Tag Archives: Atonement

Not Sure if You Need to Repent? Ask These Four Questions…

Having grown up in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have believed in agency my whole life. While our Heavenly Father has given us commandments to follow, He has also given us the ability to choose to follow those commandments or not. For some reason, it never occurred to me that choosing to repent has always been a part of our agency. In the October 2016 General Conference, Elder Dale G. Renlund said, “The reach of the Savior’s Atonement is infinite in breadth and depth, for you and for me. But it will never be imposed on us.” He then shared some verses from the Book of Mormon that explain how we have the ability to choose repentance.

“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.

Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.”

Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” ( 2 Nephi 2:5-6, 27)

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Teach the Children About the Christ in Christmas

baby-jesusGrowing up, one of my favorite Christmas stories was commonly titled, “Teach the Children.”  * In the story, the narrator comes across Santa Claus in their house. Santa requests that the narrator teaches their children the true meaning of Christmas. In this story Santa teaches that the popular symbols of Christmas like candy canes, Christmas trees, and stars all center around Jesus Christ, his love, and his sacrifice. I believe that these spiritual meanings for our Christmas symbols are vital for our children to know and pass along. We must teach our children about Jesus Christ and how he is not only the center of Christmas, but the center of our lives.

The Star – Stars are commonly placed on top of Christmas trees. Heavenly Father placed a bright star in the sky when Jesus was born. It was so bright that when the sun set, there was no darkness. In the New Testament (Matthew 2), the star led the wise men to Jesus; and in the Book of Mormon it was a sign to the world that Jesus Christ, our Savior, had been born (Helaman 14:1-2,5 and 3 Nephi 1:21). In the story, the star represents God’s promise being fulfilled that he would send us a Savior. We can also teach our children that because the star was recorded in both the New Testament and the Book of Mormon, we know that Jesus Christ truly was born. Continue reading

6 Lessons Learned from the Woman Caught in Adultery

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When the topics of sin, repentance, and judgment are discussed, the story of Christ’s encounter with the woman caught in adultery (see John 8:1-11) is a common example. Many times, however, this example is misused to advocate for sin. Those who preach the truth and defend Christ’s doctrine are often accused of being judgmental and are told, “Jesus said, ‘those who are without sin cast the first stone,’ and “Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery.”

While these statements are true to an extent, they have been taken out of context. When talking about casting stones, Jesus wasn’t telling people to stop preaching about sin and repentance.  He was telling people to stop judging that woman. The second statement, however, has been misunderstood. Jesus did not forgive her right away because she hadn’t repented yet. Rather, He was stating that He didn’t condemn her, and He was offering her an invitation to repent. These two statements are often used to spread the message that if we want to be like Christ, we will keep our mouths shut and tell everyone they are doing good no matter what they do, but if we preach about sin and repentance we are being like the Pharisees. The story of the woman caught in adultery goes so much deeper than that. It is a beautiful story that teaches many wonderful lessons. Here are six lessons we can learn from this story: Continue reading

Miracles Happen: The Story of Ron and John

the rest of the storyI told a miracle story, several years ago, thinking it “was the rest of the story,” but eternity is funny that way. Life continues and will continue forever. Ron’s and John’s story is an example of just how eternal eternity really is.

The original story can be read here, but I’d like to tell you more of this story, and what it really means to me, even though I now believe it is far from over. The rest of the story will surely continue, as all of our own personal stories will.

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Grief and the Atonement

 

parents-son-kneeling-sorrow-grief-156501-galleryUPDATE:  I wrote this as we were anticipating the death of our Senior Editor, Terrie Lynn Bittner. As we mourn her passing, we also celebrate her life. Terrie is home now, with Eternal Parents who love her. My sincere, heartfelt condolences go out to her entire family. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Once upon a time I wrote an article about grief in another venue. In order to make the article real and give it credibility, I shared examples of my own personal grief. That article came back to bite me, so it is with great ambivalence and trepidation that I write again on the same topic. I’m doing this because grief is something that we all experience in this mortal existence, and it is not just a one-time occurrence. Grief can be experienced many times in the course of a lifetime. It is an important topic to explore and to understand.

