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

Recently I was in private conversation with one who, having committed a serious transgression, had also made intense effort to repent and receive forgiveness from those personally offended, from the Church, and from the Lord. When I asked, “Do you feel forgiven by your Heavenly Father?” he answered hesitantly with an affirmative but qualified response. “How do we obtain divine forgiveness?” I asked.

He spoke of how he had forsaken his transgressive behavior of the past, confessed to proper priesthood authorities, and attempted to make restitution to those offended. He further described his efforts to live according to gospel principles and Church standards.

The Savior and his atoning sacrifice were not mentioned. The underlying assumption seemed to be that divine forgiveness is obtained through those steps of repentance limited to changing one’s behavior. Despite the brother’s earnest efforts to repent, he appeared to be burdened still by remorse and regret and to feel that he must continue to pay for his sins.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. Others, to my knowledge, are burdened by past mistakes, large and small, because of an incomplete or incorrect understanding of our Father’s plan of redemption and mercy. Those so burdened may unnecessarily struggle through life without the joy and peace of mind which are the intended result of true repentance and divine forgiveness.

One who assumes that he can or must pay the price for his sins and thereby earn divine forgiveness will not feel free to continue progress toward realizing his divine potential, that is, eternal life.

The fact is we cannot save ourselves.

. . . .

We learn from the prophet Alma that we are subject to divine law, which all have transgressed in some respect, making us subject to the demands of justice (see Alma 42:14, 18). God’s justice is based upon divine laws, under which we receive what we deserve according to our disobedience or obedience to the law.

Justice affords no forgiveness for transgressors but imposes penalties (see D&C 82:4). None is exempt (see D&C 107:84). After all we can do to repent, we are still subject to the demands of justice and its penalties, which we cannot satisfy.

. . . .

The beginning and completion of repentance leading to forgiveness is faith in Jesus Christ, who is the “author and the finisher of [our] faith” (Moroni 6:4). Our faith in him as Savior and Redeemer engenders in us godly sorrow for our transgressions, a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and a sense of personal accountability. There follows a change in attitude and a turning toward God.

. . . .

The Lord’s gift of forgiveness, however, is not complete until it is accepted. True and complete repentance is a process by which we may become reconciled with God and accept the divine gift of forgiveness.

In the words of Nephi, “It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23).

The effect of the infinite, atoning sacrifice was twofold: First, resurrection and immortality for all, unconditionally granted. Second, eternal life for each one who fulfills the prescribed conditions, which are faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Redeemer, followed by repentance.

Then we must qualify for and receive the saving and exalting ordinances of the gospel with their associated covenants, continuously striving to keep those covenants and obey the commandments of God.

Being mortal, and despite our resolve and efforts, we will continue to fall short of perfection. However, with Nephi of old, conscious of our weaknesses, temptations, and past mistakes, we may say, “Nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted” (2 Nephi 4:19). There follows a natural resolve to renew our efforts.

Essential to receiving divine forgiveness are personal, individual recognition and acceptance of our Father’s mercy, made available to us by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ and a renewed covenant to obey the principles of the gospel.

Elder Ronald E. Poelman
Divine Forgiveness,” Ensign, Nov 1993, 84

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October 22, 2014

Change, Enabling Power, General Authorities, Maxwell

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Comparing what we are with what we have the power to become should give us great spiritual hope. Think of it this way: There are some very serene, blue lakes on this planet situated in cavities which once were red, belching volcanoes. Likewise, there are beautiful, green, tropical mountains formed from ancient, hot extrusions. The parallel transformation of humans is much more remarkable than all of that—much more beautiful and much more everlasting!

So it is, amid the vastness of His creations, God’s personal shaping influence is felt in the details of our lives—not only in the details of the galaxies and molecules but, much more importantly, in the details of our own lives. Somehow God is providing these individual tutorials for us while at the same time He is overseeing cosmic funerals and births, for as one earth passes away so another is born (see Moses 1:38). It is marvelous that He would attend to us so personally in the midst of those cosmic duties.

