What is the Atonement of Jesus Christ?
“To atone is to suffer the penalty for sin, thereby removing the effects of the sin from the repentant sinner and allowing him or her to be reconciled to God. Jesus Christ was the only one capable of making a perfect atonement for all mankind. His Atonement included His suffering for the sins of mankind in the Garden of Gethsemane, the shedding of His blood, His suffering and death on the cross, and His Resurrection from the tomb (see Luke 24:36-39; D&C 19:16-19). The Savior was able to carry out the Atonement because He kept Himself free from sin and had power over death. From His moral mother, He inherited the ability to die. From His immortal Father, He inherited the power to take up His life again.” – Seminary Study Journal.
One of my most beloved gospel teachings comes from a book entitled, “The Infinite Atonement” by Tad R. Callister. Elder Callister’s ability to convey the meaning of the Atonement is powerful and has a lasting impact. Below I have taken some of my favorite selections from the book to share. I know these words can strengthen your testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, as they have mine.
Many prophets in the Book of Mormon refer to the Atonement as being “infinite.” Jacob taught, “It must needs be an infinite atonement–save it should be an infinite atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption (2 Nephi 9:7). Nephi taught that the atonement would be “infinite for all mankind (2 Nephi 25:16),” and Amulek declared, “It must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice . . . Therefore there can be nothing which is short of an infinite atonement which will suffice for the sins of the world (Alma 34:10, 12).” The prophets teachings express the idea of the completeness, the power to restore all that was lost – both spiritual and physical, as well to express the rank and dignity of him who would make the Atonement. It covers all men, the earth itself and all forms of life thereon. It reaches out into all time and eternity.
“The Atonement is not a doctrine that lends itself to a singular approach, like a universal formula. It must be felt, not just “figured;” it must be internalized, not just analyzed . . .The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the most supernal, mind-expanding, passionate doctrine this world or universe will ever know.”
It is infinite in the divineness of the one sacrificed.
It is infinite in power.
It is infinite in in time.
It is infinite in coverage.
It is infinite in depth.
It is infinite in its degree of suffering endured by the Redeemer.
It is infinite in the blessings it bestows.
It is infinite in love.
“No matter how lost the world at large may be, no matter how depraved or degenerate it may become, there is yet a bright light of hope for those individuals who have faith in Christ. Those who focus on him and his atoning sacrifice, who let these glorious truths rest in their minds continually, will find that Christ’s power to lift the human soul transcends even the weightiest burdens the world may thrust upon them. There is certain spiritual buoyancy that attends the study of, and the reflection upon the Atonement.”
“As a result of his mortal experience, culminating in the Atonement, the Savior knows, understands, and feels every human condition, ever human woe, and every human loss.
He can comfort as no other.
He can lift burdens as no other.
He can listen as no other.
There is no hurt he cannot soothe, rejection he cannot assuage, loneliness he cannot console. Whatever affliction the world casts at us, he has a remedy of superior healing power.”
As part of His Atonement, Jesus Christ not only suffered for our sins but also took upon Himself the pains, sicknesses, and infirmities of all people (see Alma 7:11-13). He understands our suffering because He has experienced it. His grace, or enabling power, strengthens us to bear burdens and accomplish tasks that we could not do on our own (see Matthew 11:28-30; Philippians 4:13; Ether 12:27).
Through grace, made available by the Savior’s atoning sacrifice, all people will be resurrected and receive immortality. The Atonement of Jesus Christ also makes it possible for us to receive eternal life (see Moroni 7:41). To receive this gift we must live the gospel of Jesus Christ, which includes having faith in Him, repenting or our sins, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring faithfully to the end (see John 3:5). Read more on grace here.
Words alone cannot express my deep appreciation and gratitude of the Savior’s Atonement for me. I know that I must exercise my faith daily in His matchless gift by repenting of my sins, receiving forgiveness and spiritually returning to Him. Many of the blessings of the Atonement I have seen and felt in my life, but I know many more are still meant to be discovered. The same blessings are available to all who follow Him.
Teaching Tip. Consider using the following questions to create discussion for your Sunday class:
How does Christ’s Atonement provide the means to overcome physical and spiritual death?
Why did Christ suffer for you? (See D&C 19: 15-19)
What do you need to do to experience the full effect of the Atonement in your life?
How can your understanding of the Atonement help you exercise faith in Christ?
Read more on The Atonement of Jesus Christ.