How many in this room are converts? (all hands should be raised)
What does it meant to be converted? (have discussion)
To convert is to change from one character, type, or purpose to another. Our bodies convert food into energy, we convert inches to centimeters, pounds to kilograms, and dollars to euors. Our hearts can undergo similar types of conversions. We can change direction morally, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually. We are what we think (Proverbs 23:7). In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word translation of converted means “to turn back or return”. It is also translated as restore (see Psalm 23:3), “He restores my soul.”
One of the great heroes from the Old Testament was the prophet-warrior Joshua. He extended this invitation to the children of Israel, whom he led: “Choose you this day whom ye will serve; … but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua’s declaration demonstrates true conversion to the gospel. For Joshua and all of us, conversion to gospel principles comes through:
1. Righteously living the principles of the gospel.
2. Being true to our covenants with the Lord.
We live in perilous times, and the decisions which you are called upon to make on a daily, or even hourly, basis have eternal consequences. The decisions you make in your daily life will determine what happens to you later. If you do not yet have a firmly rooted testimony and conviction that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of God on the earth, now is the time to do what it takes to gain that conviction. To delay making the effort required to earn that kind of conviction can be dangerous to your soul. It takes time, effort, and work.
How can you make the gospel of Jesus Christ not just an influence in your life but the very core of what you are?
Elder D. Todd Christofferson offered advice on how we can strengthen our understanding and commitment to learning about the gospel in a letter to the youth. His key points included:
· Lay aside pride
o Become submissive and stop trying to dictate your plans.
· Do more than read – STUDY
o read the verses again, and pray for understanding, asking questions in your mind, waiting for spiritual impressions, and writing down the impressions and insights that come so you can remember and learn more. Studying in this way, you may not read a lot of chapters or verses in a half hour, but you will be giving place in your heart for the word of God, and He will be speaking to you. Remember Alma’s description of what it feels like: “It beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me” ().
· Pray for pure love
o In the Book of Mormon, Amulek tells us we should pray about everything. He says, “Pour out your souls [to God] in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness” (). Your Heavenly Father wants you to pray about your hopes and fears, your friends and family, your school and work, and the needs of those around you. Most of all, you should pray to be filled with the love of Christ. This love is given to those who ask for it with all of their heart (see ).
· Practice the Gospel
o After Amulek talked about prayer, he spoke about another important element of your conversion—serving others. Otherwise, he said, “your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing” ().
· Give the gift of yourself
o As you seek the blessings of conversion, you can offer the Lord the gift of your broken, or repentant heart and your contrite, or obedient spirit. In reality it is the gift of yourself – what you are and what you are becoming
So how is that different from being converted?
For many of us, conversion is the line upon line and precept upon precept, gradually and almost imperceptible shift as our motives, our thoughts, our words, and our deeds become aligned with the will of God. Conversion unto the Lord requires both persistence and patience.
Samuel the Lamanite identified five basic elements in becoming converted unto the Lord in the scriptures (Helaman 15:7-8): (1) believing in the teachings and prophecies of the holy prophets as they are recorded in the scriptures, (2) exercising faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, (3) repenting, (4) experiencing a mighty change of heart, and (5) becoming “firm and steadfast in the faith” This is the pattern that leads to conversion.
True conversion is more than merely having a knowledge of gospel principles and implies even more than just having a testimony of those principles. It is possible to have a testimony of the gospel without living it. Being truly converted means we are acting upon what we believe and allowing it to create “a mighty change in us, or in our hearts.” “Conversion is a process, not an event. You become converted as a result of … righteous efforts to follow the Savior.”
The Savior taught, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” Sometimes we try to do it backward. For example, we may take this approach: I will be happy to live the law of tithing, but first I need to know that it’s true. Maybe we even pray to gain a testimony of the law of tithing and hope the Lord will bless us with that testimony before we have ever filled out a tithing slip. It just doesn’t work that way. The Lord expects us to exercise faith. We have to consistently pay a full and honest tithe in order to gain a testimony of tithing. This same pattern applies to all the principles of the gospel, whether it is the law of chastity, the principle of modesty, the Word of Wisdom, or the law of the fast.
I would even go one step further to say our exercise must also include a humbling of our opinions and desires in order to be more aware and open to His will for us. Quite often I get caught up in how “I” need things to work in order to accomplish a project or errand, and I forget to include Him, instead I try to direct the heavens. I’m sure we’ve all experienced this. It isn’t until we remember that we are on His errand, and not the other way around that things fall into place.
The prophet Moroni, in the Book of Mormon, taught, “I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” In our world where instant gratification is the expectation, we are often guilty of expecting the reward without having to work for it. I believe Moroni is telling us that we must do the work first and exercise faith by living the gospel, and then we will receive the witness that it is true. Remember, True conversion occurs as you continue to act upon the doctrines you know are true and keep the commandments, day after day, month after month.
Why do we need to be actively engaged in becoming converted? Following the readers, outline the reasons.
Your personal conversion will help you as you make covenants in the temple, serve, and establish your own homes. As you are converted, you will have a desire to share with others what you have learned, and your confidence and ability to testify to others with conviction and power will increase. This desire to share the gospel with others and the confidence to testify boldly are natural results of true conversion. The Savior taught Peter, “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” (Luke 22:32)
· To make covenants
· Establish homes committed to choose the Lord’s way
· To inspire/motivate service
· To share the message (Missionary work)
Remember Joshua, the prophet-warrior? He was not only converted himself, but he worked tirelessly to the end of his life to bring the children of Israel to God. We read in the Old Testament, “And Israel served the Lord all the days of Joshua.” (Joshua 24:31) A person who has experienced true conversion draws upon the power of the Atonement and receives salvation for his or her own soul, then reaches out to exert a powerful influence upon all those who know him or her.
· To draw upon the power of the Atonement
· To be an example
Sister Oscarson says:
Living the gospel and standing in holy places is not always easy or comfortable, but I testify that it is worth it! The Lord counseled Emma Smith to “lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better.” I suspect we cannot begin to imagine just how magnificent those “things of a better” world are!
It is well to remember that no matter how inspired your peers, parents and leaders may be, “you have [the] primary responsibility for your own conversion. No one can be converted for you, and no one can force you to be converted.”
Conversion takes place as we are diligent about saying our prayers, studying our scriptures, attending church, and being worthy to participate in temple ordinances. Conversion comes as we act upon the righteous principles we learn in our homes and in classrooms. Conversion comes as we live pure and virtuous lives and enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Conversion comes as we understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ, acknowledge Him as our Savior and Redeemer, and allow the Atonement to take effect in our lives.
Since this lesson comes at the end of this year, just before Christmas, I cannot think of a better gift we can give to the Savior, our Heavenly Father, ourselves, and our families, than to recommit to being anxiously engaged in this cause of increasing our conversion.
Jeffrey R. Holland reminds us, “When we promise to follow the Savior, to walk in his footsteps, and be His disciples, we are promising to go where that divine path leads us. And the path of salvation has always led one way or another through Gethsemane. So if the Savior faced such injustices and discouragements, such persecutions, unrighteousness, and suffering, we cannot expect that we are not going to face some of that if we still intend to call ourselves His true disciples and faithful followers.”
Remember that true conversion is a process, not an event, and it comes as a result of righteous efforts to follow the Savior—day after day.’ Although true conversion is life changing, it is usually a quiet miracle that occurs over time.