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

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!”

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June 28, 2017

Cook, General Authorities, General Conference, Plan of Salvation

Comments Off on Our Father’s Plan – Big Enough for All His Children

At the time Joseph Smith received revelations and organized the Church, the vast majority of churches taught that the Savior’s Atonement would not bring about the salvation of most of mankind. The common precept was that a few would be saved and the overwhelming majority would be doomed to endless tortures of the most awful and unspeakable intensity.  The marvelous doctrine revealed to the Prophet Joseph unveiled to us a plan of salvation that is applicable to all mankind, including those who do not hear of Christ in this life, children who die before the age of accountability, and those who have no understanding.

At death, righteous spirits live in a temporary state called paradise. Alma the Younger teaches us “paradise [is] a state of rest, a state of peace, where [the righteous] shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.”  The unrighteous spirits dwell in spirit prison, sometimes referred to as hell.  It is described as an awful place, a dark place where those fearful of the “indignation of the wrath of God” shall remain until the resurrection.  However, because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all spirits blessed by birth will ultimately be resurrected, spirit and body reunited, and inherit kingdoms of glory that are superior to our existence here on earth.  The exceptions are confined to those who, like Satan and his angels, willfully rebel against God.  At the resurrection, the spirit prison or hell will deliver up its captive spirits. Jesus came into the world “to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness.”

The Savior said: “Let not your heart be troubled. … In my Father’s house are many mansions. … I go to prepare a place for you.”  A succinct summary is provided in the book of Moses: “For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

. . . .

I rejoice in the great plan of salvation that is big enough for all of our Father in Heaven’s children. I express gratitude beyond my ability to articulate for the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I bear my witness of Him in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Quentin L. Cook

Our Father’s Plan—Big Enough for All His Children,” Ensign, May 2009, 34–38

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July 30, 2016

Eternal Life, Exaltation, Fundamental Principles, General Authorities, General Conference, McConkie, Plan of Salvation

Comments Off on No Uncertainty in Our Minds – The Full Assurance of Eternal Life

I shall speak of a subject which strikes dread—even terror—into the hearts of most men. It is something we fear, of which we are sorely afraid, and from which most of us would flee if we could.

I shall speak of the passing of the immortal soul into the eternal realms ahead, of that dread day when we shall shuffle off this mortal coil and go back to the dust from whence we came. I shall speak of death—mortal death, the natural death, the death of the body—and of the state of the souls of men when this final consummation is imposed upon them.
. . . .
If we are to place death in its proper perspective in the eternal scheme of things, we must first learn the purposes of life. We must know whence we came, Whose we are, and why He placed us here. Only then can we envision whither we shall yet go in the providences of Him who made us.

We know, because the Lord has revealed it in this our day, that we are the spirit children of an exalted, glorified Being, a Holy Man who has a body of flesh and bones and who is our Father in heaven.

We know that the name of the kind of life He lives is eternal life and that it consists of living in the family unit and of possessing all power, all might, and all dominion.

We know that He ordained and established the plan of salvation to enable us to advance and progress from our spirit state, to the same state of glory, honor, and exaltation which He Himself possesses.

We know that the Father’s plan called for the creation of this earth, where we could dwell as mortals, receive bodies made of the dust of the earth, and undergo the tests and trials which now face us.

We know that this plan of salvation included provisions for the fall of man, with its consequent temporal and spiritual death; for a redemption from death through the atoning sacrifice of the Son of God; and for an inheritance of eternal life for all the obedient.

We know that this great plan of progression called for a birth which would provide a mortal tabernacle for our eternal spirits, and for a death which would free those spirits from the frailties, diseases, and weaknesses of mortality.

And may I say that this life never was intended to be easy. It is a probationary estate in which we are tested physically, mentally, morally, and spiritually. We are subject to disease and decay. We are attacked by cancer, leprosy, and contagious diseases. We suffer pain and sorrow and afflictions. Disasters strike; floods sweep away our homes; famines destroy our food; plagues and wars fill our graves with dead bodies and our broken homes with sorrow.

