“Through His Atonement . . . Mankind Might Be Saved”

Doctrine and Covenants 138:3–4

3 And the great and wonderful love made manifest by the Father and the Son in the coming of the Redeemer into the world;
4 That through his atonement, and by obedience to the principles of the gospel, mankind might be saved.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said:

“Some gifts coming from the Atonement [of Jesus Christ] are universal, infinite, and unconditional. These include His ransom for Adam’s original transgression . . . [see Articles of Faith 1:2]. Another universal gift is the Resurrection from the dead of every man, woman, and child who lives, has ever lived, or ever will live on earth.

“Other aspects of Christ’s atoning gift are conditional. They depend on one’s diligence in keeping God’s commandments. For example, while all members of the human family are freely given a reprieve from Adam’s sin through no effort of their own, they are not given a reprieve from their own sins unless they pledge faith in Christ, repent of those sins, are baptized in His name, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and confirmation into Christ’s Church, and press forward in faithful endurance the remainder of life’s journey. . . .

“Of course neither the unconditional nor the conditional blessings of the Atonement are available except through the grace of Christ. Obviously the unconditional blessings of the Atonement are unearned, but the conditional ones are not fully merited either. By living faithfully and keeping the commandments of God, one can receive additional privileges; but they are still given freely, not technically earned. The Book of Mormon declares emphatically that ‘there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah’ [2 Nephi 2:8].

“By this same grace, God provides for the salvation of little children, the mentally impaired, those who lived without hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ, and so forth: these are redeemed by the universal power of the Atonement of Christ and will have the opportunity to receive the fulness of the gospel after death, in the spirit world, where spirits reside while awaiting the Resurrection [see Alma 40:11; D&C 138; compare Luke 23:43; John 5:25].”

(“The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” Ensign, Mar. 2008, 35–37.)