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

October 13, 2017

General Authorities, General Conference, Kimball, Peter, Words of Christ

Comments Off on My Brother Peter

Some time ago a newspaper in a distant town carried an Easter Sunday religion editorial by a minister who stated that the presiding authority of the early-day church fell because of self-confidence, indecision, evil companions, failure to pray, lack of humility, and fear of man. He than concluded:

Let us as people, especially those who are Christians and claim to abide by the Word of God, not make the same mistakes and fall as Peter fell.

As I read this, I had some strange emotions. I was shocked, then I was chilled, then my blood changed its temperature and began to boil. I felt I was attacked viciously, for Peter was my brother, my colleague, my example, my prophet, and God’s anointed. I whispered to myself, “That is not true. He is maligning my brother.”

Then I opened my New Testament. I could find no such character as this modern minister described. Instead, I found a man who had grown perfect through his experiences and suffering—a man with vision, a man of revelations, a man fully trusted by his Lord Jesus Christ.

I remember his sad, triple denial of his acquaintance with the Lord in those terrifying, frustrating moments. I recall his tearful repentance. Many times he was rebuked by the Master, but he learned by experience and never seemed to make the same error twice. I see a lowly fisherman, untaught and untrained, climb gradually under the tutelage of the best Teacher to the high pinnacle of great faith, bold leadership, unwavering testimony, unparalleled courage, and almost limitless understanding. I see the lay disciple become the chief apostle to preside over the Lord’s church and kingdom. I hear him breathing heavily as he laboriously climbs the steep Mount of Transfiguration. Here he sees and hears unspeakable things and has the transcendent experience of being in the presence of his God, Elohim; Jehovah, his Redeemer; and other heavenly beings.

His eyes had seen, his ears had heard, and his heart had understood and accepted the wondrous happenings of the days from the baptism of the Master in the waters of Jordan to the ascension of his Redeemer from the Mount of Olives.

I see this great church president assume leadership of the church. I see the sick and infirm arise and leap to health and normalcy. I hear his powerful sermons. I see him walk steadily, unflinchingly to martyrdom and drink of its bitter cup.

But this minister belittled him, unmercifully undercut him, and downgraded him.

Much of the criticism of Simon Peter is centered in his denial of his acquaintance with the Master. This has been labeled “cowardice.” Are we sure of his motive in that recorded denial? He had already given up his occupation and placed all worldly goods on the altar for the cause. If we admit that he was cowardly and denied the Lord through timidity, we can still find a great lesson. Has anyone more completely overcome mortal selfishness and weakness? Has anyone repented more sincerely? Peter has been accused of being harsh, indiscreet, impetuous, and fearful. If all these were true, then we still ask, Has any man every more completely triumphed over his weaknesses?

. . . .

When Christ chose this fisherman for his first and chief apostle, he was taking no chances. He picked a diamond in the rough—a diamond that would need to be cut, trimmed, and polished by correction, chastisement, and trials—but nevertheless a diamond of real quality. The Savior knew this apostle could be trusted to receive the keys of the kingdom, the sealing and the loosing power. Like other humans, Peter might make some errors in his developing process, but he would be solid, trustworthy, and dependable as a leader of the kingdom of God. Even with so perfect a teacher it was difficult to learn the vast gospel plan in three years.

Peter inquired of Jesus:

Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?

And Jesus said unto them, verify I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:27–28.)

Is it conceivable that the omniscient Lord would give all these powers and keys to one who was a failure or unworthy?

If Peter was cowardly, how brave he became in so short a time. If he was weak and vacillating, how strong and positive he became in weeks and months. If he was unkind, how tender and sympathetic he became almost immediately. Responsibility as a refiner and a purger usually takes time.

