A small epiphany on Jesus Christ and repentance

Repentance isn’t what covers the sins — Christ covers the sins. We are trying to become something — like the Savior.

A note I took during church

I like to take notes while I listen to people speak in church. It helps me to focus and often I find myself learning something as I jot down notes of what comes to my mind as people speak. A few weeks ago, we had some excellent speakers talking on the topic of repentance. During one of the talks, I drew this kind of rough diagram in my notes

Raw notes from my journal

Often when we teach about repentance, we talk about repenting of our sins. That phrase, for me, automatically brings to mind a kind of check-list repentance (like in the top of my image above). In this somewhat inaccurate view of repentance, it is easy to think that we have to repent for each and every bad thing that we do in life. Perhaps we may assume that we need a literal list of all the bad things we do which we then have to review in prayer daily and try to repent of. This perspective, while helpful, may risk us misunderstanding the role of repentance. Our act of repenting of a sin, is not what has power in and of itself to result in our being cleansed from that sin. Repentance is the quest that Christ asks us to embark on — but it is Jesus Christ who erases the sin through his power and grace.

Into the Wilderness, by Eva Koleva Timothy

I believe that repentance is, therefore, much more than a daily checklist of actions to perform to keep ourselves right with God. Repentance is the process by which we become more like God. It is the way that we strive to focus ourselves on Christ and connect to His power. This connection allows that power to flow into us and change our natures.

God’s ultimate goal for us in this life is to become perfect as He is. This perfecting, or sanctifying, does indeed come through repentance; however, simply striving to check of a list of actions misses the broader goal. I love the following from Russell M. Nelson that teaches this principle.

Thus, when Jesus said “repent,” He asked us to change—to change our mind, knowledge, and spirit—even our breath….Yes, the Lord has commanded us to repent, to change our ways, to come unto Him, and be more like Him. . . . To repent fully is to convert completely to the Lord Jesus Christ and His holy work.

Repentance and Conversion, Russell M. Nelson, April 2007 (churchofjesuschrist.org)

I hope this perspective is helpful for someone. I am still learning about these principles myself and there is a lot to learn. I have definitely learned that a focus on Jesus Christ brings other church and gospel topics into sharp focus.

If you’re interested, here are a few other talks from Russell M. Nelson and others that deal with repentance. They are all fantastic. I’ll include some of my favorite scriptures on the topic as well.

References from Modern Apostles & Prophets


Faith and Repentance

The Daily Covenant Path – Given on 22 Aug 2021

Brothers and Sisters, I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to you today. I am grateful for the wonderful family that we have here in this ward! Sarah and I are so thankful for all that you do to bless our family, to serve each other, to teach your families, and to serve in the church. As I share the message that I have prepared and as we listen to President Williams, I invite you to pay attention to the whisperings of the spirit. Write down what he tells you, and then act! I know that if you listen, he will teach you today.

Near the end of his ministry, the Apostle Paul wrote an epistle to Timothy who had been his companion in his travels and who had served faithfully in the church. As Paul reflected on his life and the hardships and trials he had experienced, he looked forward and saw our day. He told Timothy that “in the last days perilous times shall come.”[1] Four-hundred and fifty years later, the Book of Mormon prophet Moroni also knew our doing. He saw a time when “there shall be heard of fires, and tempests, and vapors of smoke in foreign lands. And there shall also be heard of wars, rumors of wars, and earthquakes in diverse places. A day when there shall be great pollutions upon the face of the earth; there shall be murders, and robbing, and lying, and deceivings, and whoredoms, and all manner of abominations.”[2] We see these prophecies fulfilled every day!

During these perilous times, the prophets have taught that we are to find joy![3] Does that surprise you? It certainly isn’t what the world would teach! So, the question for us is how do we not only survive but thrive and even find joy in the midst of hardship, trials, and wickedness all around us?

In primary we learn that we are supposed to be like the wise man and build our house on the rock. We we can find joy during perilous times when we “build upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the son of God…That when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon [us], it shall have no power over [us] to drag [us]u down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which [we] are built, … a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”[4]

We build our lives upon the rock of our Redeemer by getting on and then staying on the covenant path. The covenant path has some major mile-markers along it: Baptism, Confirmation, Priesthood Ordination, The Temple Endowment and Sealing. These saving ordinances order and direct our lives by putting us into a covenant relationship with God. We should actively prepare to receive these ordinances and enter into these covenants. Because “the power of godliness is manifest”[5] in these ordinances, receiving them for ourselves can be a defining spiritual experience – it is often an unforgettable one. When I look back on my experiences receiving these ordinances, I find strength in my daily striving.

