Proxy Work and the Atonement of Christ

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By Hollie Wells

Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God (Doctrine & Covenants 18:10) 

I remember watching the April 2018 General Conference when Elder Renlund gave a talk about temple work (Family History Work: Sealing and Healing, Renlund, General Conference April 2018). In this talk, he includes a beautiful and detailed list of blessings that can come directly from attending the temple. I remember being a little confused when he promised “increased understanding of the Savior and His atoning sacrifice.” I hadn’t been endowed, but I grew up going to the temple to participate in baptisms very often, yet I seemed to have missed this. I felt like I was missing something. How could I possibly learn anything about Christ’s Atonement through temple work and worship? I didn’t connect the dots at first as a 12-year-old or even fully as an 18-year-old, but I started keeping my eyes out and here are some things I have learned. 

One by one 

One of the most powerful sermons about Christ’s Atonement from the temple is given without words. There is something so significant about the fact that we administer ordinances– both for the living and the dead– one by one. Jesus suffered for us individually. He cares so deeply for each individual person. Unless God was more concerned about hastening the work than each child individually, He would choose to have proxy ordinances done by masses, which would surely be more efficient. 

I often think about the individuals who I am acting on behalf of and how they must each individually accept the ordinance, just like I must individually accept Christ, nobody can do it for me or force me. 

Our heartfelt all 

God insists that each ordinance be done precisely, word for word. This teaches me that each person deserves the same attention and opportunity. Just like with His Atonement, Christ didn’t shortchange anybody by cutting corners. It was done right and done well, which is how He wants the work in His temples to be done. 

Yet, sometimes we mess up. Sometimes the person giving the ordinance needs to back up a few words or start over completely. Sometimes it’s just a really tough name or we forget a line halfway through and need help. Yet the ordinance is still valid. This all shows how we give our heartfelt all and Jesus combines it with His perfection to make it worthy in God’s eyes. Whether it’s ordinances or our life’s efforts, all He asks from us is our best and He will make it salvific.

A type of Christ 

Proxy work is also a type of Christ simply because it is done by proxy. We use our bodies to stand in the place of someone else in order to receive a saving ordinance for them. Our religion is built upon proxy work, the greatest of which ever performed was the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He used His mortal body of flesh and blood to stand in our place, feel what we feel, and take the punishment and consequences of sin and fallen mortality. He took it for you. He stood in your place and was “wounded for our transgressions… bruised for our iniquities”. How blessed we are to be called “Saviors on mount Zion” and experience an infinitely small part of the joy of acting for someone else for their salvation.

1 comment

  • Carol Lee Ford

    You gave me a few things to think about as l work at the DC Temple. Thank you!

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