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The Atonement of Jesus Christ Study Schedule (March 3rd to March 31st, 2013)

March 3 The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles (Ensign, April 2000) 4 5 6 7 8 9 The Grandeur of God Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (October 2003 General Conference) The Atonement of Jesus Christ Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland The Atonement: Our Greatest Hope President James E. Faust (Ensign November 2001) Page 2 4 7 11 15 21 29 35 43 52 60

The Atonement Elder Russell M. Nelson (Mission Presidents Seminar 2002) The Need of a Redeemer Elder James E. Talmage (Jesus the Christ, chapter 3) Testifying of the Great and Glorious Atonement Elder Neal A. Maxwell (October Ensign 2001)

10 Justification and Sanctification Elder D. Todd Christofferson (Ensign, June 2001) 11 The Atonement and Salvation Elder James E. Talmage (Articles of Faith, chapter 4) 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 The Atonement Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (Mission Presidents Seminar) Atonement of Christ Elder Bruce R. McConkie (Mormon Doctrine) 2 Nephi 2 2 Nephi 9 2 Nephi 31 Mosiah 3 Mosiah 14-16 Alma 34 D&C 19 D&C 76 Finish D&C 76

23 The Atonement and the Value of One Soul Elder M. Russell Ballard (April Conference 2004) 24 A Testimony of the Son of God Elder Gordon B. Hinckley (December 2002) 25 The Purifying Power of Gethsemane Elder Bruce R. McConkie (May 1985) 26 Apply the Atoning Blood of Christ Elder Neal A. Maxwell (November 1997 Ensign) 27 The Mediator President Boyd K. Packer (April 1997 General Confrence) 28 Our Acceptance of Christ 29 Messages on the Atonement Elder Neal A. Maxwell (Ensign November 1985) President Thomas S. Monson (From Several Talks) Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (April Conference 2009) Elder David A. Bednar (October 2001 BYU Devotional)

65 69 72 76 80 86 97 100 104

30 None Were With Him 31 In the Strength of the Lord

"The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it. Joseph Smith

The Living Christ


The Testimony of the Apostles
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ensign, Apr. 2000, 2

As we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago, we offer our testimony of the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice. None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth. He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New. Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made (John 1:3). Though sinless, He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. He went about doing good (Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it. His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come. He instituted the sacrament as a reminder of His great atoning sacrifice. He was arrested and condemned on spurious charges, convicted to satisfy a mob, and sentenced to die on Calvarys cross. He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind. His was a great vicarious gift in behalf of all who would ever live upon the earth. We solemnly testify that His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary. He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world. He rose from the grave to become the first fruits of them that slept (1 Cor. 15:20). As Risen Lord, He visited among those He had loved in life. He also ministered among His other sheep (John 10:16) in ancient America. In the modern world, He and His Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith, ushering in the long-promised dispensation of the fulness of times (Eph. 1:10). Of the Living Christ, the Prophet Joseph wrote: His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying: I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father (D&C 110:3-4). Of Him the Prophet also declared: And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!

For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God (D&C 76:22-24). We declare in words of solemnity that His priesthood and His Church have been restored upon the earthbuilt upon the foundation of apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone (Eph. 2:20). We testify that He will someday return to earth. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together (Isa. 40:5). He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts. We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostlesthat Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son. The First Presidency Gordon B. Hinckley Thomas S. Monson James E. Faust The Quorum of the Twelve Boyd K. Packer L. Tom Perry David B. Haight Neal A. Maxwell Russell M. Nelson Dallin H. Oaks M. Russell Ballard Joseph B. Wirthlin Richard G. Scott Robert D. Hales Jeffrey R. Holland Henry B. Eyring

The Grandeur of God


Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
(October 2003 General Conference)

Of the many magnificent purposes served in the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, one great aspect of that mission often goes uncelebrated. His followers did not understand it fully at the time, and many in modern Christianity do not grasp it now, but the Savior Himself spoke of it repeatedly and emphatically. It is the grand truth that in all that Jesus came to say and do, including and especially in His atoning suffering and sacrifice, He was showing us who and what God our Eternal Father is like, how completely devoted He is to His children in every age and nation. In word and in deed Jesus was trying to reveal and make personal to us the true nature of His Father, our Father in Heaven. He did this at least in part because then and now all of us need to know God more fully in order to love Him more deeply and obey Him more completely. As both Old and New Testaments declare, The first of all the commandments is thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first [and great] commandment.1 Little wonder then that the Prophet Joseph Smith taught: It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God. I want you all to know Him, he said, and to be familiar with Him.2 We must have a correct idea of his perfections, and attributes, an admiration for the excellency of [His] character.3 Thus the first phrase we utter in the declaration of our faith is, We believe in God, the Eternal Father.4 So, emphatically, did Jesus. Even as He acknowledged His own singular role in the divine plan, the Savior nevertheless insisted on this prayerful preamble: And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God.5 After generations of prophets had tried to teach the family of man the will and the way of the Father, usually with little success, God in His ultimate effort to have us know Him, sent to earth His Only Begotten and perfect Son, created in His very likeness and image, to live and serve among mortals in the everyday rigors of life. To come to earth with such a responsibility, to stand in place of Elohimspeaking as He would speak, judging and serving, loving and warning, forbearing and forgiving as He would dothis is a duty of such staggering proportions that you and I cannot comprehend such a thing. But in the loyalty and determination that would be characteristic of a divine child, Jesus could comprehend it and He did it. Then, when the praise and honor began to come, He humbly directed all adulation to the Father. The Father doeth the works, He said in earnest. The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever [the Father] doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.6 On another occasion He said: I speak that which I have seen with my Father. I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me. I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.7 I make my own heartfelt declaration of God our Eternal Father this morning because some in the contemporary world suffer from a distressing misconception of Him. Among these there is a tendency to feel distant from the Father, even estranged from Him, if they believe in Him at all. And if they do believe, many moderns say they might feel comfortable in the arms of Jesus, but they are uneasy contemplating the stern encounter of God.8 Through a misreading (and surely, in some cases, a mistranslation) of the Bible, these see God the Father and Jesus Christ His Son as operating very differently, this in spite of the fact that in both the Old Testament and the New, the

Son of God is one and the same, acting as He always does under the direction of the Father, who is Himself the same yesterday, today, and forever.9 In reflecting on these misconceptions we realize that one of the remarkable contributions of the Book of Mormon is its seamless, perfectly consistent view of divinity throughout that majestic book. Here there is no Malachi-to-Matthew gap, no pause while we shift theological gears, no misreading the God who is urgently, lovingly, faithfully at work on every page of that record from its Old Testament beginning to its New Testament end. Yes, in an effort to give the world back its Bible and a correct view of Deity with it, what we have in the Book of Mormon is a uniform view of God in all His glory and goodness, all His richness and complexityincluding and especially as again demonstrated through a personal appearance of His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. How grateful we are for all the scriptures, especially the scriptures of the Restoration, that teach us the majesty of each member of the Godhead. How we would thrill, for example, if all the world would receive and embrace the view of the Father so movingly described in the Pearl of Great Price. There, in the midst of a grand vision of humankind which heaven opened to his view, Enoch, observing both the blessings and challenges of mortality, turns his gaze toward the Father and is stunned to see Him weeping. He says in wonder and amazement to this most powerful Being in the universe: How is it that thou canst weep? Thou art just [and] merciful and kind forever; Peace is the habitation of thy throne; and mercy shall go before thy face and have no end; how is it thou canst weep? Looking out on the events of almost any day, God replies: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands. I gave unto them [a] commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood. Wherefore should not the heavens weep, seeing these shall suffer?10 That single, riveting scene does more to teach the true nature of God than any theological treatise could ever convey. It also helps us understand much more emphatically that vivid moment in the Book of Mormon allegory of the olive tree, when after digging and dunging, watering and weeding, trimming, pruning, transplanting, and grafting, the great Lord of the vineyard throws down his spade and his pruning shears and weeps, crying out to any who would listen, What could I have done more for my vineyard?11 What an indelible image of Gods engagement in our lives! What anguish in a parent when His children do not choose Him nor the gospel of God He sent!12 How easy to love someone who so singularly loves us! Of course the centuries-long drift away from belief in such a perfect and caring Father hasnt been helped any by the man-made creeds of erring generations which describe God variously as unknown and unknowableformless, passionless, elusive, ethereal, simultaneously everywhere and nowhere at all. Certainly that does not describe the Being we behold through the eyes of these prophets. Nor does it match the living, breathing, embodied Jesus of Nazareth who was and is in the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his [Father].13 In that sense Jesus did not come to improve Gods view of man nearly so much as He came to improve mans view of God and to plead with them to love their Heavenly Father as He has always and will always love them. The plan of God, the power of God, the holiness of God, yes, even the anger and the judgment of God they had occasion to understand. But the love of God, the profound depth of His devotion to His children, they still did not fully knowuntil Christ came.

So feeding the hungry, healing the sick, rebuking hypocrisy, pleading for faiththis was Christ showing us the way of the Father, He who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, long-suffering and full of goodness.14 In His life and especially in His death, Christ was declaring, This is Gods compassion I am showing you, as well as that of my own. In the perfect Sons manifestation of the perfect Fathers care, in Their mutual suffering and shared sorrow for the sins and heartaches of the rest of us, we see ultimate meaning in the declaration: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.15 I bear personal witness this day of a personal, living God, who knows our names, hears and answers prayers, and cherishes us eternally as children of His spirit. I testify that amidst the wondrously complex tasks inherent in the universe, He seeks our individual happiness and safety above all other godly concerns. We are created in His very image and likeness,16 and Jesus of Nazareth, His Only Begotten Son in the flesh, came to earth as the perfect mortal manifestation of His grandeur. In addition to the witness of the ancients we also have the modern miracle of Palmyra, the appearance of God the Father and His Beloved Son, the Savior of the world, to the boy prophet Joseph Smith. I testify of that appearance, and in the words of that prophet I, too, declare: Our heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive. God does not look on sin with [the least degree of] allowance, but the nearer we get to our heavenly Father, the more we are disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls; we feel that we want to take them upon our shoulders, and cast their sins behind our backs.17 I bear witness of a God who has such shoulders. And in the spirit of the holy apostleship, I say as did one who held this office anciently: Herein [then] is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another18and to love Him forever, I pray. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.
1. Mark 12:2930; see also Matt. 22:3738; Deut. 6:5. 2. History of the Church, 6:305. 3. Lectures on Faith (1985), 38, 42. 4. A of F 1:1. 5. John 17:3. 6. John 14:10; John 5:19. 7. John 8:38, 28; John 6:38. 8. See William Barclay, The Mind of Jesus (1961), especially the chapter Looking at the Cross for a discussion of this modern tendency. 9. For example, 1 Ne. 10:18; 2 Ne. 27:23; Moro. 10:19; D&C 20:12. 10. Moses 7:2933, 37. 11. Jacob 5:41; see also Jacob 5:47, 49. 12. Rom. 1:1. 13. Heb. 1:3; see also 2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15. 14. Lectures on Faith, 42. 15. John 3:1617. 16. See Gen. 1:2627; Moses 2:2627. 17. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 257, 24041. 18. 1 Jn. 4:1011.

The Atonement of Jesus Christ


An article from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism by Jeffrey R. Holland
The atonement of Jesus Christ is the foreordained but voluntary act of the Only Begotten Son of God. He offered his life, including his innocent body, blood, and spiritual anguish as a redeeming ransom (1) for the effect of the Fall of Adam upon all mankind and (2) for the personal sins of all who repent, from Adam to the end of the world. Latter-day Saints believe this is the central fact, the crucial foundation, the chief doctrine, and the greatest expression of divine love in the Plan of Salvation. The Prophet Joseph Smith declared that all things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to the atonement of Christ (TPJS, 121). The literal meaning of the word atonement is self-evident: at-one-ment, the act of unifying or bringing together what has been separated and estranged. The atonement of Jesus Christ was indispensable because of the separating transgression, or fall, of Adam, which brought death into the world when Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9; 3:1-24). Latter-day Saints readily acknowledge both the physical and the spiritual death that Adam and Eve brought upon themselves and all of their posterity, physical death bringing the temporary separation of the spirit from the body, and spiritual death bringing the estrangement of both the spirit and the body from God. But they also believe that the Fall was part of a divine, foreordained plan without which mortal children would not have been born to Adam and Eve. Had not these first parents freely chosen to leave the Garden of Eden via their transgression, there would have been on this earth no human family to experience opposition and growth, moral agency and choice, and the joy of resurrection, redemption, and eternal life (2 Nephi 2:23; Moses 5:11). The need for a future atonement was explained in a premortal Council in Heaven at which the spirits of the entire human family were in attendance and over which God the Father presided. The two principal associates of God in that council were the premortal Jesus (also known as Jehovah; see Jesus Christ, Jehovah) and the premortal Adam (also known as Michael). It was in this premortal setting that Christ voluntarily entered into a covenant with the Father, agreeing to enhance the moral agency of humankind even as he atoned for their sins, and he returned to the Father all honor and glory for such selflessness. This preordained role of Christ as mediator explains why the book of Revelation describes Christ as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8) and why Old Testament prophets, priests, and kings, including Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15, 17-19), Job (19:25-27), the Psalmist (Psalms 2, 22), Zechariah (9:9; 12:10; 13:6), Isaiah (7:14; 9:6-7; 53), and Micah (5:2), could speak of the Messiah and his divine role many centuries before his physical birth. A Book of Mormon prophet wrote, I say unto you that none of the prophets have written, nor prophesied, save they have spoken concerning this Christ (Jacob 4:4; 7:11). To the brother of Jared who lived some two thousand years before the Redeemers birth, the premortal Christ declared, Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people (Ether 3:14). Such scriptural foreshadowings are reflected in the conversation Christ had with two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus: Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself (Luke 24:27; cf. also 24:44). For Latter-day Saints, it is crucially important to see the agreed-upon and understood fall of man only in the context of the equally agreed-upon and understood redemption of man-redemption provided through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Thus, one of the most important and oft-quoted lines of Latter-day Saint scripture says, Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy. And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall (2 Nephi 2:25-26). LDS scripture teaches that the mission of Christ as Redeemer and the commandment to offer animal sacrifice as an anticipatory reminder and symbol of that divine atonement to come were first taught to Adam and Eve soon after they had been expelled from the Garden of Eden

8 (Moses 5:4-8). The atonement of Christ was taught to the parents of the family of man with the intent that they and their posterity would observe the sacrificial ordinances down through their generations, remembering as they did so the mission and mercy of Christ who was to come. Latter-day Saints emphatically teach that the extent of this atonement is universal, opening the way for the redemption of all mankind non-Christians as well as Christians, the godless as well as the god-fearing, the untaught infant as well as the fully converted and knowledgeable adult. It is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice, said Amulek in the Book of Mormon, an infinite and eternal sacrifice . . .. There can be nothing which is short of an infinite atonement which will suffice for the sins of the world (Alma 34:10, 12). This infinite atonement of Christ and of Christ only was possible because (1) he was the only sinless man ever to live on this earth and therefore was not subject to the spiritual death that comes as a result of sin; (2) he was the Only Begotten of the Father and therefore possessed the attributes of Godhood, which gave him power over physical death (see 2 Nephi 9:5-9; Alma 34:9-12); and (3) he was the only one sufficiently humble and willing in the premortal council to be foreordained there to that service (Jesus the Christ, 21-62). The universal, infinite, and unconditional aspects of the atonement of Jesus Christ are several. They include his ransom for Adams original transgression so that no member of the human family is held responsible for that sin (Article of Faith 2). Another universal gift is the resurrection from the dead of every man, woman, and child who lives, has ever lived, or ever will live, on the earth. Thus, the atonement is not only universal in the sense that it saves the entire human family from physical death, but it is also infinite in the sense that its impact and efficacy in making redemption possible for all reach back in one direction to the beginning of time and forward in the other direction throughout all eternity. In short, the atonement has universal, infinite, and unconditional consequences for all mankind throughout the duration of all eternity. Emphasizing these unconditional gifts arising out of Christs atoning sacrifice, Latter-day Saints believe that other aspects of Christs gift are conditional upon obedience and diligence in keeping Gods commandments. For example, while members of the human family are freely and universally given a reprieve from Adams sin through no effort or action of their own, they are not freely and universally given a reprieve of their own sins unless they pledge faith in Christ, repent of those sins, are baptized in his name, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and confirmation into Christs Church, and press forward with a brightness of hope and faithful endurance for the remainder of lifes journey. Of this personal challenge, Christ said, For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; but if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit-and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink (D&C 19:16-18). Furthermore, although the breaking of the bonds of mortal death by the resurrection of the body is a free and universal gift from Christ, a product of his victory over death and the grave, the kind or nature of the body (or degree of glory of the body), as well as the time of ones resurrection, is affected very directly by the extent of ones faithfulness in this life. The apostle Paul made clear, for example, that those most fully committed to Christ will rise first in the resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Paul also speaks of different orders of resurrected bodies (1 Corinthians 15:40). The bodies of the highest orders or degrees of glory in the resurrection are promised to those who faithfully adhere to the principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ; they will not only enjoy immortality (a universal gift to everyone) but also eternal lives in the Celestial Kingdom of glory (D&C 88:4; 132:24). Latter-day Saints stress that neither the unconditional nor the conditional blessings of the atonement would be available to mankind except through the grace and goodness of Christ. Obviously the unconditional blessings of the atonement are unearned, but the conditional ones are also not fully merited. By living faithfully and keeping the commandments of God, one can receive

9 additional privileges; but they are still given freely, not fully earned. They are always and ever a product of Gods grace. Latter-day Saint scripture is emphatic in its declaration that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah (2 Nephi 2:8). The Church is also emphatic about the salvation of little children, the mentally impaired, those who lived without ever hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ, and so forth: these are redeemed by the universal power of the atonement of Christ and will have the opportunity to receive the fulness of the gospel in the spirit world. To meet the demands of the atonement, the sinless Christ went first into the Garden of Gethsemane, there to bear the spiritual agony of soul only he could bear. He began to be sorrowful and very heavy, saying to his three chief disciples, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, unto death (Mark 14:34). Leaving them to keep watch, he went further into the garden, where he would suffer the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam (2 Nephi 9:21). There he struggled and groaned under a burden such as no other being who has lived on earth might even conceive as possible (Jesus the Christ, 613). Christs atonement satisfied the demands of justice and thereby ransomed and redeemed the souls of all men, women, and children that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities (Alma 7:12). Thus, Latter-day Saints teach that Christ descended below all things including every kind of sickness, infirmity, and dark despair experienced by every mortal being-in order that he might comprehend all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth (D&C 88:6). This spiritual anguish of plumbing the depths of human suffering and sorrow was experienced primarily in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was there that he was in an agony and prayed more earnestly. It was there that his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground (Luke 22:44) for he bled at every pore (D&C 19:18). It was there that he began the final March to Calvary. The majesty and triumph of the atonement reached its zenith when, after unspeakable abuse at the hands of the Roman soldiers and others, Christ appealed from the cross, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34). Forgiveness was the key to the meaning of all the suffering he had come to endure. Such an utterly lonely and excruciating mission is piercingly expressed in that near-final and most agonizing cry of all, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46.) In the depths of that anguish, even nature itself convulsed, and there was a darkness over all the earth . . .. The sun was darkened . . .. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent (Luke 23:43-45; Matthew 27:51-52). Finally, even the seemingly unbearable had been borne and Jesus said, It is finished (John 19:30). And then, saying Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit, he gave up the ghost (Luke 23:46). Latter-day Saints believe that every tongue will someday, somewhere confess as did a Roman centurion at the crucifixion, Truly this was the Son of God (Matthew 27:54). The Savior thus becomes master of the situation the debt is paid, the redemption made, the covenant fulfilled, justice satisfied, the will of God done, and all power is now given into the hands of the Son of God the power of the resurrection, the power of the redemption, the power of salvation . . .. He becomes the author of eternal life and exaltation. He is the Redeemer, the Resurrector, the Savior of man and the world (John Taylor, The Mediation and Atonement, [Salt Lake City, 1882], 171). Furthermore, his atonement extends to all life beasts, fish, fowl, and the earth itself. To the thoughtful woman and man, it is a matter of surpassing wonder (Articles of Faith, 77) that the voluntary and merciful sacrifice of a single being could satisfy the infinite and eternal demands

10 of justice, atone for every human transgression and misdeed, and thereby sweep all mankind into the encompassing arms of his merciful embrace. President John Taylor, writing on this subject said: In some mysterious, incomprehensible way, Jesus assumed the responsibility which naturally would have devolved upon Adam; but which could only be accomplished through the mediation of himself, and by taking upon himself their sorrows, assuming their responsibilities, and bearing their transgressions or sins. In a manner to us incomprehensible and inexplicable, he bore the weight of the sins of the whole world, not only of Adam, but of his posterity; and in doing that opened the kingdom of heaven, not only to all believers and all who obeyed the law of God, but to more than one-half of the human family who die before they come to years of maturity as well as to the heathen, who having died without law, will, through his mediation, be resurrected without law, and be judged without law, and thus participate . . . in the blessings of his atonement (The Mediation and Atonement, [Salt Lake City, 1882], 148-49]. Latter-day Saints sing a favorite hymn, written by Charles H. Gabriel, that expresses their deepest feelings regarding this greatest of all gifts: I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me, Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me. I tremble to know that for me he was crucified, That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died. Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me Enough to die for me! Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me! (Hymns, 193.

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The Atonement: Our Greatest Hope


President James E. Faust Second Counselor in the First Presidency
(Ensign, Nov. 2001)

My beloved brothers and sisters and friends, I come humbly to this pulpit this morning because I wish to speak about the greatest event in all history. That singular event was the incomparable Atonement of our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ. This was the most transcendent act that has ever taken place, yet it is the most difficult to understand. My reason for wanting to learn all I can about the Atonement is partly selfish: Our salvation depends on believing in and accepting the Atonement. 1 Such acceptance requires a continual effort to understand it more fully. The Atonement advances our mortal course of learning by making it possible for our natures to become perfect. 2 All of us have sinned and need to repent to fully pay our part of the debt. When we sincerely repent, the Saviors magnificent Atonement pays the rest of that debt. 3 Paul gave a simple explanation for the need of the Atonement: For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 4 Jesus Christ was appointed and foreordained to be our Redeemer before the world was formed. With His divine sonship, His sinless life, the shedding of His blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, His excruciating death on the cross and subsequent bodily Resurrection from the grave, He became the author of our salvation and made a perfect Atonement for all mankind. 5 Understanding what we can of the Atonement and the Resurrection of Christ helps us to obtain a knowledge of Him and of His mission. 6 Any increase in our understanding of His atoning sacrifice draws us closer to Him. Literally, the Atonement means to be at one with Him. The nature of the Atonement and its effects is so infinite, so unfathomable, and so profound that it lies beyond the knowledge and comprehension of mortal man. I am profoundly grateful for the principle of saving grace. Many people think they need only confess that Jesus is the Christ and then they are saved by grace alone. We cannot be saved by grace alone, for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. 7 Some years ago, President Gordon B. Hinckley told something of a parable about a one room school house in the mountains of Virginia where the boys were so rough no teacher had been able to handle them. Then one day an inexperienced young teacher applied. He was told that every teacher had received an awful beating, but the teacher accepted the risk. The first day of school the teacher asked the boys to establish their own rules and the penalty for breaking the rules. The class came up with 10 rules, which were written on the blackboard. Then the teacher asked, What shall we do with one who breaks the rules? Beat him across the back ten times without his coat on, came the response. A day or so later, the lunch of a big student, named Tom, was stolen. The thief was locateda little hungry fellow, about ten years old. As Little Jim came up to take his licking, he pleaded to keep his coat on. Take your coat off, the teacher said. You helped make the rules! The boy took off the coat. He had no shirt and revealed a bony little crippled body. As the teacher hesitated with the rod, Big Tom jumped to his feet and volunteered to take the boys licking.

12 Very well, there is a certain law that one can become a substitute for another. Are you all agreed? the teacher asked. After five strokes across Toms back, the rod broke. The class was sobbing. Little Jim had reached up and caught Tom with both arms around his neck. Tom, Im sorry that I stole your lunch, but I was awful hungry. Tom, I will love you till I die for taking my licking for me! Yes, I will love you forever! 8 President Hinckley then quoted Isaiah: Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 9 No man knows the full weight of what our Savior bore, but by the power of the Holy Ghost we can know something of the supernal gift He gave us. 10 In the words of our sacrament hymn: We may not know, we cannot tell, What pains he had to bear, But we believe it was for us He hung and suffered there. 11 He suffered so much pain, indescribable anguish, and overpowering torture 12 for our sake. His profound suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, where He took upon Himself all the sins of all other mortals, caused Him to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit. 13 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly, 14 saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. 15 He was betrayed by Judas Iscariot and denied by Peter. He was mocked by the chief priests and officers; He was stripped, smitten, spat upon, and scourged in the judgment hall. 16 He was led to Golgotha, where nails were driven into His hands and feet. He hung in agony for hours on a wooden cross bearing the title written by Pilate: JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. 17 Darkness came, and about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? 18 No one could help Him; He was treading the winepress alone. 19 Then Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. 20 And one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. 21 The earth did quake and when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. 22 In the words of the hymn, Let me not forget, O Savior, / Thou didst bleed and die for me. 23 I wonder how many drops were shed for me. What He did could only be done by Deity. As the Only Begotten Son of the Father in the flesh, Jesus inherited divine attributes. He was the only person ever born into mortality who could perform this most significant and supernal act. As the only sinless Man who ever lived on this earth, He was not subject to spiritual death. Because of His godhood, He also possessed power over physical death. Thus He did for us what we cannot do for ourselves. He broke the cold grasp of death. He also made it possible for us to have the supreme and serene comfort of the gift of the Holy Ghost. 24 The Atonement and the Resurrection accomplish many things. The Atonement cleanses us of sin on condition of our repentance. Repentance is the condition on which mercy is extended. 25 After all

13 we can do to pay to the uttermost farthing and make right our wrongs, the Saviors grace is activated in our lives through the Atonement, which purifies us and can perfect us. 26 Christs Resurrection overcame death and gave us the assurance of life after death. Said He: I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. 27 The Resurrection is unconditional and applies to all who have ever lived and ever will live. 28 It is a free gift. President John Taylor described this well when he said: The tombs will be opened and the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and they shall come forth, they who have done good to the resurrection of the just, and they who have done evil to the resurrection of the unjust. 29 With reference to our mortal acts and the Atonement, President J. Reuben Clark Jr. contributed this valuable insight when he said: I feel that [the Savior] will give that punishment which is the very least that our transgression will justify. I believe that he will bring into his justice all of the infinite love and blessing and mercy and kindness and understanding which he has. And on the other hand, I believe that when it comes to making the rewards for our good conduct, he will give us the maximum that it is possible to give, having in mind the offense which we have committed. 30 As Isaiah wrote, if we will return unto the Lord, he will abundantly pardon. 31 We are commanded to remember the singular events of the mediation, Crucifixion, and the Atonement by partaking of the sacrament weekly. In the spirit of the sacramental prayers, we partake of the bread and water in remembrance of the body and the blood sacrificed for us, and we are to remember Him and keep His commandments so that we may always have His Spirit to be with us. Our Redeemer took upon Himself all the sins, pains, infirmities, and sicknesses of all who have ever lived and will ever live. 32 No one has ever suffered in any degree what He did. He knows our mortal trials by firsthand experience. It is a bit like us trying to climb Mount Everest and only getting up the first few feet. But He has climbed all 29,000 feet to the top of the mountain. He suffered more than any other mortal could. The Atonement not only benefits the sinner but also benefits those sinned againstthat is, the victims. By forgiving those who trespass against us (JST, Matt. 6:13) the Atonement brings a measure of peace and comfort to those who have been innocently victimized by the sins of others. The basic source for the healing of the soul is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. This is true whether it be from the pain of a personal tragedy or a terrible national calamity such as we have recently experienced in New York and Washington, D.C., and near Pittsburgh. A sister who had been through a painful divorce wrote of her experience in drawing from the Atonement. She said: Our divorce did not release me from the obligation to forgive. I truly wanted to do it, but it was as if I had been commanded to do something of which I was simply incapable. Her bishop gave her some sound advice: Keep a place in your heart for forgiveness, and when it comes, welcome it in. Many months passed as this struggle to forgive continued. She recalled: During those long, prayerful moments I tapped into a life-giving source of comfort from my loving Heavenly Father. I sense that he was not standing by glaring at me for not having accomplished forgiveness yet; rather he was sorrowing with me as I wept. In the final analysis, what happened in my heart is for me an amazing and miraculous evidence of the Atonement of Christ. I had always viewed the Atonement as a means of making repentance work for the sinner. I had not realized that it also makes it possible for the one sinned against to receive into his or her heart the sweet peace of forgiving. 33

