Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Dallin H. Oaks on conversion and becoming

Elder Dallin H. Oaks (1932- ) was sustained to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1984.
"The Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become. It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become....
"We qualify for eternal life through a process of conversion. As used here, this word of many meanings signifies not just a convincing but a profound change of nature....
"The gospel of Jesus Christ is the plan by which we can become what children of God are supposed to become. This spotless and perfected state will result from a steady succession of covenants, ordinances, and actions, an accumulation of right choices, and from continuing repentance. 'This life is the time for men to prepare to meet God' (Alma 34:32).
"Now is the time for each of us to work toward our personal conversion, toward becoming what our Heavenly Father desires us to become."
- Dallin H. Oaks, "The Challenge to Become," Ensign, Nov. 2000, pp. 32-34; click here to read the full talk
This is a landmark address by Elder Oaks. His insight on the purpose of our existence helps us understand that we're not checking off a checklist of deeds, actions, even ordinances. We are transforming ourselves into the kind of person for whom all those things are natural occurrences.

The purpose of religion and obedience is conversion—the transformation of our natures, as we try to "become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become." And the encouraging message is that the transformation is gradual, but guaranteed, as we pursue the course that leads to it.

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