The time has come for us to begin.
This series has to do with the principles of the restored gospel. It may seem a little peculiar to talk about faith and repentance since that’s the main theme of everything that is talked about in the Church. Still, I find for myself there is a certain refreshment in going back over the basic things. I don’t listen to music because I have never listened to it before. I listen to it because I have heard it before, and I like it. And I find the same thing with the gospel.
One of the beautiful things about the gospel is that it never gets old. In fact, it continually grows, and sharpens, and refines. So I would like to talk about the principles of the gospel.
The principles by themselves are not enough. That is to say, this is a complicated discussion, because the principles have to be put into a context. The context is what we call theology, our situation. When you put the theology, or our situation, and the reality which we find ourselves together with the principles then we have the gospel. The Savior outlines the two of them together very wonderfully in 3rd Nephi 27, if I could review that with you. This is setting the stage for what I have to say.
He says in verse thirteen, (3rd Nephi 27:13)
“I have given you my gospel, This is the gospel, that I came into the world to do the will of my Father. Because my Father sent me.”
The most fundamental thing to know. Is that the Savior came for one purpose only, to do his Father’s will. That is to say, to keep His covenant with Father.
“And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up on the cross.”
The main thing the Father wanted him to do, besides obey him, was to die for us, that the New and Everlasting Covenant might be made possible.
“And after that I had been lifted up on the cross, that I might draw all men unto me. That as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father to stand before me. To be judged of their works, whether they be good, or whether they be evil.”
And so, here we come into the scene. We also are children of God. Also having the opportunity to do the will of the Father. But because the Savior came and was perfect, and atoned for our sins, He will draw us unto Himself. He will judge us. And we will see how many times we chose for God, and how many times we chose for self, for selfishness or evil.
“For this cause I have been lifted up, therefore, according to the power of the father, I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works. And it shall come to pass that whoso repenteth, and is baptized in my name, shall be filled. and if he endure to end behold him will I hold guiltless before my Father at the day when I shall stand to judge the world.”
Enduring to the end, as I understand it is to fulfill the purpose of repentance. Repentance begins before baptism, but ends long after.
“He that endureth not to the end, the same is he that is hewn down and cast into the fire.”
From whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father. Justice is Father’s law. And they cannot return to Him if they have broken the law. And there is no way to mend it. We mend it, of course, through Christ.
“This is the word which He hath given unto the children of men, For this cause he fulfilleth the words which he hath given. And he lieth not, but fulfilleth all his words.”
He fulfills his own law. He is exact and precise in doing so.
“And no unclean thing can enter into His Kingdom. Therefore nothing entereth into His rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood because of their faith and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfullness unto the end.”
“Now this is the commandment, repent all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name. That ye may be sancitified by the reception of the Holy Ghost. That ye may stand spotless before me at the last day. Verily, Verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel.”
Now, with that as a background, let us focus on faith and repentance. Let us begin with repentance. Repentance is a “what.” Whereas faith is a “how”. Repentance is what we are supposed to become. What we are supposed to leave, and what we are supposed to come to. And faith is how we do it. So, as I understand it, very simply, what we are to repent from is our old self. That is to say, our old habits, our old ideas, our old feelings. In other words, our sins. We repent from our sins. And we turn to Christ. To come into the measure of the fullness of his stature. To think his thoughts, to have his feelings. To do his acts. And thus to fulfill what he is.
Now, that Latin root for repentance, is to turn. The Greek root means to change one’s mind. The Hebrew root means to return to God. But the important thing about repentance is that you have taken all of those things into account. No one of them captures fully what repentance is. Repentance is simply turning from wherever we are, from whatever we are, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. We have to change our minds in that process. Not only our minds, but our hearts, We have to return to God. We have all gone out of the way, that is to say we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Therefore, we must return to God, and that return is repentance.
Now the scriptures give us a very careful account of what it means to repent. Let’s read from Alma chapter 5.
“And now, if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what fold are ye? Behold I say unto you,” This is Alma 5:33. “Behold I say unto you that that the Devil is your shepherd, and ye are of his fold. And now who can deny this? Behold, whosoever denieth this is a lier and a child of the Devil.”
We have two alternatives, and two only. Do we serve God, or do we serve ourselves. In other words, righteousness or selfishness. Good and evil. There are many degrees of evil. There are some who mix a little good into their evil, there are some who mix a lot of good into their evil. But the question is, will we turn to good. My understanding is, that before we entered into eternity, that is to say, before the judgement, everyone of us will have made the decision to turn to Christ. We will finally see that selfishness will not do it for us. Even we don’t want the selfishness. The only ones that doesn’t apply to, of course, are the Sons of Perdition. They accept Christ, and then turn back to selfishness, preferring selfishness to Him. But everyone else, will eventually see that only in Christ is their good.