To mom and dad from Rita.
THE ATONEMENT and BEING a MISSIONARY
…or in other words…”the central message of all time…Joseph Smith Jr.”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
The word “gospel” means “good news,” and we have it, “The Plan of Salvation.”
The starting point for all other truths is this from the Master’s own lips: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Thus the Atonement of Christ, which makes that return to the Father possible, is rightfully seen as the central fact, the crucial foundation, and the chief doctrine of the great and eternal plan of salvation—“our Heavenly Father’s plan,” which we are called to teach.
The two most fundamental things for investigators to do prior to baptism are to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and repent of their sins. A convert’s new life is to be built upon faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His redeeming sacrifice—a conviction that He really is the Son of God, that He lives this very moment, that He really is the door of the sheepfold, that He alone holds the key to our salvation and exaltation. That belief is to be followed by true repentance, repentance which shows desire to be clean and renewed and whole, repentance that allows us to lay claim to the full blessings of the Atonement.
Then, comes baptism for the remission of sins, focusing the missionary and the investigator again on the Atonement, on salvation, on the gift Christ gives us, pointing the convert toward the blessings of the “good news.”
To keep our work closely linked to the Savior’s ministry and keep Christ and His Atonement in the forefront of members’ and investigators’ consciousness, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland gave us some suggestions:
o Encourage in every way possible more spiritual Church meetings, especially sacrament meetings.
o Explain the ordinance of the sacrament that investigators will be witnessing and what it means.
o Make baptismal services a spiritual, Christ-centered experience. A new convert deserves to have this be a sacred, carefully planned, and spiritually uplifting moment. The prayers, the hymns, surely the talks that are given—all ought to be focused on the significance of this ordinance and the Atonement of Christ, which makes it efficacious.
o Bear testimony of the Savior and His gift of salvation. Investigators are not only hearing our testimony of Christ, but they are hearing echoes of other, earlier testimonies, including their own testimony of Him, for they were on the side of the faithful who kept their first estate and earned the privilege of a second estate. We must always remember that these investigators, every man, woman, and child, were among the valiant who once overcame Satan by the power of their testimony of Christ! So when they hear others bear that witness of Christ’s saving mission, it has a familiar feeling; it brings an echo of truth they themselves already know. Bear frequent and powerful testimony of Christ as Savior, as Redeemer, as Atoning Lamb of God because doing so invites and becomes part of the divine power of testimony borne by God the Father and by the Holy Ghost, a testimony borne on wings of fire to the very hearts of investigators. Such a divine testimony of Christ is the rock upon which every new convert must build. Only this testimony of the atoning Anointed, Victorious One will prevail against the gates of hell. So saith the Son of God Himself.
o Study the scriptures conscientiously and become familiar with those passages that teach and testify of Christ’s redeeming mission, especially those in the Book of Mormon and the majesty of the Son of God which is revealed there. In its unparalleled focus on the messianic message of the Savior of the world, the Book of Mormon is literally a new testament or (to avoid confusion) “another testament” of Jesus Christ.
Elder Holland gave some suggestions on how focusing on the Atonement helps missionaries and mission leaders. o He doesn’t believe missionary work has ever been easy, nor that conversion is, nor that retention is, nor that continued faithfulness is…it is supposed to require some effort, something from the depths of our soul. The Atonement will carry the missionaries perhaps even more importantly than it will carry the investigators. When you struggle, when you are rejected, when you are spit upon and cast out and made a hiss and a byword, you are standing with the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lived. You have reason to stand tall and be grateful that the Living Son of the Living God knows all about your sorrows and afflictions. The only way to salvation is through Gethsemane and on to Calvary. The only way to eternity is through Him—the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Elder Holland testifies in conclusion “I bear witness that He came from God as a God to bind up the brokenhearted, to dry the tears from every eye, to proclaim liberty to the captive and open the prison doors to them that are bound. I promise that because of your faithful response to the call to spread the gospel, He will bind up your broken hearts, dry your tears, and set you and your families free. That is my missionary promise to you and your missionary message to the world.”