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

God’s grace is sufficient for each of us. Discouragement is not the absence of adequacy but the absence of courage, and our personal progress should be yet another way we witness to the wonder of it all!

True, there are no instant Christians, but there are constant Christians!

Elder Neal A. Maxwell
Notwithstanding My Weakness,” Ensign, Nov 1976, 12

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July 16, 2017

Eternal Life, Fundamental Principles, General Authorities, Hinckley, Sacrifice

Comments Off on The Fact of All Life is that It is Eternal

The fact of all life is that it is eternal. That’s the great, salient truth. We have come into the world for a purpose, under a divine plan, and when we conclude this life we will go on to something that will be better, if we live worthy of it. And that great eternal course which we may follow is made possible through the sacrifice of the Son of God.

President Gordon B. Hinckley
Charlotte North Carolina Regional Conference, priesthood leadership session, February 24, 1996
Included in Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley
Deseret Book Company, 1997

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July 15, 2017

General Authorities, Maxwell, Tests

Comments Off on Maxwell – Eight Traps of Mortality

I should like to suggest some traps into which we can fall, if we are not careful, as we try to meet the challenges that life delivers at our doorsteps. The first temptation that we must resist, brothers and sisters, is the Jonah response, in which we sometimes think we can escape the calls that come to us, that we can somehow run away from the realities that will press in upon us. Jonah, you recall, had been called to go to Nineveh. He didn’t want to go to that urban center that was so big. We are told it took the people hours to walk across that city. He tried to find a ship going to Tarshish. He “paid the fare thereof,” hoping to leave the presence of the Lord. You and I will one day know, if we do not know now, there is no way we can escape from God’s love, because it is infinite. However many times in our lives we might rather go to a Tarshish than a Nineveh, he will insist that we go to Nineveh, and we must pay “the fare thereof.” . . .

A second trap into which we can fall is the naïveté that grows out of our not realizing that the adversary will press particularly in the areas of our vulnerabilities. It ought not to surprise us that this will be so. The things that we would most like to avoid, therefore, will often be the things that confront us most directly and most sharply. Some of you may recall that the British military planners who built the fortress of Singapore, which was supposed to be invincible, fixed the guns of Singapore so that they would fire only seaward. The Japanese very cleverly came from behind on land. Churchill and others were stunned that this citadel and fortress had fallen so quietly and so simply. Some of us have guns that fire only in one direction. We are vulnerable, and our vulnerabilities will be probed by the vicissitudes of life. One of the great advantages of life in the Church (in which the gospel is at the center) is that we can overcome these vulnerabilities; otherwise, we shall be taken by surprise and swiftly.

A third trap into which we can fall, if we are not careful, is to fail to notice that at the center of many of our challenges is pride, is ego. In most emotional escalations with which I am familiar, if one goes to the very center of them, there is ego asserting itself relentlessly. The only cure for rampant ego is humility, and this is why circumstances often bring to us a kind of compelled or forced humility–so that we may recover our equilibrium. Humility can help us to dampen our pride. Ironically, for those of us who most need to serve to develop our capacity to love, our very egos often make us unapproachable so far as others are concerned. We, therefore, are underused and we wonder why. And this is typical of the trials that we impose upon ourselves.

A fourth trap into which we can fall is that we may at times assume that the plan of salvation requires merely that we endure and survive when, in fact, as is always the case with the gospel of Jesus Christ, it is required of us, not only that we endure, but also that we endure well, that we exhibit “grace under pressure.” This is necessary, not only so that our own passage through the trial can be a growth experience, but also because (more than we know) there are always people watching to see if we can cope, who therefore may resolve to venture forth and to cope themselves. Every time we navigate safely on the strait and narrow way, there are other ships that are lost which can find their way because of our steady light.

