Thursday, July 9, 2015

D. Todd Christofferson on having the gospel written in our hearts

Elder D. Todd Christofferson (1945- ) was called to the Seventy in 1993, and as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 2008.
"How can you become converted? How can you make the gospel of Jesus Christ not just an influence in your life but the controlling influence and, indeed, the very core of what you are? The ancient prophet Jeremiah spoke of the law of God, the gospel, being written in our hearts. He quotes the Lord speaking about us, His people in the latter days: 'I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.' (See Jer. 31:33) ...
"For the gospel to be written in your heart, you need to know what it is and grow to understand it more fully. That means you will study it. When I say 'study,' I mean something more than reading. It is a good thing sometimes to read a book of scripture within a set period of time to get an overall sense of its message, but for conversion, you should care more about the amount of time you spend in the scriptures than about the amount you read in that time. I see you sometimes reading a few verses, stopping to ponder them, carefully reading the verses again, and as you think about what they mean, praying for understanding, asking questions in your mind, waiting for spiritual impressions, and writing down the impressions and insights that come so you can remember and learn more. Studying in this way, you may not read a lot of chapters or verses in a half hour, but you will be giving place in your heart for the word of God, and He will be speaking to you. Remember Alma's description of what it feels like: 'It beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me' (Alma 32:28). You will know that the gospel is being written in your heart, that your conversion is happening, as the word of the Lord from His prophets, past and present, feels more and more delicious to your soul."
- D. Todd Christofferson, "When Thou Art Converted," Ensign, May 2004, pp. 11-13
Click here to read the full talk

Jeremiah's description of having the law of the Lord written in our hearts is a vivid and useful one. It defines the difference between superficial conformance, and true conversion. Elder Christofferson uses that symbolism to encourage us to draw nearer to God by better understanding His message.

The main point of this excerpt is that most of the time, we need to stop worrying about how many pages or chapters of scripture we read, and just make sure we are devoting appropriate time to reading. The best reading isn't covering many pages; it's probing for meaning and understanding of a small segment. His encouragement is:

  • Read a few verses
  • Stop to ponder them
  • Carefully read the verses again
  • Think about what they mean
  • Pray for understanding
  • Ask questions in your mind
  • Waiting for spiritual impressions
  • Write down the impressions and insights that come so you can remember and learn more.
That's quite a different process than we sometimes use in our personal study! And the promised results of that kind of effort are what Jeremiah described in the original reference, referring to the change of heart:

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