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

The sustaining and enabling power of the Atonement is much needed when we are being instructed with the sometimes difficult experiences that come to all from time to time.

From Elder Neal A. Maxwell:

“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.” (Heb. 12:5–8.)

One’s life, therefore, cannot be both faith-filled and stress-free. President Wilford Woodruff counseled us all about the mercy that is inherent in some adversity: “The chastisements we have had from time to time have been for our good, and are essential to learn wisdom, and carry us through a school of experience we never could have passed through without.” (In Journal of Discourses, 2:198.)

Therefore, how can you and I really expect to glide naively through life, as if to say, “Lord, give me experience, but not grief, not sorrow, not pain, not opposition, not betrayal, and certainly not to be forsaken. Keep from me, Lord, all those experiences which made Thee what Thou art! Then let me come and dwell with Thee and fully share Thy joy!”

. . . .

. . . do we naively expect Christ to come to us—instead of our going to Him? Truly He waits “all the day long” with open arms to receive the repentant. (2 Ne. 28:32; Morm. 6:17.) There are no restrictive “office hours.” But it is we who must arise and go to Him! (See Luke 15:18.)

. . . .

. . . in process of time, our personal inconsistencies may be made inconveniently clear. How else shall we see what we lack? Spiritual refinement is not only to make the gross more pure but to further refine the already fine! Hence, said Peter, we should not think a “fiery trial” to be “some strange thing.” (1 Pet. 4:12.)

Real faith, however, is required to endure this necessary but painful developmental process. As things unfold, sometimes in full view, let us be merciful with each other. We certainly do not criticize hospital patients amid intensive care for looking pale and preoccupied. Why then those recovering from surgery on their souls? No need for us to stare; those stitches will finally come out. And in this hospital, too, it is important for everyone to remember that the hospital chart is not the patient. Extending our mercy to someone need not wait upon our full understanding of their challenges! Empathy may not be appreciated or reciprocated, but empathy is never wasted.

When you and I make unwise decisions, if we have frail faith, we not only demand to be rescued but we want to be rescued privately, painlessly, quickly—or at least to be beaten only “with a few stripes.” (2 Ne. 28:8.) Brothers and sisters, how can we really feel forgiven until we first feel responsible? How can we learn from our own experiences unless these lessons are owned up to?

Elder Neal A. Maxwell

“‘Lest Ye Be Wearied and Faint in Your Minds’,” Ensign, May 1991, 88

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Of all the people in Christendom, we Latter-day Saints are the only ones in a position to reap the full blessings of the spirit of Christ in our lives, to know what actually is involved in his ministry, to partake in full measure of that spirit which goes with this season of the year. We have everything that the world has; we have the historical accounts of his coming onto the earth; we are aware of the traditions that have been woven around his birth, many of which have little substance in reality and fact. But the thing with which we are particularly blessed is the knowledge, gained by latter-day revelation, of his Divine Sonship. We know the doctrine of the Divine Sonship of our Lord, and it is this doctrine which I shall consider with you.

. . . .

When we think of him, we think of the most noble and exalted being there is. Then we read this question, “Knowest thou the condescension of God?” and discover that somehow it is associated with his love for us, his children, his spirit children who are now dwelling as mortals here on earth. We discover in our text that he shall be the Father of a Son born “after the manner of the flesh”; that is, he condescends, in his infinite wisdom, to be the Father of a holy being who shall be born into mortality. He determines to fulfill what he decreed and announced in the plan of salvation in the premortal life when, having explained the plan, he asked for a redeemer and a savior and said, “Whom shall I send to be my Son?” Thus the condescension of God is that he is the Father literally of a Son born in mortality, in the language here, a Son born “after the manner of the flesh.”

. . . .

Now we have a second matter relative to Deity’s condescension. This time it is the fact that Christ elected, chose, and volunteered to come into the world and be born as God’s Son, undergo the mortal probation and ministry assigned him, and then climax it with the working out of the infinite and eternal atoning sacrifice.

So when we think of Christ’s condescension in this matter, we must think of the glory and dominion and exaltation that he possessed. We read in the revelations that he was “like unto God” (Abr. 3:24). We read the language of the Father where he says, “worlds without number have I created; … and by the Son I created them, which is mine only Begotten” (see Moses 1:33). We discover that Christ was like the Father; that he was co-creator, that he had the might and power and dominion and omnipotence of the Father and that he acted under his direction in the regulating and the creating of the universe.

. . . .

Now the greatest and most important single thing there is in all eternity—the thing that transcends all others since the time of the creation of man and of the worlds—is the fact of the atoning sacrifice of Christ the Lord. He came into the world to live and to die—to live the perfect life and be the pattern, the similitude, the prototype for all men, and to crown his ministry in death, in the working out of the infinite and eternal atoning sacrifice. And by virtue of this atonement, all things pertaining to life and immortality, to existence, to glory and salvation, to honor and rewards hereafter, all things are given full force and efficacy and virtue. The Atonement is the central thing in the whole gospel system. The Prophet said that all other things pertaining to our religion are only appendages to it.

