The Atonement of Jesus Christ

Doctrinal Mastery New Testament Teacher Material, 2016


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 (65 minutes)

Segment 1 (10 minutes)

Write the following statement on the board: Because of His Atonement, Jesus Christ can do more for us than forgive our sins.

Invite students to name additional blessings beyond forgiveness from our sins that we can receive because of the Savior’s Atonement. List students’ responses on the board.

Ask students to turn to doctrinal topic 3, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. Invite several students to take turns reading the first five paragraphs aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the blessings we can receive because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Invite students to report what they discovered, and add any additional blessings not previously mentioned to the list on the board.

Direct students’ attention to the fourth paragraph, and invite them to highlight the following truth: 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.

  • What types of burdens and challenges might we face in mortality that are not a result of our sins?

Invite students to ponder challenges they are facing. Encourage them to consider, as they continue to study about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, how they can receive strength from the Savior to help them with their challenges.

Segment 2 (5 minutes)

Divide students into pairs, and invite them to read together and mark the doctrinal mastery passage Matthew 11:28–30. Ask them to discuss the following questions:

  • How does this passage illustrate the doctrinal statement we identified earlier: 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?

  • What does this passage teach about our responsibility?

  • What does it teach about what the Savior will do for us as we come unto Him?

Segment 3 (5 minutes)

Display or provide copies of the following statements by Elders David A. Bednar and Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Explain that both of these Apostles’ statements help us further understand the doctrinal mastery topic of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and specifically the doctrine that 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. Invite two students to each read one of the statements aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for insights into how the Savior can strengthen us to bear our burdens.

Elder David A. Bednar

“There is no physical pain, no spiritual wound, no anguish of soul or heartache, no infirmity or weakness you or I ever confront in mortality that the Savior did not experience first. In a moment of weakness we may cry out, ‘No one knows what it is like. No one understands.’ But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He has felt and borne our individual burdens. And because of His infinite and eternal sacrifice (see Alma 34:14), He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy. He can reach out, touch, succor, heal, and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do relying only upon our own power” (David A. Bednar, “Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 90).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

“The Atonement also gives us the strength to endure ‘pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind,’ because our Savior also took upon Him ‘the pains and the sicknesses of his people’ (Alma 7:11). Brothers and sisters, if your faith and prayers and the power of the priesthood do not heal you from an affliction, the power of the Atonement will surely give you the strength to bear the burden” (Dallin H. Oaks, “He Heals the Heavy Laden,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006, 9).

Invite several students to share a phrase or insight that stood out to them and how it adds to their understanding of the blessings available to us through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

  • How have you or someone you know been blessed with this kind of help and strength from the Savior?

You may want to conclude by sharing your testimony of the Savior’s power to strengthen us as we come to Him in faith.

Segment 4 (5 minutes)

Begin by explaining that many people in the world today, including Christians, do not understand that Jesus Christ has a resurrected body of flesh and bones. Invite students to consider why it matters whether or not Jesus Christ was resurrected with an immortal physical body.

Invite a student to read Luke 24:36–39 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what it teaches about Jesus Christ’s resurrected body. Tell them that Luke 24:36–39 is a doctrinal mastery passage, and encourage them to mark or note it in a distinctive way that will help them locate it.

  • According to this passage, what did the Savior do to witness to His disciples that He had risen from the dead with a glorified physical body?

Invite students to consider writing the doctrine Jesus Christ rose from the tomb with a glorified, immortal body of flesh and bone in their scriptures near Luke 24:36–39.

Segment 5 (5 minutes)

Write the following doctrinal statement and questions on the board:

Jesus Christ rose from the tomb with a glorified, immortal body of flesh and bone.

  1. 1.

    Why was Jesus Christ able to be the first to be resurrected?

  2. 2.

    How does Jesus Christ’s resurrection with a glorified, immortal body of flesh and bone affect all mankind?

Ask students to turn to doctrinal topic 3, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. Divide the class in half, and assign one half to silently read the second paragraph, looking for answers to the first question on the board. Assign the other half to silently read the third paragraph and look for answers to the second question on the board.

After sufficient time, invite those who studied the first question to report their insights. Then invite those who studied the second question to report what they learned.

Segment 6 (5 minutes)

To help students deepen their understanding of the doctrine that Jesus Christ rose from the tomb with a glorified, immortal body of flesh and bone, display or provide copies of the following statement by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency. Invite a student to read it aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what President Uchtdorf said about how the ancient Apostles were affected when they witnessed the resurrected Jesus Christ.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

“In the hours following His Crucifixion, [the Savior’s Apostles] were consumed with despair and grief, unable to understand what had just happened. But one event changed all of that. Their Lord appeared to them and declared, ‘Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself’ [Luke 24:39].

