Thursday, June 20, 2013

Farewell Talk- Given June 9, 2013

                                           Preaching Christ’s Gospel
Good afternoon Brother’s and Sister’s. I am excited to speak today. I knew this moment has been coming since I received my mission call 5 months ago, I didn’t even need a phone call from the bishop :D Many of you know that I have been called to the Brazil Manaus Mission and I leave in a week and a half. I am so excited to serve and teach God’s children in Brazil. I love my Savior and I am grateful that I can serve Him and preach His gospel. As I was preparing for this talk, I began to ponder on what the gospel really is. There is so much greatness and comfort in the teachings of our church I wondered what the foundation of the meaning of the gospel was. I found that Christ teaches us the definition of His gospel in 3 Nephi 27: 13-21. He lists 8 aspects of His gospel in these verses: the atonement, resurrection, judgment, faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. I would like to focus on these 8 aspects for the remainder of my talk in more detail.

The Atonement

    In 3 Nephi 27:13-14 it states, “Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you- that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me. And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me…”
    The atonement is the all-encompassing aspect of the gospel. Without the atonement everything would fall to the wayside, because as imperfect beings we need the atonement to return to God.  I remember in young women’s when Sister Huber from 1st Ward would teach she would write the title of the lesson on the board and then add “And the atonement.” I began learning then that all the principles of the gospel can be brought back to the atonement and its significance of it in each of our lives.
    Over the course of my life I have learned and gained a testimony of the atonement and my Savior’s sacrifice for me and you. One of my favorite scriptures is found in 2 Nephi 9:10, “Oh how great the goodness of our God, who prepared a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit.” Isn’t it amazing that God, our loving Heavenly Father, would provide a way for us to return to Him even though it meant sacrificing His only Begotten? He has given us a sure way to return to Him through the atonement if we use it.
    Elder Russell M. Nelson said in his October 1996 General conference address, “This is the great latter-day work of which we are a part. That is why we have missionaries; that is why we have temples- to bring the fullest blessings of the Atonement to faithful children of God. That is why we respond to our own calls from the Lord. When we comprehend His voluntary Atonement, any sense of sacrifice on our part becomes completely overshadowed by a profound sense of gratitude for the privilege of serving Him.”
    I am so excited to serve Him as a missionary and to share His gospel and the saving knowledge of the atonement with my brothers and sisters in Brazil!


    Christ taught in 3 Nephi 27: 14, “And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should me be lifted up by the Father…”
In the past year of my life I have lost my Grandmother as most of you know and a very close friend. I cannot express how the knowledge of the resurrection has helped me through the grieving process. I know that the Savior broke the bands of death and that one day all of us will be resurrected in Him. I know that I will be reunited with those that I have lost.  In Mosiah 16:7-8 it states, “And if Christ had not risen from the dead, or have broken the bands of death that the grave should have no victory, and that death should have no sting, there could have been no resurrection. But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.”
    We are given everlasting hope through our knowledge of the resurrection. Elder Joseph B. Wirthllin said in his October 2006 Conference address, “On that Friday the Savior of mankind was humiliated and bruised, abused and reviled. It was a Friday filled with devastating, consuming sorrow that gnawed at the souls of those who loved and honored the Son of God. I think that of all the days since the beginning of this world’s history, that Friday was the darkest. But the doom of that day did not endure. The despair did not linger because on Sunday, the resurrected Lord burst the bonds of death. He ascended from the grave and appeared gloriously triumphant as the Savior of all mankind. And in an instant the eyes that had been filled with ever-flowing tears dried. The lips that had whispered prayers of distress and grief now filled the air with wondrous praise, for Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God, stood before them as the firstfruits of the Resurrection, the proof that death is merely the beginning of a new and wondrous existence… We will all have our Fridays. But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death- Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow, Sunday will come.” 

