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

August 31, 2017

General Authorities, General Conference, Grace, Oaks

Comments Off on Have You Been Saved?

“We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel” (A of F 1:3).

Many Bible verses declare that Jesus came to take away the sins of the world (e.g., John 1:29; Matt. 26:28). The New Testament frequently refers to the grace of God and to salvation by grace (e.g., John 1:17; Acts 15:11; Eph. 2:8). But it also has many specific commandments on personal behavior, and many references to the importance of works (e.g., Matt. 5:16; Eph. 2:10; James 2:14–17). In addition, the Savior taught that we must endure to the end in order to be saved (see Matt. 10:22; Mark 13:13).

Relying upon the totality of Bible teachings and upon clarifications received through modern revelation, we testify that being cleansed from sin through Christ’s Atonement is conditioned upon the individual sinner’s faith, which must be manifested by obedience to the Lord’s command to repent, be baptized, and receive the Holy Ghost (see Acts 2:37–38). “Verily, verily, I say unto thee,” Jesus taught, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5; see also Mark 16:16; Acts 2:37–38). Believers who have had this required rebirth at the hands of those having authority have already been saved from sin conditionally, but they will not be saved finally until they have completed their mortal probation with the required continuing repentance, faithfulness, service, and enduring to the end.

Some Christians accuse Latter-day Saints who give this answer of denying the grace of God through claiming they can earn their own salvation. We answer this accusation with the words of two Book of Mormon prophets. Nephi taught, “For we labor diligently … to persuade our children … to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Ne. 25:23). And what is “all we can do”? It surely includes repentance (see Alma 24:11) and baptism, keeping the commandments, and enduring to the end. Moroni pleaded, “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ” (Moro. 10:32).

We are not saved in our sins, as by being unconditionally saved through confessing Christ and then, inevitably, committing sins in our remaining lives (see Alma 11:36–37). We are saved from our sins (see Hel. 5:10) by a weekly renewal of our repentance and cleansing through the grace of God and His blessed plan of salvation (see 3 Ne. 9:20–22).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

Have You Been Saved?,” Ensign, May 1998, 55

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July 25, 2017

Enabling Power, General Authorities, General Conference, Healing, Oaks, Tests

Comments Off on Marriage, Divorce and the Atonement

We know that some look back on their divorces with regret at their own partial or predominant fault in the breakup. All who have been through divorce know the pain and need the healing power and hope that come from the Atonement. That healing power and that hope are there for them and also for their children.

. . . .

If you are already descending into the low state of marriage-in-name-only, please join hands, kneel together, and prayerfully plead for help and the healing power of the Atonement. Your humble and united pleadings will bring you closer to the Lord and to each other and will help you in the hard climb back to marital harmony.

. . . .

Consider these observations of a wise bishop with extensive experience in counseling members with marriage problems. Speaking of those who eventually divorced, he said:

“Universally, every couple or individual said they recognized that divorce was not a good thing, but they all insisted that their situation was different.

“Universally, they focused on the fault of the spouse and attributed little responsibility to their own behavior. Communication had withered.

“Universally, they were looking back, not willing to leave the baggage of past behavior on the roadside and move on.

“Part of the time, serious sin was involved, but more often they had just ‘fallen out of love,’ saying, ‘He doesn’t satisfy my needs anymore,’ or, ‘She has changed.’

“All were worried about the effect on the children, but always the conclusion was ‘it’s worse for them to have us together and fighting.’ ”

In contrast, the couples who followed this bishop’s counsel and stayed together emerged with their marriages even stronger. That prospect began with their mutual commitment to keep the commandments, stay active in their Church attendance, scripture reading, and prayer, and to work on their own shortcomings. They “recognized the importance and power of the Atonement for their spouse and for themselves,” and “they were patient and would try again and again.” When the couples he counseled did these things, repenting and working to save their marriages, this bishop reported that “healing was achieved 100 percent of the time.”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

