The teaching materials for the learning experience on “The Atonement of Jesus Christ” are divided into three parts. In part 1, students will study paragraphs 3.1 through 3.5 of this doctrinal topic using the information in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. They will identify the truth that the Savior’s sacrifice demonstrates the worth of each of Heavenly Father’s children, and they will learn how Doctrine and Covenants 18:10–11 helps teach this truth. They will also participate in a practice exercise that will help them apply the doctrine they learn from the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document and Doctrine and Covenants 18:10–11.
Note: You could teach the segments of this lesson in a single class session or over the course of several class sessions. If you choose to teach the segments over the course of several class sessions, you may need to briefly review with students what they learned in previous segments before you teach a new segment.
Begin by asking students if they have ever been asked a question about the Atonement of Jesus Christ that they could not answer. Consider inviting students who are willing to do so to share their experience. (Be sensitive to any embarrassment a student may feel about his or her experience.)
Explain that understanding the doctrine found in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document and in the doctrinal mastery passages can help us be better prepared to answer questions about what we believe.
Ask students to turn to doctrinal topic 3, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. Invite students to read paragraphs 3.1 through 3.5 with a partner, looking for truths about the Savior’s Atonement. Invite them to think of a question someone might ask about the Atonement of Jesus Christ that can be answered from what they learn in those paragraphs. Give each pair of students a piece of paper on which to write their question.
When students have had sufficient time, gather up their questions and then read several of them to the class. Invite students to find answers to their questions in those paragraphs in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document.
Why do you think it is important to study and understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ?
Invite students to search paragraph 3.1 in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document, looking for what Jesus Christ’s sacrifice demonstrates about the worth of every person. Students should identify the following key statement of doctrine about the Savior: His sacrifice benefits each of us and demonstrates the infinite worth of each and every one of Heavenly Father’s children. Invite students to consider marking this statement in their copies of the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. Write the statement on the board as students mark it.
How does the Savior’s sacrifice demonstrate the worth of each and every one of Heavenly Father’s children?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for the connection Elder Ballard made between the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the worth of every soul.
“Even though His life was pure and free of sin, [Jesus Christ] paid the ultimate penalty for sin—yours, mine, and everyone who has ever lived. His mental, emotional, and spiritual anguish were so great they caused Him to bleed from every pore (see Luke 22:44; D&C 19:18). And yet Jesus suffered willingly so that we might all have the opportunity to be washed clean—through having faith in Him, repenting of our sins, being baptized by proper priesthood authority, receiving the purifying gift of the Holy Ghost by confirmation, and accepting all other essential ordinances. Without the Atonement of the Lord, none of these blessings would be available to us, and we could not become worthy and prepared to return to dwell in the presence of God. …
“… I believe that if we could truly understand the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, we would realize how precious is one son or daughter of God. …
“… The irony of the Atonement is that it is infinite and eternal, yet it is applied individually, one person at a time. …
Invite students to ponder how contemplating the Atonement of Jesus Christ helps them to better understand the worth of one precious son or daughter of God.
Ask students to search paragraph 3.1 in their copies of the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document and find which doctrinal mastery passage from the Doctrine and Covenants helps teach the key statement of doctrine on the board: His sacrifice benefits each of us and demonstrates the infinite worth of each and every one of Heavenly Father’s children. After students respond, invite them to turn to Doctrine and Covenants 18:10–11. Invite them to consider marking this passage in a distinctive way in their scriptures so that they will be able to locate it easily.
To help students understand the context of this passage, explain that the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 18 contains information concerning the organization of the restored Church of Jesus Christ, including instructions to Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer about preaching the gospel and searching out the future members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 18:10–11 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for words or phrases that help teach the key statement of doctrine written on the board.
What words or phrases did you find in Doctrine and Covenants 18:10–11 that help teach the key statement of doctrine?
According to verse 11, why did the Savior suffer and die for all mankind?
How has knowing that Jesus Christ suffered and died for you helped you realize your worth in the sight of God? (You may also want to share your own feelings about this.)
Testify that each of us are of great worth in the sight of God and that the Savior’s sacrifice for us is evidence of that truth.
Review with students the three principles from the “Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge” section of the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document: act in faith, examine concepts and questions with an eternal perspective, and seek further understanding through divinely appointed sources.
Note: You may want to adapt the following scenario according to your students’ experiences and needs.
Organize students into groups of three or four. Provide each group with a copy of the accompanying handout. Ask each group to discuss the scenario and the accompanying questions.
After students have had time to discuss the questions on the handout, invite each group to role-play the scenario. Ask each group to choose someone to act as the friend who has begun to doubt God’s love. Invite one or more students from each group to use what their group discussed as they role-play what they might say to their friend. Encourage them to use Doctrine and Covenants 18:10–11 as part of the activity. If time permits, encourage students to switch roles and practice again. After sufficient time, you may want to ask them to talk about anything that they felt went well or anything that made their conversations difficult.
Note: The following review activity is not intended to be taught during the same class session as this lesson—“The Atonement of Jesus Christ, Part 1.” Please present this activity during a seminary class session that takes place after you have taught this lesson but before you teach “The Atonement of Jesus Christ, Part 2.” This short review can be taught at the beginning or end of a class in which you teach a regular sequential scripture lesson from the Doctrine and Covenants. Be sure that this review takes no longer than five minutes, so as not to take away from the scripture block students will be studying in class.
Before class begins, write the following key statement of doctrine about the Atonement of Jesus Christ on the board: His sacrifice benefits each of us and demonstrates the infinite worth of each and every one of Heavenly Father’s children.
Ask students to find the doctrinal mastery passage in the Doctrine and Covenants that teaches this doctrine. Once students have located Doctrine and Covenants 18:10–11, invite the class to read this passage aloud together. Ask students to explain how this passage helps teach the key statement of doctrine on the board.