Alan C. Ashton’s 2012 Neal A. Maxwell lecture, “Oh How Christ Sanctifies His Own,” now available

04.22.2013 | The Maxwell Institute

We’re working to upload each of the annual Neal A. Maxwell lectures from 2007 to the present to YouTube. Today’s addition comes from Alan C. Ashton, who delivered the sixth annual Neal A. Maxwell Lecture in April 2012. His devotional approach highlights various names used in scripture to identify Jesus Christ and discusses what the names indicate about the mission of Jesus Christ. A transcript of Ashton’s address is available below.

“I would like to discuss this seven-word title, which is centered on Christ—‘Oh How Surely Christ Sanctifies His Own’—and explain what it means to me. How does Christ sanctify? And who are those whom Christ owns? I appreciate this opportunity to bear witness of the reality of Christ and of his sanctifying influence in our lives as we covenant to do his will and obey his commandments. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, King David declared, ‘For thy people Israel didst thou make thine own people for ever; and thou, Lord, becamest their God.’ Neal A. Maxwell, in whose honor we meet, was such an Israelite disciple of Christ, sanctified and owned by Christ.” —Alan C. Ashton

About Alan C. Ashton

Ashton received his PhD in computer science at the University of Utah and was a professor of computer science at Brigham Young University. He was cofounder of WordPerfect Corporation and Thanksgiving Point. He served as president of the BYU 14th Stake and later as president of the Canada Toronto West Mission from 2004 to 2007. He has also served as bishop of a Young Single Adult ward in Provo, Utah. Ashton and his wife Karen have eleven children and fifty-two grandchildren.



“Oh How Surely Christ Sanctifies His Own”. I’d like to discuss this seven word title, which is centered on Christ “Oh How Surely Christ Sanctifies His Own” and explain what it means to me. What does Christ sanctify? And who are those whom Christ owns? I appreciate this opportunity to bear witness to the reality of Christ and of His sanctifying influence in our lives.

As we covenant to do His will and obey His commandments. Under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost King David declared “For thy people Israel didst thou make thine own people for ever; and thou, Lord, becamest their God.” Neal A. Maxwell, in whose honor we meet, was such an Israelite disciple of Christ, sanctified and owned by Christ.


What must we do to be owned by Christ? The people who were overcome by the words of King Benjamin and the words of the angel who visited him proclaim “And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days” That this King Benjamin exalted and proclaimed “And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.”


Salvation is a family affair of the Savior’s owned family. How are we sanctified? Santitification comes from our hearing the Word of God and living in harmony with that truth; however, we cannot achieve sanctification on our own, for after all we can do it is only by the blood and the atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ that we can be sanctified. Paul taught “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.


For our sanctification the Lord requires our all. King Benjamin counseled “…ye are eternally indebted to your Heavenly Father, to render to him all that you have and are” Therein lies the key to sanctification. Our physical resources are already the Lord’s as King David acknowledged in his prayer and great sacrifice at the inauguration of his son Solomon as king “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.”


But the one thing that is ours, as Elder Maxwell often testified, is our own will. When we surrender our will to our Savior he owns us, we become his children and he sanctifies us. Jesus gave the ultimate example in His surrender of His will to the Father. He proclaimed “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life”


What a glorious prospect for us to be given of the Father to the Savior we must willingly give our whole souls to be owned and sacrificed by the our Lord and Redeemer. Elder Maxwell spoke of this willingness as our desire to do the Lord’s will. He said “What we insistently desire overtime is what we will eventually become and what we will receive in eternity.” The Lord proclaimed “For I will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts.”


Mary bore testimony that the Book of Mormon is true and that it testifies of Christ. The man claimed emphatically that it did not. Elder Taggert’s companion, Elder Medina, came over because of the raised voice of the man and asked what the problem was. The man forcefully claimed that the Book of Mormon did not testify of Christ. Elder Medina bore his witness that it indeed does, but the man continued to disrupt the conversations of the missionaries.


Finally, Elder Medina handed the loud man a copy of the Book of Mormon and said “Open up this Book of Mormon and put your finger on a page and read out loud what it says, and if it doesn’t speak of Christ we’ll go on our way.” The man snatched the book opened it up, plunged his finger on the page which happened to be 2 Nephi 25:26 and began reading aloud “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” The man quietly apologized and went on his way.


