BYU (Brigham Young University) is operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often mistakenly called the “Mormon Church.” As part of their undergraduate coursework, BYU students take multiple semesters of spiritually uplifting, stimulating religion classes.
In this series (see below), students enrolled in scripture study classes have shared their thoughts, insights, and reflections on the Book of Mormon in the form of letters to someone they know. We invite you to take a look at their epiphanies and discoveries as they delve into the scriptures.
In publishing these, we fulfill their desire to speak to all of us of the relevance, power and beauty of the Book of Mormon, a second witness of Jesus Christ and complement to the Bible. The Book of Mormon includes the religious history of a group of Israelites who settled in ancient America. (The names they use are those of prophets who taught the Book of Mormon peoples to look forward to the coming of Christ—Nephi, Lehi, Alma, Helaman, and other unfamiliar names. We hope those names will become more familiar to you as you read their inspiring words and feel the relevance and divinity of their messages through these letters.)
Let us know if you’d like to receive your own digital copy of the Book of Mormon, and/or if these messages encourage and assist you spiritually as well.
Member Beliefs: The Power of Repentance
Well, so it is week two. On the heels of a wonderful three day vacation full of time with my wife, all-we-could-eat soup, salad and breadsticks at Olive Garden and probably less homework than I should have done, I write about a subject that is important. It is important because it affects our world because it affects us individually.
Once again, we find ourselves in Alma amid fatherly words teaching and advising children. After speaking to Shiblon and Helaman, it is then Corianton’s turn. Unlike his other brothers, Corianton wasn’t always as faithful to the Gospel. Alma doesn’t dwell on this fact, but instead, teaches his son about the plan of God. He concludes with the very apex of God’s plan: Christ’s sacrifice. But with not just what it could mean to him, but what he must do to make it active in his own life. He taught about repentance; the means by which we change and are forgiven. He explained the necessity of Christ to take the punishments for sin upon His shoulders allowing us to be forgiven, to be clean to enter into the Kingdom of our Father and taught that this is only possible through repentance. He said, “For behold, justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved” (Alma 42:24).
I love this verse because I believe it holds in it a key part of repentance and discipleship to God. When we repent, we recognize our actions are in opposition to the will and commandments of God. We feel sorrow for our wrongs. We have faith in Christ’s sacrifice then we confess our sins to God and those whom we have offended. We try to right our wrongs and live the rest of our lives without returning to our sins. As Alma means, there is penitence at the center. Penitence is defined as expressing or feeling regret or sorrow for having committed sins or misdeeds. This feeling of penitence is sadly missing in the world today. Too often we hear of revealed scandals followed by public apologies. I am not the judge of men’s hearts, but I fear that the motivation for such apologies is regret of being caught and not sorrow for having done. Even some may believe that God makes no demands on our personal lives or that the commandments are merely guidelines or are antiquated; therefore, they don’t change the dealings of our lives. Thus, why feel bad for or make right what we have done? Why change? Why become better? For surely there are no consequences and, besides, it is hard to change my nature.
True discipleship and faith in Christ is marked by repentance. There is power in sincere repentance. I am very imperfect. Those that know me and those who understand human nature are not surprised and, truly, I am not either. I make mistakes but I recognize that they have a purpose. They can be building blocks for me, not stumbling blocks. This building process is through repentance; and it is a process. Each day I strive to recall the actions of the day and determine to become better. I feel penitence and I am healed of my grief and empowered to do better by the Savior.
In closing, all I can say is that there is a purpose. There is a God in heaven who sent His Son to earth. This Son, Christ, taught during the Sermon on the Mount (a discourse full of commandments and not suggestions), “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Lofty? Improbably and seemingly impossible? Yes. But we can change every day to become more like the Father and Son. To emulate their qualities and exhibit love and kindness and virtuous actions as They do. This process of change is impossible without repentance.