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

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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June 12, 2017

Faith, General Authorities, General Conference, Humility, Scott

Comments Off on A righteous life produces an inner power and strength that can be resistant to the influence of sin and transgression

Material things do not of themselves produce happiness and satisfaction and the joy of attainment on earth. Nor do they lead us to exaltation. It is nobility of character, that fabric of inner strength and conviction woven from countless righteous decisions, that gives life its direction. A consistent, righteous life produces an inner power and strength that can be permanently resistant to the eroding influence of sin and transgression. Your faith in Jesus Christ and obedience to His commandments will strengthen your character. Your character is a measure of what you are becoming. It is the evidence of how well you are using your time on earth in this period of mortal probation.

An axiom we all understand is that you get what you pay for. That is true for spiritual matters as well. You get what you pay for in obedience, in faith in Jesus Christ, in diligent application of the truths you learn. What you get is the molding of character, the growth in capacity, and the successful completion of your mortal purpose to be proven and to have joy.

You cannot be passive in life, or in time the natural man will undermine your efforts to live worthily. You become what you do and what you think about. Lack of character leads one under pressure to satisfy appetite or seek personal gain. You cannot successfully bolster a weak character with the cloak of pretense.

. . . .

Humility is that quality that permits us to be taught from on high through the Spirit or to be taught from sources whose origin was inspiration from the Lord, such as the scriptures and the comments of the prophets. Humility is the precious fertile soil of righteous character. In it the seeds of personal growth germinate. When cultivated through the exercise of faith, pruned by repentance, and fortified by obedience and good works, such seeds produce the cherished fruit of spiritual direction. Divine inspiration and power then result—inspiration to know the will of the Lord, power to provide the ability to accomplish that inspired will.

Elder Richard G. Scott
The Transforming Power of Faith and Character

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May 8, 2017

Christofferson, General Authorities, General Conference, Humility, Repentance

Comments Off on Our Heavenly Father is a God of High Expectations

Our Heavenly Father is a God of high expectations. His expectations for us are expressed by His Son, Jesus Christ, in these words: “I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect” (3 Nephi 12:48). He proposes to make us holy so that we may “abide a celestial glory” (D&C 88:22) and “dwell in his presence” (Moses 6:57). He knows what is required, and so, to make our transformation possible, He provides His commandments and covenants, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and most important, the Atonement and Resurrection of His Beloved Son.

In all of this, God’s purpose is that we, His children, may be able to experience ultimate joy, to be with Him eternally, and to become even as He is. Some years ago Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained: “The Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become. It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become.”

. . . .

I would like to speak of one particular attitude and practice we need to adopt if we are to meet our Heavenly Father’s high expectations. It is this: willingly to accept and even seek correction. Correction is vital if we would conform our lives “unto a perfect man, [that is,] unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). Paul said of divine correction or chastening, “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth” (Hebrews 12:6). Though it is often difficult to endure, truly we ought to rejoice that God considers us worth the time and trouble to correct.

Divine chastening has at least three purposes: (1) to persuade us to repent, (2) to refine and sanctify us, and (3) at times to redirect our course in life to what God knows is a better path.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson
As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten, General Conference, April, 2011

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April 21, 2017

General Authorities, Gratitude, Hinckley, Humility

Comments Off on Gratitude is an acknowledgment of a greater power and an acceptance of God’s commandments

Gratitude is a divine principle. The Lord has declared through revelation: “Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things. …

“And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things.” (D&C 59:7, 21.)

Our society is afflicted by a spirit of thoughtless arrogance unbecoming those who have been so magnificently blessed. How grateful we should be for the bounties we enjoy. Absence of gratitude is the mark of the narrow, uneducated mind. It bespeaks a lack of knowledge and the ignorance of self-sufficiency. It expresses itself in ugly egotism and frequently in wanton mischief. We have seen our beaches, our parks, our forests littered with ugly refuse by those who evidently have no appreciation for their beauty. I have driven through thousands of acres of blackened land scourged by a fire evidently set by a careless smoker whose only concern had been the selfish pleasure gained from a cigarette.

Where there is appreciation, there is courtesy, there is concern for the rights and property of others. Without appreciation, there is arrogance and evil.

Where there is gratitude, there is humility, as opposed to pride.

How magnificently we are blessed! How thankful we ought to be!

. . . .

