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

Of all the things to which the Holy Ghost testifies, and which you may have just felt, none is more precious to us than that Jesus is the Christ, the living Son of God. And nothing is so likely to make us feel light, hope, and joy. Then it is not surprising that when we feel the influence of the Holy Ghost, we also can feel that our natures are being changed because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We feel an increased desire to keep His commandments, to do good, and to deal justly.

. . . .

One of the effects of receiving a manifestation of the Holy Ghost repeatedly was that your nature changed. And so, from that faithful service to the Master, you had not only the witness of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ but you saw evidence in your own life that the Atonement is real.

. . . .

If you have felt the influence of the Holy Ghost during this day, or even this evening, you may take it as evidence that the Atonement is working in your life. For that reason and many others, you would do well to put yourself in places and in tasks that invite the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Feeling the influence of the Holy Ghost works both ways: the Holy Ghost only dwells in a clean temple, and the reception of the Holy Ghost cleanses us through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. You can pray with faith to know what to do to be cleansed and thus qualified for the companionship of the Holy Ghost and the service of the Lord. And with that companionship you will be strengthened against temptation and empowered to detect deception.

Elder Henry B. Eyring

Gifts of the Spirit for Hard Times,” a fireside address, given at Brigham Young University on 10 September 2006

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September 18, 2014

England, Forgiveness, Mercy

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Christ’s sacrificial love was not conditional upon our qualities, our repentance, anything: he expressed his love to us while we were yet in our sins – not completing the process of forgiveness, which depends upon our response, but initiating it in a free act of mercy. This is a kind of love quite independent from the notion of justice.

Eugene England
“That They Might Not Suffer: The Gift of Atonement,” Dialogue 1:3 (Autumn 1966): 141.

When the prodigal boy, in that parable which most perfectly tells the story of the sinning and repentant life, “came to himself,” his first words were, “I will arise and go to my father” (Luke 15:18). While he is yet afar off the waiting father sees him coming and is moved with compassion.

Repentance is but the homesickness of the soul, and the uninterrupted and watchful care of the parent is the fairest earthly type of the unfailing forgiveness of God. The family is, to the mind of Jesus, the nearest of human analogies to that divine order which it was his mission to reveal.

Elder Howard W. Hunter
Conference Report, 3 April 1960, pp. 124-26; “As He Thinketh.”
Church of the Air Address, CBS Radio, 3 April 1960.
(Paragraph break added to enhance online readability.)

 

September 16, 2014

Perfection, Wesley

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A note about the inclusion of quotes from a few non-LDS writers in a blog devoted to the Atonement as expressed in the restored Gospel, including in scriptures and by prophets and apostles in former days and latter days:

C.S. Lewis was sometimes called “The Thirteenth Apostle,” because he had so many deep insights into the Gospel of Jesus Christ without benefit of having much, if any, exposure to the restored Gospel.

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, died prior to The First Vision and discovered much divine truth in the absence of the restoration of complete and perfect truth.  In considering Wesley’s writings, Latter-day Saints will remember that he was among the 100 great men who appeared to Wilford Woodruff and for whom President Woodruff was baptized in the St. George Temple.  Wesley was one of the few in this group to be ordained a High Priest.

Wesley was amazingly prolific in speaking and writing.  While some of Wesley’s expressed beliefs were clearly not correct and reflected errors common to Protestant teachings of his day,  I believe the following excerpt from one of his sermons is well-expressed and in keeping with LDS doctrine on the necessity of an Atonement and both our total dependence upon the Savior and the importance of our obedience to His commandments:

4. What is then the perfection of which man is capable while he dwells in a corruptible body? It is the complying with that kind command, “My son, give me thy heart.” It is the “loving the Lord his God with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his mind.” This is the sum of Christian perfection: It is all comprised in that one word, Love. The first branch of it is the love of God: And as he that loves God loves his brother also, it is inseparably connected with the second: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself:” Thou shalt love every man as thy own soul, as Christ loved us. “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets:” These contain the whole of Christian perfection.

John Wesley

On Perfection, Sermon 76,  (text from the 1872 edition – Thomas Jackson, editor)

To consecrate is to set apart or dedicate something as sacred, devoted to holy purposes. True success in this life comes in consecrating our lives—that is, our time and choices—to God’s purposes (see John 17:1, 4; D&C 19:19). In so doing, we permit Him to raise us to our highest destiny.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson
Reflections on a Consecrated Life

Not understanding who Jesus really is by title and role inevitably sets up a lack of gratitude for His astonishing atonement. If we do not regard Him highly enough to pay heed to His words about who He is, we will pay less heed to what He says and requires of us. The resulting diminution of regard and comprehension will result in little faith. What “think [we] of Christ” inevitably determines His operative relevancy for our lives.

Contrariwise, a positive and interactive multiplier effect flows from having faith in Christ as the anointed Messiah, the King and Deliverer. This facet of faith complements faith in His Father, who chose and anointed Jesus as the Redeemer of mankind; and this in turn begets faith in the Father’s plan of salvation.

Therefore, defining Jesus, as some do, as a great moral teacher-and He was clearly the greatest-just won’t suffice. Without full faith in Jesus as mankind’s rescuing Messiah, we also will lack faith in His capacity to rescue us individually and to help us daily. Besides, how can one consistently regard Jesus as a great moral teacher, and therefore truthful and honorable, if one does not accept Jesus’ statements about His true identity?

As it was anciently, so it is in our skeptical day. The “great question” remains-“Is there really a redeeming Christ?” (See Alma 34:5.)

There is!

