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

Some time ago a newspaper in a distant town carried an Easter Sunday religion editorial by a minister who stated that the presiding authority of the early-day church fell because of self-confidence, indecision, evil companions, failure to pray, lack of humility, and fear of man. He than concluded:

Let us as people, especially those who are Christians and claim to abide by the Word of God, not make the same mistakes and fall as Peter fell.

As I read this, I had some strange emotions. I was shocked, then I was chilled, then my blood changed its temperature and began to boil. I felt I was attacked viciously, for Peter was my brother, my colleague, my example, my prophet, and God’s anointed. I whispered to myself, “That is not true. He is maligning my brother.”

Then I opened my New Testament. I could find no such character as this modern minister described. Instead, I found a man who had grown perfect through his experiences and suffering—a man with vision, a man of revelations, a man fully trusted by his Lord Jesus Christ.

I remember his sad, triple denial of his acquaintance with the Lord in those terrifying, frustrating moments. I recall his tearful repentance. Many times he was rebuked by the Master, but he learned by experience and never seemed to make the same error twice. I see a lowly fisherman, untaught and untrained, climb gradually under the tutelage of the best Teacher to the high pinnacle of great faith, bold leadership, unwavering testimony, unparalleled courage, and almost limitless understanding. I see the lay disciple become the chief apostle to preside over the Lord’s church and kingdom. I hear him breathing heavily as he laboriously climbs the steep Mount of Transfiguration. Here he sees and hears unspeakable things and has the transcendent experience of being in the presence of his God, Elohim; Jehovah, his Redeemer; and other heavenly beings.

His eyes had seen, his ears had heard, and his heart had understood and accepted the wondrous happenings of the days from the baptism of the Master in the waters of Jordan to the ascension of his Redeemer from the Mount of Olives.

I see this great church president assume leadership of the church. I see the sick and infirm arise and leap to health and normalcy. I hear his powerful sermons. I see him walk steadily, unflinchingly to martyrdom and drink of its bitter cup.

But this minister belittled him, unmercifully undercut him, and downgraded him.

Much of the criticism of Simon Peter is centered in his denial of his acquaintance with the Master. This has been labeled “cowardice.” Are we sure of his motive in that recorded denial? He had already given up his occupation and placed all worldly goods on the altar for the cause. If we admit that he was cowardly and denied the Lord through timidity, we can still find a great lesson. Has anyone more completely overcome mortal selfishness and weakness? Has anyone repented more sincerely? Peter has been accused of being harsh, indiscreet, impetuous, and fearful. If all these were true, then we still ask, Has any man every more completely triumphed over his weaknesses?

. . . .

When Christ chose this fisherman for his first and chief apostle, he was taking no chances. He picked a diamond in the rough—a diamond that would need to be cut, trimmed, and polished by correction, chastisement, and trials—but nevertheless a diamond of real quality. The Savior knew this apostle could be trusted to receive the keys of the kingdom, the sealing and the loosing power. Like other humans, Peter might make some errors in his developing process, but he would be solid, trustworthy, and dependable as a leader of the kingdom of God. Even with so perfect a teacher it was difficult to learn the vast gospel plan in three years.

Peter inquired of Jesus:

Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?

And Jesus said unto them, verify I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:27–28.)

Is it conceivable that the omniscient Lord would give all these powers and keys to one who was a failure or unworthy?

If Peter was cowardly, how brave he became in so short a time. If he was weak and vacillating, how strong and positive he became in weeks and months. If he was unkind, how tender and sympathetic he became almost immediately. Responsibility as a refiner and a purger usually takes time.

If Peter was frightened in the court when he denied his association with the Lord, how brave he was hours earlier when he drew his sword against an overpowering enemy, the night mob. Later defying the people and state and church officials, he boldly charged, “Him [the Christ] . . . ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” (Acts 2:23.) To the astounded populace at the healing of the cripple at the Gate Beautiful, he exclaimed, “Ye men of Israel . . . the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate. . . . ye denied the Holy One. . . . And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.” (Acts 3:12–15.)

Does this portray cowardice? Quite a bold assertion for a timid one. Remember that Peter never denied the divinity of Christ. He only denied his association or acquaintance with the Christ, which is quite a different matter.

Could it have been confusion and frustration that caused Peter’s denial? Could there still have been some lack of understanding concerning the total unfolding of the plan? Being a leader, Peter was a special target of the adversary. As the Lord said:

Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:

But I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not. (Luke 22:31–32.)

Peter was under fire; all the hosts of hell were against him. The die had been cast for the Savior’s crucifixion. If Satan could destroy Simon now, what a victory he would score. Here was the greatest of all living men. Lucifer wanted to confuse him, frustrate him, limit his prestige, and totally destroy him. However, this was not to be, for he was chosen for and ordained to a high purpose in heaven, as was Abraham.

