The Atonement of Jesus Christ
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“The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” Doctrinal Mastery Book of Mormon Teacher Material (2017)

“The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” Doctrinal Mastery Book of Mormon Teacher Material

The Atonement of Jesus Christ

Note: The following doctrinal mastery activities could be done over the course of several class sessions or in a single class session.

Understanding the Doctrine (100 minutes)

Segment 1 (10 minutes)

Write the following questions on the board:

  • What is the Atonement of Jesus Christ?

  • Why do we need the Atonement of Jesus Christ?

Invite students to briefly discuss their responses to these questions with a partner. After sufficient time, ask students to turn to doctrinal topic 3, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. Invite a student to read the first paragraph aloud and another student to read the third paragraph aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for statements or phrases that can help us understand what the Atonement of Jesus Christ is and why we need it. You may want to invite students to consider marking what they find.

  • What statements did you find that can help us understand what the Atonement of Jesus Christ is? (Make sure students identify the following statement of doctrine in the first paragraph: Jesus Christ’s triumph over spiritual and physical death by His suffering, death, and Resurrection is called the Atonement.)

To help students visualize the Savior’s suffering, death, and Resurrection, display the following pictures: Jesus Praying in Gethsemane (Gospel Art Book [2009], no. 56; see also LDS.org); The Crucifixion (Gospel Art Book, no. 57; see also LDS.org); Burial of Jesus (Gospel Art Book, no. 58; see also LDS.org); and Mary and the Resurrected Lord (see LDS.org).

  • What statements or phrases did you find in those paragraphs that can help us understand why we need the Atonement of Jesus Christ?

Invite students to ponder the ways they are blessed because of Jesus Christ’s willingness and ability to atone for our sins.

Segment 2 (10 minutes)

[Christ's image]

Display a picture of the Savior on the board (for example, Jesus Christ [Gospel Art Book, no. 1; see also LDS.org]), and write the following headings next to or underneath it: Similarities and Differences.

  • What are some similarities between the Savior and us? What are some differences? (List students’ responses on the board under the appropriate heading.)

Ask students to turn to doctrinal topic 3, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. Invite a student to read the second paragraph aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for phrases that indicate how the Savior is different from all the rest of Heavenly Father’s children.

  • According to what we read in this paragraph, how is Jesus Christ different from all the rest of Heavenly Father’s children? (Add any new differences mentioned to the list of differences on the board.)

Invite students to consider marking the following statement of doctrine in their copies of the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document: It is only through Jesus Christ that we can be saved because He was the only one capable of making an infinite and eternal Atonement for all mankind.

  • Based on what we have discussed, why was Jesus Christ the only one who could perform an infinite and eternal Atonement?

Consider sharing your testimony of the Savior’s divine nature and of how it enabled Him to make an infinite and eternal Atonement for us.

Segment 3 (10 minutes)

Display or write the following statement of doctrine on the board: It is only through Jesus Christ that we can be saved because He was the only one capable of making an infinite and eternal Atonement for all mankind. Refer students to the second paragraph of doctrinal topic 3, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document, and ask:

  • Which doctrinal mastery passage supports the doctrine on the board? (Alma 34:9–10. Invite students to consider marking this passage in a distinctive way in their scriptures so they will be able to locate it easily.)

To help students understand the context of Alma 34:9–10, explain that these verses are part of a sermon that Amulek gave to a group of people called the Zoramites as he and Alma sought to help them believe in Jesus Christ and repent.

Write the following questions on the board, or provide them as a handout:

  • How does Alma 34:9–10 support the doctrine on the board?

  • What kinds of sacrifices did Amulek say would not be sufficient? Why are they insufficient?

  • What words describe the sacrifice that Jesus Christ would make for us? (Consider marking these words in your scriptures.)

Divide students into pairs. Ask them to read Alma 34:9–10 with their partner and to discuss the questions on the board (or on the handout). After sufficient time, invite students to report their answers to these questions.

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for what he said about how the Atonement of Jesus Christ is “infinite” (Alma 34:10).

Nelson, Russell M.

“In preparatory times of the Old Testament, the practice of [sacrificing animals] was finite—meaning it had an end. It was a symbolic forecast of the definitive Atonement of Jesus the Christ. His Atonement is infinite—without an end. It was also infinite in that all humankind would be saved from never-ending death. It was infinite in terms of His immense suffering. … It was infinite in scope—it was to be done once for all. And the mercy of the Atonement extends not only to an infinite number of people, but also to an infinite number of worlds created by Him. It was infinite beyond any human scale of measurement or mortal comprehension.

