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 26, 2017

Grace, Gratitude, King Benjamin, Lund

Comments Off on Remembrance is the Seed of Gratitude

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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December 28, 2016

Alma, Doctrine & Covenants, Fundamental Principles, Justice, Lund, Mercy

Comments Off on He Met the Demands of the Law for Himself and He Met the Demands of Justice for All Mankind

The Savior could effect our deliverance for two important reasons. First, he met the demands of the law of justice for himself because he kept the laws of God perfectly. In other words, Christ was justified by his works. He avoided the debt altogether and qualified himself to return to the Father-the only one of all mankind to do so. Second, he met the demands of the law for all of the rest of mankind. He himself owed no debt to the law, but he went before it and in essence said: “I am perfect and therefore owe you no suffering. However, I will pay the debt for all mankind. I will undergo suffering that I might pay the price for every transgression and sin ever committed by any man.”

In the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross, Christ paid the price by suffering for every sin as though he himself had committed them, satisfying fully the law of justice. Such suffering is beyond the power of any mortal man to endure. We can’t understand how he did it, only that he did and that “through Him mercy can be fully extended to each of us without offending the eternal law of justice.” In terms of Elder Packer’s parable, he generated sufficient payment to satisfy the debt of every other man. He met the demands of the law for himself through obedience and for all others through suffering.

Alma told his son Corianton that mercy could not rob justice, or else “God would cease to be God.” (Alma 42:25.) That is the case with the merciful love of the Father and the Son. In fact, mercy paid justice! Their Love said to Justice, by virtue of the price paid in the Garden, “Here is payment for the wrongs committed. You are paid in full. Now let the captives go free.”

In one of the most beautiful images in all of scripture, we find the solution to that awful dilemma we all face as sinners. We are standing before the bar as defendants, facing the great judge, God the Father. Our “Advocate with the Father” steps forward, not to refute the charges or to hold up a record of our good works to counterbalance our guilt, but to plead our case in a different manner:

Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him-saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified; wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life. (D&C 45:3-5.)

Nothing man could do for himself could bring him past the judgment bar successfully without such an Advocate. That is why eternal life is always a gift, and those who receive it do so by “inheritance.” It is interesting to note that the word inherit and its cognate words are used seventy-eight times in the Doctrine and Covenants, while the word earned and its related words are not used once.

Gerald N. Lund
Jesus Christ, Key to the Plan of Salvation
Deseret Book Company, 1991
Elder Lund was later sustained as a Seventy

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

November 2, 2015

Enabling Power, Grace, Lehi, Lund

Comments Off on Condemned by the Law but Redeemed by the Messiah

Lehi said, “Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah,” (2 Nephi 2:6) is the natural follow through from verse five. Simply put, Lehi stated that men are condemned by the law but redeemed by the Messiah.  Lehi’s point was that, if Christ were not full of this grace or this “enabling power,” [of the Atonement] the redemption would not be possible.

Lehi’s next statement was that the Holy Messiah would offer himself as “a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law.” (2 Nephi 2:7) In light of our understanding of the law of justice, we see why Lehi made this statement. Remembering the two principles that constitute the law of justice, i.e. obedience brings joy, violation brings suffering, one could say that there are only two ways to satisfy the demands of that law. The first would be to keep the law perfectly; that is, to never violate in any degree the law that is given. The second way would be to pay the penalty for any violations.

This is what the Messiah did, for he met both conditions. Jesus kept the law perfectly. Not once in his entire mortal life did he violate the law in any degree or in any way. He was the Lamb without spot or blemish. He was the ultimate in perfection. Here then was one who, in Lehi’s words, was justified by the law. In other words, the law had no claim on him. But Christ did more than this. In 2 Nephi 9:21, Jacob again added commentary to our understanding of what his father taught: the Messiah “suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam.” So not only did Christ keep the law perfectly for himself, but he suffered the penalty for all violations as though he himself were guilty of them.

Lehi indicated that the sacrifice answering the ends of the law was given only for those who have “a broken heart and a contrite spirit.” Then he added, “unto none else” can that be done. (2 Nephi 2:7)

Gerald N. Lund, later Elder Gerald N. Lund

Jesus Christ – Key to the Plan of Salvation, Deseret Book Company (1991)

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August 22, 2015

Adversity, Healing, Lund, Maxwell

Comments Off on Maxwell – The Full Intensiveness of the Atonement

“Jesus’ daily mortal experiences and His ministry, to be sure, acquainted Him by observation with a sample of human sicknesses, grief, pains, sorrows, and infirmities which are ‘common to man’ (1 Cor. 10:13). But the agonies of the atonement were infinite and first-hand! Since not all human sorrow and pain is connected to sin, the full intensiveness of the Atonement involved bearing our pains, infirmities, and sicknesses, as well as our sins. Whatever our sufferings, we can safely cast our ‘care upon him; for he careth for [us]’ (1 Pet. 5:7).”

Who could even begin to fathom the depths of the suffering and the depths of the pain that the Savior condescended to take upon himself so that he could meet the needs of his children and redeem them? No wonder it could be said, “The Son of Man hath descended below them all” (D&C 122:8).

Elder Neal A. Maxwell

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