I'd like to bear my testimony. Let me make sure I have it first...

Every time fast Sunday come around we hear this phrase. Sometimes we might even think we would like to bear our testimony. Have you ever felt that you’d like to bear your testimony, but you aren’t quite sure where to find it?

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I remember as a young Deacon that I would love to be the person that ran the mic around. We don’t do that much now, but back then you just stood up and I would run a mic to you and you could bear your testimony from there.

For me, it was such a fun way to spend sacrament meeting.

Didn’t have to sit by my brother.

Didn’t get bored.

And never had to worry about bearing my testimony (the guy with the mic just never did that!)

Now, there isn’t that luxury. And nearly every fast meeting there is that little stress of if I’m going to bear my testimony. If I have something to say. And what exactly I believe with all my heart that I would say.

Today, let’s do a quick check on our own testimonies.

Don’t Worry. It’s a Process.

Bonnie Oscarson reminded us that,

True conversion is a process that takes place over a period of time and involves a willingness to exercise faith. (Do I Believe?, April 2016)

This sounds a lot like how Alma said he got his testimony.

“Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true. (Alma 5:46)

So, if you are struggling, don’t worry! We all grow our testimonies and it is a lifelong process. Celebrate where you are. And keep growing.

Am I focused on the right things?

In growing our testimonies, there are a few key areas to focus on. President Uctdorf taught,

A testimony is very personal and may be a little different for each of us, because everyone is a unique person. However, a testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ will always include these clear and simple truths:

·         God lives. He is our loving Father in Heaven, and we are His children.

·         Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God and the Savior of the world.

·         Joseph Smith is the prophet of God through whom the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored in the latter days.

·         The Book of Mormon is the word of God.

·         President [Russell M. Nelson], his counselors, and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are the prophets, seers, and revelators in our day.

(The Power of Personal Testimony, quote altered to include our current prophet, original referenced Gordon B. Hinckley)

If you know these things

That is the start. If we can confidently testify of God, Jesus, Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and a modern prophet, we are on a solid and powerful foundation.

This is the beginning of every testimony that we try to teach to children and teens. It is the ongoing foundation where we can build our lives knowing we are building on a solid and true testimony.

Comfort and Peace in Your Testimony

This gave me such great comfort. I might not always be able to testify of every principle or doctrine, every rule and policy of the Church, but I can always come back to that foundation of God, the Savior, and the prophets and know I can find peace, comfort, and stability.

Peace I leave with you. Come unto me all ye that labor…and ye shall find rest. The wiseman built his house upon the rock. God wants us to have this peace, comfort and stability in our own lives.

But what if…

If you feel weak in one of these areas, what can you do?

I will share that in my Sunday Studies next week! We will cover, “How to Build Your Testimony.”

But I want to hear from you on how you have done it!

Application Invitation

If you are reading this from Sunday Studies, reply to the email with a thought on how you have built your testimony of the thing President Uchtdorf mentioned. If you are reading this on the Help Me Understand The Book of Mormon blog, respond in the comments.

Why we should eat our ice cream first! When you feel like you are waiting in line for God.

Indeed, we cannot have true faith in the Lord without also having complete trust in the Lord’s will and in the Lord’s timing.
Dallin H. Oaks


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Last week my wife and I took a quick weekend trip to a little town we love—McCall Idaho. It is about a 2 hour drive away and there is a dessert place there we really love, Ice Cream Alley.

Leave Early. Ice Cream First

What we have learned about going to McCall is that you have to leave early and you have to eat ice cream first. Why?

  • If you leave late you will be stuck in a line of traffic FOREVER on the two-lane road getting into McCall (lots of weekend travelers)
  • If you wait until after dinner to get ice cream, you will be waiting in line FOREVER to get your ice cream.

So, because we hate waiting in lines, we leave early and we eat ice cream first! Don’t you just hate waiting in lines? It’s the worst!

Waiting for God.

Sometimes we feel the same way waiting for God. The same slightly frustrated anxiousness that we feel waiting in line. We might be thinking, “When is it my turn?” or “What is taking so long?” or “That person has way more than 20 items (or blessings 😊) they shouldn’t even be in this line!”