    In 3 Nephi 27: 15 it says, “And for this cause have I 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.”  There will come a day, not as far away as it may seem that we will be brought before God to be judged of our works. We will be held accountable for all the things we did or did not do; the things we said, even the things we thought. In Alma 12:14 Amulek warns, “For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless; and our thought will also condemn us; and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God; and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence.” That sounds a little scary and after I spoke of the hope there is in the atonement and resurrection too… But Heavenly Father did not leave us, He will never leave us. He provided a way for us to stand before Him clean and pure, He gave us Jesus Christ. 
    Alma later teaches in 42:22, “But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted; which repentance mercy claimeth; otherwise, justice claimeth the creature and executeth the law, and the law inflicteth the punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God.”
    Abinadi also taught of the hope the Savior brings during judgment. In Mosiah 15:8-9 he said, “And thus God breaketh the bands of death, having gained the victory over death; giving the Son power to make intercession for the children of men- Having ascended into heaven, having the bowels of mercy; being filled with compassion towards the children of me; standing betwixt them and justice; having broken the bands of death, taken upon himself their iniquity and their transgressions, having redeemed them, and satisfied the demands of justice.”
We will be judged according to our works and we must do our best in this life, but through Jesus Christ all can be made right and our imperfections can be made perfect through Him.

Faith in Jesus Christ

    3 Nephi 27:19 Christ teaches, “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 faithfulness unto the end.” This verse is full of many golden nuggets but for now I want to focus on entering his kingdom because of our faith. One of the first principles of the gospel is faith in Jesus Christ. Faith in Jesus Christ leads us to action. Because of our faith we humble ourselves and repent, because of our faith we are baptized, because of our faith we experience a mighty change of heart and become a new person through Christ.
Samuel the Lamanite taught in Helaman 15:7-8, “And behold, ye do know of yourselves, for ye have witnessed it, that as many of them as are brought to the knowledge of the truth, and to know of the wicked and abominable traditions of their fathers, and are led to believe the holy scriptures, yea, the prophecies of the holy prophets, which are written, which leadeth them to faith on the Lord, and unto repentance, which faith and repentance bringeth a change of heart unto them- Therefore, as many as have come to this, ye know of yourselves are firm and steadfast in the faith, and in the thing wherewith they have been made free.” We gain this life changing faith by studying the words of ancient and living prophets and then living it.
     We are taught in True to the Faith that, “Faith is a principle of action and power. Whenever you work toward a worthy goal, you exercise faith. You show your hope for something that you cannot yet see. In order for your faith to lead you to salvation, it must be centered in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
    My decision to serve a mission is an act of my faith in Jesus Christ. I know that He is my Savior and that He loves me. I know that He loves all of His children weather they know it or not. I decided to serve my Savior because I know there is at least one person who is waiting to hear that Jesus Christ loves them and wants them to return to Him. I have faith that He will lead me to these people searching for the truth and will touch their hearts as I testify of Him.


    3 Nephi 27: 19 we are taught, “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 faithfulness unto the end.” 
    Here is another nugget I was talking about earlier, repentance. In the 4th article of faith we learn that repentance is the second principle of the gospel.  Repentance is more than just apologizing for wrong doings; it is more than feeling bad. According to the Bible Dictionary it is a fresh view about God, oneself, and about the world; it is turning your heart and will over to God. Repentance is not optional to our salvation it is necessary.
     Neal A. Maxwell said in his October 1991 Conference address, “Repentance requires both turning away from evil and turning to God. When a mighty change is required, full repentance involves a 180-degree turn, and without looking back! Initially, this turning reflects progress from telestial to terrestrial behavior, and later on to celestial behavior. As the sins of the telestial world are left behind, the focus falls ever more steadily upon the sins of omission, which often keep us from full consecration.”
     Repentance is necessary in our eternal progression towards eternal life. We cannot become like Jesus unless we are humble, meek, and penitent. Christ suffered for all that we do whether or not we use the atonement, so why don’t we use it? Repentance is allowing yourself to change, give up old ways and habits to align yourself with God and His will. 1 John 1:7-10


