The purpose of this lesson is “to help class members feel the powerful witness of the Savior that comes through the Doctrine and Covenants and to help them strengthen their testimonies of the Savior’s Atonement.” The focus of this article is on the necessity of having a Savior.
In order to appreciate the need, nay, the necessity for having a Redeemer you first need to have a firm grasp on how the role of the Redeemer fits into the overall plan of salvation given to us by our Father in Heaven. (I have prepared a one page PDF file with a recap of the whole plan of salvation on it. If you want to print it out there is a link after the picture.)
Plan of Salvation (Click the link to open the PDF file)
The importance of vicarious works
The Savior, anointed by our Father in Heaven, was the only one in all of eternity who could pay the price for the misdeeds we all commit while in mortality. We simply are unable to make that payment. We don’t have the capacity. Jesus did, and he was willing to make that payment on our behalf so we would have the opportunity to return to our Father in Heaven if we so chose.
The principle of vicarious work runs throughout the plan of salvation. Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves. The prophets do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. We perform vicarious works for those who have already passed through mortality and cannot perform these ordinances for themselves. All of us are saved by vicarious work performed by someone else. It is a universal principle.
Without a Savior every living soul would be lost to God, our Father, for all of eternity. There isn’t a person who has ever entered mortality who doesn’t owe EVERYTHING to the Christ for his suffering on our behalf. Without the work he performed there could be no forgiveness of sin, and there could be no resurrection. Without a resurrection there could be no glorified bodies in which to appear before God for judgement, and no possibility for exaltation and eternal glory for anyone forever and ever. The entire plan of salvation depends on the key role of a Redeemer to give value back to our souls after we have cut ourselves off from the presence of God through disobedience.
Doctrine and Covenants
This lesson provides many scriptural passages that demonstrate Christ’s love for us, his sacrifices for us, his requirements of us, and our obligations to Him. There is a clarity of his role as Redeemer, and our role as His spiritual children that is more clear in the Doctrine and Covenants than in any other book of Scripture. Here are some samples as provided in the lesson. Note that many of the scriptures used to illustrate the points in this lesson are given by the Savior himself. These points don’t go through any middlemen, they are direct quotes from God Himself.
D&C 19:16–19 The Savior describes in his own words the suffering he experienced in Gethsemane and on the cross. If you read these verses carefully you will also see his perfect ability to submit to the will of His Father no matter what, an example we could all stand to take to heart with more determination to follow in our daily lives.
Note: In Dictionary.com you will find the following definitions for the word “redeem.”
Place your soul as the item which has lost its value or worth through sin. The Savior is the Redeemer, the person who fulfills a promise to bring full value back to your soul. This is what He promised us in the premortal world, and this is what he did for us in Gethsemane and on the cross, ending with his resurrection three days later. Without the resurrection we cannot be brought back into the presence of God for Judgment. It is the resurrection that redeems our souls from eternal death or separation from God. It is the resurrection that gives his payment for our sins efficacy. Without glorified eternal bodies forgiveness of sin would be pointless, because we would still be cut off from the presence of God. The resurrection was the culminating act of the whole plan of salvation, for it brings us back into His presence.
D&C 93:33 The resurrection opens the door for us to experience a fulness of joy. It is important that we are aware that Jesus suffered all the pains and sufferings that any human has ever suffered. He took this suffering on himself willingly so he would better understand how to help or succor us in our trials and personal sufferings. I feel this is a part of his overall sacrifice we take for granted.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve said: “When … difficult times come to us, we can remember that Jesus had to descend below all things before He could ascend above them, and that He suffered pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind that He might be filled with mercy and know how to succor His people in their infirmities (see D&C 88:6; Alma 7:11–12)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1995, 91; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 69).
Doctrine and Covenants 6:34; 35:27 These verses tell us at least two important things. They show us Christ’s tender regard for us – he calls us his “little flock” – and he promises us that even when earth and hell combine against us, in the end the victory will be ours.
D&C 6:32–37 This is the expanded section of the verse above. The Savior warns his people that though he loves them, if they want the blessings he has to offer they must go to and do good works and keep his commandments. Those who do this will receive good for their reward in the kingdom of heaven.
We all have the capacity to live out mortality without God in our lives. Countless millions have done so. But to receive the promised reward of exaltation, of returning to live with our Father in Heaven, that requires obedience to the Savior God gave us to make this end possible. Even those who live in mortality without God in their lives will one day be taught the truth and be given the choice to accept the Savior’s gift of atonement or reject it.
The conditions for exaltation apply to all. None can be exalted without accepting the Redeemer’s sacrifice on our behalf, and obeying his commandments. He is our key to getting everything that is of greatest value to us. Without the Christ we will lose all that will bring us the greatest joy in eternity. As you study the history of the Lord’s Church, and especially the Doctrine and Covenants, look for all the evidences of Christ’s love and concern for us. The scriptures are riddled with expressions of his love and concern for our welfare.