I was recently reminded:

How often we assume our desired timetable should be the Lord’s timetable! Yet we must learn the importance of “waiting patiently on the Lord” (D&C 98:2)—waiting not in a state of forlorn resignation, but “looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof” (Alma 32:40). (Susan Waldrip Ensign, April 2004)

Maintain Faith

How do we do that? How do look forward with faith while we are waiting and waiting and waiting…

1.      Focus on Growth

“Being human, we would expel from our lives sorrow, distress, physical pain, and mental anguish and assure ourselves of continual ease and comfort. But if we closed the doors upon such, we might be evicting our greatest friends and benefactors. Suffering can make saints of people as they learn patience, long-suffering, and self-mastery. The sufferings of our Savior were part of his education.”—Spencer W. Kimball

Even though we don’t always want it, sometimes waiting and being patient helps us grow. So instead of focusing just on what you want or what you don’t have, take a minute to think about the growth you are experiencing. Write down one thing you have learned while waiting on the Lord.

2.      Give up on fair.

“A good friend, who knows whereof he speaks, has observed of trials, ‘If it’s fair, it is not a true trial!’ That is, without the added presence of some inexplicableness and some irony and injustice, the experience may not stretch us or lift us sufficiently. The crucifixion of Christ was clearly the greatest injustice in human history, but the Savior bore up under it with majesty and indescribable valor.”—Neal A. Maxwell

When we stop believing that answers should come quickly or that things should be more “fair” we usually face challenges better.

3.      Faith in God’s timing

“The issue for us is trusting God enough to trust also His timing. If we can truly believe He has our welfare at heart, may we not let His plans unfold as He thinks best?” –Neal A Maxwell

Often our frustration is based on artificial timelines that we have placed on things. “I HAVE to get this solved by next week” or “If I don’t figure this out SOON bad things will happen.” It is those personal, human timelines that bring frustration…because we don’t see all that God sees. We only see right now, and often right now STINKS!

You’re waiting right now

You are probably waiting for something right now. It can be frustrating. It can be sad and discouraging. Today, write down your GROWTH. Decide you’re fine with it not being FAIR because you have FAITH that God will make it right.

And now we wait…

8th Article of Faith. Two things that we believe…we believe both of them.

"We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.”


PRINCIPLE: GOD SPEAKS TO HIS CHILDREN TO SHOW LOVE THROUGH THE GUIDANCE OF THE SCRIPTURES.

APPLICATION: THERE IS AN RESPONSIBILITY TO USE THE GIFT OF THE SCRIPTURES THAT GOD HAS GIVEN US TO IMPROVE OUR LIVES. WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU HAVE DONE RECENTLY AS A RESULT OF YOUR BELIEF IN THE TEACHINGS OF THE SCRIPTURES?

(EXAMPLE: I RECENTLY HELPED MY NEIGHBOR WITH THEIR YARD PROJECT BECAUSE I BELIEVE THAT “WHEN YE ARE IN THE SERVICE OF YOUR FELLOW BEINGS, YE ARE ONLY IN THE SERVICE OF YOUR GOD.”)


We believe in The Holy Bible

The Miracle of the Holy Bible by M. Russell Ballard

“It is a miracle that we have the Bible’s powerful doctrine, principles, poetry, and stories. But most of all, it is a wonderful miracle that we have the account of the life, ministry, and words of Jesus, which was protected through the Dark Ages and through the conflicts of countless generations so that we may have it today.

“It is a miracle that the Bible literally contains within its pages the converting, healing Spirit of Christ, which has turned men’s hearts for centuries, leading them to pray, to choose right paths, and to search to find their Savior.

“Honest, diligent study of the Bible does make us better and better.

“How grateful we should be for the Holy Bible. In it we learn not only of the life and teachings and doctrines of Christ, we learn of His Church and of His priesthood and of the organization which He established and named the Church of Jesus Christ in those former days. We believe in that Church, and we believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that same Church, restored to earth, complete, with the same organization and the same priesthood.

“Without the Bible, we would not know of His Church then, nor would we have the fulness of His gospel now.

“I love the Bible, its teachings, its lessons, and its spirit.

“You young people especially, do not discount or devalue the Holy Bible. It is the sacred, holy record of the Lord’s life. The Bible contains hundreds of pages more than all of our other scripture combined. It is the bedrock of all Christianity. We do not criticize or belittle anyone’s beliefs. Our great responsibility as Christians is to share all that God has revealed with all of His sons and daughters.”

