The other day, as my wife and I studied the scriptures together, we came across this verse:
“For behold, the promises which we have obtained are promises unto us according to the flesh; wherefore, as it has been shown unto me that many of our children shall perish in the flesh because of unbelief, nevertheless, God will be merciful unto many; and our children shall be restored, that they may come to that which will give them the true knowledge of their Redeemer” (2 Ne 10:2).
Though I’ve read the Book of Mormon dozens of times, this passage hit me in a way I had never noticed before. Here we see that while many of our children may be lost and even destroyed in the flesh “because of unbelief”, through Christ’s atonement they will be restored. Yes, this can be read as some will fall away, and later generations be restored. This time, however, it came to me that it was speaking of the same children: many will fall away, and most will be restored either in this life, or in the next life.
I’d heard this concept before in General Conference, twice by Pres Packer (though I have only been able to find one reference so far), and once from Pres Faust. It seems that the atonement can restore people with greater power than we sometimes can understand.
President Boyd K Packer taught:
“But sooner or later that spark of divinity in each of them will ignite. They can assert their agency as sons and daughters created in the image of God and renounce the destroyer. That which they had been led to believe could not be changed, will be changed, and they will feel the power of the redemption of Christ. Their burden will be lifted and the pain healed up. That is what the Atonement of Christ is all about.
They can claim their inheritance as children of heavenly parents and, despite the tortured, agonizing test of mortal life, know that they are not lost.” (“The Standard of Truth has been Erected, Oct 2003 Conference)
Pres James Faust seemed to go along these lines, as well, in his April 2003 talk, “Dear are the Sheep that have Wandered”:
“There are very few whose rebellion and evil deeds are so great that they have “sinned away the power to repent.” That judgment must also be left up to the Lord. He tells us, “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.”
Perhaps in this life we are not given to fully understand how enduring the sealing cords of righteous parents are to their children. It may very well be that there are more helpful sources at work than we know. I believe there is a strong familial pull as the influence of beloved ancestors continues with us from the other side of the veil.”
What a great comfort this will be to those parents who see their children go astray. Those children will be “destroyed in the flesh”, but will be saved in the end through Christ’s atonement.