Today’s Reading: Helaman 15
5 And I would that ye should behold that the more part of them are in the path of their duty, and they do walk circumspectly before God, and they do observe to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments according to the law of Moses.
6 Yea, I say unto you, that the more part of them are doing this, and they are striving with unwearied diligence that they may bring the remainder of their brethren to the knowledge of the truth; therefore there are many who do add to their numbers daily.
7 And behold, ye do know of yourselves, for ye have witnessed it, that as many of them as are brought to the knowledge of the truth, and to know of the wicked and abominable traditions of their fathers, and are led to believe the holy scriptures, yea, the prophecies of the holy prophets, which are written, which leadeth them to faith on the Lord, and unto repentance, which faith and repentance bringeth a change of heart unto them—
8 Therefore, as many as have come to this, ye know of yourselves are firm and steadfast in the faith, and in the thing wherewith they have been made free.
9 And ye know also that they have buried their weapons of war, and they fear to take them up lest by any means they should sin; yea, ye can see that they fear to sin—for behold they will suffer themselves that they be trodden down and slain by their enemies, and will not lift their swords against them, and this because of their faith in Christ.
10 And now, because of their steadfastness when they do believe in that thing which they do believe, for because of their firmness when they are once enlightened, behold, the Lord shall bless them and prolong their days, notwithstanding their iniquity—
Faith isn’t always enough. That’s why Heavenly Father often tells us to “endure to the end.” It isn’t enough to declare our faith. We have to live our faith. I have been a member of the Church all my life. Generations of my family have been life-long members, going back to the beginning in Palmyra, Kirtland, and Nauvoo! But, I definitely know that in my life, I have taken my faith for granted. I haven’t tried. I haven’t put forth effort into my faith. And I know I have suffered because of it.
But, when I put my faith, my testimony, to work, amazing things happen. When I cultivate the characteristics that described the Lamanite converts (walk circumspectly, obey His commandments, strive with unwearied diligence, help bring others to the Gospel, being firm and steadfast in faith, fearing to sin, being peaceful, and being steadfast in the faith), I feel a change in my life. There is more happiness. There is more enjoyment. There is more light of Christ. There are more miracles. There are more connections in the Gospel. There is more “enlightenment” as Verse 10 says.
That is because when I put action to my faith, then am I converted. The past two years, I have really focused on the doctrines of grace and works. We are saved by grace only. It is only through the Atonement that we are saved. However, works doesn’t necessarily mean works. It is our actions through our faith in Christ’s grace. Elder David A. Bednar did an amazing job explaining what I mean in his October 2012 General Conference talk, “Converted Unto the Lord”:
Conversion is an enlarging, a deepening, and a broadening of the undergirding base of testimony. It is the result of revelation from God, accompanied by individual repentance, obedience, and diligence… Conversion is an offering of self, of love, and of loyalty we give to God in gratitude for the gift of testimony…
For many of us, conversion is an ongoing process and not a onetime event that results from a powerful or dramatic experience. Line upon line and precept upon precept, gradually and almost imperceptibly, our motives, our thoughts, our words, and our deeds become aligned with the will of God. Conversion unto the Lord requires both persistence and patience…
Testimony alone is not and will not be enough to protect us in the latter-day storm of darkness and evil in which we are living. Testimony is important and necessary but not sufficient to provide the spiritual strength and protection we need. Some members of the Church with testimonies have wavered and fallen away. Their spiritual knowledge and commitment did not measure up to the challenges they faced.
A testimony is spiritual knowledge of truth obtained by the power of the Holy Ghost. Continuing conversion is constant devotion to the revealed truth we have received—with a heart that is willing and for righteous reasons. Knowing that the gospel is true is the essence of a testimony. Consistently being true to the gospel is the essence of conversion. We should know the gospel is true and be true to the gospel. (Emphasis added)
Seriously, read his entire talk. It is amazing! In Helaman 15, he mentioned how the Nephites began to fall away from their faith and sin. It was because they may have had a “testimony,” but definitely did not truly “convert” to the Gospel. They weren’t diligent in their faith. But, the Lamanites were and God gave them a promise to always have mercy on them because of that.
There may be times when my conversion begins to falter, and that affects my testimony. It is a continual battle. That is why diligence is needed. May we all follow the example of these amazing truly converted Lamanites and try to cultivate their characteristics and imitate them in their diligence in faith.