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

October 31, 2017

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Fundamental Principles, Lyon, Repentance

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Repentance has been central to God’s dealings with his children since they were first placed on the earth. Old Testament prophets constantly called the children of Israel individually and collectively to repent and turn to God and righteous living from rebellion, apostasy, and sin. In New Testament times, the work of Jesus Christ on earth may be described as a ministry of repentance-that is, of calling on God’s children to return to their God by changing their thinking and behavior and becoming more godlike. The Savior taught, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). Christ’s apostles were called primarily to preach faith in Christ and to declare repentance to all the world (Mark 6:12). In modern times, few topics occur in the Lord’s revelations as pervasively as this one. He has given latter-day prophets and all messengers of his gospel repeated instructions to declare “nothing but repentance unto this generation” (D&C 6:9). The Prophet Joseph Smith identified repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as the two fundamental principles of the gospel (A of F 4). And the gospel itself has been called “a gospel of repentance” (D&C 13;84:27).

In modern as in earlier times, the term “repentance” literally means a turning from sin and a reversing of one’s attitudes and behavior. Its purposes are to develop the divine nature within all mortal souls by freeing them from wrong or harmful thoughts and actions and to assist them in becoming more Christlike by replacing the “natural man” (1 Cor. 2:14) with the “new man” in Christ (Eph. 4:20-24).

This process is not only necessary in preparing humans to return and live with God, but it enlarges their capacity to love their fellow beings. Those who have reconciled themselves with God have the spiritual understanding, desire, and power to become reconciled with their fellow beings. God has commanded all humans to forgive each other: “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men” (D&C 64:10). As God shows his love by forgiving (“I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more”; Jer. 31:34), his children, as they forgive others, also reflect this love.

. . . .

Since repentance is an ongoing process in the mortal effort to become Christlike, the need for it never diminishes. It requires active, daily application as humans recognize and strive to overcome sin and error and in this way endure to the end. For this reason, the Lord has instituted a means whereby each person who has repented and entered into the baptismal covenant may renew it by partaking of the Sacrament in remembrance of him. This time of self-examination allows one to reflect on the promises made at baptism, which were to take Christ’s name upon oneself, to remember him always, and to keep his commandments. Thus, the process of repentance is kept alive by this frequent period of reflection as the participant partakes of symbols of Christ’s body and blood in remembrance of his sacrifice to atone for human sin.

James K. Lyon
Repentance
The Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Macmillan Publishing, 1992

As noted in previous posts, the Encyclopedia of Mormonism is not recognized as official Church doctrine, but is a respected source of well-informed commentary on doctrine.

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October 17, 2017

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, General Authorities, Grace, Hafen

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The following is taken from then entry entitled, “Grace” in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism. The author is Bruce C. Hafen, an official at BYU when this work was written, now a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy.

As noted in previous posts, the Encyclopedia of Mormonism is not recognized as official Church doctrine, but is a respected source of well-informed commentary on doctrine.

From Elder Hafen:

Grace is thus the source of three categories of blessings related to mankind’s salvation. First, many blessings of grace are unconditional -free and unmerited gifts requiring no individual action. God’s grace in this sense is a factor in the Creation, the Fall, the Atonement, and the Plan of Salvation. Specifically regarding the Fall, and despite death and other conditions resulting from Adam’s transgression, Christ’s grace has atoned for original sin and has assured the resurrection of all humankind: “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression” (A of F 2).

Second, the Savior has also atoned conditionally for personal sins. The application of grace to personal sins is conditional because it is available only when an individual repents, which can be a demanding form of works. Because of this condition, mercy is able to satisfy the demands of justice with neither mercy nor justice robbing the other. Personal repentance is therefore a necessary condition of salvation, but it is not by itself sufficient to assure salvation (see Justice and Mercy). In addition, one must accept the ordinances of baptism and the laying-on of hands to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, by which one is born again as the spirit child of Christ and may eventually become sanctified (cf. D&C 76:51-52; see also Gospel of Jesus Christ).

