Grace, or Healing Power of the Atonement

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Courtesy The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Grace as Jesus Christ’s power to heal is a teaching emphasized in the restored gospel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Atonement of Jesus Christ was key to Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation for His children. According to Tad R. Callister, former president of the General Sunday School, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ was the suffering of the Savior and His triumph over four obstacles that prevented us from having happiness in this life and eternal joy in the life to come.” The four obstacles are physical death, sin and its consequences, mortal weaknesses and imperfections, and the common ailments of life such as depression, rejection and loneliness.[1]

Grace and Works. Latter-day Saints do not believe that a person's works alone can save him or that he can somehow earn salvation through his own merits. For more discussion on this belief, see Grace and Grace of God.

Christ is called the Master Healer and relieves our physical and spiritual pain and suffering. President Russell M. Nelson said:

I express special gratitude to the Lord Jesus Christ. I am thankful for His loving-kindness and for His open invitation to come unto Him. I marvel at His matchless power to heal. I testify of Jesus Christ as the Master Healer. It is but one of many attributes that characterize His incomparable life.[[2]]

He also noted that “the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John repeatedly report that Jesus went about preaching the gospel and healing all types of sickness.”

When the risen Redeemer appeared to the people of ancient America, He mercifully invited those “afflicted in any manner” to come unto Him and be healed.”[3]

Sometimes healing doesn’t come quickly or doesn’t come in this life on earth. Grace continues beyond the grave, providing healing beyond mortality. In teaching his son Corianton about the resurrection, the prophet Alma taught his son that the "soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame" Alma 40:23. Although God's children will suffer physical losses and heartaches while living on earth, they are promised that restoration is a blessing of Christ's atonement.

Those seeking healing from spiritual suffering—even those who do not—will be healed. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said:

“The central fact, the crucial foundation, the chief doctrine, and the greatest expression of divine love in the eternal plan of salvation—truly a ‘plan of happiness,’ as Alma called it [Alma 42:8]—is the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. Much goes before it and much comes after, but without that pivotal act, that moment of triumph whereby we are made free from the spiritual bondage of sin and the physical chains of the grave, both of which are undeniable deaths, there would be no meaning to the plan of life, and certainly no ultimate happiness in it or after it” (Christ and the New Covenant: The Messianic Message of the Book of Mormon [1997], 197).[4]

Elder Neal A. Maxwell explained:

“Sometimes in the Church we speak imprecisely … as if individuals who die go immediately to the celestial kingdom and are at once in the full presence of God. We tend to overlook the reality that the spirit world and paradise are part, really, of the second estate. The work of the Lord, so far as the second estate is concerned, is completed before the Judgment and the Resurrection. …
“The veil of forgetfulness of the first estate apparently will not be suddenly, automatically, and totally removed at the time of our temporal death. This veil, a condition of our entire second estate, is associated with and is part of our time of mortal trial, testing, proving, and overcoming by faith—and thus will continue in some key respects into the spirit world. …
“Thus, if not on this side of the veil, then in the spirit world to come, the gospel will be preached to all, including all transgressors, rebels, and rejectors of prophets, along with all those billions who died without a knowledge of the gospel (D&C 138)” (The Promise of Discipleship [2001], 119, 122).[5]

President Dallin H. Oaks taught that the “healing power of the Lord Jesus Christ—whether it removes our burdens or strengthens us to endure and live with them . . . —is available for every affliction in mortality.” “The Atonement of Jesus Christ and the healing it offers do much more than provide the opportunity for repentance from sins. 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.[6]

The Savior’s healing often comes in the form of comfort and peace. “When sore trials come upon us,” said Pres. Nelson, “it’s time to deepen our faith in God, to work hard, and to serve others. Then He will heal our broken hearts. He will bestow upon us personal peace and comfort. Those great gifts will not be destroyed, even by death.[7]

In addition to healing from infirmities and afflictions, we are able to be healed from the burden of sin through repentance. “To watch the healing effect of the Atonement is to witness the essence of the gospel. The Atonement applies to us all: we all have need of repentance, and it is only through the Savior that we can be rid of our sins and our suffering and become like our Father in Heaven.”[8]

A woman whose marriage was threatened by her husband’s addiction to pornography wrote how she stood beside him for five pain-filled years until, as she said, “through the gift of our precious Savior’s glorious Atonement and what He taught me about forgiveness, [my husband] finally is free—and so am I.” As one who needed no cleansing from sin, but only sought a loved one’s deliverance from captivity, she wrote this advice:
“Commune with the Lord. . . . He is your best friend! He knows your pain because He has felt it for you already. He is ready to carry that burden. Trust Him enough to place it at His feet and allow Him to carry it for you. Then you can have your anguish replaced with His peace, in the very depths of your soul” (letter dated Apr. 18, 2005).[9]

President Nelson taught: “Marvelously, His divine authority to heal the sick was conferred upon worthy priesthood bearers in earlier dispensations and again in these latter days, when His gospel has been restored in its fulness.[10]

Jesus Christ is our Advocate. Our Father in Heaven witnessed the intense physical and spiritual agony of Jesus, His Only Begotten Son, in Gethsemane and on the cross. And, just as he can remove our pain, he could have spared His Son that pain and agony. He had the power to remove the bitter cup from the Savior, but, because of His love for us, He allowed His Son to carry out that greatest of all sacrifices.

In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

“Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, the Creator, the great Jehovah, the promised Immanuel, our atoning Savior and Redeemer, our Advocate with the Father, our great Exemplar. And one day we will stand before Him as our just and merciful Judge.”[11]

This is the Christ, the holy Son of God,
Our Savior, Lord, Redeemer of mankind.
This is the Christ, the healer of our souls
Who ransomed us with purest love divine!
(“This Is the Christ” written by James E. Faust)