Here is a list one fellowship put together from Joseph Smith’s definitions of terms to help in the various efforts for a set of principles. As I thought about it, it is more of a glossary as well, pulled together from Joseph Smith resources and only slightly modified in sentence structure to cast them as definitions. It’s archival now that the thrust has recently changed on the Guide and Standard. So, this list is largely obsolete for that effort, but it is included here for your benefit.

“Mormonism is truth; and every man who embraces it feels himself at liberty to embrace every truth. Consequently the shackles of superstition, bigotry, ignorance, and priestcraft, fall at once from his neck; and his eyes are opened to see the truth, and truth greatly prevails over priestcraft…The first and fundamental principle of our holy religion is, that we believe that we have a right to embrace all, and every item of truth, without limitation or without being circumscribed or prohibited by the creeds or superstitious notions of men, or by the dominations of one another, when that truth is clearly demonstrated to our minds, and we have the highest degree of evidence of the same.” Joseph Smith

“Friendship is one of the grand fundamental principles of ‘Mormonism’; [it is designed] to revolutionize and civilize the world, and cause wars and contentions to cease and men to become friends and brothers” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 316). “The inquiry is frequently made of me, ‘Wherein do you differ from others in your religious views?’ In reality and essence we do not differ so far in our religious views, but that we could all drink into one principle of love. One of the grand fundamental principles of ‘Mormonism’ is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may.” “Have the Presbyterians any truth? Embrace that. Have the Baptists, Methodists, and so forth? Embrace that. Get all the good in the world, and you will come out a pure Mormon.” (July 23, 1843) “It is not wisdom that we should have all knowledge at once presented before us; but that we should have a little at a time; then we can comprehend it. President Smith then read the 2nd Epistle of Peter, 1st chapter, 16th to last verses, and dwelt upon the 19th verse with some remarks. Add to your faith knowledge, etc. The principle of knowledge is the principle of salvation. This principle can be comprehended by the faithful and diligent; and every one that does not obtain knowledge sufficient to be saved will be condemned. The principle of salvation is given us through the knowledge of Jesus Christ.” Joseph Smith

Truth is knowledge of things as they are and as they were and as they are to come. [D&C 33:7 RE]

Faith is the assurance we have of unseen things which are true. It is the principle of action and power in mortals and in God. Acting upon correct belief is the essence of faith. We are all commanded to believe in Jesus Christ and act upon that belief by obeying Him. [LoF 1]

Salvation is here defined in its broadest terms, as in being saved from all enemies, including death. This type of salvation happens if and when you become a joint heir with Jesus Christ and attain the power of the resurrection after this life, such that you can resurrect all those dependent upon you. [LoF 7:8]

God, or the Godhead, is a term describing the unity of two separate, perfected beings—the Father and the Son—along with their unified mind, called the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ is the Son. Jesus is also the way, the truth, and the life, and no person comes to the Father but by Jesus. [LoF 5, John 10:7 RE]

God is the object for all people with understanding to have faith in for life and salvation. [LoF 2]

Three things are necessary so that anyone with understanding may exercise faith in God towards life and salvation: The idea that he actually exists, a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes, and an actual knowledge that the course you are pursuing is according to his will. [LoF 3]

The perfections of God’s attributes and characteristics [LoF 4:1-2]:

God has all faith or power, and was God before the world was created, and is the same God now, and He always will be. [LoF 3:13, 4:5]
God has all mercy, and He is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in goodness, and He was so from everlasting, and will be to everlasting. [LoF 3:14, 4:7]
God has all right actions, or justice, and He never changes. His course is one eternal round and He is always willing to teach. He teaches by the power of grace, and gives liberally, to the just and the unjust. [LoF 3:15,21, 4:6,11, James 1:2 RE, Ether 5:5 RE]
God has all correct judgment against the wicked, and He is no respecter of persons (of whatever race or color, young or old, bond or free, male or female) but every person who fears God and works righteousness is accepted of Him. [LoF 3:17, 4:7]
God has all truth and He is truthful and cannot lie. [LoF 3:16, 4:8]
God has all knowledge, and He is loving, such that He shares understanding through wisdom that He might save all His creatures. He is love. [LoF 3:18, 4:4,9, 1 John 4:8, John 4:3 RE]

“The fundamental principles of our religion is the testimony of the apostles and prophets concerning Jesus Christ, ‘that he died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven;’ and all other things are only appendages to these, which pertain to our religion.” [Joseph Smith, “Elders’ Journal, July 1838,” p. 44].

