Redemption

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God’s Plan of Salvation and Redemption of His children encompasses the entire existence of mankind. Initially, in the premortal realm, God’s children grew and developed as spirit beings living in His presence. God organized an earth as a probationary state whereon His spirit children gained physical bodies of flesh and blood and used their divinely given agency to follow His commandments or not. After death, while their bodies are buried in the grave, their spirits continue existing in the Spirit World until their appointed time of resurrection. Then, their spirits will be united with immortal bodies of flesh and bone and exist in this condition forever.

Who Redeemed Mankind?

redemption of Christ Mormonism

In the premortal realm, God the Father presented His plan to all of His children. The plan required a Fall, which occurred when Adam and Eve brought death into the world. Man became subject to physical forces with free will to determine how each would live his or her life. Inherent in the opportunity to choose during mortality was the opportunity to sin. Since “no unclean thing can dwell… in his presence” (Moses 6:5), God prepared the way for mankind to repent and be cleansed. Before man set foot on the earth, Jesus Christ agreed to pay a ransom for sins committed in mortality. By living a perfect, sinless life, Jesus qualified to redeem mankind from sin and death.

In our vernacular, “to redeem” means “to buy or pay off; clear by payment; to buy back; to recover by payment or other satisfaction” [1]. The scriptures indicate that Christ literally paid the price to “buy back” man from the grasp of sin and death. “Ye are bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 7:23).

In the Garden of Gethsemane, and again on the cross at Calvary, in an incomprehensible manner, the Redeemer paid the divine price for the effects of the Fall, and for individuals’ sins, sorrows, illnesses, and injustices. Upon conditions of repentance, (confessing and forsaking one’s sins), a penitent person accepts and receives the Grace of Christ. Through Christ’s Grace facilitated physically by ordinances of the Gospel like baptism, and the cleansing effect of the Holy Spirit, a person is reborn, sanctified and clean, enabling the person to enter the kingdom of God. “And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end” (3 Nephi 27:19).

Effects of Redemption

While the redeeming act of Jesus Christ brings sanctification, peace, and hope to the penitent in this life, redemption also reaches far into eternity.

Christ’s unconditional redemption for all mankind redeems the human race from the physical effects of the Fall by overcoming death and the chains of hell. This is Grace’s free gift of immortality to all, guaranteeing God’s children eventual salvation in a degree of His glory.

That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness; That through him all might be saved…except those sons of perdition who deny the Son after the Father has revealed him (Doctrine and Covenants 76:41-43).

The unrepentant sinner’s redemption is not complete, however, until he pays the divine price for his sins during the Millennium.

Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not. For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;
Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit (Doctrine and Covenants 19:15-18).

Christ’s conditional redemption couples God’s Grace and promise of immortality with the individual’s obedience to God’s laws and ordinances. This redemption covers the temporal AND spiritual effects of the Fall for the person. His sins are forgiven and he receives exaltation, or life with God.

What are these which are arrayed in white robes? And whence came they?

And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them (Revelation 7:13-15).


What If There Had Been No Redemption?

Though all men “will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression” (Articles of Faith 2), the Fall of Adam subjected mankind to death and the devil. If the Redeemer did not overcome death, then man in his fallen state would remain forever subject to the devil without the prospect of resurrection.

O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more.
And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself; yea, to that being who beguiled our first parents, who transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light, and stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations of murder and all manner of secret works of darkness.
O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit (2 Nephi 9:8-11).

James E. Talmage, called as an Apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1911, described the absolute necessity of Jesus Christ’s redemptive mission:

Such then is the need of a Redeemer, for without Him mankind would forever remain in a fallen state, and as to hope of eternal progression would be inevitably lost. The mortal probation is provided as an opportunity for advancement; but so great are the difficulties and the dangers, so strong is the influence of evil in the world, and so weak is man in resistance thereto, that without the aid of a power above that of humanity no soul would find its way back to God from whom it came. The need of a Redeemer lies in the inability of man to raise himself from the temporal to the spiritual plane, from the lower kingdom to the higher.

So, for the advancement of man from his present fallen and relatively degenerate state to the higher condition of spiritual life, a power above his own must cooperate. Through the operation of the laws obtaining in the higher kingdom man may be reached and lifted; himself he cannot save by his own unaided effort. A Redeemer and Savior of mankind is beyond all question essential to the realization of the plan of the Eternal Father, “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man”; and that Redeemer and Savior is Jesus the Christ, beside whom there is and can be none other. [2]

Sources.

  • "redeem." Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 13 Sep. 2013. [3]
  • Talmage, James E. “Jesus the Christ” 2006 [4]