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

When spiritually aligned, a poise can come, even when we do not know “the meaning of all things” (1 Ne. 11:17). Such contented assurance produces not arrogance but quiet acceptance, which is its own form of being “anxiously engaged” but without all the bells and whistles (D&C 58:27; see also D&C 58:28).

However, this spiritual contentment rests on our accepting the Atonement of Jesus, because we “have come to a knowledge of the goodness of God, and his matchless power, and his wisdom, and his patience, and his long-suffering towards the children of men; and also, the atonement which has been prepared from the foundation of the world” (Mosiah 4:6).

Elder Neal A. Maxwell

Content with the Things Allotted unto Us,” Ensign, May 2000, 72

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September 13, 2017

General Authorities, Maxwell, Resurrection

Comments Off on Oh, How We Adore Jesus for His Atonement!

As signified by Jesus’ personal resurrection and the recognition of him by friends, immortality is not merely being one droplet in some floating sea of cosmic consciousness! Resurrection is not being a mere molecule in an unremembering cloud of drifting molecules! His resurrection was personal and recognizable. So will ours be! Did not the resurrected ancients go into Jerusalem and appear unto many?

Oh, how we adore Jesus for his atonement! For his free gift of immortality to all! Consider for a moment, how would we regard Christ without the reality of his atonement and resurrection? How would we regard the Sermon on the Mount without the resurrection of the sermon giver and eventually all of us? Without the reality of God’s plan of salvation and Jesus’ atonement, how could the meek truly inherit the earth? How could the pure in heart really see God? (See Matthew 5.)

No wonder Paul wrote of Christ, “in him all things hold together” (Revised Standard Version, Colossians 1:17). When, collectively or individually, brothers and sisters, things seem to fly apart for us at times, what fitting imagery: “In him all things hold together”! Given the centrality of the doctrine of resurrection, the Restoration has as one of its main purposes to witness not only of Jesus’ resurrection, but that of all mankind.

Neal A. Maxwell,

In Him All Things Hold Together

Fireside address at Brigham Young University on 31 March 1991

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September 5, 2017

General Authorities, Grace, Maxwell

Comments Off on No Instant Christians

We can contemplate how far we have already come in the climb along the pathway to perfection; it is usually much further than we acknowledge, and such reflections restore resolve. . . . We can know that when we have truly given what we have, it is like paying a full tithe; it is, in that respect, all that was asked. . . . Finally, we can accept this stunning, irrevocable truth: Our Lord can lift us from deep despair and cradle us midst any care. . . . This is a gospel of grand expectations, but God’s grace is sufficient for each of us if we remember that there are no instant Christians.

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Elder Neal A. Maxwell
Notwithstanding My Weakness, pp. 9-11, (Deseret Book, 1991) emphasis in original

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August 16, 2017

Discipleship, General Authorities, General Conference, Maxwell, Sin

Comments Off on Loose Gravel Slows Discipleship, Too

Jesus’ instructions concerning discipleship involve both substance and sequence: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23; emphasis added). Elsewhere, Moroni declared the need for us to deny ourselves “all ungodliness” (Moro. 10:32), thus including both large and small sins. While boulders surely block our way, loose gravel slows discipleship, too. Even a small stone can become a stumbling block.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell
Deny Yourselves of All Ungodliness, General Conference, April, 1995

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August 14, 2017

General Authorities, General Conference, Hope, Maxwell

Comments Off on Souls can be Roused and Rallied by Hope’s Reveille as by No Other Music

Souls can be roused and rallied by hope’s “reveille” as by no other music. Even if comrades slumber or desert, “lively hope” performs like a reconnoitering scout out in advance of God’s columns; “there is hope smiling brightly before us” (see 1 Pet. 1:3; Hymns, 1985, no. 19). Hope caused disciples to go quickly and expectantly to an empty garden tomb (see Mark 16:1–8; Luke 24:8–12). Hope helped a prophet to see rescuing rain in a distant cloud which appeared to be no larger than a man’s hand (see 1 Kgs. 18:41–46).

Elder Neal A. Maxwell

“‘Brightness of Hope’,” Ensign, Nov 1994, 34

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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

General Authorities, Maxwell, Tests

Comments Off on Maxwell – 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.” . . .

A 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.

A 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.

A 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.”

A 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.

A 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.

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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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 12, 2017

General Authorities, Hope, Maxwell

Comments Off on Maxwell – Hope through the Atonement of Jesus Christ

Life’s disappointments often represent the debris of our failed, proximate hopes. Instead, however, I speak of the crucial need for ultimate hope.

Ultimate hope is a different matter. It is tied to Jesus and the blessings of the great Atonement, blessings resulting in the universal Resurrection and the precious opportunity provided thereby for us to practice emancipating repentance, making possible what the scriptures call “a perfect brightness of hope” (2 Nephi 31:20).

Moroni confirmed: “What is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ” (Moroni 7:40–41; see also Alma 27:28). Real hope, therefore, is not associated with things mercurial, but rather with things immortal and eternal!

Unsurprisingly, hope is intertwined with other gospel doctrines, especially faith and patience.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell

Hope through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, Ensign, Nov 1998, 61

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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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