The Only Name Whereby Salvation Cometh
by President Bruce C. Kusch
Brothers and sisters, what a blessing it is to be with you this morning. I am very grateful to welcome you, to express our love to you and for you, and our excitement as we together begin this semester.
As Sister Kusch talked about the picture, I could see the picture that she was talking about. When I think about that picture, I also think about two young kids many, many years ago that were in love, that just wanted to do what the Lord wanted us to do, and I also realized that back then, I had some really cool sideburns.
Today is another day never to be forgotten at LDS Business College. And as I thought about what Sister Kusch was teaching us, I had this impression that I wanted to share as a further witness of what she taught us. And that is: If we will live today seeking the Lord’s guidance, He will bless us that we might have glorious tomorrows, and I know that that is true.
When each of us were born, we were given a name by our parents. And the manner of naming and the traditions of naming children varies around the world.
In the United States, generally children are given a first, a middle and a last name. Added to the name could be “Junior,” or “Senior,” or even a Roman numeral to designate a new child – male child – with the same name as the father, grandfather or even perhaps great-grandfather.
In Africa, there are nine different factors that can influence the way a child is named. These are things such as events on the day of their birth, where the child falls in the birth order, names that may convey a warning, the day of the week that the child was born, and the religious faith of the family.
In China, when people introduce themselves, they will state their last name first, followed by their first name. In Chinese culture, it is rude to use only someone’s first name or to only call them by their last name.
You may have met someone who was named after a famous person, a family member, or even a character in a movie. For example, one of our missionaries whose last name was Bond, was given the first name of James. My middle name is Calvin, and I was named after an uncle who died in the Second World War.
In Mexico, we discovered that it was not unusual to name male children after faithful and exemplary men in the Book of Mormon. One of our missionaries was named Mahonri Moriancumer Perez; another was named Angel Moroni Sanchez.
Now, remember that we had a missionary named James Bond. So, in our mission, all at the same time, we had a super spy – James Bond – we had Mahonri Moriancumer – the brother of Jared, and we had the Angel Moroni. It was epic!
Now, names may also differ by generation. In the 1880s in the United States, some of the most popular male names were John, William and George; for females they were Mary, Anna and Emma. In this decade, some of the most popular female names are Sophia, Emma and Olivia, and some of the most popular male names are Jackson, Aiden and Liam.
Some of you may have a gift for remembering names. For others, it may be a bit of a struggle. As an example, some of you know that on our first date, I forgot Sister Kusch’s name. That is a true story! I have also shared that on another occasion when I was having dinner with some friends and their young daughter wanted to make place cards — name cards — for everyone at the table, as she prepared them, she could not remember my name. And so, we went in to sit down, I sat at my place and I saw a name card that simply said “other.”
Now as a final example, sometimes names may be changed from what they were originally.
My paternal grandparents emigrated to the United States from an area of Eastern Europe. In doing some recent family history research I have come to learn that my last name was spelled differently there than it is now spelled here. It was likely changed when my grandfather arrived at Ellis Island in the United States. Sister Kusch has a grandfather on her mother’s side, who also “Americanized” his name and changed the spelling upon his arrival from Sweden. These kinds of things make for some interesting family history research challenges.
However, regardless of the country where we were born and the cultural traditions that influence how children were given a name, there is one name that each of us share and that is common to each and every one of us as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is the name: Jesus Christ. All that we do in the Church, we do in the name of Jesus Christ. The Church bears His name. We pray in His name. This talk will conclude in His name.
As members of the Church we are a collective band of Christians, not unlike those described in Alma chapter 46:
“For thus were all the true believers of Christ...called...yea, all those who were true believers in Christ took upon them, gladly, the name of Christ...because of their belief in Christ, who would come.”
The Scriptures are clear and plain in helping us understand the importance of believing in and on the name of Jesus Christ, and our willingness to take upon us His name. In fact, our salvation, our very salvation depends upon it!
