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 2, 2017

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

Exaltation will not be rare among faithful Latter-Day Saints.  The following is taken from Within Reach by Robert C. Millett (1995, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City).  For those who never experienced Elder Bruce R. McConkie, he was regarded by many, including his fellow Apostles, as a pre-eminent authority on Gospel Doctrine.  He was not one to minimize sin or gloss over shortcomings and was very capable at calling the errant to repentance, but he was profoundly optimistic about the ability of Christ’s Atonement to exalt His humble followers.

In the fall of 1976 I gathered with about four or five hundred other teachers from the Church Educational System for an evening with Elder Bruce R. McConkie. We met in a chapel at the institute of religion adjacent to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Because of our admiration and respect for his gospel scholarship, as well as the meaningful occasions we had enjoyed with him before, we came to the meeting prepared to be filled. We were not disappointed. He spoke for about half an hour on the implications of the recent reorganization of the First Quorum of the Seventy. He spoke of priesthood, keys, and succession. At that point, without warning, he invited questions from the group. Some of the questions related to our seminary course of study for the year, while others were about doctrinal matters in general. One question and the answer that followed changed my life; they affected the way I thereafter understood God, the plan of salvation, and how the gospel should be taught.

A young seminary teacher in the back of the chapel asked, in essence, “Elder McConkie, as you know, we are studying the New Testament in seminary this year. How do we keep our students from being discouraged (and how do we avoid discouragement ourselves) when we read in the scriptures that strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life and few there be that find it?” I will never forget the way the answer came. Elder McConkie stood there at the pulpit and said, “You tell your students that far more of our Father’s children will be exalted than we think!”

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

April 16, 2017

Alma, Faith, Millett

Comments Off on Faith is in fact the antidote to doubt

Many years ago Elder John A. Widtsoe pointed out that each of us will have questions so long as we are thinking, reflective human beings. Questions are a part of life, a vital part of growing in truth and understanding. But doubt should be only a temporary condition, a state that is resolved either through the serious pursuit and investigation of the matter under consideration—resulting in acquisition of new knowledge by study or by faith—or in a settled determination to place the question “on the shelf” for the time being, at least until new insights or perspectives are forthcoming.

That forward pursuit in which we do not allow the unknown to distract or beset us, is called faith. Faith is in fact the antidote to doubt, the answer to skepticism, the solution to cynicism. It is, as Alma explained, “the hope for things which are not seen, which are true” (Alma 32:21). Out of such faith flows hope, an “anchor to the souls of men which [makes] them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God” (Ether 12:4).

Robert B. Millett
Making the Crucial Decision—Now, Mormon Scholars Testify
(Referencing Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1960), 31-33, paragraph breaks added to enhance online readability)

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

December 18, 2016

C.S. Lewis, Faith, Humility, Millett

1 comment

Peter taught, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him: for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:6–7; emphasis added). Surely it is the case that we can cast our burdens upon the Lord because he cares for us—that is, because he loves us. But I sense that more is intended by Peter in this passage. We can give away to Him who is the Balm of Gilead our worries, our anxieties, our frettings, our awful anticipations, for he will care for us, that is, will do the caring for us. It is as though Peter had counseled us: “Quit worrying. Don’t be so anxious. Stop wringing your hands. Let Jesus take the burden while you take the peace.”  This is what C. S. Lewis meant when he pointed out that “f you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way” (Mere Christianity, 130–31; emphasis added).

Following his healing of a blind man, Jesus spoke plainly to the self-righteous Pharisees: “For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.” What an odd statement! And yet it goes to the heart of that which we have been discussing—our need to acknowledge our need. Those who have accepted Christ and his saving gospel come to see things as they really are. They once were blind, but now they see.

. . . .

Let’s be wise and honest: We cannot make it on our own. We cannot pull ourselves up by our own spiritual bootstraps. We are not bright enough or powerful enough to bring to pass the mighty change necessary to see and enter the kingdom of God. We cannot perform our own eye surgery. We cannot pry our way through the gates of the heavenly Jerusalem. We cannot make ourselves happy or bring about our own fulfillment. But we can “seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in [us] forever” (Ether 12:41). Then all these things will be added unto us (see Matthew 6:33). That’s the promise, and I affirm that it’s true.

