Bishop Waddell: Building on a Strong Foundation

Contributed By Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News associate editor

  • PROVO, UTAH

Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, speaks at the 2016 Seminar for New Mission Presidents.

Article Highlights

  • If we build a foundation on Christ we cannot fall.
  • People cannot repent and change without first having faith in Jesus Christ.
  • Understanding the Atonement motivates people to repent.

“A change of behavior is possible without the Atonement of Jesus Christ, but repentance and a change of heart is not possible without the Atonement of Jesus Christ. There is no repentance without the Savior.” —Bishop W. Christopher Waddell of the Presiding Bishopric 

Prior to participating in the 2016 Seminar for New Mission Presidents, Bishop W. Christopher Waddell visited western Ecuador—an area hit on April 16 by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that killed hundreds and injured tens of thousands.

There he examined a building that collapsed. He noticed that the original foundation of the building would have been sufficient to support the structure. However, an addition was added to the building and the foundation was not enhanced. “Because the foundation was not sufficient, the building collapsed,” said Bishop Waddell.

Speaking on June 24 to new mission presidents and their wives gathered in Provo, Utah, Bishop Waddell said the principle of a strong foundation is taught throughout the scriptures.

“If we build on Christ we cannot fall,” he explained.

This principle, he added, applies when teaching repentance.

Bishop Waddell said missionaries cannot teach repentance without first building on a foundation of faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement. Without faith in Christ there is no repentance or change of heart.

“A change of behavior is possible without the Atonement of Jesus Christ, but repentance and a change of heart is not possible without the Atonement of Jesus Christ,” he said. “There is no repentance without the Savior.”

Bishop Waddell invited listeners to consider what it is about faith in Jesus Christ that leads someone to repent. He quoted President Marion G. Romney, formerly of the First Presidency, who said: “True repentance, followed by baptism and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, brings forgiveness. Such repentance is impossible without faith in the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. … It is this repentance, based upon faith in Jesus and ‘hope through the atonement of Christ…’ of which I speak today. … This is the repentance to which Jesus Christ our Lord calls us.’”

As missionaries prepare to teach repentance by building on a foundation of faith in Christ and His Atonement, they are following a divine pattern provided by the Lord, he said.

Drawing from the words of President Romney, the missionary purpose found on page one of Preach My Gospel, and the fourth article of faith, Bishop Waddell said it is through following that divine pattern—faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end—that true repentance is possible.

“This is how we teach repentance,” he said. “We teach and testify of Jesus Christ and of His atoning sacrifice. We help missionaries, we help investigators, we help members to develop faith unto repentance.”

This is the pattern that the Lord has established, he said.

“It is significant that repentance is the second step in that pattern, and the first step is faith in Jesus Christ and in His Atonement. As we then teach our missionaries how to teach repentance, begin by helping them understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ … and how it applies to everyone that they will come in contact with. Understanding the Atonement of Jesus Christ will lead to faith in Jesus Christ that will cause [them] to desire to repent.”

Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, speaks at the 2016 Seminar for New Mission Presidents.

Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, speaks at the 2016 Seminar for New Mission Presidents.

Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, speaks at the 2016 Seminar for New Mission Presidents.

Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, speaks at the 2016 Seminar for New Mission Presidents.