We have the Bible and can show our gratitude for it by studying and living the teachings of the Bible!

We believe in The Book of Mormon

A New Witness for Christ by Ezra Taft Benson

“We do not have to prove the Book of Mormon is true. The book is its own proof. All we need to do is read it and declare it! The Book of Mormon is not on trial—the people of the world, including the members of the Church, are on trial as to what they will do with this second witness for Christ.

“I testify that the Book of Mormon is the word of God; and therefore Jesus is the Christ, Joseph Smith is a prophet, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true, with its authorized servants to perform the ordinances of salvation today,”

We are now on trial for how we use and learn from the scriptures. Taking the time to learn, understand, and apply the scriptures has a significant impact on your life now and for eternity.


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7th Article of Faith. We all have gifts and there is a reason for that

"We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing,  interpretation of tongues, and so forth."


PRINCIPLE: THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT HELP US LIVE UP TO OUR FULL POTENTIAL AND COME CLOSER TO GOD.

PRINCIPLE: BECAUSE WE ARE ALL GIVEN GIFTS WE ALL HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO USE THEM TO HELP OTHERS

APPLICATION: WHAT IS ONE OF THE GIFTS THAT GOD HAS GIVEN TO YOU?

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO USE THAT GIFT TO LIFT OTHERS?


Spiritual Gifts

Spiritual gifts are blessings or abilities given by God to His children through the power of the Holy Ghost. Gifts of the Spirit are given to bless and benefit those who love the Lord and seek to keep His commandments. (See D&C 46:9.)

Each faithful member of the Church has at least one spiritual gift, and the Lord encourages His children to “seek … earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given” (D&C 46:8).

Elder Marvin J. Ashton “There Are Many Gifts”

Let us review some of these less-conspicuous gifts: the gift of asking; the gift of listening; the gift of hearing and using a still, small voice; the gift of being able to weep; the gift of avoiding contention; the gift of being agreeable; the gift of avoiding vain repetition; the gift of seeking that which is righteous; the gift of not passing judgment; the gift of looking to God for guidance; the gift of being a disciple; the gift of caring for others; the gift of being able to ponder; the gift of offering prayer; the gift of bearing a mighty testimony; and the gift of receiving the Holy Ghost.

We must remember that to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God. It is our right and responsibility to accept our gifts and to share them. God’s gifts and powers are available to all of us.

Elder Robert D. Hales “Gifts of the Spirit”

If we have these gifts and do not give of them to lift and to strengthen those around us in a caring way, this scripture tells us that “it profiteth [us] nothing.” My wife has taught us in our home a simple phrase: “Thee lift me and I’ll lift thee, and we’ll ascend together.” There are times when we need to be lifted. There are times when we need to be strengthened. Be that kind of friend and that kind of person who lifts and strengthens others. Never make someone have to choose between your ways and the Lord’s ways. And always make sure that you’re making it easier to live God’s commandments for those who are by your side and who are your friends. Then you will understand whether you have charity.

Remember that the reason we want to have the stability and strength of the gifts of the Spirit is that we want to weather the storms when they come. We will be tried in this mortal probation. We don’t want to decide to learn how to swim when the boat is already sinking.

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6th Article of Faith. The Apostasy and the Restoration

"We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth."


PRINCIPLE: BECAUSE OF THE RESTORATION WE HAVE ACCESS TO THE FULLEST BLESSINGS OF THE LORD

PRINCIPLE: BECAUSE OF THE RESTORATION OF THE GOSPEL WE CAN BUILD OUR FAITH AND HELP OTHERS IN THEIR FAITH.

APPLICATION: WHAT CAN YOU DO TODAY TO HELP SUPPORT YOUR LEADERS AS WE ALL TRY TO DO GOD'S WORK?


The Apostasy

When individuals or groups of people turn away from the principles of the gospel, they are in a state of apostasy. One example is the Great Apostasy, which occurred after the Savior established His Church. After the deaths of the Savior and His Apostles, men corrupted the principles of the gospel and made unauthorized changes in Church organization and priesthood ordinances. Because of this widespread apostasy, the Lord withdrew the authority of the priesthood from the earth. This apostasy lasted until Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son appeared to Joseph Smith in 1820 and initiated the restoration of the fulness of the gospel.

