Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of exceeding joy of which I taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. ~ Alma 36:24







Monday, October 17, 2011

Testimony of Christ and the Atonement

Testimony of Christ and the Atonement
Farewell talk by Emily Kranendonk
September 25, 2011

Take a moment to picture yourself at the scene of the Savior visiting the people in America. Picture yourself coming unto Christ, ready to let Him carry your burdens and take the heavy weight from your shoulders. Imagine and feel your heart broken and your spirit contrite.

“And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto them saying:

“Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.

“And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come.” 3 Nephi 11: 13-15

“Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I am the same that came unto mine own, and mine own received me not. I am the light which shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.” D&C 6: 21

“Come unto Him and lay down your burden. Let Him lift the load. Let Him give peace to your soul. Nothing in this world is more burdensome than sin—it is the heaviest cross men and women ever bear. …God has a ‘forgiving disposition.’ You can change. You can be helped. You can be made whole—whatever the problem. All He asks is that you walk away from the darkness and come into the light, His light, with meekness and lowliness of heart. That is at the heart of the gospel. That is the very center of our message. That is the beauty of redemption. Christ has ‘borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.’ Isaiah declare, ‘and with his stripes we are healed’—if we want to be (Isaiah 53: 4-5).” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Trusting Jesus, page 65

“Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” Isaiah 49: 16

“Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life”. 3 Ne. 5:13

I am part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, or be still. My past is redeemed; my present makes sense and my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tainted visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals. I no longer need preeminence, positions, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk with patience, am uplifted by prayer, and labor with power. My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven. My road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, divided or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won’t give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, and paid up for the cause of Christ. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And when He returns for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My banner will be clear.

“There is much to ponder about the greatness of God, His condescension, and what it might mean to us as recipients of His great gift.

…His condescension is an integral, necessary, and inseparable part of the Atonement. The Atonement itself was predicated upon His willingness to descend and suffer. His condescension, as part of the Atonement, is probably as essential to the redemption of mankind as was His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane or on the cross. His Atonement was a free gift to all mankind – a gift that could be obtained no other way. It resulted from His willingness to descend. He descended not because of obligation, nor for glory, but only for love. His condescension to redeem us through the Atonement was the price He paid to provide salvation and exaltation.”

~ Bishop Richard C. Edgley, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric

Ensign, Dec. 2001, “The Condescension of God”

"It matters so very much how we regard and view Jesus Christ." Elder Maxwell.

"I testify that in eloquent example he partook voluntarily of the bitter cup in the awful, but for him avoidable, atonement; we must, therefore, drink from our tiny cups. I thank him for likewise not interceding on our behalf, even when we pray in faith and reasonable righteousness, for that which would not be right for us. Our glimpse of Gethsemane should teach us that all prayers are petitions!

"I testify that, though he never needed it, he gave to us what we desperately needed—that program of progress—repentance, which beckons us to betterness. I thank him for helping me, even forgiving me, when I fall short, when I testify of things known but which are beyond the border of my behavior, and for helping me to advance that border, bit by bit. His relentless redemptiveness exceeds my recurring wrongs."

Elder Neal A. Maxwell "Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King," New Era, Dec 1976, 9

The Atonement from a female perspective (Alma 7:11)
“Well, my dear sisters, the gospel is the good news that can free us from guilt. We know that Jesus experienced the totality of mortal existence in Gethsemane. It’s our faith that he experienced everything-absolutely everything. Sometimes we don’t think through the implications of that belief. We talk in great generalities about the sins of all humankind, about the suffering of the entire human family. But we don’t experience pain in generalities. We experience it individually. That means he knows what it felt like when your mother died of cancer- how it was for your mother, how it still is for you. He knows what it felt like to lose the student body election. He knows the moments the brakes locked and the car started to skid.

He experienced the slave ship sailing from Ghana toward Virginia. He experienced gas chambers at Dachau. He experienced napalm in Vietnam. He knows about drug addiction and alcoholism.

Let me go further. There is nothing you have experienced as a woman that he does not also know and recognize. On a profound level he understands about the hunger to hold your baby that sustains you through pregnancy. He understands both the physical pain of giving birth and the immense joy. He knows about PMS and cramps and menopause. He understands about rape and infertility and abortion. His last recorded words to his disciples were, “And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:30) He understands your mother-pain when your five-year-old leaves for kindergarten, when a bully picks on your fifth-grader, when your daughter calls to say that the new baby has Down’s Syndrome. He knows your mother-rage when a trusted babysitter sexually abuses your two year-old, when someone gives your thirteen-year-old drugs, when someone seduces your seventeen-year-old. He knows the pain you live with when you come home to a quiet apartment where the only children are visitors, when you hear that your former husband and his new wife were sealed in the temple last week, when your fiftieth wedding anniversary rolls around and your husband has been dead for two years. He knows all that. He’s been there. He’s been lower than all that…”

I beg you to…give him your whole heart, all the pieces, and let him heal you. He promises us, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”

(Jeremiah 29:13.) “with all [our] hearts.” That means we don’t have pieces of our hearts that he doesn’t touch or that aren’t relevant to him. That means we must live our lives as Savior-focused individuals.”

