If we are to follow the Savior, we will by default be at odds with the world. Christ teaches this many times throughout scripture. We cannot have our homestead in Zion while maintaining a summer cottage in Babylon. As unpopular as this may make us in the eyes of the world, especially in these latter days, the Lord makes it clear that those who endure to the end are the same as they who shall be saved.
Those who are of an unrepentant spirit often seek to subvert eternal truths such as this, to ensure the cold hard facts remain hidden. Facts that paint quite a different picture, of a much different reality. The gospel of Jesus Christ requires ordinances, obedience, and adherence. Things that will put us at odds with the world.
As a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day-Saints, I have had to make any changes to my life. Changes that are welcomed and well-deserved because of my repentant spirit. Though these changes could not have come about unless I had had the desire to repent and make use of the atoning sacrifice of the Savior. I felt as the Brother of Jared did:
“O Lord, thou hast said that we must be encompassed about by the floods. Now behold, O Lord, and do not be angry with thy servant because of his weakness before thee; for we know that thou art holy and dwellest in the heavens, and that we are unworthy before thee; because of the fall our natures have become evil continually; nevertheless, O Lord, thou hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee, that from thee we may receive according to our desires.”
Notice the verbiage: become evil continually. Now on the surface, this passage could look like it is backing the traditional Christian theological notion of original sin. Yet this is not so, it merely seeks to elucidate the fact that we as fallen beings have the continual propensity to sin, which is a clear and unavoidable reality. Those who wish to subvert our Church seek to do so chiefly by removing the inspired and scriptural definition of what it means to sin, and thus subsequently the need for repentance.
Our postmodern culture seeks to do away with such boundaries and definitions. Precisely because such boundaries and definitions are seen as obstacles in the struggle to manifest the type of society that they wish to create. The history of postmodern philosophy is not quite long, but it is arduous and lengthy in its own right, and it is a subject that I wish to cover in greater detail in another essay. I merely wish to speak about those who wish to reconcile these infernal values with our Church and its doctrines rather than those who are unashamed in their attempts to destroy the Lord’s kingdom.
My main point is that the subjects of sin and repentance in their inspired and scriptural definitions are integral to the Christian worldview, especially that of the Latter-Day-Saint, whether in the past, present, or future. One cannot deny that we must continually repent to gain exaltation and live in the presence of the Father and the Son.
Alma taught, “And now for this cause, that ye may not be destroyed, the Lord has sent his angel to visit many of his people, declaring unto them that they must go forth and cry mightily unto this people, saying: Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven, is nigh at hand;”
Indeed, we see here that Alma is declaring the importance of repentance unto the people who were not living in the commandments of the Lord. To be destroyed, according to the Latter-Day-Saint worldview, means to be cut off from the presence of the Father and in the highest degree of Glory. Jacob called this phenomenon, spiritual death. Nowhere in scripture does it say that prophets may be corrected by the whims of worldly indulgences – in fact, scripture teaches us the exact opposite.
Many of those who wish the brethren would suddenly introduce these new indulgent policies assume that these wise men, being called of God, have never asked for answers on such issues. They kick against the pricks simply because they do not like the answers that have been received. The Lord will challenge us more than he will indulge us. It is His nature, and this is good; it helps temper and train us, like a sword of steel within the forge. Being sharpened by fire and iron, from that which is dull; into a blade that is strong and true. This analogy can be likened to the process of us attaining God-like qualities both in the mortal and post-mortal worlds.
The main issue that I see, and I may be incorrect I will admit, is a lack of testimony among those who challenge the brethren in this way. Thinking that they are fallible to the extent that they could misunderstand or err on important issues that affect such a large swath of God’s children merely because their views are “outdated.” Such a view is denigrating to the brethren, and irreconcilable with the fact that this is the Lord’s church and they are his servants. Those who advocate “Middle Way Mormonism,” unless they repent, will be forever caught in the endless folly of innately discordant principles, which they can only ignore through sin and a lack of self-awareness.
If one were to nullify the reality of sin and the ultimate need for repentance, then what need do we have for the ordinance of baptism? Indeed, baptism is the beginning of our formal recognition of Jesus Christ and his Church. Not to say that one cannot experience Christ, love him, and know him before baptism, as I did when I was involved in other forms of Christianity before becoming a Latter-Day-Saint. I merely mean to say that baptism is the beginning of our recognizing Christ, along with his Church (in the institutional sense upon this Earth) and by extension, the priesthood authority that rests with the Church and it’s leaders, from the Prophet down to lay Melchizedek Priesthood holders.
Now the ordinance of baptism and all other ordinances within the Lord’s Church takes place through physical actions within the corporeal realm. Yet it is not about the action itself, but the internal transformation in which the action is a mere promotional symbol. This is a commandment of the Lord, to signify to ourselves and our siblings in Christ, the commitment that we are making, and intend to keep.
If we are to make null and void the reality of sin and the ultimate need for repentance – or worse yet – nullify them through some perverse magnitude of mutation; then the need for baptism becomes null and void as well. If we have no baptism, then we have no church. Like a ball of yarn that is slowly unraveled, we are left with nothing but a thin and fraying line of string, which the adversary may cut with his infernal scissors.
I urge everyone who is caught within the snare of this mindset to repent and look to God, and not to their own biases, not their favorite Instagram influencer, or anyone else. Look to our prophets, chief of which is President M. Nelson, who I wholeheartedly sustain. The packages of the world come in many sizes, shapes, and colors, yet none of them bring eternal life. I sympathize with those who are having trouble following the Lord’s commandments; as I often have and continue to do at times.
I had to make this choice when I was considering joining the Church. I had a testimony of God the Eternal Father, and His son Jesus Christ in addition to the Book of Mormon, yet I knew embarking on the gospel covenant path would require me to unlearn bad habits, change my lifestyle, and repent and try to be different. I have grown closer to God as a result of doing so.
Having an inner witness and testimony to the truths of the gospel compels one to make their best effort when it comes to following the Lord’s commandments, not change them. The choice between the Lord and the world is distinct, and no one is exempt from ultimately making their decision between the two. And there you have it, the key is to strive, in all the ways that we can. Indeed we must if we are to follow the Savior.