Archive for the ‘atonement’ Tag

The Savior Suffered For Us

Reading: “None Were With Him,” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, April 2009 General Conference, Saturday Morning Session

At a time when many are feeling lonely and downtrodden, Elder Holland encourages us to remember the suffering the Savior endured in order to atone for our sins.  The Savior suffered embarassment, loneliness, verbal attack, and great pain in his final days.  Having suffered great pain himself, the Savior is perfectly able to help us through our times of loneliness and sorrow.  Elder Holland says,

Brothers and sisters, one of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. His solitary journey brought great company for our little version of that path—the merciful care of our Father in Heaven, the unfailing companionship of this Beloved Son, the consummate gift of the Holy Ghost, angels in heaven, family members on both sides of the veil, prophets and apostles, teachers, leaders, friends. All of these and more have been given as companions for our mortal journey because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His gospel. Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are. Truly the Redeemer of us all said, “I will not leave you comfortless. [My Father and] I will come to you [and abide with you].”

When I feel lonely or downtrodden I am comforted to know that Savior knows my pain and will help me through it.  Many times I have prayed for and received help, guidance, and comfort in times of great sorrow or pain.  The Savior is the light in our lives that can get us through any trial.

Today I am going to take some time to think about how knowing the Savior suffered so greatly for us affects me and write about it in my journal.

What does it mean to you that the Savior has suffered all things?  Have you ever had a hard time that this knowledge helped you endure?

Ends of the Law

Reading: 2 Nephi 2:10, D&C 19:16-17

The following sentence is confusing, but I think I figured it out.  The sentence from 2 Nephi 2:10 is:

Wherefore, the ends of the law which the Holy One hath given, unto the inflicting of the punishment which is affixed, which punishment that is affixed is in opposition to that of the happiness which is affixed, to answer the ends of the atonement—

The part that was confusing me was the “ends of the law which the Holy one hath given… to answer the ends of the Atonement.”  However, if you look a few verses earlier you see that the “ends of the law which the Holy one hath given” is the Atonement, which he gave to answer the ends of the law.  From verse 7:

Behold, he offereth 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.

So, when you take “ends of the law” to mean to debt owed by breaking the law, this verse is saying that through the Atonement, Christ suffered the punishment that was attached to the law.  You could not have rewards without punishment, and vice versa.

The thing that really struck me, today, though, is the emphasis on punishment.  Christ didn’t break the law, but he took upon himself my punishment, enabling me to repent and change my ways before the final judgment.  In D&C 19:16-17 it says:

For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;

When I think about the mistakes I have sometimes made, and how bad I feel when I make them, I feel very grateful for the Savior and the Atonement.

Today I am going to make a large effort to be more grateful as I go through my day.  It is an area I can improve, and will help me remember how blessed I am.

What kind of punishments have you experienced from breaking the law (any law)? What would you do to avoid that punishment in the future?

Our Advocate

Reading: 2 Nephi 2:9, Moroni 7:28, D&C 29:5, TG Jesus Christ, Advocate

One of the roles of Jesus Christ is to be our advocate with God, the Father.  This means that he pleads with him for our salvation. In 2 Nephi 2:9 it says:

Wherefore, he is the firstfruits unto God, inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men.

“Intercession” is defined as an intervention, or a mediation.  Christ as the “firstfruits” or the firstborn is on our side, advocating for us as God makes his judgements.  In Moroni 7:28 it elaborates just a little bit more:

For he hath answered the ends of the law, and he claimeth all those who have faith in him; and they who have faith in him will cleave unto every good thing; wherefore he advocateth the cause of the children of men; and he dwelleth eternally in the heavens.

I have never really thought of the Savior before as my “advocate.”  It gives me hope to think that he is arguing my case for me, because I think I could really use the help.  It also gives me comfort to know that God would love for us to get the best possible, but is constrained by justice, as it says in D&C 29:5:

Lift up your hearts and be glad, for I am in your midst, and am your advocate with the Father; and it is his good will to give you the kingdom.

