Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Apostles and the Atonement of Jesus Christ

                Apostles are men who are called to serve as special witnesses of Jesus Christ.  Just as the prophets and apostles of old testified of Jesus Christ, we have apostles and prophets in our day who invite all people to come unto Christ and partake of the blessings of His Atonement.   I know that you and I can strengthen our faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ by listening to those servants He has called in our day.  When prophets and apostles testify of Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost bears witness to our souls, and we are blessed when we listen to them.

                As we prepared to celebrate the birth of our Savior in the year 2000, the prophets and apostles published their testimony of Jesus Christ.  The document is known as The Living Christ – The Testimony of the Apostles; the complete text can be found here.

                The proclamation begins, “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.”

                The document closes with this testimony:  “We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles – that 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 Apostles bear frequent testimonies of Jesus Christ.  I recently attended the home ward of one of the younger Apostles because he lives down the street from my oldest son.  I have attended church there numerous times and have met Elder D. Todd Christofferson several different times.  This particular day was fast and testimony meeting, and Elder Christofferson bore the final testimony of the meeting.  Of course, he testified of Jesus Christ, His mission, His Atonement, etc.  It was wonderful to literally sit at the feet of an Apostle and be taught of Christ.  An hour later I had the opportunity to be taught by Elder Christofferson once again as his wife was Gospel Doctrine teacher and asked him to teach part of the lesson.  It was a wonderful experience to be taught by an Apostle, not just once but twice in the same day.

                We can all be taught by Apostles and Prophets during the next General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be held 5-6 April 2014.  The most convenient way to listen is to go to this site.

                During the October 2013 General Conference, Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles made the following statement:  “It is a fundamental truth that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can be cleansed.  We can become virtuous and pure.  However, sometimes our poor choices leave us with long-term consequences.  One of the vital steps to complete repentance is to bear the short- and long-term consequences of our past sins…..

                “Satan will try to use our memory of any previous guilt to lure us back into his influence.  We must be ever vigilant to avoid his enticements.  Such was the case of the faithful Ammonite fathers. Even after their years of faithful living, it was imperative for them to protect themselves spiritually from any attraction to the memory of past sins….

                “The joyful news for anyone who desires to be rid of the consequences of past poor choices is that the lord sees weaknesses differently than He does rebellion.  Whereas the Lord warns that unrepented rebellion will bring punishment, when the Lord speaks of weaknesses, it is always with mercy….

                “Many of us have allowed weakness to develop in our character.  Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we … can build spiritual fortifications between ourselves and any past mistakes that Satan attempts to exploit….

                “So how do we build these eternal fortifications?  The first step must be sincere, thorough, and complete repentance.  Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, each of us can become clean and the burden of our rebellion will be lifted.  Remember, repentance is not punishment.  It is the hope-filled path to a more glorious future.”

                Elder Scott explained that Heavenly Father has provided the tools we need to protect ourselves from the temptations of Satan. 
1) ordinances and covenants for ourselves and our ancestors, 2) sharing the gospel with those who are not yet members or are inactive members, 3) faithful service in all Church callings, and 4) service to family members.  In other words, we should fill our lives with service to others.

                “As you lose your life in the service of Father in Heaven’s children, Satan’s temptations lose power in your life.
                “Because your Father in Heaven loves you profoundly, the Atonement of Jesus Christ makes that strength possible.  Isn’t it wonderful?  Many of you have felt the burden of poor choices, and each of you can feel the elevating power of the Lord’s forgiveness, mercy, and strength.  I have felt it, and I testify that it is available to each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”  (“Personal Strength through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, Ensign,November 2013).  

                I love to listen to the testimonies and teachings of the Apostles, particularly their testimonies about the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  I too have a testimony of the power of the Atonement to change lives.  I know that it works when we are truly repentant and follow the counsel of the Prophet and Apostles.

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