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"Repentance is the rescue, not the punishment," teaches BYU-Idaho devotional speaker

Jason Williams and Chandler Guadagnin_Wide.png

REXBURG — The BYU-Idaho devotional speaker on Sept. 26, 2023, taught students about the importance of repentance and how The Book of Mormon is all about repentance.

Jason Williams is the dean of the College of Language and Letters at the university.

In his devotional address titled, “Thy Sins are Forgiven Thee”: What the Book of Mormon Teaches about Repentance,” Williams taught that one of the main reasons that we even have The Book of Mormon is because a young farm boy sought forgiveness.

“I think it is significant that one of the reasons we have the Book of Mormon at all is because a teenager wanted to know if repentance was for him,” said Williams.

It was because of that question, and the events that followed, that the world was blessed with The Book of Mormon and the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Lord continues to answer our prayers, Williams taught. To illustrate this point, Williams shared that when he was called as the bishop of his ward, he was overwhelmed with all that the calling entailed, but that with added strength from the Lord, he has been able to serve to the best of his ability.

In an interview with BYU-Idaho Radio, Williams shared how the grace of Heavenly Father has played a role in his life over the last year as a bishop.

“Our ward had gone on a ward trek involving all the youth, and it was a weeklong trip,” Williams recalled. “I remember, one evening, watching all these youth that actually didn’t know very well because I had been serving in a campus bishopric and before that on the high council, so I didn’t know these youth very well. … I remember looking around and just feeling a sense of love for them. So, I think one of the main ways that I have felt grace in my calling — and I think this can apply to all of us, in all of our callings — is a feeling of love for those we serve. I think that’s a gift from Heavenly Father and a necessary one.”

Williams mentioned the conversions of Alma the Younger and Zeezrom and how they both described their feelings of guilt and shame as being “harrowed up.” He taught that there is an important distinction to be made in this passage.

“Interestingly, both Alma and Zeezrom identify the sin—not repentance—as the source of that painful harrowing,” said Williams.

As he concluded his talk, Williams focused on the fact that repentance is a process and not an event.

“The Book of Mormon teaches that it’s okay to progress slowly,” said Williams. “Do you feel you have done something so terrible that the Lord will never forgive you? The Book of Mormon teaches that you haven’t and he will.”