The April 2010 Ensign contains an article by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, one of the 12 apostles of the LDS Church. It is entitled “The Atonement and Faith”. One emphasis he makes is that suffering is an important part of repentance. Following is an excerpt from his article.
“Does it also mean that a person who repents does not need to suffer at all because the entire punishment is borne by the Savior? That cannot be the meaning because it would be inconsistent with the Savior’s other teachings.
“What is meant by Alma 34:16 is that the person who repents does not need to suffer even as the Savior suffered for that sin. Sinners who are repenting will experience some suffering, but because of their repentance and the Atonement they will not experience the full, exquisite extent of eternal torment the Savior suffered for those sins.
“President Spencer W. Kimball (1895-1985), who gave such comprehensive teachings on repentance and forgiveness, said that personal sufferings is a very important part of repentance. ‘One has not begun to repent until he has suffered intensely for his sins. . .If a person hasn’t suffered,’ he said, ‘he hasn’t repented.’”
I will be the first to admit that there is often sorrow connected to repentance. Once our eyes are open to how repulsive sin is to God – especially the sin of thinking that we can contribute anything to our salvation – we naturally are sorrowful. Once we see all the things that God considers sinful – sins of both omission and commission – sins residing in our thoughts and not just expressed in actions – we are sorrowful.
But then when we hear the wonderful news of the Atonement – that Jesus did suffer the full price for our sins – the overwhelming emotion is not sorrow but joy – the overwhelming experience is not one of suffering but of relief, of a huge burden lifted. It is the joyous reaction of Zacchaeus recorded in Luke 19:1-10. He repents and throws a huge party. He repents and becomes a joyful philanthropist. But, according to Spencer W. Kimball and the LDS Church, he wasn’t repentant. I can just hear them sternly telling Zacchaeus: “One has not begun to repent until he has suffered intensely for his sins.”
Thank the Lord that is not what Jesus told him. “And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
This coming Friday the Christian church will again observe Christ’s death. Yes, there will be a tone of somber sorrow as we again see the price Jesus had to pay for our sins. But even more importantly there will be quiet joy as we again hear Jesus, “It is finished.” With those words Jesus is reassuring me that he suffered for all my sins – that he alone suffered for them and therefore I don’t have to suffer for them. That is why down through the centuries Christians have called this Friday, Good Friday.