKinnon, a Snow College student from Logan, Utah, noticed that Elder Holland didn’t give what McKinnon referred to as a “standard talk.” 

“Lots of it was just for us at Snow,” he said. 

Elder Holland spent half his time answering questions that had been previously submitted for this devotional. The other half of his message included some prepared scripture verses and quotes but largely consisted of Elder Holland sharing his testimony in a way that felt impromptu to the students.

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Crowd members listen as Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks at a devotional at Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

“He talked about the temple being built in Ephraim,” McKinnon said. “He seemed very guided in the answers he gave to questions.” 

Preparing to receive a temple endowment

With a new temple being constructed in Ephraim, many of the questions submitted to Elder Holland involved the timing of receiving an individual’s endowment. 

Elder Holland expressed gratitude for the questions that involved preparing for the temple and said that guidance on this particular topic has changed in recent years. 

“Before the prevalence of so many temples, we encouraged waiting to be endowed until going on a mission or getting closer to marriage or a slightly older age,” Elder Holland said. “Now we’re quite willing to support whatever you and your priesthood leaders feel. … This makes it more about your personal spiritual preparation.” 

He said Church leaders have drawn the line at high school graduation, saying no one is allowed to receive their temple endowment prior to that time.

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Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during a young adult devotional in Ephraim, Utah, on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Elder Holland also said that with a new temple would come additional opportunities for the young adults in the Ephraim area to serve in the temple. He said that he recently was at the temple in Provo, Utah, and he didn’t see anyone serving in that particular session over the age of 28 or 30. He encouraged the young adults to consider what it would mean to serve in their temple and to prepare to do so.

The power of holiness

Isaac Stone, a nuclear science major from Clinton, Utah, said he felt encouraged to do more by Elder Holland. 

“I feel like he was saying we need to step up our game,” Stone said. “The Lord needs us to testify of Him.” 

Stone and Hill were also part of a special choir that sang the hymn, “More Holiness Give Me.” 

“Elder Holland requested that hymn just for this devotional,” Stone said. 

Hill was excited that Elder Holland said the hymn was one of his three favorites. 

“It was powerful,” she said. 

Part of that feeling came because of a challenge the choir received to live with more holiness in the weeks leading up to the devotional. 

“When we sang, I wasn’t thinking about technique, but the words,” Hill said. “That’s what made it more powerful.”

Finding forgiveness

Elder Holland also helped answer or provide context for answers around questions of personal worthiness and feeling forgiven after repenting. 

One question focused on the reason for not being able to forget a sin that had been committed.

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Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Patricia T. Holland, look out over the large crowd assembled to hear him speak at a young adult devotional in Ephraim, Utah, on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

“I’m grateful you’d ask that question,” Elder Holland said. “Forgiveness is not a matter of memory. If you didn’t remember, you might be foolish enough to do it again.” 

In the Book of Mormon, Alma remembered his own sins and rebellion and was able to use his memories of them to encourage his own sons not to go down the same path he had in his youth, Elder Holland explained. 

“But if you have repented you won’t  be ‘harrowed up,’ as the scripture say. So don’t beat yourself up if you don’t forget what you did,” he said. “Thank heavens the Lord forgets it.”

Avoid double payment

Having faith that forgiveness will be extended based upon repentance came as a companion topic to the question about remembering past sins. Elder Holland said: “Think about the Atonement, the pain, the humiliation, the price He paid. … Who else could have done what He did? No one. 

“It was universal. It counts for everyone. Your sins have already been paid for. They’ve been taken care of. Now the rest is up to you.” 

Elder Holland said individuals aren’t left on their own to work out some kind of unique deal with the Savior to obtain forgiveness for their sins. 

“Don’t think that the Atonement counts for everybody else but you. You are not an exception. He’s done what He’s supposed to do for everyone,” Elder Holland said of the Savior. “Everyone gets counted.” 

Reading from Doctrine and Covenants 19, Elder Holland explained that not repenting results in an unnecessary double payment for sin. 

“‘If they would not repent they must suffer even as I; Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain,’” he read. “That means there is a terrible, unneeded, tragic double payment for sin that can be avoided if you will repent because He already made payment on your behalf.”

Anchored in the scriptures

Elder Holland used many scripture verses to help answer the questions asked by young adults for the devotional. Recognizing this, he told the audience that he loves the scriptures. 

“As a missionary, I fell in love with them,” he said. “Scriptures are a part of the rock — the foundation on which our faith is built. They don’t change.” 

He said scriptures are “sure, secure and safe.” 

Specifically, he testified of the Book of Mormon and its strength as a foundation in Jesus Christ.

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Crowd members sing one of the hymns prior to Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaking at a young adult devotional in Ephraim, Utah, on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

He shared that President Russell M. Nelson commented in a meeting with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles two weeks ago that the Book of Mormon has something inspiring on every page. 

Referencing Nephi’s vision of the tree of life, Elder Holland said, “Remember, the mist of darkness falls on everybody. 

“We all need the strength, guidance and safety of the iron rod,” he said. “Come to institute for that daily sustenance found in the scriptures.”

Love God above all

In conclusion, Elder Holland encouraged the young adults to commit to living one commandment as best they could — “above all else, we are to love God.” 

It is the first and great commandment, Elder Holland said. “Living it is foundational to living all others. Loving God helps each person to become more like Him and trust what He has said. That allows us to love others and do good in the world. ...

“Christ’s grace and love and promises are sufficient. 

“So just work on that one commandment, first, will you?” he invited. “Try to love God with all your heart, might, mind and strength because that is how He loves you.”

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