When I was a young teenager, I was somewhat overwhelmed with the seemingly unending list of commandments from God that my teachers taught on Sundays. I did not know or understand much about the atonement and actually thought to inherit the Celestial Kingdom would be super difficult because of the sheer quantity of commandments. I am embarrassed to admit that I figured the Terrestial Kingdom would not be that bad after all. To not just give up, I decided to start a project to read the standard works and list each commandment, principle or attribute that is mentioned. With that list, I could then maybe sort it out and zero in on compliance to all the commandments.
My project failed because the list became too long and convoluted. Take DC 4 for example, the list of attributes we are required to be is huge. Also, many of the stories in the scriptures teach more than one gospel principle which frequently is not apparent until the reader is open to receive that principle. However, over time I came to realize the gospel is not that difficult. Yes, we should do our best to internalize good attributes and live the commandments, but the basics are simple. Nephi teaches this in his great sermon on the doctrine of Christ in 2 Nephi 31. Joseph Smith taught the same thing in the Fourth Article of Faith. Christ repeatedly described the key to salvation as baptism and then enduring to the end.
5 …except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:5)
1When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,
3 Now the Lord knew this, though he himself baptized not so many as his disciples… (JST John 4:1, 3)
9 Behold, I am the law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life. (3 Nephi 15:9)
13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. (Matt 24:13)
On earth we have a wide variety of experiences as we learn and grow becoming more like our Father in Heaven. The lessons are never ending as we exercise our new ability to choose for ourselves in a world where opposition exists – good, evil, joy, sorrow, health, sickness, love, pleasure, pain, adversity, work, heart break, etc. These experiences and growth are a major purpose for us in this life. In my studies, I have come to the conclusion that, as we learn and grow with our bodies in this fashion on earth, the gospel requires our performance in 3 areas to achieve salvation:
· Accept and Develop Faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior and Redeemer
Accept the Saving Ordinances:
· Baptism and confirmation to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost
· Receive the Priesthood
· Temple Endowment
· Temple Sealing
· Weekly Partake of the Sacrament
· Enduring to the end – meaning to do your best to keep all the commandments
This list is not a step by step checklist, but must be viewed as an ongoing lifestyle involving our constant use of all the steps; for example, living specific commandments while enduring to the end involves looping back to faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, partaking of the sacrament and regular temple attendance. The most important commandment for each individual is probably the one that the individual finds most difficult to live. We all have our Achilles Heel. These weaknesses vary and are specific to the individual, but God has promised, through the power of the atonement, that particular weakness can become strengths to us. The atonement is truly amazing; especially in that enduring to the end is good enough, as compared to strictly perfecting ourselves with each commandment during our sojourn on earth.
In addition, I have observed that a few commandments regarding our treatment of others are emphasized and reemphasized in the scriptures by the prophets and, therefore, we probably ought to pay particular attention to making it a priority to live these commandments. These all relate to Love of Others and were discussed in the previous Zone Conference:
Love of Others:
· Forgiving and nonjudgmental
· Give of your substance
In the following few weeks, I will discuss these attributes of Love for Others in more detail.