The Lord intends for His missionaries — including mission presidents and their companions — to baptize converts and establish His Church, said Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
“God is very mindful about establishing the Church because the Church is the Atonement delivery system,” he said. “We believe that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.”
As the Atonement of Jesus Christ is delivered into the lives of Heavenly Father’s children, they become His natural fruit. God is mindful of both the quality and quantity of that fruit. He wants it to endure.
Elder Renlund said the early Saints of the restored Church were commanded, in Doctrine and Covenants 42, to build up the Church “in every region.”
“As you have studied Doctrine and Covenants 42, you have learned that this first commandment is that the Saints are to go forth in the power of the Lord’s Spirit, two by two, in the Savior’s name, teaching the gospel, encouraging repentance and baptism,” he said. “The Saints were to go, not only to the ‘regions westward,’ but they, like you, were to be ‘sent forth to the east and to the west, to the north and to the south.’ ”
The Lord, he added, promised them that He would prepare the people that they would find and that He would, through them, establish the Church.
So, Elder Renlund asked, who are those that will receive the gospel? They are those who “harden not their hearts,” who hear the Savior’s voice through His authorized representatives, who make and keep commitments, and who develop faith by being obedient.
“The commitments these people initially accept may be small and simple; to pray or to read. Thereafter, they progress by keeping larger and larger commitments to change; to come to Church and to obey the Word of Wisdom. These are they who eventually respond to the invitation to ‘Come unto Christ’ and receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end.”
They will also recognize that repentance is an ongoing process.
“If we don’t find these people, we may baptize individuals, but we will not baptize converts and we will not help build up the Savior’s Church,” he said.
Elder Renlund identified several “elements of conversion” potential converts must manifest, including: humbling themselves before God; having a desire to be baptized; that they “come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits;” that they have repented of their sins; that they are willing to take upon them Christ’s name; and last, that they manifest by their works that they have received the “Spirit of Christ” unto a remission of their sins.
“Individuals who meet these criteria, are baptized, and endure to the end are guaranteed all that Heavenly Father has. They become a joint-heir or co-inheritor with Jesus Christ.”
The quality of teaching, he added, matters immensely in keeping converts active in the Church. Such teaching demands focused and obedient missionaries.
[email protected] @JNSwensen