In his introduction of the Book of Mormon, Moroni prophesied that it was written to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ the eternal God. There are hundreds of names for Jesus Christ in the scriptures and for many years as I have read the scriptures and have found an appellation that I believe to be a name of Christ I check my list and put it in with a reference if it was not already there. I found over 1000 names and this list is ongoing. Several of you have copies of that and there are some additional ones in the back if any of you are interested in those copies.


At the beginning of this list I wrote these are “Names of Jesus Christ found in the scriptures since He is one with the Father and is in the Father and the Father in Him and has all glory. Names can apply to the Father and also to the Son.” To the third Nephites He declared “in my hath the Father glorified His name” Also as the first presidency has stated, Father signified Jesus as one who follows. One Father is creator to Father of those who abide in His gospel. And three, Father by divine investiture of authority. Thus many of the titles, names, or attribute nomenclatures can refer to our Heavenly Father as well as to his son, Jesus Christ. My love, reverence and awe increase as I think of and ponder these sacred names. Here are a few names of Christ that bring to mind sanctifying power:


first name of Christ, Tower of Salvation. The prophets or watchman in the tower are certainly in the Savior as they speak His word. To be sanctified by the Savior and to receive salvation in the kingdom of God is the greatest of all of the gifts of God.


Second name of Christ, Strength of my Heart. The Savior knows our hearts and he will purify and grant grace unto us as we have faith in Him and come unto Him in humility. This purifying of our hearts and sanctification comes as we yield our hearts unto God. “Oh how surely Christ sanctifies his own.”


Third name of Christ, The Son Who is Consecrated Forevermore. Just as our redeemer was consecrated so he will consecrate us for eternal life as we are obedient to Him and to His everlasting covenant.


Fourth name of Christ, Tender Plant. As the Savior showed meekness and submissiveness before the Father, we can become sanctified and more like Christ as we submit ourselves to Him and tenderly grow up before Him.


Fifth name of Christ, Precious Cornerstone. Asking Job where he was when he God laid the foundations of the earth, God challenged Job, “Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? Or who laid the cornerstone thereof” The Savior is the cornerstone to the household of God who are built upon the function of His apostles and prophets and He will gather His own to his temple and sanctify them.


Sixth name of Christ, Mediator of Life. This is mentioned in the Joseph Smith translation third chapter of Galations. He is the advocate for His own and reconciles His own that they may be with Him to partake of eternal life.


Seventh name of Christ, Messiah who is the Lamb of God. In the last book of the New Testament, the revelation of Jesus Christ given to the apostle John, we read that the saints of the Lord who came out of great tribulation had their robes washed and miraculously made white in the blood of the lamb. Oh how surely Christ sanctifies His own. Jesus’ precious blood sanctifies us as we willingly, obediently and gratefully accept his infinite atonement.


At the center and that which is most important of all things is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Concerning the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith “We know also that sanctification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, to all those who love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength” The Savior’s own are those who put off the natural man by yielding to the enticings of the Holy Spirit and who become saints through the Atonement of Christ the Lord.


Just as the Atonement of Jesus Christ is the center in the chiastic message of Alma 36 in the Book of Mormon, so it is central in this message. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is at the center of the lives of all those who belong to Him. Oh how I love the Savior and how thankful I am for the Atonement of Jesus Christ which I gratefully and obedient and willing accept. Of the House of Jacob in the latter days the Lord who redeemed Abraham said “they shall sanctify my name and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob” The name of Christ or of deity and many refer to the sun can also refer to the Father. These names inspire discipleship and lead to sanctification.


In his intercessory prayer Christ prayed, “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me” and he said “I am calling my Father’s name.” In 1916, the First Presidency of the Quorum of the Twelve reaffirmation this “Thus the father placed his name upon the Son”


Speaking again of the names of Christ which I’ve collected, some of these names are descriptive, expanding the Godly attributes of Christ. In this regard, one of the names of Christ is Sanctification. In 1 Corinthians 1:30 we read “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” The Savior’s healing arms of mercy are extended all the day long to bless and sanctify us with the promise of eternal life if we will repent and come unto Him.