Third, after one has received Christ’s gospel of faith, repentance, and baptism unto forgiveness of sin, relying “wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save,” one has only “entered in by the gate” to the “strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life” (2 Ne. 31:17-20). In this postbaptism stage of spiritual development, one’s best efforts-further works-are required to “endure to the end” (2 Ne. 31:20). These efforts include obeying the Lord’s commandments and receiving the higher ordinances performed in the temples, and continuing a repentance process as needed “to retain a remission of your sins” (Mosiah 4:12).

Elder Bruce C. Hafen
Grace
The Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Macmillan Publishing, 1992

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October 16, 2017

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, General Authorities, Grace, Hafen

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The following is taken from then entry entitled, “Grace” in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism. The author is Bruce C. Hafen, an official at BYU when this work was written, now an emeritus member of the First Quorum of the Seventy.

As noted in previous posts, the Encyclopedia of Mormonism is not recognized as official Church doctrine, but is a respected source of well-informed commentary on doctrine.

From Elder Hafen:

Grace is thus the source of three categories of blessings related to mankind’s salvation. First, many blessings of grace are unconditional -free and unmerited gifts requiring no individual action. God’s grace in this sense is a factor in the Creation, the Fall, the Atonement, and the Plan of Salvation. Specifically regarding the Fall, and despite death and other conditions resulting from Adam’s transgression, Christ’s grace has atoned for original sin and has assured the resurrection of all humankind: “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression” (A of F 2).

Second, the Savior has also atoned conditionally for personal sins. The application of grace to personal sins is conditional because it is available only when an individual repents, which can be a demanding form of works. Because of this condition, mercy is able to satisfy the demands of justice with neither mercy nor justice robbing the other. Personal repentance is therefore a necessary condition of salvation, but it is not by itselfsufficient to assure salvation (see Justice and Mercy). In addition, one must accept the ordinances of baptism and the laying-on of hands to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, by which one is born again as the spirit child of Christ and may eventually become sanctified (cf. D&C 76:51-52; see also Gospel of Jesus Christ).

Third, after one has received Christ’s gospel of faith, repentance, and baptism unto forgiveness of sin, relying “wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save,” one has only “entered in by the gate” to the “strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life” (2 Ne. 31:17-20). In this postbaptism stage of spiritual development, one’s best efforts-further works-are required to “endure to the end” (2 Ne. 31:20). These efforts include obeying the Lord’s commandments and receiving the higher ordinances performed in the temples, and continuing a repentance process as needed “to retain a remission of your sins” (Mosiah 4:12).

Elder Bruce C. Hafen
Grace
The Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Macmillan Publishing, 1992

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May 31, 2017

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Fundamental Principles, Holland

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The Encyclopedia of Mormonism is a work that was undertaken by a group of professors at Brigham Young University. While it is not recognized as official Church doctrine, the Encyclopedia has been cited on a number of occasions by General Authorities in general conference and is a highly-reliable non-doctrinal resource.

As I was reading the entry for Atonement, I noticed that Jeffrey R. Holland was the author. Elder Holland was the president of Brigham Young University when the Encyclopedia project was begun.

Following is an excerpt from Elder Holland’s essay on the Atonement:

The universal, infinite, and unconditional aspects of the Atonement of Jesus Christ are several. They include his ransom for Adam’s original transgression so that no member of the human family is held responsible for that sin (A of F 2; see Original Sin). Another universal gift is the resurrection from the dead of every man, woman, and child who lives, has ever lived, or ever will live, on the earth. Thus, the Atonement is not only universal in the sense that it saves the entire human family from physical death, but it is also infinite in the sense that its impact and efficacy in making redemption possible for all reach back in one direction to the beginning of time and forward in the other direction throughout all eternity. In short, the Atonement has universal, infinite, and unconditional consequences for all mankind throughout the duration of all eternity.

Emphasizing these unconditional gifts arising out of Christ’s atoning sacrifice, Latter-day Saints believe that other aspects of Christ’s gift are conditional upon obedience and diligence in keeping God’s commandments. For example, while members of the human family are freely and universally given a reprieve from Adam’s sin through no effort or action of their own, they are not freely and universally given a reprieve of their own sins unless they pledge faith in Christ, repent of those sins, are baptized in his name, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and confirmation into Christ’s church, and press forward with a brightness of hope and faithful endurance for the remainder of life’s journey. Of this personal challenge, Christ said, “For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; but if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit-and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink” (D&C 19:16-18).

