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

Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.

John Wesley
Rule of Conduct, Letters of John Wesley, ed. George Eayrs, p. 423, footnote

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February 9, 2018

Cook, Enabling Power, General Authorities, General Conference

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While Elder David A. Bednar is most closely connected with teaching about the Enabling Power of the Atonement, others have also discussed this aspect of our Savior’s greatest gift to us.

Elder Gene R. Cook of the Seventy said:

Grace is a “divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.” It is “an enabling power.” (Bible Dictionary, p. 697.) The doctrine of the grace of the Father and the Son and how it affects us is so significant that it is mentioned more than two hundred times in the standard works.

If we can obtain the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, that divine enabling power to assist us, we will triumph in this life and be exalted in the life to come.

Let me share with you five principles that may help us obtain that divine intervention in our own life or perhaps vicariously assist in the life of another. These principles are simple to understand but most challenging to apply. You already know all of them. However, you may not have considered how directly related they are to obtaining grace.

The first principle is faith. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

“By whom also we have access by faith into this grace.” (Rom. 5:1–2.)

It is evident that this grace, or enabling power, is accessed by faith. No wonder faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel.

How clear Christ’s question was to a sinking Peter, after he had walked on the water: “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matt. 14:31.) The moment Peter doubted and took his eyes off the Savior, he severed himself from the power of Jesus Christ that had sustained him on the water.

How many times, likewise, as we have prayed for assistance or help with our problems, have we severed ourselves from the power of God because of doubt or fear, and thus could not obtain this enabling power of God? (See D&C 6:36; D&C 67:3.)

Gene R. Cook

Receiving Divine Assistance through the Grace of the Lord,” Ensign, May 1993, 79

See posts on Elder Bednar’s discussions of this part of the Atonement here and here.

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January 20, 2018

Cook, Enabling Power, General Authorities, Grace

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Let’s assume that a faithful man named John is praying for a blessing with all his heart, and he does all he can to help bring it to pass, but it’s just not enough. He puts in most of what’s required but not all. He just doesn’t have the capacity to do all that’s required. But he persists and receives the blessing.

Question: Who put in the rest? The law or requirement must be fulfilled, but John wasn’t able to fully do it. Who compensates for his inadequacy?

Answer: The Lord, Jesus Christ. The enabling power of God, or grace, intervened and Jesus Christ contributed what John lacked. And thus the law was fulfilled.

Please understand this. Jesus came not only to save us from our sins but also to assist us with our infirmities, our afflictions, our weaknesses, our problems, and our discouragements. And when he does so, in the process he helps us to qualify for the blessings we seek, and that is called grace.

Now consider another man. This man has less faith than John. This man was baptized just last week. He seeks the same blessing as John, but he cannot muster the faith that John has. As he seeks to obey the required law, all he can do is put in maybe a tenth of what’s needed. Yet he still receives the blessing. Why is that? Again, because Jesus compensated and put the rest in for him. After we have done all in our power, the grace of the Lord will intervene. The prophet Nephi said it masterfully:

For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. (2 Nephi 25:23.)

In my judgment, this principle explains why it is that when a little child prays he can so readily receive the blessing. The child doesn’t know how to do very much except give all of his heart, but that’s enough. Then the Lord puts in the rest. Children have great access to the heavens.

We also can have such access if we will pray with all our hearts and do all we can to qualify for the blessing we seek. Then, through the grace, or enabling power, of Christ, the heavens will intervene and bring us that which we desire.

Elder Gene R. Cook
Receiving Answers to Our Prayers
Deseret Book Company (1996)

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December 24, 2017

Dew, Enabling Power, Integrity

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I have no question that we are here now, that we were sent now, because we have everything it takes to deal with the world now. We were put through our paces premortally. That we are here now speaks to how well we did. We have it in us not only to withstand the pressures of the last days but to triumph over them.

Now, that doesn’t mean we are living up to who we are. Typically we are in need of making some degree of course corrections. To help with this, I invite you to undergo the spring cleaning to end all spring cleanings by enrolling in Integrity 101. Let me outline the coursework. First, take an inventory of your integrity by asking yourself the kind of questions I listed earlier. Look for cracks that may have started to form. Be honest with yourself about your past dishonesties. Second, for the next thirty days take time every night to assess how you did that day. Were you true to yourself and to others? Were you true to God in every situation? See if this increased effort makes a difference in what you say, how you spend your time and money, the decisions you make, and what you repent of. See if it also makes a difference in how you feel about yourself and your life.

Finally, as you become more fully aware of your strengths and weaknesses, turn to the Savior more frequently and with increasing fervor. Thank our Father for the gift of His Son and the privilege of repenting. Express your deep desire to live with integrity. And then plead for help. The Savior has the power to help you change. He has the power to help you turn weakness into strength. He has the power to make you better than you have ever been.

