1956: Salvation and Exaltation through Grace and Mercy / Marion D Hanks

Elder Marion D Hanks was an early General Authority proponent of trusting the grace and mercy of Christ. The original of this address is in Conference Report for October 1956. It is available online to subscribers only on http://search.ldslibrary.com/.

Five years after this, Elder Hanks became president of the British Isles Mission, where in 1962 he worked with young missionaries named Jeffrey Holland and Quenton Cook. The two of them were companions for a period of time. Elder Hanks was famous for focusing all attention on the Book of Mormon in teaching investigators, and I remember some of his excellent material being used in my own Mission in Europe, in France and Switzerland from 1967 to 1970.

Perhaps Elder Holland’s having been in the influence of Elder Hanks during this time made him determine that , when he bacame an Apostle, the ideas of Grace, Mercy, and being Born Again, should be moved to the top of the list of important doctrines.

Thanks much,

Steve St.Clair
Salvation and Exaltation through Grace and Mercy
Elder Marion D. Hanks, of the First Council of the Seventy
Conference Report, October 1956, First Day—Morning Meeting, p.13

THE GOSPEL of Jesus Christ teaches us that the salvation and exaltation of men are made possible solely through the graciousness and goodness and love of God in his gift to us of his Divine Son, whose life exemplified the Father’s purposeful plan for abundant living and whose sacrificial death made available to us and gave us a vision of our eternal possibilities as children of God. From the record of Nephi we read these impressive words:

For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to he reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. (2 Nephi 25:23.)

The records of latter-day revelation, as well as those of former days, attest to the great truth that through the atonement of Christ all men will certainly be resurrected, and that all who are willing and obedient may enjoy the blessing of God’s great gift of eternal life.

The Latter-day Saint understands that through the gift of God, through the great atoning sacrifice of his Divine Son, all that we might achieve is made possible for us, but he understands also that in the plan of God it is necessary that we accept this free gift if we would enjoy all of our eternal possibilities. For the Lord told his people through the Prophet in 1832,

For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift. (D & C 88:33.)

What must we do to “receive” his gift? The answer of the prophets has been the same, both anciently and in this dispensation, both in the eastern hemisphere and the western. Brother Clifford Young alluded this morning to the answer given by Peter at Pentecost to those who, having been pricked in their hearts by the witness of Christ born by the apostles, asked what they must do. The answer was clear and unequivocal:

And be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38.)

Nephi in his parting testimony expressed his feeling of compassion for his own people, for the Jew, and for the gentile, and said:

But behold, for none of these can I hope except they shall be reconciled unto Christ, and enter into the narrow gate, and walk in the straight path which leads to life, and continue in the path until the end of the day of probation. (2 Nephi 33:9.)

And after bearing his witness of the Messiah to his people this same prophet said:

For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost. (Ibid., 31:17.)

In 1831 the Lord revealed to the Prophet the following:

. . . He that receiveth my gospel receiveth me; and he that receiveth not my gospel receiveth not me. And this is my gospel-repentance and baptism by water, and then cometh the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. . (D & C 39:5-6.)

There is one other thought companion to these. Testifying that fundamental to everything we believe and hope for and have faith in is the great sacrifice of the Son of the Living God, knowing that he requires of us that we accept his great gift, there is something else necessary if we are to enjoy the high spiritual possibilities which it is within our capacity to achieve. Let me refer to the teachings of Nephi to his people after he had taught them faith, repentance, baptism, and the reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost, as previously quoted. Said he,

And then are ye in this straight and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; . . . And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this straight and narrow path, I would ask if all is done?

Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save. Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men.

Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.

And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. . . . (2 Nephi 31:18-21.)

We accept with all our souls the absolute efficacy and essentiality of the atonement of Christ. We attest to the words of Peter and of other prophets ancient and modern that it is necessary for us to accept our Heavenly Father’s gift by obedience to what we know as the first principles and ordinances of the gospel.

We know also that if we are to enjoy the high possibilities for which we are created and which we might desire as children of God, we must build upon our faith and obedience with right thinking and well-doing. We must press forward with steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Through so doing, if we endure to the end, we shall have eternal life. There is no other way.

I testify of this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

General Conference October 1956


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