What was the lesson about last week? Pause. Write notes, make commitments to yourself, ask yourself ‘when I go home and someone asks me what I learned in Church, what are some things I could say?”

It’s like, God put us into families for a reason.

Quote 1.

The Gospel is a two-edged sword, so as we talk about blessings and promises, I first want to start with the other end of the spectrum: I want to ask a question: What is Damnation? What does damnation mean?

“damned means stopped in progress”

Spencer W. Kimball, “Marriage and Divorce” BYU Devotional, September 7, 1976

Alma 12:9-11

[This is a good point to stop and say that some of the things I am going to say might sound too hard or even impossible, no matter where I go, remind me that I cannot end the lesson without reading the quote off the YELLOW SHEET]

What is the Gospel?

“People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says, ‘If you keep a lot of rules I’ll reward you, and if you don’t I’ll punish you.’  I do not think that is the best way of looking at it.  I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before.  And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God . . . Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 87)

Quote 2 Elder Oaks [if necessary]

“The gospel of Jesus Christ encompasses much more than avoiding, overcoming, and being cleansed from sin and the bad influences in our lives; it also essentially entails doing good, being good, and becoming better. Repenting of our sins and seeking forgiveness are spiritually necessary, and we must always do so. But remission of sin is not the only or even the ultimate purpose of the gospel. To have our hearts changed by the Holy Spirit such that “we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2), as did King Benjamin’s people, is the covenant responsibility we have accepted. This mighty change is not simply the result of working harder or developing greater individual discipline. Rather, it is the consequence of a fundamental change in our desires, our motives, and our natures made possible through the Atonement of Christ the Lord. Our spiritual purpose is to overcome both sin and the desire to sin, both the taint and the tyranny of sin…  “Brothers and sisters, the gospel of the Savior is not simply about avoiding bad in our lives; it also is essentially about doing and becoming good.”

(David A. Bednar, “Clean Hands and a Pure Heart,” Ensign, Nov 2007, 80–83)

In someone’s own words, what is that saying?

[Story of self. Avoid bad, but not developing; consciously competent]

“Some describe the entire spiritual growth process as faith, repentance, baptism, and the Holy Ghost—as if once we’ve received the Holy Ghost, the hard work is done and our exaltation is assured, so long as we don’t do something seriously wrong. “Endure to the end,” we say, as if that means relaxing in some eternal rocking chair. God will just reel us in, like a fish hooked on a line. But it’s not quite that simple.

“On the contrary, receiving the Holy Ghost marks the beginning of our real spiritual growth, not the end of it. Baptism and the Holy Ghost only let us enter ‘in by the gate.'(2 Nephi 31:18). Then the Holy Ghost leads us along the “strait and narrow path” (2 Nephi 31:19) of becoming sanctified disciples—not as passive spectators but by our straining every spiritual muscle, drinking in the power of temple ordinances, and feasting actively on Christ’s words to nourish us in becoming ever more holy (See 2 Nephi 32:3–6). And the long-term goal of that journey is to become like Him.

Does the Atonement have anything to do with this higher, developmental part of the journey or is it limited to the forgiveness part? Moroni taught that Christ’s grace helps us move well beyond forgiveness toward becoming like Him, or sanctified. He wrote, ‘Come unto Christ, and be perfected in him’ (Moroni 10:32; see also verse 33).

“So, after weeding out our worldly ways, Christ’s perfecting grace helps us replace those weeds with the divine flowers of Christlike attributes. You might say He wants to plant a garden of divine attributes in us.”

(Bruce C. Hafen, “A Disciple’s Journey”, BYU Devotional, February 5, 2008)

We Learn that the gospel is MUCH MORE than the First Principles and ordinances of the Gospel and the Sunday School Answers, we learn a few ‘hard’ truths like:

Quote 3

Quote 4

Quote 5

Quote 6

Quote 7

 

Telestial: Law unto themselves. Terrestrial: Live temporal laws of ‘avoiding’. Celestial: Consecrating our Will to God.

“Valiance means to faithfully perform one’s duties beyond the minimum requirement. It is laboring at a standard that represents our best efforts and is substantially more than what might be minimally expected.”

(W. Rolfe Kerr, “Parables of Jesus: The Unprofitable Servant,” Ensign, Oct 2003, 44–47)

[Yellow PAPER]

Quotes:
1. “We hope you have made copious notes of the thoughts that have come to your mind as you listen to church talks and lessons. Many helpful thoughts have been given for the perfection of our own lives, and that, of course, is the basic reason for our coming.