Receiving the ordinances of the priesthood is one of the most important things we can do in this life. But, the ordinances themselves are short! Often, they last only minutes. So, how do we stay on the covenant path for the rest of our lives? The answer is simple. The principles that led us to enter the path in the first place are the same principles that sustain us as we continue to walk in it every day. These are the first principles of the gospel: faith in Jesus Christ and repentance. As we exercise faith in Christ and repent every day, we can be confident that we are striving to stay on the covenant path.

Everyone here in this meeting today has exercised faith! You got up this morning and decided to participate in partaking of the sacrament. You did that because you believe that Christ is real. Even if that belief feels weak, it is there inside you! President Nelson taught that we show our faith every day in the choices we make.

Do not minimize the faith you already have. It takes faith to join the Church and remain faithful. It takes faith to follow prophets rather than pundits and popular opinion. It takes faith to serve a mission during a pandemic. It takes faith to live a chaste life when the world shouts that God’s law of chastity is now outmoded. It takes faith to teach the gospel to children in a secular world. It takes faith to plead for the life of a loved one and even more faith to accept a disappointing answer.

The mountains in our lives do not always move how or when we would like. But our faith will always propel us forward. Faith always increases our access to godly power.[6]

It is not always easy to have faith. It is not even always obvious that we even have faith! However, as long as we are doing anything to try to follow the Savior, we can know that we do have faith.

Every time we exercise our faith, we are choosing to repent! Over the last few years as I have studied repentance, I have come to understand that repentance is anything we do to change our lives in any way to become more like Jesus Christ. And there are a lot of ways to do that!

I love what President Nelson taught about repentance.

Does everyone need to repent?” The answer is yes.

Too many people consider repentance as punishment—something to be avoided except in the most serious circumstances. But this feeling of being penalized is engendered by Satan. He tries to block us from looking to Jesus Christ, who stands with open arms, hoping and willing to heal, forgive, cleanse, strengthen, purify, and sanctify us.

The word for repentance in the Greek New Testament is metanoeo. The prefix meta- means “change.” The suffix -noeo is related to Greek words that mean “mind,” “knowledge,” “spirit,” and “breath.”

Thus, when Jesus asks you and me to “repent,” He is inviting us to change our mind, our knowledge, our spirit—even the way we breathe. He is asking us to change the way we love, think, serve, spend our time, treat our wives, teach our children, and even care for our bodies.

Nothing is more liberating, more ennobling, or more crucial to our individual progression than is a regular, daily focus on repentance. Repentance is not an event; it is a process. It is the key to happiness and peace of mind. When coupled with faith, repentance opens our access to the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.[7]

In the perilous times that we live in, it is critically important that we have Faith in Jesus Christ and continually repent. What are some ways that you and I could repent today? Perhaps we can be more focused during our scripture study or teach our child in a new way. Maybe family prayer could use some improvement or we need to reach out to a friend or neighbor. Maybe we need to pray a bit more sincerely or index a batch of records for family history.  Whatever it is that you have personally been prompted to do, act! Don’t wait! Act in faith and repent a little bit today.

I know that Christ lives. I know that He guides this church. I know that Russell M. Nelson talks to God and then tells us what God wants us to know. I know that Christ has the power to change us. That change doesn’t come all at once. It comes little by little – line upon line – as we daily exercise faith and repent. If we do this, we will find joy in this life even during perilous times.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

[1] 2 Timothy 3:1

[2] Mormon 8: 29-31

[3] Joy and Spiritual Survival, Nelson, October 2016

[4] Helaman 5:12

[5] D&C 82:20

[6] Christ Is Risen; Faith in Him Will Move Mountains, Nelson, April 2021

[7] We Can Do Better and Be Better, Nelson, April 2019

Lincoln’s 2nd Innagural

Flag of the United States – 1865

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Abraham Lincoln; Second Inaugural Address; Saturday, March 4, 1865

A Sacred Home

Our front room used to just be another room.

Only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness.

Bible Dictionary: Temple

The front room of our house looks like an ordinary front room that you may find in any number of homes. It has some moderately comfortable couches, a second hand piano that the kids practice on somewhat diligently, and some standard Ikea furniture. It was just another room in our home until a few weeks ago when life changed and we started staying at home because of the coronavirus. Since we have been at home, this seemingly ordinary room has transformed into a sacred place — a place where my family has felt the Spirit, worshiped Jesus Christ, sung hymns, and learned the gospel.

