He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New. Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth. “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). Though sinless, He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. He “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it. His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come.
A Savior and Leader Was Needed
When the plan for our salvation was presented to us in the premortal spirit world, we were so happy that we shouted for joy (see Job 38:7).
We understood that we would have to leave our heavenly home for a time. We would not live in the presence of our Heavenly Father. While we were away from Him, all of us would sin and some of us would lose our way. Our Heavenly Father knew and loved each one of us. He knew we would need help, so He planned a way to help us.
We needed a Savior to pay for our sins and teach us how to return to our Heavenly Father. Our Father said, “Whom shall I send?” (Abraham 3:27). Jesus Christ, who was called Jehovah, said, “Here am I, send me” (Abraham 3:27; see also Moses 4:1–4).
Jesus was willing to come to the earth, give His life for us, and take upon Himself our sins. He, like our Heavenly Father, wanted us to choose whether we would obey Heavenly Father’s commandments. He knew we must be free to choose in order to prove ourselves worthy of exaltation. Jesus said, “Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever” (Moses 4:2).
Satan, who was called Lucifer, also came, saying, “Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor” (Moses 4:1). Satan wanted to force us all to do his will. Under his plan, we would not be allowed to choose. He would take away the freedom of choice that our Father had given us. Satan wanted to have all the honor for our salvation. Under his proposal, our purpose in coming to earth would have been frustrated (see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay , 207).
Jesus Christ Became Our Chosen Leader and Savior
After hearing both sons speak, Heavenly Father said, “I will send the first” (Abraham 3:27).
Jesus Christ was chosen and foreordained to be our Savior. Many scriptures tell about this (see, for example, 1 Peter 1:19–20; Moses 4:1–2). One scripture tells us that long before Jesus was born, He appeared to a Book of Mormon prophet known as the brother of Jared and said: “Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. … In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name” (Ether 3:14).
When Jesus lived on earth, He taught: “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. … And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:38, 40).
The War in Heaven
Because our Heavenly Father chose Jesus Christ to be our Savior, Satan became angry and rebelled. There was war in heaven. Satan and his followers fought against Jesus Christ and His followers. The Savior’s followers “overcame [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11).
In this great rebellion, Satan and all the spirits who followed him were sent away from the presence of God and cast down from heaven. A third part of the hosts of heaven were punished for following Satan (see D&C 29:36). They were denied the right to receive mortal bodies.
Because we are here on earth and have mortal bodies, we know that we chose to follow Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father. Satan and his followers are also on the earth, but as spirits. They have not forgotten who we are, and they are around us daily, tempting us and enticing us to do things that are not pleasing to our Heavenly Father. In our premortal life, we chose to follow Jesus Christ and accept God’s plan. We must continue to follow Jesus Christ here on earth. Only by following Him can we return to our heavenly home.
The Life of Christ Was Predicted Long before His Birth
Every person who comes to earth depends on Jesus Christ to fulfill the promise He made in heaven to be our Savior. Without Him, the plan of salvation would have failed. Because His mission was necessary, all of the prophets from Adam to Christ testified that He would come (see Acts 10:43). All of the prophets since Christ have testified that He did come. All of us need to study the life of the Savior and follow Him faithfully throughout our lives.
Adam learned that the Savior’s name would be Jesus Christ (see Moses 6:51–52). Enoch saw that Jesus would die upon the cross and be resurrected (see Moses 7:55–56). Noah and Moses also testified of Him (see Moses 1:11; 8:23–24). About 800 years before the Savior was born on the earth, Isaiah foresaw His life. When Isaiah saw the grief and sorrow that the Savior would suffer to pay the price for our sins, he exclaimed:
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. …
“… Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows. …
“He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities. …
“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:3–5, 7).
Nephi also saw a vision of the Savior’s future birth and mission. He saw a beautiful virgin, and an angel explained, “Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh” (1 Nephi 11:18). Then Nephi saw the virgin holding a child in her arms. The angel declared, “Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!” (1 Nephi 11:21).
About 124 years before Jesus was born, King Benjamin, another Nephite prophet, also foresaw the Savior’s life:
“For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases.
“And he shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men.
“And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.
“And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary” (Mosiah 3:5–8).
He Was the Only Begotten of the Father
The story of the birth and life of the Savior is found in the New Testament in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. From their accounts we learn that Jesus was born of a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to marry Joseph when an angel of the Lord appeared to her. The angel told her that she was to be the mother of the Son of God. She asked him how this was possible (see Luke 1:34). He told her, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Thus, God the Father became the literal Father of Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the only person on earth to be born of a mortal mother and an immortal Father. That is why He is called the Only Begotten Son. He inherited divine powers from His Father. From His mother He inherited mortality and was subject to hunger, thirst, fatigue, pain, and death. No one could take the Savior’s life from Him unless He willed it. He had power to lay it down and power to take up His body again after dying. (See John 10:17–18.)
Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the temple, where the righteous Simeon blesses the baby and rejoices that the Lord let him live to see this day. (Luke 2: 22–38)
(John 20: 31; Acts 8: 37; Acts 9: 20; 2 Cor. 1: 19; Heb. 4: 14; 1 Jn. 4: 15; 1 Jn. 5: 5; 2 Ne. 25: 19; Mosiah 3: 8; Alma 36: 17; Hel. 3: 28; 3 Ne. 5: 13, 26; 3 Ne. 9: 15; D&C 6: 21; D&C 35: 2; D&C 36: 8; D&C 46: 13; D&C 50: 27; D&C 52: 44) Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
John 3: 16 God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.
1 Jn. 4: 14 Father hath sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.
Mosiah 15: 3 conceived by the power of God.
Alma 11: 38 Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father.
He Led a Perfect Life
From His youth, Jesus obeyed all that was required of Him by our Heavenly Father. Under the guidance of Mary and Joseph, Jesus grew much as other children grow. He loved and obeyed the truth. Luke tells us, “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40; see also D&C 93:12–14).
By the time He was 12 years old, Jesus had grown in His understanding that He had been sent to do the will of His Father. He went with His parents to Jerusalem. When His parents were returning home, they discovered that He was not with their group. They went back to Jerusalem to look for Him. “After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, and they were hearing him, and asking him questions” (Joseph Smith Translation, Luke 2:46). “And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers” (Luke 2:47).
Joseph and Mary were relieved to find Him, but “they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.” Jesus answered her, saying, “Wist ye not that I must be about my [Heavenly] Father’s business?” (Luke 2:48–49).
In order to fulfill His mission, Jesus was to do the will of His Father in Heaven. “I do nothing of myself,” He declared, “but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. … I do always those things that please him” (John 8:28–29).
When Jesus was 30 years old, He came to John the Baptist to be baptized in the Jordan River. John was reluctant to baptize Jesus because he knew that Jesus was greater than he. Jesus asked John to baptize Him in order “to fulfil all righteousness.” John did baptize the Savior, immersing Him completely in the water. When Jesus was baptized, His Father spoke from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The Holy Ghost descended, as shown by the sign of the dove. (See Matthew 3:13–17.)
Soon after Jesus was baptized, He fasted for 40 days and 40 nights to be with God. After that, Satan came to tempt Him. Jesus firmly resisted all of Satan’s temptations and then commanded Satan to leave. (See Matthew 4:1–11; see also Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 4:1, 5–6, 8–9, 11.) Jesus Christ remained sinless, the one perfect being to ever walk the earth (see Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 2:21–22).
He Taught Us How to Love and Serve One Another
While traveling through Samaria, the Savior teaches a woman at Jacob’s Well that He is the “living water.” (John 4: 5–29)
A poor widow contributes her all into the temple treasury. Jesus teaches that her contribution is greater than that of the rich who gave of their abundance. (Mark 12: 41–44)
A depiction of the Savior’s parable of the good Samaritan, in which a man is robbed and beaten by thieves, and a Samaritan shows mercy on him. (Luke 10: 25–37)
After His fast and His encounter with Satan, Jesus began His public ministry. He came to earth not only to die for us but also to teach us how to live. He taught that there are two great commandments: first, to love God with all our heart, mind, and strength; and second, to love others as we love ourselves (see Matthew 22:36–39). His life is an example of how we should obey these two commandments. If we love God, we will trust and obey Him, as Jesus did. If we love others, we will help them meet their physical and spiritual needs.
Jesus spent His life serving others. He cured them of diseases. He made the blind see, the deaf hear, and the lame walk. Once when He was healing the sick, it became late and the people were hungry. Instead of sending them away, He blessed five loaves of bread and two fishes and miraculously was able to feed a multitude of 5,000 people. (See Matthew 14:14–21.) He taught that whenever we find people hungry, cold, naked, or lonely, we should help them all we can. When we help others, we are serving the Lord. (See Matthew 25:35–46.)
Jesus loved others with all His heart. Often His heart was so full of compassion that He wept. He loved little children, the elderly, and the humble, simple people who had faith in Him. He loved those who had sinned, and with great compassion He taught them to repent and be baptized. He taught, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
Jesus even loved those who sinned against him and were unrepentant. At the end of His life, as He hung on the cross, He prayed to the Father for the soldiers who had crucified Him, pleading, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). He taught, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
He Organized the Only True Church
Jesus rides in triumph into Jerusalem. The multitudes greet Him with shouts of Hosanna to the Son of David. (Matthew 21: 1–11)
Jesus wanted His gospel taught to people all over the earth, so He chose twelve Apostles to testify of Him. They were the original leaders of His Church. They received the authority to act in His name and do the works they had seen Him do. Those who received authority from them were also able to teach, baptize, and perform other ordinances in His name. After His death, they continued to do His work until the people became so wicked that they killed the Apostles.
In addition to coveting to keep the commandments Baptism is used as an ordinance to gain entrance into the Kingdom of God, memberships in His church as well as become eligible to return to the presence of God in Heaven. As such Jesus teaches Nicodemus about the necessity of every person being born again. (John 3: 1–36)
Christ Introduced the Sacrament
He instituted the sacrament as a reminder of His great atoning sacrifice.
Our Savior wants us to remember His great atoning sacrifice and keep His commandments. To help us do this, He has commanded us to meet often and partake of the sacrament.