In section 18 (verses 21-25) of the Doctrine and Covenants we read:
“Take upon you the name of Christ... And as many as repent and are baptized in my name, which is Jesus Christ, and endure to the end, the same shall be saved. Behold, Jesus Christ is the name which is given of the Father, and there is none other name given whereby man can be saved; Wherefore, all men must take upon them the name which is given of the Father, for in that name shall they be called at the last day; Wherefore, if they know not the name by which they are called, they cannot have a place in the kingdom of my Father.”
My hope this morning brothers and sisters, is that the Holy Ghost will help each of us learn and come to a deeper understanding of the vital importance in our lives of taking upon us the name of Jesus Christ; what it means to be willing to take His name upon us, and the promised blessings that are associated with doing so. I believe it is much more than we generally realize as members of the Church. It is no trivial matter and our willingness to take upon us the name of Christ, and all that it entails matters – a lot. What we each learn about taking upon us the name of Christ will not be as much about what is said in this devotional, but more about what each of us does following this devotional.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught that some meanings of taking upon us the name of Christ upon us are obvious, while others are only evident to those who have searched the scriptures and pondered the wonders of eternal life.
By way of commandment, each candidate for baptism, in expressing their desire to be baptized, comes forth with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, indicating that they have repented of their sins, declaring their witness and willingness “to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve Him to the end...” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Taking Upon Us the Name of Jesus Christ,” Ensign, May 1985). As we enter into the waters of baptism, and as we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, we affirm that witness and declaration by sacred and solemn covenant.
It is our privilege each week, as we attend sacrament meetings to partake of the sacrament, to renew our commitment and covenant and willingness to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ, and to further witness our determination to serve Him to the end.
We also take upon us the name of Christ when we publicly proclaim our belief in Him. It is easy, as we think about those who have served in the mission field, to reflect on experiences had as missionaries; contacting people on the street, on a bus, in a store or some other place, and classify those as publicly proclaiming our belief in Christ.
But what about now? What do we do now? There may be opportunities to share the gospel with those that are not of our faith. You will have an opportunity to proclaim your belief in Christ in classes this semester, or perhaps in callings as you serve in your wards. As important as those will be, you will powerfully and publicly proclaim your belief in Christ one day and one act at a time, by simply living true to what you know and to what you believe as Latter-day Saint. If you do that, you will have additional opportunities to “stand as a witness of God at all times, and in all things, and in all places...” (see Mosiah 18: 9).
Now I am confident that many of you have had opportunities to “stand as witnesses” of God and of the Savior prior to coming here. Before joining the faculty at BYU-Idaho, I spent many years in the high technology industry in Silicon Valley, California. My responsibilities required a substantial amount of travel throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. In Asia, particularly, consuming large quantities of alcohol is an important part of doing business. In fact, it is considered rude and antisocial NOT to drink. And, not doing so could prove detrimental to having important business dealings with other people. So, what was I to do as a Latter-day Saint? I learned that if I simply refused to drink, without an explanation, I would be committing a social offense. But, I also learned that if I explained that if I did not drink for religious reasons, I would be respected for living by my standards and by the standards of my religion. And, once people knew, they always made sure that I had an alternative beverage when the liquor started to flow, and everyone knew that they would always have a designated driver.
Now, many years ago, while serving as a bishop, I received an email that startled me. It was sent by someone that I worked with, but I did not know well. It began: “Dear Bishop Kusch.” My first thought was, “What have I done or what have I said in front of this person that would have been inappropriate or somehow disrespectful to what I believe as a Latter-day Saint? I learned as I visited with this man, that he and his mother were members of the Church, that he had been baptized as a young boy many years ago, and now they were looking to find their way back to the Church, and they did not know how to do it, and they thought I might be able to help.