The Bible is the word of God as far as it is translated correctly. The Old Testament contains old covenants. The Book of Mormon, combined with the New Testament, constitutes the new covenant, and both are the word of God as far as they are translated correctly. Joseph Smith said, “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book” [HC 4:461]. The Teachings and Commandments and the Pearls of Great Price are the word of God as far as they are translated correctly. These scriptures are not all that God has revealed or that He has now revealed. God’s words never cease and He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God. [WL (AoF) 1:29, 1:30, see also Answer and Covenant]

Jesus Christ is the only name under heaven whereby salvation may come. Salvation comes by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ, through the merits of his atonement. [2 Nephi 13:6 RE, WL (AoF) 1:24]

“Doctrine” means an approved body of teachings.

The doctrine of Jesus Christ is as follows:

“Behold, verily, verily I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine. And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me, and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, every where, to repent and believe in me; and whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God. And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned. Verily, verily I say unto you, that this is my doctrine; and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me, believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me; for he will visit him with fire, and with the Holy Ghost; and thus will the Father bear record of me; and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost, are one. And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things. And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. Verily, verily I say unto you, that this is my doctrine; and whoso buildeth upon this, buildeth upon my rock; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock, but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell standeth open to receive such, when the floods come, and the winds beat upon them” [3 Nephi 5:9 RE]

“Gospel” means good news, or topics approved for preaching. “Preaching” means public pronouncements that attract interested persons to be taught more.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is as follows:

“Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you, that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me; and my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, I might draw all men unto me; that as I have been lifted up by men, even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil; and for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father, I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works. And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name, shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father, at that day when I shall stand to judge the world. And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father; and this is the word which he hath given unto the children of men. And for this cause he fulfilleth the words which he hath given, and he lieth not, but fulfilleth all his words; and no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest, save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end. Now this is the commandment; repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day. Verily, verily I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do, that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do, even that shall ye do; therefore if ye do these things, blessed are ye, for ye shall be lifted up at the last day.” [3 Nephi 12:5 RE]

Commandments are directions from God on how we may act so that it may turn to our salvation [D&C 80:2 RE]. Keeping commandments produces good works, which are expressions of our belief in God’s character and attributes.

The essential commandments are contained in the Sermon at Bountiful [see 3 Nephi 5-7:1 RE]. The Sermon on the Mount or at Bountiful is the Law of Christ.

“Good” is defined as keeping God’s commandments and “bad” is defined as not keeping God’s commandments.

“Sin” is defined as not keeping the commandments of God that you know about and understand correctly. “Transgression” is generally defined as not keeping the commandments of God, even when you are ignorant of them, but sometimes means to cross over the limits of the law in general, whether you know the law or not.

Repentance is turning away from sin and ignorance and facing God. God forgives sin when we forsake it and seek forgiveness. Believers in Jesus Christ repent by gaining knowledge of His ways and doing as He did. [D&C 17:8 RE]

Men and women will be punished for their own sins and not for Adam and Eve’s transgression. Little children have no need of repentance, and are incapable of repentance. [WL (AoF) 1:23, Moroni 8 RE]

The wicked are those who refuse to repent, for as long as they rebel. [D&C 27:10 RE]

Any sacrifice to God must be accompanied by a broken heart and a contrite (or willing) spirit [3 Nephi 4:7 RE]. The sacrifice of all earthly things is eventually required of all the faithful in some way or form known by them and God to obtain the faith necessary for life and salvation, and to obtain eternal life [LoF 5].

To hold proper authority to perform outward ordinances, a man must be called of God by prophecy (if they have desires to serve God, they are called to the work [D&C 99:1 RE]), and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority to preach the gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof. True messengers of God will never take wages for their ministerial service. [WL (AoF) 1:26, 2 Nephi 11:10 RE] The constitution of the priesthood, and of all religious discourse, is outlined in D&C 47 RE, D&C 121 LE.

All followers of Christ, men and women, old and young, can be called of God to teach, expound, exhort, and invite all to come unto Christ, and to bless and heal others through the power of faith and by the laying on of hands.