Role of Apostles, Prophets, and leaders

Mosiah 8:13-18

13 Now Ammon said unto him: I can assuredly tell thee, O king, of a man that can translate the records; for he has wherewith that he can look, and translate all records that are of ancient date; and it is a gift from God. And the things are called interpreters, and no man can look in them except he be commanded, lest he should look for that he ought not and he should perish. And whosoever is commanded to look in them, the same is called seer.

14 And behold, the king of the people who are in the land of Zarahemla is the man that is commanded to do these things, and who has this high gift from God.

15 And the king said that a seer is greater than a prophet.

16 And Ammon said that a seer is a revelator and a prophet also; and a gift which is greater can no man have, except he should possess the power of God, which no man can; yet a man may have great power given him from God.

17 But a seer can know of things which are past, and also of things which are to come, and by them shall all things be revealed, or, rather, shall secret things be made manifest, and hidden things shall come to light, and things which are not known shall be made known by them, and also things shall be made known by them which otherwise could not be known.

18 Thus God has provided a means that man, through faith, might work mighty miracles; therefore he becometh a great benefit to his fellow beings.

Moroni 7:29-32

29 And because he hath done this, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men.

30 For behold, they are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness.

31 And the office of their ministry is to call men unto repentance, and to fulfil and to do the work of the covenants of the Father, which he hath made unto the children of men, to prepare the way among the children of men, by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosenvessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him.

32 And by so doing, the Lord God prepareth the way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ, that the Holy Ghost may have place in their hearts, according to the power thereof; and after this manner bringeth to pass the Father, the covenants which he hath made unto the children of men.

Additional Reading

Elder M. Russell Ballard Restored Truth

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5th Article of Faith. We are all called to serve.

"We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof."


PRINCIPLE: BECAUSE GOD LOVES US HE CALLS US TO SERVE SO WE CAN GROW.

PRINCIPLE: BECAUSE GOD LOVES US HE CALLS US TO SERVE SO WE CAN HELP OTHERS.

APPLICATION: FIND AN OPPORTUNITY TO LIVE OUT YOUR CALL FROM GOD TODAY BY SERVING OTHERS. WHAT IS ONE ACT OF SERVICE YOU CAN GIVE TO SOMEONE ELSE TODAY?


The word priesthood has two meanings. First, priesthood is the power and authority of God. It has always existed and will continue to exist without end (see Alma 13:7–8; D&C 84:17–18). Through the priesthood, God created and governs the heavens and the earth. Through this power, He exalts His obedient children, bringing to pass “the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39; see also D&C 84:35–38).

Second, in mortality, priesthood is the power and authority that God gives to man to act in all things necessary for the salvation of God’s children. The blessings of the priesthood are available to all who receive the gospel (“Priesthood Authority,” Handbook 2, Administering the Church).

Keys of the Priesthood

The keys of the priesthood are the right to preside and direct the affairs of the Church within a jurisdiction. Jesus Christ holds all the keys of the priesthood pertaining to His Church. He has conferred upon each of His Apostles all the keys that pertain to the kingdom of God on earth. The senior living Apostle, the President of the Church, is the only person on earth authorized to exercise all priesthood keys.

The World Needs the Priesthood

The Church provides the organization and means for teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to all of God’s children. The priesthood includes the authority to administer ordinances of salvation to all human beings who are willing and worthy to accept them. Without the priesthood and the saving ordinances thereof, “the whole earth would be utterly wasted” (see D&C 2:1–3; see also D&C 84:21–22).

Jesus Christ is the best example of how to use the authority and power of the priesthood to serve and bless others. President M. Russell Ballard taught, “Not only is the priesthood the power by which the heavens and the earth were created, but it is also the power the Savior used in His mortal ministry to perform miracles, to bless and heal the sick, to bring the dead to life, and, as our Father’s Only Begotten Son, to endure the unbearable pain of Gethsemane and Calvary—thus fulfilling the laws of justice with mercy and providing an infinite Atonement and overcoming physical death through the Resurrection” (“This Is My Work and Glory,” Apr. 2013 general conference).