The sacrament is a holy priesthood ordinance that helps remind us of the Savior’s Atonement. During the sacrament, we partake of bread and water. We do this in remembrance of His flesh and His blood, which He gave as a sacrifice for us. As we partake of the sacrament, we renew sacred covenants with our Heavenly Father.
Shortly before His Crucifixion, Jesus Christ gathered His Apostles around Him in an upstairs room. He knew He would soon die on the cross. This was the last time He would meet with these beloved men before His death. He wanted them to always remember Him so they could be strong and faithful.
To help them remember, He introduced the sacrament. He broke bread into pieces and blessed it. Then He said, “Take, eat; this is in remembrance of my body which I give a ransom for you” (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 26:22). Next He took a cup of wine, blessed it, gave it to His Apostles to drink, and said, “This is in remembrance of my blood … , which is shed for as many as shall believe on my name, for the remission of their sins” (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 26:24; see also Matthew 26:26–28; Mark 14:22–24; Luke 22:15–20).
Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a basin, and he began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter; and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, what I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
Peter saith unto him, Thou needest not to wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that has washed his hands and his head, needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit; and ye are clean, but not all. Now this was the custom of the Jews under their law; wherefore, Jesus did this that the law might be fulfilled. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord; and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed you feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. (John 13:1–17)
After His Resurrection, the Savior came to the Americas and taught the Nephites the same ordinance (see 3 Nephi 18:1–11; 20:1–9). After the Church was restored in the latter days, Jesus once again commanded His people to partake of the sacrament in remembrance of Him, saying, “It is expedient that the church meet together often to partake of bread and wine in the remembrance of the Lord Jesus” (D&C 20:75).
How the Sacrament Is Administered
The scriptures explain exactly how the sacrament is to be administered. Members of the Church meet each Sabbath day to worship and partake of the sacrament (see D&C 20:75). The sacrament is administered by those who hold the necessary priesthood authority. A priest or Melchizedek Priesthood holder breaks bread into pieces, kneels, and blesses it (see D&C 20:76). A deacon or other priesthood holder then passes the sacrament bread to the congregation. Then the priest or Melchizedek Priesthood holder blesses the water, and it too is passed to the members. Jesus gave His disciples wine when He introduced the sacrament. However, in a latter-day revelation He has said that it doesn’t matter what we eat and drink during the sacrament as long as we remember Him (see D&C 27:2–3). Today, Latter-day Saints drink water instead of wine.
Jesus has revealed the exact words for both sacrament prayers. We should listen carefully to these beautiful prayers and try to understand what we are promising and what is being promised to us. Here is the prayer that is offered to bless the bread:
“O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen” (D&C 20:77).
Here is the prayer that is offered to bless the wine (water):
“O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this wine [water] to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them; that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen” (D&C 20:79).
The ordinance of the sacrament is performed very simply and reverently.
The Covenants We Renew during the Sacrament
Each time we partake of the sacrament, we renew covenants with the Lord. A covenant is a sacred promise between the Lord and His children. The covenants we make are clearly stated in the sacramental prayers. It is important to know what those covenants are and what they mean.
We covenant that we are willing to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ. By this we show we are willing to be identified with Him and His Church. We commit to serve Him and our fellowman. We promise that we will not bring shame or reproach upon that name.
We covenant to always remember Jesus Christ. All our thoughts, feelings, and actions will be influenced by Him and His mission.
We promise to keep His commandments.
We take these obligations upon ourselves when we are baptized (see D&C 20:37; Mosiah 18:6–10). Thus, when we partake of the sacrament, we renew the covenants we made when we were baptized. Jesus gave us the pattern for partaking of the sacrament (see 3 Nephi 18:1–12) and said that when we follow this pattern, repenting of our sins and believing on His name, we will gain a remission of our sins (see Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 26:24).
The Lord promises that if we keep our covenants, we will always have His Spirit to be with us. A person guided by the Spirit will have the knowledge, faith, power, and righteousness to gain eternal life.
He was arrested and condemned on spurious charges, convicted to satisfy a mob, and sentenced to die on Calvary’s cross. He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind. His was a great vicarious gift in behalf of all who would ever live upon the earth.
His priesthood and His Church have been restored upon the earth—“built upon the foundation of … apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Eph. 2:20).
The Meaning of the Sabbath Day
The word Sabbath comes from a Hebrew word meaning rest. Before the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Sabbath day commemorated God’s day of rest after He finished the Creation. It was a sign of the covenant between God and His people. We read in the book of Genesis that God created the heavens and the earth in six periods of time, which He called days: “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it” (Genesis 2:2–3). Now the Sabbath also commemorates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Sabbath day is every seventh day. It is a holy day ordained by God for us to rest from our daily labors and worship Him.
The Purpose of the Sabbath Day
Jesus taught that the Sabbath day was made for our benefit (see Mark 2:27). The purpose of the Sabbath is to give us a certain day of the week on which to direct our thoughts and actions toward God. It is not a day merely to rest from work. It is a sacred day to be spent in worship and reverence. As we rest from our usual daily activities, our minds are freed to ponder spiritual matters. On this day we should renew our covenants with the Lord and feed our souls on the things of the Spirit.
