"For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light..."
May 11, 2008

Sin Is…Part 5 - The Good News

If you ever see someone standing on top of a mountain you can be sure that he did not fall there. — Anonymous

In regarding some of the characteristics of sin we readily can determine for ourselves that we “like sheep,” “…have all gone our own way.” We all have and do sin. The responsibility to always keep his commandments and always remember him can grind our hopes for exaltation to a halt. Fortunately for us, the gospel truly is “good news.” I am personally so grateful to know that, because of one who did not sin, we can yet be reconciled to God.

…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 into his presence, to be judged according to their works, according to the law and justice.” (Alma 42:23)

In the end, it will be shown through the desires of our hearts what our resolve and resolutions are regarding overcoming sin. If we will strive to go forward and consistently try our best not to sin — not to disobey external principles, not to rationalize bad choices or pervert eternal truths, not to fight against laws and principles that cannot be changed, or waste our limited personal resources on things of lesser worth – we can sever the ties that may have presently bound us to a state of unhappiness. Jesus Christ makes this possible.

It is obedience to eternal truths that will bring us eternal rewards — and joy. Obedience frees us from sin; it removes perverse misconceptions of true principles; it helps us to stop being premature or perilous with our choices; and, happily, it makes the most of our brief sojourn here on this telestial sphere.

Alma (and I) concludes his heartfelt instruction to Corianton with these timeless words:

…I desire that ye should deny the justice of God no more. Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sins, by denying the justice of God, but do let the justice of God, and his mercy, and his long-suffering have full sway in your heart…” (Alma 42:30)

That we may be and live humbly, repentant, and obedient is the charge. It will bring about the demise of sin and the blessed state of happiness. That we may fight sin and live happily is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ.

February 5, 2008

How Key Is the Atonement?

Now let us suppose a modern-day case. Suppose we have the scriptures, the gospel, the priesthood, the Church, the ordinances, the organization, even the keys of the kingdom — everything that now is down to the last jot and tittle — and yet there is no atonement of Christ. What then? Can we be saved? Will all our good works save us? Will we be rewarded for all our righteousness?

Most assuredly we will not. We are not saved by works alone, no matter how good; we are saved because God sent his Son to shed his blood in Gethsemane and on Calvary that all through him might ransomed be. We are saved by the blood of Christ.

To paraphrase Abinadi: “Salvation doth not come by the Church alone: and were it not for the atonement, given by the grace of God as a free gift, all men must unavoidably perish, and this notwithstanding the Church and all that pertains to it.” (Bruce R. McConkie, Promised Messiah, p. 416)

September 9, 2007

Christ Alone

How the Atonement was wrought, we do not know. No mortal watched as evil turned away and hid in shame before the light of that pure being. (Boyd K. Packer, Ensign, May 1988, pg. 69)

Deeper

Despite this remarkable truth about the Book of Mormon [containing the most profound theological treatment of the Atonement], we Latter-day Saints are, for the most part, only superficially acquainted with our own doctrines of grace, mercy, justice, and the Atonement….each of us needs to take the Atonement more fully into the deep parts of our consciousness…. (Bruce C. Hafen, The Broken Heart, pg. 3, 5)

Balm

….emphasizing God’s mercy may lead some to believe they are entitled to divine divine protection against all of life’s natural adversities. There is already enough theological difficulty for those who believe that their activity in the Church should somehow protect them from tragedy and sorrow. Our understanding of the Atonement is hardly a shield against sorrow; rather, it is a rich source of strength to deal productively with the disappointments and heartbreaks that form the deliberate fabric of mortal life. The gospel was given to us to heal our pain, not to prevent it. (Bruce C. Hafen, The Broken Heart, pg. 5)

September 20, 2006

The Bitter Cup

Pastor/teacher John MacArthur, in writing of the “bitter cup” Jesus was called upon to imbibe, observed: “Never was so much sorrow emanating from the soul of one individual. We could never comprehend the depth of Christ’s agony because, frankly, we cannot perceive the wickedness of sin as He could. Nor can we appreciate the terrors of divine wrath the way He did.” Further, he asked: “What is the cup? It is not merely death. It is not the physical pain of the cross. It was not the scourging or the humiliation. It was not the horrible thirst, the torture of having nails driven through His body, or the disgrace of being spat upon or beaten, It was not even all of those things combined.” Rather, MacArthur adds, “what Christ dreaded most about the cross — the cup from which He asked to be delivered if possible — was the outpouring of divine wrath He would have to endure from His holy Father….In some mysterious way that our human minds could never fathom, God the Father would turn His face from Christ the Son, and Christ the Son, and Christ would bear the full brunt of the divine fury against sin….In other words, on the cross, God imputed our sin to Christ and then punished Him for it.” (Joyn MacArthur, The Murder of Jesus, h. 63-71) — Robert L. Millet, A Different Jesus?, p. 91

May 11, 2006

I Don’t Understand

“We believe that the death of Christ is just that point in history at which something absolutely unimaginable from the outside shows through into our own world.  And if we cannot picture even the atoms of which our own world is built, of course we are not going to be able to picture this.  Indeed, if we found that we could fully understand it, that very fact would show it was not what it professes to be — the inconceivable, the uncreated, the thing from beyond nature, striking down into nature like lightning.  You may ask what good it will be to us if we do not understand it.  But that is easily answered.  A man may eat his dinner without understanding exactly how food nourishes him.  A man can accept Christ without knowing how it works: indeed, he certainly would not know how it works until he has accepted it.

“We are told that Christ was killed for us, that His death has washed away our sins, and that by dying He disabled death itself.  That is the formula.  That is Christianity.  That is what has to be believed.”  C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

March 24, 2006

Believe Christ

Isaiah 1:18

Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

“…What the Lord is saying here is this: ‘It doesn’t matter what you did.  Whatever it was, no matter how horrible or vile, is not the issue.  The issue here is that whatever your sin was or is, I can erase it, I can clean you up and make you innocent, pure, and worthy, and I can do it today; I can do it now.’”

“Unfortunately, there are many members of the Church who simply do not believe this…they may believe that the Church is true, that Jesus is the Christ, and that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, while at the same time refusing to accept the possibility of their own complete forgiveness and eventual exaltation in the kingdom of God.  They believe in Christ, but they do not believe Christ.”  — Stephen E. Robinson, Believing Christ

March 23, 2006

Faith in the Pillars of Eternity

“Elder Bruce R. McConkie described three doctrines as the ‘Three Pillars of Eternity.’
(1) Creation
(2) Fall
(3) Atonement
“What is interesting is that the Lord has told us that each of these has occurred, but gives no details on how they occurred. Notice how the information came through the veil to Adam; Through God’s own voice, through visitations of Angels, and the Holy Ghost. Information concerning these does not come through the veil easily. We can ask hard questions that, at this point, cannot be answered by anybody. You will hit the wall of faith on all three. We must have faith in these three.” — Robert J. Norman