Baptism is an ordinance of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and is only to be administered to those who have understanding, who have arrived at the age of accountability, which is at least eight years old [D&C 73:4 RE, JST Genesis 17:11]. Baptism is required of all who believe in Jesus Christ and repent of their sins. Baptism must be performed by immersion, by one holding proper authority, and when possible, in living water such as a river, lake, or sea. Our Lord gave the following instructions:

“Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name shall ye baptize them. And now behold, these are the words which ye shall say, calling them by name, saying: ‘Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.’ And then shall ye immerse them in the water, and come forth again out of the water.” [3 Nephi 5:8 RE]

The Holy Ghost is the promised gift of the Father to those who have faith in His Son, repent of their sins, and receive baptism. “Therefore it is given to abide in you, the record of heaven, the Comforter, the peaceable things of immortal glory, the truth of all things, that which quickeneth all things which maketh alive all things, that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice and judgment,” [Genesis 4:7 RE]. This connection to God will give you access to truth, which speaks to your mind and heart. There are gifts of the spirit such as the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, etc. [WL (AoF) 1:28]. If you deny the Holy Ghost when it once has had place in you and you know that you deny it, this is a sin which is unpardonable. Whoever murders against the light and knowledge of God, it is not easy for them to obtain a forgiveness. Therefore, when following the way, have a determination to serve Christ to the end of your mortal lives. [Alma 19:1 RE, Hebrews 6:1-6 RE, Mosiah 2:2 RE]

The names of those who are baptized are to be recorded [D&C 51:4-5 RE], and the followers of Christ should join in fellowship when possible:

“And after they had been received unto baptism and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the Church of Christ, and their names were taken that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith. And the church did meet together oft to fast and to pray and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls. And they did meet together oft to partake of bread and wine in remembrance of the Lord Jesus.” [Moroni 6, see also D&C 4:14 RE]

Sacrament is an ordinance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper consists of bread and wine, is the means by which He may fill us with His Spirit, and is offered to all who have been baptized. The bread is broken, and all kneel [3 Nephi 8:4] while the man says the following prayer, exactly as written:

“O God the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son Jesus Christ to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he hath given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.” [Moroni 4]

The man who is officiating also blesses the wine (or an alternative, such as grape juice, which symbolizes the blood of our Lord). He takes the cup [3 Nephi 8:7] and says the following prayer, exactly as written:

“O God the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son Jesus Christ to bless and sanctify this wine to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them, that they may witness unto thee, O God the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.” [Moroni 5]

Giving to the poor is a law of the gospel of Jesus Christ: “And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due. And ye will not suffer your children that they go hungry, or naked; neither will ye suffer that they transgress the laws of God, and fight and quarrel one with another, and serve the devil, who is the master of sin, or who is the evil spirit which hath been spoken of by our fathers, he being an enemy to all righteousness. But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another. And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.” [Mosiah 2:2 RE]

Marriage is an ordinance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Marriage is to be between one man and one woman, as originally established by God between Adam and Eve. The woman and the man are to be equally yoked, working together as one in the Lord to follow Him and to fulfill the duty devolving upon them to teach their children the principles of the gospel. The ceremony for contracting marriage follows the guidance of the Spirit. Marriages sealed by the Lord’s oath in a sacred place will endure beyond death and into the Father’s kingdom. [see the Answer and Covenant]

Receiving the covenant is an ordinance of the gospel of Jesus Christ [see the Answer and Covenant].
Jesus Christ will personally visit you before you die and give you further doctrine and commandments if you draw near to him in this life. This is called “being redeemed from the fall.” [see the Answer and Covenant, Ether 1:12 RE]

Israel will be gathered and the Ten Tribes restored. Zion will be built upon the American continent and Christ will reign personally upon the earth. The earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory. [WL (AoF) 1:31]

The gospel requires its followers to allow everyone (including other professing followers of Christ) to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own conscience, and to worship how, where, and what they may. [WL (AoF) 1:32]

The gospel requires its followers to be honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, to do good to all, to believe all things, to hope all things, to endure many things, to hope to be able to endure all things, and to seek after anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy. This is faith, hope, and charity. [WL (AoF) 1:34, Moroni 7]

It is an eternal principle that the first shall be last and the last shall be first [Mark 8:16 RE]. Also, they that exalt themselves shall be abased, and they that abase themselves shall be exalted [Ez. 9:9 RE]. Therefore, if you have righteous vows and obligations to apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth in your churches, or to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring and sustaining the law in your countries, keep those obligations. So far as you have the opportunity to do so, be free, and govern yourselves as peacemakers and as the children of God. [WL (AoF) 1:33, 1:37, 3 Nephi 5:10 RE]

I was always a little unsettled about paragraph 20 in the last lecture of the Lectures of Repentance, because I didn’t understand it (it goes beyond my experience, connecting with heaven that way). The puzzle pieces fit, and that was what I was given, but clarity was missing on my part with experience lacking. When Denver posted some recent things to Christians, it brought up the verse in Ephesians about “one baptism.” That put laser focus on what I was unsettled about mentioning two baptisms in paragraph 20, I knew it harmonized, but I wasn’t able to put it into words with my own brain. I prayed about it and before laying down to sleep, I got a flash of insight and wrote out two questions and answers for a catechism to Lecture 14, showing how the concept is similar to being “one” with the Father, and Son, yet we’re all separate beings.

