from True to the Faith
On the night before His Crucifixion, Jesus Christ met with His Apostles and instituted the sacrament. “He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:19–20). After His Resurrection, He instituted the sacrament among the Nephites (see 3 Nephi 18:1–11).
Today we partake of bread and water in remembrance of Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice. This ordinance is an essential part of our worship and our spiritual development. The more we ponder its significance, the more sacred it becomes to us.
Remembering the Savior and His Atonement
The sacrament provides an opportunity for you to remember with gratitude the life, ministry, and Atonement of the Son of God.
With broken bread, you remember His body. You can be mindful of His physical suffering—especially His suffering on the cross. You can remember that through His mercy and grace, all people will be resurrected and given the opportunity for eternal life with God.
With a small cup of water, you can remember that the Savior shed His blood in intense spiritual suffering and anguish, beginning in the Garden of Gethsemane. There He said, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death” (Matthew 26:38). Submitting to the will of the Father, He suffered more than we can comprehend: “Blood [came] from every pore, so great [was] his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people” (Mosiah 3:7). You can remember that through the shedding of His blood, Jesus Christ saved you and all other people from what the scriptures call the “original guilt” of Adam’s transgression (Moses 6:54). You can remember that He also suffered for the sins, sorrows, and pains of all Heavenly Father’s children, providing remission of sins for those who repent and live the gospel (see 2 Nephi 9:21–23).
Renewing Covenants and Promised Blessings
When you partake of the sacrament, you witness to God that your remembrance of His Son will extend beyond the short time of that sacred ordinance. You promise to remember Him always. You witness that you are willing to take upon yourself the name of Jesus Christ and that you will keep His commandments. In partaking of the sacrament and making these commitments, you renew your baptismal covenant (see Mosiah 18:8–10; D&C 20:37).
You receive great blessings when you keep the baptismal covenant. As you renew it, the Lord renews the promised remission of your sins. Cleansed from sin, you are able to “always have his Spirit to be with [you]” (D&C 20:77). The Spirit’s constant companionship is one of the greatest gifts you can receive in mortality. The Spirit will guide you in the paths of righteousness and peace, leading you to eternal life with your Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ.
In preparation for the sacrament each week, take time to examine your life and repent of your sins. You do not need to be perfect in order to partake of the sacrament, but you should have a spirit of humility and repentance in your heart. Every week you should prepare for that sacred ordinance with a broken heart and a contrite spirit (see 3 Nephi 9:20).
If you approach the sacrament with the reverence and solemnity it deserves, it becomes a weekly opportunity for introspection, repentance, and rededication—a source of strength and a constant reminder of the Savior’s Atonement.
A covenant is a sacred agreement between God and a person or group of people. God sets specific conditions, and He promises to bless us as we obey those conditions. When we choose not to keep covenants, we cannot receive the blessings, and in some instances we suffer a penalty as a consequence of our disobedience.
All the saving ordinances of the priesthood are accompanied by covenants. For example, you made a covenant when you were baptized, and you renew that covenant each time you partake of the sacrament (see Mosiah 18:8–10; D&C 20:37, 77, 79). If you have received the Melchizedek Priesthood, you have entered into the oath and covenant of the priesthood (see D&C 84:33–44). The temple endowment and the sealing ordinance also include sacred covenants.
Always remember and honor the covenants you make with the Lord. Then you will not need to be commanded in everything you do (see D&C 58:26–28). You will be inspired by the Holy Ghost, and Christlike conduct will be part of your nature. As the Lord has promised, you will “receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal” (D&C 42:61). Your greatest hope should be to enjoy the sanctification that comes from this divine guidance; your greatest fear should be to forfeit these blessings.
Entering the Path to Eternal Life
Baptism is the first saving ordinance of the gospel (see Articles of Faith 1:4). Through baptism and confirmation by priesthood authority, you became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
When you were baptized, you showed your willingness to follow the Savior’s example. He too was baptized, even though He was without sin. As He explained to John the Baptist, He needed to be baptized in order to “fulfil all righteousness” (see Matthew 3:13–17).
