Sunday, February 19, 2006

The following are excerpts from a sermon preached yesterday by Bishop Alvin B. Jackson Jr. at the Kensington Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The founder and first prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was Joseph Smith. The prophet often was asked to explain the teachings and practices of Mormonism. In 1842, at the invitation of John Wentworth, the editor of the Chicago Democrat, Joseph Smith wrote a letter designed for publication in which he sketched the history and faith of the Latter-day Saints. At this point in time, the church was only 13 years old.

Ever since the Articles of Faith were written, they have taught, inspired and directed the members of the church in the basic principles of the Gospel. At the same time, they have also gone forth among the peoples of the world to proclaim and explain the Gospel to many who hear it for the first time. They invite further thought. They enhance our understanding of certain principles and give us simultaneously a commitment toward living the same.

If you want to get rid of a bad habit, have better relations with your family and loved ones, and want to know more about the Heavenly Father’s plan for each of us, read the Book of Mormon.

The Book of Mormon teaches Adam’s fall was a necessary and important step in our earthly progression. Jesus Christ’s atonement is the necessary component in making Adam’s prophecy a reality. Having faith in Him, repenting of our sins, being baptized by proper priesthood authority, receiving the purifying gift of the Holy Ghost and accepting all other essential ordinances are the steps that lead us back to our Father.

When we fall short and sin, it is the power of the Lord’s atonement that makes it possible to repent and be forgiven. This process of activating the principles of the atonement, which are repentance and forgiveness, makes it possible for us to become worthy and made clean again, preparing us to return to dwell in the presence of God.

Much of our early knowledge on the subject involved what happened on the cross and the Savior’s glorious Resurrection. What is missing for some is a firm understanding of Christ’s atonement in the Garden of Gethsemane. What does that word “atonement” mean? The literal meaning of the word is the act of unifying or bringing together what has been separated and estranged.

The Lord has paid the ransom for our sins and failings. Through sincere repentance on our part, we can be forgiven. Not only did the Lord take upon Himself the sins of the world; He did more. He knows how to support and comfort us through our sorrows and pains. He is who we should look to for solace in times of adversity.

We know now that we lived in heaven with our heavenly parents before we came to earth to receive a mortal body, so that we can have our faith tried and tested. Many in the world dispel this notion that we existed as spirit children of loving heavenly parents before coming to earth. That it was His plan presented by Jesus Christ, which brought us to earth, and when we fall short, through Jesus’ atonement, we make ourselves eligible to return home to dwell in the existence of our heavenly parents for time and all eternity. Not by ourselves, mind you, but with our family unit established in this mortality, provided we take advantage of the blessings afforded to us in the Temple, where families can be sealed for time and all eternity, if we are faithful in living the covenants we make with the Lord.

It takes faith to believe what we say to you this day. It takes faith to believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, just like Moses, Abraham, Noah, and was the instrument through which the Lord used to once again establish His church on the earth. It takes faith to believe the Lord still has prophets on the earth today, who are blessed and set apart to lead and receive revelation to guide His earthly children.

As you began to grow small seeds of faith through prayer, Scripture study, church attendance, your understanding will increase. Our testimony is that He lives and He can do what He says He can do. He can heal you.

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