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

September 21, 2017

Covenants, Grace, Justification, Robinson, Salvation

Comments Off on Salvation is the Task of Him Who Bears the Title, Savior

The larger theological perspective needed to accommodate both grace and works is provided by the scriptures themselves in the concept of “covenant,” an agreement entered into voluntarily by two parties, with obligations laid upon both. This concept is taught in both the Old and New Testaments as characterizing the proper relationship between God and his people.

The availability of the covenant, the Savior who mediates it, his agony that empowered it-these are all free gifts of grace: God didn’t have to offer; Jesus didn’t have to suffer. They are gifts bestowed upon us out of love. But the decision to remain in the covenant, to stay put and “endure to the end”-that choice is ours, and it is indicated by whom we serve and by the works we do. As long as we choose to remain loyal to him, Christ continues to justify us by his grace and to atone for our mistakes. Our present good works (such as we can manage) are a token of the perfect righteousness we genuinely seek to offer but at this point can achieve only through Christ, a token that we still serve him and not the Enemy. This token-our sincere effort-is accepted by Christ, who alone redeems and justifies us through the covenant.

Ultimately, salvation is the task of him who bears the title-Savior. It is his title because it is his function and not ours. Occasionally, he allows us to work for him as tools in saving others, but never for ourselves. We can’t baptize ourselves, bless ourselves, ordain ourselves, or endow ourselves. Still, we can and must do something to enter into and remain in the covenant. We cannot logically insist he is our master while at the same time refusing to serve him. We can’t have it both ways. Servants, by definition, serve. If entering into the covenant is a choice for Christ rather than Satan, then staying in the covenant is serving Christ-that is, to continue choosing Christ, to endure or persist in choosing Christ-and that choice is expressed in our behavior. We can’t come to Christ and then just wander off to do our own thing.

Stephen E. Robinson
The Parable of the Divers and More Good News
Deseret Book Company, 1995

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September 14, 2017

Renewal, Salvation

Comments Off on The Touch of the Master’s Hand

’Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
But held it up with a smile:
“What am I bidden, good folks,” he cried,
“Who’ll start the bidding for me?”
“A dollar, a dollar”; then, “Two!” “Only two?
Two dollars, and who’ll make it three?
Three dollars, once; three dollars, twice;
Going for three—” But no,
From the room, far back, a gray-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow;
Then, wiping the dust from the old violin,
And tightening the loose strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet
As a caroling angel sings.

The music ceased, and the auctioneer,
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said, “What am I bid for the old violin?”
And he held it up with the bow.
“A thousand dollars, and who’ll make it two?
Two thousand! And who’ll make it three?
Three thousand, once, three thousand, twice,
And going, and gone!” said he.
The people cheered, but some of them cried,
“We do not quite understand
What changed its worth.” Swift came the reply:
“The touch of a master’s hand.”

And many a man with life out of tune,
And battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd,
Much like the old violin.
A “mess of pottage,” a glass of wine,
A game—and he travels on.
He’s “going” once, and “going” twice,
He’s “going” and almost “gone.”
But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that’s wrought
By the touch of the Master’s hand.

Myra Brooks Welch

“The Touch of the Master’s Hand,” The Gospel Messenger, Brethren Press, 26 Feb. 1921

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August 28, 2017

Fundamental Principles, General Authorities, General Conference, Gethsemane, McConkie, Salvation

Comments Off on Without Both Mortality and Immortality Man Cannot Work Out His Salvation

After some thirty-eight or forty hours—three days as the Jews measured time—our Blessed Lord came to the Arimathaean’s tomb, where his partially embalmed body had been placed by Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea.

Then, in a way incomprehensible to us, he took up that body which had not yet seen corruption and arose in that glorious immortality which made him like his resurrected Father.

He then received all power in heaven and on earth, obtained eternal exaltation, appeared unto Mary Magdalene and many others, and ascended into heaven, there to sit down on the right hand of God the Father Almighty and to reign forever in eternal glory.

