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 4, 2017

Italy, Rescue

Comments Off on The Most Important Thing I Know is that God Loves Me

Since I have had the privilege to spend this Sunday in Florence, Italy, after attending a spirit-filled Sacrament Meeting here, I thought the following might be appropriate.

Alberto Sottili is a silver craftsman. He recognizes and treasures beautiful things. Each day in his shop in Florence, Italy, he creates jewelry—lovely necklaces, earrings, and brooches. But he is modest about his skills. “My shop is very simple—it is really just a laboratory,” he says. “I always wanted to be a musician, but I didn’t have enough money. So, when I was 14, I worked in the summer and began learning to make jewelry.”

Three years later—at a time when his life seemed very unsettled and he was searching for direction—Alberto heard about something that brought peace and beauty to him. “God loves you,” a relative who was a member of the Church assured him. Alberto was so impressed by this simple statement that he consented to kneel and pray with him. “I felt an incredible peace inside after our prayer, and I felt that I should learn more about this church.”

When the elders began teaching the gospel to Alberto in 1974, they spoke to him about Joseph Smith, the Word of Wisdom, and the purpose of life. “As I listened, I was touched by the fact that the ideas the missionaries were explaining to me were already familiar,” recalls Alberto. One month later, Alberto was baptized.

Today—20 years later—Alberto’s life is still surrounded by beauty. For many years, he was a single parent to his two older daughters, Simona and Silvia. When they were 12 and 11 years old, he met his present wife, Maria Teresa. They were married in the Swiss Temple and now have two more lovely daughters, Sara, 6, and Denise Gloria, 1. The older girls—now 19 and 18—have strong testimonies of the gospel, and both desire to serve missions. Simona reflected, “Thanks to the gospel, I am the person that I am. The gospel influences me each day of my life. Even though sometimes it is hard, I feel that the gospel brings me strength and freedom.”

Silvia is following in her father’s artistic footsteps as she studies painting and sculpture. She also follows his spiritual footsteps as she expresses her testimony, “I am so thankful for my father—it is because of him that I was able to join the Church. Often, people in the world feel that they have the freedom to do whatever they want to do. But I think that obedience to the laws of the gospel is the only thing that makes us really free from the weight of the bad things of the world. To me, the gospel is strength and help, and everything in my life. The most important thing I know is that God loves me and listens to me.”

In Florence, Italy, a city renowned for beautiful treasures, Alberto Sottili talks about his own priceless treasures: “I think that everything good is from God. To keep our family together, we have to work, to pray, to have home evening. We must not permit evil to come into our house.”

And Maria Teresa agrees, “I can’t imagine my life without the gospel. The gospel is my life!”

DeAnne Walker

A Foundation in Faith,” Tambuli, Nov 1994, 41

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July 3, 2017

Nibley, Reconciliation, Rescue

Comments Off on He Paid for Us What He Thought We Were Worth

The word atonement appears only once in the New Testament (Rom. 5:11 in the King James Version), and in the Revised Standard Version it does not appear at all, the translators preferring the more familiar word reconciliation. (See also footnote to Rom. 5:11 in the LDS edition of the King James Version.) Reconciliation is a very good word for atonement there, since it means literally to be seated again with someone (re-con-silio)—so that atonement is to be reunited with God, just as Paul said: “[The Lord] sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on High.”

The Greek word translated as “reconciliation” is katallagein. It is a business term, which the lexicon tells us means “exchange, esp. of money; … change from enmity to friendship, reconciliation; … reconciliation of sinners with God. 2 It is the return to the status ante quo, whether as a making of peace or a settlement of debt.

The monetary metaphor is by far the most common, being the simplest and easiest to understand. Hence, frequently the word redemption literally means “to buy back”—that is, to reacquire something you owned previously. Thus, Moses said: “But because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh.” (Deut. 7:8.)

By redemption, someone has paid a price to get you off, restoring you to a former, happier condition. But the frequent use of the commercial analogy is not out of reverence for trade and commerce—just the opposite, in fact. The redeemed are bought to clear them of all worldly obligation by paying off the world in its own currency, after which it has no further claim on the redeemed.

The Greek equivalent is lutrosis, a ransoming. Paul tells the Saints to prepare for the salvation that has been made available by disengaging from this world—“denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world”—so that God “might redeem [lutrosetai] us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people.” (Titus 2:12, 14.)

Salvation likewise means “rescue” (soteria, also rendered “deliverance”). Another expression is “for a price,” the word being time, “that which is paid in token or worth of value.” He paid for us what he thought we were worth so he could join us with him.

Hugh W. Nibley

The Atonement of Jesus Christ, Part 1,” Ensign, Jul 1990, 18

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May 31, 2017

General Authorities, General Conference, Justice, Justification, Repentance, Rescue, Scott

Comments Off on The Opportunity to Overcome the Consequences of Mistakes

Without the Atonement, Father in Heaven’s plan of happiness could not have been placed fully into effect. The Atonement gives all the opportunity to overcome the consequences of mistakes made in life. When we obey a law, we receive a blessing. When we break a law, there is nothing left over from prior obedience to satisfy the demands of justice for that broken law. The Savior’s Atonement permits us to repent of any disobedience and thereby avoid the penalties that justice would have imposed.