Elder Maxwell said “The Living God will not go away He will continue to try to work with us combining His perfect love and His omniscience in wonderful ways to bless us and to teach all who are willing. Christ continually reaches out to us for sanctification.” As I read some of the writings of Elder Maxwell, I found a name of the Savior that is not in my list, this name is Elder Brother. Elder Maxwell said “A loving mother will hope for the return one day of her runaway son, but the runaway may elect to stay away; however, he cannot run far enough to be beyond the redemptive reach of his Elder Brother.” To sanctify us the Savior runs to us, suckers us.


Many of the names of Christ in my list are redundant, having a possessive pronunciation as a part of the name such as My God and My Savior Jesus Christ or My Lord and My God or My God and My Lord or Our Great and Eternal Head or Your Redeemer even Jesus Christ. These names emphasize His intimacy with us.


Here are seven more names of Christ from my list. A seventh name of Christ, Rock of My Salvation. We become sanctified when we build upon the rock of our Redeemer which is a sure foundation and foundation upon if we build we cannot fall.


Sixth name of Christ, Eternity. As Abraham traveled from Haran towards Canaan he said “ Eternity was our covering in our rock and our salvation.” Such an expansive, eternal covering thoroughly saves, protects and sanctifies.


Fifth name of Christ, Endless and Eternal. The Lord showed to Enoch and to Joseph Smith wonderful mysteries of godliness as he revealed these sacred names to them. Just as eternal punishment is God’s punishment, eternal life is God’s life. Eternal sanctification comes to those who were found in the book of the names of the sanctified, that is those of the celestial world.


Fourth name of Christ, Bright Star. The Lord’s own look upon him as the ancient mariners did to the north star for guidance in the dark. Christ leads those who keep his commandments to light and to eternal happiness.


Third name of Christ, Christ Your Redeemer, Your Lords and Your God. This name demonstrates the personal interest in involvement of the Lord and the abundant influence of His sanctifying and redemptive powers for each of us.


The second name of Christ, Founder of Peace. Through the Holy Ghost the Savior offers mercy and peace to those who love Him, have faith in Him, covenant with Him and repent.


First name of Christ, High and Lofty One that Inhabiteth Eternity. The merciful Lord invited His own that is those who are given Him of the Father to be one with Him even to become his own children this title one is the first mention of Christ in the Book of Mormon by Nephi other than in his foreword. It occurs in 1 Nephi in the first chapter verse 9. Nephi tells of his father Lehi’s vision where Lehi sees him descending out of the midst of heaven with a luster above that of the sun at noonday with 12 others following him.


That calls to mind Joseph Smith’s description of the pillar of light above the brightness of the sun which fell upon him when he saw the Father and Son whose brightness and glory defy all descriptions. These answers to Lehi and Joseph Smith’s prayers were extraordinary. The answer to my prayer concerning the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon was remarkable to me. I know that Moroni’s promise at the end of the Book of Mormon is true, that if we ask God the Father in the name of Christ with a sincere heart and with real intent that he will make the truth of it known by the power of the Holy Ghost.


That happened to me. Because of a powerful unmistakable spiritual miles manifestation which occurred to me as I prayed in an arm barracks at Fort Ord California, after I read the Book of Mormon during basic training, I know without a shadow of a doubt that the Book of Mormon is true and from God. As I obeyed the covenants of the Eternal Father which are contained in the Book of Mormon I feel the cleansing power of the Atonement of Christ and know of a certainty of the reality of Jesus Christ.


Truly Nephi’s words ring true to me when he said “As I spake concerning the convincing of the Jews that Jesus is the very Christ it must needs be that the Gentiles be convinced also that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, that He manifested Himself and all those who believe in him by the power of the holy ghost.”


For many years now I’ve read from the Book of Mormon everyday and it has ever brought me closer unto my Savior Jesus Christ. In this reading I enjoy looking for symbols and patterns in the Word of God which are consistent with the Lord’s revealed word in all scripture.


