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Repentance

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REPENTANCE - THE TRUE GRACE OF GOD

Before man fell and became carnal, sensual and devilish he was allowed to eat from the fruit of
the tree of life and live forever in God's presence. But after his fall, man was driven from out of
the presence of God and an angel was put near the tree of life to guard it so man couldn't partake
of the fruit and live forever in his sinful condition. We know that a Savior was provided to save
man from his fallen condition which is something he couldn't do for himself. In fact, that is the

implied meaning of the word "Savior".
The first principle of the Gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and that faith is based on His
Atonement which provides the means by which we can be saved, or redeemed from our fallen
condition. This is what most people feel is the true grace of God as expressed in the words "In
this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into
the world, that we might live through him." (1 John 4:9)

However, when understood properly, the true grace of God is the gift of repentance.

It's true that without the atonement there is no salvation. It's also true that without the atonement
there is no resurrection. And it's just as true that without the atonement there could be no
repentance. And without repentance our salvation is not complete. And if it isn't complete, then
we can't partake of the true love of God, that, according the book of Mormon, is represented by
the fruit of the tree of life which father Lehi saw in a dream. As it is written in 1 Nephi 11:22
"And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!
Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw? And I answered him, saying: Yea, it
is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it
is the most desirable above all things.&

We know that the fruit of the tree of life in the garden of Eden gave Adam and Eve eternal life IN
THE PRESENCE OF GOD! The atonement wrought by Jesus Christ, as explained in the gospel of
John, represents this love of God in giving us the opportunity to have victory over death and the
possibility to return back to Him. It can be argued by some that this alone constitutes the pure
grace of God. That is true, but how do we achieve the POSSIBILITY of returning back into the
presence of God? Does this happen without us doing anything?

If people only need to believe in Jesus to enter back into the presence of God, that would be a
great injustice. I've seen people proclaiming that they believe on Jesus, but then live like they
believe in the devil. The Bible addresses this kind of behavior in Malachi 3:13-18: "Your words
have been stout against me, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, What have we spoken [so much] against
thee? Ye have said, It [is] vain to serve God: and what profit [is it] that we have kept his
ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the LORD of hosts? And now we call the
proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, [they that] tempt God are even
delivered. Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened,
and heard [it], and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the
LORD, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that
day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth
him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that
serveth God and him that serveth him not."

Zeezrom was one of these kinds of people. In Alma 11:34,37 we read "And Zeezrom said again:
Shall he save his people in their sins? And Amulek answered and said unto him: I say unto you he
shall not, for it is impossible for him to deny his word. And I say unto you again that he cannot
save them in their sins; for I cannot deny his word, and he hath said that no unclean thing can
inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore, how can ye be saved, except ye inherit the kingdom of
heaven? Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins."

Another such person was Antionah. In Alma 12:20-24,33-34 we read, "But there was one
Antionah, who was a chief ruler among them, came forth and said unto him: What is this that
thou hast said, that man should rise from the dead and be changed from this mortal to an
immortal state that the soul can never die? What does the scripture mean, which saith that God
placed cherubim and a flaming sword on the last of the garden of Eden, lest our first parents
should enter and partake of the fruit of the tree of life, and live forever? And thus we see that
there was no possible chance that they should live forever. Now Alma said unto him: This is the
thing which I was about to explain. Now we see that Adam did fall by the partaking of the
forbidden fruit, according to the word of God; and thus we see, that by his fall, all mankind
became a lost and fallen people. And now behold, I say unto you that if it had been possible for
Adam to have partaken of the fruit of the tree of life at that time, there would have been no death,
and the word would have been void, making God a liar, for he said: If thou eat thou shalt surely
die. And we see that death comes upon mankind, yea, the death which has been spoken of by
Amulek, which is the temporal death; nevertheless there was a space granted unto man in which
he might repent; therefore this life became a probationary state; a time to prepare to meet God; a
time to prepare for that endless state which has been spoken of by us, which is after the
resurrection of the dead...

"But God did call on men, in the name of his Son, (this being the plan of redemption which was
laid) saying: If ye will repent and harden not your hearts, then will I have mercy upon you,
through
mine Only Begotten Son; Therefore, whosoever repenteth, and hardeneth not his heart, he shall
have claim on mercy through mine Only Begotten Son, unto a remission of his sins; and these
shall enter into my rest."

In these verses it is very clear that there was a space granted unto man to REPENT! If that's so,
then what does it mean to repent? Considering that Jesus preached the Gospel in Hebrew it would
be better to know the real meaning in his own language. In Hebrew this word means "change
yourself." This is a different meaning than most people think of when considering the word. To
many this word means "to feel sorrow." That is partially true, but without mending and changing
our lifestyle it would only be a good attitude. But a good attitude, like good intentions, don't get
us back into the presence of God. There's an old saying that "The streets of Hell are paved with
good intentions." We need to do more than have good intentions. We need to have good actions.