My reverence and gratitude for the Atonement of the Holy One of Israel, the Prince of Peace and our Redeemer, continually expand as I strive to understand more about it. I realize that no mortal mind can adequately conceive, nor can human tongue appropriately express, the full significance of all that Jesus Christ has done for our Heavenly Father’s children through His Atonement. Yet it is vital that we each learn what we can about it. The Atonement is that essential ingredient of our Father in Heaven’s plan of happiness without which that plan could not have been activated. Your understanding of the Atonement and the insight it provides for your life will greatly enhance your productive use of all of the knowledge, experience, and skills you acquire in mortal life.

I believe that it is instructive to try to imagine what the Atonement required of both the Father and His willing Son. Three of the challenges the Savior faced were:

First, an enormous sense of responsibility, for He realized that except it be done perfectly, not one of His Father’s children could return to Him. They would be forever banished from His presence since there would be no way to repent for broken laws and no unclean thing can exist in the presence of God. His Father’s plan would have failed, and each spirit child would have been under the eternal control and torment of Satan.

Second, in His absolutely pure mind and heart, He had to personally feel the consequences of all that mankind would ever encounter, even the most depraved, despicable sins.

Third, He had to endure the vicious attack of Satan’s hordes while physically and emotionally pressed to the limit. Then, for reasons we do not fully know, while at the extremity of His capacity, at the time the Savior most needed succor, His Father allowed Him to shoulder the onerous responsibility with only His own strength and capacity.

Elder Richard G. Scott
He Lives! All Glory to His Name!,” Ensign, May 2010, 75–78

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May 2, 2017

General Authorities, General Conference, Holland, Rescue

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When He says to the poor in spirit, “Come unto me,” He means He knows the way out and He knows the way up. He knows it because He has walked it. He knows the way because He is the way.

Jeffrey R. Holland

Broken Things to Mend,” Ensign, May 2006, 69–71

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March 27, 2017

Christmas, Forgiveness, Hymns, Rescue

Comments Off on Prone to Wander – A Season for Prodigals to Return

I woke up very early this morning with the words of this hymn running through my mind and thought I would share it with you.

For me, it represents the open arms that Christ extends to every man or woman who has wandered off into strange paths and desires to return.

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March 19, 2017

Enabling Power, Hymns, Rescue

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I need thee every hour,

Most gracious Lord.

No tender voice like thine

Can peace afford.

I need thee, oh, I need thee;

Every hour I need thee!

Oh, bless me now, my Savior;

I come to thee!

“I Need Thee Every Hour”, Hymns no. 98

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January 12, 2017

General Authorities, General Conference, Maxwell, Repentance, Rescue

Comments Off on Repentance is a Rescuing, Not a Dour Doctrine

For some months, I’ve tried to emphasize repentance, one of the most vital and merciful doctrines of the kingdom. It is too little understood, too little applied by us all, as if it were merely a word on a bumper sticker. Since we have been told clearly by Jesus what manner of men and women we ought to become—even as He is (see 3 Ne. 27:27)—how can we do so, except each of us employs repentance as the regular means of personal progression? Personal repentance is part of taking up the cross daily. (See Luke 9:23.) Without it, clearly there could be no “perfecting of the Saints.” (Eph. 4:12.)

Besides, there is more individuality in those who are more holy.

Sin, on the other hand, brings sameness; it shrinks us to addictive appetites and insubordinate impulses. For a brief surging, selfish moment, sin may create the illusion of individuality, but only as in the grunting, galloping Gadarene swine! (See Matt. 8:28–32.)

Repentance is a rescuing, not a dour doctrine. It is available to the gross sinner as well as to the already-good individual striving for incremental improvement.

Repentance requires both turning away from evil and turning to God. (See Deut. 4:30; see also Bible Dictionary, s.v. “Repentance.”) When “a mighty change” is required, full repentance involves a 180-degree turn, and without looking back! (Alma 5:12–13.) Initially, this turning reflects progress from telestial to terrestrial behavior, and later on to celestial behavior. As the sins of the telestial world are left behind, the focus falls ever more steadily upon the sins of omission, which often keep us from full consecration.

Real repentance involves not a mechanical checklist, but a checkreining of the natural self. Often overlapping and mutually reinforcing, each portion of the process of repentance is essential. This process rests on inner resolve but is much aided by external support.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell

Repentance,”

Ensign, Nov 1991, 30

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October 31, 2016

General Authorities, General Conference, Jensen, Repentance, Rescue

Comments Off on Encircled in the Arms of Safety

The scripture phrase “encircled in the arms of safety” comes from Amulek’s message to the Zoramites about the infinite and eternal Atonement. He taught that the sacrifice of the Son of God made it possible for man to have faith in Christ to lead us to repent. “And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety” (Alma 34:16; see also vv. 9–15).

. . . .