Cultivate a spirit of thanksgiving for the blessing of life and for the marvelous gifts and privileges each of us enjoy. The Lord has said that the meek shall inherit the earth. (See Matt. 5:5.) I cannot escape the interpretation that meekness implies a spirit of gratitude as opposed to an attitude of self-sufficiency, an acknowledgment of a greater power beyond oneself, a recognition of God, and an acceptance of his commandments. This is the beginning of wisdom. Walk with gratitude before him who is the giver of life and every good gift.

President Gordon B. Hinckley
“‘With All Thy Getting Get Understanding’,” Ensign, Aug 1988, 2–5

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April 6, 2017

General Authorities, General Conference, Gratitude, Humility, Maxwell

Comments Off on Content with the Things Allotted to Us

Ponder how Jesus was and is the Lord of the universe (see D&C 45:1; D&C 76:24; Moses 1:33; Moses 2:1). Yet His ministry, as we all know, was accomplished in a very tiny geographical space. His ministerial travels were very limited. Yet therein the Savior accomplished the Atonement for all of mankind! There were certainly much more prominent hills than Golgotha and much more resplendent gardens than Gethsemane. No matter; these were sufficient to host the central act of all human history !

We can draw upon that glorious Atonement by repenting. We can learn to serve and to forgive within our sample of humanity, including settings no larger than the family or friendships.

The justice and mercy of God will have been so demonstrably perfect that at the Final Judgment there will be no complaints, including from those who once questioned what God had allotted in the mortal framework (see 2 Nephi 9:14–15; Alma 5:15–19; Alma 12:3–14; Alma 42:23–26, 30).

Hence, we can and “ought to be content with the things allotted to us,” being circumstantially content but without being self-satisfied and behaviorally content with ourselves (see 3 Nephi 12:48; 3 Nephi 27:27; Matthew 5:48).

Such contentment is more than shoulder-shrugging passivity. It reflects our participative assent rather than uncaring resignation.

The Lord knows our circumstances and the intents of our hearts, and surely the talents and gifts He has given us. He is able to gauge perfectly how we have performed within what is allotted to us, including by lifting up some of the many surrounding hands that hang down. Thus, yearning for expanded opportunities while failing to use those at hand is bad form spiritually.

What we could and have done within our allotted acreage, therefore, is known perfectly by the Master of the vineyard.

Their meekness and larger capacity for spiritual contentment may be one reason why God uses the weak of the world to accomplish His work (see D&C 1:19, 23; D&C 35:13; D&C 133:58–59; 1 Corinthians 1:27). The worldly are usually not very interested in doing what they regard as the Lord’s lowly work anyway.

Significantly, too, the Lord refuses to intimidate by sending legions of angels in order to ensure that individuals do His will (see Matthew 26:47–53). His will is to be done “because of the word,” not because we are compelled (Alma 36:26). The rule has been, is, and will remain “Nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself” (Moses 3:17). The Lord wants conversion without intimidation.

Let us remember in our age of spin, the only spin God desires is our freely turning away from sin and turning to Him. Therefore, the Lord does not seek to overwhelm us but instead to help us overcome the world! (see D&C 64:2; Revelations 3:21).

Elder Neal A. Maxwell
Content with the Things Allotted unto Us,” Ensign, May 2000, 72

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March 5, 2017

Eyring, General Authorities, General Conference, Humility, King Benjamin

Comments Off on Eyring – Allowing the Atonement to Change Us into What We Must Be

King Benjamin, who understood as well as any mortal what it meant to be a man of strength and courage, makes it clear that to be like a child is not to be childish. It is to be like the Savior, who prayed to His Father for strength to be able to do His will and then did it. Our natures must be changed to become as a child to gain the strength we must have to be safe in the times of moral peril.

Here is King Benjamin’s stirring description of what that change to become like a child is and how it comes to us:

“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he 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, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” 6

We are safe on the rock which is the Savior when we have yielded in faith in Him, have responded to the Holy Spirit’s direction to keep the commandments long enough and faithfully enough that the power of the Atonement has changed our hearts. When we have, by that experience, become as a child in our capacity to love and obey, we are on the sure foundation.

From King Benjamin we learn what we can do to take us to that safe place. But remember: the things we do are the means, not the end we seek. What we do allows the Atonement of Jesus Christ to change us into what we must be. Our faith in Jesus Christ brings us to repentance and to keeping His commandments. We obey and we resist temptation by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost. In time our natures will change. We will become as a little child, obedient to God and more loving. That change, if we do all we must to keep it, will qualify us to enjoy the gifts which come through the Holy Ghost. Then we will be safe on the only sure rock.

