The Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ is the heart and core and center of revealed religion.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie Christ and the Creation

This promised Zion always seems to be a little beyond our reach. We need to understand that as much virtue can be gained in progressing toward Zion as in dwelling there. It is a process as well as a destination. We approach or withdraw from Zion through the manner in which we conduct our daily dealings, how we live within our families, whether we pay an honest tithe and generous fast offering, how we seize opportunities to serve and do so diligently. Many are perfected upon the road to Zion who will never see the city in mortality.

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Elder Robert D. Hales

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July 26, 2016

Cannon, Eyring, General Authorities, General Conference, Humility

Comments Off on Asking God to Write Upon My Heart

Speaking of preparing to attend a church meeting, Elder George Q. Cannon wrote:

I should enter that assembly with my mind entirely free from all influence that would prevent the operation of the Spirit of God upon me. I should go in a prayerful spirit, asking God to write upon my heart His will; not with my own will already prepared, and determined to carry out my will … , regardless of everyone else’s views. If I were to go, and all the rest were to go, with this spirit, then the Spirit of God would be felt in our midst, and that which we would decide upon would be the mind and will of God, because God would reveal it to us. We would see light in the direction where we should go, and we would behold darkness in the direction we should not go.

Elder George Q. Cannon
Deseret Semi-Weekly News, 30 Sept. 1890, 2
Quoted by then-Elder Henry B. Eyring in Write upon My Heart
Ensign, Nov 2000, 85–87

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July 25, 2016

Grace, Mercy, Peacock

Comments Off on The longer I live, the more my soul is filled with a testimony of God’s eternal plan for all His children

The longer I live, the more my soul is filled with a testimony of God’s eternal plan for all His children. My heart and my mind both know of the reality of God, of Jesus Christ, and of their individual love for each person that comes to this earth.

At this later stage of life, I can look back at the happenings of my own existence and see that God’s hand was constantly there in all the important watershed moments, as I made critical decisions about my own life, and as I participated with my husband in the rearing of our family.

At various stages along my journey, I could not tell how the finished painting called life would appear. But I now see how God influenced events to come together in unexpected ways in order for the masterpiece that is mortal life to come to full fruition. I truly marvel at the miraculous manner in which God was able to smooth over and even erase those sometimes messy and unpleasant episodes of my life into a harmonious whole that continues to be full of beauty and promise through the merciful Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Martha Peacock
Testimony, Mormon Scholars Testify
(paragraph breaks added to enhance online readability)

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July 23, 2016

Enabling Power, Forgiveness, Fundamental Principles

Comments Off on Common Misunderstandings About the Atonement

1. Some have a difficult time accepting in their hearts that when the Lord says “all” He means them too. They seem to say to themselves, “I believe that Jesus Christ died for the sins of mankind, but what I have done is so terrible or so repeated that I don’t think the Atonement will work for me.” Some who are faithful members of the Church actually seem to believe that they will never make it back to Heavenly Father’s presence. It is the idea that Christ can save all mankind, but He may not be able to save me. This kind of feeling is terribly discouraging, and it can become an excuse to dabble in sin. “After all,” some rationalize, “I’m not going to make it anyway.”

Others can sense that this idea is false and that Christ can save them, but they are not sure He will. The Book of Mormon prophet Jacob taught, “He cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken to his voice; for behold, he suffereth … the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children” (2 Ne.:21). The question is not whether we are perfect or whether we are worth forgiving, but whether we are willing to admit when we do wrong, feel sorry, confess as appropriate, do all we can to set things right, and ask the Lord to forgive us. This is what the Savior meant when He said we must have “a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (3 Ne. 9:20). I know that the Lord is ready, even anxious, to forgive each of us personally if we will but come to Him (see Mosiah 26:30).

