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

The three pillars of eternity, the three events, preeminent and transcendent above all others, are the creation, the fall, and the atonement. These three are the foundations upon which all things rest. Without any one of them all things would lose their purpose and meaning, and the plans and designs of Deity would come to naught.

If there had been no creation, we would not be, neither the earth, nor any form of life upon its face. All things, all the primal elements, would be without form and void. God would have no spirit children; there would be no mortal probation; and none of us would be on the way to immortality and eternal life.

If there had been no fall of man, there would not be a mortal probation. Mortal man would not be, nor would there be animals or fowls or fishes or life of any sort upon the earth. And, we repeat, none of us would be on the way to immortality and eternal life.

If there had been no atonement of Christ, all things would be lost. The purposes of creation would vanish away. Lucifer would triumph over men and become the captain of their souls. And, we say it again, none of us would be on the way to immortality and eternal life.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie

The Three Pillars of Eternity, devotional address at Brigham Young University on 17 February 1981.

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January 13, 2018

Easter, Fundamental Principles, General Authorities, General Conference, Holland

Comments Off on Because Jesus Walked Such a Long, Lonely Path Utterly Alone, We Do Not Have To Do So

Another re-post of a fundamental building block of faith in Christ:

Now I speak very carefully, even reverently, of what may have been the most difficult moment in all of this solitary journey to Atonement. I speak of those final moments for which Jesus must have been prepared intellectually and physically but which He may not have fully anticipated emotionally and spiritually—that concluding descent into the paralyzing despair of divine withdrawal when He cries in ultimate loneliness, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46; emphasis added)
The loss of mortal support He had anticipated, but apparently He had not comprehended this. Had He not said to His disciples, “Behold, the hour … is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me” and “The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him”? (John 16:328:29)

With all the conviction of my soul I testify that He did please His Father perfectly and that a perfect Father did not forsake His Son in that hour. Indeed, it is my personal belief that in all of Christ’s mortal ministry the Father may never have been closer to His Son than in these agonizing final moments of suffering. Nevertheless, that the supreme sacrifice of His Son might be as complete as it was voluntary and solitary, the Father briefly withdrew from Jesus the comfort of His Spirit, the support of His personal presence. It was required, indeed it was central to the significance of the Atonement, that this perfect Son who had never spoken ill nor done wrong nor touched an unclean thing had to know how the rest of humankind—us, all of us—would feel when we did commit such sins. For His Atonement to be infinite and eternal, He had to feel what it was like to die not only physically but spiritually, to sense what it was like to have the divine Spirit withdraw, leaving one feeling totally, abjectly, hopelessly alone.

But Jesus held on. He pressed on. The goodness in Him allowed faith to triumph even in a state of complete anguish. The trust He lived by told Him in spite of His feelings that divine compassion is never absent, that God is always faithful, that He never flees nor fails us. When the uttermost farthing had then been paid, when Christ’s determination to be faithful was as obvious as it was utterly invincible, finally and mercifully, it was “finished.” (See John 19:30) Against all odds and with none to help or uphold Him, Jesus of Nazareth, the living Son of the living God, restored physical life where death had held sway and brought joyful, spiritual redemption out of sin, hellish darkness, and despair. With faith in the God He knew was there, He could say in triumph, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)

Brothers and sisters, one of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. His solitary journey brought great company for our little version of that path—the merciful care of our Father in Heaven, the unfailing companionship of this Beloved Son, the consummate gift of the Holy Ghost, angels in heaven, family members on both sides of the veil, prophets and apostles, teachers, leaders, friends. All of these and more have been given as companions for our mortal journey because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His gospel. Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are. Truly the Redeemer of us all said: “I will not leave you comfortless: [My Father and] I will come to you [and abide with you].” (John 14:18; see also v. 23)

Jeffrey R. Holland
None Were with Him“, Ensign, May 2009, 86–88

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January 12, 2018

Fundamental Principles, General Authorities, General Conference, Justice, Mediator, Mercy, Packer

Comments Off on The Mediator Will Save Us If We Are Willing

Another repost of a classic:

You, perhaps, are among those troubled people. When you come face to face with yourself in those moments of quiet contemplation—that many of us try to avoid—are there some unsettled things that bother you?