We are called upon to choose between the revealed word of God and the soul-destroying postulates of the theoretical sciences. Temptations, the lusts of the flesh, evils of every sort all these are part of the plan, and must be faced by every person privileged to undergo the experiences of mortality.

. . . .
“Ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ,” Nephi said to members of the Church, “having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.” (2 Ne. 31:20.) That is to say—all the faithful Saints, all of those who have endured to the end, depart this life with the absolute guarantee of eternal life.

There is no equivocation, no doubt, no uncertainty in our minds. Those who have been true and faithful in this life will not fall by the wayside in the life to come. If they keep their covenants here and now and depart this life firm and true in the testimony of our blessed Lord, they shall come forth with an inheritance of eternal life.

We do not mean to say that those who die in the Lord, and who are true and faithful in this life, must be perfect in all things when they go into the next sphere of existence. There was only one perfect man—the Lord Jesus whose Father was God.

There have been many righteous souls who have attained relative degrees of perfection, and there have been great hosts of faithful people who have kept the faith, and lived the law, and departed this life with the full assurance of an eventual inheritance of eternal life.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie
The Dead Who Die in the Lord,” Ensign, Nov 1976, 106

(emphasis added in bold)

For another statement on this subject by Elder McConkie, see this previous post.

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November 2, 2015

General Authorities, Joseph Smith, Plan of Salvation

Comments Off on All men know that they must die

All men know that they must die. And it is important that we should understand the reasons and causes of our exposure to the vicissitudes of life and death, and the designs and purposes of God in our coming into the world, our sufferings here, and our departure hence.

What is the object of our coming into existence, then dying and falling away, to be here no more? It is but reasonable to suppose that God would reveal something in reference to the matter, and it is a subject we ought to study more than any other. We ought to study it day and night, for the world is ignorant in reference to their true condition and relation.

If we have any claim on our Heavenly Father for anything, it is for knowledge on this important subject.

.

Joseph Smith

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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!”

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November 2, 2015

Exaltation, McConkie, Millett, Plan of Salvation, Salvation

Comments Off on Salvation and Exaltation

“Salvation consists in the glory, authority, majesty, power, and dominion which Jehovah possesses and in nothing else; and no being can possess it but himself or one like him.” (Lectures on Faith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985), 7:9) So taught Joseph Smith to the School of the Prophets in the winter of 1834-35. Both the Prophet of the Restoration and Paul the Apostle taught that Christ had gained salvation because he had put all enemies under his feet, the last enemy being death. It is just so with all men. (See Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976), pp. 297, 301, 305; 1 Cor. 15:25; Heb. 2:8)

Salvation is eternal life. It is life in the highest heaven, life among the Gods and the angels. The word salvation means exactly the same thing as eternal life, but simply lays stress upon one’s saved condition, his state being one of deliverance from death and sin through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Exaltation is another word with which we have come to identify the glories of the celestial kingdom; exaltation has the same meaning as eternal life; it has the same meaning as salvation. To be saved is to be exalted, the latter term simply laying stress upon the elevated and ennobled status of one who so qualifies to dwell with and be a part of the Church of the Firstborn, the Church of the Exalted. Elder Bruce R. McConkie has written:

We are ofttimes prone to create artificial distinctions, to say that salvation means one thing and exaltation another, to suppose that salvation means to be resurrected, but that exaltation or eternal life is something in addition thereto. It is true that there are some passages of scripture that use salvation in a special and limited sense in order to give an overall perspective of the plan of salvation that we would not otherwise have. (2 Ne. 9:1 – 27; D&C 76:40 – 49; 132:15-17.) These passages show the difference between general or universal salvation that consists in coming forth from the grave in immortality, and specific or individual salvation that consists of an inheritance in the celestial kingdom….

Since it is the prophetic purpose to lead men to full salvation in the highest heaven of the celestial world, when they speak and write about salvation, almost without exception, they mean eternal life or exaltation. They use the terms salvation, exaltation, and eternal life as synonyms, as words that mean exactly the same thing without any difference, distinction, or variance whatever. (Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978), p. 129; italics added; cf. p. 306; Bruce R. McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985), pp. 144-54.)
. . . .