A friend in Idaho worked as a school counselor. Her last name was Miller. There was also a teacher and a nurse who had that same last name at the school. To distinguish amongst the three, they were known as “Mrs. Miller the counselor, Mrs. Miller the teacher, and Mrs. Miller the nurse.” It is highly likely, brothers and sisters, that you will have or will be known, at some point in time as “the Mormon.”
So, brothers and sisters, we take upon us the name of Christ, and express our willingness to do so when we are baptized and become members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, when we partake of the sacrament, when we proclaim our belief in Him and when we signify our willingness to work in His kingdom.
Now let me share two final examples, and perhaps two of the most important, and two that will require the greatest measure of the Holy Ghost to teach you the importance of these things.
In scripture, both ancient and modern, the Lord speaks of temples – places where He would “cause His name to dwell,” (Deut. 12:11) and houses “built unto my holy name” (D&C 124:39, D&C 105:33). In the dedicatory prayer of the Kirtland Temple, the Prophet Joseph prayed for a blessing, “...over thy people upon whom thy name shall be put in this house” (D&C 109:26).
Elder Oaks taught that this petition refers to the Savior giving His authority for His name to be used in sacred ordinances in the temple. He said: “Willingness to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ can therefore be understood as willingness to take upon us the authority of Jesus Christ. According to this meaning, by partaking of the sacrament we witness our willingness to participate in the sacred ordinances of the temple and to receive the highest blessings available through the name and by the authority of Jesus Christ when he chooses to confer them upon us” (Ibid).
There is greater power in the temple than we realize, many of you have received your endowments and made sacred covenants. Some of you have yet to make those covenants. Each and every one of us here today can and should be worthy of holding a temple recommend, and holding such a recommend and using a recommend. As you go to the temple to perform baptisms if you are not yet endowed, and participate in confirmations, that is one way to take upon you the name of Christ and His authority. As we attend the temple, as we participate in ordinance work there, that is a way that we take upon us and show our willingness to take upon us the name of Christ.
In contending with Zeezrom, Amulek taught him that:
“...he (Christ) shall come into the world to redeem his people; and he shall take upon him the transgressions of those who believe on his name; and these are they that shall have eternal life, and salvation cometh to none else” (Alma 11:40).
And King Benjamin taught his people:
“...because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ...for...this day he hath spiritually begotten you...for your hearts are changed through faith on his name...therefore, ye have become his sons and his daughters...And there is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ...and whosoever doeth this shall be found at the right hand of God, for he shall know the name by which he is called; for he shall be called by the name of Christ” (Mosiah 5: 7-9).
The blessings received in the temple qualify us to return to the presence of God and the Savior. Only when we exercise faith in the name of Jesus Christ, when we repent of our sins, when we enter into and keep sacred covenants, and keep His commandments can we, with confidence, hope to lay claim on the Savior’s mercy and His atoning sacrifice.
So, my friends and fellow Christians, as this new year has begun, and as this new semester begins, I invite each of us to set aside some meaningful time to study and deeply ponder:
What it means to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ?
What it means to serve Him until the end?
What it means to be willing to take upon us His authority in holy temples?
What it means to honor the covenants we have made, to live repentant lives that we might qualify to receive the Savior’s mercy and every blessing of His atoning sacrifice?
It has been stated that “honor is the presence of God in man” (attributed to Pat Conroy). I know that as we honor the name of Christ, He honors us, He changes us, and we become more like He is.
I know that He lives. I know that He knows my name and I know that He knows your name. I know that taking upon us His name and believing in and on Him will bring blessings into our lives that we can hardly imagine and comprehend. Of these things, I bear my witness in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Like an Instrument in an Orchestra
by Sister Alynda Kusch
Good morning to you all, it’s wonderful to join you in this historic place for our fist devotional of the semester. Frequently students ask President Kusch and I, “How I can be prepared for the future?” and “How I can come to understand what the Lord would have me do?”
I want to share with you this morning some things that I have learned about how the Lord knows us, how He lifts and guides us, and how He would lead us if we allow Him to do so.