Henry B. Eyring

Brethren, our ordination to the priesthood is an invitation from the Lord to walk with Him. And what does it mean to walk with the Lord? It means to do what He does, to serve the way He serves. He sacrificed His own comforts to bless those in need, so that’s what we try to do. He seemed to take particular notice of people who were overlooked and even shunned by society, so we should try to do that too. He testified boldly yet lovingly of the true doctrine He received from His Father, even if it was unpopular, and so must we. He said to all, “Come unto me” (Matthew 11:28), and we say to all, “Come unto Him.” As priesthood holders, we are His representatives. We act not for ourselves but for Him. We speak not our words but His. The people we serve come to know Him better because of our service.

As soon as we accept the Lord’s invitation “Walk with me,” the nature of our priesthood service changes. It becomes all at once higher and nobler but also more achievable, because we know that we are not alone. (President Henry B. Eyring, “Walk With Me”, April 2017)

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4th Article of Faith. The big 4 important principles and ordinances to become like God

"We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost."


PRINCIPLE: COMING TO CHRIST REQUIRES THAT WE EXERCISE FAITH IN HIM AND SOW OUR COMMITMENT BY ENTERING INTO COVENANTS WITH HIM

APPLICATION: THINK OF YOUR OWN FAITH. WHAT WILL YOU DO TODAY TO SHOW YOU ARE GROWING IN YOUR FAITH AND OBEDIENCE TO YOUR COVENANTS?


FAITH

Elder Bednar

The Apostle Paul defined faith as “the substance of things hoped for [and] the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Alma declared that faith is not a perfect knowledge; rather, if we have faith, we “hope for things which are not seen [but] are true” (Alma 32:21). Additionally, we learn in the Lectures on Faith that faith is “the first principle in revealed religion, and the foundation of all righteousness” and that it is also “the principle of action in all intelligent beings.”

These teachings highlight three basic elements of faith: (1) faith as the assurance of things hoped for that are true, (2) faith as the evidence of things not seen, and (3) faith as the principle of action in all intelligent beings. I describe these three components of faith in the Savior as simultaneously facing the future, looking to the past, and initiating action in the present. (Elder David A. Bednar, “Seek Learning by Faith”, September 2007)

Looking forward

Faith as the assurance of things hoped for looks to the future. This assurance is founded upon a correct understanding about, and trust in, God and enables us to “press forward” (2 Nephi 31:20) into uncertain and often challenging situations in the service of the Savior.

Looking Back

Faith as the evidence of things not seen looks to the past and confirms our trust in God and our confidence in the truthfulness of things not seen. We stepped into the darkness with assurance and hope, and we received evidence and confirmation as the light in fact moved and provided the illumination we needed. The witness we obtained after the trial of our faith (see Ether 12:6) is evidence that enlarges and strengthens our assurance.

Taking Action

 As we again turn and face forward toward an uncertain future, assurance leads to action and produces evidence, which further increases assurance. Our confidence waxes stronger, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little.

REPENTANCE

Repentance is one of the first principles of the gospel and is essential to our temporal and eternal happiness. It is much more than just acknowledging wrongdoings. It is a change of mind and heart that gives us a fresh view about God, about ourselves, and about the world. It includes turning away from sin and turning to God for forgiveness. It is motivated by love for God and the sincere desire to obey His commandments.

We Need Repentance

The Lord has declared that “no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven” (Alma 11:37). Our sins make us unclean—unworthy to return and dwell in the presence of our Heavenly Father. They also bring anguish to our soul in this life.

Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, our Father in Heaven has provided the only way for us to be forgiven of our sins (see Forgiveness). Jesus Christ suffered the penalty for our sins so we can be forgiven if we sincerely repent. As we repent and rely on His saving grace, we will be cleansed from sin.

BAPTISM

The Baptismal Covenant

Those who are baptized enter into a covenant with God to take upon themselves the name of Jesus Christ, keep His commandments, and serve Him to the end (see Mosiah 18:8–10D&C 20:37). Church members renew this covenant each time they partake of the sacrament (see D&C 20:77, 79).

Those who keep the covenants they made at baptism are blessed by the Lord for their faithfulness. Some of the blessings include the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, the remission of sins, and the privilege of being spiritually reborn. If they continue faithfully, they are promised eternal life (see 2 Nephi 31:19–20).

Robert D. Hales

“At baptism we make a covenant with our Heavenly Father that we are willing to come into His kingdom and keep His commandments from that time forward, even though we still live in the world. We are reminded from the Book of Mormon that our baptism is a covenant to “stand as witnesses of God [and His kingdom] at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life” (Mosiah 18:9; emphasis added).

