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

King Benjamin initially emphasized one aspect of God’s graciousness, that God is responsible for our creation. By this, Benjamin seemed to have meant not just the making of our own bodies, but the whole of creation-the heavens, the earth, and all that in them are. That simple fact alone should be basis enough for our unending gratitude. When a man creates something through his own labor-a work of art, a building, a piece of furniture, great music-we say that it is his. In other words, we recognize that he has claim upon it, that he has stewardship over it, that he has the right to do with it as he wishes.

By that same principle, we should acknowledge that because all that we see and know comes from the labor of God’s hands, it is his. Therefore, whatever we have, or take, or use, or enjoy puts us automatically in his debt. In a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord clearly stated that this is indeed the case: “For it is expedient that I, the Lord, should make every man accountable, as a steward over earthly blessings, which I have made and prepared for my creatures. I, the Lord, stretched out the heavens, and built the earth, my very handiwork; and all things therein are mine” ( D&C 104:13-14; emphasis added). Note the possessive phrases used in those verses: “which I have made,” “my very handiwork,” “all things therein are mine.” As the Psalmist said, “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Ps. 24:1).

Think for a moment how that simple concept would alter people’s thinking if they would really accept it. We clutch things to our bosom and say, “These are mine.” Individuals rob, cheat, and steal, or they manipulate and maneuver so they may be able to claim things as their own. Figuratively, the rich sit on their velvet thrones, drinking from golden goblets, and ignore the desperate sufferings of the poor because they think that what they have received belongs solely to them. Nations go to war over lands that they did nothing to create.

If we truly believed that God was the owner of all things, that man was only a user and a borrower, our approach to life would alter drastically. A classic illustration of that principle was the man Job. After facing devastating losses of family, property, and health, he stated simply, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). Henry B. Eyring spoke of this natural human tendency to forget all that God has done for us: “We so easily forget that we came into life with nothing. Whatever we get soon seems our natural right, not a gift. And we forget the giver. Then our gaze shifts from what we have been given to what we don’t have yet. . . . The remembrance urged upon us by King Benjamin can be ours. Remembrance is the seed of gratitude.

Elder Gerald N. Lund, Selected Writings of Gerald N. Lund, (1995, Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah)

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July 24, 2017

Eternal Life, General Authorities, General Conference, Grace, Immortality, Wirthlin

Comments Off on Coming Fully Unto Christ

The Atonement of Jesus Christ, an act of pure love, overcame the effects of the Fall and provided the way for all mankind to return to the presence of God. As part of the Atonement, the Savior overcame physical death and provided immortality for every one of God’s children through the Resurrection. He also overcame spiritual death and provided the possibility of eternal life, the life that God lives and the greatest of all the gifts of God. This He did by taking upon Himself the suffering for the sins of all humankind.

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By obeying God’s commands, we deny ourselves of all ungodliness. Through obedience motivated by a wholehearted love of God, we come fully unto Christ and allow His grace, through the Atonement, to lead us into perfection.

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

Christians in Belief and Action,” Ensign, Nov 1996, 70

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July 17, 2017

General Authorities, General Conference, Grace, Maxwell

Comments Off on There are no instant Christians, but there are constant Christians

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 15, 2017

Grace, Maxwell, Old Testament, Psalms

Comments Off on Grace – Part 2 – No Good Thing Will He Withhold

Sometimes, we may believe that Old Testament prophets somehow didn’t understand Grace and its inclusion in the Atonement.  Of course, almost all of the great Book of Mormon prophets taught and testified during Old Testament times and they taught powerfully of the Atonement.

A search of the Old Testament reveals that prophets in Israel comprehended the concept of Grace very well.

9 Behold, O God our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed.

10 For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.

11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.

12 O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.
Psalms 84:9-12

A few quick notes:

Verse 10 – “look upon the face of thine anointed.”  Of course, kings were anointed during Old Testament times, but anointings were also performed for others as part of temple ceremonies.  (See Exodus 40:12-13, for example.)

