boy howdy there are a lot of people here!!!
Today I was asked to talk on Faith and the Blessings of the Atonement. When I got this I was a little bit worried because these are really broad topics. But after I started getting into I realized that it was a really good one. It’s almost like the bishop knew exactly what I needed!
So to begin with, what is faith? I was going to sing that nice song from Carrie Underwood, about Jesus Taking the Wheel, but I figured I’d stick to the true doctrine. (Ha-ha) But faith is a spiritual gift that is necessary to our salvation. It’s a principle of action and power that motivates our day to day activities. Would we study and learn if we did not believe we could obtain wisdom and knowledge? Would we work each day if we did not hope that by doing so we could accomplish something? Would a farmer plant if he did not expect to harvest? Each day we act upon things we hope for when we cannot see the end result. This is faith. . Whenever you work toward a worthy goal, you exercise faith. You again show your hope for something that you cannot yet see. Like in Alma 32: 21 it says, “If ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” The power of faith is just as amazing. It’s nice when you can read stories of how faith works and seeing the end results too. Let me be the billionth to tell you, the scriptures are full of them! I mean in Hebrews chapter 11 it’s like a faith a palozza! Some of the stories it has are…
By faith Abel offered unto god a more excellent sacrifice than Cain and obtained a witness that he was righteous. By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death. By faith Noah was warned about the flood and built the ark for the saving of his house. Through faith Sara received strength to deliver a child when she was past age. And out of Hebrews, there are more throughout all the scriptures and all throughout time. On a more personal level even, stories about the power of faith are all around us. My dad has always testified of two things in his life, power of the priesthood and temples. The power of the priesthood hinges on faith. If you don’t have faith that the blessings will have an effect on healing the sick they won’t work. They only work when both the person giving the blessing and the person receiving the blessing have faith in the lord and his powers. When my grandma was last in the hospital I had never had an opportunity to use the healing powers of the priesthood by giving a blessing yet. So she asked me if I would like to anoint her with oil and help my dad and grandpa give her a blessing. I was scared but I knew that because I had faith in the lord, I would be able to do it and it would help her. And that because she had faith enough to ask for a blessing and believed that it would help her, she was blessed to be able to leave the hospital and is here today to see me preparing to leave on a mission. Seas have been calmed, visions opened, prayers answered, and all through the power of faith.
In the 4th article of faith it says: We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. You need faith in your life; faith that you’re doing what is right, faith that you can do anything, and above all faith in Jesus Christ.
We must center our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. What does it mean to have faith in Jesus Christ? To have faith in Christ means that although we have not seen Him, we believe that He lives and loves us and that we trust Him. When we read the scriptures, we can learn about Him. When we listen to the prophets, we can understand what we can do to follow Him. When we pray in faith for help to choose the right, we can know that our prayers will be answered. When we listen to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost, we can feel Him close to us and know that He loves us. We have to rely on him completely and trust in his infinite power, intelligence and love. Even though sometimes we don’t know fully understand, He does. He has laid everything down for us; we just need to be able to have faith in him. He is always ready to help us as long as we remember his plea in D & C 6: 36… When Gordon B. Hinckley left for a mission, his father handed him a card on which were written five words. They were the words of the Lord to the ruler of the synagogue who had received news of his daughter’s death: in Mark 5:36 “Be not afraid, only believe”. We don’t have to be afraid of anything as long as we have faith in Jesus Christ which is also having faith in our Heavenly Father. And when we have faith in Them, we will also have faith that the Holy Ghost will teach us all truth and will comfort us.
“Even so Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” we all know that you can have all the faith in the world but if you don’t act upon it, it does nothing. Through having faith in the Savior AND through the act of repentance, we can make his Atonement fully effective in our lives.
In a talk by Gordon B. Hinckley he said. “[Jesus Christ’s] Atonement is the greatest event in human history. There is nothing to compare with it. It is the most fundamental part of our Father’s plan for the happiness of His children. Without it, mortal life would be a dead-end existence with neither hope nor future. The gift of our divine Redeemer brings an entirely new dimension to our lives. Because of our Savior’s sacrifice, instead of dismal oblivion, death becomes only a passage to a more glorious realm. The Resurrection becomes a reality for all. Eternal life becomes available to those who walk in obedience to His commandments” The Atonement is the most epic things anyone has ever done in this world’s history!
