Dear Elders and Sisters,
The atonement of Jesus Christ is the most important, most beautiful, most sublime doctrine we will ever study. It has profound personal and cosmic significance. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that all things “which pertain to our religion are only appendages” to the atonement of Jesus Christ. Despite the atonement’s obvious significance, none of us know enough about it. Sometimes, church members behave as if they have already heard so much about the atonement, they need to look for something “deeper” to study when, in fact, the atonement has all the depth they should ever need or want.
We believe that coming to understand the atonement of Jesus Christ is a lot like climbing a rope. It takes effort. Moreover, in this journey towards understanding the atonement, there are some places that a person cannot go until they have already attained certain strengths and attributes. To help us climb the rope of our understanding, the Lord has given us some scriptural passages that are like knots in the rope. These passages are extremely helpful and give us something upon which we can firmly grip. Their scope and depth are breathtaking. We refer to these passages as “knot chapters.” Many of them are contained in the Book of Mormon, which was given to us for the “convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ.” This past week, we have gone through the Book of Mormon and have identified the following 15 “knot chapters” for your consideration. They are:
1) Lehi’s final discourse to his posterity in 2 Nephi 2;
2) Jacob’s words to the people of Nephi contained in 2 Nephi 6-9 with an emphasis on Chapter 9;
3) Nephi’s explanation of the Doctrine of Christ in 2 Nephi 31;
4) Jacob’s “few words” written upon plates in Jacob 4;
5) King Benjamin’s speech in Mosiah 2-5. The whole speech is spectacular, but some of the key atonement passages are found in chapters 2 and 3;
6) Abinadi’s words before King Noah in Mosiah 15-16;
7) Alma’s words to the Church in Gideon in Alma 7;
8) Alma and Amulek’s confrontation with Zeezrom in Alma 11-12;
9) Amulek’s words to the Zoramites in Alma 34;
10) Alma’s words to his son Corianton in Alma 39-42 with an emphasis on Chapter 42;
11) The doctrinal portion of Samuel the Lamanite’s prophesy in Helaman 14;
12) Jesus’ initial discourse to the Nephites in 3 Nephi 11;
13) Jesus’ explanation of “my gospel” to the Nephites in 3 Nephi 27;
14) Moroni’s call to those who do not believe in Christ in Mormon 9;
15) Mormon’s epistle to Moroni in Moroni 8.
We realize that creating a list like this will open a discussion about whether we selected the best passages. We welcome this kind of discussion, and hope that you will add other favorites to your own list. However, the chapters we have identified are filled with profound insight. You can study them for a lifetime and never plum all their depths. If you truly understand these chapters, you will be well on your way to understanding the atonement. We pray that you will allow the Book of Mormon to truly convert you to the Savior Jesus Christ and His atonement. When this happens, your life will have more context and purpose, and your missionary efforts will be more focused and effective.
President and Sister Packard