His rising from death on the third day crowned the Atonement. Again, in some way incomprehensible to us, the effects of his resurrection pass upon all men so that all shall rise from the grave.

As Adam brought death, so Christ brought life; as Adam is the father of mortality, so Christ is the father of immortality.

And without both, mortality and immortality, man cannot work out his salvation and ascend to those heights beyond the skies where gods and angels dwell forever in eternal glory.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie
The Purifying Power of Gethsemane“, Ensign, May 1985, 9

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June 6, 2017

Hugo, Resurrection, Salvation

Comments Off on I Am Rising, I Know

I feel in myself the future lie. I am like a forest once cut down; the new shoots are stronger than ever. I am rising, I know, toward the sky. The sunshine is on my head. The earth gives me its generous sap, but heaven lights me with the reflection of unknown worlds.

You say the soul is nothing but the resultant of the bodily powers. Why then is my soul more luminous when my bodily powers begin to fail? The nearer I approach the end, the plainer I hear around me the immortal symphonies of the worlds which invite me. It is marvelous yet simple. It is a fairy tale, and it is history.

When I go down to the grave I can say, like so many others, I have finished my life. My day’s work will begin the next morning. My tomb is not a blind alley. It is a thoroughfare. It closes in the twilight to open in the dawn.

Victor Hugo
quoted by Lynne Watkins Jorgensen, “Begging to Be in the Battle: A Mormon Boy in World War I,” Journal of Mormon History 29:1 (Spring 2003): 133
(paragraph breaks added to enhance online readability)

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April 2, 2017

Abinadi, Fundamental Principles, Law, Necessity of Atonement, Salvation

Comments Off on Were It Not for the Atonement . . . They Must Unavoidably Perish

The prophet Abinadi, speaking before Christ came to the earth:

I say unto you, that salvation doth not come by the law alone; and were it not for the atonement, which God himself shall make for the sins and iniquities of his people, that they must unavoidably perish, notwithstanding the law of Moses.

And now I say unto you that it was expedient that there should be a law given to the children of Israel, yea, even a very strict law; for they were a stiffnecked people, quick to do iniquity, and slow to remember the Lord their God; Therefore there was a law given them, yea, a law of performances and of ordinances, a law which they were to observe strictly from day to day, to keep them in remembrance of God and their duty towards him.

For behold, did not Moses prophesy unto them concerning the coming of the Messiah, and that God should redeem his people? Yea, and even all the prophets who have prophesied ever since the world began—have they not spoken more or less concerning these things?

Have they not said that God himself should come down among the children of men, and take upon him the form of man, and go forth in mighty power upon the face of the earth?

Yea, and have they not said also that he should bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, and that he, himself, should be oppressed and afflicted?

Mosiah 13:28-30, 33-35

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December 31, 2016

C.S. Lewis, Christmas, Salvation

Comments Off on The Son of God became a man to enable men to become the sons of God

From C.S. Lewis for Christmas:

The Son of God became a man to enable men to become the sons of God. (Mere Christianity, page 178)

What are we to make of Jesus Christ? . . . The real question is not what we are to make of Christ, but what is He to make of us? (God in the Dock: Essays on Theology and Ethics, page 156)

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September 2, 2016

Justice, Mercy, Salvation, Taylor

Comments Off on The Father Accepted the Offer of His Well Beloved Son

“Behold, the devil was before Adam, for he rebelled against me, saying, Give me thine honor, which is my power: and also a third part of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency; and they were thrust down, and thus came the devil and his angels. And, behold, there is a place prepared for them from the beginning, which place is hell: and it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves, for if they never should have bitter, they could not know the sweet.”-Doc. and Cov., xxix, 36-39, p. 146.