Elder Neal A. Maxwell

Lord Increase Our Faith (Bookcraft, 1994)

September 13, 2014

Adversity, Hymns, Wesley

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Sometimes, our lives are easy and sometimes they are difficult.  For those times when life feels like a big battle, I appreciate the old words of Charles Wesley, included in one of my favorite hymns.  Even more importantly when I’m in a battle, trying to do what is right, feeling like I’m losing, I’m happy the Savior is on my side.

Oh, that each in the day of His coming may say,
“I have fought my way thru;
I have finished the work thou didst give me to do.”
Oh, that each from his Lord may receive the glad word:
“Well and faithfully done;
Enter into my joy and sit down on my throne;
Enter into my joy and sit down on my throne.”

Come Let Us Anew
Hymn 217
Text by Charles Wesley

September 12, 2014

C.S. Lewis, Immortality

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There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations–these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit–immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.

This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of the kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously–no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinners–no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment.

Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat, the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.

C.S. Lewis
The Weight of Glory

September 11, 2014

Dew, Enabling Power, Integrity

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I have no question that we are here now, that we were sent now, because we have everything it takes to deal with the world now. We were put through our paces premortally. That we are here now speaks to how well we did. We have it in us not only to withstand the pressures of the last days but to triumph over them.

Now, that doesn’t mean we are living up to who we are. Typically we are in need of making some degree of course corrections. To help with this, I invite you to undergo the spring cleaning to end all spring cleanings by enrolling in Integrity 101. Let me outline the coursework. First, take an inventory of your integrity by asking yourself the kind of questions I listed earlier. Look for cracks that may have started to form. Be honest with yourself about your past dishonesties. Second, for the next thirty days take time every night to assess how you did that day. Were you true to yourself and to others? Were you true to God in every situation? See if this increased effort makes a difference in what you say, how you spend your time and money, the decisions you make, and what you repent of. See if it also makes a difference in how you feel about yourself and your life.

Finally, as you become more fully aware of your strengths and weaknesses, turn to the Savior more frequently and with increasing fervor. Thank our Father for the gift of His Son and the privilege of repenting. Express your deep desire to live with integrity. And then plead for help. The Savior has the power to help you change. He has the power to help you turn weakness into strength. He has the power to make you better than you have ever been.

I know that this is true, for I have felt His redeeming and enabling power again and again and again. May we come to be more true than we have ever been before-true to ourselves, true to others, and, most important, true to God, with whom we have made sacred covenants. May we be like the sons of Helaman-who were strict to remember God day in and day out, and who were true at all times to whatsoever thing with which they had been entrusted. May we be true blue, through and through.

Sheri L. Dew
No Doubt About It
Deseret Book (2001)

 

For some years, brothers and sisters, there has been an increasing and profound sense of existential despair in the world. This mortal hopelessness both reflects and affects much of mankind. Whether tribal or national, wars constitute “the continued experience of twentieth-century man” (Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory, London: Oxford University Press, 1975, p. 74). A grumpy cynicism pervades politics in so many places on this planet. Holocausts, famine, pestilence, and tides of refugees have taken a terrible toll on human hope, with much of that toll coming from man-made, avoidable disasters. Causality can be assigned to one or another form of iniquity. No wonder, as the scriptures say, despair comes of iniquity! (See Moroni 10:22)

Of course, many disagree over what constitutes sin, but surely they do not welcome the deepening of human despair! Some moderns do not lament the loss of traditional faith either, but surely they lament the further loss of hope and charity, ever in such short supply anyway.

Does hope really matter, or is it merely an antique virtue?

. . . .

Only the acceptance of the revelations of God can bring both direction and correction and, in turn, bring a “brightness of hope” (2 Ne. 31:20). Real hope does not automatically “spring eternal” unless it is connected with eternal things!

“What is it that ye shall hope for?” Moroni wrote. “Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ” (Moro. 7:41; see also Alma 27:28). From this triumphal act, resulting in the eventual resurrection of all mankind, so many lesser hopes derive their significance!

Prophets have always had and taught ultimate hope in Christ. Jacob wrote, “We knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and … also all the holy prophets which were before us” (Jacob 4:4).

You and I can be repeatedly reassured concerning this grand hope by the Comforter, who teaches us the truth about “things as they really are, and … really will be” (Jacob 4:13; see also Moro. 8:26). Such hope constitutes the “anchor of the soul” (Heb. 6:19). Such hope is retained through faith in Christ (see Alma 25:16; Ether 12:9). In contrast, a resurrection-less view of life produces only proximate hope (see 1 Cor. 15:19).

Having ultimate hope does not mean we will always be rescued from proximate problems, but we will be rescued from everlasting death! Meanwhile, ultimate hope makes it possible to say the same three words used centuries ago by three valiant men. They knew God could rescue them from the fiery furnace, if He chose. “But if not,” they said, nevertheless, they would still serve Him! (Dan. 3:18.)

Unsurprisingly the triad of faith, hope, and charity, which brings us to Christ, has strong and converging linkage: faith is in the Lord Jesus Christ, hope is in His atonement, and charity is the “pure love of Christ”! (See Ether 12:28; Moro. 7:47.) Each of these attributes qualifies us for the celestial kingdom (see Moro. 10:20–21; Ether 12:34). Each, first of all, requires us to be meek and lowly (see Moro. 7:39, 43).

Faith and hope are constantly interactive, and may not always be precisely distinguished or sequenced. Though not perfect knowledge either, hope’s enlivened expectations are “with surety” true (Ether 12:4; see also Rom. 8:24; Heb. 11:1; Alma 32:21). In the geometry of restored theology, hope has a greater circumference than faith. If faith increases, the perimeter of hope stretches correspondingly.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell,

“‘Brightness of Hope’,” Ensign, Nov 1994, 34