There is power in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the center of that power is the atonement wrought by the Savior of the World. “Understanding the Atonement of Christ and its relationship to our eternal existence is the greatest knowledge we can have in support of our quest to return to God, our Eternal Father.”
In the Mormon faith, an understanding of the atonement immediately leads to the necessity and desire to make covenants with the Lord ? the process beginning with faith unto repentance, then baptism with the receipt of the gift of the Holy Ghost. This covenantal process liberates us from our fallen state. The covenants we make are bound in heaven as on earth through the power and authority of the priesthood. Obedience frees us from our sins and liberates us from our fallen state. By the grace of God we can be saved by enduring in righteousness and repenting continuously (2 Nephi 25:23).
The Lord said, “Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me. And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be Judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be Judged according to their works” (3 Nephi 27:13?15).
The reality of the Atonement demonstrates the tender mercy and the goodness of God, who gave His Only Begotten Son for the salvation of mankind.
In 2 Nephi 9:7 it says, “Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement—save it should be an infinite atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption. Wherefore, the first judgment which came upon man must needs have remained to an endless duration. And if so, this flesh must have laid down to rot and to crumble to its mother earth, to rise no more.”
In 2 Nephi 9:21-22—21 it says, “And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam. And he suffereth this that the resurrection might pass upon all men, that all might stand before him at the great and judgment day.”
In 2 Nephi 9:26 it says, “For the atonement satisfieth the demands of his justice upon all those who have not the law given to them, that they are delivered from that awful monster, death and hell, and the devil, and the lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment; and they are restored to that God who gave them breath, which is the Holy One of Israel.”
In Alma 7:11-12 it says, And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.”
“Now, for me, at the right moment, I can begin to feel the pain the Savior felt for sins, yours and mine. His groan within himself came after he had paid the price for us, after the Atonement. His being troubled was not some abstract grief for our sins and those of the house of Israel. His was real pain, recently felt, as he took upon him the sins of the world. I can’t experience that, but I can sense it enough to have sorrow for what I have added to it. I can resolve to add no more. And I can feel determination that I will help offer the full blessings of the Atonement to as many as I can, because that passage helps me feel, in a small way, what taking upon him the sins of all mankind cost the Savior” (Henry B. Eyring, To Draw Closer to God: A Collection of Discourses [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 69 – 70).
Christ said through revelation to Joseph Smith: “I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent”? (Doctrine and Covenants 19:16.) Thus, laying hold upon the power of the atonement demands that we repent of our sins. This is why resurrection is a free gift to all men (part of the result of the atonement), but exaltation is dependent upon our behavior.
SOME MORE THOUGHTS ON THE ATONEMENT
- “It is for the exaltation of man to a state of superior intelligence and Godhead that the mediation and atonement of Jesus Christ is instituted. . . .” —John Taylor, Mediation and Atonement (1892), p. 140.
- “The Latter-day Saints believe…that all who attain to any glory whatever, in any kingdom, will do so because Jesus has purchased it by His atonement.” —Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 13:328, April 24, 1870.
- “By the atonement of Jesus Christ, the sins of the repentant shall be washed away; though they be crimson they shall be made white as wool.” —Joseph F. Smith, CR, p. 41, October, 1899.
*Adapted from What We Need to Know and Do, by Ed Pinegar and Richard J. Allen