Do you have something on your conscience? Are you still, to one degree or another, guilty of anything small or large?

We often try to solve guilt problems by telling one another that they don’t matter. But somehow, deep inside, we don’t believe one another. Nor do we believe ourselves if we say it. We know better. They do matter!

Our transgressions are all added to our account, and one day if it is not properly settled, each of us, like Belshazzar of Babylon, will be weighed in the balance and found wanting.

There is a Redeemer, a Mediator, who stands both willing and able to appease the demands of justice and extend mercy to those who are penitent, for “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; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.” (2 Ne. 2:7.)

Already He has accomplished the redemption of all mankind from mortal death; resurrection is extended to all without condition.

He also makes possible redemption from the second death, which is the spiritual death, which is separation from the presence of our Heavenly Father. This redemption can come only to those who are clean, for no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God.

If justice decrees that we are not eligible because of our transgression, mercy provides a probation, a penitence, a preparation to enter in.

Elder Boyd K. Packer
The Mediator,” Ensign, May 1977, 54

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January 4, 2018

Fundamental Principles, McConkie, Resurrection, Salvation

Comments Off on If There Had Been No Atonement

This is a re-post of a fundamental building block of doctrine concerning the Atonement.

If there had been no atonement of Christ, there would be no resurrection, no breaking of the bands of death, no coming forth from the grave.

If there had been no atonement, there would be no remission of sins; no return to the presence of God; no salvation of any sort, kind, or nature; no eternal life; no exaltation; no continuation of the family unit in eternity.

If there were no atonement of Christ, all men would be subject to “that awful monster the devil, and death, and hell, and that lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment” (2 Nephi 9:19).

If there were no atonement of Christ, “our spirits” would have become “like unto” Lucifer’s, “and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself” (2 Nephi 9:9).

If there were no atonement of Christ, all men would be damned everlastingly, all would be sons of perdition, and the whole purpose of God and his eternal plan of salvation would utterly fail.

All things center in, revolve around, are anchored to, and are built upon the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no language given to men or angels to proclaim these truths with the power and verity and dignity that should attend them. Let it be blazoned in burning fire through all the sidereal heavens that salvation is in Christ and comes because of his atoning sacrifice.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie
The Three Pillars of Eternity, devotional address at Brigham Young University on 17 February 1981

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December 17, 2017

Fundamental Principles, McConkie, Resurrection, Salvation

Comments Off on If There Had Been No Atonement

If there had been no atonement of Christ, there would be no resurrection, no breaking of the bands of death, no coming forth from the grave.

If there had been no atonement, there would be no remission of sins; no return to the presence of God; no salvation of any sort, kind, or nature; no eternal life; no exaltation; no continuation of the family unit in eternity.

If there were no atonement of Christ, all men would be subject to “that awful monster the devil, and death, and hell, and that lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment” (2 Nephi 9:19).

If there were no atonement of Christ, “our spirits” would have become “like unto” Lucifer’s, “and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself” (2 Nephi 9:9).

If there were no atonement of Christ, all men would be damned everlastingly, all would be sons of perdition, and the whole purpose of God and his eternal plan of salvation would utterly fail.

All things center in, revolve around, are anchored to, and are built upon the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no language given to men or angels to proclaim these truths with the power and verity and dignity that should attend them. Let it be blazoned in burning fire through all the sidereal heavens that salvation is in Christ and comes because of his atoning sacrifice.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie
The Three Pillars of Eternity, devotional address at Brigham Young University on 17 February 1981

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December 16, 2017

Fundamental Principles, General Authorities, General Conference, Hinckley

Comments Off on Hinckley – The Substance of Our Theology

“We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost” (A of F 1:1). This is our primary declaration of faith. We speak unabashedly of the living reality of the Lord Jesus Christ. We declare without equivocation the fact of His great act of Atonement for all mankind. That act brought assurance of universal resurrection and opened the way to exaltation in our Father’s kingdom.

This is the burden of our declaration to the world. It is the substance of our theology. It is the wellspring of our faith. Let no one ever say that we are not Christians.

