I studied the doctrines of the third Article of Faith this week and gained greater insight about them. Articles of Faith 1:3 says, “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.” There are at least two doctrines contained in this statement with the first being the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the second being applying the Atonement of Jesus Christ in my life.
The first insight that I gained came from a video that was part of the study material. It explained that each Articles of Faith builds on the previous one. We would not understand our need for the Atonement of Jesus Christ if we did not first understand that we live in a fallen world and need Christ’s Atonement to get back to Heavenly Father. We would not even care about getting back to His presence if we did not understand that He lives and loves us. Next week we will study the principles and ordinances of the gospel of Christ that make it possible for us to return to His presence and then continue building. The Prophet Joseph Smith was either a genius or inspired to write the Articles of Faith in the order that he did!
My second insight came from President Nelson’s talk “Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives.” It is a powerful idea that we can act to bring His power into our lives, and President Nelson makes it seem too easy.
1. We must learn about Jesus Christ because we cannot be saved in ignorance of Him and His teachings. We must recognize that it is by the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ that we can be saved and not just the “Atonement.” It is Christ that puts the power into His Atonement. One way to learn more about Christ is to study “The Living Christ.
2. We must choose to have faith in Jesus Christ and to follow Him. We should rivet our attention on Him and allow our faith in Him to propel us forward. We must make and keep covenants with Him and continue along the covenant path.
3. Reach up to Jesus Christ in faith with a diligent, focused effort. We should reach up to Him with the same diligence that we would reach up to grasp or gasp for air if we were drowning. President Nelson said that if we would do these things, we will know by the power of the Holy Ghost exactly what we should do.
My third insight came from reading the 1832 account of the First Vision. I always understood that Joseph Smith went to the Sacred Grove to pray about which church to join. This account indicates that he was mostly concerned about his sins and the fact that he did not know where to go to get answers. He was mourning for both his sins and the sins of the world. This account says that he was concerned about “the welfare of his immortal soul” and had pondered the problem from “the age of twelve years to fifteen” and that he was in his sixteenth year when he received his First Vision. Some of the Lord’s first words to him are: “Joseph, my son, thy sins are forgiven thee.” This must have put his mind at ease and helped him to listen to the rest of the counsel.
My fourth insight comes from Helaman 14:15-19 where Samuel the Lamanite tells the Nephites about the Savior and His Atonement. Samuel said that the Savior must die for salvation to come and that His resurrection would make it possible for all mankind to be “brought into the presence of the Lord” (15). He said that Christ’s resurrection would overcome spiritual death for all mankind (16). The resurrection also brings “to pass the condition of repentance” (18). Those who believe on the Savior, repent of their sins, and follow Him will be saved. Those who do not repent of their sins will suffer a second spiritual death because “they are cut off again as to things pertaining to righteousness.” In other words, the resurrection part of the Atonement will overcome the physical death brought to mankind by the Fall of Adam and Eve. However, we must exercise faith in Christ, repent of our sins, and follow Him to overcome spiritual death. In fact, Doctrine and Covenants 19:15-21 says that we must suffer as Christ if we do not repent.
In summary, I believe that the value of the Atonement of Jesus Christ is stated clearly in Doctrine and Covenants 19:15-20. Christ commands us to repent because we have no idea how much suffering we will face if we do not. He then explains that He suffered all these things that we might not suffer them. He admits that the suffering caused Him “even God, the greatest of all” to “tremble” with the pain, to bleed from every pore, and to “suffer both body and spirit” (verse 18). He loves us and does not want us to suffer like he did. Therefore, He commands us to repent and take advantage of His suffering. He is our Savior because He was/is willing to suffer in our place.
Jesus Christ explains His Atonement further in 3 Nephi 27:13:22. He says that the Father sent Him to earth to complete the Atonement and that He was crucified to “draw all men unto me” (verse 14) to be judged of their works. He then gives us the steps that we must follow to be saved: repent, be baptized in His name, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end (verse 16). However, He does not stop there. He explains that we must use the blood of His Atonement to cleanse our garments by faith in Him and by repentance of our sins to be sanctified by the Holy Ghost.
In his talk titled “How We Can Draw into Our Lives the Power of Christ,” I believe that President Russell M. Nelson explained clearly how we can apply the Atonement of Christ in our lives. We cannot be saved in ignorance, so we must learn all that we can learn about Christ and His Atonement. We can do this by studying about His life and becoming more like Him. We can choose to grow our faith in Him and to focus our lives on Him. We can reach up to Him as though we were gasping for air because we are gasping for spiritual life. We cannot gain full understanding of the Atonement of Christ in this life, but we can take the knowledge and understanding gained in this life with us to the next life and then continue to build upon it.