Divorce,” Ensign, May 2007, 70–73

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September 16, 2016

Adversity, General Authorities, General Conference, Gratitude, Oaks

Comments Off on In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you

The children of God have always been commanded to give thanks. There are examples throughout the Old and New Testaments. The Apostle Paul wrote, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thes. 5:18). The prophet Alma taught, “When thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God” (Alma 37:37). And in modern revelation the Lord declared that “he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold” (D&C 78:19).
. . . .
We have so much for which to give thanks. First and foremost, we are thankful for our Savior Jesus Christ. Under the plan of the Father, He created the world. Through His prophets, He revealed the plan of salvation with its accompanying commandments and ordinances. He came into mortality to teach and show us the way. He suffered and paid the price for our sins if we would repent. He gave up His life, and He conquered death and rose from the grave that we all will live again. He is the Light and Life of the World. As King Benjamin taught, if we “should render all the thanks and praise which [our] whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created [us], and has kept and preserved [us], and … should serve him with all [our] whole souls yet [we] would be unprofitable servants” (Mosiah 2:20–21).
. . . .
The revelations, for which we are grateful, show that we should even give thanks for our afflictions because they turn our hearts to God and give us opportunities to prepare for what God would have us become. The Lord taught the prophet Moroni, “I give unto men weakness that they may be humble,” and then promised that “if they humble themselves … and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27). In the midst of the persecutions the Latter-day Saints were suffering in Missouri, the Lord gave a similar teaching and promise: “Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks; … and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good” (D&C 98:1, 3). And to Joseph Smith in the afflictions of Liberty Jail, the Lord said, “Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” (D&C 122:7). Brigham Young understood. Said he, “There is not a single condition of life [or] one hour’s experience but what is beneficial to all those who make it their study, and aim to improve upon the experience they gain” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young [1997], 179).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Give Thanks in All Things,” Ensign, May 2003, 95

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September 14, 2016

Adversity, General Authorities, General Conference, Healing, Oaks

Comments Off on Oaks – To Heal Every Mortal Affliction

The scriptures contain many accounts of the Savior’s healing the heavy laden. He caused the blind to see; the deaf to hear; the palsied, withered, or maimed to be restored; lepers to be cleansed; and unclean spirits to be cast out. Often we read that the person healed of these physical ailments was “made whole” (see Matthew 14:36; 15:28; Mark 6:56; 10:52; Luke 17:19; John 5:9).

Jesus healed many from physical diseases, but He did not withhold healing from those who sought to be “made whole” from other ailments. Matthew writes that He healed every sickness and every disease among the people (see Matthew 4:23; 9:35). Great multitudes followed Him, and He “healed them all” (Matthew 12:15). Surely these healings included those whose sicknesses were emotional, mental, or spiritual. He healed them all.

In His early sermon in the synagogue, Jesus read aloud from this prophecy of Isaiah: “He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18). As Jesus declared that He was come to fulfill that prophecy, He expressly affirmed that He would heal those with physical ailments and He would also deliver the captive, liberate the bruised, and heal the brokenhearted.

. . . .

The Savior teaches that we will have tribulation in the world, but we should “be of good cheer” because He has “overcome the world” (John 16:33). His Atonement reaches and is powerful enough not only to pay the price for sin but also to heal every mortal affliction. The Book of Mormon teaches that “He shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people” (Alma 7:11; see also 2 Nephi 9:21).

He knows of our anguish, and He is there for us. Like the good Samaritan in His parable, when He finds us wounded at the wayside, He binds up our wounds and cares for us (see Luke 10:34). Brothers and sisters, the healing power of His Atonement is for you, for us, for all.

. . . .

A woman whose marriage was threatened by her husband’s addiction to pornography wrote how she stood beside him for five pain-filled years until, as she said, “through the gift of our precious Savior’s glorious Atonement and what He taught me about forgiveness, [my husband] finally is free—and so am I.” As one who needed no cleansing from sin, but only sought a loved one’s deliverance from captivity, she wrote this advice:

“Commune with the Lord. … He is your best friend! He knows your pain because He has felt it for you already. He is ready to carry that burden. Trust Him enough to place it at His feet and allow Him to carry it for you. Then you can have your anguish replaced with His peace, in the very depths of your soul” (letter dated Apr. 18, 2005).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

He Heals the Heavy Laden,” Ensign, Nov 2006, 6–9

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September 1, 2016

General Authorities, General Conference, Grace, Oaks

Comments Off on We Cannot be Saved Without Grace

Man unquestionably has impressive powers and can bring to pass great things by tireless efforts and indomitable will. But after all our obedience and good works, we cannot be saved from the effect of our sins without the grace extended by the atonement of Jesus Christ.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks
What Think Ye of Christ?”, General Conference, October, 1988

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June 23, 2016

Eternal Life, Forgiveness, General Authorities, General Conference, Oaks

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As important as it is to lose every desire for sin, eternal life requires more. To achieve our eternal destiny, we will desire and work for the qualities required to become an eternal being. For example, eternal beings forgive all who have wronged them. They put the welfare of others ahead of themselves. And they love all of God’s children.