President Gordon B. Hinckley

Our Testimony to the World,” Ensign, May 1997, 83

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December 14, 2017

Fundamental Principles, General Authorities, General Conference, Packer

Comments Off on Packer – The Very Root of Christian Doctrine

[The Atonement of Christ] is the very root of Christian doctrine. You may know much about the gospel as it branches out from there, but if you only know the branches and those branches do not touch that root, if they have been cut free from that truth, there will be no life nor substance nor redemption in them.

Elder Boyd K. Packer

The Mediator,” Ensign, May 1977, 54

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December 8, 2017

Christofferson, Fundamental Principles, General Authorities, Justification, Sanctification

Comments Off on One Who is Justified is Pardoned, Without Sin, or Guiltless

Because of “the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice,” Jesus Christ can satisfy or “answer the ends of the law” on our behalf. Pardon comes by the grace of Him who has satisfied the demands of justice by His own suffering, “the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).  He removes our condemnation without removing the law. We are pardoned and placed in a condition of righteousness with Him. We become, like Him, without sin. We are sustained and protected by the law, by justice. We are, in a word, justified.

Thus, we may appropriately speak of one who is justified as pardoned, without sin, or guiltless. For example, “Whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world” (3 Nephi 27:16).”

Elder D. Todd Christofferson

Justification and Sanctification,” Ensign, June 2001, 1

 

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December 3, 2017

Fundamental Principles, General Authorities, General Conference, McConkie, Testimony

Comments Off on Do I believe in the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ?

Do I believe in the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ?

As to this question, I give my own personal answer. It is:

I know that my Redeemer lives; with Job I testify. “What though the ravages of disease destroy my body; what though I am slain by the sword of death—yet I know that he who bought me with his blood shall soon reign on earth and that “in my flesh shall I see God.” (Job 19:26; see also Job 19:25.)

I am a witness that he was lifted up upon the cross of Calvary; that he was crucified, died, and rose again the third day; that he ascended into heaven, where, sitting on the right hand of God, the Father Almighty, he now reigns in everlasting glory; and that he will soon come again among the sons of men.

I know that he is the one Mediator between God and man; that he brings to pass the immortality and eternal life of man; that his is a ministry of reconciliation whereby fallen man can be reconciled with his Maker.

I know that salvation is in Christ and that only by faith in his name can we hope for the riches of eternity.

He is my Brother and Friend, but he is more. He is my Lord, my God, and my King, whom I worship in the full majesty of his Godhead and who will continue to be my Savior, my Redeemer, and my God through all the eternities that lie ahead.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie
The Caravan Moves On“, Ensign, Nov. 1984, 82

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November 25, 2017

Doctrine, Fundamental Principles, Millett

Comments Off on Nourished Up in the Words of Faith and of Good Doctrine

In my postings on this blog, I try to make certain that only true doctrine is included.  True doctrine is salvational in nature.  Anything else, regardles of how it sounds or who says it, is not salvational and thus is information that stands in a much lower place than does true doctrine.

On a recent visit to the ruins of the ancient city of Corinth, I saw the very place in the ancient Roman marketplace of that city where the Apostle Paul was confronted in the presence of a high Roman official, Gallio, with untrue accusations of wrongdoing made by some of the Jews of that city.  (See Acts 18, particularly Verses 12-16)  Paul persisted in his teaching and, over the course of 18 months, built the church in Corinth into one of its strongest branches and a bulwark for Christianity in Europe for years to come.

Paul never feared to teach true doctrine.  That was the source of his miraculous missionary and counseling power.

It was useful for me to be reminded of some of the reasons why we must be so careful with and respectful of gospel doctrine in the writings of Robert L. Millet.  Toward the end of this excerpt, Brother Millet also refers to Paul’s teachings about doctrine.  From Brother Millet:

It would be well for us to apply a lesson from President Harold B. Lee: “With respect to doctrines and meanings of scriptures, let me give you a safe counsel. It is usually not well to use a single passage of scripture [or, I would add, a single sermon] in proof of a point of doctrine unless it is confirmed by modern revelation or by the Book of Mormon. . . . To single out a passage of scripture to prove a point, unless it is [so] confirmed . . . is always a hazardous thing.”

