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Atonement of Christ

The Atonement of Jesus ChristYour purpose as a missionary is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them accept the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement. If missionaries are to help other people take advantage of the Atonement of Christ, they first need to understand it themselves.

What is the Atonement of Jesus Christ?

I like this definition of the Atonement which is found in the Come Follow Me youth curriculum: “The Atonement is the sacrifice Jesus Christ made to help us overcome sin, adversity, and death. Jesus’s atoning sacrifice took place in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross at Calvary. He paid the price for our sins, took upon Himself death, and was resurrected. The Atonement is the supreme expression of the love of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.”

To atone means for one person to suffer the penalty of sin for another person, thereby removing the effects of sin from the repentant sinner. The Atonement allows men and women to be reconciled to God, and only Jesus Christ was capable of carrying out the Atonement. Because of Christ’s Atonement, all people will be resurrected and live forever, and those who obey His gospel will receive the greatest of all gifts, eternal life with God.

The Guide to the Scriptures entry on Atonement adds that Jesus’ Atonement was not complete until he was resurrected from the grave. “His atonement included his suffering for the sins of mankind in the Garden of Gethsemane, the shedding of his blood, and his death and subsequent resurrection from the grave (Isa. 53:3–12; Mosiah 3:5–11; Alma 7:10–13).”

The Atonement: the least understood of all our revealed truths

The Atonement is the most important event in the history of mankind, yet perhaps also the most difficult to comprehend. True understanding of the Atonement will only come after much study, meditation, and prayer. Elder Bruce R. McConkie said:

“The atonement of Christ is the most basic and fundamental doctrine of the gospel, and it is the least understood of all our revealed truths. Many of us have a superficial knowledge and rely upon the Lord and his goodness to see us through the trials and perils of life. But if we are to have faith like Enoch and Elijah we must believe what they believed, know what they knew, and live as they lived. May I invite you to join with me in gaining a sound and sure knowledge of the Atonement” (The Purifying Power of Gethsemane).

The Infinite Atonement

One of the reasons why the Atonement is difficult to be understood is that we are motal beings with finite thinking, yet the Atonment is infinite. Amulek, the missionary companion of the prophet Alma in the Book of Mormon, said: “there can be nothing which is short of an infinite atonement which will suffice for the sins of the world.” (Alma 34:12) The prophet Jacob, the brother of Nephi, in the Book of Mormon also spoke of the infinite atonement:

“For as death hath passed upon all men, to fulfil the merciful plan of the great Creator, there must needs be a power of resurrection, and the resurrection must needs come unto man by reason of the fall; and the fall came by reason of transgression; and because man became fallen they were cut off from the presence of the Lord. Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement—save it should be an infinite atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption.” (2 Nephi 9:6-7)

What is the Gospel? The Good News of the Atonement

The full-time missionary guide is called Preach My Gospel which begs the question, what is the gospel of Jesus Christ? The LDS Bible Dictionary says that the word “gospel” means good news and the good news, specifically, is “that Jesus Christ has made a perfect atonement.”

3 Nephi 27: 13-14 gives a similar definition of the gospel: “And this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me. And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father.”

The good news of the gospel is that Jesus Christ died for us and atoned for our sins and has made it possible that we can repent and return to live with our Father in Heaven.

How the Atonement relates to missionary work

Atonement and Missionary Work Quotes from Hunter and NelsonElder Russell M. Nelson explained the relationship between understanding the Atonement and having a desire to serve a mission. “That is why we have missionaries; that is why we have temples—to bring the fullest blessings of the Atonement to faithful children of God. That is why we respond to our own calls from the Lord. When we comprehend His voluntary Atonement, any sense of sacrifice on our part becomes completely overshadowed by a profound sense of gratitude for the privilege of serving Him.” (The Atonement, Oct. 1996)

As your understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ grows, your desire to share the gospel will increase. You will feel, as Lehi did, the “great . . . importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth” (2 Nephi 2:8). Here are some examples of the natural desire to do missionary work growing as people come to understand the significance and blessings of the Atonement.

  • The Sons of Mosiah:  They desired to “go up to the land of Nephi that they might preach the things which they had heard, and that they might impart the word of God to their brethren, the Lamanites—That perhaps they might bring them to the knowledge of the Lord their God,…that they might also be brought to rejoice in the Lord their God, …Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish.” (Mosiah 28: 1-3)
  • Lehi in his vision of the Tree of Life: “And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen. And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also.” (1 Nephi 8:11-12)
  • President Howard W. Hunter: “What does the Atonement have to do with missionary work? Any time we experience the blessings of the Atonement in our lives, we cannot help but have a concern for the welfare of others. . . . A great indicator of one’s personal conversion is the desire to share the gospel with others.” (“The Atonement and Missionary Work,” seminar for new mission presidents, 21 June 1994)

Greater love hath no man

Heavenly Father and Jesus showed their love for all of mankind through the mission and atonement of Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Charity is defined in the scriptures as the pure love of Christ. How was that loved manifested? The pure love of Christ is seen through the Savior’s willingness to pay the ultimate price and to make a selfless sacrifice to fulfill the Atonement.