“Jesus was the only one who could offer such an infinite atonement, since He was born of a mortal mother and an immortal Father. Because of that unique birthright, Jesus was an infinite Being” (Russell M. Nelson, “The Atonement,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 35).

Invite one or more students to explain to the class how a person could use Alma 34:9–10 to help someone understand why Jesus Christ was the only one who could perform the Atonement.

Segment 4 (10 minutes)

Christ in Gethsemane
Crucifixion, The

Display the following pictures on the board: Jesus Praying in Gethsemane (Gospel Art Book, no. 56; see also LDS.org) and The Crucifixion (Gospel Art Book, no. 57; see also LDS.org).

  • In addition to suffering for our sins, what did Jesus Christ experience as part of His Atonement? (List students’ responses on the board.)

Invite students to silently read the first two sentences of the fourth paragraph of doctrinal topic 3, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document, looking for what the Savior experienced during His Atonement.

  • Based on what you found in these sentences, what did the Savior experience as part of His Atonement?

Invite students to consider marking the following statement of doctrine in their copies of the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document: As part of His Atonement, Jesus Christ not only suffered for our sins, but He also took upon Himself the pains, temptations, sicknesses, and infirmities of all mankind.

  • Which Book of Mormon doctrinal mastery passage supports this doctrine? (Alma 7:11–13. Invite students to consider marking this passage in a distinctive way.)

Invite a student to read Alma 7:11–13 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for words or phrases that indicate what Jesus Christ experienced during His Atonement.

  • What words or phrases did you find that indicate what Jesus Christ experienced during His Atonement?

Explain that these words and phrases encompass every kind of pain, difficulty, or challenge we will ever experience during our lives.

  • Why is it important to know that Jesus Christ perfectly understands everything that we experience in life?

Point out that Alma 7:12 teaches that one of the reasons the Savior suffered was so that He would know “how to succor his people according to their infirmities.” Invite a student to read aloud the following statements by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for the meaning of the word succor:

Holland, Jeffrey R.

Succor. Do you know its meaning? It is used often in the scriptures to describe Christ’s care for and attention to us. It means literally ‘to run to.’ What an absolutely magnificent way to describe the Savior’s urgent effort in our behalf. Even as he calls us to come to him and follow him, he is unfailingly running to help us” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Come unto Me” [Brigham Young University fireside, March 2, 1997)], 9, speeches.byu.edu).

“To succor means to ‘run to.’ I testify that in my fears and in my infirmities the Savior has surely run to me. I will never be able to thank Him enough for such personal kindness and such loving care” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “He Hath Filled the Hungry with Good Things,” Ensign, Nov. 1997, 66).

Invite students to think of times when they have experienced the Savior’s help and care. Consider inviting a few students to share their experiences with the class. You may also want to briefly share an experience.

Segment 5 (5 minutes)

Invite students to think of a time when they were asked or assigned to do something difficult and did not feel they could do it on their own. Invite one or two students to share their experiences with the class.

Invite a student to read aloud the fourth paragraph of doctrinal topic 3, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. Ask the class to follow along, looking for a statement that describes the help Jesus Christ offers us.

  • What statement did you find that describes the help Jesus Christ offers us? (Invite students to consider marking the following statement of doctrine in their copies of the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document: As we come to Him in faith, the Savior will strengthen us to bear our burdens and accomplish tasks that we could not do on our own.)

  • When have you turned to the Savior in faith and received strength to bear a burden or accomplish a task that you could not do on your own?

Segment 6 (10 minutes)

Write the following statement of doctrine on the board: As we come to Him in faith, the Savior will strengthen us to bear our burdens and accomplish tasks that we could not do on our own. Refer students to the fourth paragraph of doctrinal topic 3, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document, and ask:

  • Which Book of Mormon doctrinal mastery passage supports this statement of doctrine? (Ether 12:27. Invite students to consider marking this passage in a distinctive way.)

To help students understand the context of this passage, explain that in Ether 12:23–25 the prophet Moroni expressed his concern that his writing and the writings of other Book of Mormon prophets were not as powerful as that of the brother of Jared and that individuals would mock their teachings and testimony.

Invite a student to read Ether 12:27 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for words and phrases that indicate that as we come to Him in faith, the Savior will strengthen us and help us accomplish tasks we cannot do on our own.