When we understand our baptismal covenant and the gift of the Holy Ghost, it will change our lives and will establish our total allegiance to the kingdom of God. When temptations come our way, if we will listen, the Holy Ghost will remind us that we have promised to remember our Savior and obey the commandments of God.” (Robert D. Hales, “The Covenant of Baptism”, November 2000).

GIFT OF HOLY GHOST

All honest seekers of the truth can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost, leading them to Jesus Christ and His gospel. However, the fulness of the blessings given through the Holy Ghost are available only to those who receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and remain worthy.

The gift of the Holy Ghost is different from the influence of the Holy Ghost. Before baptism, a person can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost from time to time and through that influence can receive a testimony of the truth. After receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, a person has the right to the constant companionship of that member of the Godhead if he or she keeps the commandments.

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3rd Article of Faith. God's gift is the Atonement, our gift is obedience.

"We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel."


Principle: Because of God’s gift of the Atonement we can overcome sin and death and be saved in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Principle: When we are humble and grateful for the gift of God’s Atonement, we choose to live with obedience to God’s commandments.

Application: Talk with one or more people today about your gratitude for the gift of the Atonement and the impact it has on your life.

As used in the scriptures, to atone is to suffer the penalty for sins, thereby removing the effects of sin from the repentant sinner and allowing him or her to be reconciled to God. Jesus Christ was the only one capable of carrying out the Atonement for all mankind. Because of His Atonement, all people will be resurrected, and those who obey His gospel will receive the gift of eternal life with God.

As descendants of Adam and Eve, all people inherit the effects of the Fall. In our fallen state, we are subject to opposition and temptation. When we give in to temptation, we are alienated from God, and if we continue in sin, we experience spiritual death, being separated from His presence. We are all subject to temporal death, which is the death of the physical body (see Alma 42:6–9D&C 29:41–42).

The only way for us to be saved is for someone else to rescue us. We need someone who can satisfy the demands of justice—standing in our place to assume the burden of the Fall and to pay the price for our sins. Jesus Christ has always been the only one capable of making such a sacrifice.

Jeffrey R. Holland

“The Atonement of Jesus Christ was indispensable because of the separating transgression, or Fall, of Adam, which brought two kinds of death into the world when Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Physical death brought the separation of the spirit from the body, and spiritual death brought the estrangement of both the spirit and the body from God. As a result of the Fall, all persons born into mortality would suffer these two kinds of death. But we must remember the Fall was an essential part of Heavenly Father’s divine plan. Without it no mortal children would have been born to Adam and Eve, and there would have been no human family to experience opposition and growth, moral agency, and the joy of resurrection, redemption, and eternal life.” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ”, March 2008).       

Redemption

Jesus Christ redeems all people from the effects of the Fall. All people who have ever lived on the earth and who ever will live on the earth will be resurrected and brought back into the presence of God to be judged (see 2 Nephi 2:5–10Helaman 14:15–17). Through the Savior's gift of mercy and redeeming grace, we will all receive the gift of immortality and live forever in glorified, resurrected bodies.

Although we are redeemed unconditionally from the universal effects of the Fall, we are accountable for our own sins. But we can be forgiven and cleansed from the stain of sin if we “apply the atoning blood of Christ” (Mosiah 4:2). We must exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent, be baptized for the remission of sins, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Obedience

Some people feel that the commandments are burdensome and that they limit freedom and personal growth. But the Savior taught that true freedom comes only from following Him: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31–32). God gives commandments for our benefit. They are loving instructions for our happiness and for our physical and spiritual well-being.

Our obedience to the commandments is an expression of our love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. The Savior said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). He later declared: “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love” (John 15:10).

Thomas S. Monson

“God’s commandments are not given to frustrate us or to become obstacles to our happiness. Just the opposite is true. He who created us and who loves us perfectly knows just how we need to live our lives in order to obtain the greatest happiness possible. He has provided us with guidelines which, if we follow them, will see us safely through this often treacherous mortal journey. We remember the words of the familiar hymn: ‘Keep the commandments! In this there is safety; in this there is peace’ [see “Keep the Commandments,” Hymns, no. 303].” (Thomas S. Monson, “The Blessings of Obedience”, October 2016).

