Well, I’m sure that I’m behind the times, but I just stumbled across this website! http://www.lds.org/training/wwlt/2013/hastening/a-new-vision?lang=eng
Oh that I had a few hours right now to spend on that site! Along the right side are the words "Using This Site", followed by 3 steps. I skipped to step 3 today, but I plan to go back to steps 1 and 2 this week during companionship study time.
I wish that every member would catch this Spirit! The Lord is serious! It’s happening! It’s all going forward! I hope that you can feel that by now. I feel it every time I read a letter from home and learn about the incredible things happening there. I feel it every district meeting, zone meeting, zone conference, and training meeting. I feel it when I read from the Book of Mormon the stories of the great missionaries of old. I feel it when we teach investigators and members and testify of our purpose as missionaries. I want so badly for every member, everywhere to feel it!
OH MY GOODNESS I JUST REALIZED! General Conference is coming up in like 2 weeks! Holy cow I cannot wait! Man… That’ll make just under 6 months out here. I feel like I am still at the beginning of my mission, and then I realize that I’m almost 1/4 of the way done! That’s hard. I feel so unprepared still. Elder Carter and I have recently felt very strongly that we need to return to the basics and study the missionary lessons in Preach My Gospel chapter 3. We have had some really great experiences lately (and some really bad experiences) that have helped us to see the importance of the basics. I want to share just a couple of the lessons we have learned recently:
While studying in Lessons 1, 2 and 3 of PMG Chapter 3, (the chapter containing the missionary lessons that we teach), we realized that each lesson is centered on the Atonement.
1. The Restoration (introduction to the atonement; the fact that it happened; the conditions of the atonement are mentioned)
- The fourth principle we teach in the lesson of the Restoration is "The Savior’s Earthly Ministry and Atonement". During this portion, we explain that Jesus Christ fulfilled the atonement to allow us to re-enter the presence of our father in heaven.
- Also, in the first principle "God is our Loving Heavenly Father", we find the words "Central to our Heavenly Father’s plan is Jesus Christ’s Atonement".
2. The Plan of Salvation (the need for, act of, and blessings from the atonement are explained in depth; the conditions of the atonement are stated)
- At the heart of the Plan of Salvation lesson is the principle titled: "The Atonement". This is the largest portion of this lesson. In this section we read, "Christ promises to forgive our sins on the condition that we accept Him by exercising faith in Him, repenting, receiving baptism by immersion, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and striving faithfully to keep His commandments to the end of our lives."
3. The Gospel of Jesus Christ (the effects of and blessings from the atonement are re-explained; the conditions of the atonement are explained in depth)
- The principles focused on in this lesson are those mentioned in Lesson 2 as the conditions upon which the atonement becomes enacted upon us. This is explained by Samuel the Lamanite in Helaman 14:17-18:
17 But behold, the resurrection of Christ redeemeth mankind, yea, even all mankind, and bringeth them back into the presence of the Lord.
18 Yea, and it bringeth to pass the condition of repentance, that whosoever repenteth the same is not hewn down and cast into the fire; but whosoever repenteth not is hewn down and cast into the fire…
I’d like to share a portion of a letter I received from Elder Raffensparger explaining grace. I feel it is very applicable to this. He stated:
"We are all saved by grace and grace alone. Because of the Sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, we will all be resurrected and will receive a heavenly glory."
"The laws of Justice and Mercy, must be understood to understand Grace.
Justice demands that a punishment be paid for breaking a law (spiritual or temporal). Jesus Christ paid that price. So placing Himself as mediator or creditor for us, because He assumed our debt, and we are now indebted to Him. This is Justice.
Mercy is: as we are now indebted to the Savior, He sets the new agreement terms. He requires that we repent, and deny ourselves of all ungodliness. We must use this gift that He has given us to become all that we can become. When we make mistakes we fall, so we must stand back up, dust ourselves off, pray and repent, and get back on the horse. Because He paid the price, He has the right to set the terms for us to receive mercy. This is Mercy.
See Alma chapter 42 to see this in scriptural context.
