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

June 22, 2017

Fundamental Principles, General Authorities, General Conference, Grace, Holland, Mercy, Nature of Christ, Sacrament, Sacrifice

Comments Off on Every Ordinance of the Gospel Focuses on the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ

Since that upper room experience on the eve of Gethsemane and Golgotha, children of the promise have been under covenant to remember Christ’s sacrifice in this newer, higher, more holy and personal way.

With a crust of bread, always broken, blessed, and offered first, we remember his bruised body and broken heart, his physical suffering on the cross where he cried, “I thirst,” and finally, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (John 19:28; Matt. 27:46.)

The Savior’s physical suffering guarantees that through his mercy and grace (see 2 Ne. 2:8) every member of the human family shall be freed from the bonds of death and be resurrected triumphantly from the grave. Of course the time of that resurrection and the degree of exaltation it leads to are based upon our faithfulness.

With a small cup of water we remember the shedding of Christ’s blood and the depth of his spiritual suffering, anguish which began in the Garden of Gethsemane. There he said, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death” (Matt. 26:38). He was in agony and “prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44).

The Savior’s spiritual suffering and the shedding of his innocent blood, so lovingly and freely given, paid the debt for what the scriptures call the “original guilt” of Adam’s transgression (Moses 6:54). Furthermore, Christ suffered for the sins and sorrows and pains of all the rest of the human family, providing remission for all of our sins as well, upon conditions of obedience to the principles and ordinances of the gospel he taught (see 2 Ne. 9:21–23). As the Apostle Paul wrote, we were “bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:20). What an expensive price and what a merciful purchase!

That is why every ordinance of the gospel focuses in one way or another on the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, and surely that is why this particular ordinance with all its symbolism and imagery comes to us more readily and more repeatedly than any other in our life. It comes in what has been called “the most sacred, the most holy, of all the meetings of the Church” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56, 2:340).

.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
This Do in Remembrance of Me, Ensign, November, 1995

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

June 14, 2017

Forgiveness, General Authorities, General Conference, Grace, Mercy, Poelman, Repentance

Comments Off on Forgiveness is Not Complete Until It is Accepted

Recently I was in private conversation with one who, having committed a serious transgression, had also made intense effort to repent and receive forgiveness from those personally offended, from the Church, and from the Lord. When I asked, “Do you feel forgiven by your Heavenly Father?” he answered hesitantly with an affirmative but qualified response. “How do we obtain divine forgiveness?” I asked.

He spoke of how he had forsaken his transgressive behavior of the past, confessed to proper priesthood authorities, and attempted to make restitution to those offended. He further described his efforts to live according to gospel principles and Church standards.

The Savior and his atoning sacrifice were not mentioned. The underlying assumption seemed to be that divine forgiveness is obtained through those steps of repentance limited to changing one’s behavior. Despite the brother’s earnest efforts to repent, he appeared to be burdened still by remorse and regret and to feel that he must continue to pay for his sins.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. Others, to my knowledge, are burdened by past mistakes, large and small, because of an incomplete or incorrect understanding of our Father’s plan of redemption and mercy. Those so burdened may unnecessarily struggle through life without the joy and peace of mind which are the intended result of true repentance and divine forgiveness.

One who assumes that he can or must pay the price for his sins and thereby earn divine forgiveness will not feel free to continue progress toward realizing his divine potential, that is, eternal life.

The fact is we cannot save ourselves.

. . . .

We learn from the prophet Alma that we are subject to divine law, which all have transgressed in some respect, making us subject to the demands of justice (see Alma 42:14, 18). God’s justice is based upon divine laws, under which we receive what we deserve according to our disobedience or obedience to the law.

Justice affords no forgiveness for transgressors but imposes penalties (see D&C 82:4). None is exempt (see D&C 107:84). After all we can do to repent, we are still subject to the demands of justice and its penalties, which we cannot satisfy.

. . . .

The beginning and completion of repentance leading to forgiveness is faith in Jesus Christ, who is the “author and the finisher of [our] faith” (Moroni 6:4). Our faith in him as Savior and Redeemer engenders in us godly sorrow for our transgressions, a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and a sense of personal accountability. There follows a change in attitude and a turning toward God.

. . . .

The Lord’s gift of forgiveness, however, is not complete until it is accepted. True and complete repentance is a process by which we may become reconciled with God and accept the divine gift of forgiveness.

In the words of Nephi, “It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23).

The effect of the infinite, atoning sacrifice was twofold: First, resurrection and immortality for all, unconditionally granted. Second, eternal life for each one who fulfills the prescribed conditions, which are faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Redeemer, followed by repentance.