The image I see is of God as the good judge who is doing all he can to make the right judgment, and Jesus as a close counselor who argues for leniency, but who also recognizes the necessity of making a correct judgement.

Today I am going to try and be an advocate for the people around me.  The Savior is not just my advocate, but also everybody else’s, so it behooves me to also look for the best in other people.  I’m thinking this will mostly be an internal thing as I try to be patient and think the best of the people I interact with today.

Have you ever had an experience where someone was your advocate?  How did that make you feel?

Bodies Made Perfect

Reading: 2 Nephi 2:8, Alma 42:43, 1 Corinthians 15:52-53

One thing Latter Day Saints often talk about is looking forward to having a resurrected body.  Part of the Atonement is the promise that everyone is going to get their body back.  In 2 Nephi 2:8 it says:

…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.

In Alma 42:23 it explains further that the resurrection comes through Christ because of the Atonement, and that when we are resurrected we will also be in the presence of God to be judged by him.  It says:

But God ceaseth not to be God, and mercy claimeth the penitent, and mercy cometh because of the atonement; and the atonement bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead; and the resurrection of the dead bringeth back men into the presence of God; and thus they are restored into his presence, to be judged according to their works, according to the law and justice.

Once we are resurrected our bodies will be different in that they will be perfect and immortal.  In 1 Corinthians 15:52-53 it says:

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

A lot of the challenges we face have to do with our bodies.  Our bodies, in their current state, make us want to do things that we know we shouldn’t do.  These temptations range from simply being lazy to sexual sin.  When we are resurrected though, in addition to being cured of any ills that may plague us in this life, our bodies will also no longer want to do evil things.

Knowing this helps me to keep my appetites in check.  For example, I really really like good food.  Sometimes I am tempted to go out and buy delicious food that I know won’t be good for me, and won’t be good for our budget.  Knowing that someday food isn’t going to be so important a thing as it is now helps me to resist those temptations.

Today I am going to think about the different things I do or am tempted to do in relation to my body, that maybe aren’t so good for me.  Then I will write about these things in my journal.

What do you look forward to being different with a resurrected body?

Saved In and Through Jesus Christ

Reading: 2 Nephi 2:6, BD Grace

Yesterday I talked about how none of us can be saved through simple obedience.  The second half of that statement should be that we are saved through Jesus Christ.  It says in 2 Nephi 2:6

Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.

Since we cannot save ourselves, we are saved through Jesus Christ.  Since Christ lived a perfect life and never broke the law, he was not subject to the same punishment that we are.  Because he was perfect he was able to pay the debt for all of us, and free us from condemnation so that we could repent and try again.

“Grace” is defined in the bible dictionary as an “enabling power.” Christ is full of grace such that he is able to enable us to change our ways and become better people.

However, this is not a free ticket to everyone to do whatever they want.  There are certain conditions that we must meet in order to qualify for Christ’s gift, and that is what I will talk about tomorrow.

When I first came to truly understand how much we depend on Christ for salvation, I found it to be very encouraging.  Instead of having to rely on myself, I have the Savior to help me through every step of progression.  When I think about this aspect of the Atonement it gives me hope for my future.

Today I am going to remember in my prayers to thank Heavenly Father for Atonement, and to thank him for specific effects of the Atonement in my life.

How would our life be different with or without knowing that you depend on the Savior for salvation?

By The Law No Man is Justified

Reading: 2 Nephi 2:5

Laws are necessary for things to function. For example, just think about what your house would be like without the law of gravity.  Or, think what our country would be like without a government.  Chaos, disorder, even violence and misery would result. The laws that God gives us are equally as necessary.  If we were not commanded to love our neighbor, for example, we would naturally act selfishly, causing pain and misery.

However, a side effect of having these laws is that once we break them we are subject to the consequences.  And, since no human being has ever been totally perfect except Christ, each and every one of us would be subject to punishment.  And, not just a little slap on the wrist, but eternal punishment, because we could never meet the demands of justice.  In 2 Nephi 2:5 it says:

And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever.

