As I read through the talks given during the Saturday afternoon session of the April 1972 conference, and it happens to be my Easter Sunday, I can’t help but reflect on Theodore M. Burton’s talk, “Salvation and Exaltation.”
He talked about the difference between the two. Many ministers spoke today, in their own congregations, on the salvation of man. Yes! Everyone will be SAVED and RESURRECTED! Glory! Hallelujah! From the most base, feral human being to the very elect, all will receive a perfected body with the power that allots them. Elder Burton then taught,
“I wonder how many people have been lulled into a false sense of security by such teaching.”
While this is a great blessing in our lives we, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, understand that exaltation is so much more than salvation. This must be the goal of everyone who understands what Jesus Christ really paid for with His life, His submission to all things, and His infinite love and mercy for each one of us.
How many missionaries have encountered people who have actually said, “A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible” (2 Ne. 29: 3). These are people who are happy with only the first part of the resurrection (Bible), but are missing the much more glorious second part of the resurrection (Book of Mormon). Again, Elder Burton lamented,
“I am personally concerned about this problem because I realize how much damage partial truth can do. Limited knowledge is a dangerous thing. What we need is more truth—unlimited truth—until finally we know all things.”
The limited truth is that we can be resurrected and be saved. But to what end? My sights only desire the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom, where my Heavenly Father lives. He cannot “look upon sin with the least degree of allowance” (D&C 1: 31), so where does that put me, an imperfect sinner? For that I must focus my life on the second part of the great atoning sacrifice of my Lord, and Savior. I must become clean again, and that is impossible without Jesus Christ.
Amulek taught the second part of the great atoning sacrifice so beautifully when he said,
“And now, behold, I will testify unto you of myself that these things are true. Behold, I say unto you, that I do know that Christ shall come among the children of men, to take upon him the transgressions of his people, and that he shall atone for the sins of the world. … For it is expedient that an atonement should be made. … For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice” (Alma 34: 8-10).
I love the repeated words, “For it is expedient.” It means to break the rule for a worthy cause. Since the beginning of time, people made animal sacrifices to their God. They could buy whatever animal they could afford and have it sacrificed by the priest at certain times of the year. This process would serve as an atonement for them. But Amulek taught that animal sacrifices were nothing compared to the “infinite and eternal sacrifice” wrought by a loving Redeemer, who would break all tradition. That this one sacrifice will put a “stop to the shedding of blood; then shall the law of Moses be fulfilled” (Alma 34: 13). “And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice” (Alma 34:15).
“And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice” (Alma 34: 16).
I weep at such good news!
Martin Luther was a priest who couldn’t wrap his head around the idea of buying one’s own salvation for just a few tokens. He actually believed there was a loving God who could forgive you, but first you had to know what He said, and understand His glorious words, then trust in them. He spent his life publishing scripture and getting The Word out to the people, so they could read these words for themselves, “Every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. … He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55: 1, 7).
As we come to understand how Jesus Christ willingly gave up His life, and as Isaiah so beautifully stated, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5), how can we so casually ignore the sacredness of the Easter holiday? How can we mindlessly go through our everyday existence without gratitude pouring out of our souls?
Going back to the Book of Mormon, Amulek asked us the very same question. He taught that we must have “faith unto repentance,” to “cry unto him for mercy,” to “let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually” (Alma 34: 17-27).
Oh, how I need Him every day, daily, and forever.
One day, my husband and I planned to meet at the temple after work. We lived maybe 5 minutes away from the Salt Lake Temple, at the time, and I was at home reading a novel. I happened to look up at the clock and saw that the session would start in 5 minutes and I panicked thinking I would never make it. Since we were to meet in the chapel, I had most likely missed calling him to tell him I would be late, and he would end up going on the session without me. I hurried to get dressed, jumped in the car, found a parking space, and ran to the temple, knowing all the while that I would be too late, but still hoping. Seeing that I was trying to make the session, sisters lovingly urged me on and led me to the chapel doors where the entire room was waiting for me. I had made it! Because they all waited for ME!
Every time I think about that experience, I cry. I can’t help myself. I know what I felt then is what I will feel when I see my Savior, who will be standing there patiently waiting for me as I catch my sinner’s breath and plead for entrance, even though it is my fault I’m late, not prepared, worried, and smudged with imperfectness.
I am absolutely grateful for the gift of resurrection, but how much more am I grateful for the true power of the atonement where Jesus Christ paid the price for my mistakes, shortcomings, and imperfections—which no one else could pay—to satisfy justice enough to keep the door open for me. He bled great drops of mercy so that I can return, clean, to my Heavenly Father.
We Grow As We Serve Nathaniel Givens
Despised and Rejected SilverRain
Your Heart’s Desire Daniel Ortner
What Has The Church Ever Done For Us? Walker Wright