How Is the Word “Atonement” Used in the Book of Mormon?

Some version of the word “atone” or “atonement” appears 39 times in the Book of Mormon in 26 different passages. Here are some key phrases from some of those passages:

  1. “Prepared from the foundation of the world” – Part of Heavenly Father’s plan, before the earth was created, was that Christ would come to earth, suffer for our sins, die, and be resurrected in order to make our exaltation possible (Mosiah 4:6-7, Alma 13:5).
  2. “To answer the ends of the atonement” – What are the “ends” (the purposes) of the atonement? They are the opposite of the “ends” of the law. The purpose of the law is to ensure that bad behavior is punished. The purpose of the atonement is to help us find happiness (2 Nephi 2:10).
  3. “An infinite atonement” – Jacob taught that the atonement would not have been effective if it hadn’t been infinite (2 Nephi 9:7). Amulek explained why: None of us can pay for another person’s sins. If a man is convicted of a crime, he must endure the punishment. His friends can’t do it on his behalf. No one else can do it for him. But an infinite Being—the Son of God—can atone for our sins (Alma 34:8-12).
  4. “To appease the demands of justice” – We all want fairness, truth, and integrity. And we all need mercy, forgiveness, and compassion. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland asked, “Don’t we all implore that grace will compensate for our weaknesses, that mercy will triumph over justice at least in our case?” (“Are We Not All Beggars?” General Conference, October 2014). As Alma taught his son Corianton, Jesus Christ’s atonement makes that possible. It “[brings] about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also” (Alma 42:15).
  5. “The power of the atonement” – Jacob hoped for his listeners to be raised “from death by the power of the resurrection, and also from everlasting death by the power of the atonement” (2 Nephi 10:25). The atonement gives us power to overcome every obstacle we face, including physical and spiritual death.
  6. “Ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ” – An understanding of the Savior’s sacrifice on our behalf gives us hope that we can overcome our sins and weaknesses, that He will help us overcome the challenges we face, and ultimately that we can overcome physical and spiritual death and “be raised unto life eternal” (Moroni 7:41).

Today, I am grateful for the Savior’s atonement. I’m grateful that it was always part of the plan, and that its purpose is our happiness. I’m grateful that it satisfies the demands of justice while providing us with mercy. I’m grateful that the Savior, through His atonement, gives us power to overcome all obstacles, including death. I’m grateful that through His atonement, He gives us hope.

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