“While sitting here, I have made up my mind that when I go home from this conference this night there are many, many areas in my life that I can perfect. I have made a mental list of them, and I expect to go to work as soon as we get through with conference. . . . [President Kimball then reviewed several of the sermons given in that conference and what he was going to act on what he learned.]

“I wish there were time to mention some of the other wonderful sermons, because it helps me to summarize these things and decide what I have heard, what I want to retain, what I want to do something about. . . .

“Well, now, brothers and sisters, this is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to all who are listening in, we haven’t been fooling. What we have been teaching you is truth, downright truth, and it has a definite bearing upon the salvation and exaltation of every soul that could listen and hear. I admonish you to actively apply what you are learning.”

(Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, Nov. 1975, pp. 111–12)

2. “People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says, ‘If you keep a lot of rules I’ll reward you, and if you don’t I’ll do [an]other thing.’  I do not think that is the best way of looking at it.  I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before.  And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God . . . Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 87)

3. “Repentance is no fun at all.  It is something much harder than merely eating humble pie.  It means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousands of years.  It means killing part of yourself . . .”
(C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, 60)

4. “Another way to obtain a soft heart is to make sure you don’t focus too much on yourself or your personal problems and struggles. Instead of thinking of yourself primarily as someone who is seeking purification, think of yourself as someone who is trying to find out who around you needs your help. Pray that way and then reach out. When you act under such inspiration, it will have a sanctifying effect on you.

Now, if you’ll do this, you will really begin to come to know Christ.”

(Henry B. Eyring, To Draw Closer to God, Deseret Book [Salt Lake City: 1997], p.110)

5. “I would like to speak of one particular attitude and practice we need to adopt if we are to meet our Heavenly Father’s high expectations. It is this: willingly to accept and even seek correction.”

(D. Todd Christofferson, “As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten,” April 2011 General Conference)

6. “A common error is the idea that the offender must apologize and humble himself to the dust before forgiveness is required. Certainly, the one who does the injury should totally make his adjustment, but as for the offended one, he must forgive the offender regardless of the attitude of the other. Sometimes men get satisfactions front seeing the other party on his knees and grovelling in the dust, but that is not the gospel way.”

(Spencer W. Kimball, Miracle of Forgiveness, Ch. 19)

7. “You will never know enough in this life. Part of enduring to the end is to never get over being teachable, even after you have lived and learned a lot.” (Henry B. Eyring, To Draw Closer to God, Deseret Book [Salt Lake City: 1997], p.35)

—-Extra Quotes
“We are instructed to ‘come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny [ourselves] of all ungodliness’ (Moroni 10:32), to become ‘new creature[s]’ in Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:17), to put off “the natural man” (Mosiah 3:19), and to experience “a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2). Please note that the conversion described in these verses is mighty, not minor—a spiritual rebirth and fundamental change of what we feel and desire, what we think and do, and what we are. Indeed, the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ entails a fundamental and permanent change in our very nature made possible through our reliance upon “the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah” (2 Nephi 2:8). As we choose to follow the Master, we choose to be changed—to be spiritually reborn.”

(David A. Bednar, “Ye Must Be Born Again,” Ensign, May 2007,  19–22)

“Here is [an] important item. If you assemble from time to time, and proceed to discuss important questions… and fail to note them down, by and by you will be driven to straits from which you will not be able to extricate yourselves, because you may be in a situation not to bring your faith to bear with sufficient perfection or power to obtain the desired information; or, perhaps, for neglecting to write these things when God had revealed them, not esteeming them of sufficient worth, the Spirit may withdraw, and God may be angry; and there is, or was, a vast knowledge, of infinite importance, which is now lost. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 73.)

“To God, we are all infants, and so I take comfort and direction in these words from Joseph Smith: “We may come to Jesus and ask Him; He will know all about it; if He comes to a little child, he will adapt himself to the language and capacity of a little child.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 162.) And Joseph also taught this later: “The Lord deals with this people as a tender parent with a child, communicating light and intelligence and the knowledge of his ways as they can bear it.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. and arr. Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938], p. 305.)

So I can drop the pose and habits of the tough-minded intellectual and know that I may listen as a little child, having confidence that the gospel is simple. In fact, if I listen humbly, with the expectation that what matters most will be clear even to a little child, then I will be both meek enough to be quiet inside—and therefore able to hear the still, small voice—and humble enough to take correction easily. That is how the Prophet Joseph assures me I may listen with confidence: as a little child.