History of the Sabbath
The seventh day was consecrated by God as a Sabbath in the beginning of the earth (see Genesis 2:2–3). Since earliest times, the tradition of a sacred seventh day has been preserved among various peoples of the earth. God renewed a commandment concerning this day to the Israelites, saying, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). Keeping the Sabbath day was also a sign that the Israelites were His covenant people (see Exodus 31:12–13, 16; Isaiah 56:1–8; Jeremiah 17:19–27).
Instituted to commemorate God’s seventh day of rest at the Creation (Ex. 20: 10-11), and also the redemption from Egyptian bondage (Deut. 5: 15). On the Sabbath the daily sacrifices were doubled; the loaves of the shewbread were changed; the people abstained from all manner of work, and it was a day of holy assembly.
The Sabbath was a holy day before the giving of the law, even from the earliest times (cf. the account of the creation – Gen. 2: 2-3; the sacredness of the number 7; the narrative of the manna – Ex. 16: 32-36; cf. v. 34); but we have no evidence of its observance in patriarchal times. This is no doubt due to the scantiness of the record, for the Sabbath is an eternal principle, and would have existed from the days of Adam, whenever the gospel was on the earth among men.
After the return from the exile Nehemiah made the observance of the Sabbath one of the chief points of his reformation (Neh. 10: 31; Neh. 13: 15-22), and the strictness with which it was kept by the Jews became a well-known fact. In course of time many regulations grew up, and were observed by the Pharisees. One of the charges frequently brought against our Lord was that of Sabbath breaking, but this was because he failed to conform to the traditions and manmade regulations concerning the Sabbath. Jesus obeyed the letter and the spirit of the Sabbath, but was not obligated to follow the traditions of the elders of the Jews.
However, some Jewish leaders made many unnecessary rules about the Sabbath. They decided how far people could walk, what kind of knots they could tie, and so forth. When certain Jewish leaders criticized Jesus Christ for healing sick people on the Sabbath, Jesus reminded them that the Sabbath was made for the benefit of man.
The Nephites also observed the Sabbath day according to the commandments of God (see Jarom 1:5).
After the Ascension of Christ, the members of the Church, whether Jews or Gentiles, kept holy the first day of the week (the Lord’s day) as a weekly commemoration of our Lord’s Resurrection (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Rev. 1:10); and by degrees the observance of the seventh day was discontinued. (See Lord’s Day.)
The change from observing the last day of the week to the first day of the week is not so important as is the concept and principle of the Sabbath. In either case, the Sabbath was symbolic of the mighty works of God: the creation of the earth, the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
In modern times the Lord has repeated His commandment that we should remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy (see D&C 68:29).
Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy
The Lord asks us, first, to sanctify the Sabbath day. In a revelation given to Joseph Smith in 1831, the Lord commanded the Saints to go to the house of prayer and offer up their sacraments, rest from their labors, and pay their devotions to the Most High (see D&C 59:9–12).
Second, He asks us to rest from daily work. This means we should perform no labor that would keep us from giving our full attention to spiritual matters. The Lord told the Israelites, “Thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle” (Exodus 20:10). Our prophets have told us that we should not shop, hunt, fish, attend sports events, or participate in similar activities on that day.
President Spencer W. Kimball cautioned, however, that if we merely lounge about doing nothing on the Sabbath, we are not keeping the day holy. The Sabbath calls for constructive thoughts and acts. (See Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball , 170.)
What kinds of things may we do on the Sabbath? The prophet Isaiah suggested that we should turn away from doing our own pleasure and should “call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable” (Isaiah 58:13).
He Redeemed Us from Our Sins and Saved Us from Death
Near the end of His mortal ministry, Jesus prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for all the sins of mankind. He had been condemned to die because He had testified to the people that He was the Son of God.
The night before His Crucifixion, Jesus went to a garden called Gethsemane. Soon He was weighed down by deep sorrow and wept as He prayed. Latter-day Apostle Orson F. Whitney was permitted to see the Savior’s suffering in a vision. Seeing the Savior weep, he said: “I was so moved at the sight that I also wept, out of pure sympathy. My whole heart went out to Him; I loved Him with all my soul, and longed to be with Him as I longed for nothing else” (“The Divinity of Jesus Christ,” Improvement Era, Jan. 1926, 224–25; see also Ensign, Dec. 2003, 10). Jesus “went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39).
