Sunday, May 13, 2012

Converted to His Gospel through His Church

Quite some time has passed since I recommended an article of the week and it's a good thing I didn't name the series "weekly articles" or all two of you who read my blog would be disappointed. However, I'm back on the bandwagon and once again ready to share with you the words of the prophets that inspire me, that I hope the world hears, and that encourage me to stand a little taller and be a better disciple of Jesus Christ.

In our day as may have been the case in earlier times, I feel that a difference exists between the gospel of Jesus Christ and "church." Some believe in Christ yet don't feel that joining with a church is necessary; they may not see a need to worship outside the home, they may be critical of the weaknesses of those who run churches, they may not understand the difference between the multitude of different churches and cannot find one with which they feel a desire to unite, they may be simply wanting an excuse to do as they please on Sunday rather than attend a church, or a multitude of other reasons. Others attend church for traditional or social reasons or because attending church once or twice a year on holidays makes them feel better about themselves although they do not necessarily make decisions throughout the year to live the teachings of Him whom they worship on Christmas and Easter. Even some who attend church more regularly may not be living the gospel as taught by the Lord in their personal lives.

Whatever the reason people may be separating the gospel and church, the gospel of Jesus Christ and The Church of Jesus Christ are "exquisitely interconnected, and we need both." At the most recent General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Donald L. Hallstrom gave a talk entitled, "Converted to His Gospel through His Church," (Ensign, May 2012, 13). In his talk, Elder Hallstrom taught about the need for both the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Church. Taught Elder Hallstrom:

"The gospel is the glorious plan of God in which we, as His children, are given the opportunity to receive all that the Father hath (see Doctrine and Covenants 84:38). This is called eternal life and is described as “the greatest of all the gifts of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 14:7). A vital part of the plan is our earthly experience—a time to develop faith (see Moroni 7:26), to repent (see Mosiah 3:12), and to reconcile ourselves with God (see Jacob 4:11)."

The gospel of Jesus Christ, simply put, is His teachings and the associated blessings that are promised to all those who strive to follow His example. It is a way of life. Jesus Christ also established His Church as a means to help us live the gospel through fellowship of others and constant nourishment of the word of God. Simply believing in Jesus Christ or even reading the Bible from time to time are not enough. The gospel is active and requires work and effort on our part. Living the commandments, especially in our day, can be difficult and the Church offers support and guidance. More importantly, the Church is run by Jesus Christ through His chosen apostles and prophets, as in ancient days. "The purpose of the Church is to help us live the gospel," continued Elder Hallstrom:

"The Church was established by Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry, “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 2:20). In this, “the dispensation of the fulness of times” (Doctrine and Covenants 128:18), the Lord restored what once was, specifically telling the Prophet Joseph Smith, “I will establish a church by your hand” (Doctrine and Covenants 31:7). Jesus Christ was and is the head of His Church, represented on earth by prophets holding apostolic authority."

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's church established once again on the earth in our day. The apostolic authority--called the priesthood--enables us to make necessary covenants, or promises, with God through ordinances such as baptism (see John 3:5). Of keeping covenants, Elder Hallstrom said, "we need to establish the discipline to live faithful to our covenants, fully using the weekly gift of the sacrament." These covenants serve as additional strengths to withstand the adversary and, should we keep our covenants unto the end, qualify us for eternal life.

In the Church we also learn and deepen our understanding of Deity. "A sustained knowledge of and love for the three members of the Godhead are indispensable," taught Elder Hallstrom. As we come to know Them, we develop a greater understanding of our purpose on earth and of our divine heritage as sons and daughter of God.

Following Jesus Christ and striving to live His teachings through keeping His commandments and making and keeping covenants is the only way that we may have a fulness of happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. "The Lord wants the members of His Church to be fully converted to His gospel. This is the only sure way to have spiritual safety now and happiness forever."

The gospel of Jesus Christ truly is the plan of happiness given to us from a loving Father in Heaven. The gospel is taught in its fulness only in His church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Only in His Church is the authority of the priesthood to perform saving ordinances and make covenants found. I am so grateful for a Heavenly Father who loves me enough to provide me with a way to return to Him through the sacrifice of His Only Begotten Son.

Jeremy