To do this means that we have to change our lifestyle radically. We show our sorrow is sincere,
not by the words we say, but by the things we do. In order for a man to become associated with
God, he has to put an end to his carnal nature and become a saint. Repentance is so necessary that
it is something we must do even before we can be baptized. As we know, baptism is a covenant
between man and God. God promises to give us Eternal life if man keeps his promise to OBEY
all of God's Laws. This is not a covenant that God takes lightly. If we don't take it seriously, then
we are cheating ourselves out of our own salvation. To me, that doesn't seem like a wise thing to
do.

There are some who say that the scriptures tell us we should be perfect, but then add that such a
thing is impossible to achieve. At first glance, this would seem logical, but that's not the correct
understanding of what the scriptures mean. Just like man receives a forgiveness of his sins at the
time of his baptism, so, through continual repentance, man can receive a forgiveness of his sins
after baptism as well. But repentance doesn't just mean feeling sorry for the wrongs we have
committed. No, true repentance means more than this, a lot more.

Even in the Law of Moses there is the idea of restitution. If you have stolen something, not only
should you return what had been taken, but you should repay back more than you took. Then you
would be forgiven, not only from the person you stole from, but from God as well. It works the
same way in the Gospel. If you say a lie, and you go back to the person and admit your mistake,
the other person has to forgive you according to the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:12 "And forgive
us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.... For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly
Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father
forgive your trespasses. and consequently the Lord forgive you, according to the same words."

We will quote all the scriptures necessary to show that man can be perfect by the perfect
application of REPENTANCE. When we repair the mistakes we make, who can condemn us? Of
course, like with all laws, there are exceptions. The exceptions to the law of repentance concerns
the unforgivable sins mentioned in the scriptures, such as the sin against the Holy Ghost and
perhaps murder. And the reason these are so hard to repent of is because there's nothing we can
do to restore what we have taken. But even the sins we can repent of, we shouldn't think that
repentance is an easy thing. It is not! There are many people who think that it is enough only to
confess our sins directly to God, but that is not what true repentance is.

Let's take a look at what the scriptures say on this subject. In Matthew 5:23-26 we read,
"Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought
against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy
brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in
the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver
thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means
come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing."

Notice the importance Jesus puts on repentance. Even our gifts to God, and our worship at God's
alter is not as important as restoring the friendship of another person. Some people think that this
scripture says that if WE have a grudge against someone, we should first seek to repair the
friendship before offering our gifts to God. Although that is certainly true, that's not what this
scripture says. It says that if our brother has a grudge against US, our gifts to God are secondary
to restoring the our relationship with our brother.

Because of the atonement of Jesus, man will be redeemed from temporal death through the
resurrection. This will happen to all men, whether good or evil. But to be saved into the presence
of God takes repentance. Yet in order to repent we must first understand the difference between
good and evil.

"And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto
men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal
law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and
become miserable forever. Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for
he is full of grace and truth. Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of
the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the
ends of the law be answered...

"And the Messiah cometh in the fullness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from
the
fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing
good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of
the
law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given. Wherefore,
men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man.
And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men,
or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh
that all men might be miserable like unto himself" (2 Nephi 2:5-7,26-27).

"And he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name, having perfect
faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they CANNOT be saved in the kingdom of God. And if they
will not repent and believe in his name, and be baptized in his name, and endure to the end, they
must be damned; for the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has spoken it. And, in fine, wo unto
all those who DIE in their sins; for they shall return to God, and behold his face, and remain in
their sins" (2 Nephi 9:23-24,38).

According to these verses of scripture, one of the conditions to being saved in the kingdom of
God, is that we must ENDURE TO THE END. How can we do that if we are committing sin and
therefore unclean? That is what repentance is for. It gives us the chance to be forgiven of those
sins and to be kept clean.

But what happens if we don't repent? The scriptures tell us in Mosiah 15:26-27 "But behold, and
fear, and tremble before God, for ye ought to tremble; for the Lord redeemeth none such that
rebel against him and die in their sins; yea, even all those that have perished in their sins ever
since the world began, that have wilfully rebelled against God, that have known the
commandments of God, and would not keep them; these are they that have no part in the first
resurrection. Therefore ought ye not to tremble? For salvation cometh to none such; for the Lord
hath redeemed none such; yea, neither can the Lord redeem such; for he cannot deny himself; for
he cannot deny justice when it has its claim."

Abinadi also explained in Mosiah 16:5 "But remember that he that persists in his own carnal
nature, and goes on in the ways of sin and rebellion against God, remaineth in his fallen state and
the devil hath all power over him. Therefore, he is as though there was no redemption made,
being an enemy to God; and also is the devil an enemy to God."

In Alma 13:10,21,30 we are taught, "Now, as I said concerning the holy order, or this high
priesthood, there were many who were ordained and became high priests of God; and it was on
account of their exceeding faith and repentance, and their righteousness before God, they
choosing to REPENT AND WORK RIGHTEOUSNESS rather than to perish; And now it came
to pass that when Alma had said these words unto them, he stretched forth his hand unto them
and cried with a mighty voice, saying: Now is the time to repent, for the day of salvation draweth
nigh; And may the Lord grant unto you repentance, that ye may not bring down his wrath upon
you, that ye may not be bound down by the chains of hell, that ye may not suffer the second
death."