     In 3 Nephi 27:20 we are taught, “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 sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.” The third principle and ordinance of the gospel is baptism, we are commanded to do it.
    Some people may ask why are we baptized. In Moses 6:60 it states, “For by water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified” In other words, we are commanded to be baptized so we are.
    I want to quickly remind you what covenants we make when we are baptized. We read in Mosiah 5:8, “There is no other  name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives.” In Mosiah 18:8-9 we are taught, “And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn yea and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in , even until death, that ye may be with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life.”
    Baptism is essential to our salvation and furtherance in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a sign of our commitment to obey God’s commandments. I want to point out that we are to stand as a witness of God. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that that means we are to be member missionaries. Not everyone will get to serve a mission in this life with a name tag and official call. But, we have all accepted, at baptism, to stand as a witness. We can be good examples, we can share with our friends, and we can live our lives like Christ and reach out to others.   
Baptism is not the end though, we have more to accept and do in this life.  President James E. Faust taught in his April 2001 conference address, “Baptism by immersion in water is “the introductory ordinance of the gospel, and must be followed by baptism of the Spirit in order to be complete. Joseph Smith said, “Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing without the other half- that is, the baptism of the Holy Ghost. 

Gift of the Holy Ghost

    3 Nephi 27:20 Christ says, “… come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost…” We not only need to be baptized by water but also by the fire of the Holy Ghost.  When we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, He becomes our constant companion if we live worthily. He will teach us, guide us, comfort us, warn us, reveal truths to us, and much more.  The power of the Holy Ghost is a power that every missionary needs to carry with them throughout their mission. In 2 Nephi 33:1 we read, “And now I, Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power  of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men.”
     A missionary can say words, teach truths, and bear testimony, but without the Holy Ghost investigators and members will not feel and know for themselves of the truths being taught. It is the Holy Ghost that truly converts people, missionaries are an instrument in the process.
In his October 1996 conference address, Elder Dallin H. Oaks said, “For faithful members of the Church of Jesus Christ, the companionship of the Holy Spirit should be so familiar that we must use care not to take it for granted. For example, that good feeling you have felt during the messages and music of this conference is a confirming witness of the Spirit, available to faithful members on a continuing basis. A member once asked my why he felt so good about the talks and music in a sacrament meeting, while a guest he had invited that day apparently experienced no such feeling. This is but one illustration of the contrast between one who has the gift of the Holy Ghost and is in tune with his promptings and one who has not, or is not.”  We need to strive to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost and we also need to strive to recognize his presence, so that we can help those around us recognize his influence and teachings. 

Endure to the End
      3 Nephi 27:16 Christ teaches, “And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at the day when I shall stand to judge the world.”
    After we have taken part in all the principles and ordinances of the gospel, we need to endure to the end. We continue on until we are called back to the presence of Heavenly Father.
The greatest example of enduring to the end is my grandma Nay. As most of you witnessed, she came to church every Sunday until about 2 weeks before she passed away. She endured unimaginable amounts of pain because she wanted to be faithful to the end. She loved Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and worshiped them in every way. She went to the temple until she absolutely couldn’t any longer, she read the scriptures until her eyes could no longer see the print, and she came to church to partake of the sacrament until she could no longer sit upright. She upheld every covenant she made in this life until she died. Her example will shine brightly in my memory of that of enduring every kind of pain to worship God until her last breath.
   My grandma truly lived up to 2 Nephi 31:20, “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.”
     “Enduring to the end implies “patient continuance in well doing”, striving to keep the commandments, and doing the works of righteousness. It requires sacrifice and hard work. To endure to the end, we need to trust our Father in Heaven and make wise choices, including paying our tithes and offering, honoring our temple covenants, and serving the Lord and one another willingly and faithfully in our Church callings and responsibilities. It means strength of character, selflessness, and humility; it means integrity and honesty to the Lord and our fellowmen, it means making our homes strong places of defense and a refuge against worldly evils; it means loving and honoring our spouses and children.” Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Have We Not Reason To Rejoice, October 2007

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