Previous letters to the editor have discussed the purpose of life. It is reasonable that the discussion should progress to the Gospel message. On the day of Pentecost, with the power of the Holy Ghost given to them, the apostles were able to teach the Gospel message to the multitude in their own tongue or language. Those assembled “were pricked in their hearts, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37-38) And what was the response of the Apostles? “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Acts 3:26 further explains that Christ was sent to turn each of us from our iniquities. Christ not only taught, but demonstrated what we should do. He went to John the Baptist at the river Jordan, was baptized, and the Holy Ghost descended upon him.
Jesus Christ has clearly stated: “I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance; nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven.” (D&C 1:31-32) That is the grace promised to each of us.
Faith is actually a result of grace. Faith results from divine assurance that a concept or particular interpretation of the scriptures is true. (Hebrews 11:1) It is not enough that we desire that an interpretation is true; there must be divine assurance. Some teach that forgiveness of sins results from believing that Jesus Christ provided an infinite atonement, and that repentance is desirable but not necessary for forgiveness of sins. To have faith in that belief it must be based on divine assurance. The Lord will not provide assurance if a concept is not true.
The Lord has given commandments for our blessing and happiness. All sin is destructive and harmful to us. Why is repentance not considered an opportunity? Over the years I have dealt with people who have used drugs and systematically destroyed their health. Obviously they felt that the immediate pleasure was more important than their health. But there are more serious consequences of sin which are not generally understood. When we keep his commandments, we invite the Lord’s presence. If we persist in ignoring his commandments, over time, he will withdraw his presence from us.
A child is innocent and has an abundance of the presence of the Lord. Children seem pure, and they are pure. As we get older we are then responsible for our choices. All of us at times have not listened to the promptings of our own conscience, given by the spirit of the Lord which is with us. If we persist in ignoring those promptings, the spirit will gradually be withdrawn leaving us vulnerable to be enslaved by the evil one. This consequence is much more serious than health or other considerations. Thankfully, if we seek to repent and live the commandments taught by the Lord, we invite a greater presence of the Lord which will strengthen us against temptation.
When we believe in Jesus Christ we also believe the commandments and principles he taught, including the privilege of repenting.