Lesson 7: The Atonement Brings Victory over Death and Hell

Aaronic Priesthood Manual 3, (1995), 23–26


Objective

Each young man will better understand the infinite atonement of Jesus Christ.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Prayerfully study Luke 22:39–44; 2 Nephi 9:4–10; Mosiah 3:7; 14:3–6; Alma 12:12–18; 34:8–14; Helaman 14:15–19; and Doctrine and Covenants 19:16–19.

  2. 2.

    Materials needed:

    1. a.

      Copies of the scriptures (each young man should bring his own).

    2. b.

      Pencils for marking scriptures.

    3. c.

      Picture 3, Jesus the Christ (62572; Gospel Art Picture Kit 240).

  3. 3.

    Be prepared to sing together at an appropriate time in the lesson: “How Great the Wisdom and the Love” (Hymns, no. 195) or “How Great Thou Art” (Hymns, no. 86).

Suggested Lesson Development

The Necessity of an Infinite Atonement

Quotation, picture, and discussion

  • What do you think is the most important teaching of the gospel?

Tell the young men that the Prophet Joseph Smith was frequently asked what the fundamental principles of our religion were. On one occasion he explained, “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1938], p. 121).

Display picture 3, Jesus the Christ.

  • Why is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ the center of our religion? (Without the Atonement and the Resurrection, we would not have a religion. Because of the fall of Adam we would be lost and fallen forever.)

  • What would be the situation of mankind if there had been no resurrection?

Scriptures and discussion

After a brief discussion of these questions, have the young men read 2 Nephi 9:4–10.

  • What two types of death resulted from the fall of Adam? (Death of the body, or physical death; and death of the spirit, or spiritual death [sometimes called hell], which is a separation or banishment from the presence of God.)

  • If there had been no atonement, what would have happened to us all? (The two deaths would have been permanent. Our physical bodies would be “laid down to rot and to crumble to its mother earth, to rise no more” [2 Nephi 9:7]. Our spirits would become subject to the devil, and we would have been shut out of the presence of God forever.)

  • According to verse 7, what is necessary to overcome these two deaths? (There “must needs be an infinite atonement.”)

  • What is an infinite atonement? (An infinite atonement is one that is endless or all-inclusive.)

Have several young men help in reading Alma 34:8–14.

  • Who did Amulek prophesy would redeem mankind from their lost and fallen state? (Jesus Christ, the Son of God.)

  • What is meant by the phrase “great and last sacrifice”?

Help the young men understand that the law of sacrifice started with Adam and continued under the law of Moses. Beasts and birds were sacrificed on special altars by the shedding of their blood. An angel of the Lord told Adam that he and his children were to offer blood sacrifices as “a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father” (Moses 5:7). The law of Moses continued until the time of Jesus Christ, when it was fulfilled or completed. Jesus Christ was the great and last sacrifice, thus ending sacrifice by the shedding of blood.

Use the following questions as necessary to help the young men understand the relationship between sacrifice and the Atonement.

  • Could the sacrifice of a lamb or other animal constitute an infinite atonement? (No.)

  • Would the sacrifice of a person other than Jesus accomplish an infinite atonement? (No.)

  • What kind of sacrifice was necessary to bring about an infinite atonement? (“An infinite and eternal sacrifice” [Alma 34:10]. The word infinite means having no limits or without end.)

  • What does an infinite and eternal sacrifice require? (The sacrifice of a god, of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is “infinite and eternal” [Alma 34:14].)

Adviser presentation

Explain that Infinite and Eternal are other names for Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Lamb of God, whose blood was shed as the great and last sacrifice. Only a God could atone for the sins of all mankind and satisfy the law of justice. Only a God could remain sinless and endure the suffering required by justice to pay the price of the sins of the world.

The Agony of Christ’s Atonement

Adviser presentation

Help the young men understand that even though the Atonement, or great and last sacrifice, was accomplished by a God, the sacrifice was not easy or painless. On the contrary, the infinite atonement of Christ involved greater suffering in body and spirit than any other person has ever experienced or could experience.

The account of the suffering of the Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane helps us to realize what great love the Savior has for his Father and for us.