A fifth trap, and a major one, is the trap of self-pity. One man has said that “hell is being frozen in self-pity.” Indeed, at times when we think our lot is hard or when we feel our selves misunderstood, it will be so easy for us to indulge ourselves in feeling some self-pity. A contrasting episode comes to us out of ancient Greece: Several hundred Spartans were holding the pass at Thermopylae, that narrow pass, and the Persians came in overwhelming numbers and urged the Spartans to surrender. Hoping to intimidate them further, the Persians sent emissaries to the Spartans, saying they had so many archers in their army they could darken the sky with their arrows. The Spartans said, “So much the better. We shall fight in the shade.”

A sixth trap into which we can fall quite easily, brothers and sisters, is the trap in which we sense that something special is happening in our lives but are not able to sort it out with sufficient precision and clarity that we can articulate it to someone else. That is so often true of the gospel. Its truths are too powerful for us to manage on occasion. Let me give you this simple illustration of how we can know something and yet not be able to communicate it fully without the help of the Spirit. If I were to bring one of you into this hall and if, instead of all of you, it were filled with fifteen thousand mothers and if I were to say to you, “Somewhere in that audience is your mother; find her,” you could do it, and I suspect it wouldn’t take you very many minutes. But if I said to you, “Wait outside. There are fifteen thousand mothers in there and one of them is your mother. Now, you describe her to me with sufficient precision and clarity so that I can go find her,” you couldn’t do it. You would still know what she looked like, but tongue could not transmit what you knew. It is that way often with the gospel. That is why we are so in need of the Spirit–so that knowledge can arc like electricity from point to point, aided and impelled by the Spirit–aid without which we are simply not articulate enough to speak of all the things which we know.

A seventh trap, brothers and sisters, is that some of us neglect to develop multiple forces of satisfaction. When one of the wells upon which we draw dries up through death, loss or status, disaffection, or physical ailment, we then find ourselves very thirsty because, instead of having multiple sources of satisfaction in our lives, we have become too dependent upon this or upon that. How important it is to the symmetry of our souls that we interact with all the gospel principles and with all the Church programs, so that we do not become so highly specialized that, if we are deprived of one source of satisfaction, indeed we are in difficulty. It is possible to be incarcerated within the prison of one principle. We are less vulnerable if our involvements with the kingdom are across the board. We are less vulnerable if we care deeply about many principles–not simply a few.

An eighth trap to be avoided, brothers and sisters, is the tendency we have–rather humanly, rather understandably–to get ourselves caught in peering through the prism of the present and then distorting our perspective about things. Time is of this world; it is not of eternity. We can, if we are not careful, feel the pressures of time and see things in a distorted way. How important it is that we see things as much as possible through the lens of the gospel with its eternal perspectives. . . .

Now, brothers and sisters, may I prepare to close with these thoughts: The Church is fully Christ-centered. The Church is also Christ-powered, and it is also designed to help its members become more Christlike. Since the gospel of Jesus Christ focuses on the truths that deal with everlasting things and not on obsolescent realities, it is very important for us, brothers and sisters, to recognize that the truths in which we traffic as members of the kingdom pertain to eternity as well as to this life.

I am surprised (I would be amused if the cost were not so great) that people think they can remove the foundations of our social structure–things like work, chastity, and family and then wonder why other things crumble. You can’t remove the foundation of a building while standing inside and not be hit with falling plaster. We are now in the interesting position in the kingdom of trying to warn about what is happening in the world and, at the same time, of keeping ourselves personally secure. We must be Christ-centered individually. We must have his and God’s power to do our work, and we must take seriously the challenge of becoming more Christlike. You’re soon going to go out into a world full of marshmallow men. Like the act of putting a finger into a marshmallow, there is no core in these men, there is no center, and when one removes his finger, the marshmallow resumes its former shape. We are in a world of people who want to yield to everything–to every fad and to every fashion. It is incredibly important that we be committed to the core–committed to those things that matter, about which our Father in heaven has leveled with us through his Son, Jesus Christ, and his prophets.

Neal A. Maxwell

But for a Small Moment

Later a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Maxwell was an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles when this fireside address was given at Brigham Young University on 1 September 1974.

