The Third Article of Faith

We believe that through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

Atonement Jesus Praying Gethsemane MormonThe atonement is the necessary answer to the Fall of Adam through which men were cut off from the presence of God. To fulfill the plan of redemption, and bring all men and women back into the presence of God, a Savior was chosen to redeem mankind, for they could not meet the demands of justice on their own. Jesus Christ was the chosen Savior before the foundation of the world.

Mormonism teaches that the atonement of Christ is meant to be universal. His great and infinite sacrifice is for all people everywhere; none are excluded.

Because of His holy parentage, Jesus had power over death. This power enabled Him to complete the atonement. According to  Mormon doctrine, the suffering of Christ began in the Garden of Gethsemane. Christ’s prayer in the Garden is recorded in Luke– “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). Mormonism cites latter-day revelation to verify that the Lord was actually sweating blood, so great was His suffering for the sins and sorrows of mankind.  Jesus was then delivered to the Roman soldiers, to be tortured, mocked, and finally crucified. Only when Jesus knew the suffering was complete, and He said aloud “It is finished,” did He allow Himself to die. According to Mormonism, the atonement was fully completed when Jesus rose from the grave on the third day and became the Firstfruits of the resurrection.

According to Mormonism, the atonement of Christ overcomes two deaths. First, it overcomes physical death by bringing about the resurrection. The atonement of Christ overcame this death for all people who have ever been born on earth. Regardless of their choices, good or evil, all people will be resurrected after this life. This is their reward for choosing Jesus Christ as their Savior in the premortal world and coming to earth to receive a physical body. The second death is a spiritual death, defined as separation from the presence of God.

Mormon prophets have received visions and revelations explaining what is necessary to live eternally in God’s presence, which condition Mormons call “eternal life.”  The whole desire of God, His work and His glory, is to help mankind achieve eternal life.  God and Christ dwell in the highest kingdom of heaven, as described by Joseph Smith in Section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants.  All other kingdoms in heaven are glorious beyond description, but God and Christ do not dwell in them.  Exaltation to a kingdom of heaven is another way of defining “salvation,” and though resurrection is an unconditional gift, exaltation is conditional.  Required for exaltation to the highest heaven are the following:  faith on the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism by one holding true authority from God, reception of the Holy Ghost (or baptism by fire), temple covenants (including marriage for time and eternity), and enduring to the end in righteousness.

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