Jesus admonishes Peter to remain faithful and strengthen his brethren. Peter professes his devotion to Jesus. Jesus foretells Peter’s denial and then gives the Intercessory Prayer. (Luke 22: 31–34)
Jesus, Peter, James, and John retire to the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus submits to the Father’s will and begins to suffer for the sins and afflictions of mankind. He is then betrayed and arrested. (Matthew 26: 36–57)
Jesus is tried before Caiaphas and the chief priests. Peter denies knowing Him and weeps bitterly. (Matthew 26: 57–75)
Jesus is arraigned and questioned before Pilate, who finds no fault in Him. Yielding to the multitude, Pilate allows Barabbas to be released and Jesus to be crucified. (Matthew 27: 1–2, 11–25)
The Savior’s body is taken by Joseph of Arimathea to a garden tomb. Angels appear and remove the stone from the front of the tomb. Mary and other women visit the empty tomb. (Matthew 27: 57–60)
Jesus Christ “came into the world … to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness; that through him all might be saved” (D&C 76:41–42). The great sacrifice He made to pay for our sins and overcome death is called the Atonement. It is the most important event that has ever occurred in the history of mankind: “For it is expedient that an atonement should be made; for according to the great plan of the Eternal God there must be an atonement made, or else all mankind must unavoidably perish; … yea, all are fallen and are lost, and must perish except it be through the atonement” (Alma 34:9).
The Fall of Adam brought two kinds of death into the world: physical death and spiritual death. Physical death is separation of the body and spirit. Spiritual death is separation from God. If these two kinds of death had not been overcome by Jesus Christ’s Atonement, two consequences would have resulted: our bodies and our spirits would have been separated forever, and we could not have lived again with our Heavenly Father (see 2 Nephi 9:7–9).
But our wise Heavenly Father prepared a wonderful, merciful plan to save us from physical and spiritual death. He planned for a Savior to come to earth to ransom (redeem) us from our sins and from death. Because of our sins and the weakness of our mortal bodies, we could not ransom ourselves (see Alma 34:10–12). The one who would be our Savior would need to be sinless and to have power over death.
Jesus Christ Was the Only One Who Could Atone for Our Sins
There are several reasons why Jesus Christ was the only person who could be our Savior. One reason is that Heavenly Father chose Him to be the Savior. He was the Only Begotten Son of God and thus had power over death. Jesus explained: “I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again” (John 10:17–18).
Jesus also qualified to be our Savior because He is the only person who has ever lived on the earth who did not sin. This made Him a worthy sacrifice to pay for the sins of others.
His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary. He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world.
Christ Suffered and Died to Atone for Our Sins
The Savior atoned for our sins by suffering in Gethsemane and by giving His life on the cross. It is impossible for us to fully understand how He suffered for all of our sins. In the Garden of Gethsemane, the weight of our sins caused Him to feel such agony that He bled from every pore (see D&C 19:18–19). Later, as He hung upon the cross, Jesus suffered painful death by one of the most cruel methods known to man.
How Jesus loves us, to suffer such spiritual and physical agony for our sake! How great the love of Heavenly Father that He would send His Only Begotten Son to suffer and die for the rest of His children. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
In a modern revelation the Savior described how great His suffering was, saying it caused Him “to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit” (D&C 19:18). He suffered “according to the flesh,” taking upon himself our pains, sicknesses, infirmities, and sins (see Alma 7:10–13). No mortal person can comprehend just how great this burden was. No other person could have endured such agony of body and spirit. “He descended below all things … that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth” (D&C 88:6).
But His suffering was not yet complete. The following day, Jesus was beaten, humiliated, and spit upon. He was required to carry His own cross; then He was lifted up and nailed to it. He was tortured in one of the cruelest ways men have ever devised. After suffering on the cross, He cried out in agony, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). In Jesus’s bitterest hour, the Father had withdrawn from Him so Jesus could finish suffering the penalty for the sins of all mankind that Jesus might have complete victory over the forces of sin and death (see James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. , 660–61).
When the Savior knew that His sacrifice had been accepted by the Father, He exclaimed in a loud voice, “It is finished” (John 19:30). “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46). He bowed His head and voluntarily gave up His spirit. The Savior was dead. A violent earthquake shook the earth.
Some friends took the Savior’s body to a tomb, where it lay until the third day. During this time His spirit went and organized the missionary work to other spirits who needed to receive His gospel (see 1 Peter 3:18–20; D&C 138). On the third day, a Sunday, He returned to His body and took it up again. He was the first to overcome death. The prophecy had been fulfilled “that he must rise again from the dead” (John 20:9).
The Atonement and Resurrection Bring Resurrection to All
On the third day after His Crucifixion, Christ took up His body again and became the first person to be resurrected. When His friends went to seek Him, the angels who guarded His tomb told them, “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said” (Matthew 28:6). His spirit had reentered His body, never to be separated again.
Christ thus overcame physical death. Because of His Atonement, everyone born on this earth will be resurrected (see 1 Corinthians 15:21–22). Just as Jesus was resurrected, our spirits will be reunited with our bodies, “that they can die no more … , never to be divided” (Alma 11:45). This condition is called immortality. All people who have ever lived will be resurrected, “both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous” (Alma 11:44).
Shortly after His Resurrection, the Savior appeared to the Nephites and established His Church in the Americas. He taught the people and blessed them. This moving account is found in 3 Nephi 11 through 28.
Many have testified of him since, one of whom was Stephen at this death when he declared:
The Lord’s Day
Why was the Sabbath changed from the seventh day to the first day?