When we first viewed our home, our realtor jokingly referred to the front room as the “meet the preacher” room. Little did he know that this room would eventually become the nucleus of our home-centered worship. Since we have lived here we have held our weekly Family Home Evening lessons in this room. Even when there were no couches, piano, or Ikea furniture, we held our lessons in this room.

When members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were told that we would not be holding in-person church services because of COVID-19, the purpose of this little room changed. It was elevated in our minds from our family home evening room to our sacrament meeting room. We started spending careful time on Saturdays making sure it was clean. We dusted more often. We cleaned the windows. We made space for our family to partake of the sacrament.

On the first week that we gathered as a family to partake of the sacrament in our front room, we sang a song, had an opening prayer and then I administered the sacrament to my family. As I was blessing the emblems, I felt the cleansing, sanctifying influence of the Holy Ghost come into that little front room. The children were still. The peace that attends sacred places was present in that room. Every week since, as I have knelt at our little sacrament table, I have felt that same spirit.

Our children have also sensed the change in our home. They have been prepared for our Sunday services. They have each, on separate occasions, found their way to the front room on Sunday morning to sit and be quiet. Sometimes they will sit with each other. I believe that their innocent spirits are sensitive to the Holy Ghost and enjoy being in places where He is.

I want to have that spirit in my home all of the time! How do I accomplish this? I believe the statement from the Bible Dictionary quoted earlier is true — the home compares with the temple in sacredness. So what steps can we take to make it that way all the time? Elder Gary E. Stevenson taught the following:

Imagine that you are opening your front door and walking inside your home. What do you see, and how do you feel? Is it a place of love, peace, and refuge from the world, as is the temple? Is it clean and orderly? As you walk through the rooms of your home, do you see uplifting images which include appropriate pictures of the temple and the Savior? Is your bedroom or sleeping area a place for personal prayer? Is your gathering area or kitchen a place where food is prepared and enjoyed together, allowing uplifting conversation and family time? Are scriptures found in a room where the family can study, pray, and learn together? Can you find your personal gospel study space? Does the music you hear or the entertainment you see, online or otherwise, offend the Spirit? Is the conversation uplifting and without contention?

Sacred Homes, Sacred Temples, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, April 2009

All the things we put into our home, especially the activities we choose to engage in and the way we spend our time either invite or discourage the Spirit from being in our homes.

As we, individually and in our families, consistently point our attention to Jesus Christ, our homes can be sacred places. As we exercise our faith and continually repent, the Holy Ghost will be in our homes. Will they always be quiet and peaceful sacred places? No! They are sacred laboratories. Things sometimes go wrong in these sacred places. Sometimes they are loud! They are still inhabited by imperfect people. However, as we turn our eyes to the Savior and let His light fill us, we can allow the Spirit to sanctify our homes. They can become refuges from the storms of life. They can be filled with the Spirit of God.

Review: The Case for Christ

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book. I appreciated the level of detail that Mr Strobel uses in presenting the material. It was approachable for someone who hasn’t spent time examining original academic sources but was in depth enough to explain those sources in a clear and convincing way.

I am a Christian and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints. I was taught by my parents to believe in Christ and I don’t recall a time that I didn’t believe. This book confirmed my faith in Christ and helped to cement in my mind some of the intellectual reasons for my faith. I believe in studying things intellectually and looking for the truth in all of the evidence. I appreciated this book as an introduction to the historical evidence for Christ.

I would love to see Mr Strobel produce a book that examines the claims of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with the same rigor that he examines Christ in this book. He has a few paragraphs in this book where he offhandedly discounts the claims of the Latter-day Saints. While I trusted his presentation of expertise on topics related directly to Christ’s historicity, that set of paragraphs cast doubt in my mind about how truly unbiased he was in his approach.

The Holy Ghost Helps Me Feel Love, Joy, and Peace

Eliza Arnesen – Primary – Sep 2019

My topic is “The Holy Ghost helps me feel love, joy and peace.” In Galatians 5:22-23 it says, “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

This means that the Spirit brings these great things into our lives.

I would like to share a story of something that happened yesterday morning. Yesterday I realized I had two CTR rings and my brother James didn’t have any. He asked me for one, but I said no. I decided I should be Christlike. The Holy Ghost helped me feel love for James.

I decided to give a CTR ring to him. I made a treasure hunt for him to find it. My brother James loved it. My heart felt so happy. I know that feeling came from the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost told me I made the right choice.

The Treasure Map

I’d like to bear my testimony that I know we can make right choices and that the Holy Ghost can help us feel love, joy and peace.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.