Families that Discuss together, stay together

Families that Discuss together, stay together
Families that Discuss together, stay together

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Understanding and Partaking in the Atonement of Jesus Christ (Talk given during Easter)

This season we celebrate that Christ has overcome the world, He has fulfilled his divine mission to redeem His people from Spiritual and Physical death. That fateful night in the Olive Grove at the Garden of Gethsemane He took upon Himself the sins of the world--He took upon him all our infirmities, our pain and sorrows in the past, the present and the future that he might "know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities." This single act is our key to our salvation. It is only through his atonement that we can overcome our sin and to overcome all things in this life and to become clean to enter into our Father's Kingdom.

I have thought of three things that can help us understand and partake in the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

1. We must first attain knowledge of Him-come to know Him.
2. We must exercise faith in Him.
3. We must become Humble

First, We must come to know Him. Our ability to overcome all things depends greatly on our effort to know the Savior, of His mission, of His teachings, of our relationship with Him, and ultimately of his redeeming Atonement. John tells us of the danger that comes of not knowing Him. He writes, "He was in the world and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own (meaning the Jews) and his own received him not. (Now, here is the truth that will exalt us) But as many as received him (says John) to them gave he the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name."

Leo Tolstoy said it simply when he penned the words in a conversation between two characters of his book, War and Peace. Omen teaches Pierre the reason for his unhappiness, "[Pierre], you know him not, and that is why you are unhappy."

James E. Faust said, "Our salvation depends on believing in and accepting the Atonement. Such acceptance requires a continual effort to understand it more fully."

Hermano Juarez of the Spanish Branch is a great example of coming to know Christ. One day I needed to pick up something from his home and when I knocked on the door, his wife, Celia, opened the door wide to invite me in. A wondrous scene was before my eyes as I looked at Hermano Juarez sitting there on his couch with both his scriptures open on the coffee table before him. In addition to those where his reading glasses, his sunday school student manual and a few other books, including the Liahona, the church magazine in Spanish, all wide open to his studious mind. I was impressed and touched by his example. His calling was not a teacher of Sunday School, nor was he a leader in an organization, he was simply the president of a Sunday school class who welcomes students and calls someone to say the prayers. I came away from that humble home knowing that Hermano Juarez was anxiously engaged in getting to know the Savior.

As we more fully come to know Christ we can more readily:

Exercise faith in Him

Nephi reminded his older brothers that the Lord could do all things if they would but have faith. While traveling from Jerusalem into the wilderness, Laman and Lemuel along with two daughters and two sons of Ishmael become rebellious and desired to return to Jerusalem. Nephi was grieved. He asked them, "How is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him? [Then Nephi exhorts his brethren], Wherefore, let us be faithful to him."

I would like tot share an experience with you about faith. This past summer our family went with Grandpa Tibbets to the Uintah Wilderness on a backpacking trip. The trail is located in the southern part of the range in the Garfield Basin. The mountains are breathtakingly beautiful. The name Rocky Mountains surely had to have originated in this part of the series because there is no trail that I can think of between the Sierra Madres in California and the Sawtooths in Idaho to the Wind Rivers in Wyoming that have such huge boulders right on the trail. Sometimes it doesn't even seem like a trail because of the abundance of rocks. Our hike was 10 miles long and we were on our way out. It was a beautiful sunny morning. We felt invigorated after a hearty meal of instant oatmeal and hot chocolate. I stayed back with my father walking his pace to keep him company. It was sweet to hear the stories of his youth and about the first times he backpacked along this trail some forty years before. At lunchtime we found that the others had stopped in a place called Swasey Hole to wait for us. After a delicious lunch of bagels and cheese, we proceeded forward. I again stayed back with my father as the children and David proceeded ahead. We trod along slowly up...up...up...the switchbacks. We rested quite often to catch our breath. It was difficult for me to go that slow with such a heavy pack, but it was important that I stay with my dear father. We noticed the sky becoming a little darker. My father's expert knowledge about weather patterns suggested that there were three storm systems coming together and that it could become very dangerous as we neared the ridge of twelve thousand feet elevation. Lightening loves to strike the tops of mountains and we were coming nearer all the time to the top. This knowledge helped to push us a little faster up the trail in hopes that we could clear the top before the storm hit, but more and more my father felt that we might need to stay this side of the mountain if we were to stay alive.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ridge, and unbeknownst to us, our children, having been informed by David about the dangers of mountain storms began to exercise faith in our Living God and to pray for us and to sing hymns. David laid down his backpack near the children and took off running back over the ridge and to the other side where he found us still trudging along. He grasped the backpack of my father's, slung it over his shoulder and encouraged us to hustle over the top as fast as we could to safety. We made it! Somewhere in the trees down below us we heard shouts of joy and clapping as our children recognized the power of God to save lives. Faith is the key essential to overcome all things.

We must become humble

We must refine ourselves and become humble, even with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. At the end of Father Lehi's life he dedicated his last moments teaching his children of the foundational doctrine of the Atonement. He instructed Jacob, "Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth. Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered." (2 Ne 2:6-7)

King Benjamin taught us why and how to obtain a broken heart and a contrite spirit. He said in those famous words: "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, for ever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father."

I know that Jesus Christ atoned for our sins. He is risen and for this great act we celebrate this season. It is my prayer for us that we may without hesitation come to know Christ, exercise faith in Him and become humble. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
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