Teach to build faith in Jesus Christ, Elder Bednar instructs

‘Preach My Gospel’ chapter 10: At the Seminar for New Mission Leaders, Elder David A. Bednar encouraged leaders to find ways to help individuals focus their faith on Jesus Christ, learn correct principles for themselves and respond to invitations to act

PROVO, Utah — Those who are called and set apart to proclaim the restored gospel of Jesus Christ have a sacred responsibility to help others build their faith in Jesus Christ, Elder David A. Bednar declared.

“Our work is quite straightforward,” he told mission leaders gathered for the 2023 Seminar for New Mission Leaders on June 23. “We are to help friends focus their faith on and in the Lord Jesus Christ, learn correct gospel principles for themselves and respond affirmatively to invitations to act.”

In addressing his “beloved associates in this wondrous work of the Lord,” Elder Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles offered counsel, invitations and promises on how to fulfill that threefold responsibility. He focused his remarks on Chapter 10 of the second edition of “Preach My Gospel,” “Teach to Build Faith in Jesus Christ.”

Focus faith on and in Jesus Christ

True faith is always focused in and on the Lord Jesus Christ — “in Him as the divine and Only Begotten Son of the Father and on Him and the redemptive mission He fulfilled,” Elder Bednar taught.

The Savior is the firm, rock-solid foundation upon which individuals should build their lives. “Remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation” (Helaman 5:12).

In Helaman 3:35, Mormon describes the people in Helaman’s day as waxing “firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ.” Unfortunately, those who are trying to teach the gospel cannot give, transfer or transmit faith in Jesus Christ to another individual, Elder Bednar said. But they can help others to focus their faith on and in the Lord Jesus Christ “by inviting, enticing, praying for, testifying to and encouraging them to ask, seek and knock for the spiritual gift of faith in the Savior.”

Learn correct principles 

As disciples of Christ teach, testify, answer questions and help friends to learn for themselves, they have a sacred responsibility to maintain the purity of gospel doctrine and principles, Elder Bednar continued. 

“All of us should avoid speculating about subjects on which little or nothing has been revealed, perpetuating unsubstantiated claims and rumors, and substituting personal opinions and experiences for the word of God. We individually should pay the price to learn and understand the doctrine and principles for ourselves by the power of the Holy Ghost.”

New mission leaders listen through translation headsets at the 2023 Seminar for New Mission Leaders at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on June 23, 2023.  | Cody Bell, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

To illustrate the impact a seemingly slight deviation from gospel truth can have, Elder Bednar noted that in many instances far greater emphasis is placed on the ordinance of baptism than on the ordinances of confirmation (receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost) and the sacrament. Those who have received the ordinances of baptism and confirmation, and who prepare for and worthily participate in the sacrament, are promised that they may always have the Spirit of the Lord to be with them.

“And by the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost as our constant companion, we can always retain a remission of our sins. Thus, the gospel of Jesus Christ provides second, and third, and fourth, and endless opportunities to retain a remission of our sins,” Elder Bednar said.

Imagine friends and young children more eager to prepare for and participate in the sacrament on Sunday than they were to be baptized. “Surely such individuals would stand on strong spiritual foundations and be blessed with a firmness of heart, mind, might and strength.”

Helping friends respond to invitations to act

It is the responsibility of authorized servants of the Lord to help individuals strengthen their faith in the Savior by issuing invitations to act in accordance with His teachings and seek learning “even by study and also by faith” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:118), Elder Bednar taught.

Those who exercise moral agency by acting in accordance with correct principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ invite the testifying power and confirming witness of the Holy Ghost. “Our best efforts to explain and bear witness of restored truths can only bring the gospel message unto the heart of a friend. Ultimately, a friend needs to exercise faith in the Savior and act in righteousness and thereby invite the truth into his or her heart.” 

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks at the 2023 Seminar for New Mission Leaders at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on June 23, 2023. | Cody Bell, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Rarely, if ever, should a missionary teach without extending an invitation to act that will help them strengthen their faith in the Savior, Elder Bednar said.

“How can we know if we are assisting friends effectively to strengthen their faith in the Savior?” he asked. “Friends will learn for themselves simple gospel doctrine and principles in such a way that they will love the Lord and understand that because of Him and His Atonement, they can always retain a remission of their sins.”

In conclusion, Elder Bednar promised mission leaders “that the Savior and Master of us all, even the Lord Jesus Christ, will guide, strengthen, direct and tutor you. If you abide in Him, He will abide in you, and you will walk with Him.”

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