Sunday, April 5, 2015
Jesus Christ Came to Enliven Us
Hello! Welcome to my blog and happy Easter!! Today I am sharing a quote from David A. Bednar from a talk he gave at the April 2014 General Conference called, "Bear up Their Burdens with Ease". I had to shorten the quote to fit it in the picture. Here is the whole quote:
"It is one thing to know that Jesus Christ came to die for us. But we also need to appreciate that the Lord desires THROUGH HIS ATONEMENT AND BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY GHOST, to enliven us - NOT ONLY TO GUIDE BUT TO STRENGTHEN AND HEAL US."
I thought I would add a talk that I gave at church on April 2009. I gave a talk at Easter three years in a row. Here is the one that best goes with this quote...
"Good afternoon. I would like to echo some words Henry B. Eyring said at our recent General Conference. He said the opportunity to give a talk is a great and sacred privilege - and it is my great and sacred privilege to speak to you today. I have been given the assignment to base my remarks on an article in this months Ensign titled, "What does the Atonement Mean to You?" by Cecil O. Samuelson of the Presidency of the Seventy.
What does the atonement mean to you? I encourage you to ponder this question today and every day. Elder Samuelson says that we not only need to appreciate this incomparable gift but we also need to understand it clearly. The Bible dictionary says 'the word 'atonement' describes the setting 'at one' of those who have been estranged and denotes reconciliation of man to God. Sin is the cause of the estrangement, and therefor the purpose of atonement is to correct or overcome the consequences of sin...Jesus Christ, as the Only Begotten Son of God and the only sinless person to live on this earth, was the only one capable of making an atonement for mankind.' So what I understand is that through sin we are estranged from God. Sin, as I understand it, is not living our lives according to the laws of God. When someone does not abide by the law of the land - then justice should be served. We are all under God's law - even though some don't believe in Him - that doesn't make them exempt. Sin estranges us from God and justice needs to follow. Through the atonement - the Savior paid the price for our sins. The atonement however is conditional -
The third article of faith declares, 'We believe that through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved' - now here is the condition - 'by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.' This is important because we believe that man shall be punished for their own sins and not for Adam's transgression. So in other words - the atonement of Jesus Christ redeems all mankind from the fall of Adam, but individually we are responsible for how we conduct our lives. And so it is extremely important that we personally get to know the Savior and the gift that is available to us through the atonement.
We learn from the scriptures that the atonement was carried out in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross. In the gospel of Luke we read how difficult this was for the Savior, for He prayed, Heavenly Father willing, for the cup to be removed, but He let Heavenly Father know that
He was still willing to carry out His great mission if there was no other way. 'And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly and he sweat as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground' (Luke 22:41-44) . In D&C Section 19, the Lord reminds us how to partake of this great gift of the atonement: 'I command you to repent, and keep the commandments which ye have received. For behold, I God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent'. And then the Lord gives this warning - 'But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit - and would that I might not drink the bitter cup and shrink. Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.' Elder Samuelson remarks, 'That Jesus experienced what He experienced, not because He couldn't avoid it but because He loves us is sobering indeed...If we feel to honor and love the Savior in return, we must never forget that He did what He did for us that we might not suffer to the same degree what justice alone would require of us.'
