Today’s Reading: Helaman 7
What a saddening thought: Nephi, the son of Helaman, has just returned to Zarahemla after preaching abroad to find it in spiritual and moral ruin. Gadianton robbers in the judgement seats, God all but forgotten, sins running rampant, laws being broken. He laments that he has to live during times like these and wishes for the “good old days” of his ancestor, the original Nephi. I’m sure we can all think of parents or grandparents who have said the same about the times we are in. At the young age of 26, even I am saying this, sometimes. What with ISIS, earthquakes and floods, this upcoming presidential election, viruses and diseases, the moral decay of entertainment…I could go on.
Nephi implores the people of Zarahemla to repent and to turn unto God. Not only is he wanting them to repent of their sins and apologize, but he wants them to face God, to live how God wants us to live. It is more than just asking forgiveness. Nephi is telling us that what we must do is change.
I love this concept of true change and truly converting. I eat it up. I can’t get enough of the doctrine of grace, coming unto Christ, daily conversion, etc. I found this General Conference talk by Russel M. Nelson from April 2007 called “Repentance and Conversion” which reminded me of Nephi’s pleading. I want to let him do the talking for me:
The doctrine of repentance is much broader than a dictionary’s definition. When Jesus said “repent,” His disciples recorded that command in the Greek language with the verb metanoeo.24 This powerful word has great significance. In this word, the prefix meta means “change.”25 The suffix relates to four important Greek terms: nous, meaning “the mind”;26gnosis,meaning “knowledge”;27pneuma, meaning “spirit”;28 and pnoe, meaning “breath.”29
Thus, when Jesus said “repent,” He asked us to change—to change our mind, knowledge, and spirit—even our breath. A prophet explained that such a change in one’s breath is to breathe with grateful acknowledgment of Him who grants each breath. King Benjamin said, “If ye should serve him who has created you … and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath … from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.”30
Yes, the Lord has commanded us to repent, to change our ways, to come unto Him, and be more like Him.31 This requires a total change. Alma so taught his son: “Learn wisdom in thy youth,” he said. “Learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God. … Let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.”32
To repent fully is to convert completely to the Lord Jesus Christ and His holy work. Alma taught that concept when he posed these questions: “I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?”33 That change comes when we are “born again,” converted and focused upon our journey to the kingdom of God….34
…Repentance is the Lord’s regimen for spiritual growth. King Benjamin explained that “the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”45 Brothers and sisters, that means conversion! Repentance is conversion! A repentant soul is a converted soul, and a converted soul is a repentant soul.
If only the people of Zarahemla had listened to Nephi and had understood what he was asking as Russel M. Nelson explained. Think of how Helaman and 3rd Nephi might have turned out differently before Christ came! So, let’s try to mend things for them. Let us set the example in today’s world. Let us truly repent and come unto Christ. Let us try to help others to do so as well.