  • What words or phrases did you find that indicate that as we come to Him in faith, the Savior will strengthen us and help us accomplish tasks we cannot do on our own? (Students may identify phrases such as “my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me” and “then will I make weak things become strong unto them.”)

  • What is grace? (Invite students to look up the definition of grace in the Bible Dictionary or Guide to the Scriptures for help in answering this question.)

  • What do you think it means that the Savior’s grace is “sufficient”? (He is able to help us endure or overcome any difficulty we may experience.)

  • What are some examples of how the Savior can make weak things become strong unto us?

Point out that although Moroni felt that he and other Book of Mormon prophets had a “weakness in writing” (Ether 12:23), some of Moroni’s writings—including Ether 12:6, Ether 12:27, and Moroni 10:4–5—are among the most frequently cited passages in the Book of Mormon and have helped millions of people draw closer to the Savior and Heavenly Father.

Invite students to ponder ways in which they may need the Savior’s grace to strengthen them so they can bear their burdens and accomplish the tasks they cannot do on their own. Encourage them to come to the Savior in humility and faith so they can receive the help they need.

Segment 7 (5 minutes)

Write the following question on the board: What is our personal responsibility in receiving the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ?

Invite a student to read aloud the fifth paragraph of doctrinal topic 3, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the answer to the question on the board. Invite students to report what they find.

  • Which of the Articles of Faith also help us understand what we must do to receive the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ? (Invite students to consider cross-referencing Articles of Faith 1:3 and 1:4 to this paragraph.)

You may want to invite one or more students to see if they can recite the third and fourth articles of faith from memory.

Point out that as they continue to study doctrinal topic 3, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” they will learn about faith in Jesus Christ and repentance. Baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost will be studied further in doctrinal topic 7, “Ordinances and Covenants.”

Segment 8 (10 minutes)

Invite a student to read the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles aloud:

Oaks, Dallin H.

“The first principle of the gospel is not ‘faith.’ The first principle of the gospel is ‘Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ’ (A of F 1:4). …

“Faith does not exist by itself. … It must be faith in something or someone” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,” Ensign, May 1994, 98).

  • What might people today be tempted to put their faith in instead of Jesus Christ?

Divide students into pairs or small groups and invite them to read in their groups the two paragraphs under the heading “Faith in Jesus Christ” in doctrinal topic 3, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. Invite them to look for and discuss in their groups words or phrases that can help us understand why it is important to exercise faith in Jesus Christ.

  • What words or phrases in these paragraphs can help us understand why it is important to exercise faith in Jesus Christ? (Invite students to consider marking the following statement of doctrine in their copies of the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document: Our faith can lead to salvation only when it is centered in Jesus Christ.)

  • What do you think it means to center our faith in Jesus Christ?

Invite students to scan the same two paragraphs under the heading “Faith in Jesus Christ” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document, this time looking for words or phrases that can help us better understand how to center our faith in Jesus Christ.

  • What words or phrases did you find that can help us better understand how to center our faith in Jesus Christ? (You may want to invite students to explain their answers.)

Segment 9 (5 minutes)

Write the following statement of doctrine on the board: Our faith can lead to salvation only when it is centered in Jesus Christ. Refer students to doctrinal topic 3, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document, and ask:

  • Which doctrinal mastery passage supports this statement of doctrine? (Helaman 5:12. Invite students to consider marking this passage in a distinctive way.)

Invite a student to read Helaman 5:12 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for words or phrases that support the doctrine written on the board.

  • What words or phrases did you find that support the doctrine that our faith can lead to salvation only when it is centered in Jesus Christ?

  • What do you think it means to “build your foundation” on “the rock of our Redeemer”?

  • What do you think the “mighty winds,” the “shafts in the whirlwind,” and the “hail and … mighty storm” in this verse refer to?

  • How have you been blessed as you have sought to build your foundation on the rock of your Redeemer, Jesus Christ?

Segment 10 (5 minutes)

Write on the board the following incomplete statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. (This statement is found in “The Peaceable Things of the Kingdom,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 83.)

“__________ … is among the most hopeful and encouraging—and yes, most peaceful—words in the gospel vocabulary” (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland).

Ask students what word they think should go in the blank. After students respond, fill in the blank with the word Repentance.

  • In what ways can repentance be hopeful, encouraging, and peaceful?

Invite three students to take turns reading aloud the three paragraphs under the heading “Repentance” in doctrinal topic 3, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what is hopeful, encouraging, and peaceful about the doctrine of repentance.