Until His Resurrection, Jesus Christ and His disciples honored the seventh day as the Sabbath. After His Resurrection, Sunday was held sacred as the Lord’s day in remembrance of His Resurrection on that day (see Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2). After the ascension of Christ, the members of the Church, whether Jews or gentiles, kept holy the first day of the week (the Lord’s day) as a weekly commemoration of our Lord’s resurrection (Acts 20: 7; 1 Cor. 16: 2; Rev. 1: 10); and by degrees the observance of the seventh day was discontinued. (See Lord’s Day.)
From that time on, His followers observed the first day of the week as their Sabbath. In both cases there were six days of labor and one for rest and devotion.The Lord has given us a direct commandment in these days that we too should honor Sunday, the Lord’s day, as our Sabbath (see D&C 59:12).
Latter-day revelation confirms the significance of the Sabbath (or Lord’s day), in D&C 59. For other references to the Sabbath see 2 Kgs. 4: 23; 2 Kgs. 11: 5-7; Isa. 1: 13; Isa. 58: 13; Jer. 17: 20-27; Ezek. 20: 12-13, 16; Hosea 2: 11; Amos 8: 5; Matt. 12: 1-13; Mark 2: 23-28; Mark 3: 1-5; Luke 6: 1-10; Luke 13: 11-16; Luke 14: 1-5; John 5: 18; John 7: 21-24; Rom. 14: 5-6; Gal. 4: 10; Col. 2: 16.
The Atonement Makes It Possible for Those Who Have Faith in Christ to Be Saved from Their Sins
The Savior’s Atonement makes it possible for us to overcome spiritual death. Although all people will be resurrected, only those who accept the Atonement will be saved from spiritual death (see Articles of Faith 1:3).
We accept Christ’s Atonement by placing our faith in Him. Through this faith, we repent of our sins, are baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and obey His commandments. We become faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. We are forgiven and cleansed from sin and prepared to return and live forever with our Heavenly Father.
The Savior tells us, “For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer … even as I” (D&C 19:16–17). Christ did His part to atone for our sins. To make His Atonement fully effective in our lives, we must strive to obey Him and repent of our sins.
President Boyd K. Packer of the Council of the Twelve gave the following illustration to show how Christ’s Atonement makes it possible to be saved from sin if we do our part.
“Let me tell you a story—a parable.
“There once was a man who wanted something very much. It seemed more important than anything else in his life. In order for him to have his desire, he incurred a great debt.
“He had been warned about going into that much debt, and particularly about his creditor. But it seemed so important for him to do what he wanted to do and to have what he wanted right now. He was sure he could pay for it later.
“So he signed a contract. He would pay it off some time along the way. He didn’t worry too much about it, for the due date seemed such a long time away. He had what he wanted now, and that was what seemed important.
“The creditor was always somewhere in the back of his mind, and he made token payments now and again, thinking somehow that the day of reckoning really would never come.
“But as it always does, the day came, and the contract fell due. The debt had not been fully paid. His creditor appeared and demanded payment in full.
“Only then did he realize that his creditor not only had the power to repossess all that he owned, but the power to cast him into prison as well.
“‘I cannot pay you, for I have not the power to do so,’ he confessed.
“‘Then,’ said the creditor, ‘we will exercise the contract, take your possessions, and you shall go to prison. You agreed to that. It was your choice. You signed the contract, and now it must be enforced.’
“‘Can you not extend the time or forgive the debt?’ the debtor begged. ‘Arrange some way for me to keep what I have and not go to prison. Surely you believe in mercy? Will you not show mercy?’
“The creditor replied, ‘Mercy is always so one-sided. It would serve only you. If I show mercy to you, it will leave me unpaid. It is justice I demand. Do you believe in justice?’
“‘I believed in justice when I signed the contract,’ the debtor said. ‘It was on my side then, for I thought it would protect me. I did not need mercy then, nor think I should need it ever. Justice, I thought, would serve both of us equally as well.’
“‘It is justice that demands that you pay the contract or suffer the penalty,’ the creditor replied. ‘That is the law. You have agreed to it and that is the way it must be. Mercy cannot rob justice.’
“There they were: One meting out justice, the other pleading for mercy. Neither could prevail except at the expense of the other.
“‘If you do not forgive the debt there will be no mercy,’ the debtor pleaded.
“‘If I do, there will be no justice,’ was the reply.
“Both laws, it seemed, could not be served. They are two eternal ideals that appear to contradict one another. Is there no way for justice to be fully served, and mercy also?
“There is a way! The law of justice can be fully satisfied and mercy can be fully extended—but it takes someone else. And so it happened this time.
“The debtor had a friend. He came to help. He knew the debtor well. He knew him to be shortsighted. He thought him foolish to have gotten himself into such a predicament. Nevertheless, he wanted to help because he loved him. He stepped between them, faced the creditor, and made this offer.
“‘I will pay the debt if you will free the debtor from his contract so that he may keep his possessions and not go to prison.’
“As the creditor was pondering the offer, the mediator added, ‘You demanded justice. Though he cannot pay you, I will do so. You will have been justly dealt with and can ask no more. It would not be just.’
“And so the creditor agreed.
“The mediator turned then to the debtor. ‘If I pay your debt, will you accept me as your creditor?’
