This week's Elder's Quorum lesson is on faith and repentance. I appreciate this lesson because faith and repentance are two things we can all benefit from understanding better.
I love that we are studying faith and repentance together for this lesson. Why? Because faith gives us reason to repent. Paul of Tarsus truly stated, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." (1Corinthians 15:19) Look at all the commandments we have in the church: Don't drink, don't smoke, don't drink coffee, keep the Law of Chastity. If we didn't have faith, then what reason would we have to do any of these things. Heck, we'd be missing out on the party!
But the truth is, we have reason to keep God's commandments. We have faith that if we keep God's commandments we will be blessed in this life, as well as the next.
Faith isn't only about being blessed for our efforts. Faith is also about having trust in the atoning power of Jesus Christ. Christ's power isn't only the power to forgive, it is the power to teach, and heal us. We learn from Alma 7 11:13:
1. He suffered pains, afflictions, and temptations so that he could understand us in our trials, and afflictions.
2, He takes our punishment upon himself that we don't have to do it ourselves. (See also D&C 19:16-17)
3. He took upon himself death so that he could loose the bands of death
4. He took upon him our infirmities so that he could have mercy, and know how to succor us according to the flesh
5. He took upon him our sins so that he could blot them out, and deliver us.
So, if we turn to Christ and rely on him, trust on him, and put our faith in him then he will help us in our efforts to repent. And if we have faith in Christ then we must also be thankful, and this piece is requisite to faith. Being thankful means that we appreciate his hand in our repentance, appreciate his willingness to forgive us our sins, and recognize his power to change our hearts. (Read D&C 59:21)
The Dictionary.com entry for repentance reads:
1. deep sorrow, compunction, or contrition for a past sin, wrongdoing, or the like.
2. regret for any past action.
When I was younger I used to feel this way. I also had some serious iniquities to repent of, and didn't know how to repent of them. I would ask how to repent. The simple definitions just weren't enough. So, I prayed, and studied.
At first I asked, "What would Jesus do?", and God responded, "He wouldn't get himself into this situation!" That didn't help much at the time, but over the years I've thought on that answer as I've studied, pondered, and prayed. I've since created for myself a different definition of repentance that is simpler, less intimidating, more powerful, and wider in scope.
1. The act of becoming more like Christ
2. The lifelong pursuit of becoming a Christ like person
Ponder that for a moment...
Repentance makes bad men good, good men better, and better men great. If we have an eye toward Christ, and the spirit of repentance always in our hearts then we will one day find that we are that man of Christ we've been striving to become. We will be as Captain Moroni, and shake the powers of hell forever (Alma 48:17)
Homework: (Ponder and pray)
Read: Ether 12:27 and ponder how you can apply this to repentance in your own life.