I was assigned to speak on one of my favorite topics: the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is my favorite topic because it touches every single aspect of the Gospel. I just love pondering and studying this topic because it really reaches far beyond my understanding. It is hard to comprehend what our world would be like if the Atonement did not take place simply because, it wouldn’t exist. The Atonement was a KEY part of Heavenly Father’s plan from the very beginning and without it; there would be no plan.
I wish I could just read an entire chapter in “Jesus the Christ” because it says so perfectly what I want to speak of today about how necessary the Atonement really is. Our Heavenly Father wanted us, His spirit children, to progress and return to Him but he knew the only way that could happen is if we were subjected to good and evil and exercised our ability to choose for ourselves. He knew that some would not progress and choose evil and that His commandments would be broken. This line says perfectly what had to happen, “It was necessary that a means of redemption be provided, whereby erring man might make amends… the power of death was to be overcome, so that, though men would of necessity die, they would live anew, their spirits clothed with immortalized bodies over which death could not again prevail."
An essential piece of the plan is that the sacrifice had to be made by one who was completely without sin. Heavenly Father knew that because we would be born of mortals, we would inevitably succumb to sin. However, while Christ was born of a mortal, He had an immortal father that chose Him to complete the Atonement. Christ lived a sinless life and because of that, He was worthy to make the sacrifice on behalf of all mankind.
The first important part of the Atonement is when Christ suffered in Gethsemane. He had the burdens of all mankind on His shoulders. He felt every drop of pain and sorrow that we would ever feel, and that alone would be too much for any mortal. Once this sacred part was complete, He was taken and walked through the streets carrying the cross on which He would be crucified.
The Atonement was a voluntary sacrifice, but this assignment was accepted with love. Our perfect Savior knew what was expected of Him and that if He completed it, mankind, although rebellious and sinful, could accept it as a means of deliverance. How beautiful! But what I find most beautiful in the doctrine of the Atonement is that our Savior, on the cross and suffering beyond comprehension, chose to stay and complete the Atonement even though at any moment He could have given up. He was born of an immortal Father and could have escaped death easily, but He did not because He knew if he did not complete the Atonement one hundred percent of the way, we would be lost. So when He says, “It is finished,” the Atonement for all mankind is truly finished. That is a true sacrifice of love and because of it we can break the chains of death that bind us as mortals.
Then, because Christ suffered and died, He could be resurrected. While we are promised abundantly in the scriptures that we will be resurrected someday with perfect bodies, Christ still bears the marks of the cross that we may know with a surety that it is Him who atoned for us. By walking the path of death and resurrection, the Savior provided the same way for us and it is the only way we could return to live with our Heavenly Father. The Resurrection is just as important to our eternal progression as the Atonement, “for behold, if the flesh should rise no more, our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more" (2 Nephi 9).
That states clearly that, without Christ’s death and resurrection, when we would finally die, we would not rise anymore. Mankind would simply be trapped in a fallen state and our eternal progression would be lost. Without the help of a divine Savior, no soul could ever find the way back to Heavenly Father. The simple fact that Christ died and then returned to us provides that we will all be resurrected regardless of how we spend our lives. Although we cannot live perfect lives, Christ did, and His Atonement covers our imperfections so we can still be worthy to receive the promised blessings of eternal life.
The Atonement is a tremendous blessing and our Heavenly Father evidently loves us so much that he would sacrifice His Son in the most heartbreaking way so that all of His children might have a path to return to Him. The best part about this is that every human being that has ever lived or will live has access to the blessings of the Atonement. Our God is a just God and would never deny His children all the blessings of His kingdom, but we must choose righteously in order to receive the highest blessings that He has promised to us.
Because of the Atonement, we are promised beautiful blessings such as eternal families. Because we can be resurrected, we can be with our families forever and ever in the presence of Christ and our Heavenly parents. If Christ had not died on the cross and then been resurrected, we would not have that promise. We would not be able to access the blessings of eternity.
That being said, there are millions of people that go about their lives every day not knowing anything about Christ and their eternal potential. In the pre-MTC training videos there was a man from China who said he was literally taught that after this life there is nothing. What would be the point of living here, building relationships and lifestyles if when we eventually die… there is nothing. Are we here by random chance just to live a short time and then disappear never to rise again? Thankfully the answer is NO. We know that, but people all over the world do not. They do not know of life after death, about resurrection or the beautiful place waiting for us when our time comes to leave this earth.
We don’t realize how blessed we are to have this knowledge. We live every day taking for granted what we have, let alone sharing it with others! If we know this to be true, what do we have to fear? We have good news and promised blessings for all the children of God, and that is worth sharing.
I’m excited to be able to teach this sweet doctrine to all those I meet as a missionary and also throughout my life. The Church is so true. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live and love us so much. The Atonement is real and because of it we can return to our Heavenly parents to live with them and our families for all eternity.