Hope is the confident expectation of and longing for the promised blessings of righteousness. The scriptures often speak of hope as anticipation of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ.
The word hope is sometimes misunderstood. In our everyday language, the word often has a hint of uncertainty. For example, we may say that we hope for a change in the weather or a visit from a friend. In the language of the gospel, however, the word hope is sure, unwavering, and active. Prophets speak of having a “firm hope” (Alma 34:41) and a “lively hope” (1 Peter 1:3). The prophet Moroni taught, “Whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God” (Ether 12:4).
When we have hope, we trust God’s promises. We have a quiet assurance that if we do “the works of righteousness,” we “shall receive [our] reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come” (D&C 59:23). Mormon taught that such hope comes only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ: “What is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise” (Moroni 7:41).
Gospel Topics: Hope
Not just any person may invoke mercy on behalf of another: “Now there is not any man that can sacrifice his own blood which will atone for the sins of another…therefore there can be nothing which is short of an infinite Atonement which will suffice for the sins of the world” (Alma 34:11-12). Jesus Christ alone can achieve such an infinite Atonement “once for all” (Hebrews 10:10) because of his nature as the actual son of God in the flesh and because he was himself without sin (see Atonement of Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ: Only Begotten in the Flesh).
Mercy is not extended arbitrarily. To protect individuals from the undeserved effects of sins for which they are not responsible, the Atonement unconditionally paid the penalty for the transgression of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It pays similarly for sins committed in ignorance (Mosiah 3:11; see also Moses 6:54). However, the Atonement removes the penalty for personal sins for which one is accountable only on the condition of individual repentance.
In this way, the concepts of justice, mercy, and the Atonement retain both a specific integrity and a logically consistent relationship: “The plan of mercy could not be brought about except an Atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and merciful God also…. But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted; which repentance mercy claimeth; otherwise, justice claimeth the creature…. For behold, justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved” (Alma 42:13, 15, 22, 24).
Mercy is thus rehabilitative, not retributive or arbitrary. The Lord asks repentance from a transgressor, not to compensate the Savior for paying the debt of justice, but to induce the transgressor to undertake a meaningful process of personal development toward a Christlike nature.
At the same time, mercy depends ultimately on the Lord’s extension of unmerited grace. Even though conditioned on repentance for personal sins, mercy is never fully “earned” by its recipients. Repentance is a necessary, but not a sufficient, condition of salvation and exaltation. “For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Ne. 25:23). The unearned nature of mercy is demonstrated by the Atonement’s having unconditionally compensated for the disabilities imposed on mankind by the Fall of Adam. Adam and Eve and their posterity were utterly powerless to overcome the physical and spiritual deaths that were introduced by the Fall. Moreover, transgressors do not “pay” fully for their sins through the process of repentance. Even though repentance requires restitution to the extent of one’s ability, most forms of restitution are beyond any person’s ability to achieve. No matter how complete our repentance, it would all be to no avail without a mediator willing and able to pay our debt to justice, on condition of our repentance. Thus, even with sincere and complete repentance, all are utterly dependent on Jesus Christ.
Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, justice and mercy are interdependent and interactive, demonstrating that God cannot be just without being merciful, nor merciful without being just.
Topic: Justice and Mercy
Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Edited by Daniel H. Ludlow
The History, Scripture, Doctrine, and Procedure of
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Macmillan Publishing Company (1992)
Since I have had the privilege to spend this Sunday in Florence, Italy, after attending a spirit-filled Sacrament Meeting here, I thought the following might be appropriate.
Alberto Sottili is a silver craftsman. He recognizes and treasures beautiful things. Each day in his shop in Florence, Italy, he creates jewelry—lovely necklaces, earrings, and brooches. But he is modest about his skills. “My shop is very simple—it is really just a laboratory,” he says. “I always wanted to be a musician, but I didn’t have enough money. So, when I was 14, I worked in the summer and began learning to make jewelry.”
Three years later—at a time when his life seemed very unsettled and he was searching for direction—Alberto heard about something that brought peace and beauty to him. “God loves you,” a relative who was a member of the Church assured him. Alberto was so impressed by this simple statement that he consented to kneel and pray with him. “I felt an incredible peace inside after our prayer, and I felt that I should learn more about this church.”
When the elders began teaching the gospel to Alberto in 1974, they spoke to him about Joseph Smith, the Word of Wisdom, and the purpose of life. “As I listened, I was touched by the fact that the ideas the missionaries were explaining to me were already familiar,” recalls Alberto. One month later, Alberto was baptized.
Today—20 years later—Alberto’s life is still surrounded by beauty. For many years, he was a single parent to his two older daughters, Simona and Silvia. When they were 12 and 11 years old, he met his present wife, Maria Teresa. They were married in the Swiss Temple and now have two more lovely daughters, Sara, 6, and Denise Gloria, 1. The older girls—now 19 and 18—have strong testimonies of the gospel, and both desire to serve missions. Simona reflected, “Thanks to the gospel, I am the person that I am. The gospel influences me each day of my life. Even though sometimes it is hard, I feel that the gospel brings me strength and freedom.”
Silvia is following in her father’s artistic footsteps as she studies painting and sculpture. She also follows his spiritual footsteps as she expresses her testimony, “I am so thankful for my father—it is because of him that I was able to join the Church. Often, people in the world feel that they have the freedom to do whatever they want to do. But I think that obedience to the laws of the gospel is the only thing that makes us really free from the weight of the bad things of the world. To me, the gospel is strength and help, and everything in my life. The most important thing I know is that God loves me and listens to me.”
In Florence, Italy, a city renowned for beautiful treasures, Alberto Sottili talks about his own priceless treasures: “I think that everything good is from God. To keep our family together, we have to work, to pray, to have home evening. We must not permit evil to come into our house.”
And Maria Teresa agrees, “I can’t imagine my life without the gospel. The gospel is my life!”
“A Foundation in Faith,” Tambuli, Nov 1994, 41