The Atonement of Jesus Christ

The Atonement of Jesus Christ was the doctrinal topic for March’s study.   Russell M. Nelson reminds us that Jesus Christ “was anointed by His Father to be the Savior of the world. … [He] is our Advocate with the Father. …  He was sent by His Father to accomplish the Atonement, the central act of all human history.”1

When the Savior was on the earth, He focused on the one, although His life and teachings blessed and continue to bless many.   Similarly, while His Atonement has an impact upon all who will ever live, it can and should be very personal to each of us.   

President Nelson encourages us to “ponder the deep meaning of the word atonement.  In the English language, the components are at-one-ment, suggesting that a person is at one with another.  Other languages employ words that connote either expiation or reconciliation.  Expiation means ‘to atone for.’ Reconciliation comes from Latin roots … and … literally means ‘to sit again with.’ … In Hebrew [it] means ‘to cover’ or ‘to forgive.’ … [In] Aramaic and Arabic, … ‘a close embrace.’ … I weep for joy when I contemplate the significance of it all.  To be redeemed is to be atoned—received in the close embrace of God with an expression not only of His forgiveness, but of our oneness of heart and mind.  What a privilege!”2

In each of those meanings it is easy to see how personal the Savior intends His Atonement to be in our lives.  President Nelson helps us understand some of those very personal ways in the following three quotes:

“As the Only Begotten Son of our Almighty God, Jesus was the only perfect man to walk the earth. … He healed the sick and caused the lame to walk, the blind to see, and the deaf to hear. He raised the dead. Yet He allowed His life to be taken to make resurrection a reality and eternal life a possibility for all humankind. … Jesus came to the Garden of Gethsemane. He came to submit to the will of His Father and offer Himself as the sacrifice for the sins and weaknesses, the pains and burdens of all who had ever lived. … Upon the cross, the Savior of the world was lifted up.  He gave His life as part of His atoning sacrifice. … Because the Savior offered Himself as the infinite Atonement, you and I have the opportunity, the privilege, to be forgiven when we repent.  We can also turn to Him for healing of our hearts, for strength where we are weak, and for help to do things we simply cannot do on our own.  By virtue of His transcendent offering, Jesus also gave us the gift of immortality and the opportunity for eternal life.”3

“We live in a most difficult dispensation.  Challenges, controversies, and complexities swirl around us.  These turbulent times were foreseen by the Savior.  He warned us that in our day the adversary would stir up anger in the hearts of men and lead them astray.  Yet our Heavenly Father never intended that we would deal with the maze of personal problems and social issues on our own.  God so loved the world that He sent His Only Begotten Son to help us.  And His Son, Jesus Christ, gave His life for us.  All so that we could have access to godly power—power sufficient to deal with the burdens, obstacles, and temptations of our day.”4

“In a very real way, [the Atonement of Jesus Christ] affects each of our lives and the lives of every human being who ever lived. Understanding the significance of his atonement is fundamental to choices we make in all facets of our lives. The atonement of the Lord is central to our faith. … It seems almost beyond comprehension to think that he paid this enormous price for me and for each of you. And yet, as far as we are concerned individually, unless you and I do our part, his atonement will have been in vain. It is that covenant relationship—that mutual trust—that makes his atonement such a personal gift. It brings us protection, perennial hope, and the promise of joy.”5 

There were a few words that really resonated with me.  When the Savior was wrongly accused and sentenced to death, He was mocked by His accusers.  Knowing He had performed many miracles, they taunted Him to prove His divinity by saving Himself.  “Yet He allowed His life to be taken.”3  He did that for me!  And for you!  And for all who would ever live upon the earth.  And because He did, you can I can “turn to Him for healing of our hearts, for strength where we are weak, and for help to do things we simply cannot do on our own;”3 “have access to godly power—power sufficient to deal with the burdens, obstacles, and temptations of our day;”4 and “bring us protection, perennial hope, and the promise of joy.”5

One of my favorite sacramental hymns, Reverently and Meekly Now, really helps me to personalize the Atonement.  It is the only hymn we sing that is as though the Savior is speaking to us.  As you read these beautiful words, imagine yourself looking into the Savior’s eyes as He speaks directly to you.