I know that this is true, for I have felt His redeeming and enabling power again and again and again. May we come to be more true than we have ever been before-true to ourselves, true to others, and, most important, true to God, with whom we have made sacred covenants. May we be like the sons of Helaman-who were strict to remember God day in and day out, and who were true at all times to whatsoever thing with which they had been entrusted. May we be true blue, through and through.

Sheri L. Dew
No Doubt About It
Deseret Book (2001)

 

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December 23, 2017

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.

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November 22, 2017

Enabling Power, Forgiveness, Fundamental Principles

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1. Some have a difficult time accepting in their hearts that when the Lord says “all” He means them too. They seem to say to themselves, “I believe that Jesus Christ died for the sins of mankind, but what I have done is so terrible or so repeated that I don’t think the Atonement will work for me.” Some who are faithful members of the Church actually seem to believe that they will never make it back to Heavenly Father’s presence. It is the idea that Christ can save all mankind, but He may not be able to save me. This kind of feeling is terribly discouraging, and it can become an excuse to dabble in sin. “After all,” some rationalize, “I’m not going to make it anyway.”

Others can sense that this idea is false and that Christ can save them, but they are not sure He will. The Book of Mormon prophet Jacob taught, “He cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken to his voice; for behold, he suffereth … the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children” (2 Ne.:21). The question is not whether we are perfect or whether we are worth forgiving, but whether we are willing to admit when we do wrong, feel sorry, confess as appropriate, do all we can to set things right, and ask the Lord to forgive us. This is what the Savior meant when He said we must have “a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (3 Ne. 9:20). I know that the Lord is ready, even anxious, to forgive each of us personally if we will but come to Him (see Mosiah 26:30).

2. Another mistake is to believe that the Atonement really only comes into effect at the very end, that is, at the time of Final Judgment. This line of thinking is “I know I should live the gospel, but I often fall short. I am just hoping that I will do well enough overall that at the end the Lord will apply His generous mercy to me and I will get in to heaven.” While this thinking is not completely false, it is incomplete. It does include the fact that we must sincerely strive to do what is right, and it includes the idea that the Lord can in His mercy take away our sins. Yet who among us can afford to wait until the Final Judgment to receive the Lord’s help and healing? As a favorite hymn teaches:

I need thy presence ev’ry passing hour.
What but thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me! 2

I testify that the Lord hears our prayers and that He will make us clean and bless us with His Spirit here and now, if we will trust in Him and repent. We partake of the sacrament each week to renew our covenants and feel that cleansing power anew. We are exhorted to retain a remission of our sins from day to day (see Mosiah 4:26). When we end each prayer “in the name of Jesus Christ, amen,” we are petitioning the Father that we might enter His presence through the mediation of Jesus Christ, who is pleading our cause before Him (see D&C 45:3–5). Surely our Lord desires to succor us at any time, for in Him “we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities” (Heb. 4:15).

3. A third misunderstanding is a pernicious lie that goes like this: “It doesn’t really matter what I do. The Lord is going to forgive and save everybody. Why not sample in the meantime a bit of what the world has to offer? After all, everyone else is doing it.” The prophet Nephi accurately predicted this way of thinking long ago (see 2 Ne. 28:8).

The Lord, of course, can and wants to forgive everyone, but a full measure of His mercy will only come with complete and deep repentance. If we have not suffered, we have not repented. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said, “Repentance of necessity involves suffering and sorrow. Anyone who thinks otherwise has not read the life of the young Alma, nor tried to personally repent. In the process of repentance we are granted just a taste of the suffering we would endure if we failed to turn away from evil. That pain, though only momentary for the repentant, is the most bitter of cups.” 3

What a terrible thing to believe mistakenly that sin will be happiness and that repentance will be easy, for one of the terrible consequences of sin is the loss of the Spirit. “Wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10), and “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).

It is also folly to assume that we can premeditatedly sin, repent, and then have the Lord immediately remove all the natural consequences of our sins. When we choose to sin, we also choose the results of those sins. Suppose two people conceive a baby outside of marriage, then repent and are forgiven by the Lord. Will the baby suddenly go away? Obviously not; someone must care for that baby. Though the baby will doubtless bring joy to many lives, some of the consequences of our sins may be difficult to bear. Also, these consequences may not be quickly or easily resolved. We may have to wrestle with some of them for much of our mortal lives. This principle does not detract in any way from the complete and infinite cleansing power of the Atonement. When we truly repent, the Lord fully forgives us and our guilt is swept away (see Enos 1:6). But it is important to understand that the Lord has placed us in a physical world where there are real consequences for our choices.

