Saturday’s Evening conference session brought out another topic in this current progression.  As I have read over my notes, I have realized that there was a flow of topics from faith to action to conversion.  I have already written much about faith and action, but conversion is the next topic to cover.

It was mentioned in one of the meetings that testimony was not the same as conversion.  I thought that a little odd when I first heard it, but it makes a lot of sense after some pondering. 

Testimony is knowledge of truth, revealed by the Holy Ghost.  In order to have an active testimony, one must have faith or confidence in God.  Exercising our faith to action, as mentioned previously, will increase our faith and strengthen our testimony.  As our testimony becomes stronger, we develop stronger faith, and act further.  It is a continuous circle that, as long as we work at it, grows.

But…our testimony can also dwindle, as well as our faith.  Testimonies are sometimes fragile, and if not strong enough, we can forget the truths we have learned and wander off into strange paths, as Nephi saw in his vision of the Tree of Life. 

So, our testimonies and faith are things that need constant nourishment.  At what point do we become truly converted and what does that mean?

We often refer to new members of the church as “converts”.  This is true in the point that they have left behind other parts of their life to start anew in the true church of Christ.  But are they really “converted”?  Are we who have been members of the church for a long time really converted?

In the scriptures, there are several examples of people who became converted, and there is an interesting side effect of it.  In once such example from Mosiah 4 and 5 we read about the effects of the conversion process on people.  King Benjamin is delivering his speech from the tower.  He has just spoken about the atonement and forgiveness, and exhorted the people to repent.  The people had fallen to the earth and prayed for forgiveness.  Then, in Mosiah 4:3

“And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according the words which king Benjamin had spoken unto them.”

So, the people will filled with joy and the spirit because of their faith, and were forgiven of their sins.  The rest of the chapter is filled with things that king Benjamin exhorts them to do.  Then, in the beginning of chapter 5, the kings asks the people if they believed his words.  Mosiah 5:2 describes a difference in the people:

“And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.”

The words I want to focus on are “mighty change” and “we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually”.  The mighty change referred to is more than just having a testimony.  Gaining a testimony changes us, but the mighty change is the process of conversion, fully applying the atonement of the Savior and being sanctified by the Spirit.  This is the baptism of fire, or the Holy Ghost, that Jesus spoke of in John 3:5, “Except a man be born or water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”   The result of this sanctification is the desire to do good continually, totally abandoning any desire to sin.  Conversion is the absence of sinful desire, and the fullness of doing good.

Now this begs the question, if you are truly converted, do you still sin?  The answer is, yes.  Unfortunately.  But, think about this in real terms.  If you don’t desire to sin, you will see sin as an abomination.  Chances are you are going to be real good at identifying things that would be called sin and avoiding them.  Never sinning implies perfection.  We aren’t going to be perfect in this life.  But, as we work and progress, we are constantly changing, improving, working on areas we need to “clean up” in our lives.  The better we become, the less we will sin.  Remember, that the definition of sin is knowingly breaking a commandment.  If we are truly converted, our sins will be more ones of omission, rather than commission, and, while serious, they offer ways for us to improve.  The covenants me make at baptism, in the temple, when we obtain the priesthood, those cover the very serious offenses against God and man.  Keep those covenants, and the serious sins of commission are in check. 

Along the way, something else happens to us.  When we become converted, we become submissive to the Lord.  Keeping the commandments is an act of submission, not a great and boastful thing, but something sacred between us and God.  Remember we are here not only to gain a body but to see if we will do whatever the Lord commands us to do.  Following the commandments fully and exactly is an act of humility.  It brings into focus the phrase “a broken heart and a contrite spirit”.  A broken heart is one that is broken to following the will of the Lord.  A contrite spirit is one that submits to the Lord.

One can almost picture people who are converted, with broken hearts and contrite spirits as people who are incredibly meek and mousy.  After all, the world would have us believe that these godly qualities are weak.  Consider Nephi.  He was a man “large of stature”, as he states in his first book, who knew of the goodness of God.  Nephi had visions, saw angels, followed the spirit, and did marvelous things while under the direction of the Lord.  Nephi was converted, and strived to do good continually.  Nephi stood up to his brethren who tried on numerous occasions to cause him harm.  He withstood their taunts and physical blows.  He radiated the power of God at times when his brothers knew to touch him would mean their physical deaths.  I cannot picture Nephi fitting the world’s perception of one who is meek and mousy if they possess a broken heart and a contrite spirit. 

Alma, Amulek, the sons of Mosiah, the later Nephi, Captain Moroni, Mormon; these great and powerful men were not weak.  They were not mental midgets as the world would claim.  They were strong in the Lord and they were strong in mind and body.  The scriptures are filled with their stories, along with others, who were able to teach with the power of God and do great and marvelous works.  How could they do that if they were not converted?

As I listened to Elder Bednar, it because obvious to me that he is in the same class.  He teaches with the power of God because he is converted, having no disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.

I submit that this is the goal of this life, to become converted to the Lord.  Having a testimony  is not enough.  We need our testimony, for without it, we will not progress.  But we need to strive for that conversion process, to gain the desire to do good always, and forsake every wrong and bad thing.  It is not easy, but if I believe if we work on it every day, it will happen.  Our lives are but for a short time, but if we earnestly strive for it, the Lord will bless us.  May we become converted to the Lord and desire to do good the rest of our lives.

This entry was posted on Monday, May 5th, 2008 at 6:35 pm and is filed under Church Meetings, Elder Bednar, Older Posts, Scriptures. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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