Rev’rently and meekly now,
Let thy head most humbly bow.
Think of me, thou ransomed one;
Think what I for thee have done.
With my blood that dripped like rain,
Sweat in agony of pain,
With my body on the tree
I have ransomed even thee.

In this bread now blest for thee,
Emblem of my body see;
In this water or this wine,
Emblem of my blood divine.
Oh, remember what was done
That the sinner might be won.
On the cross of Calvary
I have suffered death for thee.

Bid thine heart all strife to cease;
With thy brethren be at peace.
Oh, forgive as thou wouldst be
E’en forgiven now by me.
In the solemn faith of prayer
Cast upon me all thy care,
And my Spirit’s grace shall be
Like a fountain unto thee.

At the throne I intercede;
For thee ever do I plead.
I have loved thee as thy friend,
With a love that cannot end.
Be obedient, I implore,
Prayerful, watchful evermore,
And be constant unto me,
That thy Savior I may be.6

I particularly love the personal invitations in the third and fourth verses.  If I have the faith to cast upon Him all my cares, His grace will flow into my life constantly.  If I will be obedient, prayerful and always remember Him, He will be my Savior—every hour of every day.  His Atonement is undeniably personal. It truly has the power to bless me every day of my life.  Knowing how to access that power is vital.  It will surely require effort on my part.  I must come to Him.  I will need to continually strengthen my faith in Him.  

President Nelson teaches, “Faith in Jesus Christ propels us to do things we otherwise would not do. Faith that motivates us to action gives us more access to His power.  We also increase the Savior’s power in our lives when we make sacred covenants and keep those covenants with precision. Our covenants bind us to Him and give us godly power. … Covenant-keeping men and women seek for ways to keep themselves unspotted from the world so there will be nothing blocking their access to the Savior’s power.”4 

Along with our attitudes and actions, our acknowledgment that the Savior is the source of such incredible power is imperative.  In our last general conference, President Nelson counseled, “If we as a people and as individuals are to have access to the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ—to cleanse and heal us, to strengthen and magnify us, and ultimately to exalt us—we must clearly acknowledge Him as the source of that power.”7

We can only acknowledge Him if we know Him.  Only in our quest to know Him will we be able to become like Him.  That is our lifelong challenge.  President Nelson has reminded us, “If you really want to be like the Lord—more than any thing or anyone else—you will remember that your adoration of Jesus is best shown by your emulation of Him.”8

To help us come to know the Savior better, President Nelson has offered this invitation, “Study everything Jesus Christ is by prayerfully and vigorously seeking to understand what each of His various titles and names means personally for you.  For example, He really is your Advocate with the Father. He will take your side.  He will stand up for you. He will speak on your behalf, every time, as you choose to be more like Him.”9

As we follow the example of our dear prophet and come to know the Savior in a deeper, more personal way, our love for Him will increase.  And as our love for Him increases, so will our gratitude for what He has done for us.  We often hear “Actions speak louder than words.”  It is easy to say how much I love the Savior and how grateful I am for what He has done for me.  However, until my gratitude changes the way I act, interact and react, those will be just words.  Until I truly strive to become like my Savior, allowing Him to change, help and heal me, I am not taking full advantage of His Atonement. 

Jesus Christ is our Savior, our Redeemer, our Advocate and our Friend. He suffered more than we can comprehend so that we never need suffer alone.  He knows us and loves us!  May we choose to be more like Him every day so that we can feel the power of His Atonement in our lives every day.  


1.  Jesus the Christ—Our Prince of Peace – Russell M. Nelson

2.  The Atonement – Russell M. Nelson

3.  Jesus is the Living Christ – Russell M. Nelson

4.  Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives – Russell M. Nelson

5.  Standards of Standard-Bearers of the Lord – Russell M. Nelson

6.  Reverently and Meekly Now – Hymn 185

7.  The Correct Name of the Church – Russell M. Nelson

8.  Endure and Be Lifted Up – Russell M. Nelson

9.  Prophets, Leadership, and Divine Law – Russell M. Nelson

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