Robert L Millett
Only the Blind See, BYU Religious Studies Center Blog

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

November 30, 2016

Discouragement, Enabling Power, Fundamental Principles, Hafen, Millett, Repentance

Comments Off on Do Not Underestimate the Power of the Atonement

After several posts about repentance, a repost of a fundamental truth:

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

October 17, 2016

Holy Ghost, McConkie, Millett, Sanctification

Comments Off on To be sanctified is not only to be free from sin but also to be free from the effects of sin

The Holy Ghost is a sanctifier….

One who lives worthy of the guidance and cleansing influence of the Spirit will, in process of time, become sanctified.  Sanctification is the process whereby one comes to hate the worldliness he once loved and love the holiness and righteousness he once hated.  

To be sanctified is not only to be free from sin but also to be free from the effects of sin, free from sinfulness itself, the very desire to sin.  One who is sanctified comes to look upon sin with abhorrence (cf .Mosiah 5:2; Alma 13:12; Alma 19:33).

McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 1, p. 263
(paragraph breaks inserted to enhance online readability)

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

June 26, 2016

Discouragement, Enabling Power, Fundamental Principles, Hafen, Millett, Repentance

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

April 24, 2016

Doctrine, Fundamental Principles, Millett

Comments Off on Nourished Up in the Words of Faith and of Good Doctrine

In my postings on this blog, I try to make certain that only true doctrine is included.  True doctrine is salvational in nature.  Anything else, regardles of how it sounds or who says it, is not salvational and thus is information that stands in a much lower place than does true doctrine.

On a recent visit to the ruins of the ancient city of Corinth, I saw the very place in the ancient Roman marketplace of that city where the Apostle Paul was confronted in the presence of a high Roman official, Gallio, with untrue accusations of wrongdoing made by some of the Jews of that city.  (See Acts 18, particularly Verses 12-16)  Paul persisted in his teaching and, over the course of 18 months, built the church in Corinth into one of its strongest branches and a bulwark for Christianity in Europe for years to come.

Paul never feared to teach true doctrine.  That was the source of his miraculous missionary and counseling power.

It was useful for me to be reminded of some of the reasons why we must be so careful with and respectful of gospel doctrine in the writings of Robert L. Millet.  Toward the end of this excerpt, Brother Millet also refers to Paul’s teachings about doctrine.  From Brother Millet:

It would be well for us to apply a lesson from President Harold B. Lee: “With respect to doctrines and meanings of scriptures, let me give you a safe counsel. It is usually not well to use a single passage of scripture [or, I would add, a single sermon] in proof of a point of doctrine unless it is confirmed by modern revelation or by the Book of Mormon. . . . To single out a passage of scripture to prove a point, unless it is [so] confirmed . . . is always a hazardous thing.”

In a very real sense, we as Latter-day Saints are spoiled. We have been given so much knowledge from on high relative to the nature of God, Christ, man, the plan of salvation, and the overall purpose of life here and the glory to be had hereafter that we are inclined to expect to have all the answers to all the questions of life. Elder Neal A. Maxwell pointed out that “the exhilarations of discipleship exceed its burdens. Hence, while journeying through our Sinai, we are nourished in the Bountiful-like oases of the Restoration. Of these oases some of our first impressions may prove to be more childish than definitive. . . . In our appreciation, little wonder some of us mistake a particular tree for the whole of an oasis, or a particularly refreshing pool for the entirety of the Restoration’s gushing and living waters. Hence, in our early exclamations there may even be some unintended exaggerations. We have seen and partaken of far too much; hence, we ‘cannot [speak] the smallest part [which] we feel’ (Alma 26:16).”

We have much, to be sure, but there are “many great and important things pertaining to the kingdom of God” yet to come forth (Article of Faith 9). The Lord stated to Joseph Smith in Nauvoo: “I deign to reveal unto my church things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world, things that pertain to the dispensation of the fulness of times” (D&C 124:41; compare 121:26; 128:18). As Elder Oaks observed, we have been given many commands but not all the reasons why, many of the directives but not all the explanations. It is as important for us to know what we do not know as it is for us to know what we know. Far too many things are taught or discussed or even argued about that belong in the realm of the unrevealed and thus the unresolved. Such matters, particularly if they do not fall within the range of revealed truth that Church leaders teach today, do not edify or inspire. Often, very often, they lead to confusion and sow discord.

