…VAN EEN VERNUFTIGE MAKELIJ…
(1 Nephi 18:1)
The atonement of Jesus Christ is the central piece of Heavenly Father’s plan to bring His children back to his presence. We came to this earth to learn and to grow; to become more like our Heavenly Father by making choices and experiencing consequences of our choices. We learn as we struggle with adversity and trials and we learn as we achieve success and happiness. We also came on earth to gain our physical bodies thereby, also to become more like our Heavenly Father. But, our earthly experience will include making mistakes. Through sin we become unclean and no unclean thing can go back to the presence of the Father. Because of the fall of Adam, we will die and leave our earthly body behind. These two devastating disadvantages, called the spiritual death and the physical death, are eliminated through the atonement of Jesus Christ.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the simple path that gives us, God’s children, access to the atonement. Overcoming the devastating disadvantage of physical death has been granted to all men through the resurrection. The gospel path will lead us to overcome the devastating disadvantage of the spiritual death as we exercise our agency on earth. The entrance to the path is baptism. This is the foundational ordinance of the gospel. At baptism we covenant with God that we will repent and strive to live the gospel. Christ covenants with us:
“…whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at the day when I shall stand to judge the world…Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.” (3 Nephi 27:16,20)
Jesus Christ was sinless and became our advocate before the Father by paying the penalty for our sins because of his love for us and the Father. This price that Christ paid for us involved terrible suffering and pain. Christ stated, “…behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin…” (DC 45:4) and:
“Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink…” (DC 19:18)
The law of justice demanding punishment for sin is fulfilled through Christ. Therefore, our Father can welcome us into his kingdom. However, our personal accountability is not removed. We must stay on the path began with baptism and over our lives “…come unto Christ and be perfected in him…” (Moro.10:32)
Through partaking of the sacrament every week, we renew this covenant that we made at baptism. Our thoughts and mental and spiritual commitments during this sacred ordinance each week are important. This covenant is most sacred and an opportunity for a spiritual experience as we recommit ourselves to our Father to make corrections, hold the course and improve.
The sacrament prayers are similar, for the bread:
“O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.” (DC 20:77)
We are required to do 4 things:
1. Eat in remembrance of the body of the Son
2. Willing to take upon us the name of the Son
3. Always remember him
4. Keep his commandments
What is the difference between number 1 and number 3 above? I submit included in number 1, we must remember the broken body and spilt blood and the terrible suffering in our behalf. In number 3, we commit to strive to remember at all times his good attributes and example.
I pray we can really experience the atonement in our personal lives each week as we partake of the sacrament. The Prophet Isaiah emphasized our dependence on Christ when he said:
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. (Isaiah 53:3)