Last month I taught a lesson about agency and the Plan of Salvation, the very reason we exist upon this earth right now, and central to that plan is a Savior. We did not explore in great depth the reason humanity needs a Savior but on the heels of that lesson we’re going to do so now.
As we discussed, part of the Plan of Salvation is knowing the law and the consequences for both breaking and following the law. I’d like someone to read the quote I used last month for talking about the Savior’s role in the plan and then we’ll expound on it.Quote 1: Each law has consequences, opposite and equal. Whenever a law is kept or obeyed, the consequence is a blessing which results in happiness. Whenever a law is broken or disobeyed, the consequence is a punishment, which results in misery or unhappiness...the law of justice then always requires a payment. But another law also operates in the moral realm - the law of mercy, which in no way robs or violates the law of justice but which makes possible the vicarious payment of broken law. For example, the law of mercy permits the disobedience of a person to be atoned for or paid for by the obedience of the Savior, providing that the person who disobeyed the law will repent.”
To make vicarious payment for broken law, certain characteristics must be present in the one willing to pay.
- Payment must be voluntary
- The one paying must be divine
- The one paying must have mortal attributes
- The one paying must be free from sin
Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught, “We have one man out of all eternity—one man among the infinite hosts of the spirit children of God our Father—who is born into the world, inheriting from an immortal exalted Father the power of immortality and inheriting, on the other hand, from a mortal woman—the power of mortality. Now the power of immortality is the power to live. It is the power to elect to continue to live. The power of mortality is the power to die. And so here is one being who had a dual nature, who could elect to live or elect to die; and having made the election in accordance with the plan of the Father, having elected to separate body and spirit, then by the power of the Father, which is the power of immortality, he could elect to live again.”
QUOTE 2: “Jesus Christ...came to this earth at a fore-appointed time through a royal birthright that preserved His godhood. Combined in His nature were the human attributes of His mortal mother and the divine attributes and powers of His Eternal Father. His unique heredity made Him heir to the honored title - The Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh. As the Son of God, He inherited powers and intelligence which no human ever had before or since. He was literally Immanuel, which means “God with us.”
Because he chose to die for us and rise again, all mankind will also be resurrected. But the atonement blesses us with more than that.
Elder David A. Bednar has taught: “It is one thing to know that Jesus Christ came to earth to die for us—that is fundamental and foundational to the doctrine of Christ. But we also need to appreciate that the Lord desires, through His Atonement and by the power of the Holy Ghost, to live in us.”
Elder Holland said, “Following the Last Supper, Jesus left Peter, James, and John to wait while He ventured into the Garden of Gethsemane alone. Falling on His face in prayer, “sorrowful … unto death,” the record says, His sweat came as great drops of blood as He pled with the Father to let this crushing, brutal cup pass from Him. But, of course, it could not pass.”
At this point in the lesson we watched part of a talk given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland. I started the video at 9 minutes in and we watched until 15:48. The words of the clip are as follows:
A few days before the lesson I asked 6 sisters to share with us how Christ’s atonement had affected their lives. Each sister read the question I had given her to ponder and then shared their experience with that question. As each sister shared her story I put a new letter/word combination on the board.
Credit for the acronym and questions goes to Anthony Sweat and The Red Headed Hostess
I just decided to design my own version for each word to display on the board. They are pictured below along with each question which you yourself may want to ponder.
What has been your experience with being cleansed from sin by Christ?
When and how have you felt the Atonement of Christ heal you, physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually?
How has your belief in the concept of divine restoration (where God will correct the wrongs of mortality) influenced your everyday actions or influenced your faith in Christ?
When and how have you been blessed by Jesus’ ability to empathize with you and understand what you are going through?
When have you been strengthened by Christ to do good works, or to overcome temptation, or any other thing that you otherwise would not have been able to perform without his help?
In what ways and how has the Atonement of Jesus Christ changed your attitude, desires, disposition, or character—literally transformed you or aspects of your life?
When we were done we saw that the beginning letters of each word obviously spelled Christ and each had on it a blessing that Christ, through his atonement, through his perfect understanding of and love for us, desires to give us. Blessings that each of the sisters bore testimony of.
But even with the recollection of certain graces we have been given in our lives we may still struggle to feel truly worthy of exaltation.
In the book Believing Christ, by Stephen E. Robinson, he says, “ Unfortunately...many members of the Church...though they claim to have testimonies of Christ and of his gospel, ...reject the witness of the scriptures and of the prophets about the good news of Christ’s atonement..My favorite example of this kind of thinking was a man who once said to me, “Look, bishop, I’m just not celestial material.” I guess I finally lost my patience and responded by saying, “So what’s your point? Of course you’re not celestial material. Neither am I. Neither is any of us. That’s why we need the atonement of Christ, which can make us celestial….You believe in Christ, you just don’t believe Christ. He says he can make you celestial material, and you have the audacity to sit there and say, “No, he can’t”...If we believe only in Christ without believing Christ then we are like people sitting in cold, dark houses surrounded by unused lamps and heaters, people who believe in electricity but who never throw the switch to turn on the power….This is why genuine faith in Christ - active acceptance of his power and not just passive belief in his identity - is and must be the very first principle of the gospel.”