2. Another mistake is to believe that the Atonement really only comes into effect at the very end, that is, at the time of Final Judgment. This line of thinking is “I know I should live the gospel, but I often fall short. I am just hoping that I will do well enough overall that at the end the Lord will apply His generous mercy to me and I will get in to heaven.” While this thinking is not completely false, it is incomplete. It does include the fact that we must sincerely strive to do what is right, and it includes the idea that the Lord can in His mercy take away our sins. Yet who among us can afford to wait until the Final Judgment to receive the Lord’s help and healing? As a favorite hymn teaches:

I need thy presence ev’ry passing hour.
What but thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me! 2

I testify that the Lord hears our prayers and that He will make us clean and bless us with His Spirit here and now, if we will trust in Him and repent. We partake of the sacrament each week to renew our covenants and feel that cleansing power anew. We are exhorted to retain a remission of our sins from day to day (see Mosiah 4:26). When we end each prayer “in the name of Jesus Christ, amen,” we are petitioning the Father that we might enter His presence through the mediation of Jesus Christ, who is pleading our cause before Him (see D&C 45:3–5). Surely our Lord desires to succor us at any time, for in Him “we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities” (Heb. 4:15).

3. A third misunderstanding is a pernicious lie that goes like this: “It doesn’t really matter what I do. The Lord is going to forgive and save everybody. Why not sample in the meantime a bit of what the world has to offer? After all, everyone else is doing it.” The prophet Nephi accurately predicted this way of thinking long ago (see 2 Ne. 28:8).

The Lord, of course, can and wants to forgive everyone, but a full measure of His mercy will only come with complete and deep repentance. If we have not suffered, we have not repented. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said, “Repentance of necessity involves suffering and sorrow. Anyone who thinks otherwise has not read the life of the young Alma, nor tried to personally repent. In the process of repentance we are granted just a taste of the suffering we would endure if we failed to turn away from evil. That pain, though only momentary for the repentant, is the most bitter of cups.” 3

What a terrible thing to believe mistakenly that sin will be happiness and that repentance will be easy, for one of the terrible consequences of sin is the loss of the Spirit. “Wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10), and “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).

It is also folly to assume that we can premeditatedly sin, repent, and then have the Lord immediately remove all the natural consequences of our sins. When we choose to sin, we also choose the results of those sins. Suppose two people conceive a baby outside of marriage, then repent and are forgiven by the Lord. Will the baby suddenly go away? Obviously not; someone must care for that baby. Though the baby will doubtless bring joy to many lives, some of the consequences of our sins may be difficult to bear. Also, these consequences may not be quickly or easily resolved. We may have to wrestle with some of them for much of our mortal lives. This principle does not detract in any way from the complete and infinite cleansing power of the Atonement. When we truly repent, the Lord fully forgives us and our guilt is swept away (see Enos 1:6). But it is important to understand that the Lord has placed us in a physical world where there are real consequences for our choices.

Elder J. Devn Cornish

Learning How the Atonement Can Change You,” Ensign, Apr 2002, 20.  Elder Cornish was an Area Authority Seventy in the North America Southeast Area when this article was published.

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July 22, 2016

General Authorities, General Conference, Perry, Repentance, Sacrament

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[B]ecause of human weakness, we make mistakes even after baptism. The Lord has, therefore, provided a way for us to renew our baptismal covenants through partaking of the sacrament each week. When we partake of the sacred emblems reverently and worthily, we witness again that we will take the name of Christ upon us, that we do always remember Him, that we will keep His commandments. It is a time to remember Christ’s atonement, His love, Gethsemane, Calvary, and the empty tomb.

Elder Melvin J. Ballard suggested, “We want every Latter-day Saint to come to the sacrament table because it is the place for self-investigation, for self-inspection, where we may learn to rectify our course and to make right our own lives, bringing ourselves into harmony with the teachings of the Church and with our brethren and sisters.” (Bryant S. Hinckley, Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin Joseph Ballard, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1949, p. 150.)

Elder L. Tom Perry
“‘And Why Call Ye Me, Lord, Lord, and Do Not the Things Which I Say?’,” Ensign, Nov 1984, 17

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July 21, 2016

Fundamental Principles, McConkie, Resurrection, Salvation

Comments Off on If There Had Been No Atonement

If there had been no atonement of Christ, there would be no resurrection, no breaking of the bands of death, no coming forth from the grave.

