I am liberated in the Gospel of Christ

Today, the Indianapolis West Stake received a new stake president. It is also the 200th anniversary of the statehood of Indiana, so the new stake president will lead us into the next century.

I was fortunate to know the previous stake president well, having served with him for about 6 years on the high council. I am amazed at the love and devotion this man (and his wife) have given to the stake over the past 9 years.

Recently, I rediscovered some old friends from the late 1980s while looking on Facebook. Over the years, she and her daughters became disaffected from the Church, and eventually left it. She told me that she felt “liberated” at leaving the Church.  For her, the Church had become too restrictive. I think she was tired from trying to earn her way into heaven, and so chose an easier path.

Sadly, many do not understand the gospel of Christ. We do not earn our way into heaven. We cannot earn our way into heaven. Unfortunately, previous statements from old LDS books suggest that grace doesn’t go much beyond resurrection, and obedience is the first law of heaven.  Happily, the recent teachings from the Brethren focus on grace, atonement, and the peace the gospel brings.

I know when I am properly focused on these things, the gospel is liberating for me. Not as the world offers freedom, but as God offers it. Not the peace the world offers, but the peace Christ gives.

I cannot explain to others the joy and peace I’ve felt serving in the temple.  To ponder upon the promises made in the initiatory, endowment and sealings.  There is great power and hope in those words.

And the things I’ve learned from my stake president over the past years are priceless. I have not found anything on earth that can match the wonders. Yes, being a Mormon can be challenging. It requires time and effort. It requires all of one’s heart and soul. But the spiritual rewards just cannot be compared.  All other things pale.  Fun times are passing, but the spiritual experiences I’ve had carry me through all the difficult times, with hope that I will be together with my loved ones in the Celestial Kingdom.

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About rameumptom

Gerald (Rameumptom) Smith is a student of the gospel. Joining the Church of Jesus Christ when he was 16, he served a mission in Santa Cruz Bolivia (1978=1980). He is married to Ramona, has 3 stepchildren and 7 grandchildren. Retired Air Force (Aim High!). He has been on the Internet since 1986 when only colleges and military were online. Gerald has defended the gospel since the 1980s, and was on the first Latter-Day Saint email lists, including the late Bill Hamblin's Morm-Ant. Gerald has worked with FairMormon, More Good Foundation, LDS.Net and other pro-LDS online groups. He has blogged on the scriptures for over a decade at his site: Joel's Monastery (joelsmonastery.blogspot.com). He has the following degrees: AAS Computer Management, BS Resource Mgmt, MA Teaching/History. Gerald was the leader for the Tuskegee Alabama group, prior to it becoming a branch. He opened the door for missionary work to African Americans in Montgomery Alabama in the 1980s. He's served in two bishoprics, stake clerk, high council, HP group leader and several other callings over the years. While on his mission, he served as a counselor in a branch Relief Society presidency.

17 thoughts on “I am liberated in the Gospel of Christ

  1. Thanks for the message. But rather than judge previous works for being inadequate, it’s far better and a sign of humility to judge your understanding of it as being inadequate and that now you understand what they were trying to convey. Clearly, since they aren’t here to elaborate and they are the Lord’s servants that’s the only humble and sustaining way to approach the issue.

    Everything I know of grace comes either from prior authorities and from God directly (the source is the same, as prior authorities gained their knowledge pretty much the same way).

    So why do some feel the need to proclaim something “new” (even if it’s new nuance) and throw the old under the bus. I can’t read fashionable ‘boogeyman’ McConkie, for instance, and not read from him it is grace that not only makes the resurrection possible but also enables the transformation from sinner to saint. From grace to grace, line upon line. Naturally obedience plays a part there as our agency is always what’s being proven.

    The prior authorities aren’t defective — but the understanding of many who misjudged their teachings are.

    To get a better picture of what I’m saying, the author needs only consider that there are certainly dozens of people who heard his stake president talk and completely missed the mark of both his word and intent and subsequently misjudged his teaching. Why do so many in the church do this with their own authorities in order to feel like “progress” is being made?

    I agree with all the other sentiment in this post though!

