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President Benson's Teachings About Christ
by President Ezra Taft Benson
Jesus Christ was and is the Lord God Omnipotent (see Mosiah 3:5). He was chosen before He was born. He was the all-powerful Creator of the heavens and the earth. He is the source of life and light to all things. His word is the law by which all things are governed in the universe. All things created and made by Him are subject to His infinite power. (Come unto Christ, p. 128.)
Jesus was a God in the premortal existence. (See Jesus Christ is Jehovah) Our Father in Heaven gave Him a name above all othersthe Christ. We have a volume of scripture whose major mission is to convince the world that Jesus is the Christ. It is the Book of Mormon. It is another testament of Jesus Christ. In its pages we read "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).
As far as man is concerned, we must build "upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ" (Helaman 5:12). The first and great commandment is to love Him and His Father. Jesus Christ is "the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning" (Mosiah 3:8).
"Wherefore," declared Jacob in the Book of Mormon, "if God being able to speak and the world was, and to speak and man was created, O then, why not able to command the earth, or the workmanship of his hands upon the face of it, according to his will and pleasure?" (Jacob 4:9.) God, the Creator, commands His creations even at this very moment. ("Joy in Christ," Ensign 16 [March 1986]: 3.)
A fundamental doctrine of true Christianity is the divine birth of the child Jesus. This doctrine is not generally comprehended by the world. The paternity of Jesus Christ is one of the "mysteries of godliness" comprehended only by the spiritually minded. (See 1 Timothy 3:16; D&C 19:10.)
The Apostle Matthew recorded: "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 1:18).
Luke rendered a plainer meaning to the divine conception. He quoted the angel Gabriel's words to Mary: "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy [being] which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35).
Some six hundred years before Jesus was born, an ancient prophet had a vision. He saw Mary and described her as "a virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins." He then saw her "carried away in the Spirit . . . for the space of a time." When she returned, she was "bearing a child in her arms . . . even the Son of the Eternal Father." (1 Nephi 11:15, 19-21.)
Thus the testimonies of appointed witnesses leave no question as to the paternity of Jesus Christ. God was the Father of Jesus' mortal tabernacle, and Mary, a mortal woman, was His mother. He is therefore the only person born who rightfully deserved the title "the Only Begotten Son of God." (Come unto Christ, pp. 2-3.)
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims that Jesus Christ is the Son of God in the most literal sense. The body in which He performed His mission in the flesh was sired by that same Holy Being we worship as God, our Eternal Father. Jesus was not the son of Joseph, nor was He begotten by the Holy Ghost. He is the Son of the Eternal Father. (Come unto Christ, p. 4.)
He was the Only Begotten Son of our Heavenly Father in the fleshthe only child whose mortal body was begotten by our Heavenly Father. His mortal mother, Mary, was called a virgin, both before and after she gave birth. (See 1 Nephi 11:20.) ("Joy in Christ," Ensign 16 [March 1986]: 3-4.) (See Virgin Birth)
Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He came to this earth at a foreappointed time through a royal birthright that preserved His godhood. Combined in His nature were the human attributes of His mortal mother and the divine attributes and power of His Eternal Father. As the Son of God, He inherited powers and intelligence that no human has ever had before or since. He was literally Immanuel, which means "God with us." (Come unto Christ, p. 128.)
Nearly two thousand years ago a perfect Man walked the earthJesus the Christ. He was the Son of a Heavenly Father and an earthly mother. He is the God of this world, under the Father. In His life, all the virtues were lived and kept in perfect balance; He taught men truththat they might be free; His example and precepts provide the great standardthe only sure wayfor all mankind. Among us He became the first and only one who had the power to reunite His body with His spirit after death. By His power all men who have died shall be resurrected. Before Him one day we all must stand to be judged by His laws. He lives today, and in the not too distant future shall return, in triumph, to subdue His enemies, to reward men according to their deeds, and to assume His rightful role to rule and reign in righteousness over the entire earth. (An Enemy Hath Done This, pp. 52-53.)
To qualify as the Redeemer of all our Father's children, Jesus had to be perfectly obedient to all the laws of God. Because He subjected Himself to the will of the Father, He grew from "grace to grace, until He received a fulness" of the Father's power. Thus He had "all power, both in heaven and on earth." (D&C 93:13, 17.)