Something still seemed missing, and in the morning another thought came and I wrote out 3 more questions and answers that fleshed out the concept more fully with the baptism being the same, but our approach and understanding of it may change at different milestones in our life, fitting more with the Savior’s seeming intentions for mentioning baptism twice with different results in His doctrine. The second edition with this added catechism is being reviewed and will be available on Amazon with today’s publishing date. It’s a good time to reduce the price to just the cost, as sending out the pdf has meant not many sales on Amazon. If you want a hard copy, it will be around $5. All past profits have already been donated to the fellowships to help the needy, and this change means there will be no more profits to monitor, which is one less thing for me to worry about.

All prior posts mentioning the Lectures have had the links updated to the most current edition.

Lectures of Repentance PDF

Lectures of Repentance MOBI

Books can still be purchased at https://www.amazon.com/Lectures-Repentance-Brian-F-Zang/dp/1537298984/ with the price set as low as Amazon will let me (basically at cost) with whatever small proceeds going to the fellowships and charity, if there are any.

As promised, the agreed upon delay with Amazon has passed and download of Lectures of Repentance on pdf and e-reader is now available for free here.

Lectures of Repentance PDF

Lectures of Repentance MOBI

Books can still be purchased at https://www.amazon.com/Lectures-Repentance-Brian-F-Zang/dp/1537298984/ with the price set as low as Amazon will let me (basically at cost) with whatever small proceeds going to the fellowships and charity, if there are any.

Today is the day we’re announcing the publication of the “Lectures of Repentance” as a follow-up to the “Lectures on Faith”, available on Amazon. All profits will go to the fellowships and charities.

 

Lectures of Repentance

 

The publication date on Amazon says Aug 30, because they take a few days to setup the page, but the date printed in the book is Sept 3, 2016.

I asked John Pratt back in April when the Jewish New Year was this year (Rosh Hashanah, or Feast of Trumpets). He mentioned that on his “Perpetual Hebrew Calendar” it falls on today’s date. His calendar accounts for the biblical description of the Jewish calendar a little better, and I thought it would be interesting if I finished the lectures by then. I have been working on them since 2012 in my spare time. I still had about three more lectures to write by then, but they came along smoothly.

If the Feast of Trumpets begins at sundown on Friday, Sept 2 (John, you can correct me on that), and includes Saturday, Sept 3, then Yom Kippur would follow ten days after, using the date of the 2nd as the count of the first day, and would fall on Sunday the 11th, at end of the general conference in Boise. It seems quite fitting to have a series on repentance available during the time when, traditionally, the observant Jew would prepare for ten days for the great Day of Atonement, inspecting their soul for anything amiss and turning to face God on that great day.

We hope you will find the lectures useful! Feel free to spread the word in your circles!

I would post a pdf copy for free here, but although its independent publishing, Amazon does have its rules for certain options, so I will put up the pdf after the 90 day waiting period.

Bear with us for some context before we get to the point of this post…

In our last post, we talked about repentance (as witnessed by confessing and forsaking one’s sins) as an immediate turn towards God that gains forgiveness immediately (if His offer is still on the table; compare Helaman 13:38). There are two important quotes: one from Joseph Smith, and one from Matthew in the Bible, that often confuse people about repentance and show the tension there is between those who think repentance is immediate and those who think forsaking sins as a part of repentance is a long process that requires complete abandonment of the sinful behavior (see here where we explain another meaning of “forsake” that may be more applicable).

First, the Joseph Smith quote:

Repentance is a thing that cannot be trifled with every day. Daily transgression and daily repentance is not that which is pleasing in the sight of God. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.148).

This quote tends to lead people to believe that we ought to “forsake” sins by completely abandoning them, so as not to displease the Lord with repetitive repenting.

Now, the quote from Matthew about an interchange between Peter and the Lord:

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:21-22).

