4 Purposes Of The Atonement – Part 1

We are down on earth and our goal is to get back to live with our Heavenly Father, but there are two cliffs in our way!  They are too wide to jump and too steep to climb down. We realize we cannot, by ourselves, get back! Only when we realize how desperately helpless we are on our own, can we truly start to appreciate the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He, and He alone, has the ability to save us and oh, how we need to be saved!

2 cliffs gospel of Jesus Christ third lesson

What are these two cliffs (obstacles) that prevent us from getting back?

“The Fall of Adam brought two kinds of death into the world: physical death and spiritual death. Physical death is separation of the body and spirit. Spiritual death is separation from God. If these two kinds of death had not been overcome by Jesus Christ’s Atonement, two consequences would have resulted: our bodies and our spirits would have been separated forever, and we could not have lived again with our Heavenly Father (see 2 Nephi 9:7–9, 11-12).”
–Gospel Principles, Chapter 12, “The Atonement”

OVERCOMING PHYSICAL DEATH (Purpose #1)

The first obstacle is physical death – which is the separation of our spirits from our bodies. I hate to break it to you, but none of us are getting out of this world alive =) The good news, however, is that Jesus Christ has power over death. The grave could not hold him. After three days, He was resurrected and because He was resurrected, all of us will be resurrected too.

“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
(1 Corinthians, 15:29)

Who will be resurrected and what will our bodies be like when we are resurrected?

43 The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time; and we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt.
44 Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil.
(Alma 11:43-44)

Every person who has ever lived on the earth will be resurrected – even the wicked people. The resurrection is a free gift to us from our Savior. We don’t have to do a thing to earn it. He builds this first bridge for us and we cross freely.

Resurrection bridge with RIP

Our bodies will be perfect. Our bodies will not get hungry, hurt, tired, or sick. No more disease, no more wheelchairs, and no more physical limitations. I can’t wait for that!

A SAD WAY TO DIE…

When I was younger, my mom told me about how her friend, who had not been going to church for a long time, started coming regularly. Her friend, whom we will call Betty, had a father-in-law who was dying. He was in the hospital and knew he didn’t have long to live. He did not believe in God and he was terrified to die. It was so bad that every time he started to fall asleep, he would start screaming – he was afraid he wouldn’t wake up again! He truly thought that death was the end – that you simply stopped existing. It was the saddest thing Betty had ever seen. She tried to comfort him, “Dad, it will be okay. There’s a life after death. There’s a resurrection. We will see each other again.” But it was no use. Nothing seemed to comfort him. Her heart ached for him. She watched him die in a miserable, panicked state and she swore she was not going to die like that! She grabbed her husband and told him, in no uncertain terms, that they were going back to church!

Death truly would be petrifying if it weren’t for the gift of the resurrection. We don’t know when we will be called home, but if we have kept the commandments to the best of our abilities and loved God with all our heart, might, mind, and strength, then we need have no fear – it will be a glorious event (although, admittedly, at first it doesn’t always seem so glorious to those of us who are left behind to mourn). The only tragedy in death is for those who have lived contrary to the Lord’s commandments.

The prophet Abinadi testified, “But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.”
(Mosiah 16:8)

Advertisements

1 Cor 2:9 Don’t be too anxious to die…

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him (1 Cor 2:9)

Linda S. Reeves gives an insightful explanation that sums up the meaning of this verse beautifully:

Understandably, many have expressed that our Father’s promised blessings are just “way too far away,” particularly when our lives are overflowing with challenges. But Amulek taught that “this life is the time … to prepare to meet God.” It is not the time to receive all of our blessings. President Packer explained, “‘And they all lived happily ever after’ is never written into the second act. That line belongs in the third act, when the mysteries are solved and everything is put right.” However, a vision of our Father’s incredible promised blessings must be the central focus before our eyes every day—as well as an awareness “of the multitude of his tender mercies” that we experience on a daily basis.

Sisters, I do not know why we have the many trials that we have, but it is my personal feeling that the reward is so great, so eternal and everlasting, so joyful and beyond our understanding that in that day of reward, we may feel to say to our merciful, loving Father, “Was that all that was required?” I believe that if we could daily remember and recognize the depth of that love our Heavenly Father and our Savior have for us, we would be willing to do anything to be back in Their presence again, surrounded by Their love eternally. What will it matter, dear sisters, what we suffered here if, in the end, those trials are the very things which qualify us for eternal life and exaltation in the kingdom of God with our Father and Savior? (Linda S. Reeves, “Worthy of Our Promised Blessings,” Ensign, November 2015).

I often think Heavenly Father didn’t reveal how absolutely wonderful life would be after we die because then we would be way too excited to die!  We’d walk out into the street hoping a car would hit us =).  He knew we needed to stay on Earth (and not leave prematurely!) so we could gain the experiences we needed that will make us more like Him.  He sent us here to BECOME something.  And that requires effort, time, dedication, grit, and faith (to name a few!).

So often we want to be a marathon runner without wanting to put in the necessary training to become one!  We want the blessings of being able to run 26 miles without running the 3, 6, 10, and 15+ mile runs that led up to that victory!

It’s a natural, human tendency to just want our lives to be easier.  We pray for a removal of our trials, instead of the power and strength to handle them.  But is living on easy-street the purpose of this life – is it even a desirable state?  What marathon runner would feel any sense of accomplishment if, as she crossed the finish line, thought, “Well, that was easy.”

But how do we learn to run for 26 miles when everything around us seems to be falling apart?  What do we do when our challenges are too much and too many?  Five letters will answer all those questions:  G.R.A.C.E.   The power of grace is far reaching:

It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means (Bible Dictionary, “Grace”).

David A. Bednar gave a beautiful example of what it truly means to use grace in your life.

Nephi is an example of one who knew, understood, and relied upon the enabling power of the Savior. Recall that the sons of Lehi had returned to Jerusalem to enlist Ishmael and his household in their cause. Laman and others in the party traveling with Nephi from Jerusalem back to the wilderness rebelled, and Nephi exhorted his brethren to have faith in the Lord. It was at this point in their journey that Nephi’s brothers bound him with cords and planned his destruction. Please note Nephi’s prayer: “O Lord, according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren; yea, even give me strength that I may burst these bands with which I am bound” (1 Nephi 7:17; emphasis added).

Do you know what I likely would have prayed for if I had been tied up by my brothers? “Please get me out of this mess NOW!” It is especially interesting to me that Nephi did not pray to have his circumstances changed. Rather, he prayed for the strength to change his circumstances. And I believe he prayed in this manner precisely because he knew, understood, and had experienced the enabling power of the Atonement.

I do not think the bands with which Nephi was bound just magically fell from his hands and wrists. Rather, I suspect he was blessed with both persistence and personal strength beyond his natural capacity, that he then “in the strength of the Lord” (Mosiah 9:17) worked and twisted and tugged on the cords, and ultimately and literally was enabled to break the bands.

The implication of this episode for each of us is straightforward. As you and I come to understand and employ the enabling power of the Atonement in our personal lives, we will pray and seek for strength to change our circumstances rather than praying for our circumstances to be changed. We will become agents who act rather than objects that are acted upon. (David A. Bednar, “The Atonement and the Journey of Mortality,” Ensign, April 2012).