  • Based on what we read, what can be hopeful, encouraging, and peaceful about repentance?

Testify of the peace and blessings that are available to each of us through the Atonement of Jesus Christ as we repent of our sins.

Segment 11 (10 minutes)

Explain that in order to receive the blessings of repentance, we need to understand what repentance is. Invite students to silently read the first paragraph under the heading “Repentance” in doctrinal topic 3, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document, looking for a definition of repentance.

  • Based on what you found, what is repentance? (Invite students to consider marking the following statement of doctrine in their copies of the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document: Repentance is a change of mind and heart. It includes turning away from sin and turning our thoughts, actions, and desires toward God and aligning our will with His.)

  • What are the changes that can occur in our mind and heart as we repent? (We may change the way that we see ourselves, God, and the commandments we have broken. Our hearts can change in the sense that we desire to draw closer to God and to do good.)

Point out that some people may believe that we only need to repent if we commit a major sin—such as breaking the law of chastity. Invite a student to read the following statement from Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles aloud. Ask the class to listen for how often we should repent.

Andersen, Neil L.

“There are many degrees of personal worthiness and righteousness. Yet repentance is a blessing to all of us. We each need to feel the Savior’s arms of mercy through the forgiveness of our sins. …

“Some … may need ‘a mighty change [of] heart’ [Alma 5:12] to confront serious sins. The help of a priesthood leader might be necessary. For most, repenting is quiet and quite private, daily seeking the Lord’s help to make needed changes” (Neil L. Andersen, “Repent … That I May Heal You,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2009, 40–41).

  • Why do you think it is important for us to repent daily by seeking the Lord’s help to make needed changes?

Segment 12 (10 minutes)

Write the following statement of doctrine on the board: Repentance is a change of mind and heart. It includes turning away from sins and turning our thoughts, actions, and desires toward God and aligning our will with His. Refer students to the section titled “Repentance” in doctrinal topic 3, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document, and ask:

  • Which doctrinal mastery passage supports this statement of doctrine? (Mosiah 3:19. Invite students to consider marking this passage in a distinctive way.)

Invite a student to read Mosiah 3:19 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what this verse teaches about turning our thoughts, actions, and desires toward God and aligning our will with His. Explain that the phrase “natural man” refers to a person who is in a lost and fallen condition—separated from God—because he or she “chooses to be influenced by the passions, desires, appetites, and senses of the flesh rather than by the promptings of the Holy Spirit” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Natural Man,” scriptures.lds.org). The word yield means to surrender or submit.

  • What do you think it means to “[yield] to the enticings of the Holy Spirit”? (To follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost to obey the commandments and repent of our sins.)

  • According to Mosiah 3:19, what does yielding to the enticings of the Holy Spirit lead us to do and become?

  • What does this verse teach us about how to align our will with God’s?

You may want to testify of the importance of turning away from sin and turning our thoughts, actions, and desires toward God and aligning our will with His. Invite students to ponder what they can do to align their will with Heavenly Father’s will by yielding to the enticings of the Holy Spirit rather than succumbing to the natural man. Encourage them to act on any promptings they may receive.

Practice Exercises (40–55 minutes)

Help students practice applying the three principles of Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge—act in faith, examine concepts and questions with an eternal perspective, and seek further understanding through divinely appointed sources—as they relate to doctrinal topic 3, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. The following activities can help you accomplish this. These activities can be taught on the same day or on different days, depending on your schedule and students’ needs.

Exercise 1 (20–30 minutes)

Invite students to imagine that they are missionaries and have an investigator who expressed the following concern:

“I believe in God, but I don’t believe in Jesus. Don’t get me wrong—I think that Jesus was a good person who taught everyone to love one another. But I don’t understand why Jesus should have to die for everyone else’s sins.”

  • In what ways might you encourage this investigator to act in faith in order to resolve this concern?

To help students recognize how they could help this investigator examine his or her concern with an eternal perspective, ask:

  • What beliefs or assumptions do you think this investigator might have that would lead him or her to have this particular concern?

On one side of the board, list students’ responses. These might include some of the following:

  • Jesus Christ is not really the divine Son of God.

  • It’s not fair for someone to suffer for someone else. God should treat everyone equally.

  • Humankind is not really fallen or lost.

  • I can pay the price for my own sins.

  • I don’t need the Savior’s help to be washed clean from my sins.

  • The consequences of my sins are not serious enough to prevent me from returning to God’s presence.