Grief, the sense of suffering that accompanies loss, is a common part of mortality as we lose loved ones or experience other tragedies. Because Jesus Christ has suffered the pains and afflictions of all mankind, we can be comforted and healed as we pray to the Father in His name and rely upon His Atonement (lds.org, Gospel Topics, “Grief”).

There you have it—grief is suffering. It is painful. It can be devastating and excruciating—but it can also be healed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

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Understanding Grace

christus-hand-lds-454936-galleryWe believe in the grace of God. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe in Grace just like most other Christian denominations. Yet, unlike most Christian denominations, we take this scripture found in James 2:17- 20 literally.

17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

That scripture tells us that what we do, not just what we believe, has an effect on the outcome of our salvation.

Trying to Understand Grace

I have heard a couple of interpretations of this scripture commonly espoused in Church classes and among Church members. Sometimes I have been told that if I do my best, then Jesus will take care of the rest and nothing more will be required. Other times I have been told that it really does not matter how good I am or what I do, that Jesus has already paid the price. So I get baptized, attend Church, and try not to commit any major sins—beyond that I simply need to believe and not fret about my salvation. Worrying about salvation, I have been taught, is not having faith in the atonement of Christ.

These interpretations, while they seem nice and frankly easy, do not fit in with the scriptures nor with everyone’s personal experiences. Then what is the truth? Continue reading

Boyd K. Packer: Laws Governing Powers of Procreation

Boyd-K-Packer-2015Aged and breathless, President Boyd K Packer sat and spoke with the heart, knowledge, and experience from a life well lived. Spoken with power from the Holy Ghost, he taught us about the “Plan of Happiness”. This plan, he explained, includes romance leading to marriage, physical intimacy leading to children, and repentance leading to a soul unspotted before God.

President Packer taught about how the laws governing the powers of procreation were established before the earth began. He said:

There are eternal laws, including laws relating to this power to give life, “irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated” (D&C 130:20). These are spiritual laws which define the moral standard for mankind (see Joseph Smith Translation, Romans 7:14–15 [in the Bible appendix]; 2 Nephi 2:5;D&C 29:34; 134:6). There are covenants which bind, seal, and safeguard and give promise of eternal blessings” (Boyd K. Packer, The Plan of Happiness, Apr. 2015 General Conference).

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Honoring Christ’s Atonement by Living His Gospel

SaviorTrying to fully explain the wondrous and miraculous gift that was given to all the world through Jesus Christ’s Atonement is like trying to explain the unexplainable—it can’t be done. However, each individual can honor that Atonement by keeping the Lord’s commandments and living His gospel to the very best of her/his ability.

In my own case, and in the words of the hymn, “I Stand All Amazed,” I literally marvel and can hardly believe “that He would descend from His throne divine, to rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine.” (Hymn #193). Yet Jesus, the God and creator of every living thing, the only perfect and sinless individual to walk the face of the earth, willingly took upon himself the sins of the entire world. He had the power to back out anytime if He wanted, but chose not to because He knew His full purpose, and fulfilled it. Continue reading

True Mercy and True Love

mormon women and the priesthoodThe Lord is merciful. Everyone knows this and everyone, including the non-religious, shout it from the house tops. Those shouting about mercy declare that we are okay; we are enough; who we are today is good, and Jesus will take care of the rest later. This teaching contradicts scripture and keeps us from Christ’s true mercy.

I read a comment once that said something like this: the Church wants to change these people as if there was something wrong with them. God loves them and He made them that way, they do not need change. They need acceptance.

And I thought, yes, that is it. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is about change. It’s about becoming—becoming like God. When we think and do things that are contrary to the character of God, we sin. Jesus Christ came to redeem us from those sins. He came to change our hearts, our actions, and ultimately our minds. Continue reading

The Reason For My Hope

hands-clasped-prayer-830749-printFall of my sophomore year of college is now just fragments of memory, odd details that stand out in my mind.  They all circle around one event: the day my father left, leaving in his wake a trail of shattered dreams, horrific memories, and a broken family.  Dad’s leaving was a pebble tossed into a pond whose ripples still extend into my life, and at the time, it left me wounded but still clinging to hope.

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