Michael Dunn, an associate professor in the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Science, spoke to students Tuesday in the Marriott Center in a heartfelt devotional about repentance and the miracle of forgiveness.
In the New Testament account of the woman who approached Jesus in the house of Simon the Pharisee, as well as the record of Enos, the two experience their sins being forgiven.
This was a miracle, Dunn said, “tantamount to the raising of one from the grave… [she had been] born again and saved from spiritual death.”
In Enos’ story, he asked, “How is it done?”
“To fully understand this miracle, we must contemplate the grand and glorious plan of salvation authored by our Father in Heaven,” Dunn said.
Part of the plan, he said, would mean that each of us would stumble and transgress the laws of God, placing us in a situation where we must be cut off from God’s presence and to be halted in our eternal progression. Two-thirds of us accepted God’s plan because it included the possibility for change and growth and improvement through repentance.
All of this would be made possible through a savior, one who would come to this earth and descend in suffering below anything anyone else could suffer, be subject to temptation beyond anything anyone else would experience, and still keep the law of God and live a sinless life.
“The Savior’s perfection would also place him in a position to carry out his ultimate responsibilities which would be, first, to atone for the sins of the world, by taking upon him the entire burden of the prescribed punishment for the sins and transgressions of all mankind, thus redeeming them from the first spiritual death, and second, to voluntarily be put to death by those for whom he suffered that he might rise again from the tomb, thus releasing the bands of physical death,” Dunn said.
In accepting the plan, we accepted to do what the Savior asked of us.
As described in Leviticus, “He or she who sinned was to acknowledge their wrongdoing, make restitution for the wrong they had done, and confess their sins,” Dunn said. They were also to make an offering to the Lord.
Today, in addition to confessing our sins and making restitution, we are also still required to make a sacrificial offering to the Lord, but an offering of a different nature.
“This offering of a broken heart and a contrite spirit is… perhaps the most critical aspect of repentance,” Dunn said. “It is this offering which indicates the true condition of our souls… this is exemplified by one who comes forward willingly, of their own volition, and confesses their sins to any whom they might have offended, and the bishop if necessary, but without any pretense or effort to make excuses. A person who has a broken heart and a contrite spirit understands the significance of their act and wants to do anything and everything within their power to set it right.”
Dunn explained that there is no way for any of us to work off our sins, but that only through the Atonement of Christ can we be forgiven.
“Book of Mormon prophets teach that Christ’s atonement was infinite, eternal, and all-encompassing. Christ’s atonement covered all sin, all transgression, all wrong-doing. And because He suffered for our sins, He can come before the Father in the Day of Judgment, on behalf of those who have repented of their sins, to offer intercession.”