Peter followed the Savior to his trial and sat in the outer court. What else could he do? He knew that many times the Savior himself had escaped from the crowd by slipping out of their clutches. Would he again do so?

Though the Lord taught of the coming crucifixion and resurrection, neither Simon nor anyone else fully comprehended his meaning. Was this so strange? Never before had there been such a person or such an occurrence upon the earth. Millions today cannot understand the resurrection, even though it has been preached for nineteen hundred years as a reality with many infallible proofs. Could these men, then, be criticized for not fully understanding this frustrating situation?

Is it possible that there might have been some other reason for Peter’s triple denial? Could he have felt that circumstances justified expediency? When he bore a strong testimony in Caesarea Philippi, he had been told that “they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.” (Matthew 16:20.)

When the three apostles came down from the Mount of Transfiguration, they were again charged implicitly, “Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.” (Matthew 17:9.) Could Peter have felt this was not the time to tell of Christ? He had been with his Lord in Nazareth when the Savior was taken by his own people to the brow of the hill, “whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them went his way.” (Luke 4:29–30.) Surely Peter did not think of this escape as cowardice but as wise expediency. Christ’s time was not come.

 

President Spencer W. Kimball
Speeches of the Year, Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1971, pp. 1–8.

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Share

The Prophet Jacob is one of the great theologians of the Atonement.

O how great the holiness of our God! For he knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it. And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam. And he suffereth this that the resurrection might pass upon all men, that all might stand before him at the great and judgment day. [2 Nephi 9:20–22]

For as death hath passed upon all men, to fulfil the merciful plan of the great Creator, there must needs be a power of resurrection, and the resurrection must needs come unto man by reason of the fall; and the fall came by reason of transgression; and because man became fallen they were cut off from the presence of the Lord. Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement—save it should be an infinite atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption. Wherefore, the first judgment which came upon man must needs have remained to an endless duration. . . .

Now the first judgment which came upon man was “thou shalt surely die.” It involved both of those deaths, the death of the body and the death as to things pertaining to righteousness, which the scriptures call spiritual death.

O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more [that is, if there were no resurrection of the body] our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more. And our spirits must have become like unto him, 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. . . .

O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit. [2 Nephi 9:6–10]

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Share

October 11, 2017

Eyring, General Authorities, General Conference, Holy Ghost, Pondering, Prayer

Comments Off on When We Ponder We Invite Revelation by the Spirit

[R]eading, studying and pondering are not the same. We read words and we may get ideas. We study and we may discover patterns and connections in scripture. But when we ponder we invite revelation by the Spirit. Pondering for me is the thinking and the praying I do after reading and studying the scriptures carefully.

President Henry B. Eyring
Priesthood Session, General Conference, 2010

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Share

October 10, 2017

Adversity, General Authorities, Kimball

Comments Off on Suffering Can Make Saints

Being human, we would expel from our lives physical pain and mental anguish and assure ourselves of continual ease and comfort, but if we were to close the doors upon sorrow and distress, we might be excluding our greatest friends and benefactors. Suffering can make saints of people as they learn patience, long-suffering, and self-mastery.

President Spencer W. Kimball
Faith Precedes the Miracle, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1972, p. 98

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Share

October 9, 2017

Nibley, Repentance, Tests

Comments Off on The gospel of repentance is a constant reminder that the most righteous are still being tested

The gospel of repentance is a constant reminder that the most righteous are still being tested and may yet fall, and that the most wicked are not yet beyond redemption and may still be saved. And that is what God wants: “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” (Ezekiel 18:23)

There are poles for all to see, but in this life no one has reached and few have ever approached either pole, and no one has any idea at what point between his neighbors stand. Only God knows that.

.

Hugh Nibley
“The Prophetic Book of Mormon,” vol. 8, The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, 462

 

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Share

October 8, 2017

Book of Mormon, Necessity, Roberts

Comments Off on Roberts – The Necessity and Truth of the Atonement of Christ

It has been my pleasure and duty, during the past few months, to review and set in order for the study of our Seventies’ quorums the doctrine of the atonement of Jesus Christ; and this late inquiry into that subject has had a wonderful effect upon my own thought and state of mind.

I have for many years believed in the atonement of Jesus Christ and have accepted its symbols in baptism and in confirmation; and have repeatedly renewed my acceptance of that atonement by accepting the sacrament of the Lord’s supper. It has been a matter of faith with me and of knowledge, by the testimony of the Spirit of God to my soul; but upon close inquiry, by deeper delving into the subject, my intellect also gives its full and complete assent to the soundness of the philosophy and the absolute necessity for the atonement of Jesus Christ.

