In a few days, Christians around the world will remember the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As I thought about what to write for December’s Post, I made a list of topics. As I studied the list, I asked myself a question: which topic would be the Savior’s favorite?
The following scriptures came to mind.
“my blood shall not cleanse them if they hear me not.” D&C 29:17
“Thou shalt declare repentance and faith on the Savior.” D&C 19:31
“Thou art angry, O Lord, with this people, because they will not understand thy mercies which thou hast bestowed upon them because of thy Son.” Alma 33:16
“Say nothing but repentance unto this generation.” D&C 11:9
The Savior died so that you and I can repent of sin (sins of commission and omission). His atoning sacrifice is his gift to us, repentance is our gift to Him.
One of my favorite scriptures on repentance emphasizes how often the Lord is willing to forgive; this verse also makes an important clarification what the Savior expects from those who repent.
“As oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven.” Moroni 6:8
As oft as you and I repent with real intent we are forgiven (I’m referring to sin that won’t affect our standing in the church). No wonder the Lord said, “Say nothing but repentance unto this generation.”
When we properly repent we are free from sin in the eyes of the Lord. In other words, we are justified or pardoned from punishment we would otherwise receive.
- How often do we need to repent?
- How often will the Lord apply His atoning blood for our sins?
Both of these questions can be answered by how often the emblems of the sacrament are offered church members (almost weekly). The Atonement is continuous, our repentance should be continuous as well.
Hugh Nibley, a church scholar writing about the need for continuous repentance offered the following insight:
“Who is righteous? Anyone who is repenting. No matter how bad he has been, if he is repenting he is a righteous man. There is hope for him. And no matter how good he has been all his life, if he is not repenting, he is a wicked man. The difference is which way you are facing. The man on the top of the stairs facing down is much worse off than the man on the bottom step who is facing up. The direction we are facing, that is repentance; and that is what determines whether we are good or bad.” Hugh Nibley, Approaching Zion, pg. 301-302
Followers of Christ need to understand and utilize the mercies which have been bestowed upon them because of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Those who do will one day hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant…enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”