In a very real sense, we as Latter-day Saints are spoiled. We have been given so much knowledge from on high relative to the nature of God, Christ, man, the plan of salvation, and the overall purpose of life here and the glory to be had hereafter that we are inclined to expect to have all the answers to all the questions of life. Elder Neal A. Maxwell pointed out that “the exhilarations of discipleship exceed its burdens. Hence, while journeying through our Sinai, we are nourished in the Bountiful-like oases of the Restoration. Of these oases some of our first impressions may prove to be more childish than definitive. . . . In our appreciation, little wonder some of us mistake a particular tree for the whole of an oasis, or a particularly refreshing pool for the entirety of the Restoration’s gushing and living waters. Hence, in our early exclamations there may even be some unintended exaggerations. We have seen and partaken of far too much; hence, we ‘cannot [speak] the smallest part [which] we feel’ (Alma 26:16).”

We have much, to be sure, but there are “many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God” yet to come forth (Article of Faith 9). The Lord stated to Joseph Smith in Nauvoo: “I deign to reveal unto my church things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world, things that pertain to the dispensation of the fulness of times” (D&C 124:41; compare 121:26; 128:18). As Elder Oaks observed, we have been given many commands but not all the reasons why, many of the directives but not all the explanations. It is as important for us to know what we do not know as it is for us to know what we know. Far too many things are taught or discussed or even argued about that belong in the realm of the unrevealed and thus the unresolved. Such matters, particularly if they do not fall within the range of revealed truth that Church leaders teach today, do not edify or inspire. Often, very often, they lead to confusion and sow discord.

That does not in any way mean that we should not seek to study and grow in our gospel understanding. Peter explained that there needs to be a reason for the hope within us (1 Peter 3:15). Our knowledge should be as settling to the mind as it is soothing to the heart. Elder Maxwell taught that some “Church members know just enough about the doctrines to converse superficially on them, but their scant knowledge about the deep doctrines is inadequate for deep discipleship (see 1 Corinthians 2:10). Thus uninformed about the deep doctrines, they make no deep change in their lives.”

President Hugh B. Brown once observed: “I am impressed with the testimony of a man who can stand and say he knows the gospel is true. What I would like to ask is ‘But, sir, do you know the gospel?’ . . . Mere testimony can be gained with but perfunctory knowledge of the Church and its teachings. . . . But to retain a testimony, to be of service in building the Lord’s kingdom, requires a serious study of the gospel and knowing what it is.” President Brown taught that we are required only to “defend those doctrines of the church contained in the four standard works. . . . Anything beyond that by anyone is his or her own opinion and not scripture. . . . The only way I know of by which the teachings of any person or group may become binding upon the church is if the teachings have been reviewed by all the brethren, submitted to the highest councils of the church, and then approved by the whole body of the church.” Again, the issue is one of focus, one of emphasis-where we choose to spend our time when we teach the gospel both to Latter-day Saints and to those of other faiths.

There is a valid reason why it is difficult to tie down Latter-day Saint doctrine, one that derives from the very nature of the Restoration. That God continues to speak through his anointed servants; that He, through those servants, continues to reveal, elucidate, and clarify what has already been given; and that our canon of scripture is open, flexible, and expanding-all militate against what many in the Christian world would call a systematic theology.

It is the declaration of sound and solid doctrine, the doctrine found in scripture and taught regularly by Church leaders, that builds faith and strengthens testimony and commitment to the Lord and his kingdom. Elder Maxwell explained that “deeds do matter as well as doctrines, but the doctrines can move us to do the deeds, and the Spirit can help us to understand the doctrines as well as prompt us to do the deeds.” He also noted that “when weary legs falter and detours and roadside allurements entice, the fundamental doctrines will summon from deep within us fresh determination. Extraordinary truths can move us to extraordinary accomplishments.”

The teaching and application of sound doctrine are great safeguards to us in these last days, shields against the fiery darts of the adversary. Understanding true doctrine and being true to that doctrine can keep us from ignorance, from error, and from sin. The apostle Paul counseled Timothy: “If thou put the brethren [and sisters] in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. . . . Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:6, 13).

Robert L. Millet

“Getting at the Truth: Responding to Difficult Questions about LDS Beliefs,” Shadow Mountain (June 2004)

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