I testify that the Christ lived on this earth and performed the great atoning sacrifice. I know that through faith in him and by following his ways, we can be cleansed of our sins. This is the greatest miracle of all of God’s miracles. That through faith, repentance, baptism, and the other ordinances and covenants of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, we can be made whole, worthy, and able to return to our Heavenly father’s presence and partake of the greatest gifts, exaltation and eternal life. I pray that all the young people reading this will study and pray and gain a testimony of the Atonement of Christ, and then show your love  and gratitude for the Lord by being a missionary and bringing souls unto Him.

The “Why” of Keeping the Law of Chastity

Summary: Understanding why keeping the law of chastity is important will help young people see the divine purpose behind this commandment and inspire them to live it.

In the April 2012 General Conference, in a talk called The Why of Priesthood Service, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said “Understanding the why of the gospel and the why of the priesthood will help us to see the divine purpose of all of this. It will give us motivation and strength to do the right things, even when they are hard… [The what] teaches us what to do. The why inspires our souls. The what informs, but the why transforms.”

Keeping the Law of Chastity

Why is the law of chastity so important?

In his April 2013 General Conference talk titled, We Believe in Being Chaste, Elder David A. Bednar posed the question: “Why is the law of chastity so important?” His answer had several components:

  • It is part of Heavenly Father’s Plan of Happiness. “The eternal importance of chastity can only be understood within the overarching context of our Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness for His children…The Father’s plan enables His spirit sons and daughters to obtain physical bodies, to gain mortal experience, and to progress toward exaltation.”
  • Physical limitations prepare us for eternity. “Our relationships with other people, our capacity to recognize and act in accordance with truth, and our ability to obey the principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ are amplified through our physical bodies…Simply stated, there are lessons we must learn and experiences we must have, as the scriptures describe, “according to the flesh” (1 Nephi 19:6Alma 7:12–13).
  • The power of procreation is divine. “Marriage between a man and a woman is the authorized channel through which premortal spirits enter mortality. Complete sexual abstinence before marriage and total fidelity within marriage protect the sanctity of this sacred channel…Specific guidelines for the proper use of the ability to create life are vital elements in the Father’s plan. How we feel about and use that supernal power will determine in large measure our happiness in mortality and our destiny in eternity.”
  • We are on earth to be tested. “The precise nature of the test of mortality, then, can be summarized in the following question: Will I respond to the inclinations of the natural man, or will I yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit and put off the natural man and become a saint through the Atonement of Christ the Lord (see Mosiah 3:19)? That is the test. Every appetite, desire, propensity, and impulse of the natural man may be overcome by and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”
  • Being chaste brings blessings. “Alma counseled his son Shiblon to “bridle all [of his] passions, that [he] may be filled with love” (Alma 38:12). Significantly, disciplining the natural man in each of us makes possible a richer, a deeper, and a more enduring love of God and of His children. Love increases through righteous restraint and decreases through impulsive indulgence…Obedience to the law of chastity will increase our happiness in mortality and make possible our progress in eternity…Chastity and virtue are now, always have been, and always will be “most dear and precious above all things” (Moroni 9:9).

Discussing “the why” of keeping the law of chastity is a topic Elder Bednar has also spoke about in years past. In his June 1998 Education Week talk titled Teach Them to UnderstandElder Bednar spoke about the importance of understanding “the why” of gospel commandments.

“In the times in which we live, only the restored gospel of Jesus Christ has the answers to the why questions that matter the most…It concerns me as I see young people in our Church who know all the correct things they should do and do not have a clue as to why. They have a check-list mentality. “Say my prayers morning and night. Read the scriptures.” Why do they do these things? “Because I am supposed to. Because the prophet said. Because my mom and dad will jump my case if I don’t.” …[But] do we understand why? If we do not understand the why, then the power available to us through the doctrine of Christ will not be evident in our lives.”

“This is particularly true with young people pertaining to the law of chastity. They know they shouldn’t, but do they know why they shouldn’t?…I do not know a young person who truly understands the doctrine related to “the seed of Abraham” who would violate the law of chastity. We were foreordained in the premortal existence to the blessings associated with birth through a particular lineage, even the chosen lineage of Abraham–not because we are better, not because we are more special, but because we have particular responsibilities that we covenanted we would fulfill. Therefore we came to the earth through a lineage with the birthright blessing of the priesthood. Every man who holds the priesthood was foreordained to that very responsibility in the premortal existence. Does a young man who understands that doctrine have a choice to go on a mission? He made that choice before he was ever born.”