(Chieko N. Okazaki; Lighten Up! Pages 6&7)

God has infinite attention to spare for each one of us. He does not have to deal with us in the mass. You are as much alone with Him as if you were the only being He had ever created. When Christ died he died for you Individually just as much as if you had been the only man in the world." C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity pg. 168

“The Atonement was an intimate, personal experience in which Jesus came to know how to help each of us.” Robert Millet “What Happened on the cross.” P. 91

“For many years I thought of the Savior’s experience in the Garden and on the cross as places where a large mass of sin was heaped upon Him. Through the words of Alma, Abinadai, Isaiah, and other prophets, however, my view has changed. Instead of an impersonal mass of sin, there was a long line of people, as Jesus felt ‘our infirmities’ (Heb. 4:15), bore our griefs,…Carried our sorrows… And was bruised for our iniquities. Isa, 53:4-5 Elder Merrill J. Batemen CR October 2005, 77

As a young missionary, Elder Orson F. Whitney (1855–1931), who later served in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, had a dream so powerful that it changed his life forever. He later wrote:

“One night I dreamed … that I was in the Garden of Gethsemane, a witness of the Savior’s agony. … I stood behind a tree in the foreground. … Jesus, with Peter, James, and John, came through a little wicket gate at my right. Leaving the three Apostles there, after telling them to kneel and pray, He passed over to the other side, where He also knelt and prayed … : ‘Oh my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will but as Thou wilt.’

“As He prayed the tears streamed down His face, which was [turned] toward me. I was so moved at the sight that I wept also, out of pure sympathy with His great sorrow. My whole heart went out to Him. I loved Him with all my soul and longed to be with Him as I longed for nothing else.

“Presently He arose and walked to where those Apostles were kneeling—fast asleep! He shook them gently, awoke them, and in a tone of tender reproach, untinctured by the least show of anger or scolding, asked them if they could not watch with Him one hour…

“Returning to His place, He prayed again and then went back and found them again sleeping. Again He awoke them, admonished them, and returned and prayed as before. Three times this happened, until I was perfectly familiar with His appearance—face, form, and movements. He was of noble stature and of majestic mien … the very God that He was and is, yet as meek and lowly as a little child.

“All at once the circumstance seemed to change. … Instead of before, it was after the Crucifixion, and the Savior, with those three Apostles, now stood together in a group at my left. They were about to depart and ascend into heaven. I could endure it no longer. I ran from behind the tree, fell at His feet, clasped Him around the knees, and begged Him to take me with Him.

“I shall never forget the kind and gentle manner in which He stooped and raised me up and embraced me. It was so vivid, so real that I felt the very warmth of His bosom against which I rested. Then He said: ‘No, my son; these have finished their work, and they may go with me; but you must stay and finish yours.’ Still I clung to Him. Gazing up into His face—for He was taller than I—I besought Him most earnestly: ‘Well, promise me that I will come to You at the last.’ He smiled sweetly and tenderly and replied: ‘That will depend entirely upon yourself.’ I awoke with a sob in my throat, and it was morning.” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland The Atonement of Jesus Christ, Ensign March 2008

“Jesus himself is the gatekeeper and … ‘He employeth no servant there.’ … I will tell you out of the conviction of my soul… ‘He waits for … you with open arms.’ That imagery is too powerful to brush aside …It is imagery that should work itself into the very center core of one’s mind—a rendezvous impending, a moment in time and space, the likes of which there is none other. And that rendezvous is a reality. I certify that to you. He does wait for us with open arms, because His love for us is perfect.” But a few days, p. 7

Melvin J. Ballard…

I want to conclude with a story about the Savior that comes from a special witness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Elder Melvin J. Ballard was an apostle and the grandfather of Elder M. Russell Ballard, currently a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. He had administrative problems to solve as part of his calling that were very troubling to him personally. There were no precedents or guidelines. In other words, this was a situation that the handbook didn't cover! He sought the Lord repeatedly for inspiration and help. Then he wrote:
(Chieko N. Okazaki, Disciples , p.12-13)

Melvin J. Ballard
That night I received a wonderful manifestation and impression which has never left me. I was carried . . . into a room where I was informed I was to meet someone. As I entered the room I saw, seated on a raised platform, the most glorious being I have ever conceived of, and was taken forward to be introduced to Him. As I approached He smiled, called my name, and stretched out His hands toward me. If I live to be a million years old I shall never forget that smile.

(Melvin J. Ballard—Crusader for Righteousness, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966, p. 65-66.)

He put his arms around me and kissed me, as He took me into His bosom, and He blessed me until my whole being was thrilled. As He finished I fell at His feet, and there saw the marks of the nails; and as I kissed them, with deep joy swelling through my whole being, I felt that I was in heaven indeed. The feeling that came to my heart then was: Oh! if I could live worthy, though it would require four-score years, so that in the end when I have finished I could go into His presence and receive the feeling that I then had in His presence, I would give everything that I am and ever hope to be!

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