The Meaning of the Atonement
That's the law. The law says that no person can suffer for the sins of another person. That's the law! That's what all of those little intelligences are saying. Now you just stop and think why that is so. If I commit an offense, a very serious offense, can you die for it and satisfy this audience, do you think you could? Even though we love each other and you say to everybody, "No, don't let Brother Skousen be killed, I'll die for Brother Skousen." You think they're going to be happy about that? No! It'll violate your sense of justice and it does to all of those little intelligences and Alma 34:11 says that no person can die or be punished for the sins of other people and have it be accepted as justice! "The demands of justice," that's what those little intelligences are. There is an offense here. "They cannot come back, Father." Everybody see the problem?
Now the genius of the solution: The Gods know that these little intelligences have a capacity for compassion. They are just like you and me—intelligences have a capacity for compassion. Therefore, the atonement is based not on law, but on mercy.
That's Alma 34:15. In other words, we're going to try and get to these little intelligences in some way so that we can over come the demands of justice, with what? SYMPATHY! MERCY! So that we'll actually overcome the demands of justice.
The families of the Gods—they must have worked this out eons ago with other families so that this is a pattern. Remember when they were selecting a Savior? Jesus volunteered!
Satan said, "You know, Father, this is very old-fashioned. This just isn't necessary. You can satisfy the intelligences of the Universe. Just put your children in strait jackets and get them through the second estate, and it's a great ideal. I thought I'd really like credit for it because I'm offering the whole family no-risk insurance. All I'm asking you to do is to give up the hang-up that the family has on this 'free-agency' thing. It s only for this little bit of time, we'll put them in a strait jacket, get them through the second estate; nobody can object to them then! We've taken them down, they've got bodies, we've prevented them from violating any laws and bring them back. It's that simple!"
"No," the Father said, "it isn't that simple," apparently implying that if you introduce compulsion into our eternal plan of salvation, or into the cosmic universe, you put coercion there anywhere, you've sown the seeds of what? REVOLUTION! Revolution, disintegration; everything that is out there is moving as it is willing to move. You don't get revolution that way.
Satan says, "I'll start a revolution," and he got it. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if the real followers of the Father there for a while were a minority. We had a big uncommitted, in-the-middle majority.
Jesus said, "Father, I'll do it your way. I'll do it the way we've always had to do it. We have to have casualties, true, but at least we maintain a voluntary participation that we've always had in the past. Anal I know somebody has to suffer in order to have that atonement and create that sense of compassion, so I'll do it.
So we had a big argument, and the revelation says that the war in heaven was a testimony meeting, as we said to one another, "The Father's way is the right way. You don't want to introduce compulsion. If you start using compulsion, who says where it can end. Lucifer is trying to steal the throne of our Heavenly Father and he wants the glory for it. There is nothing in that direction but rebellion and destruction.
We finally got two-thirds on our side. I won't be surprised if, when you see this in the vision, that we only had a minority to begin with, but we finally got two-thirds and this other one-third went for no-risk insurance. They wouldn't take a chance with us.
Alright now, how does this atonement work? Watch how the principle functions. Now you're an intelligence, and you are capable of being subjected to so much sympathy and compassion, you stop asking for every pound of flesh that the law permits. Have you ever noticed that in yourself? IT WORKS! First the principle: They must have a person who is infinite, as it says in Alma 34; it must be one who is infinitely loved. Infinite means completely—everybody recognizes him.
So we take a spirit who is so superior he's the first counselor of the first presidency of Heaven. He is so honored that when the Father wants something done, He speaks to this person, and then He tells all the intelligences what to do and he's identified as THE WORD. He's the one through whom the word passes. He's loved and respected by all just like the Father.
So we use Him—He is infinitely loved—and we have Him come down into the second estate and live a perfect life without offense so that he can return to the Father, and incidental thereto, while laboring among the human family, we have Him suffer so terribly that the little intelligences of the entire universe are revolted! It's horrible, the suffering that he went through! They loved Him! And it says in the Book of Mormon, even the elements of the earth northward was different than it was before. The very elements were crying out against this terrible torture of someone that they loved.
And all this was by design. That was the mission of Jesus Christ, You must suffer so much that these little intelligences, when you come and plead on behalf of someone that did the best that he could, which is called repentance, they'll say, "Well, they really shouldn't go back, but if you want them, after all you went through for them, yes, they can come up." That's the Atonement.