Jeffrey R. Holland

“Of course neither the unconditional nor the conditional blessings of the Atonement are available except through the grace of Christ. Obviously the unconditional blessings of the Atonement are unearned, but the conditional ones are not fully merited either. By living faithfully and keeping the commandments of God, one can receive additional privileges; but they are still given freely, not technically earned. The Book of Mormon declares emphatically that ‘there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah.’” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ”, March 2008).

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2nd Article of Faith: We are accountable for our own lives! Jesus will help you along the way!

"We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression."


Principle: Because we are responsible for our own behaviors, we can create the outcomes we want through faith and action.

Principle: Because of God’s Atonement we can take action knowing that if we make mistakes, God is still there for us.

 

Application: Take action today for your own righteousness! Write down one area of your life you would like to see improved. A relationship, a calling, a habit, etc.

  • Area for Improvement:

Now write down three actions you can take toward that improvement:

1.    

2.    

3.    


Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.

(Bible Dictionary, “Prayer”)

Agency

Agency is the ability and privilege God gives us to choose and to act for ourselves. Agency is essential in the plan of salvation. Without agency, we would not be able to learn or progress or follow the Savior. With it, we are “free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil” ( 2 Nephi 2:27).

In our premortal life we had moral agency. One purpose of earth life is to show what choices we will make (see 2 Nephi 2:15–16). If we were forced to choose the right, we would not be able to show what we would choose for ourselves. Also, we are happier doing things when we have made our own choices.

Agency was one of the principal issues to arise in the premortal Council in Heaven. It was one of the main causes of the conflict between the followers of Christ and the followers of Satan.

The Lord has said that all people are responsible for their own motives, attitudes, desires, and actions. Even though we are free to choose our course of action, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions. The consequences, whether good or bad, follow as a natural result of any choice we make (see Galatians 6:7; Revelation 22:12).

Original Sin

Because of the Fall of Adam and Eve, all people live in a fallen condition, separated from God and subject to physical death. However, we are not condemned by what many call the "original sin." In other words, we are not accountable for Adam's transgression in the Garden of Eden. The Prophet Joseph Smith said, "We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression" (Articles of Faith 1:2).

Through the Atonement, the Savior paid the price for the transgression in the Garden of Eden (see Moses 6:53). He has given us the assurance of resurrection and the promise that, based on our faithfulness, we can return to dwell in the presence of our Heavenly Father forever.

D. Todd Christofferson

We should (and we do) rejoice in the God-ordained plan that permits us to make choices to act for ourselves and experience the consequences, or as the scriptures express it, to “taste the bitter, that [we] may know to prize the good.” We are forever grateful that the Savior’s Atonement overcame original sin so that we can be born into this world yet not be punished for Adam’s transgression. Having been thus redeemed from the Fall, we begin life innocent before God and “become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for [ourselves] and not to be acted upon.” We can choose to become the kind of person that we will, and with God’s help, that can be even as He is.

The gospel of Jesus Christ opens the path to what we may become. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and His grace, our failures to live the celestial law perfectly and consistently in mortality can be erased and we are enabled to develop a Christlike character. Justice demands, however, that none of this happen without our willing agreement and participation. It has ever been so. Our very presence on earth as physical beings is the consequence of a choice each of us made to participate in our Father’s plan. Thus, salvation is certainly not the result of divine whim, but neither does it happen by divine will alone.

(D. Todd Christofferson, “Free Forever, To Act for Themselves”, October 2014)

Additional Reading:

David A Bednar, “Things to Act and Things to Be Acted Upon

 

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1st Article of Faith: It's OK to make mistakes, God still loves you!

"We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost."


Principle: Because we know the true nature of God, it gives us the encouragement to live up to our divine potential.

Principle: Because we will all fall short, we need the Atonement of the Savior to pay the price for our sins and shortcomings.

 Application: Do three things this week to draw closer to God this week. Write down exactly what you are going to do. Don’t worry about being perfect, the Savior is there for you. Just start taking action to grow closer to God today!

Action Items for this week:

1.    

2.    

3.    

 


From the Prophet Joseph Smith’s account of the First Vision and from his other teachings, we know that the members of the Godhead are three separate beings. The Father and the Son have tangible bodies of flesh and bones, and the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit (see D&C 130:22).