. . . .

And so here we have a doctrine of the Divine Sonship. We have one man out of all eternity—one man among the infinite hosts of the spirit children of God our Father—who is born into the world, inheriting from an immortal exalted Father the power of immortality and inheriting, on the other hand, from a mortal woman—the best and most gracious and most noble mortal woman without question—inheriting from her the power of mortality. Now the power of immortality is the power to live. It is the power to elect to continue to live. The power of mortality is the power to die. And so here is one being who had a dual nature, who could elect to live or elect to die; and having made the election in accordance with the plan of the Father, having elected to separate body and spirit, then by the power of the Father, which is the power of immortality, he could elect to live again. As a consequence we have the redemption from death, the ransom from the grave; we have immortality for him and for us and for all men.

Now we cannot comprehend, we do not understand, we do not know nor can we in our present state, how the effects of this infinite and eternal atoning sacrifice passed upon all men. We cannot comprehend and understand how creation works, where God came from, or how we came into being. Someday these things will be within the comprehension and understanding of those who gain exaltation. But the fact that we cannot comprehend them does not lessen the fact that we have been created, that we do exist, that there is a resurrection, that in due course all men will be raised in immortality, and that those who have believed and obeyed the gospel law will be raised in addition unto eternal life in our Father’s kingdom. And all of this is possible because of the divine Sonship of Christ the Lord, because he inherited in his birth—in that day when he was born after the manner of the flesh—he inherited the power of immortality from God his Father.

. . . .

Now it is our custom and our practice to read in Luke and in Matthew the accounts that attended Christ’s coming to earth. These are historical events. Woven into them is some expression of the doctrine that is involved; but the historical events are of lesser import. It is the doctrine that is of transcendent value and worth to us; out of it comes the great blessings that I have indicated. How glorious it is that Christ was born into the world as the Son of God.

I indicated that we, as Latter-day Saints, are the only people who have the full understanding and knowledge of the doctrine of the Divine Sonship. We alone have the sure knowledge of God’s personal, yet exalted nature. We worship him as an exalted and holy being of tabernacle who had power to beget a Son and who also is the Creator and upholder of all things. And our knowledge comes through latter-day revelation. We have received from God in our day the knowledge that saves. The heavens have been opened and God has spoken again to us. Although we have everything that the world has relative to Christ’s birth and his ministry, and we are grateful beyond measure for it, in reality the blessings that have come to us in this respect have come by latter-day revelation, which revelations have clarified and expanded the ancient accounts and enabled us to have a clear perspective of what is involved.

. . . .

So I say, we have an obligation to testify of Christ, to have in our hearts at this season and at all times the spirit that goes with him and his work. I for one desire that spirit and in some measure have it, and as a consequence I bear witness to you, as we approach the Christmas season, that God has, in fact, restored his everlasting gospel, that the truths of heaven and the truths of salvation are here, that there are legal administrators on earth at this hour who have the power to bind on earth and have it sealed eternally in the heavens. The work of God is here. The plan of salvation has, in fact, been revealed. We know the doctrine of the Divine Sonship. We have the obligation accordingly, because of the light and knowledge that has been poured out upon us, to walk as becometh saints, to rise above the world, to overcome the world, to be living witnesses of the truth and the divinity of the work. Just as surely as we are, we shall reap for ourselves peace and joy and happiness in this life. We shall have the true spirit of Christmas at this season and at all seasons, and then in due course we shall go on to the fulness of the kingdom of our Father hereafter.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie

Behold the Condescension of God,” New Era, Dec 1984, 35

Taken from a devotional address delivered to the students at Brigham Young University on December 16, 1969.

April 15, 2015

Faith, Justification, Millett

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The scriptures are consistent in declaring that no unclean thing can enter into God’s kingdom. In theory there are two ways by which we may become clean and thus inherit eternal life.

The first is simply to live the law of God perfectly, to make no mistakes. To do so is to be justified-pronounced innocent, declared blameless-by works or by law. To say this another way, if we keep the commandments completely (including receiving the sacraments, or ordinances, of salvation), never deviating from the strait and narrow path throughout our mortal lives, then we qualify for the blessings of the obedient. And yet we encounter on every side the terrible truth that all are unclean as a result of sin (Romans 3:23). All of us have broken at least one of the laws of God and therefore disqualify ourselves for justification by law or by works. Moral perfection may be a possibility, but it is certainly not a probability. Jesus alone trod that path. “Therefore,” Paul observed, “by the deeds of the law”-meaning the law of Moses, as well as any law of God-“there shall no flesh be justified in his sight” (Romans 3:20; compare 2 Nephi 2:5).

