Tomorrow is Easter Sunday, the day that Christians celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the most sacred holiday in the Christian world. The fact that Jesus Christ overcame death and rose from His tomb means that every mortal will one day be resurrected also. At that time, we will stand before Jesus Christ to be judged.
Most people and many Christians celebrate Easter without a thought about Jesus Christ. Fewer still have considered what our world would be like if Jesus Christ had not completed His atoning sacrifice. Tad R. Callister is one person who has considered life without the Atonement of Christ. He says that life would be “radically different if Christ never made His Atonement.”
Callister tells of a sacrament meeting where no one thought to bring bread for the sacrament. When the bishop was alerted to the fact, he told the congregation what had happened. He then asked this question: “How would it be if the sacrament table [was] empty today because there [was] no atonement?” If there had been no Atonement made in our behalf, there would be no need for the sacrament table, the cloths, the water, or the bread. Callister thought of this situation and wondered what other consequences there would be. He settled on the following five ways that our lives would be different.
First, there would be no resurrection, or as suggested in the explicit language of Jacob: “This flesh must have laid down to rot and to crumble to its mother earth, to rise no more” (2 Nephi 9:7).
Second, our spirits would become subject to the devil. He would have “all power over you” and “seal you his” (Alma 34:35). In fact we would become like him, even “angels to a devil” (2 Nephi 9:9).
Third, we would be “shut out from the presence of our God” (2 Nephi 9:9), to remain forever with the father of lies.
Fourth, we would “endure a never-ending torment” (Mosiah 2:39).
Fifth, we would be without hope, for “if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain…. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:14, 19).
Callister paints a dismal but true picture of life without the Atonement of Jesus Christ. There would be no hope for a better life. Our physical bodies would rot in the grave, and our spirits would be subject to Satan. We would be permanently shut out of the presence of God. Instead of life everlasting, we would have “never-ending pain.”
Even with this bleak picture, there are many people who have no idea why they should invite Jesus Christ into their lives. They have no use for Christ or for His teachings. President Ezra Taft Benson was surely speaking of these people when he made the following statement.
Just as a man does not really desire food until he is hungry, so he does not desire the salvation of Christ until he knows why he needs Christ.
No one adequately and properly knows why he needs Christ until he understands and accepts the doctrine of the Fall and its effect upon all mankind” (Ezra Taft Benson, A Witness and a Warning , 33. Quoted in Missionary Preparation Teacher Manual.)
President Benson says that no one understands their need for Christ until they understand the Fall of Adam. While Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden, they lived in an ideal environment. There was no death, illness, or pain. Their food was provided for them, and there were no weeds in their garden. They had no challenges and no growth. They had no children or the possibility of having any offspring.
When Adam and Eve partook of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, a change was wrought in their bodies. They were cast out of the Garden of Eden and out of the presence of God. They became mortal with all the problems of mortality – death, pain, illness, work, and many other trials. They became subject to physical death and spiritual death. They could have children with all their challenges as well as joys of parenthood.
As the posterity of Adam and Eve, we have inherited the same fallen condition. We are separated from the presence of God, and we are subject to physical death. We have difficulties of life and have to endure the temptations of Satan. We would be subject to Satan forever if there had been no Jesus Christ and no atoning sacrifice.
I thank Heavenly Father that Jesus Christ overcame physical death when He arose on the third day. Because He lives again, we can all be resurrected and live forever. Because He ransomed Himself for the sins of all mankind, He made it possible for all of us to live with Him forever IF we will repent of our sins and follow Him. He gives us hope, and He helps us to overcome our difficulties. I thank God that Jesus Christ is risen! He lives! He is risen!