14 The injured should do what they can to work through their trials, and the Savior will succor his people according to their infirmities. 34 He will help us carry our burdens. Some injuries are so hurtful and deep that they cannot be healed without help from a higher power and hope for perfect justice and restitution in the next life. Since the Savior has suffered anything and everything that we could ever feel or experience, 35 He can help the weak to become stronger. He has personally experienced all of it. He understands our pain and will walk with us even in our darkest hours. We long for the ultimate blessing of the Atonementto become one with Him, to be in His divine presence, to be called individually by name as He warmly welcomes us home with a radiant smile, beckoning us with open arms to be enfolded in His boundless love. 36 How gloriously sublime this experience will be if we can feel worthy enough to be in His presence! The free gift of His great atoning sacrifice for each of us is the only way we can be exalted enough to stand before Him and see Him face-to-face. The overwhelming message of the Atonement is the perfect love the Savior has for each and all of us. It is a love which is full of mercy, patience, grace, equity, long-suffering, and, above all, forgiving. The evil influence of Satan would destroy any hope we have in overcoming our mistakes. He would have us feel that we are lost and that there is no hope. In contrast, Jesus reaches down to us to lift us up. Through our repentance and the gift of the Atonement, we can prepare to be worthy to stand in His presence. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. NOTES
1. See Mosiah 4:67. 2. See Moro. 10:32. 3. See 2 Ne. 25:23. 4. 1 Cor. 15:22. 5. See Bible Dictionary, "Atonement," 617. 6. See Jacob 4:12. 7. 2 Ne. 25:23; emphasis added. 8. "Pres. Hinckley: Christmas a Result of Redeeming Christ," Church News, 10 Dec. 1994, 4. 9. Isa. 53:45. 10. See 1 Cor. 12:3. 11. "There Is a Green Hill Far Away," Hymns, no. 194. 12. John Taylor, Mediation and Atonement (1882), 150. 13. D&C 19:18. 14. Luke 22:44. 15. Matt. 26:42. 16. See Matt. 26:4775; 27:2831. 17. John 19:19. 18. Matt. 27:46. 19. See D&C 133:50. 20. Matt. 27:50. 21. John 19:34. 22. Matt. 27:51, 54. 23. "In Humility, Our Savior," Hymns, no. 172. 24. See John 15:26. 25. See Alma 42:2225. 26. See 2 Ne. 25:23; Alma 34:1516; 42:2224; Moro. 10:3233. 27. John 11:25. 28. See Acts 24:15. 29. The Gospel Kingdom, sel. G. Homer Durham (1943), 118. See also John 5:2829. 30. "As Ye Sow . . . ," Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year (3 May 1955), 7. 31. Isa. 55:7. 32. See Alma 7:1112. 33. Name Withheld, "My Journey to Forgiving," Ensign, Feb. 1997, 4243. 34. Alma 7:12. 35. See Alma 7:11. 36. See Alma 26:15; Morm. 5:11; 6:17; Moses 7

15

The Atonement
Elder Russell M. Nelson Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Tuesday, 25 June 2002 (SEMINAR FOR NEW MISSION PRESIDENTS2002)

My beloved brethren and sisters, as we share this precious time together today, we may resonate with the Book of Mormon prophet Jacob, who asked, Why not speak of the atonement of Christ?1 This we do when we recite our third Article of Faith: We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel. The Prophet Joseph Smith declared that, The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, . . . rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; . . . all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.2 Before we can comprehend the Atonement of Christ, however, we must first understand the Fall of Adam. And before we can understand the Fall of Adam, we must first understand the Creation. These three crucial components of the plan of salvation relate to each other.3 The Creation The Creation culminated with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. They were created in the image of God. With bodies of flesh and bone, they were amortal beingswithout mortalityand not subject to aging and death.4 And they would have had no children,5 nor experience lifes trials. (Please forgive me for mentioning children and the trials of life in the same breath.) The creation of Adam and Eve was a paradisiacal creation, one that required a significant change before they could fulfill the commandment to have children6 and thus provide earthly bodies for the premortal spirit sons and daughters of God. The Fall That brings us to the Fall. We know that Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.7 We know that the fall was necessary. We should also remember that God forgave Adam and Eve of their transgression.8 The Fall of Adam (and Eve) constituted the mortal creation and brought about the required changes in their bodies, including the circulation of blood and other modifications. They were now able to have children. They and their posterity also became subject to disease and death. And a loving Creator blessed them with healing power by which the life and function of precious physical bodies could be preserved. For example, bones, if broken, could become solid again. Lacerations of the flesh could heal themselves. And miraculously, leaks in the circulation could be sealed off by components activated from the very blood being lost.9 Think of the wonder of that power to heal! If you could create anything that could repair itself, you would have created life in perpetuity. For example, if you could create a chair that could repair its own broken leg, there would be no limit to the life of that chair. Many of you walk on legs that were once broken and do so because of your remarkable gift of healing. Even though our Creator endowed us with this incredible power, he consigned a counterbalancing condition to our bodies. It is the process of aging, complete with visible reminders that we are

16 mortal beings destined one day to leave this frail existence.10 Our bodies change every day. As we grow older, our broad chests and narrow waists have a tendency to trade places. We get wrinkles, lose color in our haireven the hair itselfto remind us that we are mortal children of God, with a manufacturers guarantee that we shall not be stranded upon planet Earth forever. Were it not for the Fall, our physicians, beauticians, and morticians would all be unemployed. Adam and Eveas mortal beingswere instructed to worship the Lord their God, and . . . offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord.11 They were further instructed that the life of the flesh is in the blood.12 The circulation of blood is essential for the health of organs of the body. For example, if blood flow to a leg is interrupted, gangrene may result. If blood flow to the brain is stopped, a stroke may result. If blood flow to a segment of the heart ceases, a heart attack may result. The advent of mortality, with its peculiarities of probation, procreation and circulation, enabled the plan of God to go forward. Eagerly awaiting premortal spirit sons and daughters of God could now obtain physical bodies. Those bodies were to be nourished by blood, protected by natural defense mechanisms, and blessed with healing power. Yet the aging process and the eventuality of death were essential to Gods great plan of happiness.13 We should always remember that mortal life, glorious as it is, was never the ultimate objective of Gods plan. Life and death here on planet Earth were merely means to an endnot the end for which we were sent. The Atonement That brings us to the Atonement. Paul said, As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.14 The Atonement of Jesus Christ became the immortal creation. He volunteered to answer the ends of a law previously transgressed.15 And by the shedding of His blood, His16 and our physical bodies could become perfected. They could again function without blood, just as Adams and Eves did in their paradisiacal form. Paul taught that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; . . . this mortal must put on immortality.17 This bodily change to a perfected state is requisite for us to dwell in the presence of God. Meaning of Atonement With this background in mind, let us ponder the special meaning of the word atonement. In the English language, the components are at-one-ment, suggesting that a person is at one with another. Other languages18 may employ words that connote either expiation or reconciliation. Expiation means to atone for. Reconciliation comes from Latin roots re, meaning again; con, meaning with; and sella, meaning seat. Reconciliation, therefore, literally means to sit again with. Additional enrichment is found in the study of the word atonement in the Semitic languages of Old Testament times. The Hebrew word now used for atonement is kippur, derived from kaphar, a verb that means to cover or to forgive.19 Closely related is the Arabic word kafat, meaning a close embraceno doubt related to the Egyptian ritual embrace. References to that embrace are evident in the Book of Mormon. One in Second Nephi states that the Lord hath redeemed my soul; I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.20 Another proffers the glorious hope of our being clasped in the arms of Jesus.21 I weep for joy when I contemplate the significance of it all. To be redeemedto be atonedis to be received in the close embrace of our Redeemer. What a privilege! In His embrace we can

17 receive His forgiveness. We can really be one with Him. What a comfort to those of us with loved ones who have already passed from our family circle through the doors of death! They are safe in His loving arms. Scriptures teach us much more about the word atonement. The Old Testament has many references to atonement, which called for the sacrifice of animals. Not just any animal would do. Special requirements included: The animal selected was the firstling of the flock, without blemish.22 The animals life was sacrificed by the shedding of its blood.23 The death of the animal must come without breaking a bone.24 And one animal could be sacrificed as a vicarious act for another.25 Note how the Atonement of Jesus Christ fulfilled each of these requisite patterns of the Old Testament. He was the firstborn Lamb of God, without blemish. He was sacrificed by the shedding of His blood. No bones of His body were brokenespecially noteworthy in that the two malefactors crucified with the Lord both had their legs broken.26 And His was a vicarious sacrifice for others. While the words atone or atonement, in any of their forms, appear only once in the King James translation of the New Testament,27 they appear 35 times in the Book of Mormon.28 As another testament of Jesus Christ, it sheds precious light on His Atonement, as do the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. Latter-day revelation has added much to our biblical base of understanding. Infinite Atonement We often speak of the Lords Atonement as infinite. But in the preparatory times of the Old Testament, the practice of atonement was finitemeaning it had an end. The practice was to be terminated by the definitive Atonement of Jesus Christ. His Atonement is truly infinitewithout an end.29 It was infinite in that all humankind would be saved from never-ending death. It was infinite in terms of His immense suffering. It was infinite in time, putting an end to the preceding prototype of animal sacrifice. It was infinite in scopeit was to be done once for all.30 And the mercy of the Atonement extends not only to an infinite number of people, but also to an infinite number of worlds created by Him.31 It was infinite beyond any human scale of measurement or mortal comprehension. Jesus was the only one who could offer such an infinite Atonement, since He was born of a mortal mother and an immortal Father. Because of that unique birthright, Jesus was an infinite Being. The Atonement Is the Gospel Jesus equated His Atonement with the gospel. While many of us use the word gospel rather broadly, Jesus was very specific. He said: Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto youthat I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me. And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross.32 Elsewhere He said, For this cause came I into the world.33 Have you ever wondered why the Lord declared that the Book of Mormon contains the fulness of the gospel?34 Because it explains the Atonementthe gospelmore fully.

18 The Ordeal of the Atonement The ordeal of the Atonement centered about the city of Jerusalem. There the greatest single act of love of all recorded history took place.35 Leaving the upper room, Jesus and His friends crossed the deep ravine east of the city and came to a garden of olive trees on the lower slopes of the Mount of Olives. There in the garden bearing the Hebrew name of Gethsemanemeaning oil-press olives had been beaten and pressed to provide oil and food. There at Gethsemane, the Lord suffered the pain of all men, that all . . . might repent and come unto him.36 There He took upon himself the weight of the sins of all mankind, bearing its massive load that caused Him to bleed from every pore.37 Later, He was beaten and scourged. A crown of sharp thorns was thrust upon His head as an additional form of torture.38 He was mocked and jeered. He suffered every indignity at the hands of His own people. I came unto my own, He said, and my own received me not.39 Instead of their warm embrace, He received their cold and cruel rejection. Then He was required to carry His own cross to the hill of Calvary, where He was nailed to that cross and made to suffer excruciating pain. There He said, I thirst.40 To a doctor of medicine, that expression is especially meaningful. Doctors know that when a patient loses a great deal of blood, invariably that patientif still consciouswith parched and shriveled lipscries out for water. Jesus declaration of thirst also fulfilled a prophecy from The Old TestamentPsalm 22, verse 15: My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. Even though the Father and the Son knew well in advance what was to be experienced, the actuality of it brought indescribable agony. [Jesus] said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.41 At the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?42 Then with the true manifestation of love from the Father to His Son, God withdrew His Spirit and allowed Jesus to complete His mission and win the victory of the Atonement alone. Jesus so complied with and completed the will of His Father. Three days laterprecisely as prophesiedHe rose from the grave. He became the first fruits of the Resurrection. He had accomplished the Atonement, which could give immortality and eternal life to all obedient human beings. All that the Fall allowed to go awry, the Atonement allowed to go aright. Centuries later, the risen Lord shared innermost recollections of this excruciating experience with the Prophet Joseph Smith, the record of which we read in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 19. The entire passage deserves your private pondering. I will merely quote from this plaintive expression of the Savior, beginning at verse 16: I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spiritand would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrinkNevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.43

19 Please note that the Saviors great gift of immortality is unconditional. It comes to all who have ever lived. But His greater gift of eternal life is conditional. It requires repentance and obedience to specific ordinances and covenants. It is no coincidence that all of the essential ordinances of the Church symbolize the Atonement. Baptism by immersion is symbolic of the death, burial, and Resurrection of the Redeemer. Partaking of the sacrament renews baptismal covenants and also renews our memory of the Saviors broken flesh and of His precious bloodshed for us. The ordinances of the temple symbolize our reconciliation with the Lord and seal families together forever. Obedience to the sacred covenants of the temple qualifies us for eternal life, which is the glory of God.44 Eternal life is the greatest gift of God to man45the object and end of our existence.46 The Atonement Enabled the Purpose of the Creation to Be Accomplished The Creation required the Fall. The Fall required the Atonement. The Atonement enabled the purpose of the Creation to be accomplished. Eternal life, made possible by the Atonement, is the ultimate purpose of the Creation. Or to phrase that statement in its negative form, if families were not sealed in holy temples, the whole earth would be utterly wasted.47 The purposes of the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement all converge on the sacred work done in temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The earth was created and the Church was restored to make possible the sealing of wife to husband, children to parents, families to progenitors, generations without end. This is the great latter-day work of which we are a part. That is why we have missionaries. That is why we have templesto bring the fullest blessings of the Atonement to faithful children of God. That is why we willingly respond to our own callings from the Lord. When we comprehend His voluntary Atonement, any sense of sacrifice on our part becomes completely overshadowed by an overpowering sense of gratitudesimply for the privilege of serving Him. Isaac Watts captured those feelings about our Saviors love when he wrote: Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were a present far too small; Love, so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all.48 I have committed my life to Him. You have committed your lives to Him. Together we are engaged in His holy work. I love you for it. And more importantly, He loves you for it. And now to each of you precious presidents and partners, I would like to invoke an apostolic blessing, that you may be true disciples of the Lord, feasting upon His words and applying His teachings into your lives. I bless you and your families with safety and health in your service, with success in your sacred responsibilities. I so bless you and bear my testimony as one of the special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world.49 I testify that He is the Son of the living God. Jesus is the Living Christour atoning Savior and Redeemer. This is His Church, restored in these latter days to gather Israel, to bless Gods children and to prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Lord. I so testify in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Footnotes
1. Jacob 4:12. 2. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 121. 3. The relationships of these components are found linked together in several scriptures, such as Alma 18:3439; Morm. 9:12; D&C 20:1724. 4. See Alma 12:2123. 5. 2 Ne. 2:23. 6. See Gen. 1:28; Moses 2:28. 7. 2 Ne. 2:25. 8. See Moses 6:53.

20
9. Such as platelets and thrombin. 10. Eliza R. Snow, O My Father, Hymns, no. 292. 11. Moses 5:5. 12. Lev. 17:11. 13. Alma 42:8. 14. 1 Cor. 15:22; see also Mosiah 16:78. 15. See 2 Ne. 2:7; also Behold the Great Redeemer Die, Hymns, no. 191. 16. See Luke 13:32. 17. 1 Cor. 15:5053. 18. Such as Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, and German. 19. We might even surmise that if an individual qualifies for the blessings of the Atonement (through obedience to the principles and ordinances of the gospel), Jesus will cover our past transgressions from the Father. 20. 2 Ne. 1:15. 21. Morm. 5:11; additional examples are in Alma 5:33; 34:16. 22. See Lev. 27:26; 5:18. 23. See Lev. 9:18. 24. See Ex. 12:46; Num. 9:12. 25. See Lev. 16:10. 26. See John 19:3133. 27. See Rom. 5:11. 28. Atonement = 24; plus atone, atoning, or atoned = 8; plus atoneth = 3; total 35 times. 29. See 2 Ne. 9:7; 25:16; Alma 34:10, 12, 14. 30. See Heb. 10:10. 31. See D&C 76:24; Moses 1:33. 32. 3 Ne. 27:13. 33. John 18:37. 34. See D&C 27:5; 135:3. 35. See John 3:16. 36. D&C 18:11. 37. See Luke 22:44; D&C 19:18. 38. See Matt. 27:29; Mark 15:17; John 19:2, 5. 39. 3 Ne. 9:16; see also D&C 6:21; 10:57; 11:29; 39:3; 45:8; 133:66. 40. John 19:28. 41. Mark 14:36. The word Abba is significant. Ab means father; Abba is an endearing and tender form of that term. The nearest English equivalent might be Daddy. 42. Mark 15:34. 43. D&C 19:1619. 44. See Moses 1:39. 45. See D&C 14:7. 46. Bruce R. McConkie, The Promised Messiah (1978), 568. 47. See D&C 2:3; 138:48. 48. When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, Isaac Watts. 49. D&C 107:23.

21

The Need of A Redeemer,


James E. Talmage Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Jesus the Christ (chapter 3)

We have heretofore shown that the entire human race existed as spirit-beings in the primeval world, and that for the purpose of making possible to them the experiences of mortality this earth was created. They were endowed with the powers of agency, or choice, while yet but spirits; and the divine plan provided that they be free born in the flesh, heirs to the inalienable birthright of liberty to choose and to act for themselves in mortality. It is undeniably essential to the eternal progression of Gods children that they be subjected to the influences of both good and evil, that they be tried and tested and proved withal, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them. Free agency is an indispensable element of such a test. The Eternal Father well understood the diverse natures and varied capacities of his spirit-offspring; and his infinite foreknowledge made plain to him, even in the beginning, that in the school of life some of his children would succeed and others would fail; some would be faithful, others false; some would choose the good, others the evil; some would seek the way of life while others would elect to follow the road to destruction. He further foresaw that death would enter the world, and that the possession of bodies by his children would be of but brief individual duration. He saw that his commandments would be disobeyed and his law violated; and that men, shut out from his presence and left to themselves, would sink rather than rise, would retrogress rather than advance, and would be lost to the heavens. It was necessary that a means of redemption be provided, whereby erring man might make amends, and by compliance with established law achieve salvation and eventual exaltation in the eternal worlds. The power of death was to be overcome, so that, though men would of necessity die, they would live anew, their spirits clothed with immortalized bodies over which death could not again prevail. Let not ignorance and thoughtlessness lead us into the error of assuming that the Fathers foreknowledge as to what would be, under given conditions, determined that such must be. It was not his design that the souls of mankind be lost; on the contrary it was and is his work and glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Nevertheless he saw the evil into which his children would assuredly fall, and with infinite love and mercy did he ordain means of averting the dire effect, provided the transgressor would elect to avail himself thereof. The offer of the firstborn Son to establish through his own ministry among men the gospel of salvation, and to sacrifice himself, through labor, humiliation and suffering even unto death, was accepted and made the foreordained plan of mans redemption from death, of his eventual salvation from the effects of sin, and of his possible exaltation through righteous achievement. In accordance with the plan adopted in the council of the Gods, man was created as an embodied spirit; his tabernacle of flesh was composed of the elements of earth. He was given commandment and law, and was free to obey or disobey with the just and inevitable condition that he should enjoy or suffer the natural results of his choice. Adam, the first man placed upon the earth in pursuance of the established plan, and Eve who was given unto him as companion and associate, indispensable to him in the appointed mission of peopling the earth, disobeyed the express commandment of God and so brought about the fall of man, whereby the mortal state, of which death is an essential element was inaugurated. It is not proposed to consider here at length the doctrine of the fall; for the present argument it is sufficient to establish the fact of the momentous occurrence and its portentous consequences. The woman was deceived, and in direct violation of counsel and commandment partook of the food that had been forbidden, as a result of which act her body became degenerate and subject to death. Adam realized the disparity that had

22 been brought between him and his companion, and with some measure of understanding followed her course, thus becoming her partner in bodily degeneracy. Note in this matter the words of Paul the apostle: Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. The man and the woman had now become mortal; through indulgence in food unsuited to their nature and condition and against which they had been specifically warned, and as the inevitable result of their disobeying the divine law and commandment, they became liable to the physical ailments and bodily frailties to which mankind has since been the natural heir. Those bodies, which before the fall had been perfect in form and function, were now subjects for eventual dissolution or death. The arch-tempter through whose sophistries, half-truths and infamous falsehoods, Eve had been beguiled, was none other than Satan, or Lucifer, that rebellious and fallen son of the morning, whose proposal involving the destruction of mans liberty had been rejected in the council of the heavens, and who had been cast out into the earth, he and all his angels as unembodied spirits, never to be tabernacled in bodies of their own. As an act of diabolic reprisal following his rejection in the council, his defeat by Michael and the heavenly hosts, and his ignominious expulsion from heaven, Satan planned to destroy the bodies in which the faithful spirits those who had kept their first estate would be born; and his beguilement of Eve was but an early stage of that infernal scheme. Death has come to be the universal heritage; it may claim its victim in infancy or youth, in the period of lifes prime, or its summons may be deferred until the snows of age have gathered upon the hoary head; it may befall as the result of accident or disease, by violence, or as we say, through natural causes; but come it must, as Satan well knows; and in this knowledge is his present though but temporary triumph. But the purposes of God, as they ever have been and ever shall be, are infinitely superior to the deepest designs of men or devils; and the Satanic machinations to make death inevitable, perpetual and supreme were provided against even before the first man had been created in the flesh. The atonement to be wrought by Jesus the Christ was ordained to overcome death and to provide a means of ransom from the power of Satan. As the penalty incident to the fall came upon the race through an individual act, it would be manifestly unjust, and therefore impossible as part of the divine purpose, to make all men suffer the results thereof without provision for deliverance. Moreover, since by the transgression of one man sin came into the world and death was entailed upon all, it is consistent with reason that the atonement thus made necessary should be wrought by one. Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. . . . Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. So taught the apostle Paul; and, further, For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. The atonement was plainly to be a vicarious sacrifice, voluntary and love-inspired on the Saviors part, universal in its application to mankind so far as men shall accept the means of deliverance thus placed within their reach. For such a mission only one who was without sin could be eligible. Even the altar victims of ancient Israel offered as a provisional propitiation for the offenses of the people under the Mosaic law had to be clean and devoid of spot or blemish; otherwise they were unacceptable and the attempt to offer them was sacrilege. Jesus Christ was the only Being suited to the requirements of the great sacrifice: (1) As the one and only sinless Man; (2) As the Only Begotten of the Father and therefore the only Being born to earth possessing in their fulness the attributes of both Godhood and manhood; (3) As the One who had been chosen in the heavens and foreordained to this service. What other man has been without sin, and therefore wholly exempt from the dominion of Satan, and to whom death, the wage of sin, is not naturally due? Had Jesus Christ met death as

23 other men have done the result of the power that Satan has gained over them through their sins his death would have been but an individual experience, expiatory in no degree of any faults or offenses but his own. Christs absolute sinlessness made him eligible, his humility and willingness rendered him acceptable to the Father, as the atoning sacrifice whereby propitiation could be made for the sins of all men. What other man has lived with power to withstand death, over whom death could not prevail except through his own submission? Yet Jesus Christ could not be slain until his hour had come, and that, the hour in which he voluntarily surrendered his life, and permitted his own decease through an act of will. Born of a mortal mother he inherited the capacity to die; begotten by an immortal Sire he possessed as a heritage the power to withstand death indefinitely. He literally gave up his life; to this effect is his own affirmation: Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. And further: For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself. Only such an One could conquer death; in none but Jesus the Christ was realized this requisite condition of a Redeemer of the world. What other man has come to earth with such appointment, clothed with the authority of such foreordination? The atoning mission of Jesus Christ was no self-assumption. True, he had offered himself when the call was made in the heavens; true, he has been accepted, and in due time came to earth to carry into effect the terms of that acceptance; but he was chosen by One greater than himself. The burden of his confession of authority was ever to the effect that he operated under the direction of the Father, as witness these words: I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will but the will of the Father which hath sent me. Through the atonement accomplished by Jesus Christ a redeeming service, vicariously rendered in behalf of mankind, all of whom have become estranged from God by the effects of sin both inherited and individually incurred the way is opened for a reconciliation whereby man may come again into communion with God, and be made fit to dwell anew and forever in the presence of his Eternal Father. This basal thought is admirably implied in our English word, atonement, which, as its syllables attest, is at-one-ment, denoting reconciliation, or the bringing into agreement of those who have been estranged. The effect of the atonement may be conveniently considered as twofold: (1) The universal redemption of the human race from death invoked by the fall of our first parents; and, (2) Salvation, whereby means of relief from the results of individual sin are provided. The victory over death was made manifest in the resurrection of the crucified Christ; he was the first to pass from death to immortality and so is justly known as the first fruits of them that slept. That the resurrection of the dead so inaugurated is to be extended to every one who has or shall have lived is proved by an abundance of scriptural evidence. Following our Lords resurrection, others who had slept in the tomb arose and were seen of many, not as spirit-apparitions but as resurrected beings possessing immortalized bodies: And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. Those who thus early came forth are spoken of as the saints; and other scriptures confirm the fact that only the righteous shall be brought forth in the earlier stages of the resurrection yet to be consummated; but that all the dead shall in turn resume bodies of flesh and bones is placed beyond doubt by the revealed word. The Saviors direct affirmation ought to be conclusive: Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice

24 of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. . . . Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. The doctrine of a universal resurrection was taught by the apostles of old, as also by the Nephite prophets; and the same is confirmed by revelation incident to the present dispensation. Even the heathens who have not known God shall be brought forth from their graves; and, inasmuch as they have lived and died in ignorance of the saving law, a means of making the plan of salvation known unto them is provided. And then shall the heathen nations be redeemed, and they that knew no law shall have part in the first resurrection. Jacob, a Nephite prophet, taught the universality of the resurrection, and set forth the absolute need of a Redeemer, without whom the purposes of God in the creation of man would be rendered futile. His words constitute a concise and forceful summary of revealed truth directly bearing upon our present subject: For as death hath passed upon all men, to fulfil the merciful plan of the great Creator, there must needs be a power of resurrection, and the resurrection must needs come unto man by reason of the fall; and the fall came by reason of transgression; and because man became fallen, they were cut off from the presence of the Lord; wherefore it must needs be an infinite atonement; save it should be an infinite atonement, this corruption could not put on incorruption. Wherefore, the first judgment which came upon man, must needs have remained to an endless duration. And if so, this flesh must have laid down to rot and to crumble to its mother earth, to rise no more. O the wisdom of God! his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more, our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more. And our spirits must have become like unto him, 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; yea, to that being who beguiled our first parents; who transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light, and stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations of murder, and all manner of secret works of darkness. O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit. And because of the way of deliverance of our God, the Holy One of Israel, this death, of which I have spoken, which is the temporal, shall deliver up its dead; which death is the grave. And this death of which I have spoken, which is the spiritual death, shall deliver up its dead; which spiritual death is hell; wherefore, death and hell must deliver up their dead, and hell must deliver up its captive spirits, and the grave must deliver up its captive bodies, and the bodies and the spirits of men will be restored one to the other; and it is by the power of the resurrection of the Holy One of Israel. O how great the plan of our God! For on the other hand, the paradise of God must deliver up the spirits of the righteous, and the grave deliver up the body of the righteous; and the spirit and the body is restored to itself again, and all men become incorruptible, and immortal, and they are living souls, having a perfect knowledge like unto us in the flesh; save it be that our knowledge shall be perfect. (2 Nephi 9:6-13).

25 The application of the atonement to individual transgression, whereby the sinner may obtain absolution through compliance with the laws and ordinances embodied in the gospel of Jesus Christ, is conclusively attested by scripture. Since forgiveness of sins can be secured in none other way, there being either in heaven or earth no name save that of Jesus Christ whereby salvation shall come unto the children of men, every soul stands in need of the Saviors mediation, since all are sinners. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, said Paul of old and John the apostle added his testimony in these words: If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. Who shall question the justice of God, which denies salvation to all who will not comply with the prescribed conditions on which alone it is declared obtainable? Christ is the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him, and God will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life: but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil. Such then is the need of a Redeemer, for without him mankind would forever remain in a fallen state, and as to hope of eternal progression would be inevitably lost. The mortal probation is provided as an opportunity for advancement; but so great are the difficulties and the dangers, so strong is the influence of evil in the world, and so weak is man in resistance thereto, that without the aid of a power above that of humanity no soul would find its way back to God from whom it came. The need of a Redeemer lies in the inability of man to raise himself from the temporal to the spiritual plane, from the lower kingdom to the higher. In this conception we are not without analogies in the natural world. We recognize a fundamental distinction between inanimate and living matter, between the inorganic and the organic, between the lifeless mineral on the one hand and the living plant or animal on the other. Within the limitations of its order the dead mineral grows by accretion of substance, and may attain a relatively perfect condition of structure and form as is seen in the crystal. But mineral matter, though acted upon favorably by the forces of nature light, heat, electric energy and others can never become a living organism; nor can the dead elements, through any process of chemical combination dissociated from life, enter into the tissues of the plant as essential parts thereof. But the plant, which is of a higher order, sends its rootlets into the earth, spreads its leaves in the atmosphere, and through these organs absorbs the solutions of the soil, inspires the gases of the air, and front such lifeless materials weaves the tissue of its wondrous structure. No mineral particle, no dead chemical substance has ever been made a constituent of organic tissue except through the agency of life. We may, perhaps with profit, carry the analogy a step farther. The plant is unable to advance its own tissue to the animal plane. Though it be the recognized order of nature that the animal kingdom is dependent upon the vegetable kingdom for its sustenance, the substance of the plant may become part of the animal organism only as the latter reaches down from its higher plane and by its own vital action incorporates the vegetable compounds with itself. In turn, animal matter can never become, even transitorily, part of a human body, except as the living man assimilates it, and by the vital processes of his own existence lifts, for the time being, the substance of the animal that supplied him food to the higher plane of his own existence. The comparison herein employed is admittedly defective if carried beyond reasonable limits of application; for the raising of mineral matter to the plane of the plant, vegetable tissue to the level of the animal, and the elevation of either to the human plane, is but a temporary change; with the dissolution of the higher tissues the material thereof falls again to the level of the inanimate and the dead. But, as a means of illustration the analogy may not be wholly without value.