Sometimes I get the idea, subconsciously, that it is my obeying the commandments that brings me salvation.  However, if it were my obedience alone that were to save me then I would have been condemned a long, long time ago when I first committed a sin.  Salvation cannnot come through obeying the law, because the law is exact and unyielding and leaves no room for growth or improvement.

It is very humbling to think that no matter how good I get at obedience, I will always be totally dependent on the Savior for salvation.  Although sometimes I may think that I am better than other people because I appear more obedient, the truth is that I am just as dependent on the Savior as even the most sinful person ever to live.  We are all condemned by the law, even the best of us.

As I prepared to write this I realized a misunderstanding of this principle can lead to all kinds of bad behavior.  It can lead to pride, or it can lead to perfectionism, or it can lead to self-hate, and so on.  When I hear people talk about why they left the LDS church, it seems that very often it can be traced back to the misunderstanding of this principle.  If  you believe you will be saved only so much as you perfectly obey the law, then you will be miserable because no one can perfectly obey the law except the Savior.

This is NOT a license to go out and do whatever you want.  Later on I will talk about why to gain salvation we must do our best to obey the law, although most of us will never achieve perfection in this life.

This past week I have been trying to work on not being so prideful, so today I am going to try and watch my thoughts and catch myself when I start to think I am better than other people.  Then, tonight, I will write in my journal about what I noticed and about how this principle helped me to see my pride.

When you realize that you are not saved by the law, or by perfect obedience, does that change how you think about some things? How does it change?

Latter-day Grace

Mormon Insights recently had a two part series on grace in the Latter-Day Saint church.  I thought I’d share it with you in light of my recent Christ Saves Us Because We Can’t Save Ourselves post.  These essays are a great expansion on those thoughts.

Gratitude for the Atonement

Reading: 2 Nephi 9

Continuing my theme this week of reading about the atonement, this morning I chose to read 2 Nephi 9.  This chapter is part of Jacob’s address to the Nephites that Nephi chose to copy into his record.  2 Nephi 9 is an especially beautiful account of the plan of salvation, the greatness of God, the Atonement, and our own need for repentance.

One thing that especially struck me as I read this chapter was how often Jacob specifically points out the greatness of God that he would provide the Atonement for us.  He usually says something like:

O the greatness of the mercy of our God, the Holy One of Israel: For he delivereth his saints from that awful monster the devilo, and death, and hell, and that lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment.

2 Nephi 9:20

After I read the chapter the first time I skimmed through and counted 15 times Jacob specifically talks about the greatness of God.

One thing the scriptures make clear is that without the Atonement we would all be damned, in the real sense of the word.  We would be miserable and lost for the rest of eternity.  Through the Atonement, we are able to be resurrected and we are able to repent and be saved from our sins.  When we really understand this, surely we must be greatful to the Savior for the incredible service he has done for us, underserving as we are.

Today is going to be a very busy day.  In the morning I need to do a ton of packing and cleaning, and then in the afternoon we will be driving for six hours to visit family for the weekend.  Usually days like this are pretty stressful for me.  So, today, when I start to get stressed out I’m going to try and stop and think about bigger things, about how blessed I am by the Savior’s gift of the Atonement, and see if it doesn’t help me be just a little bit less stressed out.

Do you know of any other scriptures or stories that help us see how greatful we should be for the Savior and the Atonement?  Have you been able to use this knowledge to help you deal with any real life problems?

Christ Saves Us Because We Can’t Save Ourselves

Reading: BD Atonement and attending scirptures, especially Moses 5:8, Mosiah 13:28, Mosiah 13:32, Mosiah 2:20-25

Recently I wrote about perfectionsim and how part of the reason we become perfectionists is a misunderstanding of the Atonement. This particular misunderstanding seemed to be especially in my thoughts today as I read through the entry for Atonement in the Bible Dictionary.