If Peter was frightened in the court when he denied his association with the Lord, how brave he was hours earlier when he drew his sword against an overpowering enemy, the night mob. Later defying the people and state and church officials, he boldly charged, “Him [the Christ] . . . ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” (Acts 2:23.) To the astounded populace at the healing of the cripple at the Gate Beautiful, he exclaimed, “Ye men of Israel . . . the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate. . . . ye denied the Holy One. . . . And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.” (Acts 3:12–15.)

Does this portray cowardice? Quite a bold assertion for a timid one. Remember that Peter never denied the divinity of Christ. He only denied his association or acquaintance with the Christ, which is quite a different matter.

Could it have been confusion and frustration that caused Peter’s denial? Could there still have been some lack of understanding concerning the total unfolding of the plan? Being a leader, Peter was a special target of the adversary. As the Lord said:

Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:

But I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not. (Luke 22:31–32.)

Peter was under fire; all the hosts of hell were against him. The die had been cast for the Savior’s crucifixion. If Satan could destroy Simon now, what a victory he would score. Here was the greatest of all living men. Lucifer wanted to confuse him, frustrate him, limit his prestige, and totally destroy him. However, this was not to be, for he was chosen for and ordained to a high purpose in heaven, as was Abraham.

Peter followed the Savior to his trial and sat in the outer court. What else could he do? He knew that many times the Savior himself had escaped from the crowd by slipping out of their clutches. Would he again do so?

Though the Lord taught of the coming crucifixion and resurrection, neither Simon nor anyone else fully comprehended his meaning. Was this so strange? Never before had there been such a person or such an occurrence upon the earth. Millions today cannot understand the resurrection, even though it has been preached for nineteen hundred years as a reality with many infallible proofs. Could these men, then, be criticized for not fully understanding this frustrating situation?

Is it possible that there might have been some other reason for Peter’s triple denial? Could he have felt that circumstances justified expediency? When he bore a strong testimony in Caesarea Philippi, he had been told that “they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.” (Matthew 16:20.)

When the three apostles came down from the Mount of Transfiguration, they were again charged implicitly, “Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.” (Matthew 17:9.) Could Peter have felt this was not the time to tell of Christ? He had been with his Lord in Nazareth when the Savior was taken by his own people to the brow of the hill, “whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them went his way.” (Luke 4:29–30.) Surely Peter did not think of this escape as cowardice but as wise expediency. Christ’s time was not come.

 

President Spencer W. Kimball
Speeches of the Year, Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1971, pp. 1–8.

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October 10, 2017

Adversity, General Authorities, Kimball

Comments Off on Suffering Can Make Saints

Being human, we would expel from our lives physical pain and mental anguish and assure ourselves of continual ease and comfort, but if we were to close the doors upon sorrow and distress, we might be excluding our greatest friends and benefactors. Suffering can make saints of people as they learn patience, long-suffering, and self-mastery.

President Spencer W. Kimball
Faith Precedes the Miracle, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1972, p. 98

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September 30, 2017

Alma, General Authorities, Humility, Kimball, Repentance

Comments Off on Repentance is not repetition of sin. It is not laughing at sin. It is not justification for sin.

Sometimes it is easier to define what something is by telling what it is not.

Repentance is not repetition of sin. It is not laughing at sin. It is not justification for sin. Repentance is not the hardening of the spiritual arteries. It is not the minimizing of the seriousness of the error. Repentance is not retirement from activity. It is not the closeting of sin to corrode and overburden the sinner.

. . . .

Remorse and deep sorrow then are preliminary to repentance.

There must not be rationalization to cover and hide. Alma, the great authority on this subject, we quote again:

“… Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sins, by denying the justice of God; but do let the justice of God, and his mercy, and his long-suffering have full sway in your heart; and let it bring you down to the dust in humility.” (Alma 42:30. Italics added.)

This is important: do let yourself be troubled; let the tears flow; let your heart be chastened. Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sin. Let the justice of God have full sway in your heart so that it will bring you to the dust in humility.

. . . .