Verse 11 – “the Lord God is a sun and shield” – The Savior’s Atonement protects us, “shields” us from the death of the body and the death of the spirit.  (See 2 Nephi 9:10) However, the Savior is also the “sun” and his Atonement brings light to our minds and bodies, sanctifying us and making us better people if we will allow Him to do so through our obedience to His commandments and repentance when we fall short of perfect obedience.

Verse 11 – “the Lord will give grace and glory” – Through the Atonement of Christ, we have an opportunity to receive the same glory that He and Heavenly Father have in the Celestial Kingdom.  The three kingdoms in which the resurrected live, the Telestial, the Terrestrial and and Celestial are each a kingdom of glory, but the greatest glory resides in the Celestial Kingdom.  (See Doctrine and Covenants 88:15-24)  However, any glory at all requires a resurrection and that resurrection only comes through Jesus Christ and His Atonement.

Verse 12 – “blessed is the man that trusteth in thee” – As Elder Neal A. Maxwell wrote, “The more we know of Jesus, the more we will love Him. The more we know of Jesus, the more we will trust Him. The more we know of Jesus, the more we will want to be like Him and to be with Him . . . .”  See The More We Know of Jesus, the More We Will Love Him

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July 9, 2017

Book of Mormon, Fundamental Principles, Grace, Joseph Smith, Moroni, Perfection

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The nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker and is caught up to dwell with Him. But we consider that this is a station to which no man ever arrived in a moment. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 51)

Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

Moroni 10:32

 

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June 22, 2017

Fundamental Principles, General Authorities, General Conference, Grace, Holland, Mercy, Nature of Christ, Sacrament, Sacrifice

Comments Off on Every Ordinance of the Gospel Focuses on the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ

Since that upper room experience on the eve of Gethsemane and Golgotha, children of the promise have been under covenant to remember Christ’s sacrifice in this newer, higher, more holy and personal way.

With a crust of bread, always broken, blessed, and offered first, we remember his bruised body and broken heart, his physical suffering on the cross where he cried, “I thirst,” and finally, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (John 19:28; Matt. 27:46.)

The Savior’s physical suffering guarantees that through his mercy and grace (see 2 Ne. 2:8) every member of the human family shall be freed from the bonds of death and be resurrected triumphantly from the grave. Of course the time of that resurrection and the degree of exaltation it leads to are based upon our faithfulness.

With a small cup of water we remember the shedding of Christ’s blood and the depth of his spiritual suffering, anguish which began in the Garden of Gethsemane. There he said, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death” (Matt. 26:38). He was in agony and “prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44).

The Savior’s spiritual suffering and the shedding of his innocent blood, so lovingly and freely given, paid the debt for what the scriptures call the “original guilt” of Adam’s transgression (Moses 6:54). Furthermore, Christ suffered for the sins and sorrows and pains of all the rest of the human family, providing remission for all of our sins as well, upon conditions of obedience to the principles and ordinances of the gospel he taught (see 2 Ne. 9:21–23). As the Apostle Paul wrote, we were “bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:20). What an expensive price and what a merciful purchase!

That is why every ordinance of the gospel focuses in one way or another on the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, and surely that is why this particular ordinance with all its symbolism and imagery comes to us more readily and more repeatedly than any other in our life. It comes in what has been called “the most sacred, the most holy, of all the meetings of the Church” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56, 2:340).

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Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
This Do in Remembrance of Me, Ensign, November, 1995

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June 14, 2017

Forgiveness, General Authorities, General Conference, Grace, Mercy, Poelman, Repentance

Comments Off on Forgiveness is Not Complete Until It is Accepted

Recently I was in private conversation with one who, having committed a serious transgression, had also made intense effort to repent and receive forgiveness from those personally offended, from the Church, and from the Lord. When I asked, “Do you feel forgiven by your Heavenly Father?” he answered hesitantly with an affirmative but qualified response. “How do we obtain divine forgiveness?” I asked.

He spoke of how he had forsaken his transgressive behavior of the past, confessed to proper priesthood authorities, and attempted to make restitution to those offended. He further described his efforts to live according to gospel principles and Church standards.

