The atonement has been a popular topic. I have both heard and read discussions of the atonement recently. Remarkably none of the ones I have recently seen made more than a passing reference to the fall, resurrection, forgiveness, redemption, repentance, or sin. The constant focus was on mortal trials and sorrows.
Which is ironic, as this generation has far fewer trials than any other generation of church members since the restoration.
Here is what I am hearing constantly about the atonement these days:
The atonement got me through a trial.
Through the atonement, my trials were lifted.
The atonement comforted me in times of sorrow.
By contrast, it is hard to enumerate the sheer number of scriptures that teach that Christ came to redeem us from our sins. It is the central hub around which the rest of the plan of salvation revolves. It is the lynch pin of eternity. It is what everything else in the scriptures revolve around. But in church and online when we talk about the atonement, the resurrection and the redemption for sin are receding behind our fascination with our mortal trials.
How have we so completely lost track of the atonement as being resurrection and redemption for sin in favor of the atonement being means by which we are comforted in trials? Why are we so lost in our now that we have forgotten that Christianity is characterized by its concern for eternity in preference to mortality?
Hebrews 11:24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;
25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.
Sin makes a change in who we are and whose power we are under. Trials are changes in our circumstances. Changes in who we are and whose power we are under required an atonement to be made. Changes in our circumstances do not. God has power over circumstances without the need for his son to suffer infinite suffering to obtain it. They are not fundamental aspects of who were are. Mortal suffering will end with the end of mortality. If we have sickness as a trial, we do not need the atonement to be healed. God can impart sickness and take away sickness to the dumb animal, to the plant, and certainly to his own children. If we are struggling with financial difficulties, the atonement was not necessary in order for God to, if he so designed, fill our home with gold and diamonds. He has power. He is God. He gives trials and he takes them away.
Matthew 9:5 For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?
6 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.
There needed to be an atonement, the infinite suffering of a perfect son, for it to be possible to say “thy sins be forgiven thee.” But God has power in and of himself to say “arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house”.
Did not God say he would send the comforter, who is the Holy Ghost? Isn’t “the comforter” actually one of the names of God the Holy Ghost?
It is one thing to be grateful for the atonement. It is another altogether to determine that God actually didn’t have any power at all without it.
Was intercession necessary for God to lift our trials, or are all things not in his hands? Was the atonement necessary to give God power over earth and mortality, or was the atonement, instead, necessary because no unclean thing can dwell in his presence?
Not only does God have power over trials. God provides trials. He chastens his people. These are actions he takes. He can also remove trials.
Trials are often given to us by God. He did not need to atone for our trials. The atonement was not necessary for him to lift a trial anymore than sin is necessary for us to find ourselves in trials.
Christ suffered trials and tribulations. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. No sin on his part was necessary for Christ to face sorrows. If sorrows and grief come to a man without sin, then divine redemption was not required to remove trials or to comfort us in them.
The atonement redeems us from sin, and in time through it we will become as God is, perfect without any sin whatsoever. However, there are sorrows that pass beyond mortality. Our sorrow over those who sin will continue. The heavens weep over those who sin. Those who have gone before us can see our actions and perceive our motives and they are often pained therewith.
Physical and spiritual death are different than our mortal trials. God has power to give and take trails simply because he is God. No redemption was required for him to obtain that power. The Holy Ghost is called the comforter for a reason. When we teach about the atonement, we really should be able to give redemption from sin and resurrection far more attention than a passing, but obligatory nod.