What does the atonement mean to me personally? First, I want to share my feelings about the conditions of benefiting from the atonement - which are repentance and keeping the commandments. Before I became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which was basically before I studied the gospel of Jesus Christ, I had the wrong ideas about repentance and the commandments. Repentance was this scary word that meant that I would have to admit that I was doing something wrong. Through studying the gospel and learning about the love of the Savior I have learned that repentance is a chance to get things right. We are not perfect. The Savior does not execute final judgement after we make mistakes - like so many others do. He gives us chance after chance to do better. Before I studied the gospel I fell into the trap like so many do with the false belief that the commandments are like crutches that curtail our freedom. Now that I have the light of the gospel, I clearly see the love of God through the commandments and the freedom and safety that living them gives us. Just like the Primary says, there is a right way to live and be happy. When I look at past experiences - when I didn't live according to the commandments - I invited misery into my life and with that I also invited misery into the lives of others. If we honestly look at all the misery in the world - most of it is because someone has broken a commandment. The Lord knows what He is doing - and He knows that when we live the commandments and repent when needed - we will be happy. Nephi called it living after the manner of happiness. (2Nephi 5:27) This doesn't mean that our lives will be free of challenges. Elder Samuelson said that 'Nephi understood that there is a pattern for living that results in happiness, independent of the difficulties, challenges and disappointments that come into all of our lives. He was able to focus on the big picture of God's plan for him and his people and was thus able to avoid being brought down by his frustrations or by the accurate observation that life is not fair. It isn't fair, but he and his people were happy nevertheless. They understood that an Atonement would take place, and they had confidence that it would include them.'
Through the Atonement of Christ, I understand that the Savior knows my challenges. I understand that He understands exactly what I am going through. When others are facing challenging times I try to have compassion by visualizing myself in their shoes. Unfortunately I really do not have a clue what they are going through unless I suffered something similar myself. The Savior willingly put Himself in our shoes to experience the pain that we would experience. In Alma 7:12 it says that the Savior 'took upon him their infirmities, that His bowels would be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succour his people according to their affirmatives.' What a gift that is - the pains that we suffer and would give up willingly, the Savior willingly suffered that same pain so He could understand exactly what we go through. This helps me so much when I struggle or when I see others struggle because I know that the Savior knows exactly what we are going through and that as we turn to Him - He knows how to help us through those challenges.
To better understand the atonement, I liken the Savior's sacrifice of His life to save ours to certain scenarios. I visualize my physical life being in danger - and someone saving me losing their life in the process. If that happened, I would be obligated to live my life so that is was worthy of that sacrifice. On the flip side of that scenario would be if I rescued someone and I lost my life in the process. I would hope that the person would live their life to the full measure of their creation. There are real life examples of people giving their lives for others. One story is of a plane that crashed into an icy river after it failed to take off successfully from Washington National airport in January of 1982. There were many victims of the crash in the ice cold water - desperately waiting to be rescued. Help came in the form of helicopters and life preservers. The helicopter crew would throw out a life line with a life preserver attached. In the water - the victims would frantically reach for that life line. One of the passengers of the plane kept catching that life line and then passed it off to fellow passengers. Time and time again when the life line came to him - he would find someone he could save. Now, that man never made it out. He was those passengers life saver that day. And so I would ask - how did they live their lives? Are they living worthy of that gift? That man gave others his chance to live. He had goals to strive for, he had dreams to dream, he had family to spend time with - but he gave all that up for others so the could strive to achieve their goals, dream their dreams and spend precious time with their families. He knew the value of mortal life - and he gave it to others. The Savior knows perfectly the value of mortal life. He taught us the right way to live it, and He died so that this precious mortal life could help us achieve eternal life. The mocking scribes and the chief priests made an important observation while Jesus was on the cross. Speaking to belittle him - they noted - 'He saved others; himself he cannot save...' Yes the Savior did save others, He proved that power through His miracles - and He had the power to save Himself too - but He would rather save others. He died for us. So I need to ask - how are we living our lives? Is it worthy of His sacrifice? The Savior is stretching forth His hand to save us all. The lifeline is the atonement. Yes, it will take some struggling on our part to be saved - but the way is prepared and the the Savior's hand is stretched out to save us. "While his arm of mercy is extended toward you in the light of day, harden not your hearts. Yea, today, if ye will hear his voice harden not your hearts; for why will ye die?" Jacob 6:5-6
The Savior, through the Atonement suffered all we have suffered. He died so we may live. We are obligated through this precious gift to find out individually, what does the Atonement mean to you?
I pray that we will live to the full measure of our creation and honour the precious gift of the Atonement, and come unto Christ and be saved. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
The Savior did die for us, but He came to enliven us. May we live the best lives we can and make a difference in the world by sharing His love with others.