26 So, for the advancement of man from his present fallen and relatively degenerate state to the higher condition of spiritual life, a power above his own must cooperate. Through the operation of the laws obtaining in the higher kingdom man may be reached and lifted; himself he cannot save by his own unaided effort. A Redeemer and Savior of mankind is beyond all question essential to the realization of the plan of the Eternal Father, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man; and that Redeemer and Savior is Jesus the Christ, beside whom there is and can be none other. Notes To Chapter 3 (1) Gods foreknowledge is not a determining cause. Respecting the foreknowledge of God, let it not be said that divine omniscience is of itself a determining cause whereby events are inevitably brought to pass. A mortal father, who knows the weaknesses and frailties of his son, may by reason of that knowledge sorrowfully predict the calamities and sufferings awaiting his wayward boy. He may foresee in that sons future a forfeiture of blessings that could have been won, loss of position, self-respect, reputation and honor; even the dark shadows of a felons cell and the night of a drunkards grave may appear in the saddening visions of that fond fathers soul; yet, convinced by experience of the impossibility of bringing about that sons reform, he foresees the dread developments of the future, and he finds but sorrow and anguish in his knowledge. Can it be said that the fathers foreknowledge is a cause of the sons sinful life? The son, perchance, has reached his maturity; he is the master of his own destiny; a free agent unto himself. The father is powerless to control by force or to direct by arbitrary command; and, while he would gladly make any effort or sacrifice to save his son from the fate impending, he fears for what seems to be an awful certainty. But surely that thoughtful, prayerful, loving parent does not, because of his knowledge, contribute to the sons waywardness. To reason otherwise would be to say that a neglectful father, who takes not the trouble to study the nature and character of his son, who shuts his eyes to sinful tendencies, and rests in careless indifference as to the probable future, will by his very heartlessness be benefitting his child, because his lack of forethought cannot operate as a contributory cause to dereliction. Our Heavenly Father has a full knowledge of the nature and disposition of each of his children, a knowledge gained by long observation and experience in the past eternity of our primeval childhood; a knowledge compared with which that gained by earthly parents through mortal experience with their children is infinitesimally small. By reason of that surpassing knowledge, God reads the future of child and children, of men individually and of men collectively as communities and nations; he knows what each will do under given conditions, and sees the end from the beginning. His foreknowledge is based on intelligence and reason. He foresees the future as a state which naturally and surely will be; not as one which must be because he has arbitrarily willed that it shall be. James E. Talmage, The Great Apostasy, 19-20. (2) Man is free to choose for himself. The father of souls has endowed his children with the divine birthright of free agency; he does not and will not control them by arbitrary force; he impels no man toward sin; he compels none to righteousness. Unto man has been given freedom to act for himself; and, associated with this independence, is the fact of strict responsibility and the assurance of individual accountability. In the judgment with which we shall be judged, all the conditions and circumstances of our lives shall be considered. The inborn tendencies due to heredity, the effect of environment whether conducive to good or evil, the wholesome teachings of youth, or the absence of good instruction these and all other contributory elements must be taken into account in the rendering of a just verdict as to the souls guilt or innocence. Nevertheless, the divine wisdom makes plain what will be the result with given conditions operating on known natures and dispositions of men, while every individual is free to choose good or evil within the limits of the

27 many conditions existing and operative. The Great Apostasy (21); see also Articles of Faith, (74-75). (3) The fall was a process of physical degeneracy. A modern revelation given to the Church in 1833 (D&C 89), prescribes rules for right living, particularly as regards the uses of stimulants, narcotics, and foods unsuited to the body. Concerning the physical causes by which the fall was brought about, and the close relation between those causes and current violations of the Word of Wisdom embodied in the revelation referred to above, the following is in point. This, [the Word of Wisdom] like other revelations that have come in the present dispensation, is not wholly new. It is as old as the human race. The principle of the Word of Wisdom was revealed unto Adam. All the essentials of the Word of Wisdom were made known unto him in his immortal state, before he had taken into his body those things that made of it a thing of earth. He was warned against that very practice. He was not told to treat his body as something to be tortured. He was not told to look upon it as the fakir of India has come to look upon his body, or professes to look upon it, as a thing to be utterly condemned; but he was told that he must not take into that body certain things which were there at hand. He was warned that, if he did, his body would lose the power which it then held of living for ever, and that he would become subject to death. It was pointed out to him, as it has been pointed out to you, that there are many good fruits to be plucked, to be eaten, to be enjoyed. We believe in enjoying good food. We think that these good things are given us of God. We believe in getting all the enjoyment out of eating that we can; and, therefore, we should avoid gluttony, and we should avoid extremes in all our habits of eating; and as was told unto Adam, so is it told unto us: Touch not these things, for in the day that thou doest it thy life shall be shortened and thou shalt die. Here let me say that therein consisted the fall the eating of things unfit, the taking into the body of the things that made of that body a thing of earth: and I take this occasion to raise my voice against the false interpretation of scripture, which has been adopted by certain people, and is current in their minds, and is referred to in a hushed and half-secret way, that the fall of man consisted in some offense against the laws of chastity and virtue. Such a doctrine is an abomination. What right have we to turn the scriptures from their proper sense and meaning? What right have we to declare that God meant not what he said? The fall was a natural process, resulting through the incorporation into the bodies of our first parents of the things that came from food unfit, through the violation of the command of God regarding what they should eat. Dont go around whispering that the fall consisted in the mother of the race losing her chastity and her virtue. It is not true; the human race is not born of fornication. These bodies that are given unto us are given in the way that God has provided. Let it not be said that the patriarch of the race, who stood with the gods before he came here upon the earth, and his equally royal consort, were guilty of any such foul offense. The adoption of that belief has led many to excuse departures from the path of chastity and the path of virtue, by saying that it is the sin of the race, that it is as old as Adam. It was not introduced by Adam. It was not committed by Eve. It was the introduction of the devil and came in order that he might sow the seeds of early death in the bodies of men and women, that the race should degenerate as it has degenerated whenever the laws of virtue and of chastity have been transgressed. Our first parents were pure and noble, and when we pass behind the veil we shall perhaps learn something of their high estate, more than we know now. But be it known that they were pure; they were noble. It is true that they disobeyed the law of God, in eating things they were told not to eat; but who amongst you can rise up and condemn? From an address by the author at the Eighty-fourth Semiannual Conference of the Church, October 6, 1913; Conference Report, 118-19. (4) Christ wrought redemption from the fall. The Savior thus becomes master of the situation the debt is paid, the redemption made, the covenant fulfilled, justice satisfied, the will of God done,

28 and all power is now given into the hands of the Son of God the power of the resurrection, the power of the redemption, the power of salvation, the power to enact laws for the carrying out and accomplishment of this design. Hence life and immortality are brought to light, the gospel is introduced, and he becomes the author of eternal life and exaltation. He is the Redeemer, the Resurrector, the Savior of man and the world; and he has appointed the law of the gospel as the medium which must be complied with in this world or the next, as he complied with his Fathers law; hence he that believeth shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned. The plan, the arrangement, the agreement, the covenant was made, entered into and accepted before the foundation of the world; it was pre-figured by sacrifices, and was carried out and consummated on the cross. Hence being the mediator between God and man, he becomes by right the dictator and director on earth and in heaven for the living and for the dead, for the past, the present and the future, pertaining to man as associated with this earth or the heavens, in time or eternity, the Captain of our salvation, the Apostle and High-Priest of our profession, the Lord and Giver of life. John Taylor, Mediation and Atonement, 171. (5) Redemption from the effect of the fall Mormonism accepts the doctrine of the fall, and the account of the transgression in Eden, as set forth in Genesis; but it affirms that none but Adam is or shall be answerable for Adams disobedience; that mankind in general are absolutely absolved from responsibility for that original sin, and that each shall account for his own transgressions alone; that the fall was foreknown of God, that it was turned to good effect by which the necessary condition of mortality should be inaugurated; and that a Redeemer was provided before the world was; that general salvation, in the sense of redemption from the effects of the fall, comes to all without their seeking it; but that individual salvation or rescue from the effects of personal sins is to be acquired by each for himself by faith and good works through the redemption wrought by Jesus Christ. James E. Talmage, Story and Philosophy of Mormonism, 111.

29

Testifying of the Great and Glorious Atonement


By Elder Neal A. Maxwell Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
From a Church satellite broadcast on conversion and retention given at the Provo Missionary Training Center 29 August 1999.(Ensign, Oct. 2001)

The very brevity of the missionary discussions reminds us of what a harvest basket the Restoration really is. Jesus asks us, when we give, to give in good measure, using the metaphor of a harvest basket which is pressed down, shaken together, and running over (see Luke 6:38). And out of that marvelous harvest basket we are to teach but a few key truths and concepts. This reality is a powerful reminder about the need for the Spirit to impel the message we give into the hearts and minds of peoplebecause the great things of eternity are being conveyed in some very brief teaching moments. Hence the need for the Spirit to accompany what we say. When we share the gospel as members or full-time missionaries, our friends and investigators need to feel our convictions and testimonies about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Yes, we are teaching a deep concept, but we should also be sharing a deep conviction about that powerful doctrine. The most important thing we can do in preparing individuals to receive the full blessings of the Atonement is to understand it and to believe in it ourselves. By understanding and believing in the Atonement personally, you and I can teach and testify of the Atonement with greater gratitude, greater love, and greater power. Repentance Made Possible Jesus glorious Atonement is the central act in all of human history! It provides the universal Resurrection; it makes our personal repentance and forgiveness possible. Since all of us have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), the need for repentance is universal. And mercifully, Christs Atonement fits sins of all sizeswhether the smaller sins of omission or major transgressions. Hence, when we turn away from our sins, the required arc of that turning varies from person to person, but it is necessary for all. The Greek word of which repentance is the English translation denotes a change of mind, i.e., a fresh view about God, about oneself, and about the world (Bible Dictionary, Repentance, 760). This means we are to change our thoughts and then behavior until we are turned away from our sins and are aligned with Gods commandments. This change of mind means that we are actually progressing toward what Paul called the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). Repentance is thus a continuing process in which each of us needs to draw on the Atonement for real relief, real forgiveness, and real progress. Christ gave us freely an enormous and unconditional gift: the universal Resurrection. However, Christs proffer of the further gift of eternal life is conditional. As our Lawgiver, He sets the terms for receiving this great gift (see 3 Ne. 11:31-41; 3 Ne. 15:9-10; 3 Ne. 27:13-21). Therefore, our individual progress toward eternal life requires us to be willing to submit to Christ (see Mosiah

30 3:19). Then, if we are truly faithful and endure to the end, our wills can finally be swallowed up in the will of the Father (see Mosiah 15:7; 3 Ne. 11:11). However, to begin such a significant transformation, we must first give away all [our] sins (Alma 22:18), and who else will take them anyway except Jesus? (see Alma 36:18-20). No wonder there is such an urgency underlying our need to share the gospel! President Howard W. Hunter (1907-95) declared: A great indicator of ones personal conversion is the desire to share the gospel with others. For this reason the Lord gave an obligation to every member of the Church to be a missionary. Those of us who have partaken of the Atonement are under obligation to bear faithful testimony of our Lord and Savior. For he has said, I will forgive you of your sins with this commandmentthat you remain steadfast in your minds in solemnity and the spirit of prayer, in bearing testimony to all the world of those things which are communicated unto you (D&C 84:61) (The Atonement and Missionary Work, seminar for new mission presidents, 21 June 1994, 2). Thus, all of us are to remain steadfast in bearing testimony to all the world of those things which are communicated unto [us] (D&C 84:61). The forgiveness we need is correlated with our steadfastness in the work of the Lord. Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost Real repentance, therefore, requires the emancipating effects of baptism; it washes us clean. Think about it: how merciful when our yesterdays no longer hold our tomorrows hostage! After the cleansing and emancipating effects of baptism, we experience further fortifying effects by receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. We desperately need the Holy Ghost to help us choose the right. He will also help by preaching to us necessary sermonettes from the pulpit of memory. He will also testify to us of the truths of the gospel. Given where we must go, we need the Holy Ghost as a constant companion, not just as an occasional influence. We can also be further fortified after baptism by regularly partaking of the sacrament as we reflect on the Atonement and renew our covenants, including those made at the time of baptism. This process of emancipation and fortification is made possible by applying Jesus Atonement to ourselves and to those we teach. We should regularly apply the Atonement for self-improvement, while enduring to the end. If we choose the course of steady improvement, which is clearly the course of discipleship, we will become more righteous and can move from what may be initially a mere acknowledgment of Jesus on to admiration of Jesus, then on to adoration of Jesus, and finally to emulation of Jesus. In that process of striving to become more like Him through steady improvement, we must be in the posture of repentance, even if no major transgression is involved. Developing the Attributes of Christ As we turn from transgression and strive to become more loving, more meek, more patient, and more submissive, the remaining sins, for most of us, are the less visible sins of omission. However,

31 these must also be given away. Jesus has designated the attributes in that process for which we are to seek, such as faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, and patience. He further denotes the attributes of faith, hope, and charity, and having an eye single to the glory of God, and tells us that these qualify us for doing the Lords work (see D&C 4:5-7; 2 Pet. 1:4-8). No wonder we are admonished to ask, seek, and knock in order to receive these gifts of the Spirit so that we can be much more effective in doing this grand work of the Lord. In this process of discipleship, we must never forget that the Atonement continues to be absolutely vital for all of us! Jesus instructs us, for instance, that we are to come unto Him (see Alma 5:34; Matt. 11:28-30). However, as you have noticed, when we strive to come unto Him, we come to see how He will then make our weaknesses better known to us, sometimes painfully, in order to help us to progress. Christ even promises us that He will make some weaknesses into strengths (see Ether 12:27). As to the location, nation, time, and circumstances in which our personal discipleship is placed, we should, as the scriptures say, be content with the things allotted to us (see Alma 29:3, 6). Yet there will be an accompanying divine discontent in order to spur us on as we strive to become more like Jesus. Whether the needed attribute is good cheer, patience, submissiveness, meekness, or love, this process requires the steady help of the Holy Ghost. He will prompt us to repent further, such as when we are too proud, too impatient, or less loving than we should be, including in marriages, missionary companionships, and other relationships. However, since such progress is not cost-free, we also need the Holy Ghost to comfort us as we pay the price. Yes, it is by means of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, mercifully, that we can be forgiven. But it is through the Holy Ghost that we can know that we have been forgivena tremendously important knowledge for us to achieve. So we need not despair nor live a life in which we droop in sin (2 Ne. 4:28). Indeed, we can press forward with a brightness of hope (2 Ne. 31:20). Christs Second Coming and the Resurrection of Mankind If we need any additional reminders as to the importance of our further developing the virtues of Christ, we should contemplate His glorious Second Coming. Then, among other things, the stars will fall dramatically from their places in heaven. Yet there will be no mortal comments about that, for the mortal explanations and exclamations will be about Jesus and will be words of praise for two of His many attributes: His goodness and His loving-kindness (see D&C 133:52). Remember, not only are we to have faith in Christ, but we are to strive to become more like Him in our goodness and loving-kindness (see 3 Ne. 27:27). At that Second Coming, Jesus will not mention His having endured the crown of thorns, the awful scourging, the crucifixion, the vinegar and gall. He will, however, cite His awful aloneness: And his voice shall be heard: I have trodden the wine-press alone, and none were with me (D&C 133:50; see also Isa. 63:3). No wonder the Atonement lies at the very heart of Christs gospel. In fact, the Restorations central messages are really about Jesus and the Resurrection, and they fulfill this prophecy given to Enoch anciently:

32 And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth. Why? To bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men (Moses 7:62). Nothing is more central. Yes, God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son (John 3:16). Jesus and His Atonement represent the most profound expression of Heavenly Fathers love for His children. How important the free gift of the Resurrection is for all mankind, and the proffer of the greatest gift which even God can give eternal life for those willing to so live and to so qualify (see D&C 6:13; D&C 14:7). Adversity In this process of working out our salvation, adversity will provide part of the perspiration. Again and again for you and me, experience upon experience, we will have cause to ponder upon and rejoice in the great Atonement. For me, several scriptures have proved to be especially relevant and reassuring. When read aloud with and by some who suffer, these verses have been far better than anything I could say, especially to those valiant souls who have reached that point where they are sick of being sick. First, consider what a perplexed but remarkable Nephi said: I know that [God] loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things (1 Ne. 11:17). We really do not need to know the meaning of all things if we know God loves us! Likewise, our submissiveness to Him needs to grow, as in the words of King Benjamin, in order to become a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and [become] as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father (Mosiah 3:19). King Benjamins use of the word inflict suggests to us customized challenges and tutoring which will require from us special submissiveness. Similarly, our knowing of Jesus perfect empathy for us individually will help us greatly to endure our pains of various kinds. Christ shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities (Alma 7:11-12). Jesus fully understands! His empathy is perfect! He knows how to help us! Blessings of the Atonement In summation, the Atonement of Jesus Christ blesses us in so many ways. Through it and it alone, a remission of our sins, bringing the needed emancipation discussed earlier, can occur. Likewise, the Atonement makes significant personal progress possible by what the Book of Mormon calls faith unto repentance in Jesus, in the Atonement, and in the Fathers plan of salvation (see Alma 34:15-17). Otherwise, individuals who do not have faith unto repentance will

33 wrongly reason, Why bother to repent? Little wonder the scriptures say that human despair cometh because of iniquity (Moro. 10:22). The Atonement, instead, can bring us a brightness of hope even amid our losses, crosses, sorrows, and disappointments (2 Ne. 31:20). The spiritual submissiveness which is central to the blessings of the Atonement was well exemplified by Melissa Howes as she led her family in prayer a short while before her father died of cancer. Melissa was only 9 and her father 43. Consider unselfish Melissa Howes pleading, in her own words as reported to me by her mother: Heavenly Father, bless my daddy, and if you need to take him and need him more than us, you can have him. We want him, but Thy will be done. And please help us not to be mad at you (letter from Christie Howes, 25 Feb. 1998). How many individuals, bereft of such an understanding of the plan of salvation, are angry with God instead of being grateful to Him and to Jesus for the glorious Atonement? Not only is the Atonement the grand expression of Heavenly Father and Jesus love for us, but through it we can come to know of Their personal love for us. The Influence of the Spirit of the Lord We must never underestimate the power of the Spirit to stir peoples souls beyond any teaching capacity or skills we may have. As you know, such occurred with Alma when he was in his extremity. And what did he remember? He said he remembered the words of his father about the Atonement of Jesus and said, My mind caught hold upon this thought (see Alma 36:17-18). The Spirit can help those to whom you testify to likewise catch hold of your words in a way that their minds and hearts will grasp them, especially when those words concern the deep doctrines of the kingdom, like the Atonement. In another inspirational moment that reflects cumulative teaching, mothers of the Nephite stripling warriors were aware that their sons had been given special promises before they went off to war. They were not as spiritually mature as their mothers, yet these dramatic promises were such that they were sustained by them. And we read that they did not doubt [their] mothers knew it (Alma 56:48). Some of those whom you teach, under the direction of the Spirit and in like manner, will feel the power of your words about the Atonement and the restored gospel, and they will not doubt that you know it! These individuals are, to use Almas phrase, in a preparation to hear the word (Alma 32:6). The Glorious Atonement I give you my testimony of the glory and the reality of the great and glorious Atonement. I praise Jesus for enduring what He endured and for descending below all things in order to comprehend all things. I praise the Father for all that He experienced as He watched His Firstborn, His Beloved, and His Only Begotten, with whom He was well pleased, suffer all that Jesus suffered. I praise the Father for that divine empathy and whatever He endured and experienced in that moment. I testify that Jesus grip on Himself in that atoning axis between Gethsemane and Calvary was really mankinds grip on immortality. Jesus finished His preparations, as He said, unto the children

34 of men (see D&C 19:19). Now it remains for us as mortals to claim the blessings of the great Atonement. Our gratitude for Christ and His Atonement will grow with the years and the decades. It will never cease growing. And the scriptures foretell that we will praise Him forever and ever (see D&C 133:52). I so praise Him for the glorious and great Atonement and ask Him to bless all of us that we personally will claim, and in our ministries will help people claim, the blessings of that great Atonement, won at so great a cost. Indeed, there was no other good enough to pay the price (There Is a Green Hill Far Away, Hymns, no. 194).

35

Justification and Sanctification


By Elder D. Todd Christofferson
(Elder Christofferson was a member of the Presidency of the Seventy when this article was written in 2001)
(Ensign, June 2001, 18)

Justification and sanctification are at the center of Gods gracious plan of salvation and are the essence of our witness of the Lord Jesus Christ. While justification and sanctification may be viewed as distinct topics, in reality I believe they are elements of a single divine process that qualifies us to live in the presence of God the Father and Jesus Christ. I have organized my discussion of this doctrine into three sections based upon statements from The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles. 1. As we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago, we offer our testimony of the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice. 2. He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind. His was a great vicarious gift in behalf of all who would ever live upon the earth. 3. He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts (Ensign, Apr. 2000, 2-3; emphasis added). The Infinite Virtue of His Great Atoning Sacrifice Justification and sanctification are the fruit of the Atonements infinite virtue, which virtue we also refer to as mercy or grace. A verse in the Book of Mormon lays a helpful foundation: And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away (2 Ne. 2:13).
Lehi taught: If ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness (2 Ne. 2:13).

Lehi here remarks on the foundational nature of law, the divine law that governs in the universe. Elsewhere in the scriptures, as in Alma 42 for example, the word justice is used with similar meaning. So justice, or law, is something of a platform that sustains certain other fundamentals. Lehi states that if there were no law, there would be no sin: If ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. Why cannot sin exist if law does not exist? What is sin? Quite simply it is disobedience to law. Obviously, where there is nothing to obey or disobey, there cannot be disobedience. Lehi continues, If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. Again the question, why? What is righteousness but obedience?

36 Just as law must exist for sin or disobedience to be possible, so law must exist to give rise to the possibility of obedience or righteousness. Lehi next observes, If there be no righteousness there be no happiness. One may ask why. To me the answer is clear: happiness is the product of righteousness. It is a question of cause and effect. Happiness, the effect or result, can exist only when its necessary cause, righteousness, is first present. Completing the symmetry, Lehi adds, If there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. Why so? Again, it is a matter of cause and effect: misery is the consequence of sin, its natural result.
Righteousness leads to happiness, and sin leads to misery.

Without any of these things and the necessary predicate or foundation of law, Lehi concludes, there could be no God, no earth, no mankind, for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon. Without law, one could not predict or control outcomes of actions. Without awareness of cause and effect, there would really be no such thing as choice. Existence would simply be chaos, the action of random forces. God could not work His will, and if we existed at all, we would lack the means to be actors; we would only be acted upon. Fortunately, reality is otherwise. Lehi affirms, There is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon (2 Ne. 2:14). Nevertheless, we still face a dilemma. Lehi states it earlier in this same chapter: And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever (2 Ne. 2:5). With nothing more, by virtue of the Fall and our own disobedience, the law condemns us to temporal and spiritual death. Law, or justice, is not a pleasant concept when one is condemned by it and miserable forever. Worldly philosophies attempt to resolve this misery and guilt by endeavoring to erase divine law or define it out of existence. As we have already observed, if we could get rid of the law, there would be no such thing as sin and thus no misery. With Corianton, there are many today who try to suppose that it is injustice that the sinner should be consigned to a state of misery (Alma 42:1). This approach, however, if it could succeed, would also eliminate our potential for happiness. We need to preserve justice for our own sakes, for our own potential happiness. There is a better way. That better way is not to deny the law, but to come out from under its condemnation. The righteous are supported by law, a pleasant position to be in. But to achieve that status, we need more than the law alone. We need a Savior. We need a Mediator. Again, Lehi: Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.

37 Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered (2 Ne. 2:6-7). Because of the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice, Jesus Christ can satisfy or answer the ends of the law on our behalf. Pardon comes by the grace of Him who has satisfied the demands of justice by His own suffering, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God (1 Pet. 3:18). He removes our condemnation without removing the law. We are pardoned and placed in a condition of righteousness with Him. We become, like Him, without sin. We are sustained and protected by the law, by justice. We are, in a word, justified. Thus, we may appropriately speak of one who is justified as pardoned, without sin, or guiltless. For example, Whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world (3 Ne. 27:16; emphasis added). Yet glorious as the remission of sins is, the Atonement accomplishes even more. That more is expressed by Moroni: And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot (Moro. 10:33; emphasis added). To be sanctified through the blood of Christ is to become clean, pure, and holy. If justification removes the punishment for past sin, then sanctification removes the stain or effects of sin. The Prophet Joseph Smith testified: And this is the gospel, the glad tidings, which the voice out of the heavens bore record unto us That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear [justify] the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness (D&C 76:4041). Speaking of certain priesthood brethren in ancient times, Alma said: Therefore they were called after this holy order, and were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb. Now, they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; and there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God (Alma 13:11-12). We may appropriately speak of sanctification as the baptism of the Spirit, or being baptized with fire, and with the Holy Ghost (Moses 6:66). And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.

38 Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day (3 Ne. 27:19-20; emphasis added). It will seem a natural thing for those who have been sanctified to enter into the rest or kingdom of God, for they will have become like Him (see 1 Jn. 3:2; Moro. 7:48). As the Lord said to Adam after he had been baptized by water and by the Spirit, Behold, thou art one in me, a son of God; and thus may all become my sons (Moses 6:68). His Was a Great Vicarious Gift This marvelous pardon that relieves us of the punishment that justice would otherwise exact for disobedience and the purifying sanctification that follows are best described as gifts, or the gift of grace. His was a great vicarious gift in behalf of all who would ever live upon the earth (The Living Christ, 2). Given the magnitude of the gift of grace, we would never suppose, even with all the good we could possibly do in this life, that we had earned it. It is just too great. We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do, says Nephi (2 Ne. 25:23). It is, and will always be, in truth, the gift of God through His divine Son. But, as Nephi implies, there is something we can do, something that all who are accountable must do. To have effect, the gift must be accepted: For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift (D&C 88:33). Thus, it is not that we earn these gifts, but rather that we choose to seek and accept justification and sanctification. Since the Savior paid for our sins and satisfied justice for us, we become debtors to Him rather than to justice. We must therefore meet the stipulations He has established for forgiveness and cleansing. Otherwise, He withdraws His proffered mediation, and we are left to deal alone with the demands of justice, lacking the means to become pure. One must choose Christ to receive what Christ offers. How does one choose Christ? We noted earlier Lehis declaration that it requires a broken heart and a contrite spirit (2 Ne. 2:7). Nephi elaborates: Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost (2 Ne. 31:17). I repeat the Saviors succinct declaration in 3 Nephi: Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day (3 Ne. 27:20). Referring to the diagram on page 24, we see that the gift of grace or mercy is received as a believer repents, enters into the specified covenants, and receives the Holy Ghost. This action of acceptance on our part opens the door for the process of justification (remission, or pardoning, of sins) and sanctification (cleansing from sin) to work in ussomething we may refer to as being born again:

39 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mothers womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (John 3:3-5). This rebirth was described more fully to Adam as recorded in the book of Moses. God taught Adam that it was necessary for men to repent, be baptized, and receive the Holy Ghost. Adam, seeking deeper understanding, asked why (see Moses 6:50-53). God explained that man must be clean in order to dwell in His presence and that this requires a cleansing birth into the kingdom of God: By reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death, and inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water, and blood, and the spirit, which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul, even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory; For by the water ye keep the commandment; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified (Moses 6:59-60). We see here the elements that bring about our second birth or entry into the kingdom of God analogized to the elements that accompany our birth into mortality (water, blood, and spirit). This birth from mortal life into eternal life requires the interaction of (1) covenants (symbolized by water, the principal feature of our first covenant: baptism), (2) the grace of Christ (symbolized by His blood), and (3) the Holy Spirit, the medium through whom atoning grace is applied to remit sins and sanctify souls. Justification and sanctification are accomplished by the grace of Christ, which grace is a gift to man based on faith. But our moral agency is also a necessary element in this divine process. We must will to repent and act to repent. We must elect to be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost, and we just elect to remain loyal to our covenants thereafter. To receive the gift we must act in the manner He has ordained. Each of Us Will Stand to Be Judged It is clear that our acceptance of the gift of grace is not a single act occurring at a single moment in time, but is instead an ongoing process and obligation. The words of the Savior in 3 Nephi that we have already referred to make this point: Whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled [with the Holy Ghost]; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.

40 And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end (3 Ne. 27:16-17, 19; emphasis added). We are warned: There is a possibility that man may fall from grace and depart from the living God; Therefore let the church take heed and pray always, lest they fall into temptation; Yea, and even let those who are sanctified take heed also (D&C 20:32-34). In due course, Jesus Christ will judge the world, both those who have rejected His grace and those who have accepted His mercy: There is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted; which repentance, mercy claimeth; otherwise, justice claimeth the creature and executeth the law, and the law inflicteth the punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God. But God ceaseth not to be God, and mercy claimeth the penitent, and mercy cometh because of the atonement; and the atonement bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead; and the resurrection of the dead bringeth back men into the presence of God; and thus they are restored to his presence, to be judged according to their works, according to the law and justice. For behold, justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved (Alma 42:22-24). To be classed among the truly penitent, random acts of obedience will not be adequate. We must properly enter into the covenants and persist in keeping them to the point that our expectation of salvation is affirmed by the Holy Spirit of Promise (see D&C 132:7, 19). It is not simply the promise of obedience in our contracts with Deity that brings grace, but the performance of our promises: For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified (Rom. 2:13).
The gift of grace or mercy is received as a believer repents, enters into the specified covenants, and receives the Holy Ghost.

