Our Savior’s Infinite Atonement
The focus of my talk today is to invite the Spirit to testify of the truthfulness of my words regarding the Atonement. I also hope that through my words today, ensure that you will have grown closer to the Savior and strengthened that relationship we are all need of improving. I pray that my remarks to you today will touch your hearts and reinvigorate our souls to have a greater hunger to understand the Atonement more in our lives.
Why Understand Atonement?
Some might wonder what difference it makes whether or not they understand the Atonement, as long as they believe and accept its consequences. Such a need is illustrated by an experience of Florence Chadwick, as shared by Sterling W. Sill.
It was July 4, 1952. Chadwick, who had previously swum the English Channel, now attempted the twenty-one mile swim from the southern California mainland to Catalina Island. The water was a freezing 48 degrees. The fog was thick and visibility almost nil. Finally, only a half mile from her destination, she became discouraged and quit-had it been the cold water or the distance. It proved to be neither. She responded, “I was licked by the fog.” She then recalled a similar experience while swimming the English Channel. Evidently the fog was likewise engulfing. She was exhausted. As she was about to reach out for her father’s hand in a nearby boat, he pointed to the shore. She raised her head out of the water just long enough to see the land ahead. With that New Vision, she pressed on and became the first woman to conquer the English Channel.”
That story teaches a magnificent principle: with increased vision can come increased motivation. So it is with the Atonement. As our vision of the Atonement is enhanced, our motivation to embrace its full effects is proportionately increased.
Pres. Howard W. Hunter gave this promise:” As we come to understand His mission and the atonement which He wrought, we desire to live more like Him.”
Elder Bruce R. McConkie shared his testimony of the need for this spiritual pursuit in our lives:
“The atonement of Christ is the most basic and fundamental doctrine of the gospel, and it is the least understood of all our revealed truths. Many of us have a superficial knowledge and rely upon the Lord and his goodness to see us through the trials and perils of life. But if we are to have faith like that of Enoch and Elijah, we must believe what they believed, know what they knew, and live as they lived.
Understanding its Infinite Depth
When I was 8-10 years old one of my heroes was batman…and still is one of my favorite comic heroes. But in a recent movie about batman, Bruce Wayne’s father said to him when he fell down a pit “Bruce why do we fall? So we can learn how to pick ourselves up.” That quotation has stuck with me for many reasons. One is that all of us are imperfect. We will all make mistakes but through those mistakes we are to learn to become better, “how to pick ourselves up”, and become more like our Savior. We all are here to learn and grow. We will all fail at some point. Failure simply means a new way of discovering answers and truth. Failure is a good thing as long as we continue trying to succeed until we reach our goal. No one remembers that Abraham Lincoln failed repeatedly in business and many elections. You see, we only remember his success in leading our nation in a time of great trials and tribulations. General Grant failed repeatedly in business and all other occupations except the military. Lincoln needed a winning general and he found it in Grant. Remember to keep getting up and trying. We were sent to this earth to succeed and succeed we will.
Unfortunately many when commit sin believe how can God forgive me. Also many repent but still feel guilty for what they have done. They cannot lay it aside. Truman Madsen once said,
“I cannot bear that kind of testimony. But if there are some of you who have been tricked into the conviction that you have gone too far, that you have been weighed down with doubts on which you alone have a monopoly, that you have had the poison of sin which makes it impossible ever again to be what you could have been- then hear me
Truman Madsen said, “I bear testimony that you cannot sink farther than the light and sweeping intelligence of Jesus Christ can reach. I bear testimony that as long as there is one spark of the will to repent and to reach, he is there. He did not just descend to your condition; he descended below it, ‘that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth’ (D&C 88:6).”
The Atonement was accomplished by an infinite being of infinite power, but, of equal import, the effects of that Atonement were infinite in time, coverage, and depth. This event has no geological limitations-no state, country, or galactic boundaries that it cannot or does not cross. It knows no time constraints. It descends beneath all transgressions, all pain, all temptations, and every demand for faith. Its influence and effect pervade all space, all worlds, and all forms of life. There is no crevice it has not filled, no abyss it has not plumbed. The Atonement is infinite in its depth.
While believing in Christ and his Atonement, some people have innocently, but incorrectly, placed limits on his regenerative powers. They have somehow converted an infinite Atonement into a finite one. They have taken the Atonement and circumscribed it with an artificial boundary that somehow falls short of their particular sin. C.S. Lewis offered this counsel:” I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.”Stephen Robinson constructed a similar observation: “I have learned there are many who believe Jesus is the Son of God and that he is the Savior of the World, but they do not believe that he can save them. They believe in his identity, but not in his power to cleanse and to purify and to save. To have faith in his identity is only half the principle. To have faith in his ability and in his power to cleanse and to save, that is the other half.”
When we more fully understand the depths to which the Savior descended, the breadth to which he reached, and the heights to which he ascended, we can more readily accept that our own sins are within the vast sphere of his conquered domain. (2 Nephi 10:20 says Let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off)
There is a story of a mother teaching her children a life lesson. The mother asked the children the clean the floor. The children obeyed and then went outside to play. Then one child entered the home to find her mother on her knees scrubbing the floor. The child confusedly informed her mother that they had already swept and cleaned the floor as requested. The mother responded, “ It’s not until you get on your knees that you see the spots you need to clean.” What a wonderful lesson to teach. In order to really analyze our standing with our Heavenly Father we must do so praying.
Blessing of a Peace of Mind
I would also like to speak on the blessing of a peace of mind. Let’s recount the woman who suffered from “an issue of blood” for 12 years. Remember how she touched the hem of the Savior’s garment and was instantly healed.
“Whatever the cause of her covert conduct, no sooner had the act occurred than the Savior inquired, “Who touched me?” Peter was amazed. Why should it matter? They were in the midst of a throng of people; many had pressed about him- but the Savior’s spirit had been aroused by one whose touch had not been prompted by chance . ..The woman, unable to hide, fell before him trembling and confessed what she had done. Her mortal body was rejuvenated, but her spiritual and emotional tranquility had been left in want. She had peace of body, but not peace of mind. Now the Lord would give her both: “Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace (Luke 8:48). Oh, what balm those few words must have been to her ailing spirit! The sensitive, tender soul of the Savior knew that this good woman of faith had been only partially healed.
Neither the healing of the body nor the healing of the spirit is complete without a peace of mind.
Every attempt to reflect upon the Atonement, to study it, to embrace it, to express appreciation for it, however small or feeble it may be, will kindle the fires of faith and work its miracle towards a more Christlike life. It is an inescapable consequence of so doing. We become like those things we habitually love and admire. And thus, as we study Christ’s life and live his teachings, we become more like him. We become what we think and ponder about.
Main source: "The Infinite Atonement" by Callister
Sunday, April 26, 2009
And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.