The Atonement of Jesus Christ
Doctrine and Covenants 20:20–27
20 But by the transgression of these holy laws man became sensual and devilish, and became fallen man.
21 Wherefore, the Almighty God gave his Only Begotten Son, as it is written in those scriptures which have been given of him.
22 He suffered temptations but gave no heed unto them.
23 He was crucified, died, and rose again the third day;
24 And ascended into heaven, to sit down on the right hand of the Father, to reign with almighty power according to the will of the Father;
25 That as many as would believe and be baptized in his holy name, and endure in faith to the end, should be saved—
26 Not only those who believed after he came in the meridian of time, in the flesh, but all those from the beginning, even as many as were before he came, who believed in the words of the holy prophets, who spake as they were inspired by the gift of the Holy Ghost, who truly testified of him in all things, should have eternal life,
27 As well as those who should come after, who should believe in the gifts and callings of God by the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of the Father and of the Son . . .
President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote:
“The plan of salvation is taught with great plainness in the Book of Mormon in Lehi’s teachings to his children [see 2 Nephi 2; Alma 36–43; also Moses 4–8].
“It seems to be a very difficult thing to convince even members of the Church that the Lord means what He says when He declares that all men must repent, and only those who ‘endure in faith to the end, [shall] be saved’ [D&C 20:25]. Repentance is one of the fundamental principles of the gospel. It would be absurd to proclaim that a man by his own righteousness and will, unaided by the gifts and blessings of God, could obtain salvation and exaltation. Today there are many men who proclaim the doctrine that man has the power in himself to rise through his native intelligence, and if there is any salvation to be obtained such a man will receive it irrespective of any act or virtue coming from Jesus Christ. This is the spirit of anti-Christ which the Lord said would be in the world. Salvation is the gift of God and compliance with the ordinances of the gospel—the law by which the kingdom of God is governed—is absolutely essential to remission of sins and entrances into that kingdom. We are dependent on Jesus Christ for ‘the propitiation of our sins’ [1 John 2:2; 4:10], and ‘Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us’ [1 John 1:7–8]. In this revelation [D&C 20:20–27] we are taught that the Atonement of our Lord is efficacious to all ages; through it those who lived in the past as well as those living now, or who will live in the future, may be redeemed through the shedding of His blood and the great sacrifice which He made for the redemption of all men. This is one of the earliest indications pointing the way for the doctrine of salvation for the dead.”
(Church History and Modern Revelation, 2 vols. , 1:93.)