Then we must qualify for and receive the saving and exalting ordinances of the gospel with their associated covenants, continuously striving to keep those covenants and obey the commandments of God.

Being mortal, and despite our resolve and efforts, we will continue to fall short of perfection. However, with Nephi of old, conscious of our weaknesses, temptations, and past mistakes, we may say, “Nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted” (2 Nephi 4:19). There follows a natural resolve to renew our efforts.

Essential to receiving divine forgiveness are personal, individual recognition and acceptance of our Father’s mercy, made available to us by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ and a renewed covenant to obey the principles of the gospel.

Elder Ronald E. Poelman
Divine Forgiveness,” Ensign, Nov 1993, 84

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

June 8, 2017

Fundamental Principles, Grace, Mercy

Comments Off on Merits and Mercy of Christ

Latter-day Saints stress that neither the unconditional nor the conditional blessings of the Atonement would be available to mankind except through the grace and goodness of Christ. Obviously the unconditional blessings of the Atonement are unearned, but the conditional ones are also not fully merited. By living faithfully and keeping the commandments of God, one can receive additional privileges; but they are still given freely, not fully earned. They are always and ever a product of God’s grace. Latter-day Saint scripture is emphatic in its declaration that “there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah” (2 Nephi 2:8)

From the Encyclopedia of Mormonism

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

May 7, 2017

Grace, Healing, Madsen, Mercy, Temple

Comments Off on To Receive Him Fully is to Receive the Fullness of His Atonement

[W]e are promised that in the temple the Lord’s name will be put upon us. It means at root that we become his. The answer to “Who am I?” can never be complete unless it answers “Whose am I?” You are the son or daughter of a king. The Father himself. Through the ordinances you are begotten spiritually through his Son. You become heir to his throne. That is a worldly way of saying it. But it is true. An old Jewish proverb says that the worst thing the evil inclination can ever do to you is to make you forget that you are the son or daughter of a king. I don’t know how you can forget that in the temple. You take his name.

To receive him fully is to receive the fullness of his atonement. Think about it—the at-one-ment that Jesus Christ wrought by the shedding of his own blood. The atonement was, and is, to enable us to overcome through his grace and healing power three things: Ignorance, sin, and death. Hence I often say the temple is a matter of life and death.

“A man cannot be saved in ignorance.” This passage refers to a specific kind of ignorance. The preceding verse is talking about sealing, about coming to know by revelation through the power of the Holy Priesthood not only that Jesus is the Christ, but also that a relationship has been forged between you and Jesus Christ. It is a testimony that there is light at the end of the tunnel, that he is making you his. How do you come to know that? I can only tell you that the promise does pertain to the temple. And we may come to a like testimony about temple sealings to our progenitors and our children.

The Savior said that he came that men might have life, and have it more abundantly. Life, abundant life, is pluralized in the teachings of Joseph Smith as “eternal lives.”

You are all alive in several ways and to certain degrees. You are alive intellectually; you think, you study, you teach. There is, no matter what else we do each day, the life of the mind. Then there is the life of the heart. The word in Hebrew is leb, “heart,” the inmost throbbing center. A hard heart is different than a malleable, tender heart. Christ’s heart is tender. Those who come to him feeling mercy and gratitude for his mercy are tenderized in the very center of their being.

We seek life in another way. It is the creative life. It is lodged in the cry of ancient Israelite fathers and mothers: “Give me children, or I die.” This is the life of creation and procreation.

I testify that in the house of the Lord all three of these modes of life are enhanced and magnified and increased. Therein we are promised that whatever our age or the decline and disabilities that we experience here, we will one day enter in at the gate to eternal lives. On that day of renewal, we will emerge into a celestial condition, into the “fulness of the glory of the Father.” There the glorious privilege of priesthood, parenthood, and godhood come together as one. There will be the reunion of the separated forever. As this is the crowning ordinance of the house of God, it is also the crowning truth of the gospel.

Truman G. Madsen
The Temple and the Atonement, The Maxwell Institute

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

March 24, 2017

Brown, General Authorities, General Conference, Justice, Mercy

Comments Off on Why Did Christ Volunteer to Atone for Our Sins?

Why should Christ have volunteered to make this sacrifice? What was the motive that inspired and sustained him from the time of that council in heaven until the moment of his agonized cry “It is finished”? (John 19:30.)

The answer to this question is twofold: first, his undeviating devotion to his Father’s will. He said: “. . . My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” (John 4:34.)

