“The way a book is read — which is to say, the qualities a reader brings to a book — can have as much to do with its worth as anything the author puts into it…. Anyone who can read can learn how to read deeply and thus live more fully.”
~Norman Cousins

Writing is where we truly learn. Join the Journey.

I read from my scriptures (book), but you can find scripture reference here.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Atonement of Jesus Christ: The Best Victory of all.

My daughter coaching her Lacrosse Team

I was asked to speak on the atonement and its relevance to the Book of Mormon. I chose to use a sports metaphor as I believed it would reach the younger crowd in our ward. 

Choose your Sport 

In 2001, we moved to Georgia. Our daughter, who is now 28 was then a Junior in High School. When she discovered that her new High School did not have her beloved sport of Lacrosse.. she was not happy.

While investigating the possibility of starting a Lacrosse team, she was instructed(by her ex pro physician Dr. Kosobucki) that in the south there were only three sports. 1. Football 2. Football and 3. Football.

I tell you this because sports play an important role in our lives. For young people maturing and growing in our society they teach the importance of rules and laws.
Sports help teach the concept that rules help us achieve goals. 
Sports also teach us how to feel the joy of winning.. and how to handle the agony of loss.
There are numerous analogies that be drawn between sports and the game we call life.

Heavenly Father's Plan 

Life however is not a game. Rules that are broken lead to players being sidelined or even being permanently removed, ie. death.  There are no rain delays and certainly no tiebreakers in the game we call mortality. Mortality offers us no eternal security. 

Like the coaches that establish rules, draw up game plans and put key players into the game, our Heavenly Father has given us eternal laws, designed a plan of happiness for us and even given us a key player that insures us joy.
Games and sports allow for only one winner and many losers. Heavenly Father’s plan of Eternal Happiness, however, was designed that all might know the joy of success.

A Key Play: The Atonement 

This eternal plan of happiness as the Book of Mormon prophet Alma called it (Alma 42:8), is otherwise known as the atonement. Jesus Christ is the star and key player. Prophets both living and ancient bear witness of his divinity, of his role in helping us all learn how to practice and find eternal joy.   

The Atonement in the Book of Mormon: Law 

The Book of Mormon prophet Lehi understood he could not travel into the wilderness of a new land without the laws that taught of Jesus Christ’s divine mission and role in God’s Plan of Happiness. Without the brass plates he would not be able to teach of his father’s eternal covenants with God, of past prophets testimonies, of the Ten Commandments, or of God’s love.  
In 1 Nephi 4:15 we read :

Yea, and I also thought that they could not keep the commandments of the Lord according to the law of Moses, save they should have the law.

Lehi was the first prophet of the Book of Mormon to testify to the divinity of Jesus Christ’s role in the Great Plan of Happiness. The Book of Mormon has multiple prophets that testify of the atonement of Jesus Christ.

GamePlan: Atonement
The prophet Jacob asked, 
“Why not speak of the atonement of Christ, and attain to a perfect knowledge of him?” (Jacob 4:12)

Kay Player: Jesus Christ

The brother of Jared shared the savior’s words to him : In Ether 3:14 we read:

Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ.

To the list of Book of Mormon prophets who testified of Jesus Christ and his divine atonement we can add Zenock, Neum, and Zenos ( 1 Nephi 19:10).  King Benjamin, Alma the Elder, Alma the Younger, Amulek, the sons of Mosiah, Captain Moroni, the brothers Nephi and Lehi, Samuel the Lamanite, Enos, Jarom, Amaron, and Amaleki also testified of the atonement.

