Monday, February 29, 2016

An Increase of Faith

Dear Family,
This week has been wonderful. We had our interviews with president which is always a highlight. I am going to miss those interviews. He is a man called of God and I sustain him.
My companion and I were in charge of the conference while President was in his office doing interviews. The Sister Trainer Leaders helped us make an agenda and it ended up being a very successful conference. We learned about the importance of Personal and Companionship studies every morning as we more effectively create lesson plans and then carry out the plans with each investigator. Elder Lockling has taught me a lot. He is very calm, patient, and makes smart decisions. 
Tomorrow I have the opportunity to attend one last Leadership Council. The study topic has been Faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement (which comes from the first chapter of Preach My Gospel). I have studied these two topics for over 2 years and yet I am amazed by the things I still learn. I have so far to go, but I love learning.
As I was meditating and studying the Atonement I realized something that I have many times taught wrongly during my mission. It is part of the first lesson from Chapter 3 in Preach my Gospel. The Earthly Ministry of Jesus Christ is often one of the most taught and for me the most misunderstood during my whole mission. More than once I have taught this lesson focusing on the Apostles, the priesthood, revelation, and all that and I quickly brush past the Atonement. It’s a great way to teach it! The investigators understand, they see the need for the same organization now and it works! My companion and I usually teach that the wicked people killed Christ and the Apostles which started the Great Apostasy that we all know. Oh how wrong I have been for 2 years! Christ was never killed. Nor did the wicked people kill him. He died. When I realized this, I noted a very big difference. To be killed means that the wicked people perused Christ and then, against His will, took away His life. In this situation, to have died means that He gave himself up, gave away His own life, and chose to do so. This is the key. The fact that He died is important but more importantly, and what makes His death a saving one, is that fact that He himself, being perfect, with no need to do so, died and sacrificed Himself. It wouldn’t have been an eternal and everlasting Atonement if it was not this way. It gave me a new perspective on how to teach repentance. If from the first moments, and investigator can see the importance of His eternal sacrifice, they will repent. 
I then went on thinking and meditating on faith. I learned that the cornerstone of our faith in Jesus Christ is the Restoration of the Gospel as outlined in the first chapter of Preach My Gospel. And the only way we come to know that the Restoration is a fact is if we receive it from the Holy Ghost- otherwise known as Personal Revelation. I then thought about it and thought about it some more. Personal Revelation is the key to an increase of Faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement. The main mission and goal of the Holy Ghost is to testify of Christ as we are taught in 2 Nephi 31:18. As we receive promptings, follow them, and search for more, we will see our faith grow. The same thing happens to investigators. As they fulfill their commitments, they receive revelation- confirming what they do is from God and automatically (because that have then chosen to do so) their faith grows, their desire to be baptized increases, and then come to understand on a more personal level the power of the Atonement.
My only goal now (to be able to teach repentance) is help others have the personal and spiritual revelation needed to have a sufficient increase in faith- therefore permitting them to repent, be baptized, and stay active in the church. 
The Holy Ghost is an actual spiritual being who has testified and who testifies to me that God lives and that His Son Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. I know they live.
Hurrah for Israel!
I love you all so much,
Elder Gehring
Bugs of Bolivia!

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