This has been a super good week. Always busy as usual. I've noticed something about our church that is completely different than most churches out there. Everything we do is free. I say that because 99% of the time we talk with people and offer them a Book of Mormon they'll say, "How much does it cost?" I love seeing the people's surprise when we say it's free. We've also had to explain a couple times that we're a lay ministry (for those who don't know what that means, it means that we're not paid to proselyte, to have positions in the church or anything.) People really like that missionaries and bishops alike aren't paid. You gotta love this church. It's true after all.
This is the last of week until transfers! We'll find out next Sunday if either myself or my companion will be leaving this area. He's been here for 9 months so I'll most likely be staying. I'm worried though...about a week ago we had interviews with our mission president and he told me that the time for me to "stretch" is coming up. Oh boy...
Is the Gospel only for sinners? Or is it for everybody, saint and sinner alike? It seems that most people tend to think, and I include myself, that the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Atonement is to be used only when we seek forgiveness. It is true that that is one of its main objectives, however, President David O. McKay expands our view. He said, "The purpose of the gospel is...to make bad men good and good men better, and to change human nature." Thus, the whole purpose of the gospel is to help us experience a mighty change of heart, or rather, to have our very natures changed to a more Divine character.
How can this be possible? How is this done? We are weak and cannot accomplish this great feat ourselves. The Atonement of Jesus Christ unlocks the gate to perfection. What? Isn't the Atonement to provide forgiveness? Yes, it is.
It is also the only means through which we can repent. Isn't that the same thing? In one way it is, but to repent doesn't mean to say "I'm sorry". It literally means "to turn from", "to CHANGE one's mind". Thus, it is through the Atonement, the only way for us to repent, that we can bring about this mighty change of heart.
But, how does the Atonement work? What makes the Atonement so powerful? The answer is found in 2 Nephi 2:8.
"Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know 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, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise."
So, it is through the Grace of Christ that it is possible. But what does Grace mean? The Bible Dictionary states, "The main idea of the word [grace] is divine means of help or strength...This grace is an enabling power..." Thus, Grace is as Elder David A. Bednar puts it, "...the enabling power of the Atonement [to strengthen] us to do and be good and to serve beyond our own individual desire and natural capacity."
The Atonement doesn't come free, however, for as 2 Nephi 25:23 states, "We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do." We must put in our effort, and, if we desire, we will be recipients of His Grace, His Divine Enabling Power, to be wrought with a mighty change of heart and mind and thus qualify ourselves as joint-heirs with Christ to receive exaltation, even ALL that the Father hath.
In closing I want everybody who reads this to read Ether 12:27 and substitute the word "grace" with "enabling power". Perhaps you will all understand the Atonement just a little bit better.
Jesus Christ lives. He is our Savior and Redeemer. I know our Father in Heaven loves us and wants us to be with him again. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.