Last Thursday evening, a fellow high councilor mentioned he would be speaking on the Atonement of Christ for Easter in his ward. He wanted to know more about it, as we generally understand the events occurring in Gethsemane and Calvary, as well as the Garden Tomb.
The discussion went beyond those events. Several of us, including an Institute director, saw the atonement as being “infinite” or without beginning or ending of days. We saw it as reaching back to our pre-mortal existence, touching the lives of those living on previously created worlds, and extending forever into the eternities.
While there are are theories on how the atonement works (Ransom , Compassion, Infusion, etc), we went deeply into a component of the atonement that is often overlooked: grace.
While the pinnacle of the atonement occurred 200 years ago, it is ongoing. 2 Nephi 2 teaches that without the atonement, we would have no agency, for as Jacob explained, we would not rise again, and therefore be subject to the devil, being angels to the devil.
So, the atonement allows us to choose life or death.
But we are also taught that even as Christ went from “grace to grace, receiving grace for grace” until he was perfected in all things (D&C 93), so we should also seek grace.
What is grace? It is anything and everything that God gifts to us. It is the air we breathe and the food we eat. It is saying a prayer, and immediately afterward, finding the lost car keys. It is in the inspiring moments God gives us. It is in knowing that God stands with us through the tough times. It is the big and little miracles that occur daily around us. It is giant revelations like Nephi and John the Revelator received, and it is the tiny whisperings of the Holy Spirit.
Grace is God reaching down to us and touching us, because the atonement has bridged the gap between fallen man and risen Lord.