Are we willing, however, to be significantly remodeled even by His loving hands? Enoch was. He marveled over God’s vast creations and fervently exclaimed, “Yet thou art there” (Moses 7:30). God is ever “there”! Significantly, Enoch also exclaimed over three attributes of God’s character, declaring that God is just, merciful, and kind forever. You and I count on those attributes of God every day. And the fact that God uses those qualities to bless us should stir us to develop them in ourselves to operate in behalf of others.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell
Becoming a Disciple,” Ensign, Jun 1996, 12

 

October 21, 2014

Agency, General Authorities, General Conference, Monson

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[W]ith the right of choice comes the responsibility to choose. We cannot be neutral; there is no middle ground. The Lord knows this; Lucifer knows this. As long as we live upon this earth, Lucifer and his hosts will never abandon the hope of claiming our souls.

Our Heavenly Father did not launch us on our eternal journey without providing the means whereby we could receive from Him God-given guidance to assist in our safe return at the end of mortal life. I speak of prayer. I speak too of the whisperings from that still, small voice within each of us, and I do not overlook the holy scriptures, written by mariners who successfully sailed the seas we too must cross.

Each of us has come to this earth with all the tools necessary to make correct choices. The prophet Mormon tells us, “The Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil.” (Moroni 7:16)

President Thomas S. Monson
The Three Rs of Choice

October 20, 2014

General Authorities, Holland

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A God who cares about us as tenderly as a parent cares about a child cannot be an ethereal mist or a vague philosophical ‘first cause’ or a deistic absentee landlord. He must be recognized for what He truly is: a merciful, compassionate Father in whose image every one of His children have been made.

.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

October 19, 2014

Fundamental Principles, Joseph Smith, Spirit World

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I have a father, brothers, children, and friends who have gone to a world of spirits. They are only absent for a moment. They are in the spirit, and we shall soon meet again. The time will soon arrive when the trumpet shall sound. When we depart, we shall hail our mothers, fathers, friends, and all whom we love, who have fallen asleep in Jesus. There will be no fear of mobs, persecutions, or malicious lawsuits and arrests; but it will be an eternity of felicity.

Joseph Smith
The King Follett Sermon, April 7, 1844

October 18, 2014

General Authorities, General Conference

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We are so blessed to be lead by prophets and apostles and have heard many wonderful lessons and revelations about the Atonement during this General Conference.

On the Church’s Web site, I searched for the number of mentions of the term, “atonement” in general conference addresses over recent five-year periods of time. This is what I found:

1995–1999—26 mentions

2000–2004—107 mentions

2005–2009—186 mentions

When this first General Conference of 2010 is completed and we have the opportunity to study and ponder the talks given, I am certain that will will add even more revealed knowledge about our Savior’s great sacrifice for us and how it sustains us from day to day, breath to breath.

“What would each of us say if we had to open our mouth three times? If I may, I would like to offer a suggestion. First and foremost, we should declare our belief in Jesus Christ and His Atonement. His redeeming act blesses all mankind with the gift of immortality and the potential of enjoying God’s greatest gift to man, the gift of eternal life.”

Elder L. Tom Perry

“Bring Souls unto Me,” Ensign, May 2009, 111 via LDS Daily Gems

October 16, 2014

Enabling Power, Mother Teresa, Patience

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Let nothing perturb you, nothing frighten you. All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything.

Mother Teresa

October 15, 2014

Death, General Authorities, Hinckley, Resurrection

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What is this thing that men call death
This quiet passign in the night?
’Tis not the end but genesis
Of better worlds and greater light.

O God, touch Thou my aching heart
And calm my troubled, haunting fears.
Let hope and faith, transcendent, pure,
Give strength and peace beyond my tears.

There is no death, but only change,
With recompense for vict’ry won.
The gift of Him who loved all men,
The Son of God, the Holy One.

President Gordon B. Hinckley
What Is This Thing Man Calls Death?“, Ensign, Feb. 2010, 39
(Copyright © 2007 by Gordon B. Hinckley and Janice Kapp Perry. All rights reserved. This song may be copied for incidental, noncommercial home and church use.)

October 14, 2014

General Authorities, General Conference, Monson, New Testament

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We need not visit the Holy Land to feel him close to us. We need not walk by the shores of Galilee or among the Judean hills to walk where Jesus walked.

In a very real sense, all can walk where Jesus walked when, with his words on our lips, his spirit in our hearts, and his teachings in our lives, we journey through mortality.

Then-Elder Thomas S. Monson
The Paths Jesus Walked“, Ensign, May 1974, 48