None of us, of course, is perfectly obedient, and thus we rely on our baptismal covenant to bring a remission of sins after baptism just as it has done for our lives before baptism. We rely on repentance to reinvigorate that covenant, to bring the Holy Spirit and, with it, atoning grace. The process of cleansing and sanctifying through the baptisms of water and of the Holy Ghost can be continued weekly as we worthily partake of the sacrament of the Lords Supper. The tokens of the Atonement, the bread and water, become symbolic cleansing agents and the sign of our renewed covenant, similar to the symbolism of the water in which we were immersed at baptism. It is as if

41 we were being baptized afresh and the door once again opened for the Holy Spirit to enter, that [we] may always have his Spirit to be with [us] (D&C 20:77). Thus, we need not fear judgment. Having our sins remitted or pardoned and our garments spotless through the blood of Christ, we can imagine we hear the voice of the Lord in the Day of Judgment saying, Come unto me ye blessed, for behold, your works have been the works of righteousness upon the face of the earth (Alma 5:16). This personal persistence in the path of obedience is something different than achieving perfection in mortality. Perfection is not, as some suppose, a prerequisite for justification and sanctification. It is just the opposite: justification (being pardoned) and sanctification (being purified) are the prerequisites for perfection. We only become perfect in Christ (see Moro. 10:32), not independently of Him. Thus, what is required of us in order to obtain mercy in the day of judgment is simple diligence. As the Prophet Joseph Smith counseled from the dank prison of Liberty, Missouri: Let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed (D&C 123:17; see also Mosiah 4:27). Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915-85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles once expressed our obligation this way: Everyone in the Church who is on the straight and narrow path, who is striving and struggling and desiring to do what is right, though far from perfect in this life; if he passes out of this life while hes on the straight and narrow, hes going to go on to eternal reward in his Fathers kingdom. We dont need to get a complex or get a feeling that you have to be perfect to be saved. The way it operates is this: you get on the path thats named the straight and narrow. You do it by entering the gate of repentance and baptism. The straight and narrow path leads from the gate of repentance and baptism, a very great distance, to a reward thats called eternal life. Now is the time and the day of your salvation, so if youre working zealously in this lifethough you havent fully overcome the world and you havent done all you hoped you might doyoure still going to be saved (The Probationary Test of Mortality, Salt Lake Institute of Religion devotional, 10 Jan. 1982, 12). When we stand before the Savior to be judged of Him, it will be according to our works and the desires of our hearts (The Living Christ, 3; see also D&C 137:9). Where we can act, where we have the capacity and the means, we must act if we are to retain a justified and sanctified status. But where we legitimately and truly cannot act, the Lord will accept the desire for the deed. An application of this principle can be found in King Benjamins statements about our obligations to the poor. To those with means and power to help, he counseled: And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto youthat is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before GodI would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants (Mosiah 4:26). To those who lack means to assist, he said: And again, I say unto the poor, ye who have not and yet have sufficient, that ye remain from day to day; I mean all you who deny the beggar, because ye

42 have not; I would that ye say in your hearts that: I give not because I have not, but if I had I would give. And now, if ye say this in your hearts ye remain guiltless (Mosiah 4:24-25). The Savior offers to all who will have faith and accept it, the gifts of being justified or pardoned before the law and also being sanctifiedthat is, being made spotless and holy. There is no other name, nor way, nor means whereby such redemption may occur (see Mosiah 3:17; Moses 6:52). And truly His grace is sufficient to achieve it (see Moro. 10:32). So my witness to each member of the Church, and our witness to the world, is as recorded in the scripture of this last and greatest dispensation: And we know that justification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true; And we know also, that sanctification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, to all those who love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength (D&C 20:30-31).

43

The Atonement and Salvation


James E. Talmage Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Articles of Faith (chapter 4) Article of Faith 3 We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by

obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel. The atonement of Christ is taught as a leading doctrine by all sects professing Christianity. The expression is so common a one, and the essential point of its signification is so generally admitted, that definitions may appear to be superfluous; nevertheless, there is a peculiar importance attached to the use of the word atonement in a theological sense. The doctrine of the atonement comprises proof of the divinity of Christs earthly ministry, and the vicarious nature of his death as a foreordained and voluntary sacrifice, intended for and efficacious as a propitiation for the sins of mankind, thus becoming the means whereby salvation may be secured. The New Testament, which is properly regarded as the scripture of Christs mission among men, is imbued throughout with the doctrine of salvation through the work of atonement wrought by the Savior; and yet the word, atonement, occurs but once in the record; and in that single instance, according to the opinion of most Biblical authorities, it is misused. The instance referred to is found in the words of Paul addressed to the saints at Rome: But we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. The marginal rendering gives, instead of atonement, reconciliation, and of this word a related form is used in the preceding verse. A consistent translation, giving a full agreement between the English and the Greek, would make the verse quoted, and that immediately preceding it, read in this way: For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the reconciliation. The term atonement occurs repeatedly in the Old Testament, with marked frequency in three of the books of the Pentateuch, Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers; and the sense in which it is employed is that of a sacrifice of propitiation, usually associated with the death of an acceptable victim, whereby reconciliation was to be effected between God and men. The structure of the word in its present form is suggestive of the true meaning; it is literally at-one-ment, denoting reconciliation, or the bringing into agreement of those who have been estranged. And such is the significance of the saving sacrifice of the Redeemer, whereby he expiated the transgression of the fall, through which death came into the world, and provided ready and efficient means for mans attainment of immortality through reconciliation with God.
Nature of the Atonement

The atonement wrought by Jesus Christ is a necessary sequel of the transgression of Adam; and, as the infinite foreknowledge of God made clear to him the one even before Adam was placed upon the earth, so the Fathers mercy prepared a Savior for mankind before the world was framed. Through the fall Adam and Eve have entailed the conditions of mortality upon their descendants; therefore all beings born of earthly parents are subject to bodily death. The sentence of banishment from the presence of God was in the nature of a spiritual death; and that penalty, which was visited upon our first parents in the day of their transgression, has likewise followed as the common heritage of humanity. As this penalty came into the world through an individual act, it would be

44 manifestly unjust to cause all to eternally suffer therefrom without means of deliverance. Therefore was the promised sacrifice of Jesus Christ ordained as a propitiation for broken law, whereby justice could be fully satisfied, and mercy be left free to exercise her beneficent influence over the souls of mankind. All the details of the glorious plan, by which the salvation of the human family is assured, may not lie within the understanding of man; but man has learned, even from his futile attempts to fathom the primary causes of the phenomena of nature, that his powers of comprehension are limited; and he will admit, that to deny an effect because of his inability to elucidate its cause would be to forfeit his claims as an observing and reasoning being. Simple as is the plan of redemption in its general features, it is confessedly a mystery in detail to the finite mind. President John Taylor has written in this wise: In some mysterious, incomprehensible way, Jesus assumed the responsibility which naturally would have devolved upon Adam; but which could only be accomplished through the mediation of himself, and by taking upon himself their sorrows, assuming their responsibilities, and bearing their transgressions or sins. In a manner to us incomprehensible and inexplicable, He bore the weight of the sins of the whole world, not only of Adam, but of his posterity; and in doing that, opened the kingdom of heaven, not only to all believers and all who obeyed the law of God, but to more than one-half of the human family who die before they come to years of maturity, as well as to the heathen, who, having died without law, will through his mediation be resurrected without law, and be judged without law, and thus participate, according to their capacity, works, and worth, in the blessings of his atonement. However incomplete may be our comprehension of the scheme of redemption through Christs vicarious sacrifice in all its parts, we cannot reject it without becoming infidel; for it stands as the fundamental doctrine of all scripture, the very essence of the spirit of prophecy and revelation, the most prominent of all the declarations of God unto man.
The Atonement a Vicarious Sacrifice

It is to many a matter of surpassing wonder that the voluntary sacrifice of a single being could be made to operate as a means of ransom for the rest of mankind. In this, as in other things, the scriptures are explicable by the spirit of scriptural interpretation. The sacred writings of ancient times, the inspired utterances of latter-day prophets, the traditions of mankind, the rites of sacrifice, and even the sacrileges of heathen idolatries, all involve the idea of vicarious atonement. God has never refused to accept an offering made by one who is authorized on behalf of those who are in any way incapable of doing the required service themselves. The scapegoat and the altar victim of ancient Israel, if offered with repentance and contrition, were accepted by the Lord in mitigation of the sins of the people. It is interesting to note that while the ceremonies of sacrifice formed so large and so essential a part of the Mosaic requirements, these rites long antedated the establishment of Israel as a distinct people; for, as already shown, altar sacrifice was rendered by Adam. The symbolism of the immolating of animals as a prototype of the great sacrifice to follow on Calvary was thus instituted with the beginning of human history. The many kinds of sacrifice prescribed by the Mosaic law are classifiable as bloody and bloodless. Offerings of the first order only, involving the infliction of death, were acceptable in propitiation or atonement for sin, and the victim had to be clean, healthy, and without spot or blemish. So for the great sacrifice, the effects of which were to be infinite, only an innocent subject

45 could be accepted. It was Christs right to become the Savior as the only sinless being on earth, and as the Only Begotten of the Father, and above all as the one ordained in the heavens to be the Redeemer of mankind; and though the exercise of this right involved a sacrifice, the extent of which man cannot comprehend, yet Christ made that sacrifice willingly and voluntarily. To the last he had the means of terminating the tortures of his persecutors, by the exercise of his inherent powers. In some way, though that way may be inexplicable to us, Christ took upon himself the burdensome onus of the sins of mankind. The means may be to our finite minds a mystery, yet the results are our salvation. Something of the Saviors agony as he groaned under this load of guilt, which to him, as a type of purity, must have been in itself bitter in the extreme, he has told us in this day: For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men. (D&C 19:16-19.) Further instances of the validity of vicarious service are found in the rites of baptism for the dead as taught in apostolic and modern times, and in the institution of other temple ordinances in the current dispensation.
Christs Sacrifice was Voluntary and Love-inspired

We have noted in passing that Christ gave his life willingly and voluntarily for the redemption of mankind. He had offered himself, in the primeval council in heaven, as the subject of the atoning sacrifice made necessary by the foreseen transgression of the first man; and the free agency shown and exercised in this, the early stage of his saving mission, was retained to the very last of the agonizing fulfilment of the accepted plan. Though he lived on earth a man in every particular that concerns us in our regard for him as an example of godliness in humanity, yet it is to be remembered that, though born of a mortal mother, he was begotten in the flesh by an immortal Father; and so combined within his being the capacity to die, and the power to hold death indefinitely in abeyance. He gave up his life; it was not taken from him against his will. Note the significance of his own declaration: Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. (John 10:17-18.) On another occasion Jesus testified of himself in this way: For as the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of Man. (John 5:26-27.) Amidst the tragic scenes of the betrayal, when one who had been a professed follower and friend gave him with a traitorous kiss to his persecutors, and when Peter, with a rashness prompted by personal zeal, drew and used the sword in his defense, the Master said: Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? (Matthew 26:53-54.) And on to the bitter end, marked by the expiring though triumphant cry It is finished, the incarnated God held in subjection within himself the power to thwart his torturers had he so willed. The motive inspiring and sustaining him through all the scenes of his mission, from the time of his primeval ordination to the moment of victorious consummation on the cross, was twofold: first, the desire to do his Fathers will in accomplishing the redemption of mankind; second, his love for humanity, of whose welfare and destiny he had assumed charge. Far from cherishing the least feeling of vindictiveness against those who put him to death, he entertained for them

46 compassion to the last. Hear him in the hour of extreme agony, praying aloud: Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34.) Not less is the Fathers love, as shown by his accepting the Sons offer and permitting him whom he delighted to call his Beloved to suffer as only a God could suffer: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:1617.) Further, we hear the teaching of the apostle, whom the Savior loved so well: In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. (1 John 4:9.)
The Atonement Foreordained and Foretold

As already shown, the plan of the Father to open a way for the redemption of mankind, then to leave all men free to exercise their agency, was adopted by the council in heaven to the rejection of Lucifers plan of compulsion. Even at that remote period Christ was thus ordained as a mediator for all mankind; in fact, 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. (John Taylor, The Mediation and Atonement, chapter 11.) Prophets who lived centuries before the time of Christs birth testified of him and of the great work he had been ordained to perform. These men of God had been permitted to behold in prophetic vision many of the scenes incident to the Saviors earthly mission, and they solemnly bore record of the manifestations. The testimony of Christ is the spirit of prophecy, and without it no person can rightly claim the distinction of being a prophet of God. Adams despair incident to the fall was changed to joy when, through revelation, he learned of the plan of redemption to be wrought by the Son of God in the flesh. Righteous Enoch taught the same truths, which had been declared to him from the heavens. This testimony was borne by Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15, 17-19), Job (Job 19:25-27), David (Psalms 2), Zechariah (Zechariah 9:9; 12:10; 13:6), Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7), and Micah (Micah 5:2). The same declaration was made by John the Baptist who was characterized by the Lord as more than a prophet. (Matthew 11:9.) Should there be doubt as to the application of such prophecies, we have the conclusive testimony of Christ that they refer to himself. On that memorable day, immediately following his resurrection, while walking incognito with two disciples on the road to Emmaus, he taught them the scriptures that had been written concerning the Son of God: Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. A few hours after this event the Lord appeared to the eleven at Jerusalem. He operated upon their minds that they might understand the scriptures; and said unto them: Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, (Luke 24:45) in this way testifying that he was fulfilling a previously ordained plan. Peter, one of the Saviors most intimate earthly associates, refers to him as a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world. (1 Peter 1:19-20.) In his epistle to the Romans, Paul characterizes Christ as the one Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past. (Romans 3:25.) These are but a few of the Biblical evidences of Christs foreordination; both Old and New Testament writings abound in proofs of the Messiahs appointed work. Book of Mormon prophets are characterized by the directness of their testimonies concerning the Messiah. Because of his faith the brother of Jared was permitted to behold the Savior, twenty-two centuries prior to the meridian of time, and to be shown that man was created after the image of the Lord, at the same time being taught of the Fathers purpose that the Son take

47 upon himself flesh and dwell upon the earth. Note the personal declaration of the foreordained Redeemer to this prophet: Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have light, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters. (Ether 3:14.) Nephi records the prophecy of his father Lehi concerning the future appearing of the Son in the flesh, his baptism, death, and resurrection; and this prophetic utterance specifies the exact date of the Saviors birth six hundred years after the time of Lehis exodus from Jerusalem. The mission of John the Baptist is described and even the place of baptism is designated. (1 Nephi 10:3-11.) Shortly after the time of Lehis vision, Nephi was shown by the Spirit the same things, as also many others, some of which he has written but the greater part of which he was forbidden to write, as another, the apostle John, had been ordained to set them forth in a book which should form part of the Bible. But, from the partial account of his vision we learn that he saw, in Nazareth, Mary the Virgin, first alone and shortly afterward with a child in her arms; and that the demonstrator of the vision informed him that the infant was the Lamb of God, the Son of the Eternal Father. Then Nephi beheld the Son ministering among the children of men, proclaiming the word, healing the sick, and working many other wondrous miracles; he saw John, the prophet of the wilderness, going before him; he beheld the Savior baptized of John, and the Holy Ghost descending upon Him with the visible sign of the dove. Then he saw and prophesied that twelve apostles would follow the Savior in His ministry; that the Son would be taken and judged of men and finally be slain. Piercing the future even beyond the time of the crucifixion, Nephi beheld the strife of the world against the apostles of the Lamb and the final triumph of Gods cause. (1 Nephi 11:14-35.) Jacob, brother of Nephi, prophesied to his brethren that Christ would appear in the flesh among the Jews, and that he would be scourged and crucified. (2 Nephi 6:8-10; 9:5-6.) King Benjamin lifted his voice in support of the same testimony, and preached unto his people the righteous condescension of God. (Mosiah 3:5-27.) So also declared Abinadi (Mosiah 15:6-9; 16), Alma (Alma 7:9-14), Amulek (Alma 11:36-44), and Samuel the Lamanite prophet (Helaman 14:28). The literal fulfilment of these prophecies furnishes proof of their truth. The signs and wonders indicative of Christs birth (Helaman 14:2-5; 20-27) and death were all realized (3 Nephi 1:5-22; 8:3-25); and after his death and ascension the Savior manifested himself among the Nephites while the Father proclaimed him to the multitude (3 Nephi 11:1-17). The ancient scriptures, then, are plain in declaring that Christ came upon the earth to do a work previously allotted. He lived, suffered and died, in accordance with a plan that had been framed in righteousness even before the world was, for the redemption of the children of Adam. Equally important and explicit is the word of latter-day revelation through which the Son has declared himself as Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, mans Advocate with the Father, the universal Redeemer. Consider a single citation from the many revelations concerning Christ given in the present dispensation: Listen to the voice of the Lord your God, even Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, whose course is one eternal round, the same today as yesterday, and forever. I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was crucified for the sins of the world, even as many as will believe on my name, that they may become the sons of God, even one in me as I am one in the Father, as the Father is one in me, that we may be one. (D&C 35:1-2.) The Extent of the atonement is universal, applying alike to all descendants of Adam. Even the unbeliever, the heathen, and the child who dies before reaching the years of discretion, all are redeemed by the Saviors self-sacrifice from the individual consequences of the fall. It is proved by scripture that the resurrection of the body is one of the victories achieved by Christ through his atoning sacrifice. He himself proclaimed the eternal truth: I am the resurrection, and the life

48 (John 11:25); and he was the first of all men to rise from the grave to immortality the first fruits of them that slept (1 Corinthians 15:20). The scriptures leave no room for doubt concerning the fact that the resurrection will be universal. The Savior announced to his apostles the beginning of this work of deliverance from the tomb; hear his words: Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation (John 5:28-29) or, as the latter part of the declaration has been rendered through inspiration in the present day, They who have done good in the resurrection of the just, and they who have done evil in the resurrection of the unjust. (D&C 76:17.) Paul preached the doctrine of a universal resurrection: That there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust (Acts 24:15). On another occasion he wrote: For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22). John the Revelator testifies of his vision concerning futurity: And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God . . . And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them. (Revelation 20:12-13.) Thus it is plain that the effect of the atonement, so far as it applies to the victory over temporal or bodily death, includes the entire race. It is equally clear that the release from spiritual death, or banishment from the presence of God, is offered to all; so that if any man lose salvation such loss will be due to himself, and in no way be the inescapable effect of Adams transgression. That the gift of redemption through Christ is free to all men was specifically taught by the apostles of old. Thus Paul says: Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. (Romans 5:18.) And further: For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all. (1 Timothy 2:56.) John spoke of the Redeemers sacrifice, saying: And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2.) The same truths were taught among the Nephites. Benjamin, the righteous king, preached of the atonement which was prepared from the foundation of the world for all mankind, which ever were since the fall of Adam, or who are, or who ever shall be, even unto the end of the world. (Mosiah 4:7.) In revelation of the present day we read of Christs having come into the world, to suffer and to die: That through him all might be saved whom the Father had put into his power and made by him. (D&C 76:42.) But besides this universal application of the atonement, whereby all men are redeemed from the effects of Adams transgression both with respect to the death of the body and inherited sin, there is application of the same great sacrifice as a means of propitiation for individual sins through the faith and good works of the sinner. This twofold effect of the atonement is implied in the article of our faith now under consideration. The first effect is to secure to all mankind alike, exemption from the penalty of the fall, thus providing a plan of general salvation. The second effect is to open a way for individual salvation whereby mankind may secure remission of personal sins. As these sins are the result of individual acts it is just that forgiveness for them should be conditioned on individual compliance with prescribed requirements obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel. The general effect of the atonement, so far as it applies to all who have arrived at years of accountability and judgment, has been demonstrated by the scriptures already quoted. Its application to children may properly receive attention. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches as a doctrine founded on reason, justice, and scripture, that all children are innocent in the sight of God, and that, until they reach an age of personal responsibility, baptism is neither requisite nor proper in their behalf; that, in short, they are saved through the atonement of Christ. To a degree, children are born heirs to the good or evil natures of their parents; the effects of

49 heredity are admitted. Good and evil tendencies, blessings and curses, are transmitted from generation to generation. Through this divinely-appointed order, the justice of which is plain in the revealed light of knowledge concerning the premortal state of the spirits of mankind, the children of Adam are natural heirs to the ills of mortality; but through Christs atonement they are all redeemed from the curse of this fallen state. The debt, which comes to them as a legacy, is paid for them and thus are they left free. Children who die before reaching the state of accountability for their acts are innocent in the eyes of God, even though they be the offspring of transgressors. We read in the Book of Mormon: Little children cannot repent; wherefore, it is awful wickedness to deny the pure mercies of God unto them, for they are all alive in him because of his mercy. For behold that all little children are alive in Christ, and also all they that are without the law. For the power of redemption cometh on all them that have no law. (Moroni 8:19-22.) The prophet Mormon, writing to his son Moroni, expressed in the following manner his conviction of the innocence of children: Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God. Behold, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me, that it hath no power over them. Behold I say unto you that this thing shall ye teach repentance and baptism unto those who are accountable and capable of committing sin; yea, teach parents that they must repent and be baptized, and humble themselves as their little children, and they shall all be saved with their little children. And their little children need no repentance, neither baptism. Behold, baptism is unto repentance to the fulfilling the commandments unto the remission of sins. But little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world. (Moroni 8:8-12.) In a revelation through the Prophet Joseph Smith in this dispensation, the Lord has said: But behold, I say unto you, that little children are redeemed from the foundation of the world through mine Only Begotten; Wherefore, they cannot sin, for power is not given unto Satan to tempt little children, until they begin to become accountable before me. (D&C 29:46-47.) President John Taylor, after citing instances of Christs affection for little children, and proofs of the innocent condition in which they are regarded in heaven, says: Without Adams transgression those children could not have existed; through the atonement they are placed in a state of salvation without any act of their own. These would embrace, according to the opinion of statisticians, more than one-half of the human family who can attribute their salvation only to the mediation and atonement of the Savior. (Mediation and Atonement, 148.) The Individual Effect of the atonement makes it possible for any and every soul to obtain absolution from the effect of personal sins, through the mediation of Christ; but such saving intercession is to be invoked by individual effort as manifested through faith, repentance, and continued works of righteousness. The laws under which individual salvation is obtainable have been prescribed by Christ, whose right it is to say how the blessings made possible by his own sacrifice shall be administered. All men are in need of the Saviors mediation, for all are transgressors. So taught the apostles of old: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23.) And again: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8.) That the blessing of redemption from individual sins, while open for all to attain, is nevertheless conditioned on individual effort, is as plainly declared as is the truth of unconditional redemption from death as an effect of the fall. There is a judgment ordained for all, and all will be judged according to their works. The free agency of man enables him to choose or reject, to follow the path of life or the road that leads to destruction; therefore it is but just that he be held to answer for the exercise of his power of choice and that he meet the results of his acts.

50 Hence the justice of the scriptural doctrine that salvation comes to the individual only through obedience. He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him (Hebrews 5:9) is said of the Christ. And further: God will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honor, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God. (Romans 2:6-11.) To these may be added the words of the risen Lord, He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (Mark 16:16.) Consider further the prophecy that King Benjamin proclaimed to the Nephite multitude: Christs blood atoneth for the sins of those who have fallen by the transgression of Adam, who have died not knowing the will of God concerning them, or who have ignorantly sinned. But wo, wo unto him who knoweth that he rebelleth against God! For salvation cometh to none such except it be through repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ. (Mosiah 3:11-12.) But why multiply scriptural citations when the whole tenor of sacred writ supports the doctrine? Without Christ no man can be saved, and the salvation provided at the cost of Christs sufferings and bodily death is offered upon certain clearly defined conditions only; and these are summarized under obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
Salvation and Exaltation

Some degree of salvation will come to all who have not forfeited their right to it; exaltation is given to those only who by righteous effort have won a claim to Gods merciful liberality by which it is bestowed. Of the saved, not all will be exalted to the higher glories; rewards will not be bestowed in violation of justice; punishments will not be meted out to the ignoring of mercy. No one can be admitted to any order of glory, in short, no soul can be saved until justice has been satisfied for violated law. Our belief in the universal application of the atonement implies no supposition that all mankind will be saved with like endowments of glory and power. In the kingdom of God there are numerous degrees or gradations provided for those who are worthy of them; in the house of our Father there are many mansions, into which only those who are prepared are admitted. The false assumption, based upon sectarian dogma, that in the hereafter there shall be but two places, states, or conditions for the souls of mankind heaven and hell, with the same glory in all parts of the one and the same terrors throughout the other is untenable in the light of divine revelation. Through the direct word of the Lord we learn of varied kingdoms or glories.

Degrees of Glory

The revelations of God have defined the following principal kingdoms or degrees of glory, as prepared through Christ for the children of men. (1) The Celestial Glory (D&C 76:50-70, 92-96) There are some who have striven to obey all the divine commandments, who have accepted the testimony of Christ, obeyed the laws and ordinances of the Gospel, and received the Holy Spirit; these are they who have overcome evil by godly works and who are therefore entitled to the highest glory; these belong to the Church of the Firstborn, unto whom the Father has given all things; they are made kings and priests of the Most High, after the order of Melchizedek; they possess celestial bodies, whose glory is that of the sun, even the glory of God, the highest of all, whose glory the sun of the firmament is written of as

51 being typical. They are admitted to the glorified company, crowned with exaltation in the celestial kingdom. (2) The Terrestrial Glory (D&C 76:71-80, 87, 91, 97) We read of others who receive glory of a secondary order, differing from the highest as the moon differs from the sun in the firmament. These are they who, though honorable, failed to comply with the requirements for exaltation, were blinded by the craftiness of men and unable to receive and obey the higher laws of God. They proved not valiant in the testimony of Jesus, and therefore are not entitled to the fulness of glory. (3) The Telestial Glory (D&C 76:81-86, 88-90, 98-106, 109-112) There is another grade, differing from the higher orders as the stars differ from the brighter orbs of the firmament; this is for those who received not the testimony of Christ, but who nevertheless, did not deny the Holy Spirit; who have led lives exempting them from the heaviest punishment, yet whose redemption will be delayed until the last resurrection. In the telestial world there are innumerable degrees comparable to the varying light of the stars. (D&C 76:81-86, 98.) Yet all who receive of any one of these orders of glory are at last saved, and upon them Satan will finally have no claim. Even the telestial glory surpasses all understanding; And no man knows it except him to whom God has revealed it. (D&C 76:89-90.) Then there are those who have lost all claim upon the immediate mercy of God, whose deeds have numbered them with Perdition and his angels.

52

The AtonementMTC Devotional Elder Jeffrey R. Holland Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Thank you, Brother Brenchley and missionaries. I think I would rather hear the missionary chorus at the MTC sing that hymn than any other group that I know of in the Church.
Mission presidents, wives, elders, and sisters, I have come to tell you that I love you. I am going to take a few minutes to explain that and to bear testimony of the love your Father in Heaven has for you. But I want to say at the outset how much I love you and how grateful I am for your service. My mission means everything to me 47 years after the fact. There may have been one day in those 47 years that I have not thought of my mission; Im just not sure what day that would have been. I love you for what you represent; I love you for what you are, and for what you are going out to teach. I am deeply honored to speak to you tonight on the most sacredand challengingtopic that I know. It stems from the love of which I have spoken: the love of God for you. I speak of the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no subject about which I have deeper feelings, nor any subject about which I feel less adequate to teach. Tonight I have prayerfully approached this subject with a specific eye to missionary work and missionary application. In that sense what I want to say is doctrinal, but doctrine in the context of applications that a missionary may have cause to understand and to use. I pray that mixing theology with missionary daily application will not in any way do a disservice to this most sacred of all doctrines. The Prophet Joseph once declared that all things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to the Atonement of Jesus Christ. In like manner and for the same reasons, every truth that a missionary teaches is only an appendage to the central message of all timethat Jesus is the Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, the Holy Messiah, the Promised One, the Savior and Redeemer of the World, that He alone burst the bands of death and triumphed over the captivity of hell, that no one of us could ever have those same blessings without His intervention in our behalf, and that there never shall be any other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, [except] in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent (1 Mosiah 3:17; cf. Acts 4:12). The missionarys basic message is that with a complete offering of His body, His blood, and the anguish of His spirit, Christ atoned for the initial transgression of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and also for the personal sins of everyone else who would ever live in this world from Adam to the end of time. Some of those blessings are unconditional, such as the gift of the Resurrection. Other of the blessings, at least the full realization of them, are very conditional, requiring the keeping of commandments, the performance of ordinances, and living the life of a disciple of Christ. Either way, the essential message of the gospel, the starting point for all other truths, is this from the Masters own lips: I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6). Thus the Atonement of Christ, which makes that return to the Father possible, is rightfully seen as the central fact, the crucial foundation, the chief doctrine of the great and eternal plan of salvation which you missionaries are called to teach. Little wonder then, that the greatest missionary the world has ever known wrote: The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified (1 Cor. 1:18-23).

