Without ever minimizing the seriousness of some of our mistakes, I want to give to you today the message that we can be washed and pronounced clean if we will but honor the Lamb of God. From relatively innocent mistakes or disadvantages in life to the most serious of spiritual sins, the gospel of Jesus Christ gives us a way back. We must believe in movement “from darkness to light, from suffering to peace, from misery to hope.”
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
“A Robe, a Ring, and a Fatted Calf,” Elder Holland was president of Brigham Young University when this devotional address was given on 31 January 1984.
We must trust in the Atonement. Our only real affirmation of the Atonement is our own repentance. Otherwise, we mock God. President Kimball also said, “God is good. He is eager to forgive. He wants us to perfect ourselves and maintain control of ourselves. He does not want Satan and others to control our lives.” We don’t want other people to control our lives. God doesn’t want Satan and other wicked people to lead us into doing things that are not good. “We must learn that keeping our Heavenly Father’s commandments represents the only path to total control of ourselves, the only way to find joy, truth, and fulfillment in this life and in eternity.” In the video The Faith of an Observer, a documentary about Hugh Nibley, that splendid man said with the accumulated wisdom of his seventy-five years, “There are only two things we can do with distinction in this life: repent and forgive.” I would suggest that we cannot understand the one without experiencing the other.
Ann N. Madsen
“A Voice Demands That We Ascend”-Dare the Encounter: Building a Relationship With God – included in “As Women of Faith: Talks Selected from the BYU Women’s Conferences” edited by Mary E. Stovall, Carol Cornwall Madsen, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989
Sadly, many do not believe in a Redeemer or understand the need for an atonement, even though they acknowledge human failings. They are left to believe, therefore, that we can never be truly happy, that this life is all there is, and that we must find pleasure here and there as best we can. Without a Savior to redeem and reform us, there is little hope of lasting improvement in humanity. Such a dismal view of life can be corrected by a study of the Book of Mormon. Father Lehi taught that “redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.
“Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit. …
“Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth” (2 Nephi 2:6–8).
Many Church members have been taught the concepts of why we need an atonement, but there are elements of this doctrine that are often misunderstood. Errors in thinking can lessen the hope and joy they ought to feel or cause them to wander into byways of sin or despair. I would like to address a few common misunderstandings about the Atonement.
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).
Elder J. Devn Cornish, Area Authority Seventy
Learning How the Atonement Can Change You, Ensign, April, 2002