“‘Oh yes, yes,’ cried the debtor. ‘You save me from prison and show mercy to me.’
“‘Then,’ said the benefactor, ‘you will pay the debt to me and I will set the terms. It will not be easy, but it will be possible. I will provide a way. You need not go to prison.’
“And so it was that the creditor was paid in full. He had been justly dealt with. No contract had been broken.
“The debtor, in turn, had been extended mercy. Both laws stood fulfilled. Because there was a mediator, justice had claimed its full share, and mercy was fully satisfied” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1977, 79–80; or Ensign, May 1977, 54–55).
Our sins are our spiritual debts. Without Jesus Christ, who is our Savior and Mediator, we would all pay for our sins by suffering spiritual death. But because of Him, if we will keep His terms, which are to repent and keep His commandments, we may return to live with our Heavenly Father.
It is wonderful that Christ has provided us a way to be healed from our sins. He said:
“Behold, I have come unto the world … to save the world from sin.
“Therefore, whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive, for of such is the kingdom of God. Behold, for such I have laid down my life, and have taken it up again; therefore repent, and come unto me ye ends of the earth, and be saved” (3 Nephi 9:21–22).
“For the Father judgeth no man, but hath acommitted all bjudgment unto the Son: That all men should ahonour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that bhonoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and abelieveth on him that sent me, hath everlasting blife, and shall not come into ccondemnation; but is passed from ddeath unto elife.” (John 5:22–24)
- • Alma 34:9–16 (Atonement necessary; sacrifice of God)
- • 2 Nephi 9:7–12 (the Atonement saves us from physical and spiritual death)
- • Romans 5:12–17 (by one came death, by one came life)
- • Helaman 14:15–18 (purpose of Jesus’s death)
- • Articles of Faith 1:3 (all may be saved)
- • 1 Peter 1:18–20 (Jesus was foreordained)
- • Matthew 16:21 (Jesus’s sacrifice was necessary)
- • Luke 22:39–46 (Jesus’s suffering in the garden)
- • 1 John 1:7 (Jesus cleanses from sin)
- • 2 Nephi 9:21–22 (the Savior suffered for all people)
- • Mosiah 16:6–8 (resurrection possible only through Jesus)
- • Alma 11:40–45; Mormon 9:12–14 (all to be resurrected)
- • Isaiah 1:18 (sins shall be made white)
- • 1 Corinthians 15:40–44; Alma 40:23 (description of the Resurrection)
His Sacrifice Showed His Love for His Father and for Us
Jesus taught: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:13–14). He willingly and humbly went through the sorrow in Gethsemane and the suffering on the cross so we could receive all the blessings of the plan of salvation. To receive these blessings, we must come unto Him, repent of our sins, and love Him with all our hearts. He said:
“And this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.
“And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me … that they may be judged according to their works. …
“For the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do. …
“Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am” (3 Nephi 27:13–15, 21, 27; italics added).
He rose from the grave to “become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Cor. 15:20). As Risen Lord, He visited among those He had loved in life. He also ministered among His “other sheep” (John 10:16) in ancient America. In the modern world, He and His Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith, ushering in the long-promised “dispensation of the fulness of times” (Eph. 1:10).
Of the Living Christ, the Prophet Joseph wrote: “His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:
“I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father” (D&C 110:3–4).
Of Him the Prophet also declared: “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
“For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—
“That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:22–24).
Jesus Christ Will Return to the Earth
The Savior told Joseph Smith, “I will reveal myself from heaven with power and great glory … and dwell in righteousness with men on earth a thousand years, and the wicked shall not stand” (D&C 29:11; see also chapters 44 and 45 in this book). Jesus has told us that certain signs and events will warn us when the time of His Second Coming is near.
For thousands of years, followers of Jesus Christ have looked forward to the Second Coming as a time of peace and joy. But before the Savior comes, the people of the earth will experience great trials and calamities. Our Heavenly Father wants us to be prepared for these troubles. He also expects us to be spiritually ready when the Savior comes in His glory. Therefore, He has given us signs, which are events that will tell us when the Savior’s Second Coming is near. Throughout the ages God has revealed these signs to His prophets. He has said that all faithful followers of Christ will know what the signs are and will be watching for them (see D&C 45:39). If we are obedient and faithful, we will study the scriptures and know of the signs.
Some of the signs foretelling the Second Coming of Jesus Christ have already been or are now being fulfilled. Others will be fulfilled in the future.
Wickedness, War, and Turmoil to Proceed the Return of Our Lord and Savior
Many of the signs are terrifying and dreadful. The prophets have warned that the earth will experience great turmoil, wickedness, war, and suffering. The prophet Daniel said that the time before the Second Coming would be a time of trouble such as the earth has never known (see Daniel 12:1). The Lord said, “The love of men shall wax cold, and iniquity shall abound” (D&C 45:27). “And all things shall be in commotion; and … fear shall come upon all people” (D&C 88:91). We can expect earthquakes, disease, famines, great storms, lightnings, and thunder (see Matthew 24:7; D&C 88:90). Hailstorms will destroy the crops of the earth (see D&C 29:16).
