“Have Ye Experienced This Mighty Change in Your Hearts?”

by Scott Hansen

The Rising Son, Modern Grace Gallery

The word “heart” is used in multiple different ways throughout the scriptures. It can refer to a location for receiving revelation, the center of a people’s values, or a person’s spiritual core. In this week’s Come, Follow Me lesson, it represents a tool for deep reflection. Alma the Younger’s sermon to the people of Zarahemla is centered on a long list of soul-searching rhetorical questions. While reminding them of the mercy shown to their forefathers, Alma asked, “Have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?” (Alma 5:14). Profound questions like these challenge us to provide our own profound answers in turn. What do you think it means to allow the gospel of Jesus Christ to change our hearts?

To answer this question, we first need to understand how Jesus Christ can change our hearts. In a physical aspect, during a pregnancy, an unborn child depends on a connection to the mother’s bloodstream as an oxygen source. But when a baby is born, something magical happens: as they take their first breath, their lungs create a chain reaction causing their heart to physically change. Jesus Christ is quite literally “the breath of life” (see Moses 3:19).

Spiritually, the atoning power of Jesus Christ is meant to be used as a tool for changing our hearts. The book of Ezekiel explains this well, saying, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you” (Ezekiel 36:26).

While Christ has already paid the price to be able to change our hearts, there are still some things we must consciously choose to do. In the October 2022 general conference, Elder Paul V. Johnson shared a story about his grandson Aaron receiving a heart transplant:

“Although Aaron could not heal himself, in order for the transplant to work he needed to be willing to do what the doctors asked—even very difficult, challenging things. Although we can’t save ourselves, when we submit to the Lord’s will and keep our covenants, the way is open for our redemption.”

In order to fully experience a change of heart through Jesus Christ, we must be willing to fully accept His grace. Alma the Younger taught the people that while it was imperative that they kept the commandments, they would never be in a position to save themselves.

This is a nuance Wilford Woodruff seemed to understand. On his forty-seventh birthday, he wrote the following in his journal: “I pray that I may have grace according to my day. I pray that the spirit of God may abide with me and keep my footsteps in the paths of virtue, integrity, and Holiness all the days of my life.”

Because Wilford Woodruff embraced the gospel wholeheartedly, he was able to live with peace, confidence, and a bright hope for the future. He understood that the key to finding joy in life is to let the atoning power of Christ’s grace change your heart.

What changes are you going to allow Christ to make in your heart?

Scott Hansen is an intern for the Wilford Woodruff Papers Project. Busy completing his second semester at BYU, Scott enjoys reading the first-hand accounts of early Church leaders. His work on the Project has strengthened his testimony of the Restoration and has helped bring early Church figures to life for him.


  1. Paul V. Johnson, “Be Perfected in Him,” October 2022 general conference, ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
  2. Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, March 1, 1854, p. 17, The Wilford Woodruff Papers,