Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Whom Say Ye That I Am?

A few weeks ago, I received this two-part question on the blog:

Who do you say Jesus Christ is? Why do Mormons believe the Atonement is not enough for our salvation, that it must be earned by "good works" to reach a "higher level of heaven?"

Today I will answer the first part of the question, “who do you say that Jesus Christ is?”

In response, I ask you to read “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles,” for the apostles speak with much more power and authority than I do. The statement perfectly explains who Jesus Christ is and why He is so vitally important to each of us. In addition, look at the March 2008 Ensign which contains articles with titles such as, “We Testify of Christ,” “He Lives! The Witness of Latter-day Prophets,” “Who Is Jesus Christ?,” “Faith in Jesus Christ,” “The Atonement of Jesus Christ,” and more. This edition of the Ensign offers probably the most complete, clear, and comprehensive teachings of our Savior, describing who He is and what we should do. I also add my own words and although they may not sound original as they come from the scriptures and prophets, they are the truth and my testimony.

Jesus Christ is our elder brother. He was present with us at the council in Heaven where He presented His plan for us to come to earth, to gain physical bodies, and to be tried and tested. He volunteered to be our savior, the Savior, who would atone for our sins and would suffer for His brothers and sisters that we may have the opportunity to repent and return to live with Him and our Heavenly Father once again.

Jesus Christ is the Jehovah of the Old Testament. He spoke to Moses, to Abraham, to Isaac, to Adam, to Enoch, to Noah, and to many others. He guided the children of Israel through the wilderness. He gave the Law of Moses which was a shadow and a type of things to come, namely of His own personal, perfect sacrifice. Of him Isaiah, Jeremiah, Job, Jonah, and the rest of the prophets testified, and for Him many of them gave their lives.

Jesus Christ is the Messiah of the New Testament, born of the Virgin Mary and raised by Joseph the carpenter of Nazareth. He ministered among the Jews in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. Although mortal and subject to all manner of temptations, Jesus Christ was perfect and never succumbed to the evils of the devil. As the Messiah, He taught, healed, and forgave. He suffered beyond mortal comprehension for the pains, sicknesses, afflictions, sins, transgressions, and trials of His brothers and sisters—us—was crucified, and resurrected on the third day. His Atonement enables us to both be resurrected and to have the chance to repent, become clean, and return to live with our Father in Heaven once more.

As a resurrected being, Jesus Christ appeared to His apostles and others both in Jerusalem (see Matt 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20-21; Acts 1) and in the Americas (see 3 Nephi 11-28). Thousands of years later, He appeared with His Father to the boy Joseph Smith, ushering in the dispensation of the fulness of times by calling Joseph to be a prophet, giving him the priesthood authority to act in His name, and restoring all of the principles and ordinances of the Gospel to the earth once more (see Joseph Smith—History 1:15-20).

President Gordon B. Hinckley said this of the Savior:

None so great has ever walked the earth. None other has made a comparable sacrifice or granted a comparable blessing. He is the Savior and the Redeemer of the world. I believe in Him. I declare His divinity without equivocation or compromise. I love Him. I speak the name of Jesus Christ in reverence and wonder. He is our King, our Lord, our Master, the living Christ, who stands on the right hand of His Father. He lives! He lives, resplendent and wonderful, the living Son of the Living God. (“We Testify of Jesus Christ,” Ensign, March 2008, 7).

Indeed, I echo with Peter that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt 16:16) and our advocate with the Father. It is in His name we pray and through Him and His great atoning sacrifice that all blessings are bestowed upon us from our Father in Heaven including the blessing of eternal life together with our families.

I am grateful for the Lord Jesus Christ. I admit that I do not fully comprehend all that He did for me and I have a hard time thinking of Him as a brother as I do my own brothers. Nevertheless, I do know that He together with our Father in Heaven hears and answers prayers. I know that the atonement is real, for I have experienced its cleansing power and its comforting power. Although I seek the comfort and help of friends that I can see and talk to face to face, I know that Christ is always near and that I am never alone no matter how hard life may seem. This is a life of learning, mistakes, experience, and improvement, and the Lord is patient with all of us as we strive to better understand His Atonement and our own eternal potential.

Jesus is the Christ, the son of the Living God, this I know.


Further reading:

Robert D. Hales, “Gaining a Testimony of God the Father; His Son, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost,” Ensign, May 2008, 29–32
Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent,” Ensign, Nov 2007, 40–42
Kevin W. Pearson, “Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,” Ensign, May 2009, 38–40