All who seek eternal life must follow the example of the Savior by being baptized and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. The prophet Nephi said that the Savior showed us “the gate by which [we] should enter. For the gate by which [we] should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of [our] sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost. And then are [we] in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life” (2 Nephi 31:17–18). We will receive eternal life if we endure to the end, keeping our covenants and receiving other ordinances of salvation.
Baptism in the Lord’s Way
The Savior revealed the true method of baptism to the Prophet Joseph Smith, making clear that the ordinance must be performed by one having priesthood authority and that it must be done by immersion:
“The person who is called of God and has authority from Jesus Christ to baptize, shall go down into the water with the person who has presented himself or herself for baptism, and shall say, calling him or her by name: Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
“Then shall he immerse him or her in the water, and come forth again out of the water” (D&C 20:73–74).
Immersion is symbolic of the death of a person’s sinful life and the rebirth into a spiritual life, dedicated to the service of God and His children. It is also symbolic of death and resurrection. (See Romans 6:3–6.)
Your Baptismal Covenant
When you were baptized, you entered into a covenant with God. You promised to take upon yourself the name of Jesus Christ, keep His commandments, and serve Him to the end (see Mosiah 18:8–10; D&C 20:37). You renew this covenant each time you partake of the sacrament (see 20:77, 79).
Taking upon Yourself the Name of Jesus Christ.
When you take upon yourself the name of Jesus Christ, you see yourself as His. You put Him and His work first in your life. You seek what He wants rather than what you want or what the world teaches you to want.
In the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin explains why it is important to take the name of the Savior upon ourselves:
“There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives.
“And it shall come to pass that whosoever doeth this shall be found at the right hand of God, for he shall know the name by which he is called; for he shall be called by the name of Christ.
“And now it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall not take upon him the name of Christ must be called by some other name; therefore, he findeth himself on the left hand of God” (Mosiah 5:8–10).
Keeping the Commandments.
Your baptismal covenant is a commitment to come into God’s kingdom, separating yourself from the world and standing as a witness of God “at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:9). Your efforts to stand as a witness of God include everything you do and say. Strive always to remember and keep the Lord’s commandments. Keep your thoughts, language, and actions pure. When you seek entertainment such as movies, television, the Internet, music, books, magazines, and newspapers, be careful to watch, listen to, and read only those things that are uplifting. Dress modestly. Choose friends who encourage you to reach your eternal goals. Stay away from immorality, pornography, gambling, tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs. Keep yourself worthy to enter the temple.
Serving the Lord.
The commandment to separate yourself from the things of the world does not mean that you should isolate yourself from others. Part of the baptismal covenant is to serve the Lord, and you serve Him best when you serve your fellow men. When the prophet Alma taught about the baptismal covenant, he said that we should be “willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light” and “willing to mourn with those that mourn … and comfort those that stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:8–9). Be kind and respectful to all people, following the example of Jesus Christ in the way you treat others.
Remission of Sins.
Because you have been baptized, you can receive a remission of your sins. In other words, you can be forgiven through the mercy of the Savior. With this blessing, you can be permitted eventually to live in the presence of Heavenly Father.
To receive a remission of your sins, you must exercise faith in Jesus Christ, be sincerely repentant, and strive always to keep the commandments. The prophet Mormon taught, “The first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins” (Moroni 8:25). You “retain a remission of your sins” as you continue to humble yourself before God, call upon Him daily in prayer, remain steadfast in the faith, and serve those in need (see Mosiah 4:11–12, 26).
Enduring to the End
Now that you are baptized and have received the gift of the Holy Ghost, you must continue in righteousness, for these ordinances mark only the beginning of your journey back to dwell with your Heavenly Father. The prophet Nephi taught:
“After ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.
“Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life” (2 Nephi 31:19–20).
Reverence is profound respect and love. When you have a reverent attitude toward God, you honor Him, express your gratitude to Him, and obey His commandments.
