The Three Gardens of God

Bruce R. McConkie, Apostle (1915-1985)

Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915-1985) served as a General Authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for thirty-eight and a half years. He was called to the First Council of the Seventy in October 1946 and was ordained an apostle in October 1972. He was a prolific writer, and the author of several important reference works on LDS doctrinal subjects, including Mormon Doctrine, an encyclopedic work covering over 1,100 gospel subjects; other works are; A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary (three-volumes); and a six-volume series on the life and mission of Jesus Christ, entitled The Messiah. The words of his testimony became the text to a beloved LDS hymn “I Believe In Christ” (a dedicated post up next). Recently, Elder McConkie’s son has written a book about the life of this great man.

At the conclusion of the April 1985 General Conference of the church, Elder McConkie gave a talk entitled The Purifying Power of Gethsemane. The words of this talk are powerful, and filled with depth. However, they took on a greater sacred significance when Elder McConkie died just twelve days after giving the address. I would like to share a few excerpts with you. I have selected some music and photos that I hope will enhance your reading experience:

Click To Listen: Samuel Barber: Adagio For Strings op. 11

“I feel, and the Spirit seems to accord, that the most important doctrine I can declare, and the most powerful testimony I can bear, is of the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.

"Because of Love" - by Angela Johnson
“Because of Love” – sculpture by Angela Johnson

“His atonement is the most transcendent event that ever has or ever will occur from Creation’s dawn through all the ages of a never-ending eternity.

“It is the supreme act of goodness and grace that only a god could perform. Through it, all of the terms and conditions of the Father’s eternal plan of salvation became operative…

“Now, the atonement of Christ is the most basic and fundamental doctrine of the gospel, and it is the least understood of all our revealed truths.

“Many of us have a superficial knowledge and rely upon the Lord and his goodness to see us through the trials and perils of life.

“But if we are to have faith like Enoch and Elijah we must believe what they believed, know what they knew, and live as they lived.

“May I invite you to join with me in gaining a sound and sure knowledge of the Atonement.

“We must cast aside the philosophies of men and the wisdom of the wise and hearken to that Spirit which is given to us to guide us into all truth.

“We must search the scriptures, accepting them as the mind and will and voice of the Lord and the very power of God unto salvation.

“As we read, ponder, and pray, there will come into our minds a view of the three gardens of God—the Garden of Eden, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Garden of the Empty Tomb where Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene.

"Earth or the Earthly Paradise" - Jan Bruegel, Jr. 1607
Garden of Eden “Earth or the earthly paradise”-Jan Bruegel, Jr. 1607

“In Eden we will see all things created in a paradisaical state—without death, without procreation, without probationary experiences.

We will come to know that such a creation, now unknown to man, was the only way to provide for the Fall.

We will then see Adam and Eve, the first man and the first woman, step down from their state of immortal and paradisaical glory to become the first mortal flesh on earth.

Mortality, including as it does procreation and death, will enter the world. And because of transgression a probationary estate of trial and testing will begin.

Garden of Gethsemane

Then in Gethsemane we will see the Son of God ransom man from the temporal and spiritual death that came to us because of the Fall.

The Garden Tomb

And finally, before an empty tomb, we will come to know that Christ our Lord has burst the bands of death and stands forever triumphant over the grave.

Thus, Creation is father to the Fall; and by the Fall came mortality and death; and by Christ came immortality and eternal life.

If there had been no fall of Adam, by which cometh death, there could have been no atonement of Christ, by which cometh life.

"The Crucifixion" - Carl Heinrich Bloch, 1870 And now, as pertaining to this perfect atonement, wrought by the shedding of the blood of God—I testify that it took place in Gethsemane and at Golgotha, and as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that he is the Son of the Living God and was crucified for the sins of the world. He is our Lord, our God, and our King.

This I know of myself independent of any other person. I am one of his witnesses, and in a coming day I shall feel the nail marks in his hands and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears.

But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God’s Almighty Son, that he is our Savior and Redeemer, and that salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way.

God grant that all of us may walk in the light as God our Father is in the light so that, according to the promises, the blood of Jesus Christ his Son will cleanse us from all sin.

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.


In conclusion, this is an archive video clip of Elder McConkie delivering the last 4 powerful minutes of his talk. At the very end, there is a special bonus which includes part of his song “I Believe In Christ”.


  1. Thank you for sharing Elder McConkie’s thoughts with us on the three gardens and how they relate to the Savior, Jesus Christ. I always love the inspiration that the beautiful music adds to the reading. What a beautiful presentation.


  2. Thank you for bringing to my personal remembrance these immortal words of this living prophet of God – Bruce R. McConkie.

    What profound doctrine he taught to all those who will hearken to his words. Is it not most interesting, that there are so many today – even from within the Church, who would go about to discredit this giant among men?

    I am deeply moved by these prophetic teaching that Elder McConkie bore with such power of the Spirit.



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