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

September 7, 2017

Christmas, General Authorities, Monson

Comments Off on Born in a Stable, He was Taught from on High

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

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September 4, 2017

Christmas, General Authorities, Hunter

Comments Off on The Real Christmas – Taking Christ Into Our Lives

It is possible for Christ to be born in men’s lives, and when such an experience actually happens, a man is “in Christ”—Christ is “formed” in him. This presupposes that we take Christ into our hearts and make Him the living contemporary of our lives. He is not just a general truth or a fact in history, but the Savior of men everywhere and at all times. When we strive to be Christlike, He is “formed” in us; if we open the door, He will enter; if we seek His counsel, He will counsel us. For Christ to be “formed” in us, we must have a belief in Him and in His Atonement. Such a belief in Christ and the keeping of His commandments are not restraints upon us. By these, men are set free. This Prince of Peace waits to give peace of mind, which may make each of us a channel of that peace.

The real Christmas comes to him who has taken Christ into his life as a moving, dynamic, vitalizing force. The real spirit of Christmas lies in the life and mission of the Master. I continue with what the writer defines as the real spirit of Christmas:

“It is a desire to sacrifice for others, to render service, and to possess a feeling of universal brotherhood. It consists of a willingness to forget what you have done for others, and to remember only what others have done for you; to ignore what the world owes you, and think only of … your duties in the middle distance, and your chance to do good and aid your fellow-men in the foreground—to see that your fellow-men are just as good as you are, and try to look behind their faces to their hearts—to close your book of grievances against the universe, and look about you for a place to sow a few seeds of happiness and go your way unobserved” [Improvement Era, Dec. 1919, 155].

President Howard W. Hunter

The Real Christmas,” Liahona, Dec 2005, 12

From a devotional address given at Brigham Young University on December 5, 1972


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July 10, 2017

Christmas, Faust, General Authorities

Comments Off on The Immeasurable Love of the Giver

As one of the special witnesses of Jesus and of the gospel restored to earth by God working through the Prophet Joseph Smith, I testify that the greatest gift of this or any other Christmas is the Atonement of Jesus as the Redeemer, the Son of God. Paul said this was a “free gift” (Rom. 5:15). It is a gift we cannot handle or touch, but we can feel the immeasurable love of the Giver.

Through this gift we can all find the pathway to eternal life. My testimony of this is sure, real, and absolute, as is my sacred testimony of Him. I invoke the blessings of God upon us all at this special Christmastime.

President James E. Faust

A Christmas with No Presents,” Ensign, Dec 2001, 2–6

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May 16, 2017

Christmas, General Authorities, Hunter, Sacrifice, Service

Comments Off on It is Possible for Christ to be Born in Men’s Lives

It is possible for Christ to be born in men’s lives, and when such an experience actually happens, a man is “in Christ”—Christ is “formed” in him. This presupposes that we take Christ into our hearts and make Him the living contemporary of our lives. He is not just a general truth or a fact in history, but the Savior of men everywhere and at all times. When we strive to be Christlike, He is “formed” in us; if we open the door, He will enter; if we seek His counsel, He will counsel us. For Christ to be “formed” in us, we must have a belief in Him and in His Atonement. Such a belief in Christ and the keeping of His commandments are not restraints upon us. By these, men are set free. This Prince of Peace waits to give peace of mind, which may make each of us a channel of that peace.

The real Christmas comes to him who has taken Christ into his life as a moving, dynamic, vitalizing force. The real spirit of Christmas lies in the life and mission of the Master. I continue with what the writer defines as the real spirit of Christmas:

“It is a desire to sacrifice for others, to render service, and to possess a feeling of universal brotherhood. It consists of a willingness to forget what you have done for others, and to remember only what others have done for you; to ignore what the world owes you, and think only of … your duties in the middle distance, and your chance to do good and aid your fellow-men in the foreground—to see that your fellow-men are just as good as you are, and try to look behind their faces to their hearts—to close your book of grievances against the universe, and look about you for a place to sow a few seeds of happiness and go your way unobserved” [Improvement Era, Dec. 1919, 155].

President Howard W. Hunter
The Real Christmas“, Ensign, Dec. 2005, 22–25

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April 18, 2017

Christmas, General Authorities, Monson

Comments Off on Giving the Gift of Gratitude by Living Christ’s Teachings

On the eve of His birth, the voice of the Lord came unto Nephi, saying, “Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfil all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets.” 3

What did the holy prophets of old declare? Isaiah, more than 700 years before the birth of Christ, prophesied, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” 4

On the American continent, King Benjamin said: “For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent … shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay. … He shall suffer temptations, and pain. … And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary.” 5

Then came that night of nights when the shepherds were abiding in the fields and the angel of the Lord appeared to them, announcing: “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy. … For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” 6

The shepherds with haste went to the manger to pay honor to Christ the Lord. Later, wise men journeyed from the East to Jerusalem, saying: “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. … When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” 7

Since that time, the spirit of giving gifts has been present in the mind of each Christian as he or she commemorates the Christmas season. Our Heavenly Father gave to us His Son, Jesus Christ. That precious Son gave to us His life, the Atonement, and victory over the grave.

What will you and I give for Christmas this year? Let us in our lives give to our Lord and Savior the gift of gratitude by living His teachings and following in His footsteps. It was said of Him that He “went about doing good.” 8 As we do likewise, the Christmas spirit will be ours.

