President Boyd K. Packer: 'The Atonement'
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President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve, began his Sunday morning remarks by sharing the experience of a harrowing boat ride from the Samoan island of Savaii to the neighboring island of Upolo.
A ferocious tropical storm made air travel impossible, so Elder Packer, his fellow passengers and the ship's crew were forced to make the 13-mile crossing on very rough seas. The boat's captain had to steer the vessel through a narrow passage along a reef to the harbor in Mulifanua. A light on the hill above the beach in the harbor and a second lower light marked the narrow passage. When a boat was maneuvered so that the two lights were one above the other, the boat would be lined up properly to pass through the dangerous rocks that lined the passage. Unfortunately, only one light was seen in Mulifanua. A pair of elders waiting to meet the boat tired and fell asleep, neglecting to turn on the second light — the lower light — so the passage through the reef was not clear.
Because the captain could not rely on the guiding, lower light he was forced to brave the elements and travel to the harbor 40 miles away in Apia. The journey to Apia was treacherous and frightening for everyone on the boat.
"I do now know who had been waiting for us at Mulifanua," said President Packer. "I refused to let them tell me. But it is true that without the lower light, we all might have been lost."
The veteran apostle said he was directing his talk to those who might be lost and are searching for "that lower light" to help guide them back.
"It was understood from the beginning that in mortality we would fall short of being perfect. It was not expected that we would live without transgressing one law or another."
The scriptures, he added, teach that a way was provided for all who sin to repent and become worthy of the presence of their Heavenly Father once more. "A mediator, a redeemer was chosen, one who would live His life perfectly, commit no sin, and '[offer] himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered'." (2 Nephi 2:7).
Those who have made no mistakes do not need the Atonement. "If you have made mistakes, and all of us have, whether minor or serious, then you have an enormous need to find out how they can be erased so that you are no longer in darkness."
Jesus Christ, taught Elder Packer, is the light and life of the world. "As we fix our gaze firmly on Him and His teachings, we will be guided to the harbor of spiritual safety."
It's not known exactly how the Lord accomplished the Atonement. "But we do know that the cruel torture of crucifixion was only part of the horrific pain which began in Gethsemane — that sacred site of suffering — and was completed in Golgotha," he said.
President Packer said that perhaps there have been moments when one has gone places they should have never gone or done things they should not have done. "If you will turn away from sin, you will be able to one day know the peace that comes from following the pathway of complete repentance."
The purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Atonement is to wash clean the sins of those who will repent.
"That is what Latter-day Saints do around the world," he said. "That is the Light we offer to those who are in darkness and have lost their way. Wherever our members and missionaries may go, our message is one of faith and hope in the Savior Jesus Christ."