Question: How do Latter-day Saints understand the significance of the blood shed by Christ?

Table of Contents

Question: How do Latter-day Saints understand the significance of the blood shed by Christ?

It is through the shedding of Christ's blood that we can receive a remission of our sins

  • Joseph Smith made reference to "the atonement and mediation of Jesus Christ; by whose blood they have a forgiveness of sins."[1] He also taught that "God…prepared a sacrifice in the gift of His own Son who should be sent in due time, to prepare a way, or open a door through which man might enter into the Lord's presence, whence he had been cast out for disobedience… It must be shedding the blood of the Only Begotten to atone for man; for this was the plan of redemption; and without the shedding of blood was no remission."[2] In 1840 M.L. Davis wrote a letter to his wife outlining some of the things he had heard the Prophet state in a public sermon. He said that Joseph Smith expressed "his total unbelief of what is termed original sin. He believes that it is washed away by the blood of Christ, and that it no longer exists."[3] Brigham Young later reaffirmed this position: "We must believe that this same Jesus was crucified for the sins of the world, that is for the original sin, not the actual individual transgressions of the people; not but that the blood of Christ will cleanse from all sin, all who are disposed to act their part by repentance, and faith in his name. But the original sin was atoned for by the death of Christ."[4] George Laub recorded in his journal in 1844 that the Prophet taught "Jesus Christ left his blood to atone for the sins of the world."[5] One of the principles of the LDS faith is enunciated by the Prophet (and by Brigham Young, the second President of the LDS Church) as stated above by M. L. Davis: that original sin had been done away with in the death of Jesus Christ. The absence of original sin means that the baptism of infants is not necessary. The Book of Mormon is clear on this matter: "Little children are alive in Christ, even from the foundation of the world."[6] D&C 29:46 says "little children are redeemed from the foundation of the world through mine Only Begotten." Joseph Smith referred to children as "having been redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb."[7] In 1917 Hyrum G. Smith, the Patriarch of the Church, stated that "through the blood of his atonement [little children] shall come forth in the morning of the resurrection with his saints."[8]
  • Brigham Young stated that "the Latter-day Saints believe…that Jesus is the Savior of the world; they believe that all who attain to any glory whatever, in any kingdom, will do so because Jesus has purchased it by His atonement."[9]
  • In 1882 Heber J. Grant, then of the Quorum of the Twelve, encouraged the Saints to "read the revelations given upon the subject and you will find that all mankind, except those who have had the testimony of Christ and rejected it, denying the blood of Christ, will ultimately be saved."[10]
  • That same year John Taylor published his book entitled Mediation and Atonement. After quoting Colossians 1:12–15 he wrote that this passage teaches us "that our redemption is obtained through the blood of Jesus."[11]
  • Joseph F. Smith, in 1895 as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, referred to the conditions that Adam "had to be redeemed from by the blood of Christ."[12] A week later, at the Juab Stake Conference in Nephi, Utah, Elder Smith stated that "by the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ, he, Adam, was redeemed from the fall and the power of Satan…and we are indebted for our redemption to Jesus our Lord, and our Deliverer."[13]
  • Francis M. Lyman of the Quorum of the Twelve stated that "Jesus Christ shed His blood for our sins—not for His own, for He was immaculate and without blemish—and He laid down His life that you and I should be redeemed from that death which had come upon us because of the fall of Adam. By His death are we redeemed. By His blood are we cleansed from the conditions of the fall."[14]
  • In 1901 Rudger Clawson of the Quorum of the Twelve stated that "the souls of men are so precious in the sight of God that he gave to the world his Only Begotten Son, that by the shedding of his blood he might draw all men unto him."[15]
  • In 1916 Anthon H. Lund of the Quorum of the Twelve stated that the bread and wine "are simply emblems of his body and blood" and that the wine "represented his blood that was to be shed for the remission of sins."[16]
  • In 1937 Charles A. Callis of the Twelve testified that Christ's "blood atones for all our sins, through obedience to righteousness."[17]
  • In 1949 when Alonzo A. Hinckley of the Quorum of the Twelve learned that he had a terminal illness he wrote a letter to the First Presidency of the Church. Part of that letter was read at the October 1949 General Conference. He said, in part: "As to the future, I have no misgivings. It is inviting and glorious, and I sense rather clearly what it means to be saved by the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ."[18]
  • A year later Marion G. Romney of the Twelve stated that "through repentance he may bring himself within the reach of the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, so that thereby he may be cleansed from the effects of his transgressions and obtain forgiveness of them."[19]
  • Robert Millet, Professor of Religion at BYU, has recently written about the regeneration of fallen man. He states, "the renewal of which we speak is a conversion from worldliness to saintliness, from being lured by the lurid to being enticed by holiness. It comes to us by virtue of the cleansing blood of Jesus and through the medium of the Holy Ghost, who is the Sanctifier."[20]

