Accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior is a huge step in our eternal lives. However, it then leaves an important question to be answered: “Now what?” What do we do with this incredible new testimony of Jesus Christ that we’ve gained, this recognition that there is more to life than just what happens on earth? How is it going to change us?
This is important, because the act of accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior has no meaning unless it changes us. It must make our lives completely different. It must require of us more than we’ve ever required of ourselves in the past, but those requirements must be eternally focused.
In this series of articles, we’ve been studying portions of the Book of Mormon that contain references to Jesus Christ and His mission. The Book of Mormon is used as a companion to the Bible by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who are sometimes inadvertently referred to as the Mormon Church. (The appropriate shorter name is The Church of Jesus Christ.) We can’t begin to cover all the verses, but we have explored a good cross reference. Today we are in Alma. Alma was a prophet over a group of people known as Nephites. They were usually, but not always, those who followed Jesus Christ. Their enemies were the Lamanites, who had originally descended from the same ancestors, but who had turned away from God.
Christian Discipleship is a Responsibility
Alma warned the Nephites that although the Lamanites were, at that time, wicked, they were simply following what they had been falsely taught. They didn’t know they were headed down the wrong path and God would take that into consideration. He would accept their sins more easily than he would those of the Nephites, who did know the truth. They were making an informed choice to sin.
He wanted them to understand that with knowledge comes responsibility and accountability. Just knowing isn’t enough. Sheri L. Dew, who was a counselor in the Relief Society (the official Mormon women’s auxiliary), said:
With these privileges comes great responsibility, for “unto whom much is given much is required” (D&C 82:3), and at times the demands of discipleship are heavy. But shouldn’t we expect the journey towards eternal glory to stretch us? We sometimes rationalize our preoccupation with this world and our casual attempts to grow spiritually by trying to console each other with the notion that living the gospel really shouldn’t require all that much of us. The Lord’s standard of behavior will always be more demanding than the world’s, but then the Lord’s rewards are infinitely more glorious—including true joy, peace, and salvation. (“We Are Women of God,” Ensign, Nov. 1999, 98).
Christian Discipleship is a Lifelong Role
Christianity is not just a treasure hunt that ends when you find the prize. It is an extraordinary way of life. It helps us to learn appropriate values and behavior. It teaches us to put others before ourselves, to care for those in need, and to sacrifice some of our worldly pleasures in order to develop more self-discipline and to become more eternally focused. In the talk referenced above, Sister Dew talked about a time when she needed to take an overseas trip in conjunction with her church work. She felt unaccountably nervous and asked for a religious blessing, which often includes guidance from God.
She was told that if she focused on her mission and didn’t turn it into a sightseeing or shopping trip, she would be safe and successful. She noted that sometimes we treat life like a sightseeing or shopping trip, rather than as a spiritual journey with a purpose. Satan wants us to get so caught up in our fun that we put it before a Christ-like life. Many feel that if they go to church for an hour and say a prayer each day, they’ve fulfilled their duty and can then go on with their regular life. If, instead, they focused on eternal goals, they would discover the true power of Christianity—the power to become more than they ever imagined. Christian Discipleship is a responsibility, but one that is well worth the sacrifices.
Read more about Alma’s sermon on Christianity in the Book of Mormon free online.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.