If there had been no atonement, there would be no remission of sins; no return to the presence of God; no salvation of any sort, kind, or nature; no eternal life; no exaltation; no continuation of the family unit in eternity.

If there were no atonement of Christ, all men would be subject to “that awful monster the devil, and death, and hell, and that lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment” (2 Nephi 9:19).

If there were no atonement of Christ, “our spirits” would have become “like unto” Lucifer’s, “and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself” (2 Nephi 9:9).

If there were no atonement of Christ, all men would be damned everlastingly, all would be sons of perdition, and the whole purpose of God and his eternal plan of salvation would utterly fail.

All things center in, revolve around, are anchored to, and are built upon the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no language given to men or angels to proclaim these truths with the power and verity and dignity that should attend them. Let it be blazoned in burning fire through all the sidereal heavens that salvation is in Christ and comes because of his atoning sacrifice.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie
The Three Pillars of Eternity, devotional address at Brigham Young University on 17 February 1981

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July 20, 2016

General Authorities, Holy Ghost, Justification, McConkie

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What then is the law of justification? It is simply this: “All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations” (D. & C. 132:7), in which men must abide to be saved and exalted, must be entered into and performed in righteousness so that the Holy Spirit can justify the candidate for salvation in what has been done. (1 Ne. 16:2; Jac. 2:13-14; Alma 41:15; D. & C. 98; 132:1, 62.) An act that is justified by the Spirit is one that is sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, or in other words, ratified and approved by the Holy Ghost. This law of justification is the provision the Lord has placed in the gospel to assure that no unrighteous performance will be binding on earth and in heaven, and that no person will add to his position or glory in the hereafter by gaining an unearned blessing.

As with all other doctrines of salvation, justification is available because of the atoning sacrifice of Christ, but it becomes operative in the life of an individual only on conditions of personal righteousness. As Paul taught, men are not justified by the works of the Mosaic law alone any more than men are saved by those works alone. The grace of God, manifest through the infinite and eternal atonement wrought by his Son, makes justification a living reality for those who seek righteousness. (Isa. 53:11; Mosiah 14:11.)

Elder Bruce R. McConkie

“Justification,” Mormon Doctrine (Bookcraft, 1966)

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July 20, 2016

Faith, General Authorities, General Conference, Scott

Comments Off on We Become What We Want to Be by Consistently Being What We Want to Become Each Day

President Hugh B. Brown said: “Wherever in life great spiritual values await man’s appropriation, only faith can appropriate them. Man cannot live without faith, because in life’s adventure the central problem is character-building—which is not a product of logic, but of faith in ideals and sacrificial devotion to them” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1969, 105). We exercise faith by doing. Joseph Smith said that “faith [is] the principle of action and of power” (Lectures on Faith [1985], 72).

We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day. Righteous character is a precious manifestation of what you are becoming. Righteous character is more valuable than any material object you own, any knowledge you have gained through study, or any goals you have attained no matter how well lauded by mankind. In the next life your righteous character will be evaluated to assess how well you used the privilege of mortality.

Neither Satan nor any other power can destroy or undermine your growing character. Only you could do that through disobedience. A sterling character is converted into worthless ashes when eroded by deceit or transgression.

Strong moral character results from consistent correct choices in the trials and testing of life. Such choices are made with trust in things that are believed and when acted upon are confirmed.

Elder Richard G. Scott
The Transforming Power of Faith and Character
General Conference, Saturday Afternoon Session, 2010

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July 19, 2016

General Authorities, General Conference, Grace, Maxwell

Comments Off on There are no instant Christians, but there are constant Christians

God’s grace is sufficient for each of us. Discouragement is not the absence of adequacy but the absence of courage, and our personal progress should be yet another way we witness to the wonder of it all!

True, there are no instant Christians, but there are constant Christians!

Elder Neal A. Maxwell
Notwithstanding My Weakness,” Ensign, Nov 1976, 12

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July 18, 2016

Caring for the Poor, Charity, Mother Teresa

Comments Off on The Success of Love

The success of love is in the loving – it is not in the result of loving. Of course it is natural in love to want the best for the other person, but whether it turns out that way or not does not determine the value of what we have done.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta

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