Ask students to explain how each of the beliefs they listed could lead the investigator to have his or her current concern about Jesus Christ and His Atonement.

Invite students to consider the accuracy of the beliefs and assumptions on the board in light of what they know about the plan of salvation and the truths they studied in doctrinal topic 3, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document.

  • What are some gospel truths that may relate to the investigator’s question?

List these responses on the other side of the board. They might include some of the following:

  • Because of our personal sins, we are in a lost and fallen condition.

  • We cannot pay the penalty for our own sins and be washed clean and, therefore, cannot return to live forever in God’s presence.

  • Because of His unique character and identity, Jesus Christ was the only one who could pay the penalty for others’ sins.

  • God cannot look upon sin with any degree of allowance.

Invite students to review the Book of Mormon doctrinal mastery scripture passages they have studied in doctrinal topic 3, looking for any that support the truths on the board. (For example, Alma 34:9–10 supports the truth that because of our personal sins, we are in a lost and fallen condition and must perish if not for the Atonement of Jesus Christ.) List students’ responses next to the corresponding truths on the board.

Ask students if they can think of any other scripture passages or statements by Church leaders that can help this investigator examine his or her question from an eternal perspective. Give students time to search their scriptures or mobile devices. Consider adding the passages or teachings that students find to the other scripture passages listed on the board.

Divide students into pairs, and invite them to take turns practicing with their partners ways they could help this investigator understand why we believe that Jesus Christ had to suffer for our sins in order for us to be saved.

After sufficient time, invite a few students to explain to the class how they would help someone with this concern.

Exercise 2 (20–25 minutes)

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After reviewing the principles associated with acquiring spiritual knowledge (act in faith, examine concepts and questions with an eternal perspective, and seek further understanding through divinely appointed sources), give each student a copy of the following handout. Invite a student to read the first paragraph aloud, and then ask students to spend 5–10 minutes thinking about and writing down their answers to the questions.

DOCTRINAL MASTERY BOOK OF MORMON TEACHER MATERIAL:

You’ve been asked to teach a lesson about the Atonement of Jesus Christ in your Sunday School class. One of your friends in the class has confided in you that while he thinks the Atonement of Jesus Christ is great for most people, he’s not sure it can work for him because he keeps committing the same sin over and over and doesn’t think he’ll ever be able to overcome that sin.

  1. As you seek to fulfill your assignment to teach this Sunday School class, how could you encourage your friend to act in faith?

  2. Review the statements of doctrine and the Book of Mormon doctrinal mastery passages we have studied in doctrinal topic 3, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. Which of the statements of doctrine and scripture passages would you use to help your friend examine his concern from an eternal perspective and understand how the Savior’s Atonement can help him?

  3. What other scripture passages or statements from Church leaders about the Atonement of Jesus Christ might help this young man? (You may want to search resources such as the general conference editions of the Ensign or Liahona, the For the Strength of Youth booklet, or other resources available on LDS.org.)

After sufficient time, divide students into groups of three or four and ask them to discuss their answers to the questions on the handout. After they have shared with each other, you might select a few students to share what their group discussed.

Doctrinal Mastery Review

The following activity is designed to help students remember the five Book of Mormon doctrinal mastery passages listed in doctrinal topic 3, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. However, you could adapt this activity to include other doctrinal mastery passages students have learned this school year.

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Give each student a copy of the following matching activity, and ask students to match each key statement of doctrine with the doctrinal mastery passage that best supports that statement. After a sufficient time, review the correct answers: (1) b; (2) d; (3) e; (4) c; (5) a.

DOCTRINAL MASTERY BOOK OF MORMON TEACHER MATERIAL:

Key Statement of Doctrine

Doctrinal Mastery Passage

1. As part of His Atonement, Jesus Christ not only suffered for our sins, but He also took upon Himself the pains, temptations, sicknesses, and infirmities of all mankind.

2. It is only through Jesus Christ that we can be saved because He was the only one capable of making an infinite and eternal Atonement for all mankind.

3. As we come to Him in faith, the Savior will strengthen us to bear our burdens and accomplish tasks that we could not do on our own.

4. Our faith can lead to salvation only when it is centered in Jesus Christ.

5. Repentance is a change of mind and heart. It includes turning away from sin and turning our thoughts, actions, and desires toward God and aligning our will with His.

  1. Mosiah 3:19

  2. Alma 7:11–13

  3. Helaman 5:12

  4. Alma 34:9–10

  5. Ether 12:27