I have been confused about something. In the Doctrine & Covenants, Section 138:59 it says that the dead will be redeemed “after they have paid the penalty of their transgressions”. Also, I’ve heard it said in General Conference that everyone who commits serious sin has to go through their own “Gethsemane” before they can find forgiveness. I guess I was just curious about why these things were so, when the Savior has already suffered for our sins? Why is it that the additional suffering is necessary?
It is true that the Savior suffered for the sins of man. His suffering was so intense and so all encompassing that He actually paid the price to an eternal justice for all of the sins that have been committed by all of our Father’s children over all periods of time throughout all the inhabited universe. His suffering was indeed infinite in its extension and application (2 Nephi 9:7; 2 Nephi 25:16, Alma 34:10, 12, 14). However, in order for that great expiation to be effective, it must be accepted by the sinning individual. To accept that Savior’s atonement in one’s behalf is not like signing a document of acceptance. It requires full repentance from sin; and repentance is not an easy process. It is a life-changing process. It is not just the absence of further sinning. It is such a change of heart that a new character is born, one to whom such former sins are a repulsion. That is why whose who commit serious sin must tread a thorny path, and go through their own Gethsemanies. However, when they have fully repented they receive full and complete forgiveness by the Father. So their suffering is not additional suffering beyond the Savior’s great atoning sacrifice; it is only a part of their own repentance process by which they qualify for the blessings of the atonement.