Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often called the Mormon Church) regard the Atonement of Jesus Christ as the most sacred event to occur in the history of the earth.
Knowledge of two great truths is essential to understanding the Atonement of Jesus Christ. A person must realize that there was a fall of Adam; and that Jesus Christ was literally the son of God the Father in the spirit and flesh. Because of His great love for all mankind, He would do something for them that they could not do for themselves. He would come to this earth to atone for the transgressions of mankind and freely give His life and then break the bands of death through His own resurrection.
Adam’s fall brought spiritual and temporal death into the world. Spiritual death is to be separated from the presence of the Lord (2 Nephi 9:6) and to die as pertaining to things of righteousness, or in other words, things of the Spirit (Helaman 14:15-18). Temporal death or natural death is the separation of body and spirit. Christ’s atonement overcame physical death by providing all, no matter whether they are righteous or not, the resurrection. Christ’s atonement overcomes spiritual death by providing a way for us to regain the presence of God the Father in the afterlife.
Jesus Christ was the literal son of an immortal God, the Holy Father in heaven, and therefore had inherited the ability not to die. Given a mortal body, however, through his mortal mother, Mary, He had the capacity to die. His mortal mission in this world was to be born with these characteristics, but to grow in wisdom, obedience (Hebrews 5:8), and understanding from childhood to adulthood. Additionally, because of His great love for all, He would pay the price of suffering for the transgressions of all people born on this earth and other earths. He began this when He went to the Garden of Gethsemane and completed it upon the cruel cross of Calvary. (See Mark 14:32-34.)
In suffering the Atonement, because of His great and perfect love for all humankind, He voluntarily experienced all of their mortal infirmities and sicknesses as well. This suffering would allow Him to understand perfectly the emotions, feelings, and behavioral circumstances related to all transgressions and types of physical suffering that all mortals on this earth could experience. Included with His Atonement would be another act of love, voluntary death. Since He was born with the ability to live forever and also the potential to die, He could only die if He voluntarily gave His life. His great love for all was the leading factor for completing His atoning sacrifice or crucifixion (on the cruel cross) and freely offer His life.
Voluntary Death was necessary for the Savior to experience, so He could later break the bands or power of death effective upon all previous, current, and future dead of the human family. He did what only He could do, take up his body after death and become a living, immortal being. Through His resurrection and by becoming the firstfruits of all the dead (1Corinthians 15:23), the Savior opened up the way for the entire human race to gain Salvation and regain their former physical bodies never to die again (immortal).
Jesus Christ acted under the Father’s direction, and is the creator of an infinite number of worlds (Moses 1:33.) Through the power of His atonement, the inhabitants of these worlds may become sons and daughters unto God (Doctrine and Covenants 76:24) This means that the atonement of Christ was infinite and applies to an infinite number of earths.
From the Book of Mormon, the prophet Amulek bore this testimony of the Atonement:
And now, behold, I will testify unto you of myself that these things are true. Behold, I say unto you, that I do know that Christ shall come among the children of men, to take upon him the transgressions of his people, and that he shall atone for the sins of the world; for the Lord God hath spoken it.
For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish; yea, all are hardened; yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement which it is expedient should be made.
For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice.
Now there is not any man that can sacrifice his own blood which will atone for the sins of another. Now, if a man murdereth, behold will our law, which is just, take the life of his brother? I say unto you, Nay.
But the law requireth the life of him who hath murdered; therefore there can be nothing which is short of an infinite atonement which will suffice for the sins of the world (Alma 34:8-12)
I testify that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, that His Atonement is real, and that through the miracle of forgiveness, He can make each of us clean again, even you.
This article was written by Mike, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Keith L. Brown
Keith L. Brown is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having been born and raised Baptist. He was studying to be a Baptist minister at the time of his conversion to the LDS faith. He was baptized on 10 March 1998 in Reykjavik, Iceland while serving on active duty in the United States Navy in Keflavic, Iceland. He currently serves as the First Assistant to the High Priest Group for the Annapolis, Maryland Ward. He is a 30-year honorably retired United States Navy Veteran.