Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Jesus Christ and Atonement

Today, Elder Richard G. Scott, an apostle of Jesus Christ, spoke to the Brigham Young University community at the Tuesday morning devotional. Elder Scott challenged all his listeners to make a serious study of the atonement of Jesus Christ—that in doing so, all other studies in which we are engaged would be enriched. More than that, however, a study of the divine Sonship of Jesus Christ and His infinite atoning sacrifice draws a person unto God, Christ, and, ultimately, eternal life.

In beginning, not for the first time, my study of Jesus Christ and the atonement, I feel terribly inadequate. Elder Neal A. Maxwell, who was one of Jesus’ modern-day apostles until his death in 2004, once said, “Humility…is the sober realization of how much we are valued by God.” (Neal A. Maxwell Quote Book, p. 165) As one studies the doctrine of Jesus Christ and His atonement, one comes to know a little better how much we really are valued by God and Jesus Christ; in time, one becomes humble.

"Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God; For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him. And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance. And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!" (D&C 10:10-13)

When we realize that our sins—our disobedience to God’s lovingly given laws and ordinances—estrange us from God, cut our spiritual connection to Him, and plunge our souls in the depths of suffering, we feel to cry out with Paul and with Nephi: O wretched man that I am! (Romans 7:24; 2 Nephi 4:17)

And yet, despite our anguished plea for mercy, if there were no propitiation for sin, we would be the most miserable of all men. Why? Because in knowing of the estrangement of God and man caused by sin, we who are sinners—for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God—know that without atonement, without expiation, without redemption, our hope for a happy afterlife is vain: Justice cannot be denied.

But Jesus Christ is given: the Lamb, chosen and slain from before the foundations of the world. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17)

I love Jesus Christ. I know that through Him we can be clean and free from sin. All that He requires is obedience to His commandments, not the least of which is repentance. May we ever seek after this Jesus who is called Christ is my prayer.

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