I've been thinking a lot about the gospel recently. (Obviously.) But this week I've been focusing on it more than usual. This week in our monthly zone meeting, the zone leaders shared a letter sent from a former mission president in Chile to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He argued that missionaries do not truly understand the gospel. We think we understand the first principles of the gospel, because we recite them in our Missionary Purpose: "Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end."
But the truth is, we don't really understand them. I love teaching about faith, but telling an investigator he needs to repent terrifies me. And baptism? How can I expect someone I've just barely met to change their lives enough to be baptized?
This week I began to study and ponder these principles as I have never before in my mission. I began to actually understand this gospel I have learned since birth. I began to gain a deeper understanding of my purpose as a missionary. We are not here just to talk about the Savior. That is great, and everyone needs to understand the role the Savior plays in their lives. But once they gain a testimony of His divinity - what then? Faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement is only worthwhile if it leads to repentance - a mighty change of heart. And repentance is only made effective through baptism for the remission of sins and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. All of these things are worth nothing if we do not persevere in righteousness, continually progressing towards our eternal reward.
As I studied these principles, miracles happened. My companion and I taught with greater power and greater clarity. We visited one couple, who welcomed us into their home but assured us that they had found their church and had no desire to change religion. By the end of the lesson, they promised us that they would set aside the husband's duties as a 'portero' in their congregation and come visit our church.
This gospel has the power to change lives, and it is amazing to watch.