Elder James R. Rasband: ‘Ensuring a Righteous Judgment’

General Authority Seventy

Notable quotes: 

“Would Alma truly have felt what he describes as ‘exquisite … joy’ if he thought that Christ saved him but left forever harmed those he had led away from the truth? Surely not. For Alma to feel complete peace, those he harmed also needed the opportunity to be made whole.”
“Although we do not fully understand the sacred mechanics by which the Savior’s atoning sacrifice heals and restores, we do know, that to ensure a righteous judgment, the Savior will clear away the underbrush of ignorance and the painful thorns of hurt caused by others. By this He assures that all God’s children will be given the opportunity, with unobscured vision, to choose to follow Him and accept the great plan of happiness.”
“The magnificent, peace-giving promise of the Book of Mormon and the restored gospel is that the Savior will mend all that we have broken. And He will also mend us if we turn to Him in faith and repent of the harm we have caused.”

Summary points:

  • The Book of Mormon teaches powerfully and clearly the doctrine of Jesus Christ, which depends on trust in the healing power of His atoning sacrifice.
  • Christ’s Atonement ensures a righteous judgment — meaning that every individual will be judged according to the knowledge and law available to them.
  • While God commands His children to make restitution for the wrongs they commit against others, individuals cannot always heal the harm they have done. Jesus Christ offers healing to both the sinner and those who suffer due to others’ sins through faith in Him.

Talk summary: 

Prompted by President Russell M. Nelson’s October 2019 challenge to consider the impact of the Book of Mormon on one’s life, Elder Rasband pondered the clarity and power of the Book of Mormon’s teachings about the doctrine of Christ. He derives peace from the Book of Mormon’s explanations of the Savior’s healing, atoning power.

Alma taught that “God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also” (Alma 42:15).

Through His atoning sacrifice, Jesus Christ satisfied the demands of justice for all of God’s children. Alma’s experience illustrates the healing power of this knowledge. He was tortured by the reality that he had led many people away from God’s light, but through faith and repentance he received peace.

Christ’s healing was extended not only to Alma for his sins, but also to those whom Alma had harmed through his behavior. Alma’s joy and relief upon receiving forgiveness was not only for himself, but for those he had wronged and could never fully heal despite attempts to make restitution. Christ can rescue all people with His healing.

Christ’s sacrifice also applies to those who have lived without knowing God’s laws. Because of His Atonement, little children who die and those who sin in ignorance will not be held accountable for the sins they unknowingly commit. Those who understand the law will be judged according to their knowledge and how they exercised their agency.

Through Christ’s healing power, all of God’s children will have a fair opportunity to choose to follow Him. Jesus Christ can right any wrong and heal any hurt in a way that honors both justice and mercy.

About the speaker:

  • Elder James R. Rasband was sustained as a General Authority Seventy on April 6, 2019, at age 56. At the time of his call, he had been serving as an Area Seventy in the Utah South Area. 
  • Elder Rasband served as a young full-time missionary in the Korea Seoul Mission. 
  • He married Mary Diane Williams in the Los Angeles California Temple on Aug. 11, 1984. They are the parents of four children. 
  • He began his career as an attorney in Seattle, Washington, and later served as dean of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University from 2009 to 2016. He then served as academic vice president of BYU. 
  • Speaking at a BYU–Idaho devotional in January, Elder Rasband highlighted four ways to keep the Savior at the center of gospel vocabulary.