53 Inherent in all of this is a rather simple definition of the gospel, at least when considered in its essence. The word gospel as we use it in English comes down to us through early scriptural language; language which meant literally good news or sometimes glad tidings. The good news was that death and hell could be escaped, that mistakes and sins could be overcome, that there was hope, that there was help, that the insoluble was solved, that the enemy had been conquered. The good news which culminated in the Atonement and the Resurrection was that everyones tomb could one day be empty, that everyones soul could be pure again, that every child of God could again return to the Father who gave them life. This is the essence of the message delivered by every prophet who has ever lived and every apostle ever called to the work. It is the message you mission presidents and your missionaries are called to declare. It is the message of the angel who came to those unsuspecting Judean shepherds. We usually think of this as a Christmas story; it is more than that; it is the essence of the gospel: And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy [or in other words, I bring you the gospel personified] which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:911). I suppose there is not a man or woman in this room who does not already know the centrality of this doctrine, and probably there are very few missionaries, if any, who do not know it also, either those present or those already serving in the field. But I have been surprised, as you may be, to regularly be with the missionaries and discover that this is not something that always comes forward readily in a discussion of missionary work. For example, in zone conferences, which are some of the greatest teaching moments that we have with you elders and sisters, I have sometimes asked missionaries what it is they want investigators to do as a result of their discussions with them. Be baptized!!! is shouted in an absolute chorus. Yes, yes, I say, we do want them to be baptized, but what has to precede that? I ask. Ah, they think it is a test. Read the Book of Mormon!! someone shouts. Pray!! an elder roars from the back of the room. Attend church!! one of the sisters on the front row declares. Receive all of the lessons, someone else offers. Well, you have pretty much covered the first set of commitments, I say, but what else do you want your investigators to do? Be baptized!! The chorus comes a second time. Elders, I remind them, you have already said that. Well, now they are stumped. It must be that he wants commitments from the other lessons, so, Live the Word of Wisdom!! someone says. Pay tithing!! another shouts. And so it goes. Well, that's all fun. I dont always run through this little exercise in a zone conference, but sometimes I do. And I have to say that until recently when we have tried to focus the missionaries on their true purposeas introduced on page 1 of Preach My Gospel, by the wayalmost never do the missionaries get around to identifying the two most fundamental things we want investigators to do prior to baptismhave faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ and repent of their sins. May I quote, We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second Repentance; [then] third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost (Fourth Article of Faith). Now, in wanting more baptisms and striving for baptismsand no one is more anxious to get baptisms than I amwe must be careful not even to inadvertently slight the Saviors gift of the Atonement and the meaning of baptism. A converts new life is to be built upon faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His redeeming sacrificeconviction that He really is the Son of God, that He lives this very moment, that He really is the door of the sheepfold, that He alone holds the key to our

54 salvation and exaltation. That belief is to be followed by true repentance, repentance which shows our desire to be clean and renewed and whole, repentance that allows us to lay claim to the full blessings of the Atonement. Then comes baptism for the remission of sins. Yes, baptism is also for membership in the Church but that isnt what the Prophet Joseph chose to stress in that article of faith. He stressed that it was baptism for the remission of sinsfocusing you and focusing me, the missionary and the investigator again and again and again on the Atonement, on salvation, on the gift that only Christ can give. This points that new convert toward the blessings of the good news announced by the angels since time began. Now if we can get first principles deeply in the hearts of our new members, the other principles will take care of themselves. Retention will cease to be an issue if investigators are spiritually converted to the restored doctrine of Christ and His Atonement. Now, in an effort to keep missionary work closely linked to the Saviors ministry, let me suggest a few practical things you might do to keep Christ and His Atonement in the forefront of your investigators consciousness. In addition to the missionaries themselves teaching the Atonement powerfully and reverently, encourage in every way possible more spiritual church meetings, especially sacrament meetings in your wards and branches. One of the great fears missionaries have, at least in some locations, is taking their investigators to church. And indeed the investigators deserve to feel essentially the same spirit in sacrament meeting that they feel when the missionaries are teaching them. If your mission is largely in organized stakes and wards, you wont have as much direct influence over such matters as, presidents, when you have mission districts and branches. Nevertheless, as you cultivate a close working relationship with those stake presidents and bishops, you can encourage them and offer any other assistance you can toward a spiritual, Christ-centered experience in sacrament meetings. It will also help orient those investigators if the missionaries will take a moment to explain the ordinance of the sacrament they will be witnessing, probably for the first time. We sometimes forget how new all of this is to those who are seeing the Church and coming to an LDS ward for the first time. Missionaries, reverently help this investigating family know why sacrament meeting is so important. (After all, part of any retention problem is that new converts somehow have not realized that and casually cease attending.) Before that first sacrament meeting, explain briefly that the members will be renewing their covenants, that the emblems of the sacrament represent the Saviors very body and blood, the emblems of the Atonement that you have grown up understanding, but which they have never known. You could read to the investigators the sacramental prayers as found in the scriptures, you could share some of the words of your favorite sacrament hymn, or any number of other things that would help these new visitors and prospective members have a powerful learning experience when they visit a sacrament meeting. In like manner, do all that you can to make your baptismal services a spiritual, Christ-centered experience. A new convert deserves to have this be a sacred, carefully planned and spiritually uplifting moment. The prayers, the hymns, surely the talks that are giveneverything ought to be focused on first principles, on the significance of the baptism and confirmation ordinances and the Atonement of Christ which makes them so precious. Probably no other meeting we hold in the Church has the high referral and future baptismal harvest that a baptismal service does. Something like 80 percent of the investigators who attend a baptismal service (that is, they are attending the service of someone else who is being baptized) will then go on to his or her own baptism. But I think the only way that statistic will hold up is if this service is a spiritual, strong teaching moment in which it is clear to participants and visitors alike that this is a sacred act, an act of faith centered on the Lord Jesus Christ, that it is an act of repentance claiming

55 the cleansing power of Christ, that through His majesty and Atonement it brings a remission of sins as well as, with confirmation, the gift of the Holy Ghost and membership in the Church. Please presidents, dont let the missionaries get so excited about the opportunity to record a baptism that they themselves forget what this baptism represents and what it must mean in the life of every new member. Throughout the teaching experience, encourage the missionary to bear testimony of the Savior and His gift of salvation to us. Obviously the missionary should bear testimony regularly of all the principles that he or she is teaching, but it is especially important that the missionary bear testimony of this central doctrine in the plan of our Heavenly Father. There are several reasons for bearing testimony of Christ. One is that when a missionary declares the truth, it will bring an echo, a memory, even if it is an unconscious memory to that investigator. They will think "I have heard this truth before." And of course they have. A missionarys testimony invokes a great legacy of testimony dating back to the councils in heaven before this world was. There, in an earlier place, these same people heard this same plan outlined, and heard the role that Jesus Christ would play in their salvation. John recorded, And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ [this was from the premortal council]; for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death" (Rev. 12:10-11). So the fact of the matter is that these are not only hearing the missionarys testimony of Christ, but they are hearing echoes of their own testimony, earlier testimonies, testimonies of Him, for they were on the side of the faithful once. They kept their first estate and they earned the privilege of this second opportunity. We must always remember that those of this entire human family, every man, woman, and child walking the streets of your missions, were among the valiant who once overcame Satan by the power of their testimony of Christ! Dont be discouraged. Youve got experienced contacts everywhere. So when they hear the elders and sisters bear that witness of Christs saving mission and if they have not been entirely jaded by the ways of the world, that testimony will have a familiar feeling, it will bring an echo of truth that they themselves already know. Furthermore, when the missionaries bear witness of Christ and him crucified to use Pauls phrase, they also invoke the power of God the Father and the Holy Ghost. The Savior Himself taught that before any other doctrine when He visited the Nephites. He Himself said, After this manner shall ye baptize in my name; for behold, verily I say unto you, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one.And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me;Whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him [the investigator] will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him [the investigator] with fire and with the Holy Ghost. And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him [the investigator] of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one.This is my doctrine and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them (3 Ne. 11:27-39). So why do we want the missionary to bear testimony of Christ as Savior, as Redeemer, as Atoning Lamb of God? Because that invites and taps into, literally becomes part of, the divine power of testimony borne by God the Father Himself, by Jesus Himself, and by the Holy Ghost. That is very good company to keep, elders and sisters. That is the fire a missionary kindles when he or she bears testimony of Jesusa flame of truth reinforced by the members of the Godhead themselves. What a magnificent circle into which a missionary can step! Such a divine testimony of Jesus is the rock upon which every new convert must build. So said the Son of God Himself, before any other

56 teaching to that eager Nephite congregation. Only this testimony of the anointed one, the victorious one, will prevail against the gates of hell. Presidents, encourage your missionaries to study the scriptures conscientiously and become familiar with those passages that teach and testify of Christs redeeming mission. I have said to missionaries all over the world that they make or break their mission from 6:30 to 9:30 in the morning. There are lots of reasons for that, not the least of which is simple obedience to mission rules, but one of the great reasons is that this is when they get to study the gospel and nothing will so touch their hearts and stir their souls like the truths of which we have been speaking. In their companionship study and individual study they become Gods investigators. In those morning hours it is the studious, prayerful missionary who receives the Fathers record of the Son, borne with fire and the Holy Ghost to the heart of the missionary. Later in the day, it can then be to the heart of the investigator. That is why we want them up on time. It is no more complicated or mysterious than thatwe want them to be able to prepare, to receive the Spirit of the Lord, to receive anew their witness of the work of salvation in which they are engagedto renew that every single morning of their mission; they are to seek a witness of salvation every morningthe salvation that is in Christ Jesus. So if they dont get up and dont study? Jeremiah records the Lords own disappointment, I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not (Jer. 7:13, cf. 7:25). I would particularly ask you to have your missionaries study from and teach the Atonement of Christ out of the Book of Mormon. I say that in a very biased way, because it was on my mission that I came to love the Lord Jesus Christ through the agency of the Book of Mormon. It was in that text that I found the majesty of the Son of God for my life and for my future. I want that for you. In its unparalleled focus on the messianic message of the Savior, the Book of Mormon is literally a new testament or (to avoid confusion) another testament of Jesus Christ. As such, the book centers upon that which scriptural testaments have always centered since the days of Adam and Evethe declaration to all that through the Atonement of the Son of God, as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will (Moses 5:9). And, everyone has fallen. There is no time here to convey the wonder and breadth of all these Book of Mormon sermons, but Im going to call on some helpers for some of them. President Wesley Thompson going to Germany Hamburg, do you have a microphone? Would you read this scripture on the screen? And the worldshall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him, and he suffereth it. Yea, they spit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men. And [he]yieldeth himselfas a man, into the hands of wicked men, to be lifted up, according to the words of Zenock, and to be crucified, according to the words of Neum, and to be buried in a sepulchre, according to the words of Zenos. And the rocks of the earth must rend; and because of the groanings of the earth, many of the kings of the isles of the sea shallexclaim: The God of nature suffers (1 Ne. 19:9-12). Thank you. And this from Nephi at the end of his life on how to retain converts and how to retain a returned missionary. Sister Becky Thompson, would you read? And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this straight and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save. Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, 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.

57 And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (2 Ne. 31:19-21). Thank you very much. And this from Nephis remarkable brother Jacob, who gave a two-day sermon on the Fall and the Atonement! President Terry Wade going to Paraguay Asuncion North, would you read? I knowthat in the body he shall show himself unto those at Jerusalem,forhe suffereth himself to become subject unto man in the flesh, and die for all men, that all men might become subject unto him. For as death hath passed upon all men,there must needs be a power of resurrection, and the resurrection must needs come unto man by reason of the fall; And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam (2 Ne. 9:5-6, 21). Sister Wade, would read this from King Benjamin in his great sermon? The Lord Omnipotentshall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases. And he shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which shall dwell in the hearts of the children of men. And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people. And even after all this they shall consider him a man, and say that he hath a devil, and shall scourge him, and shall crucify him. And he shall rise the third day from the dead (Mosiah 3:5-10). As a last example, at least for tonight, this from the great patriarch Lehi; a message to missionaries if ever there was one. President Alan Perriton, going to Korea Daejeon. Alan, would you read, please? Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise. Wherefore, he is the first fruits unto God, inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved (2 Ne. 2:8-9). Thank you. Obviously, we cant go on reading scriptures tonight (though I would really enjoy that even if you didnt). I wanted to make a point. You may have recognized that these passages were all taken from just the first 75 pages of the Book of Mormon. What an introduction of all that is to follow, including (and obviously) the entire miracle of the messianic visit recorded in 3rd Nephi which we didnt even come close to touching! Does this help you sense the urgent, rich, impressive theme of Christ that runs through this sacred record from beginning to end? With its declared titlepage purpose of testifying that Jesus is the Christ, little wonder that the Book of Mormon was the firstand is still the greatestof all the missionary tracts of this dispensation. As Lehi says to you and to me and to all missionaries, How great the importance to make these things [of Christ and the Atonement] known unto the inhabitants of the earth.

58 Almost everything I have said tonight has been an aid directed toward the missionary process, ultimately toward helping an investigator somewhere in one of your missions. May I close now with an extended testimony about how the Atonement helps the missionary. Presidents, you will have occasion to ask, and your missionaries will have many occasions to ask, why is this so hard? Why doesnt it go better? Why cant our success be more rapid? Why arent there more people joining the Church? It is the truth. We believe in angels. We trust in miracles. Why dont people just flock to the font? Why isnt the only risk in the mission field that of pneumonia, just being soaking wet all day and all night in a baptismal font? Why isnt it easier, President? Why do the people not understand, President? Why do they reject us, President? Cant they see? These are things that a nineteen and a twenty and twenty-one year old will ask. They are things I have asked. I have thought about this a great deal. I offer this as my personal feeling. It is not Church doctrine per se, its just my feeling to you as you prepare to go into the mission field. I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation was never easy. We are the Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, He is our Great Eternal Head. Why would we believe, why would we think, that it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? In turn, how could we possibly bear any moving, lasting testimony of the Atonement if we have never known or felt anything of such an experience? As missionaries we are proud to say we are disciples of Christand we are. But mark my word. That means you must be prepared to walk something of the path He walked, to feel something of the pain He felt, to at least occasionally sometime during your mission shed one of the tears of sorrow that He shed. Now please dont misunderstand. Im not saying you have to look for suffering, and Im not saying that we experience anything anywhere near what Christ experienced. That would be presumptuous and frankly, sacrilegious. But I believe that missionaries and investigators to come to the truth, to come to salvation, to come to repentance, to come to know something of the price that has been paid, will have to pay a token of that same priceit will only be a token, but I believe it has to be paid. I dont believe missionary work has ever been easy nor that conversion is, nor that retention is, nor that continued faithfulness in the Church is. I believe it is supposed to require something of our soul. If Jesus could plead in the night, falling on His face, bleeding from every pore and crying, Abba, Father, [Papa],[remove] this cup from me (Mark 14:36). Well little wonder that salvation is not a whimsical or easy thing for a missionary. This is the Living Son of the Living God saying, Isnt there some other way? So, presidents, if your missionaries wonder why this isnt easy, they should remember they are not the first ones to ask that. Someone a lot greater and a lot better asked it a long time ago. He asked if there were not a less excruciating wayand for Him, there wasnt. So, perhaps, for us in token and symbolism, there wont be an entirely easy way either. Presidents, if the missionaries can come to love and appreciate it, the Atonement will carry them perhaps even more importantly than it will carry their investigators. You let them know that when they struggle, when they are rejected, when they are spit upon, and cast out and made a hiss and a byword, they are standing shoulder to shoulder with the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect missionary that ever lived. They have every reason to stand tall and to be grateful that the Savior and Redeemer of the world knows all about their sorrows and their afflictions and that for a moment or two in their lives they will understand what He went through for them. The only way to salvation is through Gethsemane. The only victory is the victory at the summit of Calvary. Welcome to the journey of the disciples of Christ. I testify that the Living God is our Eternal Father, and that Jesus Christ is His Living and Only Begotten Son in the flesh. I testify that this Jesus, who was slain and hanged on a tree, was the chief Apostle then and the chief Apostle now, the Great High Priest, the chief cornerstone of His Church

59 in this last and greatest of all dispensations. I testify that He lives, that the whole triumph of the gospel is that He lives, and because He lives, so will we. On that first Resurrection Sunday, Mary Magdalene first thought she saw a gardener. Well, she didthe Gardener who cultivated Eden and who endured Gethsemane. The Gardener who gave us the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valley, the cedars of Lebanon, and the tree of life. I declare Him to be the Savior of the world, the Bishop and Shepherd of our souls, the Bright and Morning Star. I know that our garments can be washed white only in the blood of that Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world. I know that we are lifted up unto life because He was lifted up unto death, that He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows, and with His stripes we are healed. I bear witness that He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities, that He was a man of sorrows acquainted with grief because upon Him were laid the transgressions of us all. I testify in a very personal way from the depths of my own heart that I have sought and felt the gift of the Atonement and the joy of spiritual redemption. It was for me as much as any other in the world, and certainly any other in this room that, as the hymn says, He hung and suffered there. Whatever I am or in eternity ever hope to be, was purchased and given to me, the price being the innocent blood of the Lamb. I bear witness that Jesus came from God as a god to bind up the broken hearted, to dry the tears from every eye to proclaim liberty to the captives, and open the prison doors to them that are bound. In the spirit of that testimony, I promise that because of your faithful response to these mission calls He will bind up your broken hearts, He will dry your tears, and set you and your loved ones free. This is my apostolic witness to the world and my missionary promise to every one of you, in the sacred name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.

60

Atonement of Christ
Bruce R. McConkie Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
(Mormon Doctrine, 60-65)

Nothing in the entire plan of salvation compares in any way in importance with that most transcendent of all events, the atoning sacrifice of our Lord. It is the most important single thing that has ever occurred in the entire history of created things; it is the rock foundation upon which the gospel and all other things rest. Indeed, all things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it, the Prophet said. (TPJS, 121.) The doctrine of the atonement embraces, sustains, supports, and gives life and force to all other gospel doctrines. It is the foundation upon which all truth rests, and all things grow out of it and come because of it. Indeed, the atonement is the gospel. In recording the Vision, the Prophet wrote: And this is the gospel, the glad tidings, which the voice out of the heavens bore record unto us That he came into the world, even Jesus, 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; That through him all might be saved whom the Father had put into his power and made by him. (D &C 76:40-42.) To the Nephites the resurrected Lord spoke similarly: Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me. And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross. (3 Nephi 27:13-14.) Salvation comes because of the atonement. Without it the whole plan of salvation would be frustrated and the whole purpose behind the creating and populating of the earth would come to naught. With it the eternal purposes of the Father will roll forth, the purpose of creation be preserved, the plan of salvation made efficacious, and men will be assured of a hope of the highest exaltation hereafter. (Doctrines of Salvation, volume 1, 121-138.) Redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah, Lehi taught, for he is full of grace and truth. Behold he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered. Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise. Wherefore, he is the first fruits unto God, inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved. (2 Nephi 2:6-9.) One of the greatest sermons of all the ages, preached by an angel from heaven on the subject of the atonement, includes these words: As in Adam, or by nature, they fall, even so the blood of Christ atoneth for their sins. And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent. For behold he judgeth, and his judgment is just . . . salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent. For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will

61 be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his Father. (Mosiah 3:16-19.) A knowledge of two great truths is essential to an understanding of the doctrine of the atonement: (1) The fall of Adam; and (2) The divine Sonship of our Lord. Adams fall brought spiritual and temporal death into the world. Spiritual death is to be cast out of the presence of the Lord (2 Nephi 9:6) and to die as pertaining to things of righteousness, or in other words things of the Spirit (Helaman 14:15-18). Temporal death or natural death is the separation of body and spirit, the body going back to the dust from which it was created and the spirit to a world of waiting spirits to await the day of the resurrection. To atone is to ransom, reconcile, expiate, redeem, reclaim, absolve, propitiate, make amends, pay the penalty. Thus the atonement of Christ is designed to ransom men from the effects of the fall of Adam in that both spiritual and temporal death are conquered; their lasting effect is nullified. The spiritual death of the fall is replaced by the spiritual life of the atonement, in that all who believe and obey the gospel law gain spiritual or eternal life life in the presence of God where those who enjoy it are alive to things of righteousness or things of the Spirit. The temporal death of the fall is replaced by the state of immortality which comes because of the atonement and resurrection of our Lord. The body and spirit which separated, incident to what men call the natural death, are reunited in immortality, in an inseparable connection that never again will permit the mortal body to see corruption (Alma 11:37-45; 12:16 18). Immortality comes as a free gift, by the grace of God alone, without works of righteousness. Eternal life is the reward for obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel. (Article of Faith 3.) Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy, Lehi says. And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall (2 Nephi 2:25-26). The atonement, King Benjamin explains, was prepared from the foundation of the world for all mankind, which ever were since the fall of Adam, or who are, or who ever shall be, even unto the end of the world. (Mosiah 4:7.) And Moroni taught that God created Adam, and by Adam came the fall of man. And because of the fall of man came Jesus Christ, even the Father and the Son; and because of Jesus Christ came the redemption of man. And because of the redemption of man, which came by Jesus Christ, they are brought back into the presence of the Lord; yea, this is wherein all men are redeemed, because the death of Christ bringeth to pass the resurrection, which bringeth to pass a redemption from an endless sleep, from which sleep all men shall be awakened by the power of God when the trump shall sound; and they shall come forth, both small and great, and all shall stand before his bar, being redeemed and loosed from this eternal band of death, which death is a temporal death. And then cometh the judgment of the Holy One upon them; and then cometh the time that he that is filthy shall be filthy still; and he that is righteous shall be righteous still; he that is happy shall be happy still; and he that is unhappy shall be unhappy still. (Mormon 9:12-14.) And thus the Lord says that because of the atonement, and following the natural death, man is raised in immortality unto eternal life, even as many as would believe; And they that believe not

62 unto eternal damnation; for they cannot be redeemed from their spiritual fall, because they repent not. (D&C 29:43-44.) If there had been no atonement of Christ (there having been a fall of Adam!), then the whole plan and purpose connected with the creation of man would have come to naught. If there had been no atonement, temporal death would have remained forever, and there never would have been a resurrection. The body would have remained forever in the grave, and the spirit would have stayed in a spirit prison to all eternity. If there had been no atonement, there never would have been spiritual or eternal life for any persons. Neither mortals nor spirits could have been cleansed from sin, and all the spirit hosts of heaven would have wound up as devils, angels to a devil, that is, as sons of perdition. Jacob, brother to righteous Nephi, has left us these inspired words: For as death hath passed upon all men, to fulfil the merciful plan of the great Creator, there must needs be a power of resurrection, and the resurrection must needs come unto man by reason of the fall; and the fall came by reason of transgression; and because man became fallen they were cut off from the presence of the Lord. Wherefore it must needs be an infinite atonement save it should be an infinite atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption. Wherefore, the first judgment which came upon man must needs have remained to an endless duration. And if so, this flesh must have laid down to rot and to crumble to its mother earth, to rise no more. O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more. And our spirits must have become like unto him, 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 9:6-9; D&C 29:39-41.) Children and others who have not arrived at the years of accountability are automatically saved in the celestial kingdom by virtue of the atonement. Little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin, the Lord says, wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me, that it hath no power over them. (Moroni 8:8; D&C 29:46-50; Mosiah 15:25; TPJS, 107.) The curse of Adam includes both temporal and spiritual death, and accordingly neither of these is binding upon children and those who have no understanding (D&C 29:50), that is, those who are not accountable. All such will be raised in immortality and unto eternal life. Christ is the only person ever to be born in the world who had power to bring to pass the resurrection of himself or anyone else and to atone for the sins of any living being. This is because he had life in himself; he had the power of immortality by divine inheritance. The atonement came by the power of God and not of man, and to understand it one must believe that our Lord was literally the Son of God (an immortal Personage) and of Mary (a mortal woman). From his mother he inherited mortality, the power to lay down his life, to die, to permit body and spirit to separate. From his Father he inherited the power of immortality, the power to keep body and spirit together, or voluntarily having permitted them to separate, the power to unite them again in the resurrected state. This power he exercised, becoming the first fruits of them that slept, and in a way incomprehensible to mortal man, he had the power to pass the effects of this resurrection on to all living creatures. I lay down my life, that I might take it again, he said. No man taketh it from

63 me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. (John 10:17-18.) Amulek bore this testimony: I do know that Christ shall come among the children of men, to take upon him the transgressions of his people, and that he shall atone for the sins of the world; for the Lord God hath spoken it. For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish; yea, all are hardened; yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which it is expedient should be made. For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice. Now there is not any man that can sacrifice his own blood which will stone for the sins of another. . . . Therefore there can be nothing which is short of an infinite atonement which will suffice for the sins of the world. (Alma 34:8-12.) When the prophets speak of an infinite atonement, they mean just that. Its effects cover all men, the earth itself and all forms of life thereon, and reach out into the endless expanses of eternity. The word atonement, it is written in the Compendium, signifies deliverance, through the offering of a ransom, from the penalty of a broken law. The sense is expressed in Job 33:24: Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom. As effected by Jesus Christ, it signifies the deliverance, through his death and resurrection, of the earth and everything pertaining to it, from the power which death has obtained over them through the transgression of Adam. Redemption from death, through the sufferings of Christ, is for all men, both the righteous and the wicked; for this earth, and for all things created upon it. (Compendium, 8-9.) Because of the atonement and by obedience to gospel law men have power to become the sons of God in that they are spiritually begotten of God and adopted as members of his family. They become the sons of God and joint-heirs with Christ of the fulness of the Fathers kingdom. (D&C 39:1-6; 76:54-60; Romans 8:14-17; Galatians 3:1-7; 1 John 3:1-4; Revelation 21:7.) Now our Lords jurisdiction and power extend far beyond the limits of this one small earth on which we dwell. He is, under the Father, the Creator of worlds without number (Moses 1:33). And through the power of his atonement the inhabitants of these worlds, the revelation says, are begotten sons and daughters unto God (D&C 76:24), which means that the atonement of Christ, being literally and truly infinite, applies to an infinite number of earths. Those who have ears to hear, find this doctrine taught in the following scripture: And we beheld the glory of the Son, on the right hand of the Father, and received of his fulness, the Prophet says in recording the Vision, And saw the holy angels, and them who are sanctified before his throne, worshiping God, and the Lamb, who worship him forever and ever. And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God. (D&C 76:20-24.) In addition to the plain meaning of this passage, we have an explanation of it given by the Prophet Joseph Smith. He paraphrased, in poetical rhyme, the entire record of the Vision [D&C 76], and his words covering this portion were:

64 I beheld round the throne holy angels and hosts, And sanctified beings from worlds that have been, In holiness worshipping God and the Lamb, For ever and ever. Amen and amen. And now after all of the proofs made of him, By witnesses truly, by whom was known, This is mine, last of all, that he lives; yea, he lives! And sits on the right hand of God on his throne. And I heard a great voice bearing record from heavn, Hes the Saviour and Only Begotten of God, By him, of him, and through him, the worlds were all made, Even all that careen in the heavens so broad. Whose inhabitants, too, from the first to the last, Are savd by the very same Saviour of ours; And of course, are begotten Gods daughters and sons By the very same truths and the very same powers (Millennial Star, volume 4, 49-55.)

65

The Atonement and the Value of One Soul


M. Russell Ballard The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
April 2004

This past January our family suffered the tragic loss of our grandson Nathan in an airplane crash. Nathan had served in the Russian-speaking Baltic Mission. He loved the people and knew it was a privilege to serve the Lord. Three months after I officiated at his eternal marriage to his sweetheart, Jennifer, this accident took his life. Nathans being taken so suddenly from our mortal presence has turned each of our hearts and minds to the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. While it is impossible for me to put into words the full meaning of the Atonement of Christ, I pray that I can explain what His Atonement means to me and our family and what it might also mean to you and yours. The Saviors precious birth, life, Atonement in the Garden of Gethsemane, suffering on the cross, burial in Josephs tomb, and glorious Resurrectionall became a renewed reality for us. The Saviors Resurrection assures all of us that someday we, too, will follow Him and experience our own resurrection. What peace, what comfort this great gift is which comes through the loving grace of Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind. Because of Him we know we can be with Nathan again. There is no greater expression of love than the heroic Atonement performed by the Son of God. Were it not for the plan of our Heavenly Father, established before the world began, in a very real sense, all mankindpast, present, and futurewould have been left without the hope of eternal progression. As a result of Adams transgression, mortals were separated from God (see Rom. 6:23) and would be forever unless a way was found to break the bands of death. This would not be easy, for it required the vicarious sacrifice of one who was sinless and who could therefore take upon Himself the sins of all mankind. Thankfully, Jesus Christ courageously fulfilled this sacrifice in ancient Jerusalem. There in the quiet isolation of the Garden of Gethsemane, He knelt among the gnarled olive trees, and in some incredible way that none of us can fully comprehend, the Savior took upon Himself the sins of the world. Even though His life was pure and free of sin, He paid the ultimate penalty for sinyours, mine, and everyone who has ever lived. His mental, emotional, and spiritual anguish were so great they caused Him to bleed from every pore (see Luke 22:44; D&C 19:18). And yet Jesus suffered willingly so that we might all have the opportunity to be washed cleanthrough having faith in Him, repenting of our sins, being baptized by proper priesthood authority, receiving the purifying gift of the Holy Ghost by confirmation, and accepting all other essential ordinances. Without the Atonement of the Lord, none of these blessings would be available to us, and we could not become worthy and prepared to return to dwell in the presence of God. The Savior later endured the agony of inquisition, cruel beatings, and death by crucifixion on the cross at Calvary. Recently, there has been a great deal of commentary about this, none of which has made clear the singular point that no one had the power to take the Saviors life from Him. He gave it as a ransom for us all. As the Son of God, He had the power to alter the situation. Yet the scriptures clearly state that He yielded Himself to scourging, humiliation, suffering, and finally crucifixion because of His great love towards the children of men (see 1 Ne. 19:910).