If this seems too difficult—and surely it is not easy for any of us—then we should begin with a desire for such qualities and call upon our loving Heavenly Father for help with our feelings. The Book of Mormon teaches us that we should “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that [we] may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ” (Moroni 7:48).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Desire, General Conference, April, 2011
(Paragraph break inserted to enhance online readability)

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April 26, 2016

C.S. Lewis, General Authorities, General Conference, Oaks, Obedience, Pride

Comments Off on Any extreme devotion can lead Christians away from the Lord

Last summer I attended the funeral of an elect lady. One speaker described three of her great qualities: loyalty, obedience, and faith. As he elaborated on her life, I thought how appropriate it was to speak of such powerful qualities in a funeral tribute. A life is not a trivial thing, and its passing should not be memorialized with trivial things. A funeral service is a time to speak of powerful ideas—ideas that can appropriately stand beside the importance of life, ideas that are powerful in their influence on those who remain behind.

As I enjoyed the spirit of this inspiring funeral, my thoughts were directed toward the application of this principle in other settings. Parents should also teach powerful ideas. So should home teachers, visiting teachers, and the teachers in various classes. The Savior warned that we will be judged for “every idle word that [we] shall speak” (Matt. 12:36). Modern revelation commands us to cease from “light speeches” and “light-mindedness” (D&C 88:121) and to cast away “idle thoughts” and “excess of laughter” (D&C 88:69). There are plenty of other spokesmen for trivial things. Latter-day Saints should be constantly concerned with teaching and emphasizing those great and powerful eternal truths that will help us find our way back to the presence of our Heavenly Father.

. . . .

It is surprisingly easy to take what should be our first devotion and subordinate it to other priorities. Fifty years ago, the Christian philosopher C. S. Lewis illustrated that tendency with an example that is distressingly applicable in our own day. In his book The Screwtape Letters, a senior devil explains how to corrupt Christians and frustrate the work of Jesus Christ. One letter explains how any “extreme devotion” can lead Christians away from the Lord and the practice of Christianity. Lewis gives two examples, extreme patriotism or extreme pacifism, and explains how either “extreme devotion” can corrupt its adherent.

“Let him begin by treating the Patriotism or the Pacifism as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the ‘cause,’ in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce in favour of the British war effort or of pacifism. … Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing” (C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, rev. ed., New York: MacMillan, 1982, p. 35).

We can readily see that tendency in our own time, with many causes that are good in themselves but become spiritually corrupting when they assume priorities ahead of him who commanded, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Jesus Christ and his work come first. Anything that would use him or his kingdom or his church as a means to an end serves the cause of the adversary.

. . . .

During his ministry [the Apostle Paul] was exposed to ample light-mindedness, idle thoughts, and trivial things. In Athens he observed that “all the Athenians and strangers which were there [in the market] spent their time in nothing else, but … to tell, or to hear some new thing” (Acts 17:21). Paul’s determination to focus on powerful ideas is evident in one of his letters to the Saints in Corinth. He had not come “with excellency of speech or of wisdom,” he reminded them. “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:1–2).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Powerful Ideas, General Conference, October, 1995

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February 28, 2016

General Authorities, General Conference, Justification, Oaks

Comments Off on The Light and Life of the World

We come to the Father through the life-giving mission of the Son in two ways. In each of these ways, Jesus Christ is the life of the world, our Savior and our Redeemer.

Through the power and example of the infinite atonement of Jesus Christ, all mankind will be resurrected (see 2 Ne. 9:7, 12). Our mortal life came into being because of his creative act. Our immortal life has now been assured because the Resurrected Lord has redeemed us from death. According to the plan of the Father, the Son was “the firstborn from the dead” (Col. 1:18). “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22).