Last week I was studying in second Nephi the words of Nephi and Jacob, and even the chapter of Isaiah. I was reading them with you in mind and there are four things that I would like to share with you that are important for us to remember as we have a conversation about how the Lord guides and directs us.
One: Jacob reminds us that God knows all things (2 Nephi 9:20). This knowledge should give us great comfort and confidence in following where the Lord leads us to go.
Two: Jacob also reminds us that we are free to choose (2 Nephi 10:23). Agency is a great blessing; fundamental to our mortal experience, but along with freedom or along with freedom to choose comes great responsibility – to know and follow the Lord – to choose liberty, righteousness and happiness.
Three: Jacob also teaches us that the Lord remembers us (2 Nephi 10:22). This should help us in times of uncertainty and difficulty – that we are not forgotten or alone, but rather that the Lord is very aware of us.
And, the last thing Nephi thought to include is a phrase from Isaiah that is repeated four times in the space of 14 verses (2 Nephi 19-20) both in the Book of Mormon and also in the Old Testament. Even as the children of Israel were wandering away from the Lord, this is the repeated phrase that we should remember: “But his hand is stretched out still.” Think of the visual image of that – the Lord reaching down to lift and help you. It’s a wonderful thing for me to imagine.
So, keep those things in mind.
Last September I was visiting our daughter who lives in Arizona as they welcomed a new little baby into their family. During the time that I spent there, I had the opportunity of attending a concert in which my grandson played. His name is Clayton. He is a junior in high school and he plays the violin for the community pops symphony.
Our seats were close enough to the front that I could see the conductor very well, but most importantly, they were close enough that I could see and look into Clayton’s face as he played. As the concert progressed, I couldn’t help but think about the phrase that we hear often about how the Lord orchestrates our lives his. With regard to that phrase, there were things during the concert that were very interesting to me.
It was clear who was in charge – the conductor. He had large sheets of music on which every musician’s part was printed so that he would know what they were supposed to do and he would be able to keep them together and playing at the same place at the piece.
The chairs of all of the musicians were positioned so they were facing the conductor so they would know when to begin, how loud or soft to play and very importantly when to stop.
Remember that because the Lord has all knowledge, He is aware of all of our circumstances, and He is clearly the one who is in charge. In the same way that the musicians watched and followed the conductor, we can trust the Lord to direct our paths and to help us properly play the music of the gospel.
Before we left for the concert, I could hear Clayton playing through each piece so that when he got to the concert hall, he was prepared and practiced.
Our preparation and practice with regard to gospel things happen as we are prayerful, as we read and study the scriptures, as we accept callings and serve faithfully, as we attend the temple, as we diligently endeavor to stand as witnesses of Christ at all times and at all things.
Clayton told me that the music they were playing in this concert was some of the most difficult that he had ever played, but it was wonderful and his favorite.
As I was sitting where I could see his face, I could tell what was happening in his mind during each piece. As he came to a portion of the last song that was particularly challenging for him, his demeanor changed. He sat up straighter and slightly forward, his eyes focused on his music and there was even a little furrow in his brow as he concentrated so hard and completely on what he was doing.
There are times in our lives that require the same kind of effort and concentration, when things are complicated or difficult and we must focus all of our attention in living the gospel and being disciples of Jesus Christ — on doing the things that allows the Holy Ghost to be part of our lives and to guide us — all the while trusting that Isaiah’s words are true and the Lord’s hand is always outstretched to us.
After the difficult portion of the song, I knew that we had come to Clayton’s favorite part because suddenly there was a huge smile on his face as he played the rest of the piece. He was thoroughly enjoying the experience.
And, as often happens in our lives, after a challenging period where we have been tested and tried, after a dark and sleepless night, the morning comes, the sun shines again and we are happy and joyful.
In the orchestra, every instrument is different – they look different and sound different — but all of them are needed and the musicians need to play their parts well, which adds to the richness of the music as a whole piece.