That this atonement, the method and manner of it is the only way by which there could be brought to pass an atonement, a reuniting of soul of man with soul of God. I account it for myself a new conversion, an intellectual conversion, to the atonement of Jesus Christ; and I have been rejoicing in it of late, exceedingly.

I am convinced that when men of intelligence can be brought to the point of being sufficiently humble to read again the Book of Mormon, and to take into account the high purposes for which it was written, viz., to testify to the truth of the Jewish scriptures, but more especially to testify of the Christ, to bear witness of Him both to Jew and Gentile; testifying that Jesus is the Christ, and that there is no other means of salvation provided but through His atonement. When they will consider the message it has to bear upon these important questions, and will stop sneering at such human elements as may be in it, and will examine once more its teachings upon the great theme of salvation through the atonement of the Christ, they can indeed find wisdom and philosophy and truth in its doctrines.

I proclaim to you, my brethren and sisters, that in the Book of Mormon, more than in any other book written in this world, and I do not except the New Testament-in the Book of Mormon more than in any other book, we have there the necessity of, and the truth of the atonement of the Christ taught to the children of men as nowhere else. I rejoice in these truths; may the Lord seal them upon our hearts and give us grace and strength to live in harmony with them, is my prayer.

Elder Brigham H. Roberts

Conference Report, April 1911, Second Day-Afternoon Session (paragraphs inserted in original to enhance readability)

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Share

October 7, 2017

Agency, C.S. Lewis, Second Coming

Comments Off on Now, today, in this moment, is our chance to choose the right side

For LDS readers, the insights of C.S. Lewis concerning Christian doctrine are quite startling because we see this so seldom in the writings of many other Christian authors. Lewis has probably been quoted more often than any other non-LDS author in General Conference (I count 19 mentions) and has been referred to as “the thirteenth apostle” with only a touch of humor by some LDS observers.

C.S. Lewis was a committed member of the Church of England, although some have noted Roman Catholic influences in many of his writings, possibly absorbed from his close friend, J.R.R. Tolkien. We read so many insightful and wry observations from C.S. Lewis concerning Christianity that we may conclude that his view of religion is all tea and biscuits — all rewards and no consequences.

The following will correct that misapprehension:

When the author walks on the stage, the play is over.

God is going to invade [the earth], all right: but what’s the good of saying you’re on his side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else — something it never entered your head to conceive — comes crashing in; something so beautiful to us and so terrible to others that none of us will have any choice left?

For this time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love, or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down, when it’s become impossible to stand up.

That will not be the time for choosing: it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realize it or not.

Now, today, in this moment, is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It will not last forever; we must take it or leave it.

C.S. Lewis
Mere Christianity, page 65
(paragraph breaks inserted to enhance online readability)

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Share

October 5, 2017

Sin, Young

Comments Off on He Will Destroy the Power of Sin

Brother Brigham loves to make some of his points by beginning with a statement contrary to the common beliefs of the Saints in his day.

“Do not imagine that I am in the least finding fault with the Devil. I would not bring a railing accusation against him, for he is fulfilling his office and calling manfully; he is more faithful in his calling than are many of the people. God is not yet going to destroy wickedness from the earth. How frequently we hear it reiterated from the pulpit that he is going to destroy all wickedness. No such thing. He will destroy the power of sin. The work the Savior has on hand is to reduce the power of the Devil to perfect subjection; and when he has destroyed death and him that has the power of it, pertaining to this world, then he will deliver up the kingdom spotless to the Father.”

Brigham Young

Journal of Discourses 9:108

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Share

October 4, 2017

General Authorities, Grant, Joy, Maxwell

Comments Off on How Do We Rejoice in the Atonement?

Romans 5:10–11: “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.”

President Heber J. Grant (1856–1945): “I rejoice in knowing that Jesus is the Redeemer of the world, our elder brother, and that His name and His name alone, is the only one under heaven whereby we can gain salvation and come back and dwell with our Heavenly Father and our Savior, and our loved ones who have gone before” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant [2002], 225).

Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “Jesus’ glorious Atonement is the central act in all of human history! It provides the universal Resurrection; it makes our personal repentance and forgiveness possible. … We are to change our thoughts and then behavior until we are turned away from our sins. … Repentance is thus a continuing process in which each of us needs to draw on the Atonement for real relief, real forgiveness, and real progress. … It remains for us … to claim the blessings of the great Atonement” (“Testifying of the Great and Glorious Atonement,”Liahona, Apr. 2002, 7–8, 13; Ensign, Oct. 2001, 10, 15).

Rejoice in the Atonement of Jesus Christ
Ensign, December, 2005

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Share

October 3, 2017

Adversity, Discouragement, Meekness, New Testament, Old Testament

Comments Off on Christ Will Give Us Beauty for Ashes

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Matthew 5:4

.

[T]he Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;

To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

Isaiah 61:1-3

.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Revelations 21:4

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Share