As I have pondered how to effectively teach the Atonement to others, the phrase “arms of safety” has been useful. When we were baptized and received the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, we received two ordinances that introduce us to the arms of safety. By coming humbly and fully repentant to sacrament meeting and worthily partaking of the sacrament, we may feel those arms again and again.

. . . .

While serving as a bishop, I witnessed the blessings of the Atonement in the lives of Church members who committed serious transgressions. As a judge in Israel I listened to their confessions and, when needed, placed restrictions upon them, such as not partaking of the sacrament for a time.

A young single adult in our ward was dating a young woman. They allowed their affections to get out of control. He came to me for counsel and help. Based on what was confessed and the impressions of the Spirit to me, among other things, he was not permitted to partake of the sacrament for a time. We met regularly to ensure that repentance had happened, and, after an appropriate time, I authorized him to again partake of the sacrament.

As I sat on the stand in that sacrament meeting, my eyes were drawn to him as he now partook of the sacrament worthily. I witnessed arms of mercy, love, and safety encircling him as the healing of the Atonement warmed his soul and lifted his load, resulting in the promised forgiveness, peace, and happiness.

Elder Jay E. Jensen

Arms of Safety,” Ensign, Nov 2008, 47–49

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October 22, 2016

C.S. Lewis, Forgiveness, Repentance, Rescue

Comments Off on He Puts a Little of His Love into Us

Remember, this repentance, this willing submission to humiliation and a kind of death, is not something God demands of you before He will take you back and which He could let you off if he chose: it is simply a description of what going back to Him is like. If you ask God to take you back without it, you are really asking Him to let you go back without going back. It cannot happen. Very well, then, we must go through with it. But the same badness which makes us need it, makes us unable to do it. Can we do it if God helps us? Yes, but what do we mean when we talk of God helping us? We mean God putting into us a bit of Himself, so to speak. He lends us a little of His reasoning powers and that is how we think: He puts a little of His love into us and that is how we love one another. When you teach a child writing, you hold its hand while it forms the letters: that is, it forms the letters because you are forming them. We love and reason because God loves and reasons and holds our hand while we do it. Now if we had not fallen, that would be all plane sailing. But unfortunately we now need God’s help in order to do something which God, in His own nature, never does at all–to surrender, to suffer, to submit, to die. Nothing in God’s nature corresponds to this process at all. So that the one road for which we now need God’s leadership most of all is a road God, in His own nature, has never walked. God can share only what He has: this thing, in His own nature, He has not.

But supposing God became a man — suppose our human nature which can suffer and die was amalgamated with God’s nature in one person — then that person could help us.  He could surrender His will and suffer and die, because He was a man; and He could do it perfectly because He was God.  You and I can go through this process only if God does it in us; but can do it only if He becomes man.  Our attempts at this dying will succeed only if we men share in God’s dying, just as our thinking can succeed only because it is a drop out of the ocean of His intelligence:  but we cannot share God’s dying unless God dies; and He cannot die except by being a man.  That is the sense in which He pays our debt, and suffers for us what He Himself need not suffer at all.”

C.S. Lewis

Mere Christianity, “The Perfect Penitent”, page 57-58

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October 13, 2016

Fundamental Principles, Nibley, Preexistence, Rescue

Comments Off on Volunteering to Go Down and Pay the Price

Joseph Smith took the gospel of Christ back even before Abraham to Adam and beyond, revealing the Atonement as “the plan of redemption … prepared from the foundation of the world” (Alma 12:30)—that is, when it was approved at the Council in Heaven. This event is often mentioned in the earliest Christian and Jewish literature, 13 one of the most notable texts being the “Discourse on Abbaton” by Timothy, Archbishop of Alexandria (circa a.d. 380). 14 When the plan was voted on, according to this account and others, it was turned down. The earth herself complained, as in the Book of Moses and other Enoch literature, of the defilement it would bring upon her, knowing the kind of inhabitants to come (see Moses 7:48–49); and the heavenly host objected to a plan that would cause such a vast amount of sin and suffering.

The Only Begotten broke the deadlock by volunteering to go down and pay the price. This opened the way; the plan could go forward; and the sons of God and the morning stars all sang and shouted for joy (see Job 38:7) in a great creation hymn that has left an indelible mark in ancient literature and ritual. The Lord had made it all possible, leaving men their agency, and obeying the Father in all things. But Satan and his followers refused to accept the majority vote; for that, Satan was deprived of his glory in a reversal of the ritual endowment and was cast out of heaven, which was the reverse of at-one-ment. 15

Only in such a context does the Atonement, otherwise so baffling, take on its full significance. There is not a word among those translated as “atonement” which does not plainly indicate the return to a former state or condition; one rejoins the family, returns to the Father, becomes united, reconciled, embracing and sitting down happily with others after a sad separation. We want to get back, but to do that, we must resist the alternative: being taken into the community of “the prince of this world.” (John 12:31.)

Hugh W. Nibley

“The Atonement of Jesus Christ, Part 2” Ensign, Aug 1990, 30

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