Hoyt W. Brewster
It is significant that the Doctrine and Covenants serves as yet another witness for the reality of Him who gave so much, who suffered the greatest of pain to atone for our sins (D&C 19:16-19). "And now after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!" (D&C 76:22; italics added.) "The death on Calvary," said Elder Orson F. Whitney, "was no more the ending of that divine career, than the birth at Bethlehem was its beginning" (CR, Apr. 1927, p. 101).
The doctrine of the Atonement is, in the words of Elder James E.
Talmage, "the fundamental doctrine of all scripture, the very essence of the
spirit of prophecy and revelation, the most prominent of all the declarations
of God unto man" (AF, 77). The title Redeemer and variations of that
word are generously sprinkled through the revelations of the Doctrine and
"The structure of the word in its present form is suggestive of the true meaning: it is literally at-one-ment, 'denoting reconciliation, or the bringing into agreement of those who have been estranged'" (AF, 75). Through the fall of Adam, mankind became "estranged" from God, subject to both temporal and spiritual death (Alma 42:7). Of necessity, One was appointed to reconcile the demands of mercy and justice and pay the ransom of death and hell (2 Ne. 9:6-13).
Christ was the only being qualified to pay such a ransom. He was qualified because it was his divine appointment, bestowed on him in the pre- earth life (1 Pet. 1:19-20). He became the Only Begotten of the Father, with power to retain or lay down his life (D&C 49:5; John 10:15-18); his could be the only sinless sacrifice, for he alone never succumbed to sin (D&C 20:22; 45:4; Heb. 4:15).
He voluntarily shed his blood in Gethsemane for our sins (Luke 22:44; D&C 19:15-20) and likewise allowed his blood to be shed on Calvary in order that death might be conquered and the resurrection brought to pass (Mosiah 16:6-8).
"The motive inspiring and sustaining Him through all the scenes of His mission, from the time of His primeval ordination to the moment of victorious consummation on the cross, was two-fold: first, the desire to do His Father's will in accomplishing the redemption of mankind; second, His love for humanity, of whose welfare and destiny He had assumed charge" (AF, 80; 3 Ne. 27:13; John 13:34).
The nature of this sacrifice was discussed by
President John Taylor:
"In some mysterious, incomprehensible
way, Jesus assumed
the responsibility which naturally would have devolved upon Adam; but which
could only be accomplished through the mediation of Himself, and by taking upon
Himself their sorrows, assuming their responsibilities, and bearing their
transgressions or sins. In a manner to us incomprehensible and inexplicable, He
bore the weight of the sins of the whole world; not only of Adam, but of His
posterity; and in doing that, opened the kingdom of heaven, not only to all
believers and all who obeyed the law of God, but to more than one-half of the
human family who die before they come to years of maturity, as well as to the
heathen, who, having died without law, will through His mediation, be
resurrected without law, and be judged without law, and thus participate,
according to their capacity, works and worth, in the blessings of His
atonement." (MA, 148-49.)