Listen to Alma 34:15, as we hear the Prophets, who used to understand and preach this doctrine extensively, which we've kind of stopped preaching among ourselves. Listen to this statement:
"And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on His name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy...."
Whose mercy? The Father already has mercy towards us, This is His plan. We don't have to create that in Him. We have to create it in those that are demanding justice.
"Father, they have sinned and come short of the glory of God."
That is where you must arouse the bowels of mercy, which overpowers justice, meaning the demands of justice, and brings about the means of an end that they may have faith unto repentance, and thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice and encircles them in the arms of safety.
While he that exercises not faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice. Therefore, only him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption.
Now let me turn to D&C 45:3,5, and you listen to the Saviour telling its about it;
"Listen to Him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him..."
"...spare these my brethren that believe on my name...."
You see how he did that? — "spare these my brethren that believe on my name" — he didn't plead for those that don't believe. He can't! He isn't allowed to! It would rob justice.
"Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life."
And the Father can do it without ceasing to be God. Because of what? Mercy. Let me give you an example of how that works:
During the Civil War, there was a nineteen-year-old soldier who went to sleep on guard duty. A whole section of the Union Army was wiped out in that particular sector. He lost many of his very best friends, all because he went to sleep and they were able to make a surprise attack on one flank of that particular defense effort. He survived the battle, was court marshaled and sentenced to be hanged for neglect of duty in going to sleep while serving as a guard, which is routine military law.
The death sentence and order of execution was placed on the desk of President Lincoln and he was prepared to sign it. We'd lost a lot of valuable men because a nineteen-year-old soldier went to sleep.
(I don't remember whether it was by letter or personal visit, but it's not too significant." President Lincoln was communicated with by an old woman — (I think she came in person) — and this little mother said to President Lincoln, "When this war started, I had a husband and six sons. First I lost my husband, then I lost my sons—five of them. I just have one son left, and he's about to be executed for neglect of duty. He feels terrible about what he did and he knows he deserves to die—he's expecting to die, President Lincoln. But I'm wondering, if maybe, because you have pardoning power in the Constitution, if you could find it in your heart to let me have the last of my family, for my sake."
President Lincoln said to the mother, "For your sake, I pardon your son. I pray to God he'll survive the war and be a blessing to you all the days of your life."
See how compassion works? It completely overcomes the demands of justice and nobody criticized President Lincoln for using his pardoning power in that case once they found out what the plea of that little mother had been. Now that's the way all of us are.
I might just pause at this moment to ask you the question, what do you think an intelligence is? What is an intelligence? Well, we know not. it's a wonderful, self-knowing, eternal little entity that says, "I am." You can see Cleon Skousen up here, he's lost his hair in quiet dignity. What you are really looking at is something that I'm expecting to, well, lay aside one of these days.
...you back slide. You work with him if you have to forgive him seventy times seven, as long as he's trying, keep in there, push him. He might make it eventually. Maybe you've got an Alma the younger in the making, who knows.
Toward the evening they went to the Last Supper. They partook of the Passover lamb and he looked out at the twelve apostles and said, "One of you will betray me."
Peter said to. John, "You're closest, ask Him who."
And John the Beloved said, "Master, who?"
The Savior whispered, "Him to whom I give the sop."
He picked up a piece of bread, dipped it in the gravy, handed it to Judas Iscariot and said, "Judas, whatsoever thou doest, do thou quickly."
Judas got up and went out.
I wonder if he suspected that maybe Jesus suspected. We don't know. In fact, we don't think so. He'd already received the thirty pieces of silver. He'd already agreed to betray the Christ.
And he went out to see the Elders of the city (Judas).
Now it says that Jesus became very depressed. And then he rose up and gave that beautiful High Priest's prayer found in John chapter seventeen, where he pleads with the Father to "bless these that they may be one as thou Father, art in me and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us."
And he says, "Bless those who shall believe on their words, who have not seen, that they also may be one; that we all may be one. I pray not for the world but for those that thou hast given me out of the world, that they may be one.
And in the greatest suffering and anguish He pleaded with that prayer. Then he said, "Let us be gone. I need to pray."