Once this truth about the One we worship as the Son of God is understood, we can more readily comprehend how He had power to heal the sick, cure all manner of diseases, raise the dead, and command the elements. Even devils, whom He cast out, were subject to Him and acknowledged His divinity. (See Matthew 8:28-32.) (Come unto Christ, pp. 128-29.)
Even though He was God's Son sent to earth, the divine plan of the Father required that Jesus be subjected to all the difficulties and tribulations of mortality. Thus He became subject to "temptations, . . . hunger, thirst, and fatigue" (Mosiah 3:7). (Come unto Christ, p. 128.)
Today some unbelievers among us spread seeds of heresy, claiming that Jesus could not cast out evil spirits and did not walk on water nor heal the sick nor miraculously feed five thousand nor calm storms nor raise the dead. These would have us believe that such claims are fantastic and that there is a natural explanation for each alleged miracle. Some have gone so far as to publish psychological explanations for His reported miracles. But Jesus' entire ministry was a mark of His divinity. He spoke as God, He acted as God, and He performed works that only God Himself can do. His works bear testimony to His divinity. (Come unto Christ, p. 6.)
Because His Father was God, Jesus Christ had power that no other human had before or since. He was God in the flesheven the Son of God. He therefore, as scripture records, had power to do many miracles: raise the dead, cause the lame to walk and the blind to receive their sight, and cast out evil spirits (see Mosiah 3:5-6).
He provided His gospel as a source of constant sustenance and nourishment to keep each individual's spirituality alive forever. His own testimony is: "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:14). (Come unto Christ, pp. 75-76.)
As the great Lawgiver, He gave laws and commandments for the benefit of all our Heavenly Father's children. Indeed, His law fulfilled all previous covenants with the house of Israel. Said He: "Behold, I am the law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life." (3 Nephi 15:9.) (Come unto Christ, p. 129.)
Several years ago, a number of prominent theologians were asked the question, What do you think of Jesus? Their replies startled many professed Christians. One asserted that a "true Christian" must reject the Resurrection. Another admitted that New Testament scholars were so divided on the question that one cannot say anything certain about the historical Jesus. Another scholar and teacher of Jesuit priests explained, "It is difficult to say in our age what the divinity of Jesus can mean. We are groping now for a way to express itwe just don't know." ("Easter 1966A Quest for the True Jesus," Newsweek, April 11, 1966, p. 72.)
In a public opinion poll conducted by George Gallup, Jr., seven in ten adult American respondents said they believed in the divinity of Christ. But 90 percent of these said that Jesus is divine only in the sense that He embodies the best that is in all men (Church News, October 23, 1983). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints consents to no such ambiguity in relation to our position regarding the divinity of Jesus Christ. (Come unto Christ, p. 2.)
The question is sometimes asked, "Are Mormons Christians?" We declare the divinity of Jesus Christ. We look to Him as the only source of our salvation. We strive to live His teachings, and we look forward to the time that He shall come again on this earth to rule and reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. In the words of a Book of Mormon prophet, we say to men today, "There [is] 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). ("A Promised LordA Promised LandA Promised People," Wichita, Kansas, 11 November 1976.)
As witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ we proclaim that He truly is the Savior of all. He whose birth the Christian world celebrates is indeed the Son of God, the Redeemer, the Promised Messiah. No message is more significant than the one He brought. No event is of greater importance than His atoning sacrifice and subsequent resurrection. And no mortal tongue can express sufficient thanks for all that Jesus has done for us. ("First PresidencyChristmas Message," Church News [15 December 1985]: 3.)
We need to know that Christ invites us to come unto Him. "Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, . . . Yea he saith: Come unto me and ye shall partake of the fruit of the tree of life." (Alma 5:33-34.)
Come, for he stands "with open arms to receive you" (Mormon 6:17).
Come, for "he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause" (Jacob 3:1).
"Come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him" (Omni 1:26).
As Moroni closed the record of the Jaredite civilization, he wrote, "I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written" (Ether 12:41).
In Moroni's closing words written toward the end of the Nephite civilization, he said, "Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, . . . and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you" (Moroni 10:32).
Those who are committed to Christ "stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places" that they may be in "even until death" (Mosiah 18:9). They "retain the name" of Christ "written always" in their hearts (Mosiah 5:12). They take upon themselves "the name of Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end" (Moroni 6:3).
When we live a Christ-centered life, "we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ" (2 Nephi 25:26). We "receive the pleasing word of God, and feast upon his love" (Jacob 3:2). Even when Nephi's soul was grieved because of his iniquities, he said, "I know in whom I have trusted. My God hath been my support." (2 Nephi 4:19-20.)
