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RS/MP Lesson 12: “The Atonement” (Gospel Principles Manual)

Posted by kirkcaudle on November 24, 2011

I am teaching this lesson on Sunday and noticed that, as of yet,  nobody has posted notes. I thought I would post mine in case any one else is teaching. The manual has some potentially great discussion questions within this lesson. I will use mostly the questions from the manual and throw in one of my own as a follow-up every now and again.

The Atonement is something that is hard for me to teach (because I really do not understand it) and a subject that I approach with the utmost reverence (because of its eternal and sacred nature). Because of the length of this lesson I have only posted notes for the first three sections. I have also consciously left out the historical atonement theories. I welcome them for discussion; I simply thought that they would complicate the matter for those who are just browsing the blog and are unfamiliar with them.

Here is a link to the actual lesson itself:


The Atonement is Necessary for our Salvation

-Why is the Atonement necessary for our salvation?

“For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish; … yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement” (Alma 34:9). Because know we do not cease to totally exist, what does it mean to “perish?”

“For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice. Now there is not any man that can sacrifice his own blood which will atone for the sins of another. Now, if a man murdereth, behold will our law, which is just, take the life of his brother? I say unto you, Nay. But the law requireth the life of him who hath murdered; therefore there can be nothing which is short of an infinite atonement which will suffice for the sins of the world” (Alma 34:10-12). In reference to these verses the manual states, “[Heavenly Father] planned for a Savior to come to earth to ransom (redeem) us from our sins and from death.” Do you think it is reasonable to see the terms “ransom” and “redeem” as interchangeable?

Jesus Christ was the only one who could Atone for our sins

-Why was Jesus Christ the only one who could atone for our sins?

The manual gives 2 basic reasons:

1. Heavenly Father chose Him to be the Savior

2. Jesus was qualified because He was the only person to live on earth without committing sin.

This brings up (at least) two scenarios. Chosen vs. Qualified:

1. The righteousness (and sinlessness) of Jesus Christ caused The Father to choose Him.


2. Jesus Christ was righteous (and sinless) because The Father did choose Him.

The differences are subtle, but not insignificant.

Christ suffered and Died to Atone for our sins

-Imagine yourself in the Garden of Gethsemane or at the cross as a witness of the suffering of Jesus Christ.

On a personal note:

I am not partial to the idea of “separate” sections of the atonement. To many church members these sections seem to be ranked.

1. Garden

2. Resurrection

3. Cross

I think what happened on the cross is very underrated (not that the others are overrated of course) by members of the church. I have never liked the line I so often hear on Easter, and throughout the year, in reference to wearing and displaying the cross, “the cross represents Christ’s death, but we celebrate his life and resurrection.” This is a clear example of how the atonement is split apart by members. Therefore, when I imagine “the atonement” I think of it as one event.

Another popular idea on the Atonement is that is it really took two people to make it happen, Christ and the Father. Christ had to suffer, but God had to remove his Spirit from Him in order for him to die on the cross. Therefore, the atonement would not be Christ’s alone because he could not have done it without the Father. We see this love in John 3:16, ““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Again, as in Alma 34:9, we see the word “parish.” Do you think John uses “parish” in the same context as Alma?

One Response to “RS/MP Lesson 12: “The Atonement” (Gospel Principles Manual)”

  1. kirkcaudle said

    Oops! I did not mean to repost this! I was going through some old lessons and somehow I ended up reposting this. I do not know how to unpost it without deleting the entire record of its existence on the site.


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