Repentance, sacrifice emerge as conference themes

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President Henry B. Eyring addresses the conference center during the Sunday afternoon session of General Conference on Oct. 2, 2016.

Several themes emerged during General Conference as church leaders gave their talks focused on the basics of the gospel.

Repentance and its significance

Throughout several of the sessions, church leaders addressed the role of repentance in returning to the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and becoming like them. God does not approve of the rationalization of sins and inappropriate actions, even though He loves His children.

“If you will really try and will not rationalize or rebel, repenting often and pleading for the grace or help of Christ, you positively are going to be ‘good enough,'” said Elder J. Devn Cornish of the Seventy about members achieving the highest degree of glory after death.

Latter-day Saints were also asked to seek guidance from ecclesiastical leaders if their transgressions are serious.

“When we have sinned, Satan often tries to convince us that the unselfish thing to do is to protect others from the devastation of the knowledge of our sins,” said Sister Linda S. Reeves, second counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency. “The truth, however, is that the unselfish and Christlike thing to do is to confess and repent.”

Church members were reminded one of the greatest blessings in their lives is the Savior’s atoning sacrifice and that using this “celestial blessing” could bring joy and hope to their lives.

Overcoming trials and understanding God’s will

The importance of the Atonement was not only talked about with repentance, but also in understanding and overcoming trials.

“Jesus Christ knows about fierce struggles and trials. He gave His life for us,” said Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve.

Church leaders said members can experience peace and joy if they focus on Christ even in the midst of trials. Speakers also reminded saints that although some members may feel trials fall unevenly on them, everyone suffers and struggles with trials.

Leaders said faith helps members survive trials and understand why Heavenly Father is letting challenges into His children’s lives.

“We, in fact, often find our faith deepened and our relationship with Heavenly Father and His Son refined in adversity,” said Sister Carole M. Stephens, first counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency.

However, members were warned they cannot force their will upon God; rather, faith should empower individuals to understand and act on God’s will.

Serving in all areas of life

Several church leaders addressed the power of service within the home, at church and for strangers for both people being served and people who perform service.

“As we serve, we draw closer to God. We come to know Him in ways that we otherwise might not,” said Elder Carl B. Cook of the Seventy.

After the refugee service initiative “I was a Stranger” was launched in April 2016, service has been a bigger push in the church.

General Primary first counselor Sister Jean B. Bingham told sisters during the General Women’s Conference Session that LDS sisters’ time, talents and resources the past six months have helped lighten both the sisters’ and refugees’ hearts.

In the General Priesthood Session, members were encouraged to complete their home teaching and Melchizedek Priesthood holders were asked to prepare and encourage Aaronic Priesthood holders for their gospel service.

“We, holders of the priesthood, can and must add that support with our determination to answer the charge that as we are converted, we’re going to reach down to strengthen our brethren,” said President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency.

All members were also encouraged to serve within their homes by teaching their children about the gospel and fulfilling their church callings to the best of their abilities.

“Whatever our age or circumstance, let service be our watch cry,” said Elder Carl B. Cook of the Seventy. “Serve in your calling. Serve a mission. Serve your mother. Serve a stranger. Serve your neighbor. Just serve.”

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