Sometimes people (including me) get the idea that is all up to us to save ourselves by getting rid of sin. This can lead to pride if you think you’re doing a good at it, or depression if you think you’re doing poorly. However, it is not up to us to save ourselves because we are totally and wholly dependent on Christ for our salvation. Christ helps us to overcome our sin and also saves us from our sin, the only thing we are required to do is to work at it and accept his help. King Benjamin does a really great job of explaining this in Mosiah 2:20-25:

I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace on with another–
I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another–I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.
And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandment ye should prosper in the land, and he never doth very from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandment he doth bless you and proper you.
And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he that commanded you, for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have y to boast?
And now I ask, can ye say aught of yourselves? I answer you, Nay. Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth; yet ye were created of the dust of the earth; but behold, it belongeth to him who created you.

The Savior wants to help us overcome our sin. He does not want us to do it ourselves, because he knows we cannot. We are saved only through Christ, and not through our own efforts.

Last time I wrote about perfectionism I said that when I started to get down on myself for some old bad habit or persistent weakness of mine I would stop, say a prayer asking for help in overcoming that particular problem, and then move on to thinking or doing something more positive. Over the past couple weeks as I have done this I have felt so much better about myself and about the gospel. I still have my weaknesses, but I know that God will help me overcome them and that there is no point in beating myself up about them all the time. I still get feeling down on myself sometimes, but not as often.

So, today I am going to keep that up! Each time I catch myself getting down on myself for some problem or weakness that I have, I am going to say a prayer asking for help with that item and then find something else more positive to think or to do. And, I’m going to try and also be grateful for the Atonement and think that I don’t have to save myself from this sin because the Savior has provided the way for me to repent and overcome it with his help.

Are there any other scriptures you have found that show how totally dependent we are on the Savior for salvation? Or, is there an experience or insight you had that helped you see your dependence on the Savior that you wouldn’t mind sharing?

Atonement: Basis of Church Doctrine

Reading: “The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, jesuschrist.lds.org

If you haven’t yet, you should check out the church’s new site, jesuschrist.lds.org. This site was created to help show that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is indeed centered on Christ.

In an article on the Atonement found on that site, Elder Holland states:

Indeed the Atonement of the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh is the crucial foundation upon which all Christian doctrine rests and the greatest expression of divine love this world has ever been given. Its importance in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints cannot be overstated. Every other principle, commandment, and virtue of the restored gospel draws its significance from this pivotal event.

A study of the basic doctrine of our church is always taught around the Atonement. First, someone might learn about the Fall of Adam, which is the reason we need the Atonement. Or, someone might learn about the plan of salvation, which revolves around the Atonement. Or, someone might learn about repentance, which is possible because of the Atonement. Even the behavioral aspects would be pointless without the Atonement, because we would all be damned anyway for past sins and there would be now way we could improve ourselves.

When you realize how central the Atonement is to everything, it thus becomes apparent why we focus so much on Jesus Christ. It is through Jesus Christ we are saved. We go to Jesus Christ for everything, for teaching, for repentance, for help and understanding. We are the church of Jesus Christ in every way.

This is something I have not always understood. Sometimes, I think, the centrality of Jesus Christ can get lost in all of our teachings. We talk about faith and hope and tithing and missionary work love and humility, and those things are easier to understand than the Atonement and the role of Jesus Christ. This must be why the Church does so much to keep us centered on Jesus Christ.

Yesterday when I was thinking about ways I can increase my disposition to do good, one of the things I came up with is putting up pictures of the Savior in my house. So, today, I am going to stop by the Distribution Center here in Provo and pick up a picture of the Savior and put it on the wall someplace it will be seen all the time. Then when I see it I can think about how central the Savior is to everything.

I am wondering, do you ever have trouble grasping the importance of the Savior in our teachings? What experiences or lessons have been effective in helping you to understand how central the Savior and Atonement are to the gospel?