Question: How can we be completely reconciled to God?
Answer: “One of the prophets in the Book of Mormon explained why he and his associates were so concerned about teaching more about Jesus Christ, as he wrote:
“For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Ne. 25:23.)
“That full reconciliation to God is extremely important to me. It is the idea of a personal atonement or reconciliation that can bring me back into the presence of God as one of his covenant sons that appeals to me. That kind of conditional salvation I call exaltation. Exaltation comes as a gift from God, dependent upon my obedience to God’s law.” (General Conference, April 1972, “Salvation and Exaltation,” by Theodore M. Burton)
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2 Corinthians 5:18-19
18 And all things are of God (all these things come from the Father), who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ (who brings us back to his presence through Jesus Christ), and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation (and has given us the Atonement); (JST “And receiveth all the things of God”)
19 To wit (namely), that God was in Christ (was made known to us by Christ), reconciling the world unto himself (in order to bring us back to his presence), not imputing their trespasses unto them (not holding us accountable for sins we repent of); and hath committed unto us the word (the gospel) of reconciliation (of the Atonement).
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Elder Dale G. Renlund, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
...Because of His atoning sacrifice, Jesus Christ has the power and authority to redeem all mankind. To make His atoning power accessible, He has delegated a portion of His power and authority to men on earth. This delegated power and authority is called priesthood. It permits priesthood holders to help Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in Their work—to bring about the salvation and exaltation of God’s children. It does so because it provides His children the opportunity to receive the blessings of the Savior’s atoning power.
The atoning power of Jesus Christ is essential because none of us can return to our heavenly home without help. In mortality, we invariably make mistakes and violate God’s laws. We become stained by sin and cannot be allowed back to live in God’s presence. We need the Savior’s atoning power so that we can be reconciled to Heavenly Father. Jesus Christ broke the bands of physical death, allowing resurrection for all. He offers forgiveness of sins, conditioned on obedience to the laws and ordinances of His gospel. Through Him, exaltation is offered. The opportunity to benefit from the Savior’s atoning power is creation’s most important payload.
For Heavenly Father’s purposes to be accomplished, Christ’s atoning power needs to be made available to God’s children. The priesthood delivers these opportunities...Priesthood is essential because necessary ordinances and covenants on earth are administered only by its authority. If the priesthood fails to deliver the opportunity to benefit from the Savior’s atoning power, what would be its purpose? Would it just be a complex, attention-grabbing firecracker? God intends priesthood to be used for more than just a class on Sunday or as a service opportunity...
Priesthood conferral is safeguarded by priesthood keys, which are the rights of presidency given to man. Priesthood use is likewise safeguarded by priesthood keys but also by covenants that the priesthood holder makes. The use of the priesthood is consequently governed by both priesthood keys and covenants. A man’s priesthood commission is individually given and does not exist independent of him; priesthood is not an amorphous source of autonomous power.
Both the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods are received by covenant. God determines the terms and man accepts. Broadly speaking, priesthood holders covenant to help God in His work. Early in this dispensation, Jesus Christ explained that the priesthood covenant “is confirmed upon you for your sakes, and not for your sakes only, but for the sake of the whole world … because they come not unto me.”
This teaches that the purpose of the priesthood is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel. We have the priesthood so that we can help Heavenly Father’s children be relieved of the burden of sin and become like Him. Through the priesthood, the power of godliness is manifest in the lives of all who make and keep gospel covenants and receive the associated ordinances. This is the way each of us comes unto Christ, is purified, and is reconciled to God. Christ’s atoning power is made accessible through the priesthood... Covenants with God are serious and solemn.
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Sources: Come, Follow Me–For Individuals and Families, p. 143; The New Testament Made Easier, Part 2, Volume 3, by David J. Ridges, 195; Excerpts from General Conference, October 2017, “The Priesthood and the Savior’s Atoning Power,” by Elder Dale G. Renlund, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.