For my family, the Come, Follow Me: For Individuals and Families curriculum prepared by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been a number of things. It has been an answer to prayer, a prodding to do, and a blessing. For a while before Come, Follow Me was announced, I had been wondering how I could better teach my children the gospel. We were not always as diligent with family home evening as we should have been and had sporadic but somewhat consistent scripture reading as a family. As my children have been getting older, I had been pondering how I could better help them strengthen their testimonies of the restored gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ. When President Russell M. Nelson announced this new family gospel study resource, I felt it was exactly what I was looking for. Now after over six months of using it and following the lessons, we have been more consistent in our scripture study and have more gospel discussions as a family. In the past we read the scriptures, now we are starting to study them together, and it has been such a blessing.
Adjusting to Changes in Ancient and Modern Times
As I have pondered and read the Come, Follow Me lesson for August 5-11, 2019, a few thoughts have come to my mind. These beginning chapters of Romans find Paul talking much about grace and works. It is quite apparent by his time spent addressing the issue with the members of the Church in Rome, that they needed correction on this issue. Many of the Jewish Romans who had become Christians, along with many of the Church members in Jerusalem and other places, were having difficulty leaving the law of Moses and following the new gospel of Jesus Christ. The Mosaic law had such influence on their day-to-day living that they found it difficult to change. In many ways, they misunderstood what the Saviour taught about the fulfilment of the law of Moses. Looking back, I have often wondered how they could not see that Christ had fulfilled the Mosaic law. They needed to move on by living the new covenant.
I suppose that as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints we have gone through a similar journey the last couple of years. Since the day President Nelson was set apart as our Prophet, things have been moving and changing. We have consolidated the high priest groups and elders quorums to a combined elders quorum in the wards. We have adjusted the way our youth advance through their classes and quorums, allowing some as young as 11 years old to be ordained in the priesthood as deacons versus the long-held custom of 12 years old. President Nelson has re-emphasized that we use the proper name of the Church of Jesus Christ in our language and speaking and no longer refer to ourselves and “Mormons” or the “Mormon Church.” Most recently, we have adjusted our Sunday schedule to a 2-hour block of meetings, and we have received the home-centered, Church supported resources of Come, Follow Me: For Individuals and Families.
None of these changes have been a change in doctrine or core tenet of our faith, but many of these things are an adjustment to our Church culture. For as long as I can remember: we have had a three-hour schedule of meetings on Sundays; young men were ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood at age 12; and the world has known us as and we called ourselves “Mormons.” Have we adjusted to these changes? In some ways, I think that we are experiencing some of the feelings and thoughts that the early Christians may have had. For most of their lives they had worshiped God in the way they knew and kept the commandments that were given at that time through the law of Moses. I think if they needed time to adjust; we probably do as well.
Keeping on the Covenant Path Yet Relying on the Grace of Christ
In the January 16, 2018 televised address, at which the new First Presidency was announced, President Nelson urged: “Now, to each member of the Church I say, keep on the covenant path” (“As We Go Forward Together,” Ensign, Apr. 2018). On June 3, 2018 at a Worldwide Devotional for Youth, he reiterated this counsel: “My third invitation is for you to do a thorough life assessment with the Lord, and perhaps with your parents and your bishop, to ensure that your feet are firmly planted on the covenant path” (“Keep on the Covenant Path,” New Era, Mar. 2019). In extending these invitations, President Nelson and other General Authorities are referring to the path of covenants that, when made worthily and kept, will lead us to salvation and exaltation.
While following along the covenant path is essential for us, we all need to have sunk deep in our hearts that those covenants alone are not enough. As I have pondered Paul’s teachings to the Romans, I have felt that we also need to better understand and be able to articulate that we indeed are only saved through the grace of Christ our Saviour.
As Paul said: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24). We need to understand that no matter how much we “do,” we are “unprofitable servants” (Mosiah 2:21) who all need the grace of Christ to make up for what we lack. Paul’s teachings correlate precisely with those of Nephi: “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23).
The words of both ancient and modern Prophets inspire me to move forward on the covenant path with my family while still relying on the matchless grace of Christ’s atoning sacrifice. As Paul testified: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Romans 1:16).