You should be reverent in your behavior as well as your attitude. Reverent behavior includes prayer, scripture study, fasting, and payment of tithes and offerings. It includes wearing modest clothing and using clean, wholesome language. The depth of your reverence is evident in your choice of music and other entertainment, in the way you speak of sacred subjects, and in the way you dress and act when you attend church and the temple. You show your reverence for the Lord when you serve other people and treat them with kindness and respect.
As you become more reverent, you will notice a quiet transformation in your life. The Lord will pour out His Spirit more abundantly on you. You will be less troubled and confused. You will be able to receive revelation to help you solve personal and family problems.
Just as reverence brings you closer to God, irreverence suits the purposes of the adversary. Satan will tempt you to follow the world’s trend to more noise, excitement, and contention and to less restraint and quiet dignity. Like a commander mounting a military invasion, he will try to jam the channels of communication between you and the Lord. Beware of such tactics, and strive to be reverent in all you do.
You are a child of God. Your Heavenly Father loves you and knows your needs, and He wants you to communicate with Him through prayer. Pray to Him and no one else. The Lord Jesus Christ commanded, “Ye must always pray unto the Father in my name” (3 Nephi 18:19).
As you make a habit of approaching God in prayer, you will come to know Him and draw ever nearer to Him. Your desires will become more like His. You will be able to secure for yourself and for others blessings that He is ready to give if you will but ask in faith.
Principles of Prayer
Your Heavenly Father is always ready to hear and answer your prayers. The power of your prayers depends on you. As you strive to make prayer a part of your life, remember this counsel:
Make your prayers meaningful.
The prophet Mormon warned that if anyone “shall pray and not with real intent of heart … it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such” (Moroni 7:9). To make your prayers meaningful, you must pray with sincerity and “with all the energy of heart” (Moroni 7:48). Be careful to avoid “vain repetitions” when you pray (see Matthew 6:7). Give serious thought to your attitude and to the words you use.
Use language that shows love, respect, reverence, and closeness.
The application of this principle will vary according to the language you speak. If you pray in English, for example, you should use the pronouns of the scriptures when you address God—Thee, Thou, Thy, and Thine, rather than the more common pronouns you, your, and yours. Regardless of the language, the principle remains the same: When you pray, you should use words that appropriately convey a loving, worshipful relationship with God. You may have some difficulty learning the language of prayer, but you will gradually become more comfortable with it as you pray and read the scriptures.
At times you may be asked to offer a public prayer, perhaps in a Church meeting or class. When you receive this opportunity, remember that you are communicating with Heavenly Father, not giving a public sermon. Do not worry about what others may think of what you say. Instead, offer a simple, heartfelt prayer.
To worship God is to give Him your love, reverence, service, and devotion. The Lord commanded Moses, “Worship God, for him only shalt thou serve” (Moses 1:15). In this dispensation He has commanded, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy might, mind, and strength; and in the name of Jesus Christ thou shalt serve him” (D&C 59:5). If you place any person or thing above the love of God, you are practicing false worship, or idolatry (see Exodus 20:3–6).
Prayer is one way you can worship the Father. Alma taught his son Helaman, “Cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever” (Alma 37:36).
You should attend your Church meetings in a spirit of worship. The Lord has commanded: “That thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day; for verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High” (D&C 59:9–10).
Participation in priesthood ordinances is also part of your worship. As you reverently partake of the sacrament and attend the temple, you remember and worship your Heavenly Father and express your gratitude for His Son, Jesus Christ.
In addition to showing outward expressions of worship, you should have a worshipful attitude wherever you go and in everything you do. Alma taught this principle to a group of people who had been cast out of their place of worship. He helped them see that true worship is not limited to one day of the week (see Alma 32:11). Speaking to the same group of people, Alma’s companion Amulek encouraged them to “worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth” (Alma 34:38).
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DALLIN H. OAKS
general conference oct 1998
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BY ELDER DON R. CLARKE
general conference oct 2012