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May 5th 2007

Atonement of Jesus Christ

This article was recently submitted to all-encompassingly for publication. It is one of a series of informational posts intended to address widely-held misconceptions about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. –Admin

Members of the Mormon Church view the atonement of Jesus Christ as the most important event in human history. It is the central act in GodÂ’s plan for His children, for it makes possible our return to Him. We cannot fully comprehend how the atonement was performed or how infinite its effects are; however, we can learn what has been revealed about the atonement and how it can work in our lives.

To atone–as it is used in the scriptures—–means to suffer for anotherÂ’s sins, making it possible for someone else to become once again “at one” with God, or reconciled with Him. After the Fall, when Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden (and the presence of God) because of transgression, they were subject to the temptations of Satan and the failings and afflictions of mortality. As their descendants, we also are subject to these things. The Fall was part of GodÂ’s plan. God gave us the gift of agency. We can choose whether to obey Him or not—and because we are mortal, and no longer in His presence, our obedience and faith are truly tested. In order for God to be perfectly just and perfectly merciful at the same time, we need a Savior who would atone for our sins. Jesus Christ was the only one able to perform the atonement. His mother, Mary, was mortal, and gave Him the ability to die and experience for Himself the tests of life on earth. God as His Father gave Him the ability to live a perfect, sinless life, redeem us from our sins, and overcome death.1

The four gospels in the New Testament of the Bible, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, each give an account of Christ’s atonement, death, and resurrection. Christ and His eleven disciples (Judas Iscariot had left by this time) finished their Passover meal and went to the Garden of Gethsemane. He left his disciples for a time and went off alone to pray, during which time He performed the atonement. We know that His suffering must have been beyond our comprehension. It was enough to cause even Christ to be “sore amazed.” He prayed to ask one more time if the “cup” might pass from Him, that He might not have to feel the pain that would cause Him to sweat great drops of blood. Soon, Judas appeared with some of the Jewish leaders who wanted to be rid of Jesus. He was then taken, ridiculed, tried, and finally crucified on the hill Golgotha by the Romans. Some of His followers took His body and laid it in a tomb owned by Joseph of Arimathaea. The next day was Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. On Sunday morning, a few women went to the tomb and discovered that Jesus’ body was no longer there. The resurrected Christ appeared first to Mary Magdalene, and then to many of His disciples.2

The Book of Mormon is also a witness of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The people of the Book of Mormon were descendants of people from Jerusalem, and they too knew of GodÂ’s plan to send a Savior to redeem them from their sins. We can see evidence of this knowledge in Mosiah 13:28 “And moreover, I say unto you, that salvation doth not come by the law alone; and were it not for the atonement, which God himself shall make for the sins and iniquities of his people, that they must unavoidably perish, notwithstanding the law of Moses.”

ChristÂ’s resurrection makes it possible for all people to be resurrected. Regardless of our actions or anything else about us, we will all receive resurrected bodies. We are still accountable for our sins, however, and will be redeemed from them only when we apply the atonement, ChristÂ’s grace. We must repent, be baptized, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. As we repent, we will be forgiven, and Christ accepts responsibility for the penalty of our sin. Thus, if we come to Christ, He can take us back to the presence of the Father.1

Other Links:
Mormon Religion
Mormon Beliefs
Are Mormons Christians?

2 The Gospel of Mark, chapters 14-16, King James Version of the Holy Bible.

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