Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Atonement of Jesus Christ

 John 3:16 reads, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." I am so grateful for a Heavenly Father who loves me enough to send His son to die for me. Before the world was organized, God chose Jesus Christ to be our Savior and Redeemer (John 17:5). This atoning sacrifice made it possible for all of us in mortality to overcome the effects of the fall, namely sin and death. All of the prophets since the world began have testified of Jesus Christ as our Redeemer.
Through the Savior's atonement, we are able to feel peace, strength, overcome burdens,
 and feel a greater abundance of the love of God.


   The inevitable time will come when we will all experience physical death. Death is not an easy thing. However, I know that death is simply part of God's plan for us. We will all suffer physical death, but Jesus Christ overcame that obstacle for us. When He died on the cross, His spirit became separated from His body. On the third day He was resurrected. This means that His spirit and His body were reunited, never to be separated again. Resurrection is a gift that is promised to each of us because of what Jesus Christ has done. We will all be resurrected regardless of whether we have done good or evil in this life. We will have a perfect, immortal body of flesh and bones that will never again be subject to disease, pain, or death (Alma 11:43-44). The resurrection makes it possible to return to God’s presence to be judged but does not guarantee that we will be able to live in His presence. To receive that blessing, we must also be cleansed from sin.

"Christ in Gethsemane" By Simon Dewey
    God sent His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to overcome the obstacle of sin in addition to the obstacle of physical death. We are not responsible for the Fall of Adam and Eve, but we are responsible for our own sins (Articles of Faith 1:2). God cannot look on sin with any degree of allowance, and sin prevents us from living in His presence. Only through the Savior’s grace and mercy can we become clean from sin so that we can live with God again. This is possible through exercising faith in Jesus Christ, repenting, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.
  Jesus Christ's atonement was central to the Plan of Salvation. Jesus was sinless and completely obedient to His Father. He was the literal Son of God in the flesh and although he was often tempted, He never gave in to temptation. When the Father asked His Beloved Son to pay the price of the world’s sins, Jesus was prepared and willing.
   The Atonement included His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and His suffering and death on the cross, and it ended with His Resurrection. When Christ was in the garden, He took upon himself not only all of mankinds sins, but also our weaknesses, our sorrows, and our afflictions (Alma 7:11-12). He suffered more than it is possible for man to comprehend—so much so that He bled from every pore (D&C 19:18). It was so difficult for Him that He asked whether it were possible that this burden be lifted from Him. However, despite the pain and anguish, Jesus Christ was perfectly obedient and He submitted to the Father’s will. What a great expression of love for His Father and for us! This triumph of Jesus Christ over spiritual death by His suffering and over physical death by His Resurrection is called the Atonement.
   Christ promises to forgive our sins on the condition that we accept Him by exercising faith in Him, repenting, receiving baptism by immersion, and the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, and striving faithfully to keep His commandments to the end of our lives. Through continuing repentance, we may obtain forgiveness and be cleansed of our sins by the power of the Holy Ghost. We are relieved of the burden of guilt and shame, and through Jesus Christ we become worthy to return to the presence of God.
   As we rely on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, He can help us endure our trials, sicknesses, and pain. He can turn our weaknesses into strengths (Ether 12:27). We can be filled with joy, peace, and consolation. All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
   In paying the penalty for our sins, Jesus did not, however, eliminate our personal responsibility and agency. We must show that we accept Him and that we will follow His commandments. Only through the gift of the Atonement can we return to live with God.
  I know that Jesus Christ's atonement is real. I know that he really did suffer for all of mankind. Why did He do this? Simple. . . Because He loves us so much. We may not be able to ever fully understand or wrap our minds around the atonement, but we can feel of the power and love that comes from it.


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