Elder Neil L. Andersen and his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen, recently interacted with young single adults during their travels in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and Bogota, Colombia.
The Andersens asked the YSAs from those two South American cities to share questions, concerns and experiences that might be addressed during the Sunday, Jan. 9, devotional for young adults in Latin America and Spain.
“Following the recommendation of many young adults, we have decided to speak on the subject of repentance and forgiveness and the powerful influence that the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ has in helping us to repent and receive forgiveness,” said Elder Andersen, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Elder Andersen, Elder Cordón and Sister Aburto focused their teachings on repentance and forgiveness on five key principles.
1. Repent and coming unto Christ
Heavenly gifts and power await all who strive to increase their faith in Christ, taught Elder Andersen.
“Faith grows and strengthens within us,” he said, “as we desire to believe, as we ponder the word of God, as we increase the sincerity and frequency of our prayers, as we repent and keep the commandments and as we experience the power of the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives.”
As a person’s faith grows, so does his or her desire to change behaviors, repent, keep the commandments and discard harmful things.
“As you do these things, suddenly there is another power: the power of Christ and His Atonement, bringing increasing forgiveness for past sins,” said Elder Andersen. “You begin feeling His approval, His love, and His grace. Then, miraculously, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, you feel the gift of His forgiveness.”
Repentance, added Elder Cordón, is an essential principle of salvation. “It is comforting to know that we have a Savior.”
Sister Aburto testified that prayers to the Lord had been “a fountain of faith, of power, of peace and of hope” during difficult trials in her own life.
2. A broken heart and a contrite spirit
Two “beloved friends” — a broken heart and a contrite spirit — are needed along one’s journey to repentance. “These two friends come because of our striking realization that without Him, we have nothing. We are nothing. It is He who opens all eternal possibilities to us,” said Elder Andersen.
Perhaps the greatest awakening that a person can have in life is the personal realization that Christ paid for his or her sins. This realization increases a repentant person’s wonder, appreciation and adoration for the Savior.
There is no true repentance or true forgiveness, testified Elder Andersen, without complete honesty. “First and foremost, we must be honest with our Heavenly Father and with ourselves. Dishonesty and deception are at the foundation and root of almost all sin.”
Any deception, he added, delays the repentance process.
“Remember, God knows the thoughts and the intents of our heart.”
4. The sacrament
Nothing reinforces and sustains efforts to repent than partaking of the sacrament each week with a broken heart and a contrite spirit.
“As we remember Him and His suffering, His love for us, and His willingness to take away our sins, we are filled with enormous gratitude and a desire to offer our souls to Him,” said Elder Andersen. “We rejoice that we have taken upon ourselves His name and promised to keep His commandments.”
By remembering the Savior, a repentant person embeds his or her spirit with the pattern of Christ’s example, His character and His teachings.
Elder Cordón taught that the sacrament offers a weekly moment of sacred reflection. “The sacrament is a time to evaluate how we are growing to be more like Jesus Christ.”
5. Knowing we are forgiven
Elder Andersen said some young adults have asked why the memory of sin remains even after the repentance process.
“The memory of some forsaken sins may stay with us — but the pain, the sadness, the remorse, the guilt, will go away,” he said. “Even though the Lord promises to remember our sins no more, it is a blessing for us in this life to not completely forget past mistakes so that we never repeat them.
“Satan tries to use old sins against us, but we can overcome these insidious tactics by immediately praying in faith and sincerely thanking our Heavenly Father for His Son and His grace, mercy and forgiveness.”
Citing teachings from the Book of Mormon, Sister Aburto encouraged Sunday’s vast devotional audience to do all things “that bring us closer to the Savior.”
Elder Andersen concluded the devotional with his testimony and witness of Atonement of Jesus Christ.
“I leave an apostolic blessing to all who desire to repent and come unto Him. I bless you that as you sincerely do your best to come closer to Him, to repent of those things you need to discard, I promise you that you will feel His love and His grace very specifically for you. You will know that He wants you with Him forever.”