Elder J. Devn Cornish

Learning How the Atonement Can Change You,” Ensign, Apr 2002, 20.  Elder Cornish was an Area Authority Seventy in the North America Southeast Area when this article was published.

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October 23, 2017

Alma, Enabling Power, Paul, Repentance

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In one test of creativity, subjects are faced with the following problem: A ping pong ball has fallen to the bottom of a tube that stands, in a vertical position, fastened permanently to the floor. Some participants try, unsuccessfully, to reach into the tube and retrieve the ball with tools that are provided. The problem is that some tools are not long enough to reach the ball, while others are too wide to fit into the tube. Some subjects eventually give up in exasperation, but others discover a creative solution, realizing that water can be poured into the tube. The water displaces the air in the tube, and the ball pops to the surface, rising higher each time water is poured in. Once water fills the tube, the ball is easily retrieved.

In the same way, one of the best methods to remove something from our lives is to displace it with something else. . . . we can become so caught up in a purpose for good that we simply have less time and energy to get wrapped up in the bad.

Alma the Younger and Paul the apostle both utilized this principle. At one point, each had strong desires to tear down the Church, then repented. In their repentance, they permanently replaced bad with good. It would be absurd to imagine that after they were converted they had to resolve each morning, “I just have to resist the temptation to preach against Christ today.” Instead, they had become captivated and eager to build up the Church and had thrown themselves completely into the cause of Christ.

. . . .

Certainly it is true that good can displace the bad in our lives. When we are deeply involved in a positive purpose, our souls, and even our bodies it seems, resonate with the power and energy of God. Just as precious ore that has been purged of imperfections is more pure, we are more fully ourselves when we are in the midst of doing good rather than evil. In essence, the process of gaining more self-control and increasing in righteousness is not one of changing from who we are. Rather, we are changing to who we are. Changing is a process of becoming more fully ourselves.

A. Dean Byrd and Mark D. Chamberlain

Willpower Is Not Enough, (1995, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City)

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October 2, 2017

Discouragement, Enabling Power, Hafen, Mercy, Millett

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“The person most in need of understanding the Savior’s mercy is probably one who has worked himself to exhaustion in a sincere effort to repent, but who still believes his estrangement from God is permanent and hopeless. . . . I sense that an increasing number of deeply committed Church members are weighed down beyond the breaking point with discouragement about their personal lives. When we habitually understate the meaning of the Atonement, we take more serious risks than simply leaving one another without comforting reassurances-for some may simply drop out of the race, worn out and beaten down with the harsh and untrue belief that they are just not celestial material”

Elder Bruce C. Hafen

The Broken Heart, pp. 5-6, quoted in Within Reach by Robert C. Millett (1995, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City)

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September 8, 2017

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

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July 25, 2017

Enabling Power, General Authorities, General Conference, Healing, Oaks, Tests

Comments Off on Marriage, Divorce and the Atonement

We know that some look back on their divorces with regret at their own partial or predominant fault in the breakup. All who have been through divorce know the pain and need the healing power and hope that come from the Atonement. That healing power and that hope are there for them and also for their children.

. . . .

If you are already descending into the low state of marriage-in-name-only, please join hands, kneel together, and prayerfully plead for help and the healing power of the Atonement. Your humble and united pleadings will bring you closer to the Lord and to each other and will help you in the hard climb back to marital harmony.

. . . .

Consider these observations of a wise bishop with extensive experience in counseling members with marriage problems. Speaking of those who eventually divorced, he said:

“Universally, every couple or individual said they recognized that divorce was not a good thing, but they all insisted that their situation was different.

“Universally, they focused on the fault of the spouse and attributed little responsibility to their own behavior. Communication had withered.

“Universally, they were looking back, not willing to leave the baggage of past behavior on the roadside and move on.

“Part of the time, serious sin was involved, but more often they had just ‘fallen out of love,’ saying, ‘He doesn’t satisfy my needs anymore,’ or, ‘She has changed.’

“All were worried about the effect on the children, but always the conclusion was ‘it’s worse for them to have us together and fighting.’ ”

In contrast, the couples who followed this bishop’s counsel and stayed together emerged with their marriages even stronger. That prospect began with their mutual commitment to keep the commandments, stay active in their Church attendance, scripture reading, and prayer, and to work on their own shortcomings. They “recognized the importance and power of the Atonement for their spouse and for themselves,” and “they were patient and would try again and again.” When the couples he counseled did these things, repenting and working to save their marriages, this bishop reported that “healing was achieved 100 percent of the time.”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

Divorce,” Ensign, May 2007, 70–73

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