This quote seems to contradict Joseph’s statement, and prove that God is willing to forgive daily transgression and daily repentance, assuming that the Lord would not command Peter to do something He wouldn’t do Himself.

Which statement is right? Do they present an actual contradiction, or something that only seems like a contradiction?

We believe that Joseph Smith’s statement can be seen in a better light with the definition of “forsake” that we gave earlier, that of having a change of heart and hating the sin as opposed to completely abandoning the sinful behavior in question. Once you recognize the sin, and can confess how and why it is wrong, then all that is left is to forsake it in your heart. The example of someone who steals is still a good illustration of this concept: the thief can readily admit that what they are doing is wrong, but as we see in many movies, they may revel in the thrill of it, and love stealing. Of course, if they get caught frequently, and put into jail, they might just as easily begin to hate what they have done. But, if they are sorry only because they got caught (see Mormon 2:13), you can see how as soon as they are released they will probably turn to a life of crime again, and dig up the old ways and make their former sins return (D&C 82:7). The LDS are in the habit of saying that such a person has not truly repented. Maybe that is true enough, because God sees the end from the beginning. But, for sake of argument, let’s assume a more limited definition of repentance and say that the thief in prison who turns to God out of the distress of their circumstances has technically, and for all intents and purposes, repented. Then, it can be seen how Joseph Smith’s comment makes perfect sense. Someone who repents by hating their crimes, only to change their hearts back and start loving the behavior again, then to hate it when they get in trouble, then love doing it when all is well again, is not pleasing in the sight of God. However, if someone hates what they do, are ignorant of how to reform, and make mistakes but do not love it, then they have a chance at redemption much more than the double-minded thief in our example (see James 1:8 and James 4:8).

If you re-read Matthew’s quote more carefully, you’ll notice that neither Peter nor the Lord mentioned whether or not the subject “my brother” did any repenting. The Lord commanded Peter (and by extension those of us in Peter’s situation likewise), to always forgive. There is a reason for this related to Peter’s and our own repentance that we won’t go into here, but suffice it to say, that is the extent of the implications of the quote if you limit your interpretation to what is written in those two verses alone. That is enough to debunk the thought of any contradiction between Matthew’s quote and Joseph Smith’s, because Matthew is talking about instructions for us sinful mortals and how we are to forgive others, while Joseph is talking about the Lord’s willingness and right to forgive, or, in the example he used, about God’s right to be displeased with us under certain specific circumstances.

And that brings us to the real question raised by Joseph Smith, which is, under what conditions will God recognize our repentance, or be displeased with us? Let us propose that with the definition of repentance that we’ve given as the right context for Joseph’s quote, that God is displeased with repetitive repentance where the sinner returns to their sins in their heart, then turns back to God, and then goes back to loving their sins again, and so on in an endless cycle. And for the reverse idea, let us also propose that, as the scriptures say, God is merciful and gracious, and hence very apt to forgive seventy times seven as well for the person who has repented and hates the sin consistently, but who might also continually make the same mistake over and over as they slowly struggle to overcome the sinful behavior. In short, we think that LDS tradition merges the concept of “enduring to the end” into the definition of repentance, when repentance ought to be viewed as a separate, simple, immediate action with no delay or long process. If “enduring to the end” is viewed as a separate concept, all confusion seems to dissipate as the two thoughts take their proper place in the simple framework of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Although this has been a round-about way to get to the point of this post, it is easier to answer the question by proving what “enduring to the end” really is by slicing off the part of the traditional LDS definition of “repentance” that really belongs as the true definition of the former term. “Enduring to the end” is the long process of learning a godly nature and character by overcoming sinful behavior. It takes fortitude like an ox to continue hating the sin so “repentance” for that particular sin doesn’t need to re-occur. Someone can learn of new sins they were ignorant of and repent for those new sins and turn even closer to God, but they ought not to have to decide to hate the sins they already know about over and over again. We can decide to have an everlasting hatred for sin here and now (see Alma 37:32), and be willing to give them up, even if we are unable to actually do so for many years.

With the definition of “enduring to the end” being: that reformation of character that leads one to become like God, then it can be readily seen how attendance at Sacrament meeting or any church meeting is only tangentially related to “enduring to the end”, as opposed to a quote by Bruce R. McConkie that puts church attendance front and center.

