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

December 2, 2017

Covenants, Nibley, Sacrifice

Comments Off on The Atonement is Either Dead to Us or in Full Effect

If we would have God “apply the atoning blood of Christ” (Mosiah 4:2) to our case, we can also reject it. We can take advantage of it, or we can refuse it. The Atonement is either dead to us or in full effect. It is the supreme sacrifice made for us, and to receive it, we must live up to every promise and covenant related to it—the Day of Atonement was the day of covenants, and the place was the temple.

We cannot keep ourselves chaste in a casual and convenient way, nor can we accept chastity as St. Augustine did, as to be operative at some future time—“God give me chastity and continency, only not yet.” 1 We cannot enjoy optional obedience to the laws of God, or place our own limits on the law of sacrifice, or mitigate the charges of righteous conduct connected with living the gospel. We cannot be willing to sacrifice only that which is convenient to part with, and then expect a reward. The Atonement is everything; it is not to be had “on the cheap.” God is not mocked in these things; we do not make promises and covenants with mental reservations. Unless we keep our covenants, Satan has power over us—a condition we can easily recognize by the mist of fraud and deception that has enveloped our whole society.

Hugh W. Nibley

The Atonement of Jesus Christ, Part 4,” Ensign, Oct 1990, 26

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September 21, 2017

Covenants, Grace, Justification, Robinson, Salvation

Comments Off on Salvation is the Task of Him Who Bears the Title, Savior

The larger theological perspective needed to accommodate both grace and works is provided by the scriptures themselves in the concept of “covenant,” an agreement entered into voluntarily by two parties, with obligations laid upon both. This concept is taught in both the Old and New Testaments as characterizing the proper relationship between God and his people.

The availability of the covenant, the Savior who mediates it, his agony that empowered it-these are all free gifts of grace: God didn’t have to offer; Jesus didn’t have to suffer. They are gifts bestowed upon us out of love. But the decision to remain in the covenant, to stay put and “endure to the end”-that choice is ours, and it is indicated by whom we serve and by the works we do. As long as we choose to remain loyal to him, Christ continues to justify us by his grace and to atone for our mistakes. Our present good works (such as we can manage) are a token of the perfect righteousness we genuinely seek to offer but at this point can achieve only through Christ, a token that we still serve him and not the Enemy. This token-our sincere effort-is accepted by Christ, who alone redeems and justifies us through the covenant.

Ultimately, salvation is the task of him who bears the title-Savior. It is his title because it is his function and not ours. Occasionally, he allows us to work for him as tools in saving others, but never for ourselves. We can’t baptize ourselves, bless ourselves, ordain ourselves, or endow ourselves. Still, we can and must do something to enter into and remain in the covenant. We cannot logically insist he is our master while at the same time refusing to serve him. We can’t have it both ways. Servants, by definition, serve. If entering into the covenant is a choice for Christ rather than Satan, then staying in the covenant is serving Christ-that is, to continue choosing Christ, to endure or persist in choosing Christ-and that choice is expressed in our behavior. We can’t come to Christ and then just wander off to do our own thing.

Stephen E. Robinson
The Parable of the Divers and More Good News
Deseret Book Company, 1995

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June 3, 2017

Covenants, General Authorities, Hafen

Comments Off on The Very People Who Have Covenanted with the Savior to Accept His Atonement

Some people reason that such powerful, positive forces as membership in the Church, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the Spirit of Christ operate independently of the Atonement-because they think the Atonement serves the limited function of simply paying for our sins. But membership in the Church is but one fruit of the larger blessing of accepting the first principles and ordinances of the gospel, which all flow from and center on the Atonement. The members of the Church are not just fellow members of a common institution-we are, more exactly, the very people from all across the earth who have covenanted with the Savior to accept his Atonement. In this sense, the Saints are the “true followers of . . . Christ.” (Moroni 7:48.) We call each other “brother and sister” because we are all children of Christ, the father of our spiritual rebirth.

Our repentance from our sins qualifies us to enter this covenant relationship with Christ, just as his Atonement qualifies him to enter it with us. The hope, the comfort, and the charity we then receive through the medium of the Holy Ghost are all part of the abundant blessing of belonging to Christ by being bought with his sacrifice. This relationship unlocks the doors not only to forgiveness but also to all the promises of the Holy One of Israel, including his bearing the burdens of our pains and infirmities that are not the result of our sins. And even though we cannot typically “repent” of these infirmities, we must repent of our actual sins to be entitled to his healing power, which can wipe away all our tears.

Elder Bruce C. Hafen  and Marie K. Hafen

The Belonging Heart: The Atonement And Relationships With God And Family

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February 24, 2017

Allred, Covenants, Temple

Comments Off on Allred – The Temple and the Atonement

We have been instructed to build temples so that holy ordinances may be performed for both the living and the dead. These ordinances include initiatory ordinances, endowments, marriages, sealings, baptisms for the dead, and ordinations.

The initiatory ordinances provide us with specific immediate and future blessings.

The endowment embodies sacred covenants. It includes receiving instruction, power from on high, and the promise of blessings on condition of our faithfulness to the covenants we make.

President Brigham Young defined the endowment the following way:

“Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the house of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father … and gain your eternal exaltation.”6

The sealing ordinances, such as temple marriage, bind families eternally.

The covenants we make with the associated ordinances we receive in the temple become our credentials for admission into God’s presence. These covenants elevate us beyond the limits of our own power and perspective. We make covenants to show our devotion to build up the kingdom. We become covenant people as we are placed under covenant to God. All the promised blessings are ours through our faithfulness to these covenants.

