Dear Elders and Sisters,
We love you. We believe in you. We thank Heavenly Father for you.
One of the greatest blessings of God is the ability to repent, to really repent. Repentance is not a big burden or some kind of required punishment. Repentance is one of the most hopeful, joyful words in our language. Repentance means DOING WHAT IS NEEDED SO THAT WE CAN LIVE WITH OUR HEAVENLY FATHER AGAIN AND RECEIVE THE GREAT BLESSINGS HE WANTS TO GIVE US, HIS CHILDREN.
The opportunity to repent is at the center of our great message to the world. It is one of the great gifts you give as you teach the gospel every day.
I was touched by the teachings of Elder Dale Renlund in the most recent general conference:
"Changing our behavior and returning to the right road are part of repentance, but only part. Real repentance also includes a turning of our heart and will to God and a renunciation of sin...Yet even this is an incomplete description. It does not properly identify the power that makes repentance possible, the atoning sacrifice of our Savior. Real repentance must involve faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, faith that He can change us, faith that He can forgive us, and faith that He will help us avoid more mistakes. This kind of faith makes His atonement effective in our lives...
President Boyd K. Packer affirmed the hopeful promises of repentance in April 2015 at his last general conference. He described the power of the Savior's Atonement to heal in what I consider the distillation of the wisdom gained in half a century of apostolic service. President Packer said: "The Atonement leaves no tracks, no traces. What it fixes is fixed...It just heals, and what it heals stays healed...The Atonement, which can reclaim each one of us, bears no scars. That means that no matter what we have done or where we have been or how something happened, if we truly repent, the Savior has promised that He would atone And when He atoned, that settled that..."
Jesus Christ CAN forgive because He paid the price for our sins.
Our Redeemer CHOOSES to forgive because of His incomparable compassion, mercy, and love.
Our Savior WANTS to forgive because this is one of His divine attributes.
And, like the Good Shepard He is, He is JOYFUL when we choose to repent.
The fact that we can repent is the good news of the gospel! Guilt can be swept away. We can be filled with joy, receive a remission of our sins, and have peace of conscience. We can be freed from feelings of despair and the bondage of sin. We can be filled with the marvelous light of God and be pained no more. Repentance is not only possible but also joyful because of our Savior."
To Elder Renlund's testimony I add my own: Repentance is the pathway that our merciful Father in Heaven laid out for us to follow back to His presence. I am deeply grateful for this path, which was designed with great love and paved with the sacrifice of His Beloved Son.
May we share this great gift with all who will listen, and accept this gift fully ourselves.
Mahal ko po kayo,
President Creg Ostler