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
The Atonement of Jesus Christ
The Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Macmillan Publishing, 1992

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April 22, 2017

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Fundamental Principles, General Authorities, Grace, Hafen

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In 1993, Bruce C. Hafen, then Provost of BYU, now a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, wrote an article for the Ensign magazine in connection with the publication of the Encyclopedia of Mormonism.  The article is entitled, The Restored Doctrine of the Atonement and is an excellent short discussion of some of the ways that LDS understanding of the Atonement and Grace return to original doctrines as taught by Christ and His prophets in ancient times.

From Elder Hafen:

In the teachings of Augustine and Luther, man’s fallen nature made self-generated righteous acts impossible. In LDS doctrine, by contrast, “men should … do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;

“For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves.” (D&C 58:27–28.)

Yet we clearly lack the capacity to develop a Christlike nature by our own effort alone. Thus, the perfecting attributes, which include hope, charity, and finally the divine nature that is inherently part of eternal life, are ultimately “bestowed upon all who are true followers of … Jesus Christ” (Moro. 7:48; emphasis added) by the grace that was made possible by the Savior’s atonement. In LDS theology, this interactive relationship between human will and divine powers derives from the significance the gospel attaches to free will and from optimism about the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22) among “those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do” (D&C 46:9; emphasis added).

God bestows these additional, perfecting expressions of grace conditionally, as he does the grace that allows forgiveness of sin. They are given “after all we can do” (2 Ne. 25:23)—that is, they are given as an essential supplement to our best efforts. We prove worthy and capable of receiving these gifts not only by obeying particular commandments but also by demonstrating certain personal attitudes and attributes, such as “meekness and lowliness of heart” (Moro. 8:26) and “a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (3 Ne. 9:20).

In addition, those who enter into the covenants of the gospel of Jesus Christ may also be spiritually sustained by him. This is the relationship we celebrate and renew each time we partake of the sacrament. Through it, the Savior grants not only a continuing remission of our sins, but he will also help compensate for our inadequacies, heal the bruises caused by our unintentional errors, and strengthen us far beyond our natural capacity in times of acute need.

Both we and our friends outside the Lord’s church need this Atonement-based relationship more than we need any other form of therapy or support: “O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.

“When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

“For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour.” (Isa. 43:1–3; emphasis added.)

Elder Bruce C. Hafen

The Restored Doctrine of the Atonement,” Ensign, Dec 1993, 7

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August 10, 2016

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Fall, Grace, Repentance

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In LDS teachings, the Fall of Adam made Christ’s redemption necessary, but not because the Fall by itself made man evil. Because of transgression, Adam and Eve were expelled from Eden into a world that was subject to death and evil influences. However, the Lord revealed to Adam upon his entry into mortality that “the Son of God hath atoned for original guilt”; therefore, Adam’s children were not evil, but were “whole from the foundation of the world” (Moses 6:54). Thus, “every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God” (D&C 93:38).

As the descendants of Adam and Eve then become accountable for their own sins at age eight, all of them taste sin as the result of their own free choice. “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). One whose cumulative experience leads her or him to love “Satan more than God” (Moses 5:28) will eventually become “carnal, sensual, and devilish” (Moses 5:13;6:49) by nature. On the other hand, one who consciously accepts Christ’s grace through the Atonement by faith, repentance, and baptism yields to “the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the Atonement of Christ the Lord” (Mosiah 3:19). In this way, the individual takes the initiative to accept the grace made available by the Atonement, exercising faith through a willing “desire to believe” (Alma 32:27). That desire is often kindled by hearing others bear testimony of Christ. When this word of Christ is planted and then nourished through obedience interacting with grace, as summarized below, the individual may “become a saint” by nature, thereby enjoying eternal (meaning godlike) life.

