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42 Questions


Question 34
Blood of Jesus

Throughout the New Testament we are taught that the blood of Jesus pays the debt for our sin and cleanses us.  The Book of Mormon also confirms this doctrine (Mosiah 4:2-3).  Why did Brigham Young (and others) teach that there are sins that the blood of Jesus cannot wipe out and that can only be atoned for by the shedding of our own blood?  (See Journal of Discourses 3:247; 4:49, 53, 54 for examples.)

Response by John A. Tvedtnes

Christ's blood pays the debt for the sins of those who accept him and keep his commandments, but not for the sins of those who reject him.  When the rich young man came asking the Savior "what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" Christ replied "if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." When the young man asked which commandments he should keep, Jesus recited six of the ten commandments, beginning with "Thou shalt do no murder" (see Matthew 19:17-19).  This is significant because the apostle John wrote, "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him" (1 John 3:15). 

Long before the ten commandments were revealed to Moses, the Lord told Noah, "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man" (Genesis 9:6).  This principle was reiterated in the law of Moses: "Moreover ye shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer, which is guilty of death: but he shall be surely put to death . . .  So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it" (Numbers 35:31, 33).  That this principle was still in force during the apostolic era is suggested by the apostle John, who wrote, "If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death.  There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.  All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.  We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not" (1 John 5:16-18). 

The apostle Paul, our principal source for Bible teachings about the atoning blood of Christ, made it clear that unrepentant sinners cannot be saved.  To the Ephesians he wrote, "For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God" (Ephesians 5:5).  "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are [these]; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told [you] in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (Galatians 5:19-21).  To the Romans he wrote: "Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them" (Romans 1:29-32). 

The Bible is clear on this matter, and Brigham Young's teachings are in full accord with the those of the Bible.