Wednesday, August 20, 2008

THE ATONEMENT



The first four Articles of Faith provide the core beliefs as latter day saints and the key elements of the Atonement.



1. We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
2. We believe that men will be punished for their own sins and not for Adam’s transgression.
3. We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
4. We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.




In 2 Nephi chapter 2, Lehi is speaking to his son, Jacob. When he is speaking to his son, Lehi testifies of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.


Lehi said that “by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off”. To be justified is to be reconciled to God, pardoned from punishment for sin, and declared righteous and guiltless. As mortal sons and daughters capable of sin, the law cuts us off and prevents us from being justified. When we disobey the commandments, we become guilty and unclean, and no unclean thing can dwell with God.


Since we cannot be justified by the law, how can we be justified and made worthy to enter God’s presence?


2 Nephi 2 6-8:


"6. Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.
7. Behold, he offered himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.
8. Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise."


Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can repent and be forgiven of our sins.


When Lehi said that the Savior would “answer the ends of the law: he was referring to the consequences of the Fall and to the “punishment that is affixed” for disobedience to God’s commandments.


President Joseph F. Smith said, “Jesus came and suffered, ‘the just for the unjust,’ he that was without sin for him that had sinned, and was subjected to the penalty of the law which the sinner had transgressed.”


Even as Adam and Eve were given the freedom to choose for themselves, we have been given this same agency. When Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit they made it possible for us to come to this earth and make choices for ourselves. We can choose to do good or we can choose to do evil.


Elder Joseph B Wirthlin taught: “The Lord has given you the gift of agency and instructed you sufficiently to know good from evil. You are free to choose and are permitted to act, but you are not free to choose the consequences. With absolute certainty, choices of good and right lead to happiness and peace, while choices of sin and evil eventually lead to unhappiness, sorrow, and misery.”

The Atonement of Jesus Christ; the central event in the plan of salvation; saves all from both temporal death and spiritual death. Temporal death is the death of the physical body and the separation of the spirit from the physical body. As a result of the Fall of Adam, all people will die temporally. Spiritual death is separation from the presence of God. We are all separated from God as a result of the Fall of Adam. We further separate ourselves from God when we sin.


Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all people will be resurrected - saved from temporal death. Without the power of Christ’s resurrection both temporal and spiritual death would be permanent. We would be shut out from God’s presence forever, and our spirits would be subject to Satan. We would “remain with the father of lies, in misery.”


2 Nephi 9:6-9


6. For as death hath passed upon all men, to fulfil the merciful plan of the great Creator, there must needs be a power of resurrection, and the resurrection must needs come unto man by reason of the fall; and the fall came by reasons of transgression; and because man became fallen they were cut off from the presence of the Lord.
7. 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 judgement 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.
8. O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! 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.
9. And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself; yea, to that being who beguiled our first parents, who transformed himself nigh unto an angel of light, and stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations of murder and all manner of secret works of darkness.


Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all people will be restored to God’s presence to be judged. However, not all people will be “saved in the Kingdom of God”, or permitted to dwell in God’s presence forever.
There are some things we must do to be “saved in the Kingdom of God:


1. First we must believe in Jesus Christ, the Holy One of Israel, and come unto Him. The First Article of Faith stated that We believe in God the Eternal Father and in His Son, Jesus Christ and in the Holy Ghost.
The Fourth Article of Faith states that we must First have Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ before we are asked to repent.
2. We must endure the crosses of the world and despise the shame of the world. 2 Nephi 9:18.
3. We must hearken to the voice of the Lord. 2 Nephi 9:21
4. We must repent, be baptized , and endure to the end. 2 Nephi 9:23-24 The second principle in the fourth article of faith is repentance after which we are expected to be baptized for a remission of our sins. Following our baptism we are then confirmed as a member of the church and given the opportunity to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. These saving ordinances open the door to our Heavenly Father’s kingdom.
5. Be spiritually minded. 2 Nephi 9:39
6. “Feast upon that which perisheth not.” 2 Nephi 9:50-51
7. Remember the words of God. 2 Nephi 9:52.


Each week we have an opportunity to renew our baptismal covenants. In those sacred prayers we are asked to remember our Savior. And it’s not just Him as a person, it is all that he has taught. Those things can be found in the scriptures.


8. Pray continually and give thanks. Prayer is powerful and it is the best way to communicate with our Father in Heaven. As the sacred hymn testifies; Prayer is the Soul’s sincere desire uttered or unexpressed. Our Father in Heaven hears our prayers and will answer them.


In 1833 the saints in Missouri were being persecuted. They suffered physically and also lost their property. Due to the great suffering of the saints the Lord gave revelation to Joseph Smith. It is found in D&C 98:1-3:


“Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks; Waiting patiently on the Lord, for your prayers have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and are recorded with this seal and testament - the Lord hath sworn and decreed that they shall be granted. Therefore, he giveth this promise unto you, with an immutable covenant that they shall be fulfilled; and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good, and to my name’s glory, saith the Lord.”

In the Book of Mormon the power of prayer as part of the repentance process has been testified of by many of the prophets. Enos had a total change of heart resulting in a renewed Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; understanding the healing power and miracle of the Atonement he was filled with Hope. After receiving a remission of his sins and knew that God had forgiven him he was filled with Charity - a deep concern for the salvation of his brethren and even his enemies.


In his article, entitled: Who Is Jesus Christ?, President Boyd K Packer spoke of the Atonement:


“Before the Cruicifixion and afterward, many men have willingly given their lives in selfless acts of heroism. But non faced what Christ endured. Upon Him was the burden of all human transgression, all human guilt. And hanging in the balance was the Atonement. Through His willing act, mercy and justice could be reconciled, eternal law sustained, and that mediation achieved without which mortal man could not be redeemed.
“He by choice accepted the penalty in behalf of all mankind for the sum total of all wickedness and depravity; for brutality; immorality, perversion, and corruption; for addiction; for the killings and torture and terror -- for all of it that ever had been or all that ever would be enacted upon this earth. In so choosing He faced the awesome power of the evil one, who was not confined to flesh nor subject to mortal pain. That was Gethsemane!
How the Atonement was wrought we do not know. No mortal watched as evil turned away and hid in shame before the Light of that pure being. All wickedness could not quench that Light. When what was done was done, the ransom had been paid. Both death and hell forsook their claim on all who would repent. Men at last were free. Then every sould who ever lived could choose to touch that Light and be redeemed.
By this infinite sacrifice, “through [this] Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”


3 comments:

Chris said...

Are you the gospel doctrine instructor, or what?

shydandelion said...

That's what I was thinking! You MUST be a teacher of some kind!

Chris said...

That gives me an idea, I should start posting my primary lessons on my blog!!