President Thomas S. Monson

What Is Christmas?,” Liahona, Dec 1998, 3

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April 15, 2017

Christmas, Fundamental Principles, General Authorities, McConkie

Comments Off on The Doctrine of Divine Sonship

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.

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April 3, 2017

Christmas, General Authorities, Grace, Hafen, Repentance

Comments Off on Does the Atonement work in our lives as an event or as a process?

A re-post of a classic explanation of the Atonement:

A father once scolded his son a few days before Christmas because the little boy was terrorizing the house and creating a constant mess. The father said, “If you aren’t good, Santa won’t bring you anything.” Soon the father wondered where his boy had gone-things were too quiet. He found the little guy lying very still on his back, looking stonily at the ceiling. “What are you doing?” the father asked. “I’m being good,” said the boy. He was avoiding evil by avoiding movement. That is not what it means to prize the good. We seek more than neutrality, more than avoidance. We seek to be good, as the character of God himself is good in its very nature. And that state of being is, like charity, ultimately a gift of Christ’s Atonement, bestowed upon the humble and obedient followers of Christ, after they learn from experience all they can discover by themselves about prizing the good.

So, does the Atonement work in our lives as an event or as a process? If it is an event, life is a simple test that we either pass or fail. We compile a certain number of black marks and white marks. At life’s end, we add up the marks, compute our repentance points, and check the score. Above some fixed level of repentance, the Atonement applies, our sins are paid for, and we go back to square one. With this approach, repentance is essentially another white mark-something we do to earn forgiveness. But something is missing here. For one thing, if the Atonement simply returns Adam and Eve to Eden, theirs is a story with no plot, no character development. Nothing happens to them, because the Atonement seems to erase what has happened to them. There is nothing here about what it means to have learned to recognize evil and to prize the good.

Moreover, this view sees our repentance as mechanically earning enough grace to offset our black marks. If that is how we think the Atonement works, we are unlikely ever to feel the full freedom and meaning of forgiveness and belonging to Christ. As long as we believe that we totally earn forgiveness, we will still feel guilty, because we will sense intuitively that we do not have the power to make ourselves completely whole. The Lord’s forgiveness is ultimately an act of grace-it comes as his gift, not as something we have a “right” to, even though we must repent as a condition of receiving it.

Consider, however, the Atonement in our lives as a process rather than an event. The process of Atonement applies not just once but, potentially, throughout our lives. Along this path of life, Adam and Eve did not simply return to Eden; rather, they moved onward from Eden through the telestial world. Because they accepted the gospel, then learned to cast Satan’s influence from their lives, they kept moving with the blessings of the priesthood into the terrestrial world, and finally into the celestial presence of God.

During this arduous journey, our first parents learned from their own experience to distinguish good from evil. By the sorrow and sweat of earthly life, they learned the taste and, ultimately, the very meaning of the sweet and the good. They did not come to this understanding merely by partaking of the forbidden fruit. Their first taste of the tree of knowledge was but the beginning of a lifelong quest for meaning-not an event but an extended process, marked by having children and discovering misery, sin, goodness, joy, and the very meaning of eternal life.

Elder Bruce C. and Marie K. Hafen,

The Belonging Heart: The Atonement and Relationships with God and Family, Deseret Books, 1994

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March 27, 2017

Christmas, Forgiveness, Hymns, Rescue

Comments Off on Prone to Wander – A Season for Prodigals to Return

I woke up very early this morning with the words of this hymn running through my mind and thought I would share it with you.

For me, it represents the open arms that Christ extends to every man or woman who has wandered off into strange paths and desires to return.

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February 21, 2017

Christmas, General Authorities, Nelson, Resurrection

Comments Off on Jesus Descended Below All Things in Order to Rise Above All Things

Now, two millennia later, though we don’t know all the details pertaining to His birth, we certainly understand the unique parentage of this Babe of Bethlehem. We declare solemnly and with conviction: Jesus was born of an immortal Father and a mortal mother. From His immortal Father, Jesus inherited the power to live forever. From His mortal mother He inherited the fate of physical death.

Those unique attributes were essential for His mission to atone for the sins of all mankind. Thus Jesus the Christ was born to die (see 3 Nephi 27:13–15). He died that we might live. He was born that all humankind could live beyond the grave. His Atonement was wrought in Gethsemane—where He sweat great drops of blood—and on Golgotha, or Calvary, where His body was lifted up upon a cross above the place of the skull, which signified death.

This infinite Atonement would release man from the infinitude of death (see 2 Nephi 9:7). His Atonement made the Resurrection a reality and the gift of eternal life a possibility for all who would obey His teachings. His Atonement became the central act of all human history.

Our recollections of Christmas are enriched by these realities. Each one of us with a testimony of the Lord has the privilege in faith to know of His divine parentage and to testify that Jesus is the Son of the living God.

Jesus descended below all things in order to rise above all things. He expects us to follow His example. Yoked with Him, we can rise above all challenges, no matter how difficult they may be (see Matthew 11:29–30).

Elder Russell M. Nelson
Christ the Savior Is Born“, New Era, Dec. 2006, 2–5

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December 31, 2016

C.S. Lewis, Christmas, Salvation

Comments Off on The Son of God became a man to enable men to become the sons of God

From C.S. Lewis for Christmas:

The Son of God became a man to enable men to become the sons of God. (Mere Christianity, page 178)

What are we to make of Jesus Christ? . . . The real question is not what we are to make of Christ, but what is He to make of us? (God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, page 156)

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