Eternal marriage is the gate through which those intent upon eternal life must enter. “In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees,” Joseph Smith explained. “And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; And if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase.” (D&C 131:1 – 4.) The Prophet also taught: “Except a man and his wife enter into an everlasting covenant and Be married for eternity, while in this probation, by the power and authority of the Holy Priesthood, they will cease to increase when they die; that is, they will not have any children after the resurrection. But those who are married by the power and authority of the priesthood in this life, and continue without committing the sin against the Holy Ghost, will continue to increase and have children in the celestial glory.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976), pp. 300-301; italics added.) The scriptures thus speak of one qualifying for the blessing of eternal lives (see D&C 132:22-25). To have eternal lives is to possess eternal life in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, to be worthy of salvation, and to be a candidate for exaltation. The phrase eternal lives simply lays stress upon the right of a worthy man and woman to enjoy “the continuation of the seeds,” the everlasting perpetuation of the family unit. (See Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), p. 238)

Robert L. Millet & Joseph Fielding McConkie
Life Beyond
Bookcraft (1986)

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November 5, 2014

Covenants, General Authorities, Nelson, Plan of Salvation, Temple

Comments Off on The Basis for Every Temple Ordinance and Covenant is the Atonement

The temple is the house of the Lord. The basis for every temple ordinance and covenant—the heart of the plan of salvation—is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Every activity, every lesson, all we do in the Church, point to the Lord and His holy house. Our efforts to proclaim the gospel, perfect the Saints, and redeem the dead all lead to the temple. Each holy temple stands as a symbol of our membership in the Church, (See “Following the Master: Teachings of President Howard W. Hunter,” Ensign, Apr. 1995, 21–22; Howard W. Hunter, “The Great Symbol of Our Membership,” Tambuli, Nov. 1994, 3) as a sign of our faith in life after death, and as a sacred step toward eternal glory for us and our families.

President Hinckley said that “these unique and wonderful buildings, and the ordinances administered therein, represent the ultimate in our worship. These ordinances become the most profound expressions of our theology.” (“Of Missions, Temples, and Stewardship,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 53)

Elder Russell M. Nelson
Personal Preparation for Temple Blessings,” Liahona, Jul 2001, 37–40

July 27, 2010

General Authorities, General Conference, Happiness, Justice, Mercy, Plan of Salvation, Repentance, Tingey

Comments Off on The Eternal Law of Mercy

Knowing the identity of the Father and the Son helps us know that all of us are placed on earth to acquire a physical body, gain experience, and prove ourselves worthy to return to our Heavenly Father. Laws govern our mortal life on earth. When we transgress the law, we sin. When we sin, we break eternal laws; the law of justice requires a penalty or a punishment.

Sin and the need to repent might be represented by a man who takes a journey. On his back is a large empty bag. From time to time, he picks up a rock, representing the transgression of a law. He places the rock in the bag on his back. Over time, the bag becomes full. It is heavy. The man cannot continue on his journey. He must have a way to empty the bag and remove the rocks. This can be done only by the Savior through the Atonement.

This is possible when we exercise faith in Jesus Christ, forsake sin, and make covenants through the ordinances of the gospel. As we faithfully endure to the end, we can then return to live with our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

. . . .
Through the infinite Atonement, God has provided a means whereby we can both overcome our sins and become completely clean again. This is made possible by the eternal law of mercy. Mercy satisfies the claims of justice through our repentance and the power of the Atonement. Without the power of the Atonement and our complete repentance, we are subject to the law of justice.

Alma taught that “mercy claimeth the penitent” (Alma 42:23) and that “the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance.” (Alma 42:13)

The great prophet Amulek taught, “And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption.” (Alma 34:16)

Adam and Eve, our first parents, transgressed law and were cast out of the beautiful Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were taught the great plan of salvation that they might find happiness in this life. (See Alma 12:32)

Adam said, “For because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.” (Moses 5:10)

Eve uttered a similar acclamation of happiness: “Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption.” (Moses 5:11)

Elder Earl C. Tingey
The Great Plan of Happiness,” Ensign, May 2006, 72–74