Most don’t realize that the Lord’s glorious resurrection is the capstone to His infinite atonement, and when it occurred 2000 years ago the early saints were beyond rejoicing as they witnessed the risen Lord. For Christ to go from infinite suffering to infinite glory in those three days changed their lives and the world forever. The early Christians could not contain their joy knowing, “He is risen!” – as proclaimed in their lives, as they lived and shared this most astounding message of hope. Because of the paramount importance of the infinite atonement, I believe Easter should be our most important celebration and with great rejoicing.
The gospel is not only the “good news;” it is the BEST NEWS, because everyone will be resurrected, and if we live the gospel we have the hope of a fullness of joy in the life to come. Handel’s oratorio “Messiah” has touched millions of lives with this message: “HALLELUJAH!…For now is Christ risen from the dead… Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive… Death is swallowed up in victory… Worthy is the Lamb.”
The growth of the early Christian Church – known as “The Way” (John 14:6) – was spectacular with this testimony of the risen Lord deep in their hearts and in spite of terrible persecutions. Mary Magdalene, who first saw the risen Lord, brought hundreds into the fold of God. Most modern Christians have lost the valiancy of the early saints, who saw the risen Lord or personally knew those who had seen Him.
The First Fruits
The Apostle Paul proclaimed it profoundly, as was quoted by Handel: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. For since man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15: 19-22) Apostle, Bruce R. McConkie, poignantly summarized: “The three pillars of eternity are the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement.”
The Lord’s infinite atonement not only covers our sins, but totally overcame the effects of the fall of Adam and Eve providing a resurrection for all as He overcame both the spiritual-death and physical-death brought about by the fall. Most Christians look to the cross of Jesus and His suffering for forgiveness of their sins, and the doctrine of saved by grace is pervasive. We often hear the expression, “We are grateful for His atoning sacrifice,” and in so expressing forget to mention His glorious resurrection. These expressions of faith and belief are wonderful, but they miss the great importance of His glorious resurrection. The early Christians, who – suffering persecution — often died as martyrs rejoicing because they knew, “He is Risen,” and that they would be also in glory. That the resurrection completes the infinite atonement was a paramount doctrine for them, as it should be for us, but most Christians seem to believe otherwise, and seem to have lost the significance of this crowning event in world history.
It saddens my soul when I hear the above expressions and wish in my heart that they knew how significant the glorious resurrection is to them and to the whole world. If the world truly knew, then Easter would be the most important celebration each year, as we all rejoiced in the magnitude of what our Savior has done for us, is doing, and will do. The earth itself will also be perfected by the infinite atonement into celestial realms of glory. “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” (Matt. 5:5)
Because of Christ’s Resurrection
Because of Christ’s resurrection, physical death is overcome for all and all will be brought back into the presence of God. This is a free gift for all of incomprehensible and enormous importance . I have heard those who don’t know the scriptures ask, “Does the Lord’s atonement include His resurrection?” The Book of Mormon gives a very clear answer – amplifying the words of the Apostles John, Paul and Elder McConkie. The ancient Prophet Jacob — living some 600 years before Christ — makes this most important doctrine crystal clear:
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. Wherefore, the first judgment which came upon man must needs have remained to an endless duration. And if so, this flesh must have laid down to rot and to crumble to its mother earth, to rise no more. 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. And because of the way of deliverance [infinite atonement] of our God, the Holy One of Israel, this death, of which I have spoken, which is the temporal, shall deliver up its dead; which death is the grave. O how great the holiness of our God! For he knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it. And he cometh into the world that he may save all men if they will hearken unto his voice; for behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam. And he suffereth this that the resurrection might pass upon all men, that all might stand before him at the great and judgment day. (2 Nephi 9:6-7, 10-12, 20-22)
Alma further shares, “But God ceaseth not to be God, and mercy claimeth the penitent, and mercy cometh because of the atonement; and the atonement bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead; and the resurrection of the dead bringeth back men into the presence of God; and thus they are restored into his presence, to be judged according to their works, according to the law and justice.” (Alma 42:23)
We find there are seven fantastic accomplishments in His infinite atonement, and seven sub-steps to each of these. The seventh step is the glorious resurrection – cap stoning the infinite atonement, and making it the greatest and most important documented miracle in the history of the earth. Seven is the number of perfection or completion in the Lord’s arithmetic. And the scriptures outline all 49 of these steps. The seventh step — the Glorious Resurrection — has more than seven sub-steps, because it leaves an open door for all to come unto Him — adding to the list of those whose names are written in the “Lamb’s book of life.” (Rev. 21:27)
What Happens At Judgement Day Is Our Choice
What happens at judgment day and the kind of resurrection we may enjoy is our choice. The Savior said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” (John 14:2) The Apostle Paul shares the profound perspective, “There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption.” (1 Corinthians 15:40-42) Joseph Smith and Sidney Ridgon received a vision showing the details of these three degrees of Glory, and the mansions the Lord is preparing for us. (D&C 76) It is a most inspiring vision. An infinite loving Lord will reward us perfectly. We need not fear unjust judgement.
So the infinite atonement denotes both ultimate joy as well as ultimate suffering. Body and spirit reunited through the Lord’s infinite atonement is the only way we can have a fullness of joy (D&C 93:33-34; 138:17), and it is His resurrection that brings us back into His presence. I hope and pray that we will let Easter be the most celebrated holiday as we bask in the joy this brings to our souls as we contemplate the goodness of God in providing this incomprehensible but most joyous gift leading to eternal life for all who will come unto Him.
David W Allan