  2. I think the general authorities of the Church focus on what each generation needs. I certainly don’t understand why some in the past phrased things the way they did (or, for that matter, why some of the current ones phrase things the way they do); but as near as I can tell, all taught we needed the blessings of the atonement. I think the only way to ultimately receive those blessings is to live in accordance with God’s will for us. For most of us I think that means being obedient to the revealed Gospel requirements – to the best of our ability, according to our understanding.
    I think serving on the high council was one of my favorite callings, for exactly the types of reasons mentioned in the OP – the opportunity to associate with, and be taught by, very spiritually strong men.

  3. The prophets and apostles are all men of God, chosen to be his witness. That said, to say previous apostolic statements are correct, if nuanced, denies continuing revelation and increased truth. JFS and BRM, among others taught wrong things about the priesthood curse, for example.
    And they focused so little on grace that my Institute instructor40 years ago taught we must earn our own exaltation, quoting them.
    This is very different from Pres Uchtdorf and Elder Holland’s teachings on grace. That isn’t nuance, that is continuing revelation.

  4. My wife and I had a similar experience to that of the LDS woman who left the Church. Our daughter and her four children all left the Church for various, inexplicable reasons. We were so devastated and discouraged at their decision, we hardly knew how to respond. In a letter, I tried to explain to her that she was throwing away not only eternal blessings but a whole culture of life. She did not respond. Any suggestions?

  5. I’m glad you had the positive experience of working with a good stake president, and thanks for your service in the temple.

  6. I love a parable that circulates in the broader Christian world.

    It tells of those who have a cross to bear. When they feel the weight is too great, some will cut off some piece of the cross. Some may entirely cast away their cross.

    Then the individuals reach a chasm. Only then do they realize that the only way to make it across the frightening expanse is to use the cross they have borne to bridge the distance. Those who have eroded their cross or have tossed it aside are unable to make the passage.

    This weekend my husband read to me from the cute little books labeled “Don’ts for Mothers,” “Don’ts for Wives,” and “Don’ts for Husbands.” Hilarious. And many of the pieces of advice are still valid.

    Regarding religion, it was suggested to avoid the topic if it is a matter of contention. That doesn’t necessarily mean that one cannot talk about religion. It is just that the discussion can’t coerce the other person to yield. Ultimately, such coercive discussion isn’t particularly righteous or productive in any case.

    It is worth noting that coercion is not just something the “righteous” do. Those who are militantly fleeing religion can be as coercive, if not more so.

    In any case, there is a way to discuss religion and beliefs with love and humor.

    For example, the other day I was discussing God and final judgement with a colleague at work who doesn’t believe there is a God. I pointed out that if we believers are wrong, then we will cease to exist at death and will never know we were wrong. On the other hand, if we are right, then we are right.

    When my colleague expressed concern about a possible afterlife, given that she doesn’t believe, I assured her that the God of the believers loves all mankind, including those who happened not to believe. We are all God’s children. And God has prepared a way to bless and save even those who don’t believe in this life.

    [At least, if the God Mormons believe in is God.]

    @Paul Wilson, I’m sure your daughter and her children left the Church for explicable reasons. But God’s love is greater than any mortal reasoning. And as many here can attest, it is always possible to return.

  7. “In a letter, I tried to explain to her that she was throwing away not only eternal blessings but a whole culture of life.”

    I am so sorry. In my experience, as someone who became disaffected and left the church, that was the wrong thing to say, and likely made things worse.

    Your accusation that she was throwing away eternal blessings was judgemental. And, since the game is not over in this life, your accusation is likely wrong, to boot. That’s just not your call to make.

    “She did not respond. Any suggestions?”

    Yes: Apologize for being judgemental, and admit it was a terribly wrong thing to say.

    I’m not sure what meaning or nuance you put in the phrase “culture of life”, but Mormon “culture” is offensive to some/many people, making it important to realize the difference between Mormon culture, and the gospel.

    I used to feel guilty for hating Mo-Tab music (with some rare exceptions) until I learned that my former bishop hated it too.

    As I’ve interacted with Utah Mormons via blogs, I’ve come to learn that “church culture” is noticably different between Utah and everywhere else. And I’m still learning how to better interact in person with people who apparently conflate church culture with the gospel.