As it is with us, we are different and unique in wonderful ways. We are collectively here to share our experiences and our testimonies so that we can live and bless each other. And then we look to the Lord who leads and guides, who teaches and corrects, and who is faithfully there always.
I know that when we trust in He who has all knowledge, who knows and remembers us, and whose hand is forever outstretched to us, our lives are better and our path can be made clear.
This is a picture that I carry in my wallet and look at it often. It is a picture that was taken on the day that President Kusch and I were married, and it reminds me that I am loved by a wonderful man.
But it also helps me to remember a lesson that I have learned over and over again during the years that we have been married. And it helps me remember that the Lord knows and loves us, and will guide our lives if we let Him.
Both President Kusch and I were raised by parents who were not famous. They were not known beyond their own wards and stakes. They were not known by civic leaders. They never went to college, and President's father was not a member of the Church. But they were very good people who worked hard, loved and supported their children, and were examples of lives well lived.
This is important to note because it’s part of the miracle of us being here today in our responsibilities at LDS Business College. We are the most ordinary people that you will ever meet, and by the world’s standards, we are nobody. But that’s not the case with the Lord. He loves us. He knows us. And He is wanting and concerned about who we are becoming.
So, when I look at this picture, I see two very young kids who had no idea of what life had in store for them, except that we knew that we loved each other. We made a promise the day that we were married that we would try our best to live in a way that would allow the Holy Ghost to lead us.
All of these things lead to the second reason why I carry this picture in my wallet.
We moved our young family to San Jose, California in 1979 and we built a very good life there. I loved my life. It was a great place to raise our children. I had good friends, a wonderful ward, warmer weather, and I could see myself living there forever. It was wonderful and I loved it there!
But in 2002, the Lord had something else in store for us and I am and will be forever grateful that we followed what we felt — what the Lord wanted us to do at the time.
You see, I did not know how much I wanted to live in Rexburg, Idaho (being a Southern California girl, I will tell you that the thought had never crossed my mind), but the Lord knew. What a gift He gave to me. Our years at BYU-Idaho were remarkable, filled with miracles, challenges, opportunities and many blessings.
Now this is the lesson I learned: If planning my life had been left up to me, I would have settled for much less than what the Lord was wanting and willing to give to me.
I would’ve stayed in California, all the while thinking myself happy and lucky and blessed. And I would have missed out on the glorious life that the Lord has given me, because we have tried to follow where He has wanted us to go.
So, I look at this picture and remember this lesson.
Now, I am not saying that we don’t make any plans or set goals for the future. That’s not what I’m saying. We can and should make plans that guide our actions, but we can't tell the Lord what’s best for us. He knows that. Rather, if we prepare ourselves to receive His direction, and act upon those promptings, then we live a life that is much better and much more glorious than what we could have planned for ourselves.
I did not know how much I would love LDS Business College, but the Lord knew. We had been home from Mexico happily living in Rexburg, Idaho for less than six months when President Kusch was approached about coming here and being part of the College.
When he came home from campus that evening and told me about the opportunity, he said something really interesting. He told me that some three months before we came home from the mission field, he had some strong promptings about LDS Business College but had not said anything about them to me.
I’m sure that my reply back to him was just as interesting. When I told him that some three months before we had come home from the mission field, I had had some very strong promptings about LDS Business College, and I had not said anything to him.
I have come to understand that it was the Lord educating our desires. He was helping us really want to come here.
I knew the first time that I walked through the building that I very much wanted to be part of what was happening here on this campus at this College.
So, if you want to know how to prepare for the future – it is by living currently, in a way that allows the Lord to guide you, and then listening and following the promptings that you receive.
I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who has taken two young kids who were virtually clueless about life and has given them much more than we could’ve imagined for ourselves. This is the way that He works with His children, if they will allow Him.
I love my Heavenly Father and I testify to you that Jesus Christ is His son. I am grateful for the continuous support and love that I feel from them. I leave you with my love and my hope that this semester will be wonderful