The temple is a house of learning. Much of the instruction imparted in the temple is symbolic and learned by the Spirit. This means we are taught from on high. Temple covenants and ordinances are a powerful symbol of Christ and His Atonement. We all receive the same instruction, but our understanding of the meaning of the ordinances and covenants will increase as we return to the temple often with the attitude of learning and contemplating the eternal truths taught. . . .

Let us be worthy to have a current temple recommend. Let us go to the temple to seal our families eternally. Let us return to the temple as often as our circumstances will permit. Let us give our kindred dead the opportunity to receive the ordinances of exaltation. Let us enjoy the spiritual strength and the revelation we receive as we attend the temple regularly. Let us be faithful and make and keep temple covenants to receive the full blessings of the Atonement.

Silvia H. Allred First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency

Holy Temples, Sacred Covenants,” Ensign, Nov 2008, 112–14

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June 11, 2016

Covenants, General Authorities, Humility, Maxwell, Sacrifice

Comments Off on The usual gifts we give to God could be stamped “Return to Sender”

In striving for ultimate submission, our wills constitute all we really have to give God anyway. The usual gifts and their derivatives we give to Him could be stamped justifiably “Return to Sender,” with a capital S. Even when God receives this one gift in return, the fully faithful will receive “all that [He] hath” (D&C 84:38). What an exchange rate!

Meanwhile, certain realities remain: God has given us our lives, our agency, our talents, and our opportunities; He has given us our possessions; He has given us our appointed mortal spans complete with the needed breaths (see D&C 64:32). Guided by such perspective, we will avoid serious errors of proportion. Some of these are far less amusing than would be hearing a double quartet and mistaking it for the Tabernacle Choir!

No wonder President [Gordon B.] Hinckley … stressed our being a covenant people, emphasizing the covenants of the sacrament, tithing, and the temple, citing sacrifice as the “very essence of the Atonement.” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley (1997), 147)

Elder Neal A. Maxwell
“Consecrate Thy Performance”, Ensign, Dec. 2008, 26–30

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February 26, 2016

Covenants, Fall, Grace, Hafen, Justice, Lehi, Repentance

Comments Off on The Atonement is for All of Life, Each Day of Our Lives

The story of Adam and Eve teaches us that the Atonement is for all of life, each day of our lives. The Savior’s gracious power not only heals and comforts but is also a source of personal growth and development, leading to an understanding of life and a fullness of joy. The Atonement is thus developmental and practical, not static and abstract.

According to Lehi, “If Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden.” He and Eve “would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin.” (2 Nephi 2:22-23.) This passage seems to say what many parents have long suspected-if they had no children, they would have no misery. Yet without children and without misery, they would also have no joy. But, taught Lehi, the Fall-with its misery, its sorrow, and even its sin-was not a mistake or an accident. The Fall was consciously designed, misery and all, to bring us joy and freedom: “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy. And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time . . . that they . . . become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves.” (2 Nephi 2:25-26.)

The Lord taught Adam this same understanding of life. He said Adam’s children would experience the bitterness of mortality, but “they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good.” (Moses 6:55.) Indeed, “If they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet.” (D&C 29:39) And the role of the Atonement in that process is to compensate for-to heal us from-the effects of the bitter, after we do all we can do by ourselves: “It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23.)

Thus does the grace of Christ, unlocked by his atoning sacrifice, heal us from the wounds of our sins and all our other infirmities. As we repent of our conscious sins, accept the gospel, and do all else we can do, we enter into a holy relationship with our Savior based on the two-way covenants made possible by his atonement. Through our covenant relationship with him, celebrated each week by the sacrament, he heals us in at least four distinct ways.

First, he satisfies the eternal law of justice, relieving us of the burden of paying for our sins, so long as we repent of them.

Second, his influence interacts with our righteous yearnings and our repentance to change our hearts until we desire goodness continually.

Third, he bridges any chasm that separates and estranges us from God. Many things can create this sense of alienation-unintentional mistakes or undeserved discouragement and confusion, as well as sin. Regardless of whether his sheep run away or lose their way or are stolen away, the Good Shepherd will search for them when they are lost, pick them up, and carry them home, making them “at one” with him and his Father. That is the work of the great “at-one-ment.”

And, fourth, once we have done all we can do to make restitution, the Savior will help to compensate for the harm we may have done or the harms done to us, repairing and restoring our spiritual and psychic losses, whether caused by sin or other factors.

Elder Bruce C. Hafen and Marie K. Hafen
“Eve Heard All These Things and Was Glad”: Grace and Learning By Experience
published in Women in the Covenant of Grace, Edited by Dawn Hall Anderson
and Susette Fletcher Green
Talks Selected from the 1993 Women’s Conference Sponsored by
Brigham Young University and the Relief Society
Deseret Book Company, 1994

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November 5, 2014

Covenants, General Authorities, Nelson, Plan of Salvation, Temple

Comments Off on The Basis for Every Temple Ordinance and Covenant is the Atonement

The temple is the house of the Lord. The basis for every temple ordinance and covenant—the heart of the plan of salvation—is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Every activity, every lesson, all we do in the Church, point to the Lord and His holy house. Our efforts to proclaim the gospel, perfect the Saints, and redeem the dead all lead to the temple. Each holy temple stands as a symbol of our membership in the Church, (See “Following the Master: Teachings of President Howard W. Hunter,” Ensign, Apr. 1995, 21–22; Howard W. Hunter, “The Great Symbol of Our Membership,” Tambuli, Nov. 1994, 3) as a sign of our faith in life after death, and as a sacred step toward eternal glory for us and our families.

President Hinckley said that “these unique and wonderful buildings, and the ordinances administered therein, represent the ultimate in our worship. These ordinances become the most profound expressions of our theology.” (“Of Missions, Temples, and Stewardship,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 53)

Elder Russell M. Nelson
Personal Preparation for Temple Blessings,” Liahona, Jul 2001, 37–40