Grace is the saving piece. His Grace is His willingness to have come to earth from on high to experience life, and to bear all of our burdens and give us the opportunity to be forgiven of our sins. We do not earn grace. Just as we do not earn a sunrise or a sunset. But we accept the blessings that come, and do all in our power to accomplish and become what is required of us. We use the gift of the day to better ourselves, to learn and to grow. Grace is the sunrise on a new life, and new decisions to help us become more like the Savior.
When we make mistakes we fall from grace, the new testament teaches us this: Romans 4, Galatians 5, and Hebrews 10. When we repent, we come into compliance with the Savior’s will, and then there is nothing more we must do. We must only repent. Repentance is a very wide subject and can include many different things depending on what the Lord requires of us. In order to repent we must be humble. When we humbly repent, His Grace is sufficient. Because repentance causes a change within us. We are not trying to prove to God that we should be worthy of a higher glory.
This repentance helps us, trains us, prepares us, to be comfortable in His presence for eternity. Romans 8:17 teaches us that we may gain all that the Savior has gained. As joint heirs, we must become as the Savior did. The Savior is perfect and resisted the temptation to sin. Having done so he was the only one who could help us become perfect. We are only perfect through His atonement as we repent. If we do not use the day(the Atonement) given us by the sunrise (Jesus Christ Himself) then nothing changes and we will not be prepared and in the necessary state of being to be comfortable standing in the presence of a Perfect Father who gave us a responsibility to learn and to grow here on the earth.
This is Grace. The potential to become all that He desires for us to become. His Grace helps us achieve the otherwise inachievable. Were it not for the understanding of a loving Father who showed us by example that it is possible to do as He commands, and then a sacrifice of a son He sent show us the way to do what the Father commands, we would avail to nothing.
Grace is the power and the fuel to get through difficult times, not the extra boost at the end. Grace provides us with the ability to gain Justice, and Mercy. Were it not for Grace we would avail to nothing. We must only repent; which means to change, and become as the Savior.
Seek the Lord’s will in this the time of your life. His Grace is sufficient for all man who Humble themselves before Him. (Ether 12:27) We will make weak things become strong, so long as we are willing to Work for Repentance. Our works do nothing for us, save it be for the Atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Christ is the reason any of us can be and become anything more than we are. He fought for our agency to choose, which allows us to give that Agency to the Father, and be blessed and set truly free.
Nothing is truly impossible for the Lord. I testify that Grace is the power, the only power by which we are saved. As we accept Jesus Christ into our lives, and exercise faith in Him, he is the difference. I promise that His Grace is sufficient, for those who are humble before Him."
Well, I thought I was only going to share a portion of it, but as I read it, I felt that almost all of it was needed, somewhere, by someone. Wherever and whoever you are, I want you to know that there is no reason I should have received this email from Elder Raffensparger, unless he had been prompted to share it with me. Likewise, I have been prompted to share it with you.
I testify as a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ that there is nothing, not one thing, that any of us could do to earn our salvation or exaltation. "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." As missionaries, we are commanded to "Say nothing but repentance unto this generation" (D&C 6:9). That is the message we preach. Christ has made available to all men the glorious blessings of His atonement, on conditions of repentance. I feel to quote C.S. Lewis:
"Christ says ‘Give me All. I don’t want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don’t want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked – the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.’"
Hmm. I love my Savior. I love being here. Thank you, each of you who have pressed and prayed and supported and loved and prepared me to be here.
2 Nephi 33:6 I glory in plainness; I glory in truth; I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell.
Alma 26:16 Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.
D&C:128:22 Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing. Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison; for the prisoners shall go free.
23 Let the mountains shout for joy, and all ye valleys cry aloud; and all ye seas and dry lands tell the wonders of your Eternal King! And ye rivers, and brooks, and rills, flow down with gladness. Let the woods and all the trees of the field praise the Lord; and ye solid rocks weep for joy! And let the sun, moon, and the morning stars sing together, and let all the sons of God shout for joy! And let the eternal creations declare his name forever and ever! And again I say, how glorious is the voice we hear from heaven, proclaiming in our ears, glory, and salvation, and honor, and immortality, and eternal life; kingdoms, principalities, and powers!