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

November 12, 2017

Nibley, Repentance, Tests

Comments Off on The gospel of repentance is a constant reminder that the most righteous are still being tested

The gospel of repentance is a constant reminder that the most righteous are still being tested and may yet fall, and that the most wicked are not yet beyond redemption and may still be saved. And that is what God wants: “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” (Ezekiel 18:23)

There are poles for all to see, but in this life no one has reached and few have ever approached either pole, and no one has any idea at what point between his neighbors stand. Only God knows that.

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Hugh Nibley
“The Prophetic Book of Mormon,” vol. 8, The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, 462

 

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November 6, 2017

General Authorities, General Conference, Humility, Maxwell, Meekness, Repentance

Comments Off on Pride prefers cheap repentance, paid for with shallow sorrow

In this rigorous process [of repentance], so much clearly depends upon meekness. Pride keeps repentance from even starting or continuing. Some fail because they are more concerned with the preservation of their public image than with having Christ’s image in their countenances! (Alma 5:14.) Pride prefers cheap repentance, paid for with shallow sorrow. Unsurprisingly, seekers after cheap repentance also search for superficial forgiveness instead of real reconciliation. Thus, real repentance goes far beyond simply saying, “I’m sorry.”

In the anguishing process of repentance, we may sometimes feel God has deserted us. The reality is that our behavior has isolated us from Him. Thus, while we are turning away from evil but have not yet turned fully to God, we are especially vulnerable. Yet we must not give up, but, instead, reach out to God’s awaiting arm of mercy, which is outstretched “all the day long.” (Jacob 5:47; Jacob 6:4; 2 Ne. 28:32; Morm. 5:11.) Unlike us, God has no restrictive office hours.

No part of walking by faith is more difficult than walking the road of repentance. However, with “faith unto repentance,” we can push roadblocks out of the way, moving forward to beg God for mercy. (Alma 34:16.) True contrition brings full capitulation. One simply surrenders, caring only about what God thinks, not what “they” think, while meekly offering, “O God, … make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee.” (Alma 22:18.) Giving away all our sins is the only way we can come to know God.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell
Repentance, General Conference, October, 1991

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October 31, 2017

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Fundamental Principles, Lyon, Repentance

Comments Off on Repentance – Central to God’s dealings With His Children

Repentance has been central to God’s dealings with his children since they were first placed on the earth. Old Testament prophets constantly called the children of Israel individually and collectively to repent and turn to God and righteous living from rebellion, apostasy, and sin. In New Testament times, the work of Jesus Christ on earth may be described as a ministry of repentance-that is, of calling on God’s children to return to their God by changing their thinking and behavior and becoming more godlike. The Savior taught, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). Christ’s apostles were called primarily to preach faith in Christ and to declare repentance to all the world (Mark 6:12). In modern times, few topics occur in the Lord’s revelations as pervasively as this one. He has given latter-day prophets and all messengers of his gospel repeated instructions to declare “nothing but repentance unto this generation” (D&C 6:9). The Prophet Joseph Smith identified repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as the two fundamental principles of the gospel (A of F 4). And the gospel itself has been called “a gospel of repentance” (D&C 13;84:27).

In modern as in earlier times, the term “repentance” literally means a turning from sin and a reversing of one’s attitudes and behavior. Its purposes are to develop the divine nature within all mortal souls by freeing them from wrong or harmful thoughts and actions and to assist them in becoming more Christlike by replacing the “natural man” (1 Cor. 2:14) with the “new man” in Christ (Eph. 4:20-24).

This process is not only necessary in preparing humans to return and live with God, but it enlarges their capacity to love their fellow beings. Those who have reconciled themselves with God have the spiritual understanding, desire, and power to become reconciled with their fellow beings. God has commanded all humans to forgive each other: “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men” (D&C 64:10). As God shows his love by forgiving (“I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more”; Jer. 31:34), his children, as they forgive others, also reflect this love.

. . . .

