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

Repentance – The Greek word of which this is the translation denotes a change of mind, i.e., a fresh view about God, about oneself, and about the world. Since we are born into conditions of mortality, repentance comes to mean a turning of the heart and will to God, and a renunciation of sin to which we are naturally inclined. Without this there can be no progress in the things of the soul’s salvation, for all accountable persons are stained by sin, and must be cleansed in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. Repentance is not optional for salvation; it is a commandment of God (D&C 18: 9-22; D&C 20: 29; D&C 133: 16). The preaching of repentance by John the Baptist formed the preparation for the ministry of our Lord. [additional citations omitted]

Repentance
Bible Dictionary

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November 26, 2014

General Conference

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Mark Davies, a BYU professor of corpus linguistics, has created a database of all sermons presented in General Conference over the last 160 years. Among other functions, the database makes it possible to study how frequently a word has been spoken during various periods of time.

I have previously mentioned how much more often the word, “Atonement,” has been mentioned during General Conferences between 1995-2009. Professor Davies’ database allows us determine its usage during all General Conferences.

The columns below show how often “Atonement” appears in General Conference talks during various decades, beginning in the 1850’s and ending in the 2000’s.

It is easy to see how the Brethren have increased their emphasis on this vital doctrine. While the Atonement is undoubtedly central to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in any age, it has become more and more important for us to remember, apply in our lives and keep in our hearts today.

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1850’s     64

1860’s     37

1870’s     59

1880’s     60

1890’s     61

1900’s    40

1910’s     71

1920’s     52

1930’s     52

1940’s     52

1950’s    114

1960’s     98

1970’s     91

1980’s   208

1990’s   393

2000’s  655

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Link to Corpus of LDS General Conference Talks
Link to All 24 million words of LDS general conference in The Deseret News

November 25, 2014

Sin, Young

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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

November 24, 2014

General Authorities, Romney, Sanctification

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Of the two aspects of the atonement, resurrection from the dead is most readily and widely accepted. It is succinctly and accurately thus stated by Paul:

“… as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:22.)

Mormon puts the two aspects of the atonement in perspective in his great discourse on faith, hope, and charity in these words:

“… 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. …” (Moro. 7:41.)

Men are not required to have faith in Christ to be resurrected, “for [as Jesus said] the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,

“And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” (John 5:28–29.)

It is the aspect of the atonement that will raise men “unto life eternal” that we are considering here. It is not necessary to await the resurrection to receive the blessing of this aspect of the resurrection. Amulek, teaching the Nephites, said:

“And now, my brethren, I would that … ye come forth and bring fruit unto repentance.

“… for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent, and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.” (Alma 34:30–31.)

When a person qualifies himself to receive the blessing of this aspect of Christ’s atonement, he is by the power of God forgiven of his sins; he is born again of the Spirit; he is a new person; he takes on the divine nature; he has “no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2); he has peace of conscience and is filled with joy. (See Mosiah 4:3.) This is what Jesus meant when He said:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28–30.)

. . . .

Essential to an understanding of the aspect of the atonement of Christ which enables men to attain unto eternal life is a realization that mortal man, while he lives on earth, is enlightened by the spirit of God and that he is also tempted by Satan; that every human being who lives beyond the age of accountability yields to some degree to the temptations of Satan. Jesus, who was the Son of God in the flesh, as well as in the spirit, was the only exception.

By yielding to the temptation of Satan we become unclean. To the extent to which we yield we become carnal, sensual, and devilish. As a consequence, we are banished from the presence of God. Without being cleansed from the stain of our transgressions we cannot be readmitted into the presence of God because “no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom.” (3 Ne. 27:19.) Men, in the exercise of their own free agency, having disqualified themselves for a place in the kingdom of God, are banished therefrom and cannot by their own unaided efforts return. If they are ever to return, atonement for their sins must be made by someone not himself banished: Jesus was that one.

Marion G. Romney

Christ’s Atonement: The Gift Supreme,” Ensign, Dec 1973, 2

November 23, 2014

Eternal Life, Exaltation, General Authorities, Kimball

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The Lord restored his kingdom in these days, with all its gifts and powers and blessings. Any church that you know of may possibly be able to take you for a long ride, and bring you some degree of peace and happiness and blessing, and they can carry you to the veil and there they drop you. The Church of Jesus Christ picks you up on this side of the veil and, if you live its commandments, carries you right through the veil as though it weren’t there and on through the eternities to exaltation.

President Spencer W. Kimball
The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 49–50, quoted in Chapter 1: “To Live with Him Someday”, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, Salt Lake City, The Church of the Latter Day Saints, 2006

November 22, 2014

Condie, Fundamental Principles, General Authorities, Maxwell

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The Book of Mormon teaches us of an infinite atonement (see 2 Ne. 9:7; 2 Ne. 25:16; Alma 34:10, 12, 14), an atoning sacrifice by Christ that is unbounded by time, ethnicity, geography, or even kinds of sins, save for the unpardonable sin of denying the Holy Ghost (see Alma 39:6). The Resurrection includes all people “from the days of Adam down” to the end of time (Alma 40:18), those “both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female” (Alma 11:44). The Atonement is also infinite in the sense that the Savior not only overcame death and sin, but he also took upon himself “the pains and the sicknesses” and the “infirmities” of his people (Alma 7:11–12). The Atonement is infinite, too, in that because of the redemption made possible by his beloved Son, our Heavenly Father is able to forgive us “as often as [we] repent” (Mosiah 26:30–31; see also Moro. 6:8).

