President Faust: 'Time-tested principles of conversion'

"Who should be baptized?" President James E. Faust asked new mission presidents and their wives at the Missionary Training Center here June 21.

"The answer would seem easy," President Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, said. "Should we not baptize all those who want to or are willing to be baptized? The answer is not that simple. It is a great responsibility to bring someone into this Church who has not been adequately taught and who has not received of the Spirit so that through baptism they may become a new person through repentance. Moroni gave a solemn warning about this in Mormon 9:29: See that you are not baptized unworthily.' "In his remarks, President Faust said: "Some of our young missionaries are so hungry for baptisms they may urge people to be baptized before their investigators understand what they are baptized for. Peter said,Repent and be baptized.' (Acts 2:38.) We must be certain the repentance process is at work."

President Faust said that investigators have a responsibility on their own as they hear the message of the restored gospel, but, he explained, "what I wish to emphasize today is our responsibility to them because it is under the authority of the priesthood that they are baptized and come into the Church."

He then emphasized two "time-tested principles of conversion:"

"First, the powerful bearing of testimony.

"Second, being guided by the whisperings of the Holy Spirit."

Concerning the first principle, President Faust related an incident in Church history that illustrated how powerful testimony bearing can be. He spoke of early Church leader Parley P. Pratt who recorded an occasion when Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon addressed a large congregation. The Prophet "arose like a lion about to roar; and being full of the Holy Ghost spoke in great power, bearing testimony" concerning his visions, the ministering of angels and the translation of the Book of Mormon.

"The result of Joseph Smith's sermon in Philadelphia?" President Faust asked. He then quoted Elder Pratt as saying, " `Multitudes were baptized in Philadelphia and in the regions around.' "

Of the second principle, President Faust spoke of the missionary success of Wilford Woodruff in the Malvern Hills of England. "He had been laboring up among the Potteries and the Spirit told him to move eight miles south and labor there. Logic would not have taken him there because it was farm country. He contacted the United Brethren and had perhaps the greatest harvest ever in the history of the Church.

"This," continued President Faust, "was an exceptional experience but the principle of being led by the Spirit must guide all of our missionaries."

He explained that many missions do not have high numbers of baptisms. Despite the potential discouragement, "no one fails if they do their best. Some reap where others have sown. As we look back we can see progress more clearly.

"What has happened in our lifetimes is unbelievable. It is hard to believe we have all the missions that we presently have. We have missions in places which seemed inaccessible only a few years ago such as the Ivory Coast, Zaire, India, Mongolia; eight missions in what used to be Russia; Siberia, Albania, Latvia and so many others places. This is an evidence that the Lord is guiding this work."

"Now whether the number of converts be few or many in the mission, the requirements for coming into the Lord's Church are the same. I wish to reiterate them in terms of what the Lord Himself said in Doctrine and Covenants 20:37: `All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the Church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church.' "

In speaking of goal setting, President Faust counseled, "Missionaries should have goals but they should not be imposed by the mission president, his assistants or the zone leaders. I am persuaded that the missionaries will be more dedicated to their work, will be more committed, if they have set their own goals, and happier in their labors than if goals are imposed upon them. The best motivation is self-motivation."

As President Faust concluded his address and bore testimony to the truth of the work, he took off his wire-rimmed glasses and slipped them into his suit pocket. He promised blessings to the mission presidents and their wives and to their children and families.

"As a consequence of your labors, your families will be strengthened in their faith, not just in this life, but eternally."

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