That does not in any way mean that we should not seek to study and grow in our gospel understanding. Peter explained that there needs to be a reason for the hope within us (1 Peter 3:15). Our knowledge should be as settling to the mind as it is soothing to the heart. Elder Maxwell taught that some “Church members know just enough about the doctrines to converse superficially on them, but their scant knowledge about the deep doctrines is inadequate for deep discipleship (see 1 Corinthians 2:10). Thus uninformed about the deep doctrines, they make no deep change in their lives.”

President Hugh B. Brown once observed: “I am impressed with the testimony of a man who can stand and say he knows the gospel is true. What I would like to ask is ‘But, sir, do you know the gospel?’ . . . Mere testimony can be gained with but perfunctory knowledge of the Church and its teachings. . . . But to retain a testimony, to be of service in building the Lord’s kingdom, requires a serious study of the gospel and knowing what it is.” President Brown taught that we are required only to “defend those doctrines of the church contained in the four standard works. . . . Anything beyond that by anyone is his or her own opinion and not scripture. . . . The only way I know of by which the teachings of any person or group may become binding upon the church is if the teachings have been reviewed by all the brethren, submitted to the highest councils of the church, and then approved by the whole body of the church.” Again, the issue is one of focus, one of emphasis-where we choose to spend our time when we teach the gospel both to Latter-day Saints and to those of other faiths.

There is a valid reason why it is difficult to tie down Latter-day Saint doctrine, one that derives from the very nature of the Restoration. That God continues to speak through his anointed servants; that He, through those servants, continues to reveal, elucidate, and clarify what has already been given; and that our canon of scripture is open, flexible, and expanding-all militate against what many in the Christian world would call a systematic theology.

It is the declaration of sound and solid doctrine, the doctrine found in scripture and taught regularly by Church leaders, that builds faith and strengthens testimony and commitment to the Lord and his kingdom. Elder Maxwell explained that “deeds do matter as well as doctrines, but the doctrines can move us to do the deeds, and the Spirit can help us to understand the doctrines as well as prompt us to do the deeds.” He also noted that “when weary legs falter and detours and roadside allurements entice, the fundamental doctrines will summon from deep within us fresh determination. Extraordinary truths can move us to extraordinary accomplishments.”

The teaching and application of sound doctrine are great safeguards to us in these last days, shields against the fiery darts of the adversary. Understanding true doctrine and being true to that doctrine can keep us from ignorance, from error, and from sin. The apostle Paul counseled Timothy: “If thou put the brethren [and sisters] in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. . . . Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:6, 13).

Robert L. Millet

“Getting at the Truth: Responding to Difficult Questions about LDS Beliefs,” Shadow Mountain (June 2004)

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

November 2, 2015

Discouragement, Exaltation, McConkie, Millett, Plan of Salvation

Comments Off on How Many Will Be Exalted?

Exaltation will not be rare among faithful Latter-Day Saints.  The following is taken from Within Reach by Robert C. Millett (1995, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City).  For those who never experienced Elder Bruce R. McConkie, he was regarded by many, including his fellow Apostles, as a pre-eminent authority on Gospel Doctrine.  He was not one to minimize sin or gloss over shortcomings and was very capable at calling the errant to repentance, but he was profoundly optimistic about the ability of Christ’s Atonement to exalt His humble followers.

In the fall of 1976 I gathered with about four or five hundred other teachers from the Church Educational System for an evening with Elder Bruce R. McConkie. We met in a chapel at the institute of religion adjacent to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Because of our admiration and respect for his gospel scholarship, as well as the meaningful occasions we had enjoyed with him before, we came to the meeting prepared to be filled. We were not disappointed. He spoke for about half an hour on the implications of the recent reorganization of the First Quorum of the Seventy. He spoke of priesthood, keys, and succession. At that point, without warning, he invited questions from the group. Some of the questions related to our seminary course of study for the year, while others were about doctrinal matters in general. One question and the answer that followed changed my life; they affected the way I thereafter understood God, the plan of salvation, and how the gospel should be taught.

A young seminary teacher in the back of the chapel asked, in essence, “Elder McConkie, as you know, we are studying the New Testament in seminary this year. How do we keep our students from being discouraged (and how do we avoid discouragement ourselves) when we read in the scriptures that strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life and few there be that find it?” I will never forget the way the answer came. Elder McConkie stood there at the pulpit and said, “You tell your students that far more of our Father’s children will be exalted than we think!”

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

November 2, 2015

Faith, Justification, Millett

Comments Off on If There Had Been No Atonement – 3

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)

Republished by Blog Post Promoter