Brad R. Wilcox: What it means to be redeemed

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By Jennifer Johnson

The transformation of human to divine was the focus of education professor Brad Wilcox’s Education Week remarks Friday morning.

He compared the gift of the Atonement to the stars and said people often do not appreciate the Savior’s gift until they are faced with the darkness of mortality. Just as stars appear more clearly against the night sky, the gift of the Atonement appears more clearly in people’s lives when they need it most.

“The darkness brings the starlight out. … When we feel guilt, when we feel remorse and shame, when we feel like there’s nothing to do but look down, that’s when we realize we need a Savior,” he said.

Jesus gave us the complete gift, Wilcox continued, of immortality and eternal life, and he also saves us from one without the other. Just as immortality would be incomplete without eternal life, eternal life would be incomplete without immortality.

“The celestial kingdom would be an incomplete gift if it had a time limit attached. There is no time limit attached. Truly, we can be forever. If there was an end, eternity would be a continuation of the frustration of mortality,” he said.

Most importantly, Wilcox taught, is that eternal life has to do with growth and personal choice. He said heaven is not “a prize for the perfect” but a home for those children of God who have chosen to be perfected through Christ.

Wilcox said when humans were in the pre-mortal life, they were happy for the opportunity to come to earth, not because of the suffering in store for them but because they knew they would have the opportunity to become like God.

“We were shouting for joy because of the power behind us. We were shouting for joy because of him. Because we knew because of Jesus Christ … we could be transformed,” he said.

Wilcox then expounded on the transformation from human to divine and explained how the principles and ordinances of the gospel are what give us access to the Atonement and allow us to be transformed.

He said that without the requirement for faith and repentance there would be no desire for change. Without the requirement for baptism, temple covenants and the gift of the Holy Ghost, there would be no means to change. Finally, he said, without the requirement to endure to the end, there would be no internalization of the changes people make over time.

He had the audience laughing as he described the all-too-human, and often painful, process of learning and how people have to stick with things in order to internalize them. Wilcox said the Atonement works in the same way. People have to choose to persevere in order to become like the Savior.

“Christ chose to become like us so that we could choose to become like Him,” he finished.

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