The Savior and his atoning sacrifice were not mentioned. The underlying assumption seemed to be that divine forgiveness is obtained through those steps of repentance limited to changing one’s behavior. Despite the brother’s earnest efforts to repent, he appeared to be burdened still by remorse and regret and to feel that he must continue to pay for his sins.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. Others, to my knowledge, are burdened by past mistakes, large and small, because of an incomplete or incorrect understanding of our Father’s plan of redemption and mercy. Those so burdened may unnecessarily struggle through life without the joy and peace of mind which are the intended result of true repentance and divine forgiveness.

One who assumes that he can or must pay the price for his sins and thereby earn divine forgiveness will not feel free to continue progress toward realizing his divine potential, that is, eternal life.

The fact is we cannot save ourselves.

. . . .

We learn from the prophet Alma that we are subject to divine law, which all have transgressed in some respect, making us subject to the demands of justice (see Alma 42:14, 18). God’s justice is based upon divine laws, under which we receive what we deserve according to our disobedience or obedience to the law.

Justice affords no forgiveness for transgressors but imposes penalties (see D&C 82:4). None is exempt (see D&C 107:84). After all we can do to repent, we are still subject to the demands of justice and its penalties, which we cannot satisfy.

. . . .

The beginning and completion of repentance leading to forgiveness is faith in Jesus Christ, who is the “author and the finisher of [our] faith” (Moroni 6:4). Our faith in him as Savior and Redeemer engenders in us godly sorrow for our transgressions, a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and a sense of personal accountability. There follows a change in attitude and a turning toward God.

. . . .

The Lord’s gift of forgiveness, however, is not complete until it is accepted. True and complete repentance is a process by which we may become reconciled with God and accept the divine gift of forgiveness.

In the words of Nephi, “It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23).

The effect of the infinite, atoning sacrifice was twofold: First, resurrection and immortality for all, unconditionally granted. Second, eternal life for each one who fulfills the prescribed conditions, which are faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Redeemer, followed by repentance.

Then we must qualify for and receive the saving and exalting ordinances of the gospel with their associated covenants, continuously striving to keep those covenants and obey the commandments of God.

Being mortal, and despite our resolve and efforts, we will continue to fall short of perfection. However, with Nephi of old, conscious of our weaknesses, temptations, and past mistakes, we may say, “Nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted” (2 Nephi 4:19). There follows a natural resolve to renew our efforts.

Essential to receiving divine forgiveness are personal, individual recognition and acceptance of our Father’s mercy, made available to us by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ and a renewed covenant to obey the principles of the gospel.

Elder Ronald E. Poelman
Divine Forgiveness,” Ensign, Nov 1993, 84

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June 11, 2017

Faith, Grace, Justification, Paul, Sin

Comments Off on Grace – Part 4 – All Have Sinned

23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

Romans 3:23-28

Note that when Paul speaks of the law in verse 28, he is referring to the Law of Moses and the term, “without” in the original Greek is “apart from” or “without intervention of”.

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June 8, 2017

Fundamental Principles, Grace, Mercy

Comments Off on Merits and Mercy of Christ

Latter-day Saints stress that neither the unconditional nor the conditional blessings of the Atonement would be available to mankind except through the grace and goodness of Christ. Obviously the unconditional blessings of the Atonement are unearned, but the conditional ones are also not fully merited. By living faithfully and keeping the commandments of God, one can receive additional privileges; but they are still given freely, not fully earned. They are always and ever a product of God’s grace. Latter-day Saint scripture is emphatic in its declaration that “there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah” (2 Nephi 2:8)

From the Encyclopedia of Mormonism

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May 10, 2017

Grace, Vandagriff

Comments Off on 500 Thoughts About the Atonement

The 500th post about the Atonement of Jesus Christ will appear on The Atonement Blog in five minutes.

When I began, I thought that, after a period of time, it would become difficult to keep finding new thoughts and insights about the Atonement and I would stop adding entries.

I was wrong.

.

The works of God continue,
And worlds and lives abound;
Improvement and progression
Have one eternal round.
There is no end to matter;
There is no end to space;
There is no end to spirit;
There is no end to grace.

If You Could Hie to Kolob
Hymn 284

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