“…As I have opportunities to visit with young people, I like to talk about what it means to be the “seed of Abraham.” Hoping that the Spirit of the Lord will touch their hearts, I highlight the story of Jacob and Esau. Esau gave up his birthright blessing for a bowl of red bean soup. Now a question directed to the young people: Would you really want to forfeit your birthright as the seed of Abraham–foreordained in the premortal existence, living on the earth at this particular time to bless the families of the earth, the most glorious spiritually destiny you could ever hope for? Do you really want to give up those blessings and opportunities for a few minutes of messing around? If we understand the doctrine of who we are and why we are here, then that understanding changes the way we do things.”

I pray that all future missionaries will study, ponder, and prayer about why this commandment is so important and the ways in which keeping the law of chastity will bless their lives. Understanding these things will give them added strength in fighting the many temptations that bombard our youth today.

The Worth of Souls is Great

missionaries teaching in the streetA couple of months ago, I conducted a survey asking reasons why some young men don’t serve a mission. One of the top responses was that other priorities (like college, sports, work, girlfriends, etc.) keep young men from serving missions. So lately I have been thinking a lot about how to motivate young men, and help them see that there is no greater priority than bringing souls unto Christ through full-time missionary service.

Recently, I read a talk by Elder H. Bryan Richards from the October 1998 General Conference in which he addressed this very topic. This is what he said:

“The doctrine that will change the behavior of our young men regarding missions is understanding the worth of a single soul. Jesus Christ paid the supreme sacrifice in providing the infinite Atonement, which provides the only way for us to return and live with our Heavenly Father. When parents, bishops, and our young men understand this true doctrine, our young men will be prepared and have a desire to serve” (from “As for Me and My House, We Will Serve the Lord”).

What is the worth of a soul?

In section 18 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord admonishes us to “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;… And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!” (D&C 18: 10, 15-16)

As Elder Richards indicated, the Savior loves all of us and understands our eternal value as children of God. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Because of the Savior’s great love for us, He drank the bitter cup, suffered for our sins, and died on the cross. He “suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent” (D&C 19:16). When young men truly understand that doctrine, they will have the desire to share that message with the world, go wherever the Lord would have them to go, and bring souls unto Christ.

True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior.

Perhaps the best way to motivate young men to serve a mission is to help them understand these and other gospel doctrines. Elder Boyd K. Packer said, “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior” (Ensign, Nov. 1986, 17).

Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God and the second greatest is like unto it, to love your neighbors (see Matthew 22: 36-39). What greater motivation can a young man have to serve a mission than sincere love of God and love of neighbors. What Christ suffered on our behalf helps us understand our worth and how much He loves us. When young men realize the value of a soul, and gain that love for their fellow beings around the world, they will be willing to sacrifice. They, like the Savior, will say “not my will, but thine, be done,” (Luke 22:42), and they will put a full-time mission on the top of their priority list.

I Love Loud Boys

Here is a video excerpt from another good talk from October 2009 General Conference on the subject missionary preparation.  This one is from Elder Yoon Hwan Choi of the Seventy and his talk is called I Love Loud Boys.  Elder Choi has a thick accent and can be difficult to understand at times, but his message is very relevant to young men and their leaders, so please read along with the transcript of the talk below if necessary.

“I would like to tell you about a group of loud young men who came into my life when I was a young bishop in Seoul, Korea, many years ago. These were boys who lived in the neighborhood. Only one or two of them were members of the Church at the time. The boys who were members were the only members in their family. They were all friends, and they came to the church to play and to be together. They liked to play Ping-Pong during the weekdays, and they liked to have fun activities on Saturdays. Most of them were not good students in school and were considered by many to be troublemakers.

“I was a young father of two sons, who were seven and nine years old at the time. I did not know what I could do for these young men. They were so rowdy that once my wife, Bon-Kyoung, asked me if we could move to another ward so that our sons could see good examples from other young men. I pondered and prayed to Heavenly Father to help me to find the way to help these young men. Finally I made the decision to try and teach them how they could change their lives.

“A vision came upon my mind very clearly. I felt that if they were to become missionaries, their lives would be changed. From that moment on, I became very excited, and I tried to spend as much time as possible with them, teaching them the importance of missionary service and how to prepare for a mission.

“At that time Elder Seo, a full-time missionary, was transferred to our ward. He was one who had grown up in the Church and as an Aaronic Priesthood youth had participated in a young men’s singing group with his friends. He met those boisterous boys in our ward. Elder Seo taught those who were not members the missionary discussions, and he also taught them the songs he used to sing. He made a triple quartet with those loud boys and named them the Hanaro Quartet, which means “be as one.” They were happy to sing together, but we all needed “big” patience when we listened to their singing.