66 The Atonement of Jesus Christ was an indispensable part of our Heavenly Fathers plan for His Sons earthly mission and for our salvation. How grateful we should be that our Heavenly Father did not intercede but rather withheld His fatherly instinct to rescue His Beloved Son. Because of His eternal love for you and for me, He allowed Jesus to complete His foreordained mission to become our Redeemer. The gift of resurrection and immortality is given freely through the loving grace of Jesus Christ to all people of all ages, regardless of their good or evil acts. And to those who choose to love the Lord and who show their love and faith in Him by keeping His commandments and qualifying for the full blessings of the Atonement, He offers the additional promise of exaltation and eternal life, which is the blessing of living in the presence of God and His Beloved Son forever. We often sing a hymn that expresses what I feel when I consider the Saviors benevolent, atoning sacrifice: I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me, Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me. I tremble to know that for me he was crucified, That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died. Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind, is not dead. He livesthe resurrected Son of God livesthat is my testimony, and He guides the affairs of His Church today. In the spring of 1820, a pillar of light illuminated a grove of trees in upstate New York. Our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith. This experience began the restoration of powerful doctrinal truths that had been lost for centuries. Among those truths that had been dimmed by the darkness of apostasy was the stirring reality that we are all the spirit sons and daughters of a loving God who is our Father. We are part of His family. He is not a father in some allegorical or poetic sense. He is literally the Father of our spirits. He cares for each one of us. Though this world has a way of diminishing and demeaning men and women, the reality is we are all of royal, divine lineage. In that unprecedented appearance of the Father and the Son in the Sacred Grove, the very first word spoken by the Father of us all was the personal name of Joseph. Such is our Fathers personal relationship with each of us. He knows our names and yearns for us to become worthy to return to live with Him. Through the Prophet Joseph Smith came the Restoration of the gospel. The Lord Jesus Christ has once again revealed, through His chosen prophet, the ordinances and the priesthood authority to administer them for the salvation of all who will believe. Another prophet in another time was shown the nations of the earth (Moses 7:23). And the Lord showed Enoch all things, even unto the end of the world (Moses 7:67). Enoch saw also that Satan had a great chain in his hand, and it veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness; and he [Satan] looked up and laughed (Moses 7:26). With all that Enoch beheld, there was one thing that seemed to capture his attention above everything else. Enoch saw God look upon the residue of the people, and He wept (Moses 7:28). The sacred record then has Enoch asking God over and over: How is it that thou canst weep? How is it thou canst weep? (Moses 7:29, 31).

67 The Lord answered Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands ; unto thy brethren have I also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood (Moses 7:3233). Enoch saw the conditions of these latter days. He and other early prophets knew that only as we accept the Atonement in our lives and strive to live the gospel can we meet the challenges of life and find peace, joy, and happiness. Coming to understand this great gift is an individual pursuit for each child of God. Brothers and sisters, I believe that if we could truly understand the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, we would realize how precious is oneson or daughter of God. I believe our Heavenly Fathers everlasting purpose for His children is generally achieved by the small and simple things we do for one another. At the heart of the English word atonementis the word one. If all mankind understood this, there would never be anyone with whom we would not be concerned, regardless of age, race, gender, religion, or social or economic standing. We would strive to emulate the Savior and would never be unkind, indifferent, disrespectful, or insensitive to others. If we truly understood the Atonement and the eternal value of each soul, we would seek out the wayward boy and girl and every other wayward child of God. We would help them to know of the love Christ has for them. We would do all that we can to help prepare them to receive the saving ordinances of the gospel. Surely, if the Atonement of Christ was foremost in the minds of ward and branch leaders, no new or reactivated member would ever be neglected. Because every soul is so precious, leaders will counsel together to see that each one is taught the doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ. When I think of Nathan and how precious he is to us, I can see and feel more clearly how our Heavenly Father must feel about all of His children. We do not want God to weep because we did not do all we could to share with His children the revealed truths of the gospel. I pray that every one of our youth will seek to know the blessings of the Atonement and that they will strive to be worthy to serve the Lord in the mission field. Surely many more senior couples and others whose health will permit would eagerly desire to serve the Lord as missionaries if they would ponder over the meaning of the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was Jesus who said, If you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! (D&C 18:15; emphasis added). Not only that, but great shall be the Lords joy in the soul that repenteth! For precious unto Him is the one. Brothers and sisters, our Heavenly Father has reached out to us through the Atonement of our Savior. He invites all to come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption (Omni 1:26). He has taught us that it is through our faithful adherence to gospel principles, through receiving the saving ordinances that have been restored, through continual service, and by enduring to the end that we can return to His sacred presence. What possible thing in the whole world is remotely as important as to know this? Sadly, in todays world, a persons importance is often judged by the size of the audience before which he or she performs. That is how media and sports programs are rated, how corporate prominence is sometimes determined, and often how governmental rank is obtained. That may be why roles such as father, mother, and missionary seldom receive standing ovations. Fathers, mothers, and missionaries play before very small audiences. Yet, in the eyes of the Lord, there

68 may be only one size of audience that is of lasting importanceand that is just one, each one, you and me, and each one of the children of God. The irony of the Atonement is that it is infinite and eternal, yet it is applied individually, one person at a time. There is a level at which the childs hymn I Am a Child of God (Hymns,no. 301) harmonizes with the music of eternity. We are children of God. Each one of us is precious to the point of bringing the Lord God Almighty to a fulness of joy if we are faithful, or to tears if we are not. As the resurrected Savior said to the Nephites, so He might say to us today: Blessed are ye because of your faith. And now behold, my joy is full. And when he had said these words, he wept, and the multitude bare record of it, and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them (3 Ne. 17:20 21; emphasis added). Brothers and sisters, never, never underestimate how precious is the one.Remember always the simple admonition of the Lord: If ye love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15). Always strive to live worthy of the sacred full blessings of the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. In our sorrow over the separation from our dear Nathan has come the peace that only the Savior and Redeemer can give. Our family has turned to Him, one by one; and we now sing with greater appreciation and understanding: Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me Enough to die for me! Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me! My dear brothers and sisters, may you give to others and receive for yourselves every blessing the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ offers, I humbly pray, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

69

A Testimony of the Son of God


By President Gordon B. Hinckley
(Ensign, December 2002)

A little more than 2,000 years ago the Redeemer of mankind was born in Bethlehem of Judea (see D&C 20:1). While yet an infant, He was brought to the temple in Jerusalem. There Mary and Joseph heard the wonderful prophecies spoken by Simeon and Anna about the tiny babe who was destined to become the Savior of the world. He spent His boyhood in Nazareth of Galilee, and when 12 years of age He was brought to the temple again. Mary and Joseph found Him conversing with learned men, "and they were hearing him, and asking him questions" (JST, Luke 2:46). The Great Jehovah Later, as the Master stood on the temple's pinnacle, Satan tempted Him as He began His ministry. Still later, the Lord drove the money changers from the temple, declaring, "My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves" (Matt. 21:13). Jesus was in very deed the great Jehovah of the Old Testament, who left His Father's royal courts on high and condescended to come to earth as a babe born in the most humble of circumstances. His birth was foretold centuries earlier by Isaiah, who declared prophetically, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isa. 9:6). This Jesus Christ of whom we solemnly testify is, as John the Revelator declared, "the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth." He "loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever" (Rev. 1:56). The Savior of the World He was and is the Son of the Almighty. He was the only perfect man to walk the earth. He healed the sick and caused the lame to walk, the blind to see, the deaf to hear. He raised the dead. Yet He suffered His own life to be taken in an act of Atonement, the magnitude of which is beyond our comprehension. Luke records that this anguish was so great that "his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luke 22:44), a physical manifestation confirmed in both the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. The suffering in Gethsemane and on the cross of Calvary, just a few hundred meters from Gethsemane, included both physical and spiritual "temptations, . . . pain, . . . hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer," said King Benjamin, "except it be unto death" (Mosiah 3:7). After the agony of Gethsemane came His arrest, His trials, His condemnation, then the unspeakable pain of His death on the cross, followed by His burial in Joseph's tomb and the triumphant coming

70 forth in the Resurrection. He, the lowly babe of Bethlehem who two millennia ago walked the dusty roads of Palestine, became the Lord Omnipotent, the King of Kings, the Giver of Salvation to all. None can fully comprehend the splendor of His life, the majesty of His death, the universality of His gift to mankind. We unequivocally declare with the centurion who said at His death, "Truly this man was the Son of God" (Mark 15:39). Our Living Lord Such is the witness of the testament of the Old World, the Holy Bible. And there is another voice, that of the testament of the New World, wherein the Father introduced His resurrected Son, declaring, "Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name" (3 Ne. 11:7). Added to all of this is the declaration of modern prophets: "And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!" (D&C 76:22). No event of human history carries a more compelling witness than does the reality of the Resurrection. His followers on two continents testified of it. Uncounted millions of men and women through the ages have suffered, even unto death, for the witness in their hearts that He lives, the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind, whose Atonement came as an act of grace for the entire world. How long and how great is the concourse of brave and humble people who have kept alive the name of Jesus and a testimony of His Redemption! Now He has come again, in the latter days, to bless us and warm our hearts, to quicken our faith and bring us sure and certain knowledge of His living reality. We, of all people, can sing: Joy to the world, the Lord is come; Let earth receive her King! Let ev'ry heart prepare him room, And Saints and angels sing. ("Joy to the World," Hymns, no. 201) We honor Him, we worship Him, we love Him as our Redeemer, the great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New Testament. The entire thrust of the testimony of the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants declares our living Lord before whom we kneel in humility and faith. The Son of God And so at this Christmas season, we sing His praises and speak our words of faith and gratitude and love. It is His influence in our lives that stirs within us more kindness, more respect, more love, more concern. It is because of Him and His teachings that we reach out to those in trouble, distress, and need wherever they may be. It is proper during this season when we commemorate His birth that we remember the Lord Jesus Christ in reverence and with love. He has done for us what we could not do for ourselves. He has brought meaning to our mortal existence. He has given us the gift of eternal life. He was and is the

71 Son of God, who was "made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). God be thanked for the gift of His Son, the Redeemer of the world, the Savior of mankind, the Prince of Life and Peace, the Holy One.

72

The Purifying Power of Gethsemane


Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
(Ensign, May 1985)

I feel, and the Spirit seems to accord, that the most important doctrine I can declare, and the most powerful testimony I can bear, is of the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. His atonement is the most transcendent event that ever has or ever will occur from Creations dawn through all the ages of a never-ending eternity. It is the supreme act of goodness and grace that only a god could perform. Through it, all of the terms and conditions of the Fathers eternal plan of salvation became operative. Through it are brought to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Through it, all men are saved from death, hell, the devil, and endless torment. And through it, all who believe and obey the glorious gospel of God, all who are true and faithful and overcome the world, all who suffer for Christ and his word, all who are chastened and scourged in the Cause of him whose we areall shall become as their Maker and sit with him on his throne and reign with him forever in everlasting glory. In speaking of these wondrous things I shall use my own words, though you may think they are the words of scripture, words spoken by other Apostles and prophets. True it is they were first proclaimed by others, but they are now mine, for the Holy Spirit of God has borne witness to me that they are true, and it is now as though the Lord had revealed them to me in the first instance. I have thereby heard his voice and know his word. Two thousand years ago, outside Jerusalems walls, there was a pleasant garden spot, Gethsemane by name, where Jesus and his intimate friends were wont to retire for pondering and prayer. There Jesus taught his disciples the doctrines of the kingdom, and all of them communed with Him who is the Father of us all, in whose ministry they were engaged, and on whose errand they served. This sacred spot, like Eden where Adam dwelt, like Sinai from whence Jehovah gave his laws, like Calvary where the Son of God gave his life a ransom for many, this holy ground is where the Sinless Son of the Everlasting Father took upon himself the sins of all men on condition of repentance. We do not know, we cannot tell, no mortal mind can conceive the full import of what Christ did in Gethsemane. We know he sweat great gouts of blood from every pore as he drained the dregs of that bitter cup his Father had given him. We know he suffered, both body and spirit, more than it is possible for man to suffer, except it be unto death.

73 We know that in some way, incomprehensible to us, his suffering satisfied the demands of justice, ransomed penitent souls from the pains and penalties of sin, and made mercy available to those who believe in his holy name. We know that he lay prostrate upon the ground as the pains and agonies of an infinite burden caused him to tremble and would that he might not drink the bitter cup. We know that an angel came from the courts of glory to strengthen him in his ordeal, and we suppose it was mighty Michael, who foremost fell that mortal man might be. As near as we can judge, these infinite agoniesthis suffering beyond comparecontinued for some three or four hours. After thishis body then wrenched and drained of strengthhe confronted Judas and the other incarnate devils, some from the very Sanhedrin itself; and he was led away with a rope around his neck, as a common criminal, to be judged by the arch-criminals who as Jews sat in Aarons seat and who as Romans wielded Caesars power. They took him to Annas, to Caiaphas, to Pilate, to Herod, and back to Pilate. He was accused, cursed, and smitten. Their foul saliva ran down his face as vicious blows further weakened his pain-engulfed body. With reeds of wrath they rained blows upon his back. Blood ran down his face as a crown of thorns pierced his trembling brow. But above it all he was scourged, scourged with forty stripes save one, scourged with a multithonged whip into whose leather strands sharp bones and cutting metals were woven. Many died from scourging alone, but he rose from the sufferings of the scourge that he might die an ignominious death upon the cruel cross of Calvary. Then he carried his own cross until he collapsed from the weight and pain and mounting agony of it all. Finally, on a hill called Calvaryagain, it was outside Jerusalems wallswhile helpless disciples looked on and felt the agonies of near death in their own bodies, the Roman soldiers laid him upon the cross. With great mallets they drove spikes of iron through his feet and hands and wrists. Truly he was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. Then the cross was raised that all might see and gape and curse and deride. This they did, with evil venom, for three hours from 9:00 A.M. to noon. Then the heavens grew black. Darkness covered the land for the space of three hours, as it did among the Nephites. There was a mighty storm, as though the very God of Nature was in agony. And truly he was, for while he was hanging on the cross for another three hours, from noon to 3:00 P.M., all the infinite agonies and merciless pains of Gethsemane recurred.

74 And, finally, when the atoning agonies had taken their tollwhen the victory had been won, when the Son of God had fulfilled the will of his Father in all thingsthen he said, It is finished (John 19:30), and he voluntarily gave up the ghost. As the peace and comfort of a merciful death freed him from the pains and sorrows of mortality, he entered the paradise of God. When he had made his soul an offering for sin, he was prepared to see his seed, according to the messianic word. These, consisting of all the holy prophets and faithful Saints from ages past; these, comprising all who had taken upon them his name, and who, being spiritually begotten by him, had become his sons and his daughters, even as it is with us; all these were assembled in the spirit world, there to see his face and hear his voice. After some thirty-eight or forty hoursthree days as the Jews measured timeour Blessed Lord came to the Arimathaeans 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. Now, the atonement of Christ is the most basic and fundamental doctrine of the gospel, and it is the least understood of all our revealed truths. Many of us have a superficial knowledge and rely upon the Lord and his goodness to see us through the trials and perils of life. But if we are to have faith like Enoch and Elijah we must believe what they believed, know what they knew, and live as they lived. May I invite you to join with me in gaining a sound and sure knowledge of the Atonement. We must cast aside the philosophies of men and the wisdom of the wise and hearken to that Spirit which is given to us to guide us into all truth.

75 We must search the scriptures, accepting them as the mind and will and voice of the Lord and the very power of God unto salvation. As we read, ponder, and pray, there will come into our minds a view of the three gardens of God the Garden of Eden, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Garden of the Empty Tomb where Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene. In Eden we will see all things created in a paradisiacal statewithout death, without procreation, without probationary experiences. We will come to know that such a creation, now unknown to man, was the only way to provide for the Fall. We will then see Adam and Eve, the first man and the first woman, step down from their state of immortal and paradisiacal glory to become the first mortal flesh on earth. Mortality, including as it does procreation and death, will enter the world. And because of transgression a probationary estate of trial and testing will begin. Then in Gethsemane we will see the Son of God ransom man from the temporal and spiritual death that came to us because of the Fall. And finally, before an empty tomb, we will come to know that Christ our Lord has burst the bands of death and stands forever triumphant over the grave. Thus, Creation is father to the Fall; and by the Fall came mortality and death; and by Christ came immortality and eternal life. If there had been no fall of Adam, by which cometh death, there could have been no atonement of Christ, by which cometh life. And now, as pertaining to this perfect atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of GodI testify that it took place in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, and as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that he is the Son of the Living God and was crucified for the sins of the world. He is our Lord, our God, and our King. This I know of myself independent of any other person. I am one of his witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears. But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is Gods Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way. God grant that all of us may walk in the light as God our Father is in the light so that, according to the promises, the blood of Jesus Christ his Son will cleanse us from all sin. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen. Gospel topics: Jesus Christ, Atonement, resurrection

76

Apply the Atoning Blood of Christ


Elder Neal A. Maxwell Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
(Ensign, November 1997)

Brothers and sisters, I renew but also widen and deepen my specific expressions of everlasting gratitude given in April conference. I have been mercifully granted what might be called a delay en route. Whether short or long, it is a wonderful blessing from the Lord! I have thereby learned, however, that there is another side to the Why me? question, since some are not granted any delay en route at all. Whichever side of that question, what is needed is mortal submission, even when there is no immediate divine explanation. Thus we are to press forward, whatever the length of the near horizon, while rejoicing in what awaits us on the far horizon. In bringing to pass the beneficent Atonement, certain things were utterly unique to Jesus. These cannot be replicated by us, the beneficiaries of the glorious Atonement with its gift of universal resurrection but also its proffer of eternal life (see Moses 6:57-62). Obviously, unlike our precious Savior, we surely cannot atone for the sins of mankind! Moreover, we certainly cannot bear all mortal sicknesses, infirmities, and griefs (see Alma 7:11-12). However, on our smaller scale, just as Jesus has invited, we can indeed strive to become even as [He is] (3 Ne. 27:27). This process of developmental repentance occurs when we truly take His yoke upon us, thus finally qualifying for Gods greatest gifteternal life (see Matt. 11:29; D&C 6:13; D&C 14:7). It is this latter dimension of the Atonementnow more appreciated by meon which my brief focus will fall. Mortality presents us with numerous opportunities to become more Christlike: first, by coping successfully with those of lifes challenges which are common to man[kind] (1 Cor. 10:13). In addition, there are also our customized trials such as experiencing illness, aloneness, persecution, betrayal, irony, poverty, false witness, unreciprocated love, et cetera. If endured well now, all these things can be for our good and can greatly enlarge the soul, including an enlarged capacity for joy (D&C 122:7; D&C 121:42). Meek suffering often does the excavating necessary for that enlarging! My admiration goes to my many spiritual superiors who so exemplify for us all. In the world to come, to these, the most faithful, our generous Father will give all that [He] hath (D&C 84:38). Brothers and sisters, there isnt any more! These next examples from the Atonement are nonexclusive to Jesus, and special guidance is found in His instructive, personalized words about the Atonement. As He began to feel the awful weight of the approaching Atonement, Jesus acknowledged, For this cause came I into the world (John 18:37). We too, brothers and sisters, came into the world to pass through our particularized portions of the mortal experience. Even though our experiences do not even begin to approach our Masters, nevertheless, to undergo this mortal experience is why we too are here! Purposefully pursuing this cause brings ultimate meaning to our mortal lives. And we are greatly helped if we enter with faith that pavilion of perspectivethe plan of salvation. Then the search for meaning is ended, even though further and resplendent discoveries await us.

77 Alas, as Church members we sometimes behave like hurried tourists, scarcely venturing beyond the entry point. Next, as we confront our own lesser trials and tribulations, we too can plead with the Father, just as Jesus did, that we might not shrinkmeaning to retreat or to recoil (D&C 19:18). Not shrinking is much more important than surviving! Moreover, partaking of a bitter cup without becoming bitter is likewise part of the emulation of Jesus. Continuing, we too may experience moments of mortal aloneness. These moments are nothing compared to what Jesus experienced. Nevertheless, since our prayers may occasionally contain some whys, we too may experience Gods initial silence (see Matt. 27:46). Certain mortal whys are not really questions at all but are expressions of resentment. Other whys imply that the trial might be all right later on but not now, as if faith in the Lord excluded faith in His timing. Some why me questions, asked amid stress, would be much better as what questions, such as, What is required of me now? or, to paraphrase Moronis words, If I am sufficiently humble, which personal weakness could now become a strength? (see Ether 12:27). President Brigham Young spoke of what evoked the why from Jesus, saying that during the axis of agony which was Gethsemane and Calvary, the Father at some point withdrew both His presence and His Spirit from Jesus (see Journal of Discourses 3:205-6). Thereby Jesus personal triumph was complete and His empathy perfected. Having descended below all things, He comprehends, perfectly and personally, the full range of human suffering! (D&C 88:6; see D&C 122:8). A spiritual sung in yesteryear has an especially moving and insightful line: Nobody knows the troubles Ive seen, nobody knows but Jesus (see also Alma 7:11-12). Truly, Jesus was exquisitely acquainted with grief, as no one else (Isa. 53:3). By sharing as best we can in the sufferings and sicknesses of others, we too can develop our empathythat everlasting and vital virtue. We can also further develop our submissiveness to Gods will, so that amid our lesser but genuinely vexing moments we too can say, Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done (Luke 22:42). When heartfelt, this expression of obedience constitutes real petition followed by real submission. It is much more than polite deference. Rather, it is a deep yielding in which ones momentary uncertainty gives way to the certainty of Fathers rescuing love and mercy, attributes which drench His plan of salvation. We too can learn greater meekness by giving more glory to the Father in lieu of our attentiongetting behavior or any arrogant views of personal accomplishment, such as, My power and the might of mine [own] hand hath gotten me this wealth (Deut. 8:17). Jesus, who accomplished the most by far, was also the most glad to give all the glory to the Father. Alas, even when you and I do place something on the altar, we sometimes hang around as if waiting for a receipt. Amid the array of mortal tutorials, we too should strive to [finish our] preparations for the third and everlasting estate, which lies aheadthanks be to Jesus glorious Atonement (D&C 19:19). By so doing, we too can become completed and finished, having finally attained our varied individual potentials (see Matt. 5:48, footnote b). Though in a much smaller measure, we too may suffer the intensified, interactive pain of body and spiritphysical and mental anguish (D&C 19:18). Whatever the grim physical agonies of Jesus

78 Crucifixion, surely His utterly unique sufferings in spirit were absolutely enormous, as He bore our sins to atone for them and our sicknesses to understand them according to the flesh (see Alma 7:11-12). Intensification can be part of tutoring. Otherwise we may be like superficial students comfortably coasting and merely auditing a course. Then comes the intensifying moment: we suddenly find ourselves enrolled for credit, and its pass or fail! Periodically, we too will experience a measure of irony, that hard crust on the bread of adversity. Jesus met irony constantly as He was taunted by circumstances. For instance, this earth is Jesus footstool, but at Bethlehem there was no room in the inn and no crib for his bed, as foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head (Luke 2:7; Hymns, no. 206; Luke 9:58; see also Acts 7:49-50). The Most Innocent suffered the most when some of His subjects did unto Him as they listed (D&C 49:6). Bearer of the only salvational name, yet the Lord of the Universe lived modestly as a person of no reputation (Philip. 2:7; see also Acts 4:12; 2 Ne. 25:20; Abr. 3:27). Christ constructed the universe, yet in little Galilee He was known merely as the carpenters son (Matt. 13:55). You and I, when impacted by lesser irony, are so much more brittle, often forgetting that some tests by their very nature are unfair, especially when crusty irony is present. Thus, brothers and sisters, along with the great and free gift of the universal and personal resurrection there is also the personal possibility of meriting eternal life. Though stretched by our challenges, by living righteously and enduring well we can eventually become sufficiently more like Jesus in our traits and attributes, that one day we can dwell in the Fathers presence forever and ever. By so living now, our confidence will wax strong in the presence of God then (D&C 121:45). Confirmingly, the Prophet Joseph declared, If you wish to go where God is, you must be like God, or possess the principles which God possesses (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 216). Again, our experiences surely do not approach those of Jesus, yet the same principles and processes apply. His perfected attributes exemplify what can be much further developed by each of us. There is certainly no shortage of relevant clinical experiences, is there? Strange as it seems, we sometimes respond better to larger challenges than to the incessant small ones. For example, impatience with a spouse may occur while a more public challenge is managed quite well. One can be sincerely grateful for his major blessings but regularly murmur over minor irritations. One can have humility that is hierarchical: being humble up, but not humble down. Enduring large tests while failing the seemingly small quizzes just wont do. Such shortcomings must be addressed if we are really serious about becoming more like Jesus. While so striving daily, we will fall short. Hence the avoidance of discouragement is so vital. So where is the oft and much needed resilience to be found? Once again, in the glorious Atonement! Thereby we can know the lifting tide flowing from forgiveness. Furthermore, by applying the Atonement we can continue to access the other nurturing gifts of the Holy Ghost, each with its own rich resilience. The Holy Ghost will often preach sermons to us from the pulpit of memory. He will comfort us and reassure us. The burdens not lifted from us, He will help us to bear, thus enabling, even after we err, to continue with joy the soul-stretching journey of discipleship. After all, while the adversary clearly desires our lasting misery, the Father and the Son truly and constantly desire our everlasting happiness (see 2 Ne. 2:27).

79 Brothers and sisters, Christ paid such an enormous, enabling price for us! Will we not apply His Atonement in order to pay the much smaller price required for personal progress? (see Mosiah 4:2). Being valiant in our testimony of Jesus, therefore, includes being valiant in our efforts to live more as He lived (see D&C 76:79). We certainly cannot enter His kingdom without receiving the restored ordinances and keeping their associated covenants, but neither can we enter His kingdom without having significantly developed our charity and the other cardinal attributes (see Ether 12:34). Yes, we need the essential ordinances, but we also need the essential attributes. Yes, we need to keep our covenants, but we also need to develop our character. Do we not sing, More holiness give me, pleading that we can be more, Savior, like thee? (Hymns, no. 131). During this special process, how can you and I better insure that the precious blessings given by God are fully received by us? For my part, I desire that my blessings, including the recent delay en route, bring about my needed and greater spiritual refinement in addition to my grateful acknowledgment. Yes, you and I should count our blessings, but we should also make them count! Furthermore, since the focus in extremity falls on the things of eternity, such should be our focus in whatever remains of mortal brevity. This is my earnest prayer for me and for you in the holy name of Jesus Christ, amen.

80

The Mediator
Elder Boyd K. Packer Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
April 1977

What I shall say I could say much better if we were alone, just the two of us. It would be easier also if we had come to know one another, and had that kind of trust which makes it possible to talk of serious, even sacred things. If we were that close, because of the nature of what I shall say, I would study you carefully as I spoke. If there should be the slightest disinterest or distraction, the subject would quickly be changed to more ordinary things. I have not, to my knowledge, in my ministry said anything more important. I intend to talk about the Lord, Jesus Christ, about what He really didand why it matters now. One may ask, Aside from the influence He has had on society, what effect can He have on me individually? To answer that question I ask, have you ever been hard-pressed financially? Have you ever been confronted with an unexpected expense, a mortgage coming due, with really no idea how to pay it? Such an experience, however unpleasant, can be, in the eternal scheme of things, very, very useful. If you miss that lesson you may have to make it up before you are spiritually mature, like a course that was missed or a test that was failed. That may be what the Lord had in mind when He said, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. (Matt. 19:24.) Those who have faced a foreclosure know that one looks helplessly around, hoping for someone, anyone, to come to the rescue. This lesson is so valuable because there is a spiritual account, with a balance kept and a settlement due, that no one of us will escape. To understand this spiritual debt we must speak of such intangibles as love, faith, mercy, justice. Although these virtues are both silent and invisible, surely I do not need to persuade you that they are real. We learn of them by processes that are often silent and invisible as well. . We become so accustomed to learning through our physical sensesby sight and sound and smell, by taste and touchthat some of us seem to learn in no other way.

