May 07, 2012

General Conference Week 3: His Gospel vs. His Church

I'm still a week behind, but here's my latest General Conference studying. I feel this talk is much-needed by many of us today. The talk is Elder Donald L. Hallstrom's "Converted to His Gospel Through His Church." You can find the full-text here.

THINGS I LEARNED:

  • The Gospel = God's plan for us to return to live with Him. The Church = The organization established to help us better live the gospel.

  • We are not a Sunday-only religion. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a way of life. We go to Church on Sundays to learn, to be inspired, to feel the Spirit whisper to us the changes we need to make or the answers we need to find peace and better align our lives with God. It is then up to US to go home and put these things into practice. This is how we each choose to live the gospel. One of the rote prayer phrases in every teenager's church vocabulary is something about blessing us so we can "take these things into our daily lives." If we go to Church on Sundays and then Monday-Saturday forget everything we learned, we've missed the mark.

  • At home, as we continue to study the scriptures, repent regularly, and check in with our Heavenly Father often through prayer, we will receive the personal revelation we need to make further changes. Doing these simple things allows us to have the companionship of the Spirit with us. The Spirit, also known as the Holy Ghost, prompts us and "tells us all things what we should do." (2 Nephi 32:5) When we listen and obey, this is how we live the gospel.

  • This one is something I know from my own life experience. Covenants strengthen us and help keep our faith anchored. At baptism, we covenant to keep God's commandments; to always remember Him and stand as His witnesses; and to love, look after, and strengthen one another. In the temple, we covenant to obey the Lord's commandments; to sacrifice and consecrate our time, talents, and means to the building up of the Kingdom, and to keep the law of chastity, among other things. In return, God promises to pour His spirit upon us and to one day grant us eternal life. Because I know God always keeps His promises and never, ever leaves us alone, I feel gratitude to Him and a greater desire to keep the promises I have made to Him. Despite my many shortcomings, renewing my baptismal covenant every Sunday during the Sacrament strengthens me to keep moving forward each week.

  • Each of us chooses to live the Gospel in different ways. We are brought together at Church every Sunday by our desire to rededicate our lives to the Lord and to become more like Him. We musn't criticize or condemn each other because some of us do things differently or choose to attend one activity but not another (for example). Instead, we must be patient with each other as we each try to better live the Gospel. The church is not perfect; but THE GOSPEL IS. When we focus on better living the Gospel in our personal lives and use the programs, facilities, and activities of the Church to better do that individually and collectively, we will progress together. The Church, though imperfect, has definitely helped ME to strengthen my faith in Jesus Christ, to draw closer to my Heavenly Father, and to better live the Gospel.

THOUGHT-PROVOKING QUOTES:
  • "Sometimes, we use the terms gospel and Church interchangeably, but they are not the same. They are, however, exquisitely interconnected, and we need both."

  • "The purpose of the Church is to help us live the gospel."

  • "It is possible to be active in the church and less active in the gospel."

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