And again. “And this we saw also, and bear record, that an angel of God who was in authority in the presence of God, who rebelled against the Only Begotten Son, whom the Father loved, and who was in the bosom of the Father-was thrust down from the presence of God and the Son, and was called Perdition, for the heavens wept over him-he was Lucifer, a son of the morning. And we beheld, and lo, he is fallen! is fallen! even a son of the morning. And while we were yet in the Spirit, the Lord commanded us that we should write the vision, for we beheld Satan, that old serpent-even the devil-who rebelled against God, and sought to take the kingdom of our God and his Christ.” Doc. and Cov., lxxvi, 25-28, p. 267.

The Father accepted the offer of His well beloved Son, and proceeded to carry out the decision of the Council, and, as we are informed in the Bible (inspired translation), God said to His Only Begotten, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and it was so.”

There are other questions mixed up with this rebellion besides those above referred to, and those questions are directly connected with the atonement. In the event of man having his free will and being subject to the power of temptation, the weakness of the flesh, the allurements of the world, and the powers of darkness, it was known that he must necessarily fall, and being fallen, it would be impossible for him to redeem himself, and that, according to an eternal law of justice, it would require an infinite, expiatory atonement to redeem man, to save him from the effects and ruin of the Fall, and to place him in a condition where he could again be reinstated in the favor of God, according to the eternal laws of justice and mercy; and find his way back to the presence of the Father.

Satan (it is possible) being opposed to the will of his Father, wished to avoid the responsibilities of this position, and rather than assume the consequences of the acceptance of the plan of the Father, he would deprive man of his free agency, and render it impossible for him to obtain that exaltation which God designed. It would further seem probable that he refused to take the position of redeemer, and assume all the consequences associated therewith, but he did propose, as stated before, to take another plan and deprive man of his agency, and he probably intended to make men atone for their own acts by an act of coercion, and the shedding of their own blood as an atonement for their sins; therefore, he says, “I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost; and surely I will do it; wherefore, give me thine honor.”

His plan, however, was rejected as contrary to the counsel of God, his Father. The well beloved Son then addressed the Father, and instead of proposing to carry out any plan of his own, knowing what His Father’s will was, said, “Thy will be done;” ‘I will carry out thy plans and thy designs, and, as man will fall, I will offer myself as an atonement according to thy will, O God. Neither do I wish the honor, but thine be the glory;”‘ and a covenant was entered into between Him and His Father, in which He agreed to atone for the sins of the world; and He thus, as stated, became the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world. In this connection it is related by Abraham:

“And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him, We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; and we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them; and they who keep their first estate, shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate, shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate, shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.”

And hence, as Jesus Himself said, “Thus it is written and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

President John Taylor

Mediation and Atonement,  Chapter XI (paragraph breaks added to enhance readability)

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August 2, 2016

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

Comments Off on Christ is Going to Make Good His words

“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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July 21, 2016

Fundamental Principles, McConkie, Resurrection, Salvation

Comments Off on If There Had Been No Atonement

If there had been no atonement of Christ, there would be no resurrection, no breaking of the bands of death, no coming forth from the grave.

If there had been no atonement, there would be no remission of sins; no return to the presence of God; no salvation of any sort, kind, or nature; no eternal life; no exaltation; no continuation of the family unit in eternity.

If there were no atonement of Christ, all men would be subject to “that awful monster the devil, and death, and hell, and that lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment” (2 Nephi 9:19).

If there were no atonement of Christ, “our spirits” would have become “like unto” Lucifer’s, “and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself” (2 Nephi 9:9).

If there were no atonement of Christ, all men would be damned everlastingly, all would be sons of perdition, and the whole purpose of God and his eternal plan of salvation would utterly fail.

All things center in, revolve around, are anchored to, and are built upon the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no language given to men or angels to proclaim these truths with the power and verity and dignity that should attend them. Let it be blazoned in burning fire through all the sidereal heavens that salvation is in Christ and comes because of his atoning sacrifice.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie
The Three Pillars of Eternity, devotional address at Brigham Young University on 17 February 1981

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July 3, 2016

Book of Mormon, Nephi, Salvation

Comments Off on All Men Must Come Unto Him

And the angel spake unto me, saying: These last records, which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved.

1 Nephi 13:40

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