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 9, 2017

Book of Mormon, Fundamental Principles, Grace, Joseph Smith, Moroni, Perfection

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The nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker and is caught up to dwell with Him. But we consider that this is a station to which no man ever arrived in a moment. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 51)

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; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

Moroni 10:32

 

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November 3, 2016

Book of Mormon, Fundamental Principles, Grace, Joseph Smith, Perfection

Comments Off on The Path to Perfection

The nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker and is caught up to dwell with Him. But we consider that this is a station to which no man ever arrived in a moment. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 51)

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; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

Moroni 10:32

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August 2, 2016

C.S. Lewis, Eternal Life, Exaltation, General Authorities, Morrison, Nature of Christ, Perfection, Salvation

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“The command Be ye perfect is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He [Christ] is going to make us creatures that can obey that command. He said (in the Bible) that we were ‘Gods’ and He is going to make good His words. If we let Him—for we can prevent Him, if we choose—He will make the feeblest and filthiest of us into a god or goddess, a dazzling, radiant, immortal creature, pulsating all through with such energy and joy and wisdom and love as we cannot now imagine, a bright stainless mirror which reflects back to God perfectly (though, of course, on a smaller scale) His own boundless power and delight and goodness. The process will be long and in parts very painful; but that is what we are in for. Nothing less. He meant what He said”

C.S. Lewis

Mere Christianity, London: Fount Paperbacks, 1977, p. 172, quoted by Elder Alexander B. Morrison in “‘I Am the Resurrection and the Life’,” Ensign, Apr 1995, 36

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February 4, 2016

Enabling Power, General Authorities, General Conference, Maxwell, Perfection

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Elder Neal A. Maxwell was called as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve in 1974.

In October General Conference in 1975, President Spencer W. Kimball reconstituted the First Quorum of the Seventy as a General Authority Quorum.  President Kimball explained, “With this move, the three governing quorums of the Church defined by revelations—the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the First Quorum of the Seventy—have been set in their places as revealed by the Lord. This will make it possible to handle efficiently the present heavy workload and to prepare for the increasing expansion and acceleration of the work, anticipating the day when the Lord will return to take direct charge of His church and kingdom.”

One year later, in October, 1976,  President Kimball reorganized the First Quorum of the Seventy by calling “all of the Assistants to the Twelve into the First Quorum of Seventy” and calling four new members into that quorum.  The “First Council of the Seventy,” which had formerly governed all Seventies in the Church, was replaced by the Presidency of the Seventy, consisting of seven presidents, as we have today.

Thus, Elder Maxwell became a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and was sustained as one of the seven presidents of the Seventy in 1976.  In 1981, he was called as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

In the October, 1976, General Conference, after being sustained as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and one of its presidents, Elder Maxwell gave a masterful talk, entitled “Notwithstanding My Weakness”.  Following are excerpts from that talk.

Thirty years ago President Dilworth Young ordained me a seventy, but only after extracting a promise that I would preach the gospel the rest of my life. His stern demeanor was such that I felt I’d been asked to jump off a tall building. I went over the side saluting. Now I salute that same selfless, sweet seventy, President Young, once again.

Now may I speak, not to the slackers in the Kingdom, but to those who carry their own load and more; not to those lulled into false security, but to those buffeted by false insecurity, who, though laboring devotedly in the Kingdom, have recurring feelings of falling forever short.

. . . .

The first thing to be said of this feeling of inadequacy is that it is normal. There is no way the Church can honestly describe where we must yet go and what we must yet do without creating a sense of immense distance. Following celestial road signs while in telestial traffic jams is not easy, especially when we are not just moving next door—or even across town.

. . . .

Some of us who would not chastise a neighbor for his frailties have a field day with our own. Some of us stand before no more harsh a judge than ourselves, a judge who stubbornly refuses to admit much happy evidence and who cares nothing for due process. Fortunately, the Lord loves us more than we love ourselves. A constructive critic truly cares for that which he criticizes, including himself, whereas self-pity is the most condescending form of pity; it soon cannibalizes all other concerns.

Brothers and sisters, the scriptures are like a developmental display window through which we can see gradual growth—along with this vital lesson: it is direction first, then velocity! Enoch’s unique people were improved “in process of time.” (Moses 7:21.) Jesus “received not of the fulness at first, but received grace for grace” (D&C 93:12) and even He grew and “increased in wisdom and stature” (Luke 2:52).

. . . .

What can we do to manage these vexing feelings of inadequacy? Here are but a few suggestions:

1. We can distinguish more clearly between divine discontent and the devil’s dissonance, between dissatisfaction with self and disdain for self. We need the first and must shun the second, remembering that when conscience calls to us from the next ridge, it is not solely to scold but also to beckon.

