Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil.
2 Nephi 2:27
The Plan of Salvation is one of the most profound, most enlightening, and most comforting truths the Gospel of Jesus Christ has to offer. It helps us to understand our individual nature, our relationship to God, the point of mortality and its myriad challenges, the finite nature of death, and the infinite blessing of eternal life.
Everything in this plan is based on two great principles. The first, of course, is “the wondrous and glorious Atonement,” described by Elder Neal A. Maxwell as “the central act in all of human history….the hinge on which all else that finally matters turned.” He then takes the nature of the atonement one step further, introducing the second great principle: “But it turned upon Jesus’ spiritual submissiveness!”
Christ’s atonement was based on his eternal lifetime of choices. It was He who decided, of his own free will, to stand at the Grand Council and say, “Here am I, send me.” It was his mortal life filled with only correct decisions that made him the Perfect Lamb that alone was worthy of sacrifice to redeem us all. It was his perfect submission, even while begging the cup to be removed, to the entirety of the Father’s plan in his worst hours (the worst hours any person has ever or will ever endure) that allowed the fulfillment of God’s eternal plan. It was his decisive commendation of his eternal spirit into the hands of his Father (for no man took his life from him; he laid it down of himself) that allowed for the Easter Morn in which death forever lost its sting and the victory of the grave became eternally forfeit.
Christ made every choice right. He is our perfect example in all things, and use of agency is no exception. I think we sometimes lose track of that fact, thinking that perfection was no big deal for Christ. We’re quick to spout off that He was perfect, almost like it’s a factoid and not a profound, miraculous truth. He had the exact same capacity as you and I to make decisions. That agency is a universal gift from the Father to every single one of his children. That agency allowed for the fulfillment of the Atonement and the Messianic mission.
Interestingly enough, it is that same agency that allowed for the greatest of all downfalls, the birth, as it were, of evil and perdition. The rebellion of Lucifer, just as the Atonement of Christ, was not a forced matter. Satan and the spirits that followed him made their decisions with the same capacity with which Christ made his–and with which you and I make ours. And, just like Christ reigning forever over all His Father hath or Lucifer forever gnashing his teeth in misery and darkness, we will reach our final destination based on the paths we choose to get there.
Know this, brothers and sisters: Every soul is free. EVERY soul. Yours, mine, Christ’s, Lucifer’s. It is our agency, that immutable gift of God, that allows us to choose our lives and what we’ll be. God will never take that gift from us. He wants us all back with Him forever. He loves us each so very much and is deeply pained at the idea of losing any one of us. But He would rather allow that loss than force any of us to Heaven.
Let us all choose to use our agency for good. Let us choose to fulfill our covenants, to take upon us the name of Christ, and to be even as He is. When we fail to do these things, it is an abuse of the great agency our Father has trusted us with. Let us choose to repent of those failings and, with the grace of Christ, improve and draw nearer to God. He wants to bring us home, to share everything with us. His perfect love awaits us. Let us seek it.