Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Atonement Can Clean, Reclaim, and Sanctify Our Lives

"Is it possible to reclaim a life that through reckless abandon has become so strewn with garbage that it appears that the person is unforgivable? Or what about the one who is making an honest effort but has fallen back into sin so many times that he feels that there is no possible way to break the seemingly endless pattern? Or what about the person who has changed his life but just can't forgive himself? . . .

"The Atonement of Jesus Christ is available to each of us. His Atonement is infinite. It applies to everyone, even you. It can clean, reclaim, and sanctify even you. That is what infinite means--total, complete, all, forever. President Boyd K. Packer has taught: 'There is no habit, no addiction, no rebellion, no transgression, no apostasy, no crime exempted from the promise of complete forgiveness. That is the promise of the atonement of Christ'.

Shayne M. Bowen,
"The Atonement Can Clean, Reclaim, and Sanctify Our Lives," Ensign, Nov. 2006

8 comments:

Ashlee said...

It's a beautiful gift we were given by our Savior. The amazing amount of love he has for us that he would do all of this so we could be a family in the end. It's wonderful. Unfortunately there are those that feel they have gone too far over the edge to ever come back. It's heartbreaking to know there are those that are feeling such pain because they don't understand this principle. Hey...look at me. Good example.....

Cameron said...

The message of the Savior is that everyone is "reclaimable". I would imagine that everyone at some point in their life has done something they feel poorly about. But it doesn't mean you've failed, or that any attempt to do good in the future is somehow tainted or hypocritical. Jesus healed, forgave, and said, "go and sin no more."

Jessica said...

I love this. Thanks for posting it. I have often times felt unreclaimable.

Cameron said...

You're welcome, Jessica, and thank you.

Democracy Lover said...

Cameron,

Since you are interested in politics, let me respond by quoting one of the great minds behind the American Revolution, Tom Paine:

"From whence, then, could arise the solitary and strange conceit that the Almighty, who had millions of worlds equally dependent on his protection, should quit the care of all the rest, and come to die in our world because, they say, one man and one woman ate an apple?"

Cameron said...

You quote Thomas Paine's "Age of Reason". Frankly, not one I have read much of. It seems though that he had some of the same frustrations regarding the religions of the day that many did during that time period, including one fourteen year old boy.

Democracy Lover said...

I doubt there's much common ground between the reflections of the mature Tom Paine at the end of the 18th century, and those of the adolescent Joseph Smith. Paine had lived on 2 continents, made significant contributions to the 2 most important revolutions in government of his lifetime. Of him Thomas Edison said " have always regarded Paine as one of the greatest of all Americans. Never have we had a sounder intelligence in this republic… It was my good fortune to encounter Thomas Paine's works in my boyhood… it was, indeed, a revelation to me to read that great thinker's views on political and theological subjects. Paine educated me then about many matters of which I had never before thought. I remember very vividly the flash of enlightenment that shone from Paine's writings and I recall thinking at that time, 'What a pity these works are not today the schoolbooks for all children!' "

Certainly this is much different from the musings of a teenage farm boy 2 decades later. I could be said that both wrote books to address what they saw as the defects of religion, but Paine published his under his own name.

Cameron said...

According to history.org (I linked to previously), Thomas Paine wasn't exactly the picture of success early in life:

On January 29, 1737, Thomas Paine was born in Thetford, England. His father, a corseter, had grand visions for his son, but by the age of 12, Thomas had failed out of school. The young Paine began apprenticing for his father, but again, he failed. So, now age 19, Paine went to sea. This adventure didn't last too long, and by 1768 he found himself as an excise (tax) officer in England. Thomas didn't exactly excel at the role, getting discharged from his post twice in four years

However, he did contribute greatly to the US Revolution movement through writings like "Common Sense" and "The Crisis".

He then also apparently played a part in the French Revolution, and was almost executed by the French for his efforts.

After being saved from the French by James Monroe, he returned to America, where he later died and "only a handful of people attended his funeral."

His religious writings reflect a common and growing feeling of disenchantment with established religions of the day. It led many to question their surroundings and seek after the truth. Here is some of what Thomas Paine wrote on the subject:

...lest in the general wreck of superstition, of false systems of government, and false theology, we lose sight of morality, of humanity, and of the theology that is true.

Now compare that with what Joseph Smith wrote concerning his own early experience with religion:

Some time in the second year after our removal to Manchester, there was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. It commenced with the Methodists, but soon became general among all the sects in that region of country. Indeed, the whole district of country seemed affected by it, and great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties, which created no small stir and division amongst the people, some crying, “Lo, here!” and others, “Lo, there!” Some were contending for the Methodist faith, some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist.
For, notwithstanding the great love which the converts to these different faiths expressed at the time of their conversion, and the great zeal manifested by the respective clergy, who were active in getting up and promoting this extraordinary scene of religious feeling, in order to have everybody converted, as they were pleased to call it, let them join what sect they pleased; yet when the converts began to file off, some to one party and some to another, it was seen that the seemingly good feelings of both the priests and the converts were more pretended than real; for a scene of great confusion and bad feeling ensued—priest contending against priest, and convert against convert; so that all their good feelings one for another, if they ever had any, were entirely lost in a strife of words and a contest about opinions.


I think the young Joseph Smith would agree with you on his experience and education in regards to decifering the many sects of the day:

During this time of great excitement my mind was called up to serious reflection and great uneasiness; but though my feelings were deep and often poignant, still I kept myself aloof from all these parties, though I attended their several meetings as often as occasion would permit. In process of time my mind became somewhat partial to the Methodist sect, and I felt some desire to be united with them; but so great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was, and so unacquainted with men and things, to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong.

In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?


So, while not as well-travelled or as well-written as the mature Thomas Paine, he and Joseph seem to have had some of the same frustrations.

The difference, perhaps, lies in what they did to find the "theology that is true."