“But you might rightly object by saying that the Lord himself taught that much of the gospel is hidden, not easily learned. In fact, there are things called mysteries. Doesn’t that sound as if it were complex, available only to the intellectually ambitious? Yes, it sounds that way. But the Prophet Joseph Smith assures me and you that once we receive a simple truth, there is something simple to do to qualify for more truth: we have to live what we learn, with enough humility to obey and enough faith to work at it.

“That, of course, is a third rule of hearing. You must listen with the intent of doing what you are told. If you do, then after you have been obedient you will be told more. Joseph Smith described it this way: “Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God. But we cannot keep all the commandments without first knowing them, and we cannot expect to know all, or more than we now know unless we comply with or keep those we have already received.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 255-56.)

“I know that… you, and I, and all of God’s children could hear the truth and be led toward salvation if only we knew how to listen and then did it.

I pray that you will try it. You could do it if your home teachers came by to visit. Or you could do it in a conversation with a friend. Or you could pick up the scriptures and start to read—especially in the Book of Mormon, because a modern prophet said so. When President Benson told us to read the Book of Mormon, did you hear more than a man’s voice? And did you hear like a child, willing to accept so simple a thing? And did you do it? If you did, and if you will, I will make you a sure promise.

You will learn something that seems new, you will know that it is true, you will find that it is simple, and you will find that it impels you to do something. And if you do what you are told, in faith, the cycle of learning will start again, a rung up on that ladder we will climb happily as long as life lasts and beyond.

It would be unfair to end without a warning. This is not simply an invitation to try something pleasant; this is an invitation which involves great blessings when accepted and terrible consequences when rejected. When you listen for the words of God and follow them, you will hear more. When you do not listen or do not follow, you will hear less and less until finally you may not hear at all.”

(Henry B. Eyring, To Draw Closer to God, Deseret Book [Salt Lake City: 1997], p.33, 37-38)

“I need to caution myself and each of my readers that the very nature of this message could tend to the same downfall that it warns against. The idea that our strengths can become our weaknesses could be understood to imply that we should have “moderation in all things.” But the Savior said that if we are “lukewarm,” he “will spue [us] out of [his] mouth” (Rev. 3:16). Moderation in all things is not a virtue, because it would seem to justify moderation in commitment. That is not moderation, but indifference. That kind of moderation runs counter to the divine commands to serve with all of our “heart, might, mind and strength” (D&C 4:2), to “seek … earnestly the riches of eternity” (D&C 68:31), and to be “valiant in the testimony of Jesus” (D&C 76:79). Moderation is not the answer.”

(Dallin H. Oaks, “Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall,” Ensign, Oct 1994, 11)

“I urge you to cultivate the gift of an obedient spirit. The Savior taught that “whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man. … And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man.”

How do we know if we are wise or foolish? When we hear inspired counsel, we obey. That is the test of wise or foolish.

What does it profit us if we listen to wise counsel and do not heed the words? Of what use is experience if we do not learn from it? What good are the scriptures if we do not cherish the words and incorporate them into our lives?”

(Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Life’s Lessons Learned,” Ensign, May 2007,  45–47)

“Those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit are willing to do anything and everything that God asks of them, without resistance or resentment. We cease doing things our way and learn to do them God’s way instead. In such a condition of submissiveness, the Atonement can take effect and true repentance can occur. The penitent will then experience the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost, which will fill them with peace of conscience and the joy of reconciliation with God. In a wondrous union of divine attributes, the same God who teaches us to walk with a broken heart invites us to rejoice and to be of good cheer.”

(Elder Bruce D. Porter, “A Broken Heart and a Contrite Spirit”, October 2007 General Conference)

“We can distinguish more clearly between divine discontent and the devil’s dissonance, between dissatisfaction with self and disdain for self. We need the first and must shun the second, remembering that when conscience calls to us from the next ridge, it is not solely to scold but also to beckon.

“… We can contemplate how far we have already come in the climb along the pathway to perfection; it is usually much farther than we acknowledge. …

“… We can make quiet but more honest inventories of our strengths. … Most of us are dishonest bookkeepers and need confirming ‘outside auditors.’ He who was thrust down in the first estate delights to have us put ourselves down. Self-contempt is of Satan; there is none of it in heaven. We should, of course, learn from our mistakes, but without forever studying the instant replays as if these were the game of life itself.”

(Neal A. Maxwell, “Notwithstanding My Weakness,” Ensign, Nov. 1976, 14 )

“the effect of sincere prayer and of careful scripture study is to always feel an urging to do things.”

(Henry B. Eyring, To Draw Closer to God, Deseret Book [Salt Lake City: 1997], p.151)

Start blogging by creating a new post. You can edit or delete me by clicking under the comments. You can also customize your sidebar by dragging in elements from the top bar.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *