As parents, Jim and I have tried to teach our children the importance of understanding spiritual things. We've always gone to church and usually had family scripture study. We have been faithful (most of the time) at having Family Home Evenings over the years. Sometimes you just wonder about how much gets absorbed and understood. It was/is important to us to teach our children as it says in the following scripture: "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ...that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.." 2Nephi 25:26 (Book of Mormon)
Seth was asked to give a short talk in church today. He wrote this talk himself. As his mother, my heart is grateful that he understands what we had hoped he would understand all these years. It did sink in. He had a lot of other teachers besides us and we are grateful to them for teaching him as well. He's 16. To get this and understand this at age 16 is a good thing. I wanted to blog it to preserve it and keep it with the things that will get passed on to my posterity.
"Good morning brothers and sisters, My name is Seth and I am a priest. Today I will talk on the doctrine of Christ and conversion.
What is the doctrine of Christ? 2 Nephi 31 is all about the doctrine of Christ. Verse 13 reads:
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost."
The instructions given in this verse are the same as in Article of Faith 4:
“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.”
So the doctrine of Christ is very specifically this set of instructions. These are the steps to conversion. As everyone knows, these are the steps investigators of the church take to become new members. But conversion does not stop when we become members of the church. Conversion is the continual process of change. We continually become “new creatures in Christ.” We can continue to follow these steps, through the sacrament, as we renew our baptismal covenants and gain access to the spirit. However these are not just steps, they are not something to do, they are something to be.
How is this change possible. 2 Nephi 31 verse 19 says:
“And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.”
Another enlightening scripture is Mosiah 3:19:
“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”
So we are converted through the Atonement of Jesus Christ if we have faith in him. We must rely wholly on his merits, no works of ours are sufficient to save us. If we come unto Christ and are changed in him we can put off the natural man and become saints, and become all of those wonderful things: submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, and willing to submit to the will of the father. Christ has the ability to not only cleanse our sins but also change our hearts and this is true conversion. A change of heart means that we have no more desire to do evil, but to do good continually. The people of King Benjamin experienced a mighty conversion, they said:
“Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.”
What do we do after our initial conversion, or how do we retain our conversion? 2 Nephi 31 verse 20 says:
“Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.” Feasting upon the words of Christ means studying our scriptures, for they are the words of Christ. There is a difference between reading the scriptures and really studying them. It is like the difference between snacking and feasting. We preserve our change of heart through doing the basics. Dale G. Renlund in the 2009
October conference said:
“To endure to the end, we need to be eager to please God and worship Him with fervor and passion. This means that we maintain faith in Jesus Christ by praying, studying the scriptures, partaking of the sacrament each week, and having the Holy Ghost as our constant companion.”
True conversion lasts, it is enduring to the end. In the book of Mormon the converted Lamanites endured to the end. 1000 of the Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s perished by the sword because they refused to fight and take up their weapons of war. They buried their weapons of war deep within the earth as a testimony to God that they would stay faithful. Later on the converted Lamanites continued to remained faithful. 3 Nephi 6:14 says:
“In the thirtieth year the church was broken up in all the land save it were among a few of the Lamanites who were converted unto the true faith; and they would not depart from it, for they were firm, and steadfast, and immovable, willing with all diligence to keep the commandments of the Lord.”
We should try to be like the righteous Lamanites. We can figuratively bury our rebellion against God by repenting of our sins and never returning to them. We can endure to the end if we continually live the doctrine of Christ by developing faith in the atonement of Christ, by repenting, by renewing our baptismal covenants, and by seeking the Holy Spirit. Also we can receive strength through scripture study and prayer.
I’d like to close my remarks today with the last verse of 2 Nephi 31:
“And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end.”
If we do these things we can be continually converted and that if we endure to the end we can live with God our father once again.
Christ is the way, the truth and the life. Christ's atonement is real and the plan of salvation is real, and it functions through Christ, for he is the key. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ amen."
I guess I'll be saying goodbye to him one day as well as he leaves to serve a mission too.