Rationalizing is the enemy to repentance. Someone has said, “Rationalizing is the bringing of ideals down to the level of one’s conduct while repentance is the bringing of one’s conduct up to the level of his ideals.”

. . . .

Sin has size and dimensions. There are greater and lesser ones. Someone has said, “Conscience is a celestial spark that God has put into every man for the purpose of saving his soul.” It awakens the soul to consciousness of sin; it stimulates him to want to do better, to make adjustments, and to accept the sin in its full weight and size, to be willing to face facts and meet issues and pay penalties.

President Spencer W. Kimball
What Is True Repentance?“, New Era, May 1974, 4

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September 12, 2017

Forgiveness, General Authorities, Holland, Hope, Kimball, Repentance

Comments Off on Many Have Tended to Surrender Hope

I had made up my mind that I would never write a book … [but] when I come in contact almost daily with broken homes, delinquent children, corrupt governments, and apostate groups, and realize that all these problems are the result of sin, I want to shout with Alma: ‘O … that I might go forth … with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people.’ (Alma 29:1)

Hence this book indicates the seriousness of breaking God’s commandments; shows that sin can bring only sorrow, remorse, disappointment, and anguish; and warns that the small indiscretions evolve into larger ones and finally into major transgressions which bring heavy penalties.

[But] having come to recognize their deep sin, many have tended to surrender hope, not having a clear knowledge of the scriptures and of the redeeming power of Christ.

[So I also] write to make the joyous affirmation that man can be literally transformed by his own repentance and by God’s gift of forgiveness.

It is my humble hope that … [those] who are suffering the baleful effects of sin may be helped to find the way from darkness to light, from suffering to peace, from misery to hope, and from spiritual death to eternal life.

.

President Spencer W. Kimball
The Miracle of Forgiveness, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969, pp. x–xii; emphasis added.

.

Quoted in A Robe, a Ring, and a Fatted Calf by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Ensign, August, 1985

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April 24, 2017

Eternal Life, Exaltation, General Authorities, Kimball

Comments Off on On Through the Eternities to Exaltation

The Lord restored his kingdom in these days, with all its gifts and powers and blessings. Any church that you know of may possibly be able to take you for a long ride, and bring you some degree of peace and happiness and blessing, and they can carry you to the veil and there they drop you. The Church of Jesus Christ picks you up on this side of the veil and, if you live its commandments, carries you right through the veil as though it weren’t there and on through the eternities to exaltation.

President Spencer W. Kimball
The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 49–50, quoted in Chapter 1: “To Live with Him Someday”, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, Salt Lake City, The Church of the Latter Day Saints, 2006

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March 20, 2017

General Authorities, General Conference, Kimball, Revelation

Comments Off on The Sound of the Voice of the Lord

Expecting the spectacular, one may not be fully alerted to the constant flow of revealed communication. I say, in the deepest of humility, but also by the power and force of a burning testimony in my soul, that from the prophet of the Restoration to the prophet of our own year, the communication line is unbroken, the authority is continuous, a light, brilliant and penetrating, continues to shine. The sound of the voice of the Lord is a continuous melody and a thunderous appeal. For nearly a century and a half there has been no interruption.

Spencer W. Kimball, “Revelation: The Word of the Lord to His Prophets,” Ensign, May 1977, 76

 

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December 26, 2016

Charity, General Authorities, Kimball, Service

Comments Off on Service: It is easier to find ourselves because there is so much more of us to find!

Service to others deepens and sweetens this life while we are preparing to live in a better world. It is by serving that we learn how to serve. When we are engaged in the service of our fellowmen, not only do our deeds assist them, but we put our own problems in a fresher perspective. When we concern ourselves more with others, there is less time to be concerned with ourselves! In the midst of the miracle of serving, there is the promise of Jesus that by losing ourselves, we find ourselves! [See Matthew 10:39.]

