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Friday, November 8, 2013

"Personal Strength through the Atonement of Jesus Christ" by Elder Richard G. Scott


There's nothing too hawaiian around me at the moment (just a lot of rain actually!) but I felt optimistic.
My blog is not going unnoticed among friends and friends' friends and it's weird to think that several people other than me will be reading this in about an hour or so. Thank you.

The conference talk I share this week is one of the sweetest talks I've ever come across about the atonement. It was given by Elder Richard G. Scott and it's titled "Personal Strength through the Atonement of Jesus Christ".

First of all, do we all know what the Atonement is? Let's turn to Preach My Gospel :
"As used in the scriptures, to atone is to suffer the penalty for an act of sin, thereby removing the effects of sin from the repentant sinners and allowing them to be reconciled to God. Jesus Christ suffered in Gethsemane and on the cross. He was the only one capable of making a perfect Atonement for all mankind. He suffered the penalty for our sins in Gethsemane and died on the cross. He took upon Himself the pains, sicknesses, temptations, afflictions, and infirmities of us all." 
Gethsemane and the cross are mentioned twice and that's where Jesus Christ performed this greatest act of love and grace. Of the two powers of the Atonement (the saving power and the enabling power), in his latest talk Elder Scott focuses on the enabling power; in his own words: "the personal strength we can receive through the Atonement of Jesus Christ."

The entire talk is an insightful commentary of the famous Book of Mormon story of the Lamanites who converted to the Lord, buried their weapons of war forever and never unburied them -- not even to defend their brethren came to brutally slay them. The Lord later provided help through their young sons, who weren't under the same covenant with God. 
The first interesting point  -- something I've learned as I studied this talk -- is that "one of the vital steps to complete repentance is to bear the short- and long-term consequences of our past sins." Why couldn't those fathers go to the battle to defend their families? Why was it alright for their sons to go instead? It's the same principle by which it is not wise for ex alcoholics to walk into a pub lest they fall back into old, bad habits! The Lord knew the weaknesses of those men and in His wisdom He didn't allow them to be exposed to wars and weapons again. Thus we learn two important Gospel principles and truths:
  • "Breaking a covenant with the Lord is never justified."
  • "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."
Elder Scott draws a very interesting parallel between those Ammonites' and Captain Moroni's preparations for war:
"In between the many battles, Captain Moroni directed fortification of the weakest cities. “He caused that they should build a breastwork of timbers upon the inner bank of the ditch; and they cast up dirt out of the ditch against the breastwork of timbers … until they had encircled the city … with a strong wall of timbers and earth, to an exceeding height.” Captain Moroni understood the importance of fortifying the weak areas to create strength.
"These Ammonite fathers were much the same. They needed taller and wider fortifications between their faithful lives and the unrighteous behavior of their past. Their sons, who were blessed with righteous traditions, were not as vulnerable to the same temptations. They were able to defend their families faithfully without compromising their spiritual well-being."

Let's listen to Elder Scott's statement about rebellion and weakness:

This is so reassuring with me. What is best than a knowledge that God loves us and wants to help us get rid of our weaknesses? The best thing we can be doing in life is using this knowledge to improve ourselves. Believing, knowing that Christ suffered and died to enable us to become better and more like Him is humbling and it fills me with hope.
Sin is sin, and God "cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance" (D&C 1:31); but that's because He loves us and He wants us to become like Him. Elder Scott said that God can't tolerate sin "because He knows what it takes to become like Him".

Weak things become strong when they're in the hands of the Lord: that's what happened to the 2,000 young and inexperienced sons of Helaman (although they were all injured to some degree, no one died in the conflicts) and that's what happens to us when we fully rely in Christ, are obedient, "go and do".

We talked about the fortifications Captain Moroni built to strengthen the weak places and turn them into strongholds, but what spiritual fortifications can we build for ourselves and how do we do that? Here's what Elder Scott suggests:

    Make covenants and receive ordinances for yourself. Then steadily and consistently work to provide ordinances in the temple for your own ancestors.

    Share the gospel with nonmember or less-active family members or friends. Sharing these truths can bring a renewed enthusiasm into your life.

    Serve faithfully in all Church callings, especially home teaching and visiting teaching assignments. Don't be just a 15-minutes-a-month home or visiting teacher. Rather, reach out to each individual member of the family. Get to know them personally. Be a real friend. Through acts of kindness, show them how very much you care for each of them.

    Most important, serve the members of your own family. Make the spiritual development of your spouse and children a very high priority. Be attentive to the things you can do to help each one. Give freely of your time and attention.
Four simple ways of serving our God and our fellowmen. The recipe is that simple. The Atonement is real and it is within anyone's reach -- anyone who's willing to put his or her faith in God and Jesus Christ and to show that faith. As we do so, we will grow spiritually stronger and wiser. We will become spiritually self-sufficient and we will have enough strength to share with others freely. Said Elder Scott: " As you lose your life in the service of Father in Heaven’s children, Satan’s temptations lose power in your life."

I have felt the reality of the Atonement in my life. And the joy that comes from sharing that reality with people? UNPAYABLE, UNMISSABLE and... UNless you try it you can't describe it :) 

This is a nice quote from this talk.

 You'll find many more of Elder Richard G. Scott quotes on his official Facebook page.

Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed this week's post!

Bye for now :)


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