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, July 20, 2019

Forgiveness and Justification

            In my “Come, Follow Me” study this week, I came upon some words that the Apostle Paul taught. He taught about John the Baptist and how he baptized Jesus Christ. He taught about Jesus Christ being put to death and then coming back from the dead. He bore witness that there were many witnesses to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. He then spoke of the powers of Christ.

Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:

And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses (Acts 13:38-39).

            Paul taught that forgiveness comes only one way, and that way is through Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice (see Acts 13:38). There is no other way! Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained how forgiveness works.

Whether the violation be great or small, the solution is the same: full repentance through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement with obedience to His commandments….

I testify that of all the necessary steps to repentance, the most critically important is for you to have a conviction that forgiveness comes in and through Jesus Christ. It is essential to know that only on His terms can you be forgiven. You will be helped as you exercise faith in Christ [see 2 Nephi 9:22-24; Alma 11:40]. That means you trust Him and His teachings” (“Peace of Conscience and Peace of Mind,” Ensign, Nov. 2004, 16-17).

            After Paul taught about forgiveness, he moved right into justification: “by him all that believe are justified from all things” (Acts 13:39). Paul also taught that justification could not come through the law of Moses. Justification is defined as follows: “Justification is a gift from the Savior. He declares that a person is guiltless, free from the full demands of justice, being put back into a right relationship with God so that progress toward perfection can continue” (New Testament Student Manual – Religion 211-212 [2014], 305). 

            Paul’s teachings about justification continue in other books in the New Testament where he discusses works. In Romans 3 and in Galatians, he uses the word works, but he is specifically referring to the performances completed under the law of Moses. These “deeds of the law” (Romans 3:28) refer to “Jewish observances like circumcision, dietary regulations, and special feast days – parts of the law that were not required of Gentile Saints” (see Acts 15:1-11, 19-20). He taught that these observances could not bring forgiveness because forgiveness is available only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. In other words, salvation was available to both Jew and Gentile “through faith in Jesus Christ and commitment to His gospel” (see Romans 3:29-30). (See New Testament Student Manual, 340.)

Paul’s use of the phrase “the law of faith” (Romans 3:27) shows that even though salvation does not come by the law of Moses, individuals must follow laws in order to be saved. Faith in Christ is the law of faith, a way of life that does not “make void the law,” but rather, through faith, “we establish the law” (Romans 3:31; compare Matthew 5:17; Romans 8:2). Faith leads to repentance and striving to live as Jesus Christ taught (New Testament Student Manual, 340).

            Faith in Jesus Christ leads us to repentance. The next steps are baptism by immersion for the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost. With the influence of the Holy Ghost, we continue to repent of our sins and to live the commandments to the best of our ability. As we follow the Savior and become the best that we can be, He will recognize our efforts, forgive us of our sins, and declare us to be free from the demands of justice. In other words, He will justify us.

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