Second was his supernal and all-embracing love for mankind, who, without his mediation, would have remained in the total gloom of desiring without hope throughout eternity.

As the late President Taylor very beautifully and very truthfully said, speaking of the atonement: “Is justice dishonored? No; it is satisfied, the debt is paid. Is righteousness departed from? No; this is a righteous act. All requirements are met. Is judgment violated? No, its demands are fulfilled. Is mercy triumphant? No; she simply claims her own. Justice, judgment, mercy and truth all harmonize as the attributes of Deity. ‘Justice and truth have met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.’ Justice and judgment triumph as well as mercy and peace;” (The Mediation and Atonement, 1950 edition, p. 167.)

President Hugh B. Brown
General Conference, April, 1962, Third Day – Morning Meeting

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

March 16, 2017

England, Forgiveness, Mercy

Comments Off on A Free Act of Mercy

Christ’s sacrificial love was not conditional upon our qualities, our repentance, anything: he expressed his love to us while we were yet in our sins – not completing the process of forgiveness, which depends upon our response, but initiating it in a free act of mercy. This is a kind of love quite independent from the notion of justice.

Eugene England
“That They Might Not Suffer: The Gift of Atonement,” Dialogue 1:3 (Autumn 1966): 141.

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

February 20, 2017

General Authorities, General Conference, Justice, Mercy, Scott

Comments Off on The Atonement Can Secure Your Peace and Happiness

Peace and happiness are the precious fruits of a righteous life. They are only possible because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I will explain.

Each of us makes mistakes in life. They result in broken eternal laws. Justice is that part of Father in Heaven’s plan of happiness that maintains order. It is like gravity to a rock climber, ever present. It is a friend if eternal laws are observed. It responds to your detriment if they are ignored. Justice guarantees that you will receive the blessings you earn for obeying the laws of God. Justice also requires that every broken law be satisfied. When you obey the laws of God, you are blessed, but there is no additional credit earned that can be saved to satisfy the laws that you break. If not resolved, broken laws can cause your life to be miserable and would keep you from returning to God. Only the life, teachings, and particularly the Atonement of Jesus Christ can release you from this otherwise impossible predicament.

The demands of justice for broken law can be satisfied through mercy, earned by your continual repentance and obedience to the laws of God. Such repentance and obedience are absolutely essential for the Atonement to work its complete miracle in your life. The Redeemer can settle your individual account with justice and grant forgiveness through the merciful path of your repentance. Through the Atonement you can live in a world where justice assures that you will retain what you earn by obedience. Through His mercy you can resolve the consequences of broken laws.

The Atonement was a selfless act of infinite, eternal consequence, arduously earned alone, by the Son of God.  Through it the Savior broke the bonds of death. It justifies our finally being judged by the Redeemer. It can prevent an eternity under the dominion of Satan. It opens the gates to exaltation for all who qualify for forgiveness through repentance and obedience.

Pondering the grandeur of the Atonement evokes the most profound feelings of awe, immense gratitude, and deep humility. Those impressions can provide you powerful motivation to keep His commandments and consistently repent of errors for greater peace and happiness.

I believe that no matter how diligently you try, you cannot with your human mind fully comprehend the eternal significance of the Atonement nor fully understand how it was accomplished. We can only appreciate in the smallest measure what it cost the Savior in pain, anguish, and suffering or how difficult it was for our Father in Heaven to see His Son experience the incomparable challenge of His Atonement. Even so, you should conscientiously study the Atonement to understand it as well as you can. You can learn what is needful to live His commandments, to enjoy peace and happiness in mortal life. You can qualify, with obedient family members, to live with Him and your Father in Heaven forever.

Elder Richard G. Scott

The Atonement Can Secure Your Peace and Happiness,” Liahona, Nov 2006, 40–42

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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)

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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

December 24, 2016

Discouragement, Enabling Power, Hafen, Mercy, Millett

Comments Off on Do Not Underestimate the Power of the Atonement

“The person most in need of understanding the Savior’s mercy is probably one who has worked himself to exhaustion in a sincere effort to repent, but who still believes his estrangement from God is permanent and hopeless. . . . I sense that an increasing number of deeply committed Church members are weighed down beyond the breaking point with discouragement about their personal lives. When we habitually understate the meaning of the Atonement, we take more serious risks than simply leaving one another without comforting reassurances-for some may simply drop out of the race, worn out and beaten down with the harsh and untrue belief that they are just not celestial material”

Elder Bruce C. Hafen

The Broken Heart, pp. 5-6, quoted in Within Reach by Robert C. Millett (1995, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City)

Republished by Blog Post Promoter