81 But there are spiritual things that are not registered that way at all. Some things we simply feel, not as we feel something we touch, but as we feel something we feel. There are things, spiritual things, that are registered in our minds and recorded in our memories as pure knowledge. A knowledge of things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass. (D&C 88:79; see also D&C 93:24, and Jacob 4:13.) As surely as we know about material things, we can come to know of spiritual things. Each of us, without exception, one day will settle that spiritual account. We will, that day, face a judgment for our doings in mortal life and face a foreclosure of sorts. One thing I know: we will be justly dealt with. Justice, the eternal law of justice, will be the measure against which we settle this account. Justice is usually pictured holding a set of scales and blindfolded against the possibility that she may be partial or become sympathetic. There is no sympathy in justice alone only justice! Our lives will be weighed on the scales of justice. The Prophet Alma declared: Justice claimeth the creature and executeth the law, and the law inflicteth the punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God. (Alma 42:22.) I commend to you the reading of the 42nd chapter of Alma. It reveals the place of justice and should confirm that the poet spoke the truth when he said, In the course of justice [only,] none of us should see salvation. (Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, IV. i. 199 200.) Let me tell you a storya parable. There once was a man who wanted something very much. It seemed more important than anything else in his life. In order for him to have his desire, he incurred a great debt. He had been warned about going into that much debt, and particularly about his creditor. But it seemed so important for him to do what he wanted to do and to have what he wanted right now. He was sure he could pay for it later. So he signed a contract. He would pay it off some time along the way. He didnt worry too much about it, for the due date seemed such a long time away. He had what he wanted now, and that was what seemed important. The creditor was always somewhere in the back of his mind, and he made token payments now and again, thinking somehow that the day of reckoning really would never come.

82 But as it always does, the day came, and the contract fell due. The debt had not been fully paid. His creditor appeared and demanded payment in full. Only then did he realize that his creditor not only had the power to repossess all that he owned, but the power to cast him into prison as well. I cannot pay you, for I have not the power to do so, he confessed. Then, said the creditor, we will exercise the contract, take your possessions, and you shall go to prison. You agreed to that. It was your choice. You signed the contract, and now it must be enforced. Can you not extend the time or forgive the debt? the debtor begged. Arrange some way for me to keep what I have and not go to prison. Surely you believe in mercy? Will you not show mercy? The creditor replied, Mercy is always so one-sided. It would serve only you. If I show mercy to you, it will leave me unpaid. It is justice I demand. Do you believe in justice? I believed in justice when I signed the contract, the debtor said. It was on my side then, for I thought it would protect me. I did not need mercy then, nor think I should need it ever. Justice, I thought, would serve both of us equally as well. It is justice that demands that you pay the contract or suffer the penalty, the creditor replied. That is the law. You have agreed to it and that is the way it must be. Mercy cannot rob justice. There they were: One meting out justice, the other pleading for mercy. Neither could prevail except at the expense of the other. If you do not forgive the debt there will be no mercy, the debtor pleaded. If I do, there will be no justice, was the reply. Both laws, it seemed, could not be served. They are two eternal ideals that appear to contradict one another. Is there no way for justice to be fully served, and mercy also? There is a way! The law of justice can be fully satisfied and mercy can be fully extended but it takes someone else. And so it happened this time. The debtor had a friend. He came to help. He knew the debtor well. He knew him to be shortsighted. He thought him foolish to have gotten himself into such a predicament. Nevertheless, he wanted to help because he loved him. He stepped between them, faced the creditor, and made this offer. I will pay the debt if you will free the debtor from his contract so that he may keep his possessions and not go to prison.

83 As the creditor was pondering the offer, the mediator added, You demanded justice. Though he cannot pay you, I will do so. You will have been justly dealt with and can ask no more. It would not be just. And so the creditor agreed. The mediator turned then to the debtor. If I pay your debt, will you accept me as your creditor? Oh yes, yes, cried the debtor. You save me from prison and show mercy to me. Then, said the benefactor, you will pay the debt to me and I will set the terms. It will not be easy, but it will be possible. I will provide a way. You need not go to prison. And so it was that the creditor was paid in full. He had been justly dealt with. No contract had been broken. The debtor, in turn, had been extended mercy. Both laws stood fulfilled. Because there was a mediator, justice had claimed its full share, and mercy was fully satisfied. Each of us lives on a kind of spiritual credit. One day the account will be closed, a settlement demanded. However casually we may view it now, when that day comes and the foreclosure is imminent, we will look around in restless agony for someone, anyone, to help us. And, by eternal law, mercy cannot be extended save there be one who is both willing and able to assume our debt and pay the price and arrange the terms for our redemption. Unless there is a mediator, unless we have a friend, the full weight of justice untempered, unsympathetic, must, positively must fall on us. The full recompense for every transgression, however minor or however deep, will be exacted from us to the uttermost farthing. But know this: Truth, glorious truth, proclaims there is such a Mediator. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. (1 Tim. 2:5.) Through Him mercy can be fully extended to each of us without offending the eternal law of justice. This truth is the very root of Christian doctrine. You may know much about the gospel as it branches out from there, but if you only know the branches and those branches do not touch that root, if they have been cut free from that truth, there will be no life nor substance nor redemption in them. The extension of mercy will not be automatic. It will be through covenant with Him. It will be on His terms, His generous terms, which include, as an absolute essential, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins.

84 All mankind can be protected by the law of justice, and at once each of us individually may be extended the redeeming and healing blessing of mercy. A knowledge of what I am talking about is of a very practical value. It is very useful and very helpful personally; it opens the way for each of us to keep his spiritual accounts paid up. You, perhaps, are among those troubled people. When you come face to face with yourself in those moments of quiet contemplationthat many of us try to avoidare there some unsettled things that bother you? Do you have something on your conscience? Are you still, to one degree or another, guilty of anything small or large? We often try to solve guilt problems by telling one another that they dont matter. But somehow, deep inside, we dont believe one another. Nor do we believe ourselves if we say it. We know better. They do matter! Our transgressions are all added to our account, and one day if it is not properly settled, each of us, like Belshazzar of Babylon, will be weighed in the balance and found wanting. There is a Redeemer, a Mediator, who stands both willing and able to appease the demands of justice and extend mercy to those who are penitent, for He offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered. (2 Ne. 2:7.) Already He has accomplished the redemption of all mankind from mortal death; resurrection is extended to all without condition. He also makes possible redemption from the second death, which is the spiritual death, which is separation from the presence of our Heavenly Father. This redemption can come only to those who are clean, for no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God. If justice decrees that we are not eligible because of our transgression, mercy provides a probation, a penitence, a preparation to enter in. I have carried with me a great desire to bear testimony of the Lord, Jesus Christ. I have yearned to tell you in as simple terms as I can, what He did, and who He is. Although I know how poor mere words can be, I know also that such feelings are often carried by the spirit, even without words. At times I struggle under the burden of imperfections. Nevertheless, because I know that He lives, there is a supreme recurring happiness and joy. There is one place where I am particularly vulnerablewhen I know that I have abused someone, or caused them hurt, or offended them. It is then I know what agony is.

85 How sweet it is, on those occasions, to be reassured that He lives, and to have my witness reaffirmed. I want, with fervent desire, to show you how our burdens of disappointment, sin, and guilt can be laid before Him, and on His generous terms have each item on the account marked, Paid in Full. I claim with my brethren of the Twelve to be a special witness of Him. My witness, and theirs, is true. I love the Lord, and I love the Father who sent Him. Eliza R. Snow, with deep spiritual inspiration, wrote these words, with which I close. How great the wisdom and the love That filled the courts on high And sent the Savior from above To suffer, bleed, and die! His precious blood He freely spilt; His life He freely gave, A sinless sacrifice for guilt, A dying world to save. How great, how glorious, how complete, Redemptions grand design, Where justice, love, and mercy meet In harmony divine! In the name of Jesus Christ, amen. Note: This link will take you to an on-line video presentation of the parable President Packer related in this talk: http://www.lds.org/media-library/video/book-of-mormon-presentations?lang=eng#2007-01-0005the-mediator

86

Our Acceptance of Christ


Elder Neal A. Maxwell Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
June 1984 Ensign

The most important question in human history is one which echoes down through the corridors of time; it will not go away: Jesus asked them what think ye of Christ? (Matt. 22:4142.) Sooner or later, this will be the vital question for all mortals, including you, my friends! A failure to answer this question is an answer. Granted, there have been and still are many mortals on this planet who do not yet know the name of Jesus Christ, let alone accept him as their Redeemer. Many others are too preoccupied with the cares of the world. Still others acknowledge Jesus as a great moral teacher, as if he were merely a one-time Socrates of Samaria or a Plato who lived in Palestine. Ancient prophets not only foresaw the coming of Jesus in his mortal ministry but also the reaction to Jesus. Alas, most would merely consider him a man. (Mosiah 3:9.) And the world, because of their iniquity, shall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him, and he suffereth it. Yea, they spit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men. (1 Ne. 19:9.) The Apostle John highlighted the differing opinions in that time concerning Jesus: Many of the people said, Of a truth this is the Prophet. Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? So there was a division among the people because of him. And every man went unto his own house. (John 7:4043, 53.) Yet the Holy Scriptures tell us, again and again, that he who was known as Jesus of Nazareth is so much more than a man, even a man of genuine historical significance. In fact, he is our resurrected Redeemer, our Lord and Savior! Therefore, what one thinks of Christ represents a determination of deep significance which will affect not only this life, but all eternity as well. Human history, in fact, has no ultimate meaning without Christ. Christ is the verification of Gods purposes for mankind, of the meaning of this life; He is the assurance of life to come. To accept

87 him is an act drenched in meaning and significance. To testify of him is to testify to the reality of all that matters. One day, in a moment of unparalleled drama, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ. (See Philip. 2:1011; D&C 88:104.) Even so, as foreseen, too many mortals today judge [Jesus] to be a thing of naught. (1 Ne. 19:9.) Yet the Holy scriptures testify abundantly and repeatedly of him! (John 5:39.) Hence, as true Christians, we unhesitatingly talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ. (2 Ne. 25:26.) Some, however, seek in vain to substitute Caesars for Christ. Others, ironically, have become crusaders without the cross, having removed the divinity of Jesus Christ from the center of their beliefs. Thus, as the theology of many has been flattened, so have their hopes, and for them there is neither saving shelter nor landmark on the windswept horizon. There is, however, a people and a church humbly, yet gladly, bearing the name of Jesus Christ and built upon the fulness of his gospel. This people strive to follow the counsel of our resurrected Savior, who said, Hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold, I am the light which ye shall hold upthat which ye have seen me do. (3 Ne. 18:24.) There is, in fact, no human circumstance to which the example of Jesus and the principles of his gospel cannot bring either remedy or reassurance. There is no human challenge to which Jesus gospel cannot respond specifically and effectively, if applied. There is no life which the gospel cannot ennoble, enrich, and enlighten. There is no mortal uncertainty which the Light of Christ cannot clarify, and no darkness it cannot dispel. Indeed, the fulness of his gospel tells mankind plainly of the greatest fundamental realities of the universe. Christs doctrines are relevance itself! Furthermore, so far as human salvation and exaltation are concerned, there is no other way and no other name under heaven whereby man can be saved except that of Jesus Christ. (See Mosiah 3:17.) Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Be it known unto you all the name of Jesus Christ. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:812; see also 2 Ne. 25:20.)

88 Hence, those of us who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regard it a humble privilege to have his name in the formal title of his and our Church. One of Jesus Apostles, Paul, actually grieved because some members of the Church of Jesus Christ in the meridian of time wrongly thought of themselves as being Pauls or Peters or some others converts. (See 1 Cor. 1:1213.) True Christians, then and now, are converts to Christ and should not be known by the name of even his most devoted follower. When Christians gather together, they are, as Jesus instructed, to gather in my name. (Matt. 18:20.) We are to pray to the Father in Jesus name. When we suffer, we should do it, Jesus said, for my names sake. (Acts 9:16.) Consistently, therefore, his Church bears his name and is built upon the fulness of his gospel. (See 3 Ne. 27:89.) Humbly, as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I say to you not only that Jesus lived, but that he liveswith all that those words imply! Furthermore, by revelation, he placed his name upon his restored Church in these, the latter days. During his mortal ministry, Jesus organized a church with formal authority. This cannot be doubted. As Paul wrote, that church was built upon the foundation of Apostles and prophets. (See Eph. 2:20.) The valiant struggle of Jesus followers to implement his teachings fills the pages of the New Testament. Now it is for us who live today to give our response to the key question: What do we think of Christ? However, we must first ascertain who Jesus is. It was Jesus Christ, under the direction of God the Father, who created this earth. In Jesus premortal state, where he was deity before his mortality, Christ was the Creator. The Apostle John referred to Jesus, saying: All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:3.) Under the direction of his Father, Jesus was the Creator, not only of this world, but, as Paul wrote, of other worlds as well. (See Heb. 1:23.) Elsewhere, we read: And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten. (Moses 1:33.) Why all this creating? Because the decreed and redemptive purpose of God the Father is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. (Moses 1:39.) This was the very purpose for this planet about which Isaiah spoke: For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited. (Isa. 45:18.) This inhabited earth has thus become mankinds mortal schoolhouse.

89 We rightly marvel and even worry over the earths delicate ecological balances, the manner in which this planet is so tilted and orbited that it is inhabitable, with soil, seasons, and moisture. Moreover, Jesus, who formed this planet under the direction of the Father, likewise took as much care in planning the curriculum of this lifes learning experiences as in planning the schoolhouse itself. Thus, this act of creation was an act of divine love, fulfilling Gods purpose to provide for all of us the needed experience of mortality, to be followed by a judgment according to our individual works, and by the glorious resurrection. The scriptures tell us of Gods unfolding plan that Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy. (2 Ne. 2:25.) And Pauls confirming and reassuring utterance was, For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Cor. 15:22.) Hence, Jesus, our glorious Creator, is also the glorious Guarantor and Insurer of our blessed resurrection! No Father has been honored so perfectly and circumspectly as Jesus honored his Heavenly Father. Christ said to call no man good except the Father. (See Matt. 19:17.) Likewise, Jesus declared he could do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do. (John 5:19.) Humbly and boldly, Jesus nevertheless declared who he was: Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6.) It was thus through the atonement of Jesus Christ, the Fathers Only Begotten Son in the flesh, that death was overcome, making possible the glorious resurrection. Jesus inherited immortality, power over death, from God, the Father, but from his mortal mother, Mary, the power to die. Christs unique status meant that he gave his life voluntarily, that we might live! To ponder the miraculous resurrection is overwhelming, yet it is a reality! In a world in which many wonder if life has purpose and meaning, the gospel of Jesus Christ declares, simply and emphatically, that all Gods purposes will be fulfilled on this planet. God does nothing except it be for the benefit of mankind! (See 2 Ne. 26:24.) A most blessed benefit is the glorious resurrection, brought to pass by Jesus voluntary atonement, that saving act which Christ was foreordained to accomplish. The resurrection of Jesus Christ and the extension of that resurrection to all mankind are proof of his divinity and love. After Gethsemane and Calvary, the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. (Matt. 27:5253.) As the Book of Mormon likewise attests, the same verified miracle of the Resurrection occurred on this hemisphere after the atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Hence, this book, the Bibles companion volume of scripture, is rightly called another testament of Christ (see Ensign, Nov. 1982, p. 53), testifying likewise of the wonder of the Resurrection.

90 We need not doubt the reality of the Resurrection simply because we do not understand it. We witness the constant miracle of birth; it is real, although not fully understood. The coming of a newborn child occurs under the direction of a loving Father in Heaven. So will the resurrection of everyone who has lived, who now lives, or who will yet live upon this planet. Gods ways are higher than mans ways. We, as his children, barely understand the minutia of the multiplication tables of human existence, let alone the calculus of the cosmos. God could tell us neither how he brought to pass the Creation nor how he made possible the reality of the Resurrection, because, in our present condition, we would not be able to understand it fully. Besides, it is not important that we know the how of the Atonement and Resurrectionit is enough that we know the redemptive reality of the Atonement and Resurrection. One prophet summed up the focus of such faith well: I know that [God] loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things. (1 Ne. 11:17.) We mortals are so provincial. Once people thought the world was flat. Now we know better. Once the miracle of flight was but a dream. Now it is an everyday occurrence. Only a few years ago, astronauts, in their daring, captured our imagination. Now they come and go with but minor attention. As mankinds physical horizons have broadened, unfortunately our spiritual horizons have remained shrunken. This is so because many are uncertain or indifferent concerning Christ. Mercifully, in achieving the Atonement, Jesus Christ was not indifferent to us. He took upon himself our sins. He redeemed and purchased us with his blood. (See Acts 20:28.) He ransomed us from both physical and spiritual death. (see Matt. 20:28; 1 Tim. 2:6.) He became, as Paul wrote, our Mediator with God the Father. (See 1 Tim. 2:5.) The very sacrament of the Lords Supper is in remembrance of his supernal sacrifice and atonementfrom Gethsemane to Calvaryduring which he perspired, as it were, great drops of blood. (See Luke 22:19, 44.) Why? Because, as our personal Savior, he not only bore our sins in the awful arithmetic of the Atonement, but in his mortal ministry he also suffered pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. (Alma 7:1112.)

91 My friends, Jesus is our Savior! This blessed fact will not go away, and it should stir within us undying gratitude and cause us to place Christ at the center of our lives by accepting him and the terms he has laid down as our Redeemer. We begin to appreciate the Atonement with more than passive intellectual acknowledgement only when, as in the words of one prophet, we accept the terms of his atonement and apply the atoning blood of Christ. (Mosiah 4:2.) We do this by repenting of our sins and by having them washed away by the holy ordinance of baptism, an act of both cleansing and commitment, and by receiving the confirming witness of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter. Without this conversion and rebirth, and without its resulting childlike spiritual submissiveness, Christ has told us we can neither see nor enter his kingdom. (See Matt. 18:3; John 3:35.) Signifying his full obedience to God, the Father, Christ, though sinless, was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. (See Matt. 3:1315.) And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfill all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water! (2 Ne. 31:5.) If we fail to accept Christ, we must, in his own words, eventually face that dreadful moment when we must suffer for our own sins. The resurrected Jesus said his suffering for us was how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not Which suffering caused myself to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spiritand would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men. (D&C 19:15, 1819.) In fact, the atonement of Jesus Christ is the central act in all of human history. It is by the Light of Christ that we see everything else in true perspective. And bathed in that Light, everything else is subordinate! I pray earnestly that we will not hesitate or equivocate concerning our acceptance of Christ as some did even during Jesus ministry. Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. (John 12:4243.) For some, alas, it is easier to bend the knee in superficial devotion than to bend the mind constantly toward Christ.

92 My brothers and sisters, accept fully and personally the great and reassuring realities of the universe, at the center of which is a loving Father in Heaven who gave to us his Only Begotten Son to bring to pass his plan for mankind, which is one of redemption and happiness! (See Alma 42:8, 16.) As one prophet rightly exclaimed, O how great the plan of our God! (2 Ne. 9:13.) Then he invited all to come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there. (2 Ne. 9:41.) We will then need to give account of each word, thought, and act to Jesus, our Judge. (See Alma 12:14.) Then, surely, no man will judge Jesus to be a thing of naught! Now, may I give you my personal answer to the key questionwhat I think of Christ, indeed, know of Christ! I testify, as the New Testament records, that Jesus was, in fact, actually profferred the kingdoms of the world by Satan. I thank him for declining this specious offer, since all eternity would have been shaken, for Jesus grip on himself was also mankinds only hold on the future. I testify that he is the Divine Savior and Redeemer of all mankind. He who did not need to die for himself was willing to die for us, to be bound by the chains of death, so he could exercise the power of God his Father which was inherent in him and thereby break them for all mankind. I testify that, through Jesus atonement, he is thereby our Mediator and Advocate with the flawless Father. I testify that, in eloquent example, he partook voluntarily of the bitter cup in the awful Atonement. I thank him, likewise, for not interceding on our behalf, even when we sometimes pray in faith, for that which would not be right for us. (See 3 Ne. 18:20.) Our glimpse of Gethsemane, especially, should teach us that all prayers are petitions! I testify that, though Christ never needed it himself, he gave to us what we desperately needed, that program of progressrepentancewhich beckons us to betterness. Whether he is descriptively designated as Creator, Only Begotten Son, Prince of Peace, Advocate, Mediator, Son of God, Savior, Messiah, Author and Finisher of Salvation, or King of Kings, I witness that Jesus Christ is the only name under heaven whereby one can be saved! (See D&C 18:23.) I testify that he is utterly incomparable in what he is, what he knows, what he has accomplished, and what he has experienced. Yet, movingly, he calls us his friends. (See John 15:15; D&C 84:77.) We can trust, worship, and even adore him without any reservation! He is the only perfect person to sojourn on this planet; there is, as Isaiah declared, none like him! (See Isa. 46:9.)

93 In intelligence and performance, Christ far surpasses the individual and the composite capacities and achievements of all who have lived, live now, and will yet live! (See Abr. 3:19.) He rejoices in our genuine goodness and achievement. Yet, any assessment of where we stand in relation to him tells us that we do not stand at all! We kneelhumbly and gladly! We cannot, even in the depths of disease, tell him anything at all about suffering. In ways we cannot comprehend, our sicknesses and infirmities were borne by him even before they were borne by us. (See Alma 7:1112; Matt. 8:17.) The very weight of our combined sins caused him to descend below all. (See D&C 122:8.) We have never been, nor will we be, in personal depths such as he has known. Thus, his atonement demonstrated and perfected his empathy and his capacity to succor us, for which we can be everlastingly grateful as he tutors us in our trials. There was no ram in the thicket at Calvary to spare Jesus, this Friend of Abraham and Isaac. Those who yearn for hearth or home cannot instruct him as to what it is like to be homeless or on the move. Did he not say in a disclosing moment that the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head? (Matt. 8:20.) We cannot counsel him about being misrepresented, misunderstood, or betrayedor what it is like when even friends falter. (See John 18.) We cannot educate him regarding injustice or compare failures of judicial systems with the Giver of the Law, who, in divine dignity, endured its substantive and procedural perversion. And when we feel so alone, we cannot presume to teach him who, at the apogee of his agony, trod the winepress alone anything about feeling forsaken. (See D&C 76:107; Matt. 27:46.) The childless who crave children can count on his empathy, for he loved children and said of such is the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 19:14), and one by one, [he] blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them. And when he had done this he wept again. (3 Ne. 17:2122.) We dare not presume to teach him about enduring irony! His last remaining possessiona cloak was gambled for even as he died on the cross. (See Matt. 27:35.) Yet the very earth was Jesus footstool! Jesus, who represented God by right of birth, gave mankind living water so that we shall never thirst again. Yet on the cross he was given vinegar! (See John 4:714; Matt. 27:48.) We cannot lecture him on liberty. He sets us free from our last enemiessin and death.

94 Those who revere human freedom, yet complain about human suffering, can never achieve real reconciliation except through Jesus gospel, which, alone, balances liberty and love, human agency and purpose. Those concerned with nourishing the poor cannot advise him concerning feeding the multitudes. Those who are concerned with medicine cannot instruct him about healing the sick. Nor can we inform the Atoner about the sting of ingratitude when ones service goes unappreciated or unnoticed. Only one leper in ten thanked Jesus, who asked searchingly, but where are the nine? (Luke 17:17.) Those concerned with lengthening their lifespan cannot enlighten the Resurrector of all mankind. Scientists whose discipline brings the discovery of some of the interweavings in the tapestry of truth cannot instruct the Tapestry Maker. We cannot seek to instruct him in courage, nor should we rush to show him our mortal medals. Jesus bears special wounds in his hands, feet, and side, the marks of his ultimate courage. His word of power actually brings entire new worlds into being and causes other worlds to pass away. (See Moses 1:3538.) Yet, in the midst of such galactic governance, he interviewed his [Nephite] Twelve one by one (See 3 Ne. 28:1) and later called a farm boy in rural New York to be his prophet. He has invited us to observe his cosmic craftsmanship in the heavens that we might see God moving in his majesty and power. (D&C 88:47.) However, do we not also see him moving in his majesty and power as each prodigal finally completes his homeward orbit? Though his creations are so vast as to be numberless even to computerized man (Moses 1:35, 37), Jesus has told us that the very hairs of our head are numbered and that not even a sparrow falls unnoticed by him. (See Matt. 10:2931.) Did not the resurrected Jesus stand by an imprisoned Paul telling him to be of good cheer and calling him on his mission to Rome? (See Acts 23:11.) Likewise, Jesus stands by the righteous in all their individual ordeals. We who are so forgetful and even rebellious are never forgotten by him! We mortals are his work and his glory (Moses 1:39), and he is never distracted! Indeed, we cannot teach him anything. But we can listen to him. We can love him, honor him, and worship him. We can take up the cross. We can join and serve in his Church.

95 In addition to my boundless admiration of Jesus Christ for his achievements and to my adoration of him for what he is, as one of his special witnesses in the fulness of times, I attest to the fulness of his ministry! How dare some treat his ministry as if it were all beatitudes and no declaratives! How myopic it is to view his ministry as all crucifixion and no resurrection! Jesus Christ is the Jehovah of the Red Sea and of Sinai, the resurrected Lord! One day, however, all flesh shall see him together. All knees shall bow in his presence, and all tongues confess his name. (See D&C 76:110111; Philip. 2:1011.) Knees which never before have assumed that posture for that purpose will do so thenpromptly. Tongues which have never before spoken his name, except in gross profanity, will do so thenworshipfully. One day, he who was once mockingly dressed in purple will come again, attired in red apparel, reminding us dramatically whose blood redeemed us. (See D&C 133:4849.) All will then acknowledge the completeness of his justice and his mercy. (See Alma 12:15.) Then mortals will see how human indifference to Godnot Gods indifference to humanityaccounts for so much misery and suffering. Then we will see the story of mankindbut not through glass darkly. The great military battles will appear as mere bonfires which blazed briefly, and the provincial mortal accounts of the human experience will be but graffiti on the walls of time. So, we return to the central question, What think ye of Christ? (Matt. 22:4142.) Though some of you may have participated in public prayer, but seldom, if ever, in private prayer, I urge younowto find precious moments alone, to kneel down, and to ask God the Father concerning these truths about his Son, our Divine Redeemer! Even if you perhaps feel your faith is frail, do as did one courageous person who was not even sure there was a God. He both asked and promised in these halting words: O God, if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee. (Alma 22:18.) Desire to know for yourself, and let this desire work in you. Read, study, and apply Jesus words. He has promised, If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God. (John 7:17.) It is not by accident that representatives of the Savior have sought you out from among the world, for his sheep know his voice and the voice of his servants. As he himself has said, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same. (D&C 1:38.)

96 It is his voice which now calls you into his formal foldinto his Church. He has work for you to do, in the greatest adventure you will ever know. Accept him, my beloved friends! Believe on his words! The hymn O Divine Redeemer contains pleadings which are my pleadings, and the pleadings of any who sincerely and reverently approach the Redeemer of the World: Ah! turn me not away, Receive me tho unworthy; Hear thou my cry, Behold, Lord, my distress. Shield me in danger! O regard me, O Divine Redeemer Grant me pardon, and remember not, remember not, O Lord, my sins. Help me, O Divine Redeemer. My friends, I gladly and humbly testify that our Divine Redeemer lives, with all that those precious and true words imply. In the holy name of Jesus Christ, amen.

97

Messages on the Atonement


President Thomas S. Monson
One Who Changed the World Turning the pages of scriptural history from beginning to end, we learn of the ultimate pioneer even Jesus Christ. His birth was foretold by the prophets of old; His entry upon the stage of life was announced by an angel. His life and His ministry have transformed the world. With the birth of the babe in Bethlehem, there emerged a great endowment, a power stronger than weapons, a wealth more lasting than the coins of Caesar. This child was to be the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Promised Messiah, even Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Born in a stable, cradled in a manger, He came forth from heaven to live on earth as mortal man and to establish the kingdom of God. During His earthly ministry, He taught men the higher law. His glorious gospel reshaped the thinking of the world. He blessed the sick. He caused the lame to walk, the blind to see, the deaf to hear. He even raised the dead to life. One sentence from the book of Acts speaks volumes: Jesus went about doing good, for God was with him. He taught us to pray: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. In the garden known as Gethsemane, where His suffering was so great that blood came from His pores, He pleaded as He prayed, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. He taught us to serve: Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. He taught us to forgive: I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men. He taught us to love: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Like the true pioneer He was, He invited, Come, follow me. Let us turn to Capernaum. There Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came to the Master, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.26 Then came the news from the rulers house: Thy daughter is dead.27 Christ responded, Be not afraid, only believe.28 He came to the house, passed by the mourners, and said to them: Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn,29 knowing that she was dead. He put them all out. And he took [her] by the hand, and said unto her, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; and they were astonished.30

98 He is Risen Our Father knew that because of the nature of mortality, we would be tempted, would sin, and would fall short. So that we might have every chance of success, He provided a Savior, who would suffer and die for us. Not only would He atone for our sins, but as a part of that Atonement, He would also overcome the physical death to which we would be subject because of the Fall of Adam. Thus, more than 2,000 years ago, Christ, our Savior, was born to mortal life in a stable in Bethlehem. The long-foretold Messiah had come. There was very little written of the boyhood of Jesus. I love the passage from Luke: And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.6 And from the book of Acts, there is a short phrase concerning the Savior which has a world of meaning: [He] went about doing good.7 He was baptized by John in the river Jordan. He called the Twelve Apostles. He blessed the sick. He caused the lame to walk, the blind to see, the deaf to hear. He even raised the dead to life. He taught, He testified, and He provided a perfect example for us to follow. And then the mortal mission of the Savior of the world drew to its close. A last supper with His Apostles took place in an upper room. Ahead lay Gethsemane and Calvarys cross. No mere mortal can conceive the full import of what Christ did for us in Gethsemane. He Himself later described the experience: [The] suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit.8 Following the agony of Gethsemane, now drained of strength, He was seized by rough, crude hands and taken before Annas, Caiaphas, Pilate, and Herod. He was accused and cursed. Vicious blows further weakened His pain-racked body. Blood ran down His face as a cruel crown fashioned of sharp thorns was forced onto His head, piercing His brow. And then once again He was taken to Pilate, who gave in to the cries of the angry mob: Crucify him, crucify him.9 He was scourged with a whip into whose multiple leather strands sharp metals and bones were woven. Rising from the cruelty of the scourge, with stumbling steps He carried His own cross until He could go no farther and another shouldered the burden for Him. Finally, on a hill called Calvary, while helpless followers looked on, His wounded body was nailed to a cross. Mercilessly He was mocked and cursed and derided. And yet He cried out, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.10 The agonizing hours passed as His life ebbed. From His parched lips came the words, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.11 As the serenity and solace of a merciful death freed Him from the sorrows of mortality, He returned to the presence of His Father. At the last moment, the Master could have turned back. But He did not. He passed beneath all things that He might save all things.