McConkie said:

…this is true gospel verity–that everyone in the Church who is on the straight and narrow path, who is striving and struggling and desiring to do what is right, though is far from perfect in this life; if he passes out of this life while he’s on the straight and narrow, he’s going to go on to eternal reward in his Father’s kingdom. We don’t need to get a complex or get a feeling that you have to be perfect to be saved. You don’t. There’s only been one perfect person, and that’s the Lord Jesus, but in order to be saved in the Kingdom of God and in order to pass the test of mortality, what you have to do is get on the straight and narrow path–thus charting a course leading to eternal life–and then, being on that path, pass out of this life in full fellowship. I’m not saying that you don’t have to keep the commandments. I’m saying you don’t have to be perfect to be saved. If you did, no one would be saved. The way it operates is this you get on the path that’s named the “straight and narrow.” You do it by entering the gate of repentance and baptism. The straight and narrow path leads from the gate of repentance and baptism, a very great distance, to a reward that’s called eternal life. If you’re on that path and pressing forward, and you die, you’ll never get off the path. There is no such thing as falling off the straight and narrow path in the life to come, and the reason is that this life is the time that is given to men to prepare for eternity. Now is the time and the day of your salvation, so if you’re working zealously in this life–though you haven’t fully overcome the world and you haven’t done all you hoped you might do–you’re still going to be saved. You don’t have to do what Jacob said, “Go beyond the mark.” You don’t have to live a life that’s truer than true. You don’t have to have an excessive zeal that becomes fanatical and becomes unbalancing. What you have to do is stay in the mainstream of the Church and live as upright and decent people live in the Church–keeping the commandments, paying your tithing, serving in the organizations of the Church, loving the Lord, staying on the straight and narrow path. If you’re on that path when death comes–because this is the time and the day appointed, this the probationary estate–you’ll never fall off from it, and, for all practical purposes, your calling and election is made sure. Now, that isn’t the definition of that term, but the end result will be the same. (McConkie, Bruce R., “The Probationary Test of Mortality, From an Address Delivered at the University of Utah Institute on January 10, 1982, http://www.ldslastdays.com/default.aspx?page=talk_probation.htm#earth).

Judge for yourself whether or not everything McConkie said is true; or, if he was speaking the truth, if his comments still are valid today, or if his comment is valid when meetings have lost their power. Ask yourself, that although the activities he mentions may at times assist in helping someone reform their character, is it fair to assume that those activities are what “enduring to the end” really means? If the answer to that is “no”, and if “enduring to the end” is simply the reformation of character itself, and nothing else, can any worthwhile activity, in and of itself, be assumed to be the only tool for achieving that character reformation? Or, wouldn’t any similar activity be just as good at promoting character growth? Do the LDS have a monopoly on decent church activities and service? Are even the ordinances of the Gospel themselves supposed to be what we are to endure in endlessly repeating, or do they have a goal and purpose for changing the inner man (see Moses 5:4-8)?

Hence, we believe the real heart of “enduring to the end” has nothing to do with Sacrament meetings alone, but goes much deeper to the core of one’s character, and proves that we have an obligation to not waste our time if a meeting becomes boring or vain. It is wholly proper to improve your time reading scriptures during a useless meeting that you may have obligations to attend. Other times, meetings can be uplifting, and as Hyrum Smith reacted to one particularly good meeting, he ran and got his mother to bring her back to see it.

It is obvious McConkie believed very strongly in the ability of the activities he mentioned to produce the desired result of “enduring to the end”, but it only takes another quote of McConkie’s to see where his arrow has missed the mark: “gaining a special, personal relationship with Christ… is both improper and perilous”, and he instead admonished: “the proper course for all of us is to stay in the mainstream of the Church” (Our Relationship with the Lord – BYU Speeches, Bruce R. McConkie, 2 March 1982).

Compare this to Nephi, who said:

Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life. (2 Nephi 31:20).

In scripture, the definition of “the end” is Christ himself, for He is “the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2; see also Moroni 6:4); and as Christ said, “I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end” (3 Nephi 9:18; see also JST Revelation 1:8). For McConkie, it can be argued that the “end” for him was the programs of the LDS Church, and the question remains, what if those programs fail to help someone endure to the end? Is it the person’s fault, or a problem with the program? This also begs the question: what happens to the effectiveness of an ordinance if it gets changed? Who’s fault is it if a person is not led by an ordinance to the proper goal of character reformation and becoming more like God? Is it the fault of the inattentive person? Or, the fault of the one who changed the ordinance, no matter how well-intentioned the change may have been? Hopefully, now, you can answer the question in the title of this post for yourselves.