Scriptures and discussion

Have the young men silently read and mark Luke 22:39–44. Then have a young man read the verses aloud.

Emphasize Jesus’ suffering for us as indicated by the phrase “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood” (Luke 22:44). His agony was so great that he prayed that the cup (his suffering) might be removed from him if there were any other way to accomplish the Atonement. Yet he was willing to do his Father’s will.

To help the young men better understand Jesus’ suffering, read Doctrine and Covenants 19:16–19.

Ask the young men to think about the greatest pain they have ever suffered in body or spirit. Point out that their greatest pain is insignificant when compared to the pain endured by the Savior, which caused him to bleed at every pore.

Have a young man read Mosiah 3:7.

  • Is it possible for a mortal man to suffer the same degree of pain and anguish as the Savior suffered? (No. Such pain and suffering would cause a mortal man to die.)

  • What caused the Savior such great suffering that blood came from every pore? (“His anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people” [Mosiah 3:7]; in other words, the mental and spiritual torment he suffered because he took upon himself the sins of all men and women.)

Christ Suffered for Us

Adviser presentation

Explain that Jesus Christ suffered spiritual punishment for the sins of all mankind. Somehow the punishment for the sins of all mankind was centered in him so that those who repent and come to him need not suffer for their sins. This great and last sacrifice by Jesus demonstrates his love for each of us. The prophet Isaiah beautifully described Jesus’ vicarious suffering for all of us. Isaiah’s words are repeated in the Book of Mormon. Read aloud Mosiah 14:3–6.

  • How do you feel knowing that Jesus suffered for your sins?

Scriptures and discussion

Have the young men read and mark Helaman 14:15–19.

  • What do the Savior’s death and resurrection do for us? (They overcome physical death so that we will be resurrected.)

  • How does the Atonement redeem us? (We can all return to Heavenly Father’s presence, overcoming spiritual death. As all were cut off from the presence of God by Adam’s fall, all who repent of their sins will be restored to the presence of God through Christ’s atonement.)

Have one or more young men read Alma 12:12–18.

  • What happens after we return to the presence of God? (We are judged.)

  • How are we judged? (According to our hearts, words, works, and thoughts.)

  • What will be the state of those who die with hardened, unrepentant hearts? (They will be condemned by their words, works, and thoughts and will want to hide from God but not be able to do so.)

  • Will the wicked accuse the Lord of being unfair? (No, everyone will acknowledge that the judgments of God are just and merciful.)

  • What does it mean to be righteous?

Explain to the young men that the Book of Mormon teaches that to be righteous is to accept Jesus Christ, believe in him, repent, receive the ordinances, endure to the end, and become heirs of the celestial kingdom (see Mosiah 4:5–11). The wicked refuse to accept Christ and his righteousness by refusing to believe in him, repent, receive the ordinances, and endure to the end.

  • Will the wicked remain in the presence of God? (No, they will be cast out of his presence—not for Adam’s transgression but for their own.)

  • What is the state of the wicked after they are cast out of God’s presence? (They will be tormented and suffer even as Jesus suffered. They will be as though there had been no redemption or atonement made, except that they cannot die.)

Explain that the wicked will suffer until they have paid the price for their sins.

  • Who will enjoy the full blessings of the Atonement?

Help the young men understand that those who will enjoy the full blessings of the Atonement will be those who—

  1. 1.

    Do not harden their hearts against the Lord and his truth.

  2. 2.

    Accept the atoning blood of Jesus Christ through their faith and repentance.

  3. 3.

    Devote their thoughts, words, and works to the service and glory of the Lord, who suffered for them.

Conclusion

Activity

To teach this important lesson more effectively, you might want to take another class period to have the young men “chain” the scriptures in this lesson.

Chaining the scriptures involves starting with the first scripture (2 Nephi 9:4–10) and writing the reference for the next scripture (Alma 34:8–14) at the end of the first, so that each scripture reference tells where the next scripture in the chain is found. After verse 14 of Alma 34, for example, the young men would write the reference for the third scripture in the chain, Luke 22:39–44, and so on through all of the scriptures in the order they appear in the lesson.

Challenge

Challenge the young men to have more faith in Jesus Christ and to show the Savior their appreciation for the Atonement by repenting of their sins.