99 The First to Rise It is emotionally draining for me to recount the events leading up to the Crucifixion of the Master. I cringe when I read of Pilate responding to cries of the throng: Crucify him, crucify him.31 Pilate took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.32 Jesus was mocked. He was spit upon and a crown of thorns placed upon His head. He was given vinegar to drink. They crucified Him. His body was placed in a borrowed tomb, but no tomb could hold the body of the Lord. On the morning of the third day came the welcome message to Mary Magdalene, to Mary the mother of James, and to other women who were with them as they came to the tomb, saw the large entrance stone rolled away, and noted the tomb was empty. Two angels said to the weeping women: Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen.33 Yes, the Lord had indeed risen. He appeared to Mary; He was seen by Cephas, or Peter, then by His brethren of the Twelve. He was seen by Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, who declared: This is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God.34 Our Mediator, our Redeemer, our Brother, our Advocate with the Father died for our sins and the sins of all mankind. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the foreordained but voluntary act of the Only Begotten Son of God. He offered His life as a redeeming ransom for us all. His mission, His ministry among men, His teachings of truth, His acts of mercy, His unwavering love for us prompt our gratitude and warm our hearts. Jesus Christ, Savior of the worldeven the Son of Godwas and is the ultimate pioneer, for He has gone before, showing all others the way to follow. May we ever follow Him.

The Savior of the World He who taught us to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, and with all our souls, and with all our strength, and with all our minds, and our neighbors as ourselves, is a teacher of truthbut He is more than a teacher. He is the Exemplar of the perfect lifebut He is more than an exemplar. He is the Great Physicianbut He is more than a physician. He is the literal Savior of the world, the Son of God, the Prince of Peace, the Holy One of Israel, even the risen Lord, who declared: Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. I am the light and the life of the worldI am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father. As His witness, I testify to you that He lives and that through Him, we too shall live.

100

None Were with Him


Elder Jeffrey R. Holland Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
April 2009 General Conference Address

Brothers and sisters, my Easter-season message today is intended for everyone, but it is directed in a special way to those who are alone or feel alone or, worse yet, feel abandoned. These might include those longing to be married, those who have lost a spouse, and those who have lostor have never been blessed withchildren. Our empathy embraces wives forsaken by their husbands, husbands whose wives have walked away, and children bereft of one or the other of their parents or both. This group can find within its broad circumference a soldier far from home, a missionary in those first weeks of homesickness, or a father out of work, afraid the fear in his eyes will be visible to his family. In short it can include all of us at various times in our lives. To all such, I speak of the loneliest journey ever made and the unending blessings it brought to all in the human family. I speak of the Saviors solitary task of shouldering alone the burden of our salvation. Rightly He would say: I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me. I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold [me].1 As President Uchtdorf so beautifully noted earlier, we know from scripture that Jesuss messianic arrival in Jerusalem on the Sunday preceding Passover, a day directly analogous to this very morning, was a great public moment. But eagerness to continue walking with Him would quickly begin to wane. Soon enough He was arraigned before the Israelite leaders of the dayfirst Annas, the former high priest, then Caiaphas, the current high priest. In their rush to judgment these men and their councils declared their verdict quickly and angrily. What further need have we of witnesses? they cried. He is [worthy] of death.2 With that He was brought before the gentile rulers in the land. Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee, interrogated Him once, and Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor in Judea, did so twice, the second time declaring to the crowd, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man.3 Then, in an act as unconscionable as it was illogical, Pilate scourged Jesus, [and] delivered him to be crucified.4 Pilates freshly washed hands could not have been more stained or more unclean. Such ecclesiastical and political rejection became more personal when the citizenry in the street turned against Jesus as well. It is one of the ironies of history that sitting with Jesus in prison was a real blasphemer, a murderer and revolutionary known as Barabbas, a name or title in Aramaic meaning son of the father.5 Free to release one prisoner in the spirit of the Passover tradition, Pilate asked the people, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.6 So one godless son of the father was set free while a truly divine Son of His Heavenly Father moved on to crucifixion. This was also a telling time among those who knew Jesus more personally. The most difficult to understand in this group is Judas Iscariot. We know the divine plan required Jesus to be crucified, but it is wrenching to think that one of His special witnesses who sat at His feet, heard Him pray, watched Him heal, and felt His touch could betray Him and all that He was for 30 pieces of silver.

101 Never in the history of this world has so little money purchased so much infamy. We are not the ones to judge Judass fate, but Jesus said of His betrayer, Good [were it] for that man if he had not been born.7 Of course others among the believers had their difficult moments as well. Following the Last Supper, Jesus left Peter, James, and John to wait while He ventured into the Garden of Gethsemane alone. Falling on His face in prayer, sorrowful unto death,8 the record says, His sweat came as great drops of blood9 as He pled with the Father to let this crushing, brutal cup pass from Him. But, of course, it could not pass. Returning from such anguished prayer, He found His three chief disciples asleep, prompting Him to ask, Could ye not watch with me one hour?10 So it happens two more times until on His third return He says compassionately, Sleep on now, and take your rest,11 though there would be no rest for Him. Later, after Jesuss arrest and appearance at trial, Peter, accused of knowing Jesus and being one of His confidants, denies that accusation not once but three times. We dont know all that was going on here, nor do we know of protective counsel which the Savior may have given to His Apostles privately,12 but we do know Jesus was aware that even these precious ones would not stand with Him in the end, and He had warned Peter accordingly.13 Then, with the crowing of the cock, the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord. And [he] went out, and wept bitterly.14 Thus, of divine necessity, the supporting circle around Jesus gets smaller and smaller and smaller, giving significance to Matthews words: All the disciples [left] him, and fled.15 Peter stayed near enough to be recognized and confronted. John stood at the foot of the cross with Jesuss mother. Especially and always the blessed women in the Saviors life stayed as close to Him as they could. But essentially His lonely journey back to His Father continued without comfort or companionship. Now I speak very carefully, even reverently, of what may have been the most difficult moment in all of this solitary journey to Atonement. I speak of those final moments for which Jesus must have been prepared intellectually and physically but which He may not have fully anticipated emotionally and spirituallythat concluding descent into the paralyzing despair of divine withdrawal when He cries in ultimate loneliness, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?16 The loss of mortal support He had anticipated, but apparently He had not comprehended this. Had He not said to His disciples, Behold, the hour is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me and The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him? 17 With all the conviction of my soul I testify that He did please His Father perfectly and that a perfect Father did not forsake His Son in that hour. Indeed, it is my personal belief that in all of Christs mortal ministry the Father may never have been closer to His Son than in these agonizing final moments of suffering. Nevertheless, that the supreme sacrifice of His Son might be as complete as it was voluntary and solitary, the Father briefly withdrew from Jesus the comfort of His Spirit, the support of His personal presence. It was required, indeed it was central to the significance of the Atonement, that this perfect Son who had never spoken ill nor done wrong nor touched an unclean thing had to know how the rest of humankindus, all of uswould feel when we did commit such sins. For His Atonement to be infinite and eternal, He had to feel what it was like to die not only physically but spiritually, to sense what it was like to have the divine Spirit withdraw, leaving one feeling totally, abjectly, hopelessly alone.

102 But Jesus held on. He pressed on. The goodness in Him allowed faith to triumph even in a state of complete anguish. The trust He lived by told Him in spite of His feelings that divine compassion is never absent, that God is always faithful, that He never flees nor fails us. When the uttermost farthing had then been paid, when Christs determination to be faithful was as obvious as it was utterly invincible, finally and mercifully, it was finished.18 Against all odds and with none to help or uphold Him, Jesus of Nazareth, the living Son of the living God, restored physical life where death had held sway and brought joyful, spiritual redemption out of sin, hellish darkness, and despair. With faith in the God He knew was there, He could say in triumph, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.19 Brothers and sisters, one of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. His solitary journey brought great company for our little version of that paththe merciful care of our Father in Heaven, the unfailing companionship of this Beloved Son, the consummate gift of the Holy Ghost, angels in heaven, family members on both sides of the veil, prophets and apostles, teachers, leaders, friends. All of these and more have been given as companions for our mortal journey because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His gospel. Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are. Truly the Redeemer of us all said: I will not leave you comfortless: [My Father and] I will come to you [and abide with you].20 My other plea at Easter time is that these scenes of Christs lonely sacrifice, laced with moments of denial and abandonment and, at least once, outright betrayal, must never be reenacted by us. He has walked alone once. Now, may I ask that never again will He have to confront sin without our aid and assistance, that never again will He find only unresponsive onlookers when He sees you and me along His Via Dolorosa in our present day. As we approach this holy weekPassover Thursday with its Paschal Lamb, atoning Friday with its cross, Resurrection Sunday with its empty tombmay we declare ourselves to be more fully disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, not in word only and not only in the flush of comfortable times but in deed and in courage and in faith, including when the path is lonely and when our cross is difficult to bear. This Easter week and always, may we stand by Jesus Christ at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in, even until death,21 for surely that is how He stood by us when it was unto death and when He had to stand entirely and utterly alone. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. Isaiah 63:3, 5; see also D&C 76:107; 88:106; 133:50. Matthew 26:6566; see footnote 66b. Luke 23:14. Matthew 27:26. See Bible Dictionary, Barabbas, 619. Matthew 27:21. Matthew 26:24. Matthew 26:38. See Luke 22:44; Mosiah 3:7; D&C 19:18. Matthew 26:40. Matthew 26:45.

103 12. See Spencer W. Kimball, Peter, My Brother, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year (July 13, 1971), 5. 13. See Mark 14:2731. 14. Luke 22:6162. 15. Matthew 26:56. 16. Matthew 27:46; emphasis added. 17. John 16:32; 8:29. 18. See John 19:30. 19. Luke 23:46. 20. John 14:18; see also v. 23. 21. Mosiah 18:9

104

"In the Strength of the Lord"


(Words of Mormon 1:14; Mosiah 9:17; Mosiah 10:10; Alma 20:4)

ELDER DAVID A. BEDNAR


David A. Bednar was the president of BYU-Idaho when this devotional address was given at Brigham Young University on 23 October 2001.

Good morning, brothers and sisters. It is for me a blessing and a remarkable responsibility to stand before you today. I appreciate the invitation from Elder Bateman to speak with you. As I entered the Marriott Center this morning, my mind was flooded with wonderful memories. I have been in this arena many, many times. I was a freshman at BYU in 1970 when the construction work on this building was started. I vividly remember sitting way up there on September 11, 1973, and listening to the teachings and testimony of President Harold B. Lee. I had returned from my mission to southern Germany just three weeks earlier, and the message he presented that day was entitled "Be Loyal to the Royal Within You." I hope I shall never forget what I felt and heard and learned that day. His teachings have positively influenced me for the last 28 years. I remember sitting right over there in 1973 when President Spencer W. Kimball, as president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, delivered a powerful and extremely direct message about the importance of eternal marriage ("Marriage Is Honorable," 30 September 1973). I also remember how squirmy I and the young woman with whom I attended that fireside were--on our first date. (For those of you who may be wondering, the young woman with whom I attended that fireside then is not Sister Bednar now.) And I remember sitting right over there in 1977 as a married student walking and wrestling with a young son. I sat right up there in 2000 when that same son graduated from BYU with his baccalaureate degree. I recall with great fondness numerous other occasions in this building when I have listened to inspired leaders and learned from great teachers. It frankly never occurred to me that someday I might be invited to stand at this pulpit and speak to a group like you. It is clear to me that I likely will never be asked to do so again. Thus I have been most prayerful and serious about preparing my presentation for today. Assuming that I would never again stand at this pulpit to teach and testify, I have considered what might be the most important message I could share with you. My objective this morning is to describe and discuss both the redeeming and enabling powers of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. And I hope to place particular emphasis upon the enabling power of the Atonement. I yearn and invite and pray for the companionship of the Holy Ghost to be with me and with you as we visit together for these few minutes about this sacred subject. The Journey of Life The framework for my message today is a statement by President David O. McKay. He summarized the overarching purpose of the gospel of the Savior in these terms: "The purpose of the gospel is . . . to make bad men good and good men better, and to change human nature" (from the film Every Member a Missionary, as acknowledged by Franklin D. Richards, CR, October 1965, 13637; see also Brigham Young, JD 8:130 [22 July 1860]). Thus the journey of a lifetime is to progress from bad to good to better and to experience the mighty change of heart--and to have our fallen natures changed.

105 May I suggest that the Book of Mormon is our handbook of instructions as we travel the pathway from bad to good to better and to have our hearts changed. If you have your scriptures with you this morning, please turn with me to Mosiah 3:19. In this verse King Benjamin teaches about the journey of mortality and about the role of the Atonement in successfully navigating that journey: "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord" (emphasis added). I want to stop at this point and draw our attention to two specific phrases. First, consider "and putteth off the natural man." Let me suggest to you that President McKay was fundamentally talking about putting off the natural man when he said, "The purpose of the gospel is . . . to make bad men good." Now I do not believe the word bad in this statement by President McKay connotes only wicked, awful, horrible, or inherently evil. Rather, I think he was suggesting that the journey from bad to good is the process of putting off the natural man or the natural woman in each of us. In mortality we all are tempted by the flesh. The very elements out of which our bodies were created are by nature fallen and ever subject to the pull of sin, corruption, and death. And we can increase our capacity to overcome the desires of the flesh and temptations, as described in this verse, "through the atonement of Christ." When we make mistakes--as we transgress and sin--we are able to overcome such weakness through the redeeming and cleansing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. As we frequently sing in preparation to partake of the emblems of the sacrament, "His precious blood he freely spilt; His life he freely gave, A sinless sacrifice for guilt, A dying world to save" ("How Great the Wisdom and the Love," Hymns, 1985, no. 195). Now, please notice the next line in Mosiah 3:19: "and becometh a saint." May I suggest this phrase describes the continuation and second phase of life's journey as outlined by President McKay. "The purpose of the gospel is . . . to make bad men good"--or, in other words, put off the natural man-"and good men better"--or, in other words, become more like a saint. Brothers and sisters, I believe this second part of the journey--this process of going from good to better--is a topic about which we do not study or teach frequently enough nor understand adequately. If I were to emphasize one overarching point this morning, it would be this: I suspect that you and I are much more familiar with the nature of the redeeming power of the Atonement than we are with the enabling power of the Atonement. It is one thing to know that Jesus Christ came to earth to die for us. That is fundamental and foundational to the doctrine of Christ. But we also need to appreciate that the Lord desires, through His Atonement and by the power of the Holy Ghost, to live in us--not only to direct us but also to empower us. I think most of us know that when we do things wrong, when we need help to overcome the effects of sin in our lives, the Savior has paid the price and made it possible for us to be made clean through His redeeming power. Most of us clearly understand that the Atonement is for sinners. I am not so sure, however, that we know and understand that the Atonement is also for saints--for good men and women who are obedient and worthy and conscientious and who are striving to become better and serve more faithfully. I frankly do not think many of us "get it" concerning this enabling and strengthening aspect of the Atonement, and I wonder if we mistakenly believe we must make the journey from good to better and become a saint all by ourselves through sheer grit, willpower, and discipline, and with our obviously limited capacities. Brothers and sisters, the gospel of the Savior is not simply about avoiding bad in our lives; it also is essentially about doing and becoming good. And the Atonement provides help for us to overcome

106 and avoid bad and to do and become good. There is help from the Savior for the entire journey of life--from bad to good to better and to change our very nature. I am not trying to suggest that the redeeming and enabling powers of the Atonement are separate and discrete. Rather, these two dimensions of the Atonement are connected and complementary; they both need to be operational during all phases of the journey of life. And it is eternally important for all of us to recognize that both of these essential elements of the journey of life--both putting off the natural man and becoming a saint, both overcoming bad and becoming good--are accomplished through the power of the Atonement. Individual willpower, personal determination and motivation, and effective planning and goal setting are necessary but ultimately insufficient to triumphantly complete this mortal journey. Truly we must come to rely upon "the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah" (2 Nephi 2:8). Grace and the Enabling Power of the Atonement I now want to describe in greater detail the enabling power of the Atonement. Brothers and sisters, please notice the use of the word grace in the verse from 2 Nephi to which we just referred. In the Bible Dictionary in our scriptures we learn that the word grace frequently is used in the scriptures to connote enabling power. On page 697, under the word grace, we read: "A word that occurs frequently in the New Testament, especially in the writings of Paul. The main idea of the word is divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ (emphasis added). "It is through the grace of the Lord Jesus, made possible by his atoning sacrifice, that mankind will be raised in immortality, every person receiving his body from the grave in a condition of everlasting life." Please note these next sentences: "It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts" (emphasis added). That is, grace represents that divine assistance or heavenly help each of us will desperately need to qualify for the celestial kingdom. Thus the enabling power of the Atonement strengthens us to do and be good and serve beyond our own individual desire and natural capacity. In my personal scripture study I often insert the term enabling power whenever I encounter the word grace. Consider, for example, this verse with which we are all familiar: "For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do" (2 Nephi 25:23). Let's review this verse one more time: "For we know that it is by grace [the enabling and strengthening power of the Atonement of Christ] that we are saved, after all we can do." I believe we can learn much about this vital aspect of the Atonement if we will insert enabling and strengthening power each time we find the word grace in the scriptures.

107 Illustrations and Implications The journey of a lifetime, as described by President McKay, is to go from bad to good to better and to have our very natures changed. And the Book of Mormon is replete with examples of disciples and prophets who knew and understood and were transformed by the enabling power of the Atonement in making that journey. May I suggest, brothers and sisters, that as we come to better understand this sacred power, our gospel perspective will be greatly enlarged and enriched. Such a perspective will change us in remarkable ways. Nephi is an example of one who knew and understood and relied upon the enabling power of the Savior. In 1 Nephi 7 we recall that the sons of Lehi had returned to Jerusalem to enlist Ishmael and his household in their cause. Laman and others in the party traveling with Nephi from Jerusalem back to the wilderness rebelled, and Nephi exhorted his brethren to have faith in the Lord. It was at this point in their trip that Nephi's brothers bound him with cords and planned his destruction. Now please note Nephi's prayer in verse 17: "O Lord, according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren; yea, even give me strength that I may burst these bands with which I am bound" (emphasis added). Brothers and sisters, do you know what I likely would have prayed for if I had been tied up by my brothers? My prayer would have included a request for something bad to happen to my brothers and ended with the phrase "wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren" or, in other words, "Please get me out of this mess, now!" It is especially interesting to me that Nephi did not pray, as I probably would have prayed, to have his circumstances changed. Rather, he prayed for the strength to change his circumstances. And may I suggest that he prayed in this manner precisely because he knew and understood and had experienced the enabling power of the Atonement of the Savior. I personally do not believe the bands with which Nephi was bound just magically fell from his hands and wrists. Rather, I suspect that he was blessed with both persistence and personal strength beyond his natural capacity, that he then "in the strength of the Lord" (Mosiah 9:17) worked and twisted and tugged on the cords and ultimately and literally was enabled to break the bands. Brothers and sisters, the implication of this episode for each of us is quite straightforward. As you and I come to understand and employ the enabling power of the Atonement in our personal lives, we will pray and seek for strength to change our circumstances rather than praying for our circumstances to be changed. We will become agents who "act" rather than objects that are "acted upon" (2 Nephi 2:14). Consider the example in Mosiah 24 as Alma and his people are being persecuted by Amulon. As recorded in verse 14, the voice of the Lord came to these good people in their affliction and indicated: "And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs." Now if I had been one of Alma's people and received that particular assurance, my response likely would have been, "I thank thee, and please hurry!" But notice in verse 15 the process the Lord used to lighten the burden: "And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord" (emphasis added).

108 Brothers and sisters, what was changed in this episode? It was not the burden that changed; the challenges and difficulties of persecution were not immediately removed from the people. But Alma and his followers were strengthened, and their increased capacity and strength made the burdens they bore lighter. These good people were empowered through the Atonement to act as agents and impact their circumstances--"in the strength of the Lord." Alma and his people were then directed to safety in the land of Zarahemla. Now some of you may legitimately be wondering, "Brother Bednar, what makes you think the episode with Alma and his people is an example of the enabling power of the Atonement?" I believe the answer to your question is found in a comparison of Mosiah 3:19 and Mosiah 24:15. Let's resume reading in Mosiah 3:19 where we previously had stopped: "and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father" (emphasis added). As we progress in the journey of mortality from bad to good to better, as we put off the natural man or woman in each of us, and as we strive to become saints and have our very natures changed, then the attributes detailed in this verse increasingly should describe the type of person you and I are becoming. We will become more childlike, more submissive, more patient, and more willing to submit. Now compare these characteristics in Mosiah 3:19 with those used to describe Alma and his people in the latter part of verse 15 in Mosiah 24: "and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord" (emphasis added). I find the parallels between the attributes described in these verses striking and an indication that Alma's good people were becoming a better people through the enabling power of the Atonement of Christ the Lord. We are all familiar with the story of Alma and Amulek contained in Alma 14. In this episode many faithful Saints had been put to death by fire, and these two servants of the Lord had been imprisoned and beaten. Please consider this petition contained in verse 26 offered by Alma as he prayed in prison: "O Lord, give us strength according to our faith which is in Christ, even unto deliverance" (emphasis added). Here again we see reflected in his request Alma's understanding of and confidence in the enabling power of the Atonement. Now note the result of this prayer, as described in the latter part of verse 26 and in verse 28: "And they [Alma and Amulek] broke the cords with which they were bound; and when the people saw this, they began to flee, for the fear of destruction had come upon them. . . . "And Alma and Amulek came forth out of the prison, and they were not hurt; for the Lord had granted unto them power, according to their faith which was in Christ" (emphasis added). Once again the enabling power is evident as good people struggle against evil and strive to become even better and serve more effectively "in the strength of the Lord" (Mosiah 9:17). Let me present one final example from the Book of Mormon. In Alma 31, Alma is directing a mission to reclaim the apostate Zoramites. You will recall that in this chapter we learn about Rameumptom and the prescribed and prideful prayer offered by the Zoramites. Please notice the plea for strength in Alma's personal prayer, as described in verse 31: "O Lord, wilt thou grant unto

109 me that I may have strength, that I may suffer with patience these afflictions which shall come upon me, because of the iniquity of this people" (emphasis added). In verse 33 Alma also prays that his missionary companions will receive a similar blessing: "Wilt thou grant unto them that they may have strength, that they may bear their afflictions which shall come upon them because of the iniquities of this people" (emphasis added). Again we observe that Alma did not pray to have his afflictions removed. He knew he was an agent of the Lord, and he prayed for the power to act and affect his situation. The key point of this example is contained in the final verse, Alma 31:38: "Yea, and he also gave them strength, that they should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ. Now this was according to the prayer of Alma; and this because he prayed in faith" (emphasis added). No, the afflictions were not removed. But Alma and his companions were strengthened and blessed through the enabling power of the Atonement to "suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ." What a marvelous blessing. And what a lesson each of us should learn. Examples of the enabling power are not found only in the scriptures. Daniel W. Jones was born in 1830 in Missouri, and he joined the Church in California in 1851. In 1856 he participated in the rescue of handcart companies that were stranded in Wyoming by severe storms. After the rescue party found the suffering Saints, provided what immediate comfort they could, and made arrangements for the sick and the feeble to be transported to Salt Lake City, Daniel and several other young men volunteered to remain with and safeguard the company's possessions. The food and supplies left with Daniel and his colleagues were, to say the least, meager and were rapidly expended. I will now quote from Daniel Jones' personal journal and his description of the events that followed: "Game soon became so scarce that we could kill nothing. We ate all the poor meat; one would get hungry eating it. Finally that was all gone, nothing now but hides were left. We made a trial of them. A lot was cooked and eaten without any seasoning and it made the whole company sick. Many were so turned against the stuff that it made them sick to think of it. . . . "Things looked dark, for nothing remained but the poor raw hides taken from starved cattle. We asked the Lord to direct us what to do. The brethren did not murmur, but felt to trust in God. We had cooked the hide, after soaking and scraping the hair off until it was soft and then ate it, glue and all. This made it rather inclined to stay with us longer than we desired. Finally I was impressed how to fix the stuff and gave the company advice, telling them how to cook it; for them to scorch and scrape the hair off; this had a tendency to kill and purify the bad taste that scalding gave it. After scraping, boil one hour in plenty of water, throwing the water away which had extracted all the glue, then wash and scrape the hide thoroughly, washing in cold water, then boil to a jelly and let it get cold, and then eat with a little sugar sprinkled on it. This was considerable trouble, but we had little else to do and it was better than starving" (Daniel W. Jones, Forty Years Among the Indians [Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1890], 81). All that I have read thus far is a preparation for the next line from Daniel W. Jones' journal. It illustrates how those pioneer Saints may have known something about the enabling power of the Atonement that we, in our prosperity and ease, are not as quick to understand: "We asked the Lord

110 to bless our stomachs and adapt them to this food" (Jones, Forty Years, 81; emphasis added). My dear brothers and sisters, I know what I would have prayed for in those circumstances. I would have prayed for something else to eat. "Heavenly Father, please send me a quail or a buffalo." It never would have occurred to me to pray that my stomach would be strengthened and adapted to what we already had. What did Daniel W. Jones know? He knew about the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He did not pray that his circumstances would be changed. He prayed that he would be strengthened to deal with his circumstances. Just as Nephi, Amulek, and Alma and his people were strengthened, Daniel W. Jones had the spiritual insight to know what to ask for in that prayer. "We hadn't the faith to ask him to bless the raw-hide, for it was 'hard stock.' On eating now all seemed to relish the feast. We were three days without eating before this second attempt was made. We enjoyed this sumptuous fare for about six weeks" (Jones, Forty Years, 8182). The enabling power of the Atonement of Christ strengthens us to do things we could never do on our own. Sometimes I wonder if in our latter-day world of ease--in our world of microwave ovens and cell phones and air-conditioned cars and comfortable homes--I wonder if we ever learn to acknowledge our daily dependence upon the enabling power of the Atonement. The greatest lessons I have learned about the enabling power have come from the quiet example of my wife in our own home. I watched her persevere through intense and continuous morning sickness and vomiting during each of her three pregnancies. She literally was sick all day every day for eight months with each pregnancy. That challenge was never removed from her. But together we prayed that she would be strengthened, and she indeed was blessed through the enabling power of the Atonement to do physically what in her own power she could not do. Sister Bednar is a remarkably capable and competent woman, and over the years I have seen how she has been magnified to handle the mocking and scorn that come from a secular society when a Latter-day Saint woman heeds prophetic counsel and makes the family and home and the nurturing of children her highest priorities. In today's world a righteous woman and mother in Zion will need both priesthood support and the enabling power of the Atonement. I thank and pay tribute to Susan for helping me to learn such invaluable lessons. In Alma 7 we learn how and why the Savior is able to provide the enabling power, beginning with verse 11: "And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people" (emphasis added). Thus the Savior has suffered not just for our iniquities but also for the inequality, the unfairness, the pain, the anguish, and the emotional distress that so frequently beset us. Additional detail is described in verse 12: "And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities" (emphasis added). There is no physical pain, no anguish of soul, no suffering of spirit, no infirmity or weakness that you or I ever experience during our mortal journey that the Savior did not experience first. You and I in a moment of weakness may cry out, "No one understands. No one knows." No human being, perhaps, knows. But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He felt and bore our burdens before we ever did. And because He paid the ultimate price and bore that burden, He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy in so many phases of our life. He can reach

111 out, touch, and succor--literally run to us--and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do through relying only upon our own power. Perhaps now we can more fully understand and appreciate the lesson of Matthew 11:2830: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. I express my appreciation for the infinite and eternal sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Atonement is not only for people who have done bad things and are trying to be good. It is for good people who are trying to become better and serve faithfully and who yearn for an ongoing and mighty change of heart. Indeed, "in the strength of the Lord" (Mosiah 9:17) we can do and overcome all things. Brothers and sisters, I know the Savior lives. I have experienced both His redeeming and enabling power, and I witness that these powers are real and available to each of us. I know He directs the affairs of this Church. I know apostles and prophets authoritatively act for and in behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ. These things I know to be true and so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.