The number seven is especially sacred in the scriptures. The last words of Mormoni in the last book of the Book of Mormon verses 32 and 33 have six mentions of the word “Christ” and six mentions of “God” or “Father” so again I question, where is the other occurrence of each of these? Backing up one verse I found the other occurrence of Father. Backing up one further to verse 30 I found the seventh occurrence of Christ. This 30th verse begins with “and again” which ties it to the final verse in verse 33 also begins with the same words “and again”


This unit of these four verses Moroni 10: 32-33 form a wonderful exposition from the Prophet Moroni concerning sanctification. Also in these verses there are seven occurrences of grace or power of God. Grace is an enabling power of God in our lives that enables us with the power to do what we can’t do ourselves. So there are seven mentions of Grace of God or the Power of God, seven mentions of Christ, seven mentions of Father or God. Again these counts of seven are tied to sanctification.


Since sanctification is a major theme in these verses as we see in verse 33 the second to last verse of the Book of Mormon “and again if ye by the Grace of God are perfect in Christ and deny not his power then are you sanctified in Christ by the Grace of God through the shedding of the blood of Christ which is in the Covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins that ye become wholly, without spot. This emphasis on sanctification is confirmed and strengthened by the seven occurrences of Christ and of God our Father and also of grace or power of God.


These counts of seven reinforce that sanctification comes by the grace and power of Christ and His Father to those who because of their obedience, love of God and repentance of their sins become owned by Christ. Oh how surely Christ sanctifies his own. There are numerous examples in the scriptures that associate the number seven with cleansing, purification and sanctification. In the angel’s pure message King Benjamin concerning Christ in the atonement of Christ and the sanctifying power of Christ there are exactly seven mentions of the word “Christ” That’s in Mosiah chapter 3. Naman, the captain of the host of the king of Syria, saw how vital seven was in his cleansing. It wasn’t until he had dipped himself in the River Jordan seven times, according to the words of the Prophet Elijah, that the cleansing of the Neimans skin of leprosy occurred. His skin became pure like the flesh of a little child.


The sanctifying day of Atonement which prefigured Christ occurs in month number seven. In Psalms 12:6 we read, “the words of the Lord are pure words, the silver trinidad in a furnace of earth purified seven times.” In Leviticus we read that the holy anointing oil was sprinkled seven times in the sanctification and cleansing of the altar and its associated vessels and also the same without of blood and oil sprinkled in the sacrifice of the sin offering and the cleansing of individuals from leprosy and in the cleaning of houses from the plague.


In us, because of Christ, the Holy Ghost is given to us by the Father to be the cleansing and sanctifying agent as he purges our souls of inquiry with fire. In addition to the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost in the spiritual realm, I’ve been grateful for the temporal guidance and direction from the Holy Ghost.


The second major revelation to me regarding my vocation and schooling came as I was a professor of computer science here at Brigham Young University and when I asked God whether I could pursue the development of a computer program to do word processing. I had used a program text editor on a mainframe computer, coupled with a formatting printing program to produce my doctoral thesis. And I had written a text editor which had word processing components in it for our small PDPA computer so that we could type in music transcriptions in our linear music language so I had some experience and a great deal of interest in word processing.


I designed how a word processor should work during my summer vacation of 1978. I determined that having a word processor on shared logic general purpose computers which were used for data processing would be beneficial because that’s where the data from calculations resided and so this data would be immediately available for inclusion in written reports.


In those days, word processing was done on standalone computers which were designed just to do word processing. The answer to my sincere prayer was unmistakable and in the affirmative.


I’m grateful for that strong manifestation of the Holy Ghost because there were several setbacks and times when it appeared as though our starting business wouldn’t work out. Faith in this definite answer gave me the fortitude and confidence to move forward and not to give up when we thought that we had had the rug pulled out from under us.


Things worked out for us in an unforeseen manner and we saw that our early direction would not have brought the success of the company that we eventually enjoyed. We were able to take ideas from my PDPA editor from our music plane system and from our initial shared logic word processor called SSIWP to give our PC based, WordPerfect, unique capabilities on the single test das operating system. We put a simple time sharing monitor right in WordPerfect and that gives us the capability of concurrent editing and printing of documents. We listened to our customers as we continually added new features.


WordPerfect became the top-selling application program for the PC and WordPerfect corporation grew to have nearly 6000 new employees. Not only did our success bless our own lives, but it blessed the lives of our employees and the lives of those who used our word processor and also the lives of members of our community at large.