Notes

  1. The Lectures on Faith in Historical Perspective, edited by Larry E. Dahl and Charles D. Tate, Jr. (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, 1990), 84.
  2. Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 2, 15; also in The Teachings of Joseph Smith, 54–55. McKeever and Johnson claim to have read both volumes.
  3. Letter dated 6 February 1840, quoted in The Words of Joseph Smith, compiled by Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1980), 33; also in Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 4, 78.
  4. Brigham Young, "The Lord's Supper, Etc.," Journal of Discourses, reported by David W. Evans 11 July 1869, Vol. 13 (London: Latter-Day Saint's Book Depot, 1871), 143, in Discourses of Brigham Young, edited by John A. Widtsoe (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1954), 153.
  5. George Laub Journal, 12 May 1844, in The Words of Joseph Smith, 371. Cf. History of the Church, Vol. 4, 554; also quoted in Doxey, The Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants, 1:268. Although the idea of 'original sin' is not dealt with in this chapter of Mormonism 101, it obviously played a part in the atonement, and was negated by the atonement. Joseph Smith was not the only one who suggested that original sin was removed by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. The English Reformers, in their Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, wrote that the sacrificial death of Christ is defined as the "perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual," article XXXI, introduced and quoted in Thomas C. Oden, The Word of Life. Systematic Theology, Vol. 2 (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1989): 389. The discussion by Oden, with representative documentation, makes it clear, however, that the redemption, propitiation and satisfaction for sin is applied only to original sin; our actual sins are atoned for only if we exercise faith in the Atonement of Christ.
  6. Moroni 8:12, 22.
  7. Wilford Woodruff Journal, 20 March 1842, in The Words of Joseph Smith, 109. Again, this is a work which was read by McKeever and Johnson.
  8. Conference Report (April 1917), 70–71, in Doxey, The Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants, 1:379. For a recent comment on the blood of the Lamb saving little children, see Robert Millet, "The Regeneration of Fallen Man," in Nurturing Faith Through the Book of Mormon. The 24th Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1995), 128–129, where he cites Moroni 8:12, 22; Mosiah 3:16–19; D&C 29:46, 74:7; and refers to JST Matthew 18:11: 'these little ones have no need of repentance, /for/ I will save them'; and JST Matthew 19:13: 'such shall be saved.' Thomas Oden writes that Hugh of St. Victor (died 1141) wrote that those who die at birth or are retarded "will be saved by this atonement insofar as they are judged to be incapable of refusing it," Hugh of St. Victor, On the Sacraments of the Christian Faith 2:17 paraphrased in Oden, The Word of Life, Vol. 2, 392.Reformed scholar Augustus H. Strong, in defending his belief that infants are "through the grace of Christ certain of salvation," quoted the following from John Calvin: "Infants whom the Lord gathers together from this life are regenerated by a secret operation of the Holy Spirit;" further, those who would exempt infants from the grace of salvation are guilty of an "execrable blasphemy;" it is a "blasphemy to be universally detested." [Augustus H. Strong, Systematic Theology (Philadelphia: The Judson Press, 1907), 663.] Strong quotes from several other Reformed scholars in this article (pages 660–664).
  9. Brigham Young, "The Gospel of Jesus Christ," Journal of Discourses, reported by David W. Evans 24 April 1870, Vol. 13 (London: Latter-Day Saint's Book Depot, 1871), 328, quoted in Latter-day Commentary, 37.
  10. Heber J. Grant, Gospel Standards, 94, citing Journal History, entry for September 9, 1888.
  11. John Taylor, An Examination into and an Elucidation of the Great Principle of the Mediation and Atonement of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Company, 1882), 31. One can only wonder why McKeever and Johnson failed to take notice of a book by a President of the LDS Church, with the rather catchy title of "Mediation and Atonement." One would think it would have been the first place to look when seeking information about the LDS position relative to the Atonement.
  12. Collected Discourses, Vol. 4, edited by Brian H. Stuy (City Unknown: B.H.S. Publications, 1991), 230. Delivered January 20, 1895, at the Oneida Stake Conference in Franklin, Idaho.
  13. Joseph F. Smith, Deseret News Weekly 50 (February 1895), 251.
  14. Collected Discourses, Vol. 4, 363–364. Delivered at General Conference, October 5, 1895.
  15. Conference Report (April 1901), 7–8, quoted in Doxey, The Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants, 1:182.
  16. Conference Report (October 1916), 12–14, quoted in Doxey, The Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants, Vol. 1, 274; see also Anthon H. Lund, Conference Report (April 1912), 12: "…we partake of the emblems of His body and blood sacrificed for us," quoted in Doxey, The Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants, Vol. 2, 118–119.
  17. Conference Report (October 1937), 122, quoted in Doxey, The Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants, Vol. 1, 354–355.
  18. Quoted by Marion G. Romney, Conference Report (October 1949), 43.
  19. Conference Report (April 1950), 84.
  20. Millet, "The Regeneration of Fallen Man," 137–138.