God The Father

Children of God

We are all literally children of God, spiritually begotten in the premortal life. As His children, we can be assured that we have divine, eternal potential and that He will help us in our sincere efforts to reach that potential.

Creator

“All things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator” (Alma 30:44).

Plan of Salvation

He prepared the plan of salvation. He sent His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to loose the bands of death and atone for the sins of the world: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). This sacrifice is the greatest expression of our Father’s love for us.

Become Like Him

We draw near to God the Father as we study the scriptures and the words of latter-day prophets and as we give service. When we follow God’s will and live as He would have us live, we become more like Him and His Son.

Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and the Son of God. He is our Redeemer. Each of these titles points to the truth that Jesus Christ is the only way by which we can return to live with our Heavenly Father.

Jesus suffered and was crucified for the sins of the world, giving each of God’s children the gift of repentance and forgiveness. Only by His mercy and grace can anyone be saved. His subsequent Resurrection prepared the way for every person to overcome physical death as well. These events are called the Atonement. In short, Jesus Christ saves us from sin and death. For that, He is very literally our Savior and Redeemer.

Our Mediator

Boyd K Packer taught:

Each of us lives on a kind of spiritual credit, a debt. One day the account will be closed, a settlement demanded. However casually we may view it now, when that day comes and the foreclosure is imminent [near], we will look around in restless agony for someone, anyone, to help us.

And by eternal law, mercy cannot be extended save there be one who is both willing and able to assume our debt and pay the price and arrange the terms for our redemption.

Unless there is a mediator, unless we have a friend, the full weight of justice must fall on us. The full payment for every transgression, however minor or however deep, will be exacted [taken] from us to the uttermost.

But know this: Truth, glorious truth, proclaims there is such a Mediator. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). Through Him mercy can be fully extended to each of us without offending the eternal law of justice.

The extension of mercy will not be automatic. It will be through covenant with Him. It will be on His terms, His generous terms, which include, as an absolute essential, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins.

All mankind can be protected by the law of justice, and at once each of us individually may be extended the redeeming and healing blessing of mercy.

(Boyd K. Packer, The Mediator, April 1977)

(Also, check out the video that depicts the story, here)

Joseph’s Testimony

 ‘And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!

“‘For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—

“‘That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God’ (D&C 76:22–24).

Christ will come again

“We testify that He will someday return to earth. ‘And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together’ (Isaiah 40:5). He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts.

Holy Ghost

He “witnesses of the Father and the Son” (2 Nephi 31:18) and reveals and teaches “the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5). We can receive a sure testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ only by the power of the Holy Ghost. His communication to our spirit carries far more certainty than any communication we can receive through our natural senses.

He is the Comforter (John 14:26). As the soothing voice of a loving parent can quiet a crying child, the whisperings of the Spirit can calm our fears, hush the nagging worries of our life, and comfort us when we grieve. The Holy Ghost can fill us “with hope and perfect love” and “teach [us] the peaceable things of the kingdom” (Moroni 8:26).

Through His power, we are sanctified as we repent, receive the ordinances of baptism and confirmation, and remain true to our covenants (3 Nephi 27:20).

Gift vs. Influence

The gift of the Holy Ghost is different from the influence of the Holy Ghost. Before baptism, a person can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost from time to time and through that influence can receive a testimony of the truth. After receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, a person has the right to the constant companionship of that member of the Godhead if he or she keeps the commandments.

President Dallin H. Oaks

Because we have the truth about the Godhead and our relationship to Them, the purpose of life, and the nature of our eternal destiny, we have the ultimate road map and assurance for our journey through mortality. We know whom we worship and why we worship. We know who we are and what we can become (see D&C 93:19). We know who makes it all possible, and we know what we must do to enjoy the ultimate blessings that come through God’s plan of salvation. How do we know all of this? We know by the revelations of God to His prophets and to each of us individually.

Attaining what the Apostle Paul described as “the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13) requires far more than acquiring knowledge. It is not even enough for us to be convinced of the gospel; we must act and think so that we are converted by it. In contrast to the institutions of the world, which teach us to know something, the plan of salvation and the gospel of Jesus Christ challenge us to become something.

(Dallin H. Oaks, “The Godhead and the Plan of Salvation”, April 2017)

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