Monday, August 13, 2012

Happiness, Salvation, Redemption, Mercy

You’ve heard of The Plan. I remember a not-too-distant discussion of the Plan of Salvation that bemoaned the fact that we get mired down with roadmaps from pre-mortal existence to earth to spirit world to final judgment to an assignment to a kingdom, and we miss the point.

The Plan of Salvation, The Plan of Happiness, The Plan of Redemption, The Plan of Mercy is all about the atonement.

That is the Good News, the Gospel, that Christ has come to redeem us from our sins.

Alma explains to Corianton (both of whom learned first-hand about redemption):

And now, the plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also (42:15).

Alma had explained that without the atonement of Christ, we could never repent; we could not escape the effects of our sin, and we could never return home to Father in Heaven. But Christ did suffer for us in Gethsemane and on the cross. Christ was resurrected. And in so doing, He opened the way for us to enjoy the blessings of His mercy by repenting of our sins, turning from our weakness and turning to Him. (That's Liz Lemon Swindle's depiction of Christ in Gethsemane, by the way.)

Over the next few posts, I intend to talk about the atonement and its effect on my life and on the life of others. I suggest that the atonement is what allows us to change, to improve ourselves. The atonement is the key to the Lord’s mercy, without which we would be doomed.

I do not intend to enter into a debate about faith vs. works. I do not intend to split hairs about grace. Let me simply state that the grace of God allows us the opportunity to repent. Were it not for the grace of God, we would have no such alternative, and we would be consigned to live forever in our sin.

And make no mistake: we all live in sin. All of us. The Savior was the only perfect example. And that means that no matter how moral, no matter how well meaning, no matter how active in the church, no matter what leadership calling one may hold, we are all sinners. Period. King Benjamin was pretty clear on the topic, and if he was a beggar before God, then I certainly am.

So the question is, how do we allow the atonement to work on us? Is there something we can do to take advantage of this remarkable gift, available to all of God’s children?

The first principles and ordinances of the gospel give us a clue: Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will lead us to a desire to draw nearer to Him. That desire may inspire us to want to change, to repent, to turn to Him, to look to Him and live. As we do so, we will want to covenant to be His, a covenant we make at baptism and renew with the sacrament. And as we remember Him always and seek to keep his commandments, He will send the Comforter, the right to which we also receive by priesthood ordinance.

Having said that, I hope in the next few posts to think about how we can walk that path. My thoughts will come in three chunks: First, what can I do compared with what God can do. Second, What are those steps of repentance, and how do I really do it? And finally, having done it, how can I stay on the path?

I hope you’ll come back for the next three posts. I welcome your comments along the way, as always.

Part II here.


  1. In the August New Era there is an absolutely wonderful condensation of Brad Wilcox's BYU Devotional Speech about Grace. I thought it was the best explanation I've ever heard.

  2. RL, I agree, Brother Wilcox's article is pretty cool. I especially liked the quotation from Elder Oaks about the reason for our suffering for our sins -- change, not penalty. Very nice.