Monday, October 31, 2011
Upon being asked to speak on the Miracle of Conversion, I had to look at my own conversion. As an earnest seeker of the truth I was given a witness over time of the truthfulness of the gospel. However, "being converted and having a testimony are not necessarily the same thing. A testimony comes when the Holy Ghost gives the earnest seeker a witness of the truth. A moving testimony vitalizes faith. That is, it induces repentance and obedience to the commandments. Conversion is the fruit or reward for repentance and obedience." - President Marion G. Romney.
In Alma 5:14 it says: "And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this might change in your hearts?" That is the secret to conversion. It's a might change of heart. Through conversion we are changed almost entirely. Our hearts change, our spirits change, and even our desires change. A perfect example of this change can be found in Mosiah 5:2: "The Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent . . . has wrought a might change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually."
How is this change possible? Through Christ's atonement and by obedience we undergo a spiritual change of heart. We cannot change ourselves. We cannot overcome our imperfections and our natural man by ourselves. It is through the Atonement of Christ that we can be changed. The miracle of converstion is the atonement.
So first comes a testimony, then we are converted. The Holy Ghost provides a manifestation of the truthfulness of the gospel and sparks a desire to repent and become obedient, then through the atonement of Jesus Christ our hearts are changed and we desire nothing more than to be obedient.
President Ezra Taft Benson said, "When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power." This quote has been hanging up in my house for many years. It has recently taken on new meaning for me. Sometimes it's hard to be obedient. Sometimes we don't understand why we should be obedient or sometimes we feel like we are asked to give too much. But something happens just in the act of being obedient. If we are obedient with faithfulness, pretty soon obedience changes from a chore to, in Presdient Benson's words, a quest. That change is the atonement. Like the people in Mosiah we have a disposition to "do good continually".
I hope that while on my mission I will be obedient and through Christ's atonement continue to be converted. I pray that service to the Lord will always be my quest. I bear my testimony that I know I have been called by God to serve this mission, and it is only through Christ that we all can be converted. I know that God has restored Christ's church on the Earth through the prophet Joseph Smith, and we are led by a true prophet of God, Thomas S. Monson, today on the Earth. I have a testimony of the Book of Mormon and that it contains a fullness of the gospel and it is truly a divine work. Thanks to my parents, my family, and my Bishop for helping me get where I am today. I have been looking forward to this day for most of my life, and now that it has arrived, I'm filled with the spirit of missionary work! I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.