WE may not often think of the Prophet Enoch, the seventh in a chain of patriarchs going back to Adam, as a teacher of the Atonement, but he does a masterful job.
And he said unto them: Because that Adam fell, we are; and by his fall came death; and we are made partakers of misery and woe.
Behold Satan hath come among the children of men, and tempteth them to worship him; and men have become carnal, sensual, and devilish, and are shut out from the presence of God.
But God hath made known unto our fathers that all men must repent.
And he called upon our father Adam by his own voice, saying: I am God; I made the world, and men before they were in the flesh.
And he also said unto him: If thou wilt turn unto me, and hearken unto my voice, and believe, and repent of all thy transgressions, and be baptized, even in water, in the name of mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth, which is Jesus Christ, the only name which shall be given under heaven, whereby salvation shall come unto the children of men, ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, asking all things in his name, and whatsoever ye shall ask, it shall be given you.
And our father Adam spake unto the Lord, and said: Why is it that men must repent and be baptized in water? And the Lord said unto Adam: Behold I have forgiven thee thy transgression in the Garden of Eden.
Hence came the saying abroad among the people, that the Son of God hath atoned for original guilt, wherein the sins of the parents cannot be answered upon the heads of the children, for they are whole from the foundation of the world.
And the Lord spake unto Adam, saying: Inasmuch as thy children are conceived in sin, even so when they begin to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts, and they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good.
And it is given unto them to know good from evil; wherefore they are agents unto themselves, and I have given unto you another law and commandment.
Wherefore teach it unto your children, that all men, everywhere, must repent, or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God, for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence; for, in the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is his name, and the name of his Only Begotten is the Son of Man, even Jesus Christ, a righteous Judge, who shall come in the meridian of time.
Therefore I give unto you a commandment, to teach these things freely unto your children, saying:
That by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory;
For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified;
Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment.
And now, behold, I say unto you: This is the plan of salvation unto all men, through the blood of mine Only Begotten, who shall come in the meridian of time.
The scriptures are consistent in declaring that no unclean thing can enter into God’s kingdom. In theory there are two ways by which we may become clean and thus inherit eternal life.
The first is simply to live the law of God perfectly, to make no mistakes. To do so is to be justified-pronounced innocent, declared blameless-by works or by law. To say this another way, if we keep the commandments completely (including receiving the sacraments, or ordinances, of salvation), never deviating from the strait and narrow path throughout our mortal lives, then we qualify for the blessings of the obedient. And yet we encounter on every side the terrible truth that all are unclean as a result of sin (Romans 3:23). All of us have broken at least one of the laws of God and therefore disqualify ourselves for justification by law or by works. Moral perfection may be a possibility, but it is certainly not a probability. Jesus alone trod that path. “Therefore,” Paul observed, “by the deeds of the law”-meaning the law of Moses, as well as any law of God-”there shall no flesh be justified in his sight” (Romans 3:20; compare 2 Nephi 2:5).
The second way to be justified is by faith; it is for the sinner to be pronounced clean or innocent through trusting in and relying upon the merits of Him who answered the ends of the law (Romans 10:4; compare 2 Nephi 2:6-7), who did keep the law of God perfectly. Jesus owed no personal debt to justice. Because we are guilty of transgression, if there had been no atonement of Christ, no amount of good deeds on our part, no nobility independent of divine intercession, could make up for the loss. Truly, man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself” (Alma 22:14). Thus he who loved us first (1 John 4:10, 19) reaches out to the lost and fallen, to the disinherited, and proposes a marriage. The Infinite One joins with the finite, the Finished with the unfinished, the Whole with the partial, in short, the Perfect with the imperfect. Through covenant with Christ and thus union with the Bridegroom, we place ourselves in a condition to become fully formed, whole, finished-to become perfect in Christ (Moroni 10:32; D&C 76:69).
Robert L. Millett
Getting at the Truth: Responding to Difficult Questions About LDS Beliefs
Shadow Mountain (2004)
The larger theological perspective needed to accommodate both grace and works is provided by the scriptures themselves in the concept of “covenant,” an agreement entered into voluntarily by two parties, with obligations laid upon both. This concept is taught in both the Old and New Testaments as characterizing the proper relationship between God and his people.
The availability of the covenant, the Savior who mediates it, his agony that empowered it-these are all free gifts of grace: God didn’t have to offer; Jesus didn’t have to suffer. They are gifts bestowed upon us out of love. But the decision to remain in the covenant, to stay put and “endure to the end”-that choice is ours, and it is indicated by whom we serve and by the works we do. As long as we choose to remain loyal to him, Christ continues to justify us by his grace and to atone for our mistakes. Our present good works (such as we can manage) are a token of the perfect righteousness we genuinely seek to offer but at this point can achieve only through Christ, a token that we still serve him and not the Enemy. This token-our sincere effort-is accepted by Christ, who alone redeems and justifies us through the covenant.
Ultimately, salvation is the task of him who bears the title-Savior. It is his title because it is his function and not ours. Occasionally, he allows us to work for him as tools in saving others, but never for ourselves. We can’t baptize ourselves, bless ourselves, ordain ourselves, or endow ourselves. Still, we can and must do something to enter into and remain in the covenant. We cannot logically insist he is our master while at the same time refusing to serve him. We can’t have it both ways. Servants, by definition, serve. If entering into the covenant is a choice for Christ rather than Satan, then staying in the covenant is serving Christ-that is, to continue choosing Christ, to endure or persist in choosing Christ-and that choice is expressed in our behavior. We can’t come to Christ and then just wander off to do our own thing.
Stephen E. Robinson
The Parable of the Divers and More Good News
Deseret Book Company, 1995
1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;