Monday, August 7, 2017

Elder M. Russell Ballard on the Atonement and the value of each soul

Elder M. Russell Ballard (born October 8, 1928) was called as a Seventy in 1976, and has served as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1985.
"Only as we accept the Atonement in our lives and strive to live the gospel can we meet the challenges of life and find peace, joy, and happiness. Coming to understand this great gift is an individual pursuit for each child of God.
"Brothers and sisters, I believe that if we could truly understand the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, we would realize how precious is one son or daughter of God. I believe our Heavenly Father's everlasting purpose for His children is generally achieved by the small and simple things we do for one another. At the heart of the English word atonement is the word one. If all mankind understood this, there would never be anyone with whom we would not be concerned, regardless of age, race, gender, religion, or social or economic standing. We would strive to emulate the Savior and would never be unkind, indifferent, disrespectful, or insensitive to others....
"Our Heavenly Father has reached out to us through the Atonement of our Savior. He invites all to 'come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption' (Omni 1:26). He has taught us that it is through our faithful adherence to gospel principles, through receiving the saving ordinances that have been restored, through continual service, and by enduring to the end that we can return to His sacred presence. What possible thing in the whole world is remotely as important as to know this?"
- M. Russell Ballard, "The Atonement and the Value of One Soul," General Conference, April 2004; see Ensign, May 2004, pp. 84-87
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

In this address, Elder Ballard encourages us to individually accept more fully the Atonement of Jesus Christ in our lives in order to receive the blessings that it will bring. Then he discusses an important aspect of that Atonement: the implications for our interpersonal relationships. It teaches us the value of each individual soul; and that knowledge should motivate us to treat one another with profound respect and kindness:

It's interesting to ponder the statement, "Our Heavenly Father has reached out to us through the Atonement of our Savior." The ways that the Father and the Son relate to us differently, and how each is involved in that act of Atonement, are profound.

And then the final thought, the thing Elder Ballard states is more important to know than anything in the whole world: we can return to the presence of God by:

  • faithful adherence to gospel principles
  • receiving the saving ordinances that have been restored
  • continual service
  • enduring to the end 

All of this is possible to us because of the Atonement of the Savior and the love of the Father. How truly blessed we are by this knowledge!

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2017)

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