Recap of the series so far
For thousands of years, it had been prophesied amongst the Israelites that God Himself would one day personally visit the earth and walk among men. ((1 Nephi 10:5)) Around two thousand years ago, in fulfillment of these prophecies, a man whom the Hebrews called Yeshua declared that He was Himself the great Jehovah whom the Israelites had worshipped for millennia, the Son of the Living God, and the rightful heir to the throne of Israel. For evidence of this remarkable claim, He did things that no ordinary man can do. He healed the sick, raised the dead, made blind men see, and made lame men walk. ((Mosiah 3:5)) He taught people to love each other and to serve God. ((Luke 10:27)) He taught as one having personal authority to declare the truth, rather than relying on the authority of scripture. ((Matthew 7:29)) Today, we know this man as Jesus Christ, an anglicized version of the Greek translation of “Yeshua, the Anointed One.” ((“Yeshua.” Wikipedia. Accessed 25 October, 2012.))
When Christ lived on the earth, He appointed apostles to lead His church and spread His teachings. ((Mark 3:14)) He was subsequently assassinated by men who feared His message, His authority, and His followers. ((Mosiah 3:9)) However, the apostles were privileged to witness the greatest miracle in history: after He died, the Savior Jesus Christ came back to life. He declared that His death and return to life had made it possible for everyone who ever lived could also, eventually, defy death and live again. ((Alma 40:5)) And, more importantly, Christ taught that because of His suffering and death, those who believe in Him—and enter into a covenant relationship with Him—can be purified of all sin, malice, and desire to do wrong. ((Mosiah 5:2)) The apostles touched the resurrected Lord, spoke with Him, and ate with Him; they testified to all they met that not only did Jesus Christ fulfill all the prophecies of His coming, but also that He lives, even though He was once dead! ((John 20:26-28, Acts 2:32)) They also taught that because of Him, everyone else will live again after they die, and can be purified of sin and evil through His grace.
Today, as we launch our new and improved website, I would like to inaugurate the occasion by sharing my conviction that this person really lived, and that He was really the Son of God, and that He really did rise from the dead. I would therefore like to share my conviction that this man who was born two thousand years ago still lives today. Many people are under the impression that Latter-day Saints don’t believe in Christ, or at least don’t worship Him as the Son of God. The reasons for this are varied and nuanced. Over the course of the next few years, we’ll probably address most of them. However, today, I would simply like to testify that as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we (1) believe in Jesus Christ, (2) worship Him as the Son of God, and (3) rely upon Him and Him alone for salvation.
We Believe in Christ
The name of our church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We believe that the LDS church is His organization. In nearly every room in every chapel built by the Church, there is a depiction of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon is subtitled, “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.” The prophet Nephi said, “We labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God. … And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” ((2 Nephi 25:23, 26)) Jacob writes, “For, for this intent have we written these things, that [future generations] may know that we knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming.” ((Jacob 4:4))
We Worship Christ
There are religious traditions that believe that Jesus Christ lived, died, and even that He was resurrected, but which do not worship Him as a manifestation of God. Islam, for example, believes that the historical Jesus was a mortal prophet who came back to life—and even that he is going to return again—but they do not believe that he was God’s son. In contrast, we not only believe in the historical Jesus, we also believe that He was the divine Son of God. Jacob, for example, invites us to “be reconciled unto [God] through the atonement of Christ, his Only Begotten Son.” ((Jacob 4:11)) In addition, we believe that “He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death.” ((Mosiah 16:9)) We believe that “all things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” ((John 1:3))
We Rely on Christ
We rely on Christ to save us from sin and death. There is no other way to become pure from sin. There’s no other way to return to God. There is no other path to salvation. We can’t do it ourselves. We can’t “oomph” ourselves to heaven. We rely completely on the Savior Jesus Christ and His grace. From cover to cover, the Book of Mormon teaches this plain and simple truth. There is not room here to include every sermon in the Book of Mormon that invites us to rely on Christ’s grace for salvation, but here are just a few select, sample passages.
The prophet Lehi taught his sons that “all mankind were in a lost and in a fallen state, and ever would be save they should rely on this Redeemer,” ((1 Nephi 10:6)) and that it was crucial—essential—to “make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah.” ((2 Nephi 2:8)) In addition, the king and prophet Benjamin taught, “And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.” ((Mosiah 3:17)) And finally, Helaman taught, “there is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, who shall come; yea, remember that he cometh to redeem the world.” ((Helaman 5:9))
In conclusion, as Latter-day Saints, we believe in Christ, we worship Christ as the Son of God, and we rely upon Him—and Him alone—for redemption from sin. In addition, as Christ left the earth after visiting His apostles after His resurrection, a messenger from God told those who lingered, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Christ lived, died, and lives again—and He will return in what many refer to as the “Second Coming.” We believe that our duties as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is to prepare the earth for the return of the Savior, by going forth to all nations and teaching about and testifying of His grace and His resurrection.
Therefore, I would like to add my voice to the millions who have testified that Jesus Christ lives today, that He directs The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through living prophets and apostles, and that through the Savior Jesus Christ (and only through Him), we can find redemption from sin, be resurrected from death, and return to God’s presence again.
Big, Take-away Ideas
(1) We believe in Jesus Christ.
(2) We worship Jesus Christ as the Son of God.
(3) We rely on Christ—and Christ alone—for salvation.