Jesus’s atoning sacrifice took place in the garden of Gethsemane and on the cross at Calvary. In the garden He submitted to will of the Father and began to take upon Himself the sin of all People. He suffered everything for us. He was only required to take upon him the sins of the world but he suffered much more. He suffered for everything. From hunger, thirst, and pain, to temptation, doubt and sin! Every broken bone, every paper cut, and hey even maybes everyone’s first heart break too, but I don’t know that one for sure. Every single thing we ever experience, just to know how to help us through it. All of this weighed down on him so much that he began to bleed from every pore. His sacrifice was not done there though, as he was later crucified on the cross and suffered death by one of the cruelest methods know to man. On the third day Christ took up His body again and became the first person to be resurrected.
Through the Atonement Jesus redeems everyone from physical death, those who have lived, are living, and will live. Everyone will be resurrected to a glorified perfect body and brought back to the presence of God for judgment. But the true blessing of the atonement is that if you are faithful in doings of the lord you will be able to overcome, not only physical death but spiritual death as well. We accept his Atonement by placing our faith in Him and repent of our sins, baptized, receive the Holy Ghost and obey His commandments. We are then deemed faithful disciples of Jesus Christ and are forgiven and cleansed so that we can prepare to live forever with our Heavenly Father. President Boyd K. Packer of the council of the Twelve shared a story of mercy and justice and how Christ makes this possible, as long as we do our part. But I wanted to make it a little easier to understand for me so….
So there once was a man that wanted a brand new Polaris snow mobile. He didn’t think of anything but getting it at all costs. But to get one I….I mean he had to take out a loan. He knew that he shouldn’t do that because it’s really hard to pay for it later but he didn’t care. So he signed the contract and wasn’t at all worried about the bank collecting on him, thinking that maybe the bank would just forget about him. But like always, they never forget and they wanted to have their payment, in full right then! As the snowmobiler thought, not only can they take away my snowmobile, but they can throw me in jail. So the snowmobiler pleaded with the bank that he could just not pay and they should show mercy to him and just forget about him. But the bank wouldn’t budge; they insisted that if they showed mercy then justice wouldn’t be upheld. So there they were, one wanting justice and the other mercy, neither could prevail except at the expense of the other. There seemed to be no way, but there is! The snowmobiler had a nice and wonderful dad who loved the snowmobiler so much he wanted to help. So he paid of the bank, that justice would be served. And he became the snowmobiler’s new creditor but told him that he would have to still work on the debt and it would be hard, but possible, which served mercy. Both laws stood fulfilled. Because there was a mediator, justice had claimed its full share, and mercy was fully satisfied.
Our sins are our spiritual debts. Without Jesus Christ, who is our Savior and Mediator, we would all pay for our sins by suffering spiritual death. But because of Him, if we will keep His term, which are to repent and keep His commandments, we may return to live with our Heavenly Father.
Like I said before and like in The Article of Faith 3 it says, “We believe that through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.” This means that having eternal life is a freebie, but eternal life in heavenly father’s kingdom is something that you have to do your part for. And our part of it is to have faith and repent. This reminds me of our 50 mile hike that we took as a teacher’s quorum to Kings Peak. And this isn’t a story about having faith that none of us would die but after hiking and walking close to 40 miles and on the 4 or 5 days all of us boys and leaders were just really dusty, dirty and smelly…bishop Mildenhal….but just downright terrible. And you all know what it feels like when you feel that dirty, that’s what it’s like when you have sinned without repenting. You just feel so gross you want to have that joy of being clean. So on our second to last day there was a lake that brother Hacking suggested, well no, told us to please go jump in and wash up and do some swimming if we wanted to. I think he was just tired of smelling us from the back of the group. So anyway, of course we jumped at the opportunity. I wish that everyone would feel that way about repenting. I know that it’s not as easy as just jumping in a lake with some soap but it feels about the same way as that did after so long of not being clean. When you repent you can get rid of your sins and become clean in the sight of the Lord and that is a great feeling! It truly is a blessing. I want to close now by bearing my testimony.
I have re read this a lot and thought a lot, I say thank you so much Travis for all that you have done, I love you little brother you will do great on your mission.