Grace is thus the source of three categories of blessings related to mankind’s salvation. First, many blessings of grace are unconditional -free and unmerited gifts requiring no individual action. God’s grace in this sense is a factor in the Creation, the Fall, the Atonement, and the Plan of Salvation. Specifically regarding the Fall, and despite death and other conditions resulting from Adam’s transgression, Christ’s grace has atoned for original sin and has assured the resurrection of all humankind: “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression” (A of F 2).

Second, the Savior has also atoned conditionally for personal sins. The application of grace to personal sins is conditional because it is available only when an individual repents, which can be a demanding form of works. Because of this condition, mercy is able to satisfy the demands of justice with neither mercy nor justice robbing the other. Personal repentance is therefore a necessary condition of salvation, but it is not by itself sufficient to assure salvation (see Justice and Mercy). In addition, one must accept the ordinances of baptism and the laying-on of hands to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, by which one is born again as the spirit child of Christ and may eventually become sanctified (cf. D&C 76:51-52; see also Gospel of Jesus Christ).

Third, after one has received Christ’s gospel of faith, repentance, and baptism unto forgiveness of sin, relying “wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save,” one has only “entered in by the gate” to the “strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life” (2 Ne. 31:17-20). In this postbaptism stage of spiritual development, one’s best efforts-further works-are required to “endure to the end” (2 Ne. 31:20). These efforts include obeying the Lord’s commandments and receiving the higher ordinances performed in the temples, and continuing a repentance process as needed “to retain a remission of your sins” (Mosiah 4:12).

Grace, Encyclopedia of Mormonism

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November 2, 2015

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Fundamental Principles

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The universal, infinite, and unconditional aspects of the Atonement of Jesus Christ are several. They include his ransom for Adam’s original transgression so that no member of the human family is held responsible for that sin (A of F 2; see Original Sin). Another universal gift is the resurrection from the dead of every man, woman, and child who lives, has ever lived, or ever will live, on the earth. Thus, the Atonement is not only universal in the sense that it saves the entire human family from physical death, but it is also infinite in the sense that its impact and efficacy in making redemption possible for all reach back in one direction to the beginning of time and forward in the other direction throughout all eternity. In short, the Atonement has universal, infinite, and unconditional consequences for all mankind throughout the duration of all eternity.

Emphasizing these unconditional gifts arising out of Christ’s atoning sacrifice, Latter-day Saints believe that other aspects of Christ’s gift are conditional upon obedience and diligence in keeping God’s commandments. For example, while members of the human family are freely and universally given a reprieve from Adam’s sin through no effort or action of their own, they are not freely and universally given a reprieve of their own sins unless they pledge faith in Christ, repent of those sins, are baptized in his name, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and confirmation into Christ’s church, and press forward with a brightness of hope and faithful endurance for the remainder of life’s journey. Of this personal challenge, Christ said, “For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; but if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit-and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink” (D&C 19:16-18).

Atonement of Jesus Christ, The Encyclopedia of Mormonism

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November 2, 2015

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Fundamental Principles, General Authorities, Grace, Hafen

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This is a second excerpt from The Restored Doctrine of the Atonement by Elder Bruce C. Hafen:

Sometimes we do not fully recognize the strength of the Church’s position on the most crucial doctrines of Christianity. This remarkable strength derives not just from family values and healthy living, as important as those are. It derives from the pure theology of the restored gospel—which is the last, best, and only hope of Christianity and of all humankind. The Restoration not only resolves post-Augustinian Christianity’s central doctrinal dilemmas, it also offers the most complete solution to our greatest problems, social or personal.

Yet the gospel’s insights remain relatively hidden from a society that has been consciously and cleverly persuaded by the evil one that the church of the Restoration knows least—when in fact it knows most—about Jesus Christ’s role as our personal Savior. The adversary has known exactly what he is doing. He has been engaged in one of history’s greatest cover-ups.
. . . .
Today, many people feel a longing for heaven, where, they want to believe, they will be welcomed not only into the arms of their families but into the arms of God. The Restoration offers a complete fulfillment of that longing, not just as some momentary emotion but as the fully developed doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We hear him saying to all those within and outside the Church who hunger and thirst to find him in times of personal famine: “Behold, ye are little children and ye cannot bear all things now; ye must grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth.