The Book of Mormon – another testament of Jesus Christ – contains 6,607 verses. 3,925 refer to Jesus Christ.  It references the Savior’s atonement 39 times and speaks of the resurrection of Jesus Christ 81 times. When you consider that Jesus Christ is it’s principal character there can be little mistake that the Book of Mormon makes the solemn declaration that Jesus is the Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. (A Testimony of the Book of Mormon)

One of my favorite prophets is the courageous Abinadi. He gives us a good understanding of the relationship between living the rules (law of Moses) and in utilizing the atonement of Jesus Christ.  After prophesying the people’s destruction, he has been taken before the courts of King Noah to be questioned.. To Noah’s priest’s, Abinadi taught and testified:

And again he said unto them: If ye teach the law of Moses why do ye not keep it?  Mosiah 12:29-31

Noah and his priests soon are ready to be done with Abinadi, but Abinadi is filled with the spirit of God and cannot be touched. He then recites to them the Law of the Ten Commandments and tells them they are not living them, nor are they written on their hearts.
He continues to explain the atonement to them.  From Mosiah 13: 27-28 we read:

And moreover, I say unto you, that salvation doth not come by the law alone; and were it not for the atonement, which God himself shall make for the sins and iniquities of his people, that they must unavoidably perish, notwithstanding the law of Moses.

In  Mosiah 15:1-7 Abinadi continues:
 I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people.And after all this, after working many mighty miracles among the children of men, he shall be led, crucified, and slain, the flesh becoming subject even unto death, the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father.
 Mercy and Mistakes

In learning how to play a sport mistakes are inevitable. And mistakes ensure both a winner and a looser. Shots will be missed, fouls incurred, rules and boundaries broken, and we might even score a goal for the wrong team.

 In life we might commit what we perceive as an unforgivable sin, a no win situation, but as Elder Marcus B. Nash of the Seventy points out, “through the infinite Atonement, God has provided a means whereby we can both overcome our sins and become completely clean again. This is made possible by the eternal law of mercy. Mercy satisfies the claims of justice through our repentance and power of the Atonement. Without the power of the Atonement and our complete repentance, we are subject to the law of justice. (2006 April General Conference, The Great Plan of Happiness)

Additionally Alma taught that “mercy claimeth the penitent” (Alma 42:23) and that the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance.” (Alma 42:13). 

Russel M. Nelson said that, “The resurrected Lord taught, "This is the gospel which I have given unto you--that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me." (3 Ne. 27:13. Then He amplified that one-sentence definition: "My Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me." (3 Ne. 27:14)  This unique mortal mission of the Lord--the gospel as He defined it--we know as the Atonement., (A Testimony of the Book of Mormon Russel M. Nelson.)

The personal ministry of the resurrected Lord to people of ancient America bears an unmistakable testimony of the Savior’s mission.  To them He made this revelatory announcement:  "Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. . . .  ". . . The scriptures concerning my coming are fulfilled. . . .  "I am the light and the life of the world. . . .  ". . . Whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost. . . .  ". . . I have come unto the world to bring redemption unto the world, to save the world from sin.  "Therefore, whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive, for of such is the kingdom of God. . . . I have laid down my life, and have taken it up again; therefore repent, and come unto me, . . . and be saved." (3 Ne. 9:15-16, 18, 20-22) 1999 October General Conference, (A Testimony of the Book of Mormon)

Temp View High State Lacrosse Champs. My son as their coach. 
I have watched my children participate in many sport events. Some they have even coached and refereed for. I have witnessed their joy when the scoreboard favored their team. I have wiped away tears when it did not. 

But Of all the victories that I hope my children will understand and strive to win, I hope they will seek the victory of eternal life that comes through the atonement of Jesus Christ. 

Jacob taught that without the atonement we might all be like the losers on the sport field. We might all be lost.He said:  
And this is not all—it has been made manifest unto me, for I have heard and seen; by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, I know if there should be no atonement made all mankind must be lost. Jacob 7:12

The Book of Mormon testifies not only of the atonement, but of its infinite power to bring us joy, no matter what the score board might read. Through the Savior’s example of mercy and charity we all are given the power to lift not only ourselves up to a happier state, but to also offer that same score to our fellow saints and teammates. The atonement of Jesus Christ offers a win win situation.  

I bear witness that there is a power of goodness and healing that comes from reading the Book of Mormon. I believe this power stems from the pureness of God's atoning love and from the witness that is brings to us, the covenant people of Israel. 
In the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

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