President Henry B. Eyring

As a Child,” Ensign, May 2006, 14–17

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February 23, 2017

C.S. Lewis, Humility

Comments Off on How little people know who think that holiness is dull

How little people know who think that holiness is dull. When one meets the real thing (and perhaps, like you, I have met it only once) it is irresistable. If even 10% of the world’s population had it, would not the whole world be converted and happy before a year’s end?

C.S. Lewis
Letters to an American Lady, page 19

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February 17, 2017

Forgiveness, Grace, Humility, King Benjamin, Mercy, Service

Comments Off on After We Have Received His Grace, We Must Extend Grace to Others

King Benjamin teaches precisely how the redemptive process works and can be maintained. First he proclaims the essential and primary reality of the atonement, by which Christ extends unconditional love to us, even in our sins.

Consistent with Amulek and Alma, he teaches that we can be moved by Christ’s unconditional love to overcome the demands within ourselves, placed there by our God-given consciences, to punish ourselves and others. This breaking the bands of justice, he claims, enables us to accept Christ’s mercy and forgiveness and become new creatures.

Intensely moved by learning of Christ’s love, the group of Nephites being taught by King Benjamin actually go through that saving process and begin to rejoice that they are indeed changed, that they “have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2).

King Benjamin also reveals the only way to maintain change, to retain “a remission of your sins from day to day” (Mosiah 4:26). The key is humility, the abdication of imitative desire through recognizing that we are “all beggars” (Mosiah 4:19).

Just as God does not reject us for our sins, does not refuse to love us or to extend his healing grace and continual blessings because we sin, so we must respond to those who beg help from us though they do not “deserve” it. We must never judge their desires or condition; we must never think that “the man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore . . . his punishments are just” (Mosiah 4:17). If we do so we have “great cause to repent,” and if we fail to repent we have “no interest in the kingdom of God” (Mosiah 4:18). Instead, we must constantly recognize our own weakness and our own position of dependence on God, judging no one else but engaging constantly in specific acts of sacrificial love: “feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants” (Mosiah 4:26).

The point the Book of Mormon makes much more clearly than I find made in the Bible is this: To continue experiencing the atonement of Christ after we have received his grace, we must extend grace to others.

Christ makes us into new creatures, into persons strong enough not to act contrary to what we know-that is, not to sin- if we will merely accept Christ’s merciful, undeserved love; he gives us power to repent, the “means” by which we can “have faith unto repentance” (Alma 34:15). But if we then continue judging others, we will unconsciously judge ourselves. We must constantly give mercy to be able to accept it. We must never exact revenge, even in the name of perfect justice. We must not take vengeance, even upon ourselves, the sinners whom we inwardly know most certainly deserve it.

Eugene England
A Second Witness for the Logos: the Book of Mormon and Contemporary Literary Criticism
included in By Study and Also by Faith v2, Essays in Honor of Hugh W. Nibley on the Occasion of His Eightieth Birthday
John M. Lundquist and Stephen D. Ricks, eds.
Deseret Book Company, (1990)
(paragraph breaks added to improve online readability)

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February 14, 2017

General Authorities, Humility, Maxwell, Pride, Tests

Comments Off on 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.” . . .

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

Elder 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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February 1, 2017

Eyring, Faith, General Conference, Gethsemane, Humility, King Benjamin

Comments Off on What we do allows the Atonement of Jesus Christ to change us into what we must be

Repost of a classic from President Eyring

King Benjamin, who understood as well as any mortal what it meant to be a man of strength and courage, makes it clear that to be like a child is not to be childish. It is to be like the Savior, who prayed to His Father for strength to be able to do His will and then did it. Our natures must be changed to become as a child to gain the strength we must have to be safe in the times of moral peril.

Here is King Benjamin’s stirring description of what that change to become like a child is and how it comes to us:

“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he 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, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”

We are safe on the rock which is the Savior when we have yielded in faith in Him, have responded to the Holy Spirit’s direction to keep the commandments long enough and faithfully enough that the power of the Atonement has changed our hearts. When we have, by that experience, become as a child in our capacity to love and obey, we are on the sure foundation.

From King Benjamin we learn what we can do to take us to that safe place. But remember: the things we do are the means, not the end we seek. What we do allows the Atonement of Jesus Christ to change us into what we must be. Our faith in Jesus Christ brings us to repentance and to keeping His commandments. We obey and we resist temptation by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost. In time our natures will change. We will become as a little child, obedient to God and more loving. That change, if we do all we must to keep it, will qualify us to enjoy the gifts which come through the Holy Ghost. Then we will be safe on the only sure rock.

President Henry B. Eyring

As a Child,” Ensign, May 2006, 14–17

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