Not only do we “find” ourselves in terms of acknowledging divine guidance in our lives, but the more we serve our fellowmen in appropriate ways, the more substance there is to our souls. We become more significant individuals as we serve others. We become more substantive as we serve others—indeed, it is easier to “find” ourselves because there is so much more of us to find! …

… The abundant life noted in the scriptures [see John 10:10] is the spiritual sum that is arrived at by the multiplying of our service to others and by investing our talents in service to God and to man. Jesus said, you will recall, that on the first two commandments hang all the law and the prophets, and those two commandments involve developing our love of God, of self, of our neighbors, and of all men [see Matthew 22:36–40]. There can be no real abundance in life that is not connected with the keeping and the carrying out of those two great commandments.

Unless the way we live draws us closer to our Heavenly Father and to our fellowmen, there will be an enormous emptiness in our lives. It is frightening for me to see, for instance, how the life-style of so many today causes them to disengage from their families and their friends and their peers toward a heedless pursuit of pleasure or materialism. So often loyalty to family, to community, and to country is pushed aside in favor of other pursuits which are wrongly thought to be productive of happiness when, in fact, selfishness is so often the pursuit of questionable pleasure which passes so quickly. One of the differences between true joy and mere pleasure is that certain pleasures are realized only at the cost of someone else’s pain. Joy, on the other hand, springs out of selflessness and service, and it benefits rather than hurts others.

. . . .

As the contrasts between the ways of the world and the ways of God become sharpened by circumstance, the faith of the members of the Church will be tried even more severely. One of the most vital things we can do is to express our testimonies through service, which will, in turn, produce spiritual growth, greater commitment, and a greater capacity to keep the commandments. …

There is great security in spirituality, and we cannot have spirituality without service!

President Spencer W. Kimball
Chapter 8: Selfless Service,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: SpencerW. Kimball

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October 25, 2016

Adversity, General Authorities, Kimball, Whitney

Comments Off on No Pain That We Suffer

No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God.

 

Elder Orson F. Whitney, quoted by President Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle

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August 22, 2016

Forgiveness, General Authorities, Kimball, Repentance

Comments Off on Daily Repentance is Essential

“There is never a day in any man’s life when repentance is not essential to his well-being and eternal progress”
President Spencer W. Kimball
The Miracle of Forgiveness [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], p. 32

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May 23, 2016

Eternal Life, Exaltation, General Authorities, General Conference, Hope, Immortality, Kimball, Paul, Resurrection

Comments Off on Today is just a grain of sand in the Sahara of eternity

Today is just a grain of sand in the Sahara of eternity. We have also a hope in Christ for the eternity that lies ahead; otherwise, as Paul said, we would be “of all men most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:19).

How great would be our sorrow – and justly so – if there were no resurrection! How miserable we would be if there were no hope of life eternal! If our hope of salvation and eternal reward should fade away, we would certainly be more miserable than those who never had such an expectancy.

“But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Cor. 15:20).

Now the effects of his resurrection shall pass upon all men, “for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22).

Now “as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Cor. 15:49).

Now provision has been made whereby “this corruptible shall … put on incorruption, and this mortal shall … put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor. 15:54).

. . . .

There is no victory in the grave, for death is replaced with life. Immortality is a free gift for all men through the atoning ransom paid by the Son of God.

But, Paul says, “The sting of death is sin,” meaning that if men die in their sins, they will suffer the prescribed penalty and gain a lesser glory in the realms ahead (1 Cor. 15:56).

“But thanks be to God,” the ancient apostle continues, “which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:57).

. . . .

We have an eternal hope in Christ. We know this life is given us to prepare for eternity, “and that same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy” (D&C 130:2).

We believe, and it is our testimony, and we proclaim it to the world “that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent” (Mosiah 3:17).

We know, and it is our testimony, and we also proclaim it to the world that to be saved men must “believe that salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent” (Mosiah 3:18).

 

President Spencer W. Kimball
An Eternal Hope in Christ“, Ensign, Nov. 1978, 71

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