When we talk about our present condition and the atonement, we say things like “As spiritual death is being shut out from the presence of God, redemption is returning to His presence.” On one level that is true. But is it really possible for us to escape His presence?
“He comprehendeth all things, and all things are before him, and all things are round about him; and he is above all things, and in all things, and is through all things, and is round about all things; and all things are by him, and of him, even God, forever and ever.” (D&C 88:41)
Taking that into account, maybe another way to say the same thing is that “Each of us is like Adam and Eve, and has fallen, or become separated from, God’s love.” It is our turning away from Him (He is always with us) that cuts us off from His “presence.”
“For as death hath passed upon all men, to fulfil the merciful plan of the great Creator, there must needs be a power of resurrection, and the resurrection must needs come unto man by reason of the fall; and the fall came by reason of transgression; and because man became fallen they were cut off from the presence of the Lord.” (2 Nephi 9:6)
How can we turn to Him, and return to His presence?
“Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am;” (D&C 93:1)
Once somebody communes with the Lord face-to-face and receives the promise of a place in God’s presence (i.e. the celestial kingdom), it appears that the atonement has been fully invoked and that person becomes redeemed, even if they are still alive on the earth.
“Wherefore, thy soul shall be blessed, and thou shalt dwell safely with thy brother, Nephi; and thy days shall be spent in the service of thy God. Wherefore, I know that thou art redeemed, because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer; for thou hast beheld that in the fulness of time he cometh to bring salvation unto men.” (2 Nephi 2:3)
The “rest” of the Lord is this holy, redeemed state.
“Wherefore, I would speak unto you that are of the church, that are the peaceable followers of Christ, and that have obtained a sufficient hope by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord, from this time henceforth until ye shall rest with him in heaven.” (Moroni 7:3)
Is not this the greatest of God’s gifts?
“Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (see Mark 9:24)