[a letter from Elder Cutler]
The Infinite & Eternal Atonement
Today as I sit and think and ponder on the atonement, the spirit testifies of its divine nature. I feel
inclined to write you today and share my thoughts and knowledge about that “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.” (Alma 34:10)
I have been learning a lot about the atonement recently because truly it is the central component to
the plan of salvation which is everything. Without the atonement, we are nothing and cannot become
anything. If there is no atonement we would be “cut dead both to things temporal and spiritual.”
(Helaman 14:16) But through Christ and his Atonement “shall be made alive.”(1 Cor. 15:22)
So why do we really need an “Atonement” other than the fact that we’ve always been told so. “Adam
fell that men might be and men are that they might have joy.” (2 Nephi 2:25) When Adam and Eve
partook of the fruit in the Garden of Eden, they transgressed the law but did so that we may have
joy. If they would not have partaken of the fruit, we would not be able to know right from wrong
and ultimately choose between happiness and sin, between “liberty and eternal life… or to choose
captivity and death.” (2 Nephi 2:27) Because of the fall, we could know sin and no one would be perfect.
Heavenly Father abides by laws or else he would “cease to be God.” Now because of this fall, “by law no
flesh is justified, or by the law men are cut off. Yea by the temporal law they were cut off; and also by
the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever.” (2 Nephi 2:5) This
means that because we sin on earth, we are cut off from the presence of the Lord because “no unclean
thing can enter into his Kingdom” and if there was no atonement made “therefore nothing can enter
into his rest.” (3 Nephi 27:19) The law of justice demands that a penalty must be paid for every sin we
commit. That is why we need an Atonement, a Savior, a Redeemer, or a Great Mediator who will act as
an intercessor between us and our Father in Heaven.
Jesus Christ was the only one able to perform such an atonement because:
1. He was foreordained in the pre-existence.
2. He was the “literal” Son of God (Alma 34:14)
3. He is/was perfect
4. He is infinite (Alma 34)
How did it work then? How are we able to be saved? “He offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer
the ends of the law.” (2 Nephi 2:7) Jesus Christ said that he would sacrifice himself for all our sins and
show mercy to those who believe in Him. He would essentially suffer the sin for us; almost commit it for
us, except he was sinless and perfect.
So what does that entail “to suffer,” or “sacrifice” for all of us? What does that truly mean? I guess this
is where I have learned the most recently. I have learned a little more each day what he miraculously did
for us in Gethsemane, on Calvary and by being resurrected.
His pain was unreal. “How sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea how hard to bear you
know not. For behold, I, God have suffered these things for all that they might not suffer…” (D&C 19:15-
16) try and imagine the pain and the agony he was in, “which suffering caused myself, even God, the
greatest of all to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and
spirit.” (D&C 19:18) have you ever been in so much pain that your body trembles? Did you know that
if you steam rolled someone up to their ribs, they would only bleed from one pore from the pressure?
Do you know how many pores you have? Do you realize how painful bleeding from one pore is? All this
in Gethsemane for us, “suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind, and this that the
word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.”
So we know that he suffered for our sins. But that’s not all, in fact not even close. “For in that, he put all
in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him…” (Hebrews 2:8) KEYWORD: nothing.
There is nothing that he did not feel. There is nothing he did not experience. He had to experience it
all so that he would know how to comfort us in our times of need whenever that may be. Although
he suffered for our sins, he also experienced the Full Circle of the sin including all of its guilt and
ramifications. All of the sins negative consequences became his. He transcended above all of us in His
resurrection and descended below all of us in Gethsemane and on the Cross. He experienced, full circle,
everything we could ever feel. He knelt in Gethsemane and saw our faces, one by one and took upon
Him every pain, every guilt, every sorrow, every sin or every negative feeling we have ever had. It’s
After Gethsemane, after He took upon Him the pains of the world, it did not stop there. In fact 3 of
his dearest apostles couldn’t even stay awake with Him in Gethsemane, and then after that, He was
betrayed by one, Judas. In the lowest time of His life, most of even his good friends, abandoned Him.
Do you think He knows what you feel like when you’re feeling lonely? If not, there’s more, for when He
was on the cross, and after all was said and done, at the lowest pain of his life, He asked the Father, “My
God, My God why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34) do we not feel sometimes like God has
forgotten us? Do we ever feel lonely? Jesus did. And he did it for us.
Now, we can use this Atonement for everything! Anything we need strength for, Christ can give it
because he was the greatest of us all. When you feel sad, lonely, frustrated, guilty, or you are just having
a bad day, remember this scripture “The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater
than he?” (D&C 122:8) he can take away your sins, your guilt and comfort you when you need comfort,
but only if we let Him. We must repent, and we must realize that He did this all out of love, for us. What
enabled Him to do this was His character, or the character of Christ, which I will explain in my next
letter! Without the character of Christ, no atonement could have been possible.
I want to testify to whoever reads this of the powerful nature of the atonement. Although I am not
perfect, I do have a perfect knowledge of its divinity. The atonement was the greatest event that has
ever happened on this earth. Jesus Christ loves you very personally; in fact He saw your face while he
was suffering for you! The atonement can give you comfort when you feel like everyone has betrayed
you, when you feel like you are the saddest you’ve ever been, when you feel like you have sinned so
deeply that there is no turning back, because remember that Christ was betrayed by his best friends.
And even all those He died for, He felt loneliness like you will never experience upon the cross, He felt
the sins of the whole world and then some or His final words were “Father, forgive them for they know
not what they do.” He felt the pain like you have never experienced, but then he also felt the pain like
you have experienced, because he experienced it all. I want you to know that I love my Savior more than anything else in this whole wide world. It brings chills to me and tears to my eyes to know that he would do that for me. “What comfort this sweet sentence gives, He lives, He lives who once was dead.” Do not ever turn your back on Him! Do everything you can to always serve Him. Follow Him and you will find peace and happiness! I say this in the name of Jesus Christ amen.