Since repentance is an ongoing process in the mortal effort to become Christlike, the need for it never diminishes. It requires active, daily application as humans recognize and strive to overcome sin and error and in this way endure to the end. For this reason, the Lord has instituted a means whereby each person who has repented and entered into the baptismal covenant may renew it by partaking of the Sacrament in remembrance of him. This time of self-examination allows one to reflect on the promises made at baptism, which were to take Christ’s name upon oneself, to remember him always, and to keep his commandments. Thus, the process of repentance is kept alive by this frequent period of reflection as the participant partakes of symbols of Christ’s body and blood in remembrance of his sacrifice to atone for human sin.

James K. Lyon
Repentance
The Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Macmillan Publishing, 1992

As noted in previous posts, the Encyclopedia of Mormonism is not recognized as official Church doctrine, but is a respected source of well-informed commentary on doctrine.

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October 23, 2017

Alma, Enabling Power, Paul, Repentance

Comments Off on Displacing Bad With Good

In one test of creativity, subjects are faced with the following problem: A ping pong ball has fallen to the bottom of a tube that stands, in a vertical position, fastened permanently to the floor. Some participants try, unsuccessfully, to reach into the tube and retrieve the ball with tools that are provided. The problem is that some tools are not long enough to reach the ball, while others are too wide to fit into the tube. Some subjects eventually give up in exasperation, but others discover a creative solution, realizing that water can be poured into the tube. The water displaces the air in the tube, and the ball pops to the surface, rising higher each time water is poured in. Once water fills the tube, the ball is easily retrieved.

In the same way, one of the best methods to remove something from our lives is to displace it with something else. . . . we can become so caught up in a purpose for good that we simply have less time and energy to get wrapped up in the bad.

Alma the Younger and Paul the apostle both utilized this principle. At one point, each had strong desires to tear down the Church, then repented. In their repentance, they permanently replaced bad with good. It would be absurd to imagine that after they were converted they had to resolve each morning, “I just have to resist the temptation to preach against Christ today.” Instead, they had become captivated and eager to build up the Church and had thrown themselves completely into the cause of Christ.

. . . .

Certainly it is true that good can displace the bad in our lives. When we are deeply involved in a positive purpose, our souls, and even our bodies it seems, resonate with the power and energy of God. Just as precious ore that has been purged of imperfections is more pure, we are more fully ourselves when we are in the midst of doing good rather than evil. In essence, the process of gaining more self-control and increasing in righteousness is not one of changing from who we are. Rather, we are changing to who we are. Changing is a process of becoming more fully ourselves.

A. Dean Byrd and Mark D. Chamberlain

Willpower Is Not Enough, (1995, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City)

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September 30, 2017

Alma, General Authorities, Humility, Kimball, Repentance

Comments Off on Repentance is not repetition of sin. It is not laughing at sin. It is not justification for sin.

Sometimes it is easier to define what something is by telling what it is not.

Repentance is not repetition of sin. It is not laughing at sin. It is not justification for sin. Repentance is not the hardening of the spiritual arteries. It is not the minimizing of the seriousness of the error. Repentance is not retirement from activity. It is not the closeting of sin to corrode and overburden the sinner.

. . . .

Remorse and deep sorrow then are preliminary to repentance.

There must not be rationalization to cover and hide. Alma, the great authority on this subject, we quote again:

“… Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sins, by denying the justice of God; but do let the justice of God, and his mercy, and his long-suffering have full sway in your heart; and let it bring you down to the dust in humility.” (Alma 42:30. Italics added.)

This is important: do let yourself be troubled; let the tears flow; let your heart be chastened. Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sin. Let the justice of God have full sway in your heart so that it will bring you to the dust in humility.

. . . .

Rationalizing is the enemy to repentance. Someone has said, “Rationalizing is the bringing of ideals down to the level of one’s conduct while repentance is the bringing of one’s conduct up to the level of his ideals.”

. . . .

Sin has size and dimensions. There are greater and lesser ones. Someone has said, “Conscience is a celestial spark that God has put into every man for the purpose of saving his soul.” It awakens the soul to consciousness of sin; it stimulates him to want to do better, to make adjustments, and to accept the sin in its full weight and size, to be willing to face facts and meet issues and pay penalties.