    Even with a testimony, it can be very difficult to overcome the trials that come to us by associating with other imperfect church members.

    In the history of the modern church, there have been plenty of saints who had a testimony, or sure knowledge, that the church was true, but still fell by the wayside when they couldn’t handle the trials, offenses, etc. Most of the 11 witnesses, Sidney Rigdon, Thomas B Marsh, etc.

    There is a tendency, and I’ve noted it in myself, to think that if the church is “true” then it also has to be “perfect”. Then when we see imperfections or failures, it is so easy to get “shaken-faith syndrome”, and lose faith, … or, even if the person maintains a belief in the truthfulness, they can start to think they aren’t good enough for God because they can’t handle, or don’t know how to handle, the imperfect culture, programs, policies, or people.

  8. Paul,

    Preaching of gloom and doom will not bring them back.

    In the MTC in 1978, I heard Elder Thomas S London tell a story about a young missionary he once spoke with, who was concerned about his nonmember father. Elder Jonson told him to serve diligently and faithfully write weekly to his Dad, sharing positive spiritual experiences and his deep love for his parents. His father was baptized near the end of his mission.

    If you do not preach to them, but just love and accept them, you will soon have opportunities to share spiritual experiences, such as:

    I was reading the scriptures on God’s infinite love for us, and I thought this about it…

    I had a great time in the temple…

    Just make these short, positive observations that are not prolonged to annoy them.

    With time, God will soften their hearts, even if it happens in the Spirit World.

    Have faith and hope that God’s love and patience are greater than your children’s wanderings and struggles. He will reclaim and redeem them.

  9. I certainly did not and would not have preached doom and gloom to her, and my letter to her was not judgemental. She herself used the terms and recognized that she really was rejecting what she had learned over years of Church teachings. She was a great teacher in Church and an expert genealogist. There is a “Church culture” and it

  10. Paul, you can get an older edition of Michael Ash’s “Shaken Faith Syndrome” on Amazon for a penny plus 3.99 shipping.

  11. Ram, I couldn’t find the announcement online. Are you at liberty to divulge the names of the new SP and counselors?

    And do you know if there will be a new stake created this coming Sunday? Or is it just ward and stake boundary reorganization?

  12. Given that I have no actual knowledge of the pending central Indiana reorganization of wards and stakes, other than the vague implications of the recent letter announcing the “assigned meeting” on sun Dec 18th, I shall engage in the time-honored Bloggernacle tradition of speculation.

    Given that the church has been engaged in reducing the number of wards per stake…. My guess is that a new stake will be formed, likely in Carmel/Hamilton County (north of Indy), and the surrounding existing stakes, Indy North, Indy West, Lafayette, Muncie, and Indy Stake, will have boundary adjustments to maintain a new desired (lower) number of wards/stake.

    And given that some wards have grown faster than others, I expect ward boundaries to be adjusted, as well as entire wards moving from one stake to another.

    The Indy temple has been open a little over a year. I believe the presence of a temple brings a greater outpouring of the Spirit, which has both direct and indirect influences on missionary work, and church growth via new converts.

    The temple might then be considered the “knee of the curve” of local church growth. Smaller stakes (ie, fewer wards per stake) is then not only done for easier administration, but in preparation for creating new wards.

    It’s excitng.

  13. No new stake creation in Indy.

    Congrats on the new ward in West stake.

    Noblesville ward was transferred from Muncie stake to Indy North stake jurisdiction.

    Cumberland ward was disbanded, and the territory split up and moved to Indy 2nd ward, New Castle branch (don’t know what stake that is in) , Indy 3rd ward (which is in Indy Stake), and Beech Grove Ward.

    Part of Beech Grove ward, and maybe part of Crossroads ward, was also moved to Indy 3rd.

    “Keystone Ward” was created out of the western part of 2nd ward and parts of Carmel, and maybe Westfield wards.

    Zionsville Branch became a ward.

    And -all- wards had boundary alignments. Some new boundaries were put on school boundary lines.

    We had a net gain of one unit, because of Noblesvill Ward. Creation of Keystone Ward, and dissolving Cumberland, was a wash.

    I’m in a new ward, and my new chapel is the same distance from me as the old one. And there are still two other chapels which are closer.

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