. . . .

4. We can allow for the agency of others (including our children) before we assess our adequacy. Often our deliberate best is less effectual because of someone else’s worst.

5. We can write down, and act upon, more of those accumulating resolutions for self-improvement that we so often leave, unrecovered, at the edge of sleep.

. . . .

8. We can make quiet but more honest inventories of our strengths, since, in this connection, most of us are dishonest bookkeepers and need confirming “outside auditors.” He who was thrust down in the first estate delights to have us put ourselves down. Self-contempt is of Satan; there is none of it in heaven. We should, of course, learn from our mistakes, but without forever studying the instant replays as if these were the game of life itself.

. . . .

10. We can also keep moving. Only the Lord can compare crosses, but all crosses are easier to carry when we keep moving. Men finally climbed Mount Everest, not by standing at its base in consuming awe, but by shouldering their packs and by placing one foot in front of another. Feet are made to move forward—not backward!

11. 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. The widow who cast in her two mites was neither self-conscious nor searching for mortal approval.

. . . .

14. Finally, we can accept this stunning, irrevocable truth: Our Lord can lift us from deep despair and cradle us midst any care. We cannot tell Him anything about aloneness or nearness!

Yes, brothers and sisters, this is a gospel of grand expectations, but 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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November 2, 2015

Perfection, Wesley

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A note about the inclusion of quotes from a few non-LDS writers in a blog devoted to the Atonement as expressed in the restored Gospel, including in scriptures and by prophets and apostles in former days and latter days:

C.S. Lewis was sometimes called “The Thirteenth Apostle,” because he had so many deep insights into the Gospel of Jesus Christ without benefit of having much, if any, exposure to the restored Gospel.

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, died prior to The First Vision and discovered much divine truth in the absence of the restoration of complete and perfect truth.  In considering Wesley’s writings, Latter-day Saints will remember that he was among the 100 great men who appeared to Wilford Woodruff and for whom President Woodruff was baptized in the St. George Temple.  Wesley was one of the few in this group to be ordained a High Priest.

Wesley was amazingly prolific in speaking and writing.  While some of Wesley’s expressed beliefs were clearly not correct and reflected errors common to Protestant teachings of his day,  I believe the following excerpt from one of his sermons is well-expressed and in keeping with LDS doctrine on the necessity of an Atonement and both our total dependence upon the Savior and the importance of our obedience to His commandments:

4. What is then the perfection of which man is capable while he dwells in a corruptible body? It is the complying with that kind command, “My son, give me thy heart.” It is the “loving the Lord his God with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his mind.” This is the sum of Christian perfection: It is all comprised in that one word, Love. The first branch of it is the love of God: And as he that loves God loves his brother also, it is inseparably connected with the second: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself:” Thou shalt love every man as thy own soul, as Christ loved us. “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets:” These contain the whole of Christian perfection.

John Wesley

On Perfection, Sermon 76,  (text from the 1872 edition – Thomas Jackson, editor)

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March 23, 2014

Covey, Enabling Power, Perfection, Service

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What do we mean when we say “the spirits of just men made perfect?” (D&C 76:69; Hebrews 12:23). “Just” men and women are not perfect people. They are imperfect people who have been justified through the atonement of Christ, who have been made perfect in Christ, and they are still on the path to becoming perfect like Christ. Their perfection, their wholeness, their completeness comes from God’s righteousness, not theirs, even though they were sufficiently obedient and diligent-that is, righteous in receiving God’s righteousness through the Atonement.

Since I have come to understand the difference between being perfect in Christ and being perfect like Christ, I have begun to see people differently, to see them as celestial people, to be less judgmental about personality weaknesses, psychological hang-ups, or behavior that is not Christlike. It has made me want to covenant with deeper sincerity and humility. It has made me more grateful for the Atonement, not less. It has made me want to be better and do more rather than be contented and rest on my laurels. I find myself continually reinventing my life and wanting to serve in entirely new ways. I still see many of my weaknesses and limitations, and I want to work on those and use more of the spiritual, enabling powers and gifts and the Atonement in overcoming them.

No one is perfect. But we can be perfect in Christ and eventually perfect like Christ. We can understand either one of those two ideas only by thinking about both ideas simultaneously. Otherwise we’d face the dangers of complacency on the one hand and a feeling of hopeless imperfection on the other. The key to experiencing both of them simultaneously is to be focused on blessing someone else’s life. Then the Lord will use us in his way, may even prune us so we will bring forth more fruit (John 15:1-5), and he will give us his enabling Spirit, his gifts, and his blessings to do whatever it takes to bless and serve another person.

Stephen R. Covey
Six Events: The Restoration Model for Solving Life’s Problems
Deseret Book (2004)