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

In 1993, Bruce C. Hafen, then Provost of BYU, now a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, wrote an article for the Ensign magazine in connection with the publication of the Encyclopedia of Mormonism.  The article is entitled, The Restored Doctrine of the Atonement and is an excellent short discussion of some of the ways that LDS understanding of the Atonement and Grace return to original doctrines as taught by Christ and His prophets in ancient times.

From Elder Hafen:

In the teachings of Augustine and Luther, man’s fallen nature made self-generated righteous acts impossible. In LDS doctrine, by contrast, “men should … do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;

“For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves.” (D&C 58:27–28.)

Yet we clearly lack the capacity to develop a Christlike nature by our own effort alone. Thus, the perfecting attributes, which include hope, charity, and finally the divine nature that is inherently part of eternal life, are ultimately “bestowed upon all who are true followers of … Jesus Christ” (Moro. 7:48; emphasis added) by the grace that was made possible by the Savior’s atonement. In LDS theology, this interactive relationship between human will and divine powers derives from the significance the gospel attaches to free will and from optimism about the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22) among “those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do” (D&C 46:9; emphasis added).

God bestows these additional, perfecting expressions of grace conditionally, as he does the grace that allows forgiveness of sin. They are given “after all we can do” (2 Ne. 25:23)—that is, they are given as an essential supplement to our best efforts. We prove worthy and capable of receiving these gifts not only by obeying particular commandments but also by demonstrating certain personal attitudes and attributes, such as “meekness and lowliness of heart” (Moro. 8:26) and “a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (3 Ne. 9:20).

In addition, those who enter into the covenants of the gospel of Jesus Christ may also be spiritually sustained by him. This is the relationship we celebrate and renew each time we partake of the sacrament. Through it, the Savior grants not only a continuing remission of our sins, but he will also help compensate for our inadequacies, heal the bruises caused by our unintentional errors, and strengthen us far beyond our natural capacity in times of acute need.

Both we and our friends outside the Lord’s church need this Atonement-based relationship more than we need any other form of therapy or support: “O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.

“When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

“For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour.” (Isa. 43:1–3; emphasis added.)

Elder Bruce C. Hafen

The Restored Doctrine of the Atonement,” Ensign, Dec 1993, 7

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