At another time Alma said "And behold, this is the whole meaning of the law, every whit
pointing to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God,
yea, infinite and eternal. And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his
name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which
overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have FAITH UNTO
REPENTANCE. And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the
arms of safety, while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the
demands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the
great and eternal plan of redemption. Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye
may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that
he would have mercy upon you; Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your
hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye
will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought
about unto you. For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the
day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors. And now, as I said unto you before, as
ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of
your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity,
behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness
wherein there can be no labor performed" (Alma 34:14-17,31-33).

We have also the words of Nephi as found in Helaman 5:10-11 "And remember also the words
which Amulek spake unto Zeezrom, in the city of Ammonihah; for he said unto him that the Lord
surely should come to redeem his people, but that he should not come to redeem them in their
sins, but to redeem them from their sins. And he hath power given unto him from the Father to
redeem them from their sins because of repentance; therefore he hath sent his angels to declare
the tidings of the conditions of repentance, which bringeth unto the power of the Redeemer, unto
the salvation of their souls."

In Helaman 14:17-18 we read "But behold, the resurrection of Christ redeemeth mankind, yea,
even all mankind, and bringeth them back into the presence of the Lord. Yea, and it bringeth to
pass the condition of repentance, that whosoever repenteth the same is not hewn down and cast
into the fire; but whosoever repenteth not is hewn down and cast into the fire; and there cometh
upon them again a spiritual death, yea, a second death, for they are cut off again as to things
pertaining to righteousness."

3 Nephi 9:22 "Therefore, whose repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I
receive, for of such is the kingdom of God. Behold, for such I have laid down my life, and have
taken it up again; therefore repent, and come unto me ye ends of the earth, and be saved."

Repentance is based on free agency. It can't be done through coercion, otherwise it would have
no effect upon our salvation. There is a big difference between an admission of guilt because of
being caught, and a spontaneous confession borne of a heart broken.

Just like the atonement has no effect without baptisms, so also, baptism without repentance has
no saving value. There are those who say that we don't need to repent if we are saved by the grace
of God. But the scriptures speak about the need of repentance after baptism. If that's so, then
what do the scriptures really mean when it talks about the grace of God? Clearly it means that
repentance is a necessary part of God's grace. It wasn't then it wouldn't be necessary for us to
continually be repentant.

The Lord sometimes helps people to repent by giving us divine punishments. In D&C 19:20 we're
told, "Wherefore, I command you again to repent, lest I humble you with my almighty power; and
that you confess your sins, lest you suffer these punishments of which I have spoken, of which in
the smallest, yea, even in the least degree you have tasted at the time I withdrew my Spirit."

However such divine punishments are an act of love by a caring Father. In Revelation 3:19 we're
told, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent" And in Job 5:17
we learn, "Behold, happy [is] the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the
chastening of the Almighty:"

In Alma 32:13-14 it explains this perfectly. "And now, because ye are compelled to be humble
blessed are ye; for a man sometimes, if he is compelled to be humble, seeketh repentance; and
now surely, whosoever repenteth shall find mercy; and he that findeth mercy and endureth to the
end the same shall be saved. And now, as I said unto you, that because ye were compelled to be
humble ye were blessed, do ye not suppose that they are more blessed who truly humble
themselves because of the word?"

Also, in 2 Corinthians 7:9-11 we learn, "Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye
sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive
damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented
of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed
after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, [what] clearing of yourselves, yea,
[what] indignation, yea, [what] fear, yea, [what] vehement desire, yea, [what] zeal, yea, [what]
revenge! In all [things] ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter."

But, as I said before, repentance means more than just being humble and feeling sorrow for our
sins. True repentance means that we must change our lifestyle and mend that which we have
broken, restore that which we have taken, and fix that which we have broken.

In Genesis 4:5-7 we read, "But unto Cain and to his offering he [God] had not respect. And Cain
was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth?
and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou
doest not well, sin lieth at the door."

This is the first place in the scriptures that talks about the necessity for man to change lifestyle in
order to be forgiven. However, this same message has been repeated continually throughout the
scriptures. Perhaps the clearest message was given by King Beniamim as found in Mosiah
4:10,12,20,26 "And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble
yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you
believe all these things see that ye do them. And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall
always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and
ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that
which is just and true. And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and
begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he
has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and
has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly
great was your joy. And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you--that is,
for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless
before God--I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to
that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and
administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants."

Part of repentance also means forgiving those who have offended us. In Matthew 18:21-22 we
read, "Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I
forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but,
Until seventy times seven."

In Luke 17:3-4 we're told, "Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke
him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven
times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him."

So man can be perfect, if he accepts Jesus as his Savior and continually repents until the end of
his life (endure until the end). If we don't do this then the commandment to be perfect as our
Father in heaven is perfect would be impossible to keep.

 

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