Tuesday, March 27, 2018

President Dallin H. Oaks on the miracle of the atonement of Jesus Christ

President Dallin H. Oaks (born August 12, 1932) served as president of BYU from 1971-1980.  He was then appointed as a justice of the Utah Supreme Court, and resigned when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1984. He became President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles and also 1st Counselor in the First Presidency in January 2018.
"Man unquestionably has impressive powers and can bring to pass great things by tireless efforts and indomitable will. But after all our obedience and good works, we cannot be saved from the effect of our sins without the grace extended by the atonement of Jesus Christ....
"Why is Christ the only way? How was it possible for him to take upon himself the sins of all mankind? Why was it necessary for his blood to be shed? And how can our soiled and sinful selves be cleansed by his blood?
"These are mysteries I do not understand. To me, as to President John Taylor, the miracle of the atonement of Jesus Christ is 'incomprehensible and inexplicable.' (See The Mediation and Atonement of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, pp. 148–49.) But the Holy Ghost has given me a witness of its truthfulness, and I rejoice that I can spend my life in proclaiming it.
"I testify with the ancient and modern prophets that there is no other name and no other way under heaven by which man can be saved except by Jesus Christ. (See Acts 4:10, 12; 2 Ne. 25:20; Alma 38:9; D&C 18:23.)"
- Dallin H. Oaks, "What Think Ye of Christ?", General Conference October 1988
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

This was a beautiful talk by then Elder Oaks, in which he outlined the doctrine of the atonement of Jesus Christ and the way to salvation. In this excerpt, he addresses aspects of the "faith vs. works" debate as he explains how impossible it is for us to "earn" our own salvation. That result comes only through accepting the grace of the Savior:

I love the frank honesty of this admission: even an apostle, a highly educated man who has spent his life studying, doesn't fully understand the mysteries of how this grand miracle is accomplished; at its essence, the atonement of Jesus Christ truly is "incomprehensible and inexplicable." But that doesn't detract from his testimony of the truthfulness of the concept. A testimony does not require full understanding; it requires recognition of the witness of the Holy Ghost. And President Oaks has that sure witness, which he continues to share through his ministry with all who are willing to listen.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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