“Our home was open to the members anytime they wanted to visit. The boys visited our home almost every weekend and even on some weekdays. We fed them and taught them. We taught them the principles of the gospel as well as the application of the gospel in their lives. We tried to give them a vision of their future life.

“They sang together every time they came to our home. Their loud sound hurt our ears. But we always praised them because listening to them sing was far more enjoyable than seeing them get into trouble.

“Through the years these activities continued. Most of these young men matured in the gospel, and a miracle happened. Over time nine of the boys who were not members were baptized. They changed from loud, rowdy boys into valiant stripling warriors.

“They served missions, met beautiful young sisters in the Church, and married in the temple. Of course, there were different challenges for each of them as they served missions, attended school, and got married, but they all stayed faithful because they wanted to obey their leaders and please the Lord. Now they have happy families with children born in the covenant.

“Nine loud boys have become 45 active members in the Lord’s kingdom, including their wives and children. They are now leaders in their wards and stakes. One is a bishop, two serve in bishoprics, one is serving on the high council, and two are Young Men presidents. There is a ward mission leader, an executive secretary, and a seminary teacher. As a group, they still sing together, and the other miracle—they actually sound good! …

“Dear young men, let us obey the leaders of the Church and be like Adam, who didn’t always have to know the reason why but was just happy to be obedient. And please faithfully attend your Church meetings. If you do this, you will learn how to prepare for your future, and you will be successful. To young boys who were born in the Church and also to those who have joined the Church, you are the army of the Lord. You will become wonderful missionaries and righteous fathers to your families. Heavenly Father will bless you to have a happy family. You have a bright future in the gospel, and like the sons of Helaman, you will bring eternal joy to all of us.”

Mission Papers

missionary recommendation application form

The Mission Papers, also known as the Checklist for Full-Time Missionary Recommendation or the Missionary Recommendation Form, is the application Mormon missionary candidates, young and old, fill out to initiate the process of serving a mission. Though we often call it paperwork, it is available in two formats: 1) the physical paper forms to fill out and 2) a web-based version to fill out the information online.

Paper Forms

missionary recommend packet at LDS Store

If your bishop does not have the paper forms, he can order them from the “Unit Materials” section of store.lds.org, the online store for the LDS Church. Visit that site, login with your LDS Account, and then search for “Missionary Recommend Packet” and you will find the mission papers. Or login to the LDS Store and click this link to go directly to the page to order the Missionary Recommend Packet.

If you are looking for the forms to download in PDF format, I’m sorry but the Church just does not make them available that way. Though you can try doing a Google search for Checklist for Full-Time Missionary Recommendation, and sometimes you’ll find people have posted them.

Online Forms

You must get access to the online version of the mission application from your bishop. The Missionary Online Recommendation System, that’s that official name of the website for the online mission papers, can be accessed at lds.org/mss. In order to get past the login screen, though, your bishop must first go into the site and get the process started and grant you access. He will let you know when that is done so you can login and begin to fill out the information.

Related Articles

The LDS Mission Call Process is one of the most frequent topics that people ask me about. Below is a summary and links to other articles I have written on the subject.

  • Mission Call Process Overview: This article gives answers to questions about the LDS Mission Call Process from meeting with your bishop, to submitting the mission papers / application, and then receiving the call letter.
  • Mission Application Timeline: In this article, I give details about the steps involved in the mission call process with particular emphasis on when to begin, and how long to expect each step to take.
  • Mission Application Form: This article talks in detail about the sections of Checklist for Full-Time Missionary Recommendation. It will give you a good idea of the information and other things you will need to do to fill out the papers. 
  • Missionaries Are Called by God: In this article, Elder Ronald A. Rasband explains the LDS Mission Call Process, particularly, how missionaries are called by God through inspiration to our living prophets.
  • Mission Call Letter: Two to four weeks after the Church receives you mission application, you will receive your call packet in the mail. This packet will contain your mission call letter from the prophet, as well as other materials, including a list of mission clothing and other items to bring. Read this article for more detail on the contents of the call packet.
  • LDS Mission Cost: How much does an LDS mission cost? Mormon missionaries pay their own expenses: $400 a month for young people from the United States (that’s $7,200 for sister missionaries who serve for 18 months, and $9,600 for men who serve two-years). Read the article for more detail.
  • Day of the Week Mission Calls are Issued and Mailed Out: Future missionaries often wonder what day of the week mission calls are issued and mailed out. The answer is it depends, though the most common scenario has the call issued on a Friday and the call letter being sent out from Church headquarters on a Tuesday. Check out the article for more detail.