Today in Sacrament Meeting the Bishop quoted from a devotional given by Brad Wilcox at BYU last year. The whole thing is amazingly profound, and I would beg that you click this link and read it in its entirety. Trust me, you want to.
But today is Easter, and so we focus on the Atonement and the Resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Many people, including members of the Church, that don't understand the Atonement. We don't understand what exactly is required of us, and think that it is definitely more than we are giving and probably even more than we think is possible to give. Many people think that we don't believe that we are saved by grace.
I have born-again Christian friends who say to me, “You Mormons are trying to earn your way to heaven.”
I say, “No, we are not earning heaven. We are learning heaven. We are preparing for it (see D&C 78:7). We are practicing for it.”
They ask me, “Have you been saved by grace?”
I don't think I have ever thought of it that way, but I have been taught that those that aren't prepared for Heaven won't want to be there. They won't feel comfortable in a place where they haven't striven to belong.I answer, “Yes. Absolutely, totally, completely, thankfully—yes!”
I think the main point of the article that really hit home for me, was that so many people believe that the Church is exclusive. That we somehow claim all the rights to heaven and that it is impossible for others to make it. But the Atonement is completed. Christ has already paid for everyone's sins. So everyone is entitled and welcomed to come to Christ.* We are all going to be resurrected. We are all beloved sons and daughters of God and he wants us back.
In the past I had a picture in my mind of what the final judgment would be like, and it went something like this: Jesus standing there with a clipboard and Brad standing on the other side of the room nervously looking at Jesus.
Jesus checks His clipboard and says, “Oh, shoot, Brad. You missed it by two points.”Brad begs Jesus, “Please, check the essay question one more time! There have to be two points you can squeeze out of that essay.” That’s how I always saw it.
But the older I get, and the more I understand this wonderful plan of redemption, the more I realize that in the final judgment it will not be the unrepentant sinner begging Jesus, “Let me stay.” No, he will probably be saying, “Get me out of here!” Knowing Christ’s character, I believe that if anyone is going to be begging on that occasion, it would probably be Jesus begging the unrepentant sinner, “Please, choose to stay. Please, use my Atonement—not just to be cleansed but to be changed so that you want to stay.”
I am so grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ. For the knowledge that he lives; he knows me personally; he loves me unconditionally.
*It should be understood that we believe that there are necessary saving ordinances and that it is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that holds the restored priesthood power to act in the name of Jesus Christ and to perform these ordinances as Christ directed when he was on the earth.
**READ THE TALK!!