“Fear not, little children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath given me;

“And none of them that my Father hath given me shall be lost; …

“And inasmuch as ye have received me, ye are in me and I in you.” (D&C 50:40–43.)

“Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love.” (D&C 6:20.)

Elder Bruce C. Hafen
The Restored Doctrine of the Atonement,” Ensign, Dec 1993,  7

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November 2, 2015

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Sanctification

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Sanctification is the process of becoming a saint, holy and spiritually clean and pure, by purging all sin from the soul. Latter-day Saint scriptures mention several factors that make sanctification possible.

First is the Atonement of Jesus Christ (D&C 76:41-42;88:18; Moro. 10:33; Alma 13:11). Christ’s blood sanctifies God’s repentant children by washing them clean in a way that extends beyond the remission of sins at baptism. This cleansing is given through grace to all who “love and serve God” (D&C 20:31). “For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified” (Moses 6:60; cf. 1 John 5:8).

Second is the power of the Holy Ghost, the agent that purifies the heart and gives an abhorrence of sin (Alma 13:12; 3 Ne. 27:20).

Third is progression through personal righteousness (see also Justification). Faithful men and women fast; pray; repent of their sins; grow in humility, faith, joy, and consolation; and yield their hearts to God (Hel. 3:35). They also receive essential ordinances such as baptism (D&C 19:31) and, if necessary, endure chastening (D&C 101:5). Thus, Latter-day Saints are exhorted to “sanctify yourselves” (D&C 43:11) by purging all their iniquity (MD, pp. 675-76).

Sanctification

Author:  C. Eric Ott, The Encyclopedia of Mormonism

 

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November 2, 2015

Charity, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Fuhriman

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Charity is a concept found in many cultures, its meaning ranging from a general selfless love of humanity to the specific alms-giving that is often its focus in modern times. Latter-day Saints take their understanding of charity from the Book of Mormon: “Charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him” (Moro. 7:47; cf. Ether 12:34; 2 Ne. 26:30).

As the love of Christ, charity is characterized as selfless and self-sacrificing (1 Cor. 13:5), emanating from a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith unfeigned (1 Tim. 1:5). Thus, more than an act, charity is an attitude, a state of heart and mind (1 Cor. 13:4-7) that accompanies one’s works and is proffered unconditionally (D&C 121:45). It follows, but surpasses in importance, faith and hope (1 Cor. 13:13).

This may have been what Jesus was trying to teach Peter in John 21:15-17,wherein he asks Peter three times if he “loves” him, and, to Peter’s affirmative answers, responds, “Feed my sheep” and “Feed my lambs,” teaching that the true love of Christ always goes out to others. Loving all of God’s children and being willing to sacrifice for them are the depth and breadth of the pure love of Christ. This “bond of perfectness and peace” (D&C 88:125; Col. 3:14) becomes the foundation of all human relationships (cf. 1 Cor. 13). The everlasting love of charity is intended to be an integral part of one’s nature: one is to cleave unto it (Moro. 7:46) and be clothed in it (D&C 88:125). In fact, all things are to be done in charity. Charity is everlasting; it covers sins (1 Pet. 4:8), it casts out all fears (Moro. 8:17), and it is a prerequisite for entering the kingdom of Heaven (Ether 12:34; Moro. 10:21).

Throughout its history, the law of the LDS Church has been that its members are to do all things with charity. Since its inception in 1842, the LDS Relief Society has had the motto Charity Never Faileth (1 Cor. 13:8; Moro. 7:46). The concept of charity is fundamental to the teachings and the procedures of the Church, being the very core of all it does, including missionary work, Welfare Services, temple work, tithes and offerings, and home and visiting teaching. As the spiritual welfare of the individual member of the Church is contingent upon charity, so is the welfare of Zion dependent upon the charity in the hearts of Latter-day Saints (2 Ne. 26:28).

Addie Fuhriman
Charity, The Encyclopedia of Mormonism

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