Jesus told His disciples that war would fill the earth: “Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars. … For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:6–7). The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “Be not discouraged when we tell you of perilous times, for they must shortly come, for the sword, famine, and pestilence are approaching. There shall be great destructions upon the face of this land, for ye need not suppose that one jot or tittle of the prophecies of all the holy prophets shall fail, and there are many that remain to be fulfilled yet” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 252).
Many of these signs are being fulfilled. Wickedness is everywhere. Nations are constantly at war. Earthquakes and other calamities are occurring. Many people now suffer from devastating storms, drought, hunger, and diseases. We can be certain that these calamities will become more severe before the Lord comes.
However, not all the events preceding the Second Coming are dreadful. Many of them bring joy to the world.
The Restoration of the Gospel before the return of Jesus Christ
The Lord said, “Light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness, and it shall be the fulness of my gospel” (D&C 45:28). Prophets of old foretold the Restoration of the gospel. The Apostle John saw that the gospel would be restored by an angel (see Revelation 14:6–7). In fulfillment of this prophecy, the angel Moroni and other heavenly visitors brought the gospel of Jesus Christ to Joseph Smith.
The Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ
The Lord told the Nephites of another sign: the Book of Mormon would come to their descendants (see 3 Nephi 21). In Old Testament times the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel foresaw the coming of the Book of Mormon (see Isaiah 29:4–18; Ezekiel 37:16–20). These prophecies are now being fulfilled. The Book of Mormon has been brought forth and is being taken to all the world.
The Gospel of Christ Preached to All the World
Another sign of the last days is that the “gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations” (Matthew 24:14; see also Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:31). All people will hear the fulness of the gospel in their own language (see D&C 90:11). Ever since the Restoration of the Church, missionaries have preached the gospel. The missionary effort has increased until now tens of thousands of missionaries preach in many countries of the world in many languages. Before the Second Coming and during the Millennium, the Lord will provide ways to bring the truth to all nations.
The Coming of Elijah
The prophet Malachi prophesied that before the Savior’s Second Coming, the prophet Elijah would be sent to the earth. Elijah would restore the sealing powers so families could be sealed together. He would also inspire people to be concerned about their ancestors and descendants. (See Malachi 4:5–6; D&C 2.) The prophet Elijah came to Joseph Smith in April 1836. Since that time, interest in genealogy and family history has grown. We are also able to perform sealing ordinances in the temples for the living and the dead.
Lehi’s Descendants Will Become a Great People
The Lord said that when His coming was near, the Lamanites would become a righteous and respected people. He said, “Before the great day of the Lord shall come, … the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose” (D&C 49:24). Great numbers of Lehi’s descendants are now receiving the blessings of the gospel.
Building of the New Jerusalem
Near the time of the coming of Jesus Christ, the faithful Saints will build a righteous city, a city of God, called the New Jerusalem. Jesus Christ Himself will rule there. (See 3 Nephi 21:23–25; Moses 7:62–64; Articles of Faith 1:10.) The Lord said the city will be built in the state of Missouri in the United States (see D&C 84:2–3).
These are only a few of the signs that the Lord has given us. The scriptures describe many more.
Knowing the Signs of the Times Can Help Us
Speaking of His Second Coming, the Lord said, “The hour and the day no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven” (D&C 49:7). He taught this with the parable of the fig tree. He said that when we see a fig tree putting forth leaves, we can tell that summer will soon come. Likewise, when we see the signs described in the scriptures, we can know that His coming is near. (See Matthew 24:32–33.)
The Lord gives these signs to help us. We can put our lives in order and prepare ourselves and our families for those things yet to come.
We have been warned of calamities and told to prepare for them, but we can also look forward to the coming of the Savior and be glad. The Lord said, “Be not troubled, for, when all these things [the signs] shall come to pass, ye may know that the promises which have been made unto you shall be fulfilled” (D&C 45:35). He said those who are righteous when He comes will not be destroyed “but shall abide the day. And the earth shall be given unto them for an inheritance; … and their children shall grow up without sin. … For the Lord shall be in their midst, and his glory shall be upon them, and he will be their king and their lawgiver” (D&C 45:57–59).
- • 1 Corinthians 15:22–28 (the end cometh; death is done away)
- • Matthew 16:1–4 (discern signs of the times)
- • Matthew 24; D&C 29:14–23; 45:17–57; 88:87–94; Joseph Smith—Matthew 1 (signs of the Second Coming)
- • 1 Thessalonians 5:1–6 (watch for the signs and prepare)
- • D&C 38:30 (prepare so we might not fear)
- • D&C 68:11 (we can know the signs)
He will someday return to earth. “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Isa. 40:5). He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts.
Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son.
How Will We Know When the Savior’s Coming Is Near?
When Jesus Christ was born, very few people knew that the Savior of the world had come. When He comes again, there will be no doubt who He is. No one knows the exact time that the Savior will come again. “Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36; see also D&C 49:7).
The Lord used a parable to give us an idea of the time of His coming:
“Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:
“So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors” (Mark 13:28–29).
The Lord has also given us some signs to let us know when His coming is near. After