Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon “by the gift and power of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 135:3). We need to study and interpret its teachings with the gift of the Holy Ghost. We should always come to the scriptures with a need in mind, and we can have that need attended to through the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
Accepting Christ’s Atoning Grace and Repentance
In order to have that Spirit, however, we must not let our imperfect selves limit our potential for success through sin, sorrow, doubt, or fear.
We can release all of these burdens through Christ's tender atoning mercies. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland admonishes us: “Our only hope for true perfection is in receiving it as a gift from heaven—we can’t ‘earn’ it. Thus, the grace of Christ offers us not only salvation from sorrow and sin and death but also salvation from our own persistent self-criticism” ('Be Ye Therefore Perfect—Eventually,' Ensign, Nov. 2017). Christ teaches us not to be ashamed of our efforts to change and repent.
Repentance is not just a means for remedying sin, it is accepting the joy of Christ’s atoning grace to preside over our lives. If we reject the prophets, the Prophet Jacob warns that such actions “will bring [us] to stand with shame and awful guilt before the bar of God?” (Jacob 6:9). Refusing to repent will stop us from feeling the joy of returning to the presence of our Heavenly Father.
King Benjamin taught that we will be judged according to our works: “And if they be evil they are consigned to an awful view of their own guilt and abominations, which doth cause them to shrink from the presence of the Lord into a state of misery and endless torment, from whence they can no more return” (Mosiah 3:25).” In a sense, we cut ourselves off from God by our own unwillingness to repent. We need to obey God’s commandments, let go of our burdens, and accept Jesus Christ as our Savior.
Magnifying Our Efforts by Relying on Jesus Christ
The December 30-January 5 lesson in the Book of Mormon 2020 Come, Follow Me invites us to ask ourselves: 'How can you give ‘[your name] unto the world, to witness unto the world’ what you know about the Book of Mormon?” The answer is clear: we can start by finding no shame in the good we can do, magnifying our efforts with an attitude of joyfulness, and relying on Christ’s Atonement to help us live a life of positive emotions.
The gospel was restored because Joseph Smith was unafraid to ask God for guidance and truth. We can likewise find light and help through the Atonement of Jesus Christ if we are unafraid to seek His divine help. Even if we have no courage to speak our need for help, the Lord “knows all the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Alma 18:32). I know that he answers my vocal and silent prayers.
The January 13-19 Book of Mormon 2020 Come, Follow Me lesson explains, “Lehi’s vision offers an invitation to reflect on where you are - and where you are going—in your personal journey to know the Savior and feel His love.” We don’t have to start over to start anew. When we are tired of things the way they are, we can correct our course. Because of the grace of Christ’s infinite atoning sacrifice, starting from where we are is beginning again.
Blessed Are Those Who Come to Christ
Do we really understand the value of what Jesus Christ gave us through His Atonement? Without the Savior’s Atonement, we might overly focus on what holds us back from success instead of on the knowledge and opportunities unlocked by His great atoning sacrifice. If we are willing to come unto Christ as imperfect as we are, our Savior’s atoning love can redeem us. We must first, however, come to an awareness of the fact that we are imperfect but not beyond repair. We can grow beyond our past selves. Through Christ, we can fix anything. We have eternal potential as part of our Heavenly Father’s grand plan of salvation.
Jesus Christ’s Atonement also enables us to receive His mercy. To the Nephites, the voice of Jesus proclaimed: “Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me” (3 Nephi 9:14). If we recognize the Savior’s unconditional love and “come” to Him, we can receive the mercies bestowed only by Jesus Christ.
Humbly Seek Christ’s Guiding Hands
In order to recognize our need for the gift of Christ’s Atonement, we first need to acknowledge that we are powerless on our own and that life is too overwhelming for us to handle alone. Jesus performed the atoning sacrifice so that we might know that we are valuable treasures of our Heavenly Father.
We need to understand Christ’s Atonement and the value and promise it can add to our lives. We need to know of the life we can have because of Christ. We should seek the divine help just as Joseph Smith did: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering” (James 1:5-6).
Christ’s infinite Atonement will deliver our souls from the forces of the devil, who strives to imprison us. Jesus will lead us back to God’s presence. All we have to do is to take Christ’s freely offered hands.