“When the Apostles recognized the risen Christ—when they experienced the glorious Resurrection of their beloved Savior—they became different men. Nothing could keep them from fulfilling their mission. … They changed the lives of people everywhere. They changed the world” (“Grateful in Any Circumstances,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 76).

  • How were the Apostles affected by their witness of the resurrected Jesus Christ?

  • In what ways can your testimony that Jesus Christ was resurrected with a glorified, immortal body of flesh and bones influence your life in similar ways?

Segment 7 (10 minutes)

Write the following truth on the board: In paying the penalty for our sins, Jesus Christ did not eliminate our personal responsibility. Ask students to explain what this means in their own words.

Invite students to turn to doctrinal topic 3, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document and silently read the fifth paragraph, which begins with the sentence on the board. Encourage students to look for important insights into what we must do to access the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

  • What is our personal responsibility in order to receive the full blessings of the Savior’s Atonement? (We must exercise faith in Him, repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure faithfully to the end of our lives.)

Explain that in doctrinal topic 3, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” the sections “Faith in Jesus Christ,” and “Repentance” help us better understand what we must do in order to receive the blessings available because of Jesus Christ’s Atonement. Invite one student to read aloud the section “Faith in Jesus Christ” and a second student to read aloud the section “Repentance.” Ask the class to follow along and to note insights that are important to them about what we must do to accept the Savior’s sacrifice. (Note: You may want to explain that the ordinances of baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and honoring covenants are discussed in doctrinal topic 7, “Ordinances and Covenants.”)

After reading through the sections on faith in Jesus Christ and repentance, invite students to share statements of doctrine and insights that are important to them.

Segment 8 (5 minutes)

Write the following incomplete statement on the board: True faith in Jesus Christ leads to …

Invite a student to read aloud the section “Faith in Jesus Christ” in doctrinal topic 3, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ” in the Doctrinal Mastery Core Document. Ask students to follow along, looking for how they might complete the statement on the board.

  • How would you complete the statement on the board? (After students respond, complete the statement on the board so that it conveys the following doctrine: True faith in Jesus Christ leads to action and is expressed by the way we live.)

  • Why does true faith have to be centered in the Lord Jesus Christ?

  • What are examples in the scriptures of how true faith in Jesus Christ led someone to righteous action?

Segment 9 (5 minutes)

Write James 2:17–18 on the board. Explain that this is a doctrinal mastery passage, and invite students to locate it in their scriptures, read it silently, and mark it in a distinctive way. You may also want to invite students to write the following statement of doctrine in their scriptures near these verses: True faith in Jesus Christ leads to action and is expressed by the way we live.

Segment 10 (10 minutes)

Divide the class into groups of 3–4 students. Invite each group to read James 2:17–18 aloud together and be prepared to share with the class their answers to the following questions. (You may want to display the questions or prepare a handout for each of your students.) Before the students begin reading, it may be helpful to explain to the class that the word works in these verses refers to righteous actions.

  • Why do you think that faith without works (or righteous actions) is “dead”?

  • What are examples of actions that should accompany true faith in Jesus Christ?

  • How could you teach this relationship between faith and righteous action to a five-year-old primary child so that he or she could understand it?

After sufficient time, ask one or two groups to share their responses to the first question and one or two other groups to share their insights into the second question. Then invite at least one group to teach the relationship between between faith and action as they would to a young child.

Following the class discussion, you may want to share your testimony of the power of exercising faith in the Savior through our righteous actions.

Practice Exercise (20 minutes)

Read the following situation to the students:

A Latter-day Saint young woman begins to make choices and act in ways that are contrary to some of the standards of the Church, including the law of chastity. She justifies her actions by saying that no one is perfect and that she still goes to Church and seminary and continues to have faith in Jesus Christ.

handout iconDisplay the following questions on the board or provide them in a handout and invite students to discuss them in small groups:

Act in faith:

  • If this young woman were your friend, what would you encourage her to do to exercise her faith in Jesus Christ and His gospel?

Examine concerns and questions with an eternal perspective:

  • What truths related to the plan of salvation and faith in Jesus Christ could help this young woman better evaluate her choices and actions?

Seek further understanding through divinely appointed sources:

  • What scriptures or prophetic teachings could you share to help this young woman understand what it means to show her faith in Jesus Christ by her works?

Testify of the doctrine that true faith in Jesus Christ leads to action and is expressed by the way we live.

Doctrinal Mastery Review

Students’ understanding of doctrinal mastery passages can increase when they create their own clues about the passages. These clues could include questions, key words, scenarios, or applications. Invite students to work together, as a class or in small groups, to write clues that point to specific doctrinal mastery passages. (You may want to select a group of passages that you would like students to learn or review.) Then invite students to take turns reading their clues to you and the rest of the class. One point is awarded to whoever guesses a doctrinal mastery passage correctly—you or the class.