Personalizing the Atonement
Hello Brothers and Sisters. I am soon to be Sister Arbon. I have been called to the Zimbabwe Harare Mission. I report April 21st to the South Africa MTC. I have been asked to give my Farewell talk on making the Atonement personal. I feel before we can make the atonement personal we have to know what the atonement is and how to use it. What does the atonement mean to each and everyone of you? The atonement can be explained in so many different ways. First we have to know why we have the atonement in the first place. When we were living with Heavenly Father before we came to earth He had a grand council with all of us there to decide which plan we wanted to follow either Satan’s or Christ’s. 2/3rds of us choose Christ's and the other 1/3 choose Satan’s plan. We are part of the 2/3rds because we are on earth. For us to come to earth there needed to be a creation. Christ helped make the Earth for us so we could come to earth and be able to gain a body and be tried and tested. For us to be able to experience this there needed to be a fall. When Adam and Eve partook of the fruit in the Garden of Eden they fell. With the fall came the conditions of the fall. We were able to come to this earth because Adam and Eve were kicked out of Heavenly Father’s presence. Also with the fall came opposition. With opposition came good and evil. Because we are a fallen people and there would be no way we could return back to our Heavenly Father without an infinite sacrifice. That infinite sacrifice is our Savior Jesus Christ. I feel in Alma 7 verses 11-14. These scriptures best explain what Christ really suffered for us. Christ suffered everything for us. This doesn’t mean that because of Him we are automatically returning back to our Heavenly Father. It means that through Him we may be able to return back to our glorious Heavenly Father and live with Him. This is what I am going to focus the rest of my talk on. Truly using the Atonement to the fullest. When it comes to the atonement we need action. How do we put the atonement to work? Since we are a fallen people we need to repent of our transgressions. I feel Moroni explains this perfectly in Moroni 10 verse 32. It is hard to admit that we sinned and that we aren’t perfect. This means that we need to humble ourselves and come unto Christ. Bishop Richard C. Edgley explains repentance in a devotional he gave called Hope in the Atonement: I have met people who have lost all hope. Repentance, they feel, is beyond their reach and forgiveness outside their grasp. Such do not understand the cleansing power of the Atonement. Or, if they do understand, they have not internalized the meaning of Jesus Christ’s suffering in Gethsemane and on the cross. For any of us to give up hope for the purifying of our lives is to disavow the depth, power, and extent of His suffering in our behalf.
Bishop Richard C. Edgley continues to explain more about repentance through a story: A few years ago I had the assignment while at a stake conference to interview a 21-year-old man to determine his worthiness to serve a mission. Now, General Authorities do not usually interview potential missionaries. So this was unusual. As I read some background regarding the reasons for my interview, my heart ached. This boy had committed serious transgressions. I wondered why I would be asked to visit one with such a background, concluding it would be most unusual for me to recommend him for approval as a missionary.
After the Saturday evening session of conference, I retired to the stake president’s office for the interview. As I was waiting, a handsome young man with a wonderful countenance approached. I wondered how I could excuse myself because it was apparent he wanted to talk and I had an appointment with a very troubled young man. Then he introduced himself. He was the young man I was there for.
In the privacy of the office, I asked just one question: “Why am I interviewing you?”
He recounted his past. When he was through, he began to explain the steps and the personal suffering he had gone through. He talked about the Atonement—the infinite power of the Atonement. He bore his testimony and expressed his love for the Savior. And then he said, “I believe the Savior’s personal suffering in Gethsemane and His sacrifice upon the cross were powerful enough to rescue even a man like me.”
Moved by his humility and by the Spirit, I said, “I am going to recommend you to serve as a representative of Jesus Christ.” And then I said, “I am going to ask only one thing of you. I want you to be the best missionary in the entire Church. That is all.”
Three or four months later, Sister Edgley and I were speaking at a missionary training center. At the conclusion of the devotional, I was visiting with missionaries when I saw a young man with a familiar face.
He asked, “Do you remember me?”
Somewhat embarrassed, I said, “I’m sorry. I know I should, but I just don’t remember.”
Then he said, “Let me tell you who I am. I am the best missionary in the missionary training center.” And I believed him.
This young man’s hope was based not only upon a knowledge and testimony of the Atonement but also upon a personalization of this gift. He understood that it was for him personally! He knew the power of the Atonement and the hope it gives when all might seem lost or hopeless.
I love this story Bishop Edgley gave. I saw the cleansing power of the Atonement in my own life. Someone I knew struggled with pornography and committing adultery. They let their sins take over who they were. They became very short and rude when you would talk to them. Satan leads you to believe that committing sins makes you happy and not bitter but I would beg to differ. Satan is the king of lies. This person I knew finally hit rock bottom. They felt that there was no one to turn to but there is always someone to turn to and that is Jesus Christ. With help they were directed to repentance. When they started using the atonement their heart started to soften, they became happy, and most of all they became clean and worthy. Some think repentance is a bad thing it is the complete opposite. With repentance we invite the Savior into our lives to help us overcome our sins. Without the Savior we would not be able to have the power to overcome sins. Elder Craig A. Cardon explains the enabling power of the atonement: "While this truth is readily accepted by all believers, not so easily acknowledged is the essential companion truth: the Savior forgives sins “upon earth” and not just at the Final Judgment. He does not excuse us in our sins. He does not condone our return to past sins. But when we repent and obey His gospel, He forgives us.
In this forgiveness we see the enabling and the redeeming power of the Atonement harmoniously and graciously applied. If we exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the enabling power of His Atonement strengthens us in our moment of need, and His redeeming power sanctifies us as we “[put] off the natural man.” This brings hope to all, especially to those who feel that recurring human weakness is beyond the Savior’s willingness to help and to save." End quote
The other reason we have the atonement is to help us in our times of trial. In Doctrine and Covenants 88 verse 6 it says. This explains that Christ went through everything we had and will ever go through. So when you are struggling and feel like no one understands what we are going through that may be true with the people who are around you but your Savior truly knows perfectly what you are experiencing. Why do you think a perfect being would do this for such a fallen people that we are? Christ did this because He loved each and every one of us perfectly and saw our potential. Heavenly Father didn’t put us on Earth to fail but so we may through Christ become like Him and be able to live with Him again. President Erying explains hope in the Atonement: "You weren’t the same person because the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real. And the promise is real that we can become new, changed, and better. And we can become stronger for the tests of life. We then go in the strength of the Lord, a strength developed in His service. He goes with us. And in time we become His tested and strengthened disciples." End quote..
An experience I had a little over 4 years ago helped me to see why the Savior is so central to the plan of salvation.
~ My cousin T.J. was in a car accident.
There would be no way I could have handled TJ’s death without the Savior. He carried me through this trial. The Savior made eternity possible by letting us make covenants in the temple to be able to be sealed to our families for eternity.
~ My testimony