His Grace Is Sufficient by Brad Wilcox

Forgiveness of Sin

Christ is the intermediary between us and the Father, and that it is ultimately the Father that must forgive us. We confess our sins to the father because it is the father that demands justice for our sins:
And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father.” (3 Nephi 27:17)

Since it is our Father that demands justice, it is ultimately the Father that must show the mercy that overpowers His own demands for justice:
. . . the Father, yea, the Eternal Father of heaven, knoweth your state; and he doeth with you according to his justice and mercy.
The purpose of the atonement is to evoke the mercy from our Father that satisfies His demands of justice:
This being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance. And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice. (Alma 34:15-16)
The Atonement did not “bring about the bowels of” Christ’s “mercy”. The Atonement was performed because of Christ’s mercy, which has always existed, in order to evoke mercy from the Father in our behalf. Except for the Atonement our Father in Heaven could not exercise His mercy without robbing justice. If He did so, He would “cease to be God.” This has to do with our becoming truly penitent through the atonement:
For behold, justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved. What, do ye suppose that mercy can rob justice? I say unto you, nay; not one whit. If so, God would cease to be God. (Alma 42:24-25)
Even more, our Father’s mercy has to do with Christ’s infinite atonement and Christ’s role as our advocate with our Father:
. . . if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 John 2:1)
Christ’s infinite atonement gave him the power to intercede for us with the Father:
Yea, even so he shall be led, crucified, and slain, the flesh becoming subject even unto death, the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father. And thus God breaketh the bands of death, having gained the victory over death; giving the Son power to make intercession for the children of men— (Mosiah 15:7-8 ).
I do believe it is necessary for Christ to forgive us of our sins, but only in his role as our advocate. Christ only becomes our advocate after we have repented of all our sins, he has forgiven us, and we have become his “brethren.” If Christ’s forgiveness were enough, his intercession would not be necessary. Instead, Christ pleads with the Father for our sake based upon his suffering:
Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him— Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified; Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life. (D&C 45:3-50
It is this intercession that brings about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice. This concept of overpowering mercy emanating from our Father for Christ’s sake was understood by the apostle Paul. He used it to encourage the church in Ephesians to forgive one another:
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32)
The prophet Zenos also explains this concept. In a prayer to the Father, he said:
…Thou hast turned away thy judgments because of thy Son. (Alma 33:13)
This process of justice being satisfied by mercy evoked by Christ’s atonement is summarized very well in Alma:
But God did call on men, in the name of his Son, (this being the plan of redemption which was laid) saying: If ye will repent and harden not your hearts, then will I have mercy upon you, through mine Only Begotten Son; Therefore, whosoever repenteth, and hardeneth not his heart, he shall have claim on mercy through mine Only Begotten Son, unto a remission of his sins; and these shall enter into my rest. (Alma 12:33-34)
So, we do need Christ’s forgiveness in order for him to become our advocate and evoke the forgiveness and mercy that we ultimately need from our Father in Heaven.
Brother Steven Smith


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