I’m grateful for the encouragement, light and knowledge I have received from the Holy Ghost which have blessed me and guided me in my temporal affairs. Elder Maxwell spoke of our yielding to God as an inner gyroscope, steadying and guiding us to become congruent with Christ. Constantly, Elder Maxwell demonstrated his willingness to do the Savior’s bidding unto the very end.


In 2004 my wife and I were called on a mission to preside over the Canada Toronto West Mission. Just as we were to enter the MTC there was a priesthood leadership meeting our area at which Elder Maxwell spoke. He had not been well but he insisted on bearing his testimony and it turned out, I suppose, to be his last time in such a setting. Elder Maxwell spoke from his heart. He pled and warned that we each receive according our desires if we desire evil he said we’ll get evil, if we desire good we will receive good. He warned if we’re wicked we’ll reap the whirlwind and he promised if we’re righteous we’ll prosper and gain peace and happiness. Because of the overwhelming power of the holy ghost on this occasion, the words of Elder Maxwell sank deeply into my heart.


Soon we were on our way to Canada and just after we arrived at the mission home in Brampton, Ontario Canada that Elder Maxwell had passed away. How grateful I was that I could take to the saints in Ontario Canada, the testimony of Elder Maxwell, their own missionary.


And that I could share examples that I had personally witnessed of his surrendering his will entirely to God. Note the contrast of evil desires and righteous desires to those who have evil desires Satan lies and tempts with deception, intimidates, accuses, leads astray and works in darkness. By cunning deception, the devil encourages his followers to wickness the seriousness and immortality, pride, covetousness and murder for gain. The fruits of evil desire our misery, broken homes, destruction, unhappiness, death and hell. Those who have these evil desires receive the number and mark of the beast as John the Revelator prophesied.


On the other hand, to those who have righteous desires, the Lord speaks truth, invites to come unto him with an everlasting embrace of eternal love, promises eternal life, extends forgiveness, gives peace, sanctifies and binds together as eternal families. By his own example the Good Shepherd leads his followers to righteousness, meekness, faith, hope and charity virtue and knowledge. The fruits of the righteous desire are happiness and peace, love, enduring families, cleanliness, knowledge of the truth and eternal life.


Finally, I returned to becoming willingly owned by our Lord. Christ owns and sanctifies us by the shedding of His blood and by His word which we must earnestly seek, love and obey. Indeed, we must obey love and seek, but it is the Savior who makes us clean. As we read in the olive leaf the 88th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, “Therefore sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, ye purify your hearts and cleanse your hands and your feet before me that I may make you clean.” Oh how surely Christ sanctifies his own.


In Psalms we read, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord and the people whom he has chosen for his own inheritance.” As precious purchased jewels the Lord will own his family which will be bound together by the eternal sealing powers of his everlasting priesthood. In words given through the Prophet Malachi and also by the Savior personally to the Nephites, we see of those who fear the Lord and present a book of remembrance before Him, think of the temple records, “and they shall be mine saith the lord of hosts in that day when I make up my jewels and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son serveth him.”


Truly, as President Ezra Taft Benson observed in his first presidency message in the July 1992 ensign, “In an eternal sense, salvation is a family affair.” John the Revelator testified that Jesus Christ “loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” Oh how surely Christ sacrificed his own.


At Adam’s baptism the Lord spoke unto Adam and told him how we can become his children “you must be born again into the kingdom of heaven of water and of the spirit and be cleansed by the blood even the blood of mine only begotten that you might be sanctified from all sin.” Once Adam was baptized he heard a voice out of heaven saying, “Thou art baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost behold thou art one in me a son of God and thus may all become my sons.”


God’s own elect, they who know the Master’s voice, are known and called as his own sheep by name. Great was the Savior’s pleading and intercession for them as he prayed to the father in the Garden of Gethsemane Holy Father keep them through thine own name those whom though as given me that they may be one as we are. Sanctify them through their truth and through thy word is truth and I have declared until them thy name and will declare it that the love wherewith thou has loved me may be in them and I in them.”


May we all seek to be one with and owned by the Savior as my seven word tile expresses “Oh How Surely Christ Sanctifies His Own”.