Saturday, April 16, 2016

David A. Bednar on the power of ordinances to retain our greatest blessings

Elder David A. Bednar (b. 1952) was serving as the president of BYU–Idaho when he was called and sustained as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in October 2004.
"The ordinances of baptism by immersion, the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the sacrament are not isolated and discrete events; rather, they are elements in an interrelated and additive pattern of redemptive progress. Each successive ordinance elevates and enlarges our spiritual purpose, desire, and performance. The Father’s plan, the Savior’s Atonement, and the ordinances of the gospel provide the grace we need to press forward and progress line upon line and precept upon precept toward our eternal destiny.
"We are imperfect human beings striving to live in mortality according to Heavenly Father’s perfect plan of eternal progression. The requirements of His plan are glorious, merciful, and rigorous. We may at times be filled with determination and at other times feel totally inadequate. We may wonder if we spiritually can ever fulfill the commandment to stand spotless before Him at the last day.
"With the help of the Lord and through the power of His Spirit to 'teach [us] all things' (John 14:26), indeed we can be blessed to realize our spiritual possibilities. Ordinances invite spiritual purpose and power into our lives as we strive to be born again and become men and women of Christ. (See Helaman 3:28-30.) Our weaknesses can be strengthened, and our limitations can be overcome.
"Although none of us can achieve perfection in this life, we can become increasingly worthy and spotless as we are 'cleansed by the blood of the Lamb' (Mormon 9:6). I promise and testify we will be blessed with increased faith in the Savior and greater spiritual assurance as we seek to always retain a remission of our sins and, ultimately, to stand spotless before the Lord at the last day."
- David A. Bednar, "Always Retain a Remission of Your Sins," General Conference, April 2016, Saturday afternoon session
Click here to read the full talk

Like Elder Bednar, I've often pondered the Book of Mormon language that speaks not just of obtaining, but also retaining a remission of sins (See Mosiah 4:11-12, Mosiah 4:26, Alma 4:14). This talk included some excellent insights about the connection between sacred ordinances and retaining the blessing of forgiveness. As he explores the meaning and inter-relationship of the ordinances of baptism, giving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the sacrament, Elder Bednar teaches how each of these ordinances "elevates and enlarges our spiritual purpose, desire, and performance," leading us to obtaining the grace offered in the Savior's Atonement. This gives us real power to confront the challenges of our lives:

Elder Bednar concludes with the reminder of the process of growth and development we are engaged in,  helping us become "increasingly worthy and spotless" before God.

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