The doctrine of Christ offers ‘power to overcome,’ says Elder Peter M. Johnson to BYU–Idaho students

Applying the doctrine of Christ requires becoming engaged learners, keeping covenants and ministering to the one, said Elder Johnson

After two torn ACLs and a ruptured Achilles tendon, college basketball player Whitney started doubting her faith in God.

“Frustrations ensued,” recounted her father — Elder Peter M. Johnson, a General Authority Seventy — to BYU–Idaho students and staff during the Tuesday, March 14, devotional. “Questions of faith started to be expressed: ‘How can Heavenly Father do this to me? I have been trying to keep all His commandments, including honoring the Sabbath day. ... Why did the Lord do this to me?’”

Whitney accepted a job in a city without many Latter-day Saints and was determined not to attend church. But one Sunday, members of the stake presidency counseled together and decided to extend Whitney the calling of early morning seminary teacher. She reluctantly accepted.

Her first week of class was a disaster. But after feeling like a failure and an imposter, one thought came to her mind: “If I’m going to teach these young people about God and to have faith in Jesus Christ, then I must determine where my faith is.”

She made more effort in scripture study, daily prayer and living her covenants. As she did, “feelings of God’s love for her returned, and her love for God renewed.”

“The Lord did not abandon her,” Elder Johnson testified. “These challenges offered an opportunity for Whitney to be refined, transformed, as she becomes all that Heavenly Father wants her to become and to know her Redeemer and Savior.”

Elder Johnson spoke at a BYU–Idaho devotional on Tuesday, March 14, in the BYU–Idaho Center. He spoke about how to find hope and draw divine power from the doctrine of Jesus Christ.

A group of men in tuxedos and women in dresses holding music binders and singing.
A student choir sings “Abide With Me; ’Tis Eventide” before a BYU–Idaho devotional with Elder Peter M. Johnson, a General Authority Seventy, on March 14, 2023. | Michael Lewis, BYU–Idaho

The doctrine of Jesus Christ

In a BYU–Idaho discussion board before the devotional, Elder Johnson encouraged attendees to prepare by reading 2 Nephi 31. This chapter outlines the five main elements in the doctrine of Jesus Christ: developing faith in Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end.

“Using the Lord’s pattern of instruction” of teaching truth, extending invitations and promising blessings, Elder Johnson said, “will help us to apply His doctrine more consistently and intentionally into our lives and allow us to receive access to His Atonement so that we can be endowed with heavenly power.”

How does one apply the doctrine of Christ? Elder Johnson gave three ways: “We become engaged learners, we receive ordinances as we make and keep covenants, and we minister to the one.”

A man wearing a suit and speaking from a pulpit, with an image of Christ and the words of Doctrine and Covenants 6:22-23 on a screen behind him.
Elder Peter M. Johnson, a General Authority Seventy, reads Doctrine and Covenants 6:22-23 at a BYU–Idaho devotional in the I-Center in Rexburg, Idaho, on March 14, 2023. | Natalia Lopez, BYU–Idaho


Elder Johnson said applying the doctrine of Christ “begins with having faith in Him, believing Him and trusting Him.”

A year after being baptized as a young adult, Elder Johnson was called to serve a mission. In his fourth month of service, allegations about Church history weakened his testimony, and he started to feel frustration and resent God.

His companion expressed his love for Elder Johnson, and this gave him the courage to find answers in the scriptures. Specifically, in Doctrine and Covenants 6:22: “If you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things.”

This scripture, given by revelation to Oliver Cowdery, reminded young adult Elder Johnson of his own spiritual witness as a college student. His faith was not only restored, but it was also deepened, allowing him to share the gospel more fervently with friends and family.

To those questioning their faith because of trials, Elder Johnson says: “I love you. Whatever string of hope you are holding on to, whatever excuse keeps you close to your covenants, I plead with you: ... Hold on. Keep your covenants, and in time you will, just like Whitney, and just like me, recognize His divine grace, His power and His love.”

A close-up of a young woman leaning forward in an auditorium seat with many students out of focus behind her.
BYU–Idaho students at the I-Center in Rexburg, Idaho, listen to Elder Peter M. Johnson, a General Authority Seventy, at a campus devotional. | Natalia Lopez, BYU–Idaho


Faith coupled with sincere repentance, Elder Johnson said, provides access to God’s power.

“Power to overcome temptations, power to forgive others, power to see others as God sees them, and power to see ourselves as God sees us. We are children of a loving Heavenly Father, and we possess divine attributes of Deity.”

The ability to change, he said, is possible through Christ. The Savior’s sacrifices in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross at Calvary “enable us, if we choose, to experience the divine gift of forgiveness and receive His grace and power.”

Elder Johnson encouraged those in the congregation not to be afraid of repentance: “If we truly understood the elements of repentance, we would run to it. It is wonderful; it is needed; it brings joy. ... Do not let Satan rob you of the joy and the divine power you can have from Jesus as you choose to repent, choose to change and choose to become.”

Repentance is a process, the General Authority Seventy said, to become all Heavenly Father wants His children to become.

A man in a suit and tie speaking at a pulpit, with an array of flowers at the foot of the pulpit.
“As we consistently and intentionally apply the doctrine of Jesus Christ into our lives, I can promise you that you will have the strength to overcome temptations,” says Elder Peter M. Johnson to BYU–Idaho students on Tuesday, March 14, 2023. | Michael Lewis, BYU–Idaho

Keeping covenants

The elements of baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost in the doctrine of Christ “involve receiving ordinances and making and keeping covenants,” said Elder Johnson.

Whitney found strength to change as she kept her covenants through adversity. She was “endowed with His divine power, which in the beginning she didn’t even recognize she had,” a power that enabled her to understand deeply that God lives and loves her.

“As we consistently and intentionally apply the doctrine of Jesus Christ into our lives,” Elder Johnson said, “I can promise you that you will have the strength to overcome temptations, you will find hope even amid challenges and disappointments, you will not be discouraged, and you will feel the love of God in your life and know, my friends, that you are never, never alone.”

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