Through repentance we can become at one with Christ, or, as Jacob put it, we can “be reconciled unto him” (Jacob 4:11). Amaleki invited the people of his day—and us as well—to “come unto Christ … and partake of his salvation … and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him” (Omni 1:26). We become reconciled with him when we willingly give our souls to him as he offered his life for us.

After Aaron had taught the father of King Lamoni about the fall of man and of the plan of redemption and the Savior’s atoning sacrifice, the king prayed to God: “I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day” (Alma 22:18). That is precisely what each of us must do to become reconciled with our Savior: we must give away all our sins. Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has explained that “real, personal sacrifice never was placing an animal on the altar. Instead, it is a willingness to put the animal in us upon the altar and letting it be consumed!” (“Deny Yourselves of All Ungodliness,” Ensign, May 1995, p. 68.)

Elder Spencer J. Condie

The Fall and Infinite Atonement,” Ensign, Jan 1996, 22

November 21, 2014

Adversity, Andersen, Faith, General Authorities, General Conference

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Will we understand everything? Of course not. We will put some issues on the shelf to be understood at a later time.

Will everything be fair? It will not. We will accept some things we cannot fix, and forgive others when it hurts.

Will we feel separated on occasion from those around us? Absolutely.

Will we be astonished at times to see the anger a few feel toward the Lord’s Church, and their efforts to steal the struggling faith of the weak? Yes. But this will not deter the growth or destiny of the Church, nor need it impede the spiritual progress of each of us as disciples of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

. . . .

As we follow the Savior, without question there will be challenges that confront us. Approached with faith, these refining experiences bring a deeper conversion of the Savior’s reality. Approached in a worldly way, these same experiences cloud our view and weaken our resolve. Some we love and admire slip from the straight and narrow path, and “walk no more with Him.”

. . . .

Offense comes in many costumes and continually finds its way on stage. People we believe in disappoint us. We have unanticipated difficulties. Our life doesn’t turn out exactly the way we were expecting. We make mistakes, feel unworthy, and worry about being forgiven. We wonder about a doctrinal issue. We learn of something spoken from a Church pulpit 150 years ago that bothers us. Our children are treated unfairly. We are ignored or underappreciated. It could be a hundred things, each very real to us at the time.

. . . .

If we are not watchful, our injured spirit will retreat back into the cold, dark crust of our former bloated ego, leaving behind the warm, healing light of the Savior.

Elder Neil L. Andersen
Saturday Morning Session
General Conference, October 2010

November 20, 2014

Hymns, Phelps, Video

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The works of God continue,
And worlds and lives abound;
Improvement and progression
Have one eternal round.
There is no end to matter;
There is no end to space;
There is no end to spirit;
There is no end to race.

There is no end to virtue;
There is no end to might;
There is no end to wisdom;
There is no end to light.
There is no end to union;
There is no end to youth;
There is no end to priesthood;
There is no end to truth.

There is no end to glory;
There is no end to love;
There is no end to being;
There is no death above.
There is no end to glory;
There is no end to love;
There is no end to being;
There is no death above.

William W. Phelps

If You Could Hie to Kolob, Hymns, No. 284

November 19, 2014

Bible Dictionary, Enabling Power, Fall, Grace

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I’m going to create a series of posts that center on Grace.  As used in the New Testament, Grace is often another word for Atonement.  Elder Bednar has begun with Grace in his ground-breaking talks (discussed here and here) about the enabling power of the Atonement.

Let’s begin with the Bible Dictionary’s definition of Grace:

A word that occurs frequently in the New Testament, especially in the writings of Paul. The main idea of the word is divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.

It is through the grace of the Lord Jesus, made possible by his atoning sacrifice, that mankind will be raised in immortality, every person receiving his body from the grave in a condition of everlasting life. It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.

Divine grace is needed by every soul in consequence of the fall of Adam and also because of man’s weaknesses and shortcomings. However, grace cannot suffice without total effort on the part of the recipient. Hence the explanation, “It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Ne. 25: 23). It is truly the grace of Jesus Christ that makes salvation possible. This principle is expressed in Jesus’ parable of the vine and the branches (John 15: 1-11). See also John 1: 12-17; Eph. 2: 8-9; Philip. 4: 13; D&C 93: 11-14.

Grace,” Bible Dictionary

In following days, we’ll look at what some of our prophets, apostles and religious thinkers have said about Grace.

November 18, 2014

Christmas, General Authorities, Monson

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We laugh, we cry, we work, we play, we love, we live. And then we die. And dead we would remain but for one man and his mission, even Jesus of Nazareth. Born in a stable, cradled in a manger, his birth fulfilled the inspired pronouncements of many prophets. He was taught from on high. He provided the life, the light, and the way. Multitudes followed him. Children adored him. The haughty rejected him. He spoke in parables. He taught by example. He lived a perfect life. Through his ministry, blind men saw, deaf men heard, and lame men walked. Even the dead returned to life.

Then-Elder Thomas S. Monson
““I Know That My Redeemer Lives””, Ensign, Apr. 1982, 6