Jesus Christ is also the life of the world because he has atoned for the sins of the world. By yielding to temptation, Adam and Eve were “cut off from the presence of the Lord” (Hel. 14:16). In the scriptures this separation is called spiritual death (see Hel. 14:16; D&C 29:41).

The atonement of our Savior overcame this spiritual death. The scriptures say, “The Son of God hath atoned for original guilt” (Moses 6:54). As Paul taught the Saints in Rome: “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life” (Rom. 5:18). As a result of this atonement, “men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression” (A of F 1:2).

Our Savior has redeemed us from the sin of Adam, but what about the effects of our own sins? Since “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23), we are all spiritually dead. Again, our only hope for life is our Savior, who, the prophet Lehi taught, “offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law” (2 Ne. 2:7).

In order to lay claim upon our Savior’s life-giving triumph over the spiritual death we suffer because of our own sins, we must follow the conditions he has prescribed. As he has told us in modern revelation, “I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;

“But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I” (D&C 19:16–17).

Our third article of faith describes the Savior’s conditions in these words: “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”

In the words of our Savior, recorded in the Book of Mormon as he taught the people on this continent, “And whosoever will hearken unto my words and repenteth and is baptized, the same shall be saved” (3 Ne. 23:5).

In summary, the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior and our Redeemer, is the life of the world because his resurrection and his atonement save us from both physical and spiritual death. Jacob rejoiced in this gift of life: “O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit” (2 Ne. 9:10).

I wish that everyone could understand our belief and hear our testimony that Jesus Christ, our Savior and our Redeemer, is the light and life of the world.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

“‘The Light and Life of the World’,” Ensign, Nov 1987, 63

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November 2, 2015

General Authorities, Oaks, Sanctification

Comments Off on The Desires of Our Hearts

The laws of man are never concerned about a person’s desires or thoughts, in isolation. When the law inquires into a person’s state of mind or intent, it only seeks to determine what consequence should be assigned to particular actions that person has taken.

In contrast, the laws of God are concerned with spiritual things. Spiritual consequences are affected by actions, but they are also affected by desires or thoughts, independent of actions. Gospel consequences flow from the desires of our hearts.

. . . .

God judges us not only for our acts, but also for the desires of our hearts. He has said so again and again. This is a challenging reality, but it is not surprising. Agency and accountability are eternal principles. We exercise our free agency not only by what we do,but also by what we decide, or will, or desire. Restrictions on freedom can deprive us of the power to do, but no one can deprive us of the power towill or desire. Accountability must therefore reach and attach consequences to the desires of our hearts.

. . . .

Our divinely granted willpower gives us control over our desires, but it may take many years for us to be sure that we have willed and educated them to the point that all are entirely righteous.

President Joseph F. Smith taught that the “education … of our desires is one of far-reaching importance to our happiness in life.” (Gospel Doctrine,Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939, p. 297.)

. . . .

If we refrain from evil acts, we have clean hands. If we refrain from forbidden thoughts, we have pure hearts. Those who would ascend and stand in the ultimate holy place must have both.

 

 

Elder Dallin H. Oaks
The Desires of Our Hearts, Ensign, June, 1986

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November 2, 2015

General Authorities, General Conference, Holy Ghost, Oaks, Repentance

Comments Off on The Holy Ghost and The Atonement

Latter-day scriptures also teach that the remission of sins, which is made possible by the Atonement, comes “by baptism, and by fire, yea, even the Holy Ghost” (D&C 19:31; see also 2 Ne. 31:17). Thus, the Risen Lord pleaded with the Nephites to repent and come unto him and be baptized “that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day” (3 Ne. 27:20).

The gift of the Holy Ghost is so important to our faith that a prophet gave it unique emphasis in a conversation with the president of the United States. Joseph Smith had journeyed to Washington to seek help in recovering compensation for injuries and losses the Saints had suffered in the Missouri persecutions. In his meeting with the president, Joseph was asked how this Church differed from the other religions of the day. The Prophet replied that “we differed in mode of baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands” (History of the Church, 4:42). He later explained that this answer was given because “all other considerations were contained in the gift of the Holy Ghost” (History of the Church, 4:42).

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Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Always Have His Spirit, General Conference, October, 1996

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