We remember Alma's counsel: "Let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever. Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings." (Alma 37:36-37.)
"Remember, remember," said Helaman, "that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, . . . that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, . . . they shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery" (Helaman 5:12).
Nephi said, the Lord "hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh" (2 Nephi 4:21). Those who are consumed in Christ "are made alive in Christ" (2 Nephi 25:25). They "suffer no manner of affliction, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ" (Alma 31:38). They are "clasped in the arms of Jesus" (Mormon 5:11). Nephi said, "I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul" (2 Nephi 33:6). Lehi said, "I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love" (2 Nephi 1:15).
Now, my beloved brethren and sisters, let us read the Book of Mormon and be convinced that Jesus is the Christ. Let us continually reread the Book of Mormon so that we might more fully come to Christ, be committed to Him, centered in Him, and consumed in Him. (CR October 1987, Ensign 17 [November 1987]: 84-85.)
We should like to reaffirm to all the world that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is led by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We believe in Christ. We accept and affirm His teachings as revealed truths from God. We know Him to be the literal Son of God. We love Him as our resurrected Lord and Savior. We believe there is "none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (see Acts 4:12).
We invite all men, as the Book of Mormon declares, to "come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; . . . and love God with all your might, mind and strength" (Moroni 10:32). (Statement upon becoming President of the Church, 11 November 1985.)
Without Christ there would be no Christmas, and without Christ there can be no fulness of joy. ("Keeping Christ in Christmas," Christmas Devotional, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1 December 1985.)
The babe of Bethlehem became the Nazarene, the Man of Galilee, the Life and Light of the world, the Savior and Redeemer of mankind, the miracle of all time. More books have been written about Him, more buildings have been erected to His honor, more men have died with His name on their lips than any other person who ever lived. (God, Family, Country, p. 12.)
I bear witness to you that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the worldthe very Son of God. He was born the babe of Bethlehem. He lived and ministered among men. He was crucified on Calvary. His friends deserted Him. His closest associates did not fully understand His mission, and they doubted. One of the most trusted denied knowing Him.
A pagan governor, struggling with his conscience after consenting to Jesus' death, caused a sign to be erected over the cross proclaiming Him "JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS" (John 19:19). He asked forgiveness for His tormentors and then willingly gave up His life. His body was laid in a borrowed tomb. An immense stone was placed over the opening. In the minds of His stunned followers over and over echoed some of His last words, "Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
On the third day there was a great earthquake. The stone was rolled back from the door of the tomb. Some of the women, among the most devoted of His followers, came to the place with spices "and found not the body of the Lord Jesus" (Luke 24:3). Angels appeared and said simply, "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen." (Luke 24:5-6.) There is nothing in history to equal that dramatic announcement: "He is not here, but is risen." (CR April 1964, Improvement Era 67 [June 1964]: 503-4.)
No other single influence has had so great an impact on this earth as the life of Jesus the Christ. We cannot conceive of our lives without His teachings. Without Him we would be lost in a mirage of beliefs and worships, born in fear and darkness where the sensual and materialistic hold sway. We are far short of the goal He set for us, but we must never lose sight of it; nor must we forget that our great climb toward the light, toward perfection, would not be possible except for His teachings, His life, His death, and His resurrection. (CR April 1971, Ensign 1 [June 1971]: 33.)
I testify that Christ is the light to all mankind. He has pointed, marked out, and lighted the way. Sadly, many individuals and nations have extinguished that light and have attempted to supplant His gospel with coercion and the sword. But even to those who reject Him, He is "the light which shineth in the darkness" (John 1:5). ("The Light of Christmas," Temple Square Christmas Lighting Ceremony, Salt Lake City, Utah, 26 November 1982.)
To be like the Saviorwhat a challenge for any person! He is a member of the Godhead. He is the Savior and Redeemer. He was perfect in every aspect of His life. There was no flaw or failing in Him. Is it possible for us as priesthood holders to be even as He is? The answer is yes. Not only can we, but that is our charge. (3 Nephi 27:27.) He would not give us that commandment if He did not mean for us to do it. (CR October 1986, Ensign 16 [4 October 1986]: 45.)
May we be convinced that Jesus is the Christ, choose to follow Him, be changed for Him, captained by Him, consumed in Him, and born again. (CR October 1985, Ensign 15 [November 1985]: 7.)
(See President Benson's discourse entitled Come Unto Christ)
Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 6-13
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