President Spencer W. Kimball
What Is True Repentance?“, New Era, May 1974, 4

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September 12, 2017

Forgiveness, General Authorities, Holland, Hope, Kimball, Repentance

Comments Off on Many Have Tended to Surrender Hope

I had made up my mind that I would never write a book … [but] when I come in contact almost daily with broken homes, delinquent children, corrupt governments, and apostate groups, and realize that all these problems are the result of sin, I want to shout with Alma: ‘O … that I might go forth … with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people.’ (Alma 29:1)

Hence this book indicates the seriousness of breaking God’s commandments; shows that sin can bring only sorrow, remorse, disappointment, and anguish; and warns that the small indiscretions evolve into larger ones and finally into major transgressions which bring heavy penalties.

[But] having come to recognize their deep sin, many have tended to surrender hope, not having a clear knowledge of the scriptures and of the redeeming power of Christ.

[So I also] write to make the joyous affirmation that man can be literally transformed by his own repentance and by God’s gift of forgiveness.

It is my humble hope that … [those] who are suffering the baleful effects of sin may be helped to find the way from darkness to light, from suffering to peace, from misery to hope, and from spiritual death to eternal life.

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President Spencer W. Kimball
The Miracle of Forgiveness, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969, pp. x–xii; emphasis added.

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Quoted in A Robe, a Ring, and a Fatted Calf by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Ensign, August, 1985

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August 29, 2017

Change, Conversion, General Authorities, General Conference, Nelson, Repentance

Comments Off on When Jesus said “repent,” He asked us to change – to change our mind, knowledge, and spirit

The doctrine of repentance is much broader than a dictionary’s definition. When Jesus said “repent,” His disciples recorded that command in the Greek language with the verb metanoeo. This powerful word has great significance. In this word, the prefix meta means “change.” The suffix relates to four important Greek terms: nous, meaning “the mind”; gnosis, meaning “knowledge”; pneuma, meaning “spirit”; and pnoe, meaning “breath.”

Thus, when Jesus said “repent,” He asked us to change—to change our mind, knowledge, and spirit—even our breath. A prophet explained that such a change in one’s breath is to breathe with grateful acknowledgment of Him who grants each breath. King Benjamin said, “If ye should serve him who has created you … and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath … from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.” (Mosiah 2:21)

Yes, the Lord has commanded us to repent, to change our ways, to come unto Him, and be more like Him. (See 3 Nephi 27:21, 27) This requires a total change. Alma so taught his son: “Learn wisdom in thy youth,” he said. “Learn in thy youth to keep the commandments of God. … Let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.” (Alma 37:35–36)

To repent fully is to convert completely to the Lord Jesus Christ and His holy work. Alma taught that concept when he posed these questions: “I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?” ( Alma 5:14) That change comes when we are “born again,” converted and focused upon our journey to the kingdom of God.

Elder Russell M. Nelson
Repentance and Conversion, General Conference, April, 2007
(See original for footnotes on Greek terms)

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August 27, 2017

Forgiveness, General Authorities, Joseph F. Smith, Repentance

Comments Off on The Daily Practice of Seeking Divine Mercy and Forgiveness

The man with accumulated and unforgiven wrong behind him may find all retreat cut off and his condition in the world hopeless; and he who recklessly cuts off every opportunity of retreat by the neglected evils of the past is most unfortunate. The daily practice, then, of seeking divine mercy and forgiveness as we go along, gives us power to escape evils.

President Joseph F. Smith
Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed., 1939

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August 25, 2017

Brown, General Authorities, Repentance

Comments Off on The Gospel of Second Chances

“Keep your eye on the Savior of the world…He will forgive you…Don’t be deceived by the wiles of the adversary and think because you may have made mistakes that you have committed the unpardonable sin. This gospel is primarily the gospel of second chance, the gospel of repentance.”

Hugh B. Brown
The Abundant Life, pp. 270-1

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August 15, 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

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