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How Does One Achieve Lifelong Conversion to Christ? A Finnish Word Can Help, Elder Renlund Says

The Apostle speaks at the weekly BYU campus devotional

What is the secret to remaining faithful to Jesus Christ throughout one’s life? In a devotional address Tuesday morning at the Marriott Center at Brigham Young University, Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said the key is to “engage with the doctrine of Christ.”

The Apostle stressed that this is “not intended as a one-time event. We are invited to get on and stay on the covenant path, and to participate in the doctrine’s specified elements” over a lifetime.

The requisite determination to do so can be found in the Finnish word “sisu,” he said.

“‘Sisu’ has been described as stoic determination, tenacity of purpose, resilience and hardiness,” said Elder Renlund, whose father is from western Finland. “‘Sisu’ expresses a characteristic that manifests itself in displaying grit, resolve, and courage in the face of extreme adversity or against the odds. Someone with ‘sisu’ decides on a course of action, and then adheres to it — no matter what.”

The doctrine, or gospel, of Christ, the Apostle said, comprises faith in the Savior of the world, positive change, baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost. To grow in faith, disciples of Christ “repeatedly and iteratively” engage with each aspect of this doctrine throughout life — a concept the scriptures call enduring to the end.

“Repeatedly means that we cycle through the elements in the doctrine of Christ throughout our lives. Iteratively means that we change and improve with each cycle,” Elder Renlund said. “Even though we cycle repeatedly, we are not spinning in circles like on a merry-go-round without upward motion. If that were the case, the experience would be dizzying and unproductive. Instead, as we cycle through the elements of the doctrine of Christ, we arrive at a higher plane each time. This ascent provides new vistas and perspectives, brings us closer to the Savior, and we eventually return to the presence of our Heavenly Father as an heir to all He has.”

Elder Renlund encouraged students and faculty to regularly participate in the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, a weekly Sunday rite done in chapels throughout the world. The sacrament, he said, is in essence a repetition of baptism.

“The covenants of baptism are renewed by partaking of the sacrament in remembrance of our Savior and His atoning sacrifice, and the blessings of baptism are also renewed,” Elder Renlund said. “Partaking of the sacrament is the next ordinance everyone needs after being confirmed a member of the Church. The sacrament is the next ordinance needed at the beginning, middle or end of a semester at BYU. The sacrament is the next ordinance needed after triumphantly passing a test or being miserably disappointed with the result. The sacrament is the next ordinance needed after receiving the endowment [a temple ceremony] or being sealed [married] in the temple. The sacrament is the next ordinance needed after making a good choice and the next ordinance needed after making a poor choice. The sacrament is the next ordinance needed every week for the rest of our lives.”

Elder Renlund reminded the audience that “continued righteousness does not preclude the occurrence of adversity. Opposition comes to all.” Thus, the importance of “sisu.”

“As we engage with the doctrine of Christ, we develop spiritual ‘sisu,’ the spiritual resilience that is essential to lifelong conversion,” Elder Renlund said.

His address is available for on-demand streaming at byutv.org. The video and text will be posted to speeches.byu.edu in the coming days.

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