The second way to be justified is by faith; it is for the sinner to be pronounced clean or innocent through trusting in and relying upon the merits of Him who answered the ends of the law (Romans 10:4; compare 2 Nephi 2:6-7), who did keep the law of God perfectly. Jesus owed no personal debt to justice. Because we are guilty of transgression, if there had been no atonement of Christ, no amount of good deeds on our part, no nobility independent of divine intercession, could make up for the loss. Truly, man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself” (Alma 22:14). Thus he who loved us first (1 John 4:10, 19) reaches out to the lost and fallen, to the disinherited, and proposes a marriage. The Infinite One joins with the finite, the Finished with the unfinished, the Whole with the partial, in short, the Perfect with the imperfect. Through covenant with Christ and thus union with the Bridegroom, we place ourselves in a condition to become fully formed, whole, finished-to become perfect in Christ (Moroni 10:32; D&C 76:69).

Robert L. Millett
Getting at the Truth: Responding to Difficult Questions About LDS Beliefs
Shadow Mountain (2004)

President Joseph F. Smith began his account of his great vision of the world of spirits (now Doctrine and Covenants 138) by reflecting on the Atonement.

On the third of October, in the year nineteen hundred and eighteen, I sat in my room pondering over the scriptures;

  And reflecting upon the great atoning sacrifice that was made by the Son of God, for the redemption of the world;

  And the great and wonderful love made manifest by the Father and the Son in the coming of the Redeemer into the world;

  That through his atonement, and by obedience to the principles of the gospel, mankind might be saved.

The gospel cannot be written in your heart unless your heart is open. . . .

As a first step, you must lay aside any feeling of pride that is so common in the world today. By this I mean the attitude that rejects the authority of God to rule in our lives. . . .

Further, for the gospel to be written in your heart, you need to know what it is and grow to understand it more fully. That means you will study it. . . .

You must not only open your heart to a knowledge of the gospel and the love of God, you must practice the gospel law. You cannot fully understand or appreciate it unless you personally apply it in your life.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson

When Thou Art Converted,” Ensign, May 2004, 11

April 12, 2015

Enabling Power, Hymns, Rescue

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I need thee every hour,

Most gracious Lord.

No tender voice like thine

Can peace afford.

I need thee, oh, I need thee;

Every hour I need thee!

Oh, bless me now, my Savior;

I come to thee!

“I Need Thee Every Hour”, Hymns no. 98

April 11, 2015

Charity, Service

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I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta

April 10, 2015

General Authorities, Hafen, Sanctification

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Charity is but one illustration of the way obedience to God’s commandments both nurtures and satisfies our longing to belong. Many other core gospel doctrines instruct us to develop relationships of belonging with the Lord and with family members. For example, the commandment to accept the Savior’s Atonement directs us to become “at one” with him and his Father: “Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me.” (3 Nephi 27:20.) Our embracing of Christ’s gospel can lead us eventually to embrace him, in a relationship of unity that fulfills everlastingly our longing to belong. At the very hour of his Atonement, the Savior prayed: “For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified. . . . That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: . . . that they may be one, even as we are one.” (John 17:19-22.) The Savior’s intercessory prayer for at-one-ment expressed in words what his sacrifice made possible.

Elder Bruce C. Hafen  and, Marie K. Hafen

The Belonging Heart: The Atonement And Relationships With God And Family


April 9, 2015

Adversity, Brown, Healing, Words of Christ

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Remember that each of us is being tested, just as the finest cars and planes are tested before they are put into service. They are tested for weaknesses; they are tested for flaws. Can you stand the test? At the bar the Judge will not look us over for medals, degrees, or diplomas, but for scars.

Pres. Hugh B. Brown, Conference Report, April 1969

Who heals our wounds, even when they are self-inflicted, so they can become scars without destroying us?

Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.
3 Nephi 17:7

Some . . . may think the spiritual progress I am describing is not attainable in their lives. We may believe these truths apply to others but not to us.

We will not attain a state of perfection in this life, but we can and should press forward with faith in Christ along the strait and narrow path and make steady progress toward our eternal destiny. The Lord’s pattern for spiritual development is “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” (2 Nephi 28:30). Small, steady, incremental spiritual improvements are the steps the Lord would have us take. Preparing to walk guiltless before God is one of the primary purposes of mortality and the pursuit of a lifetime; it does not result from sporadic spurts of intense spiritual activity.

I witness that the Savior will strengthen and assist us to make sustained, paced progress. The example in the Book of Mormon of “many, exceedingly great many” (Alma 13:12) in the ancient Church who were pure and spotless before God is a source of encouragement and comfort to me. I suspect those members of the ancient Church were ordinary men and women just like you and me. These individuals could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence, and they “were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God” (v. 12). And these principles and this process of spiritual progress apply to each of us equally and always.

The requirement to put off the natural man and become a saint, to avoid and overcome bad and to do and become good, to have clean hands and a pure heart, is a recurring theme throughout the Book of Mormon. In fact, Moroni’s concluding invitation at the end of the book is a summary of this theme.

“Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ. …

“And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot” (Moroni 10:32–33; emphasis added).

May you and I repent with sincerity of heart and truly come unto Christ. I pray that we will seek through the Savior’s Atonement to have both clean hands and a pure heart, that we may become holy, without spot.

Elder David A. Bednar

Clean Hands and a Pure Heart,” Ensign, Nov 2007, 80–83