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July 14, 2017

Bednar, Enabling Power, General Authorities, General Conference

Comments Off on Clean Hands and a Pure Heart

We are commanded and instructed to so live that our fallen nature is changed through the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost. President Marion G. Romney taught that the baptism of fire by the Holy Ghost “converts [us] from carnality to spirituality. It cleanses, heals, and purifies the soul. … Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, and water baptism are all preliminary and prerequisite to it, but [the baptism of fire] is the consummation. To receive [this baptism of fire] is to have one’s garments washed in the atoning blood of Jesus Christ” (Learning for the Eternities, comp. George J. Romney [1977], 133; see also 3 Nephi 27:19–20).

Hence, as we are born again and strive to always have His Spirit to be with us, the Holy Ghost sanctifies and refines our souls as if by fire (see 2 Nephi 31:13–14, 17). Ultimately, we are to stand spotless before God.

The gospel of Jesus Christ encompasses much more than avoiding, overcoming, and being cleansed from sin and the bad influences in our lives; it also essentially entails doing good, being good, and becoming better. Repenting of our sins and seeking forgiveness are spiritually necessary, and we must always do so. But remission of sin is not the only or even the ultimate purpose of the gospel. To have our hearts changed by the Holy Spirit such that “we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2), as did King Benjamin’s people, is the covenant responsibility we have accepted. This mighty change is not simply the result of working harder or developing greater individual discipline. Rather, it is the consequence of a fundamental change in our desires, our motives, and our natures made possible through the Atonement of Christ the Lord. Our spiritual purpose is to overcome both sin and the desire to sin, both the taint and the tyranny of sin.

Prophets throughout the ages have emphasized the dual requirements of (1) avoiding and overcoming bad and (2) doing good and becoming better. Consider the penetrating questions posed by the Psalmist:

“Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?

“He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully” (Psalm 24:3–4).

Brothers and sisters, it is possible for us to have clean hands but not have a pure heart. Please notice that both clean hands and a pure heart are required to ascend into the hill of the Lord and to stand in His holy place.

Let me suggest that hands are made clean through the process of putting off the natural man and by overcoming sin and the evil influences in our lives through the Savior’s Atonement. Hearts are purified as we receive His strengthening power to do good and become better. All of our worthy desires and good works, as necessary as they are, can never produce clean hands and a pure heart. It is the Atonement of Jesus Christ that provides both a cleansing and redeeming power that helps us to overcome sin and a sanctifying and strengthening power that helps us to become better than we ever could by relying only upon our own strength. The infinite Atonement is for both the sinner and for the saint in each of us.

Elder David A. Bednar

Clean Hands and a Pure Heart,” Ensign, Nov 2007, 80–83

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July 13, 2017

General Authorities, General Conference, Zeballos

Comments Off on We Will be Doing All That is Possible to Achieve the Impossible

Salvation and eternal life would not be possible if it were not for the Atonement, brought about by our Savior, to whom we owe everything. But in order for these supreme blessings to be effective in our lives, we should first do our part, ‘for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.’

Let us with faith, enthusiasm, dedication, responsibility, and love do all that is within our reach, and we will be doing all that is possible to achieve the impossible—that is, to achieve what for the human mind is impossible but with the divine intervention of our loving Father and the infinite sacrifice brought about by our Savior becomes the greatest gift, the most glorious of realities, to live forever with God and with our families.

Elder Jorge F. Zeballos
Attempting the Impossible“, Ensign, Nov. 2009, 33–34
(paragraph break inserted to enhance online readability)

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July 12, 2017

General Authorities, Hope, Maxwell

Comments Off on Maxwell – Hope through the Atonement of Jesus Christ

Life’s disappointments often represent the debris of our failed, proximate hopes. Instead, however, I speak of the crucial need for ultimate hope.

Ultimate hope is a different matter. It is tied to Jesus and the blessings of the great Atonement, blessings resulting in the universal Resurrection and the precious opportunity provided thereby for us to practice emancipating repentance, making possible what the scriptures call “a perfect brightness of hope” (2 Nephi 31:20).

Moroni confirmed: “What is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ” (Moroni 7:40–41; see also Alma 27:28). Real hope, therefore, is not associated with things mercurial, but rather with things immortal and eternal!

Unsurprisingly, hope is intertwined with other gospel doctrines, especially faith and patience.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell

Hope through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, Ensign, Nov 1998, 61

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July 11, 2017

General Authorities, General Conference, Humility, Maxwell, Meekness, Repentance

Comments Off on Pride prefers cheap repentance, paid for with shallow sorrow

In this rigorous process [of repentance], so much clearly depends upon meekness. Pride keeps repentance from even starting or continuing. Some fail because they are more concerned with the preservation of their public image than with having Christ’s image in their countenances! (Alma 5:14.) Pride prefers cheap repentance, paid for with shallow sorrow. Unsurprisingly, seekers after cheap repentance also search for superficial forgiveness instead of real reconciliation. Thus, real repentance goes far beyond simply saying, “I’m sorry.”

In the anguishing process of repentance, we may sometimes feel God has deserted us. The reality is that our behavior has isolated us from Him. Thus, while we are turning away from evil but have not yet turned fully to God, we are especially vulnerable. Yet we must not give up, but, instead, reach out to God’s awaiting arm of mercy, which is outstretched “all the day long.” (Jacob 5:47; Jacob 6:4; 2 Ne. 28:32; Morm. 5:11.) Unlike us, God has no restrictive office hours.

No part of walking by faith is more difficult than walking the road of repentance. However, with “faith unto repentance,” we can push roadblocks out of the way, moving forward to beg God for mercy. (Alma 34:16.) True contrition brings full capitulation. One simply surrenders, caring only about what God thinks, not what “they” think, while meekly offering, “O God, … make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee.” (Alma 22:18.) Giving away all our sins is the only way we can come to know God.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell
Repentance, General Conference, October, 1991

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July 10, 2017

Christmas, Faust, General Authorities

Comments Off on The Immeasurable Love of the Giver

As one of the special witnesses of Jesus and of the gospel restored to earth by God working through the Prophet Joseph Smith, I testify that the greatest gift of this or any other Christmas is the Atonement of Jesus as the Redeemer, the Son of God. Paul said this was a “free gift” (Rom. 5:15). It is a gift we cannot handle or touch, but we can feel the immeasurable love of the Giver.

Through this gift we can all find the pathway to eternal life. My testimony of this is sure, real, and absolute, as is my sacred testimony of Him. I invoke the blessings of God upon us all at this special Christmastime.

President James E. Faust

A Christmas with No Presents,” Ensign, Dec 2001, 2–6

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July 8, 2017

General Authorities, General Conference, Monson, New Testament

Comments Off on We Can All Walk Where Jesus Walked

We need not visit the Holy Land to feel him close to us. We need not walk by the shores of Galilee or among the Judean hills to walk where Jesus walked.

In a very real sense, all can walk where Jesus walked when, with his words on our lips, his spirit in our hearts, and his teachings in our lives, we journey through mortality.

Then-Elder Thomas S. Monson
The Paths Jesus Walked“, Ensign, May 1974, 48

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July 7, 2017

Bowen, Discouragement, Forgiveness, General Authorities, General Conference

Comments Off on Is it possible to reclaim a life that has become so strewn with garbage that the person appears unforgivable?

Is it possible to reclaim a life that through reckless abandon has become so strewn with garbage that it appears that the person is unforgivable? Or what about the one who is making an honest effort but has fallen back into sin so many times that he feels that there is no possible way to break the seemingly endless pattern? Or what about the person who has changed his life but just can’t forgive himself?

. . . .

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is available to each of us. His Atonement is infinite. It applies to everyone, even you. It can clean, reclaim, and sanctify even you. That is what infinite means—total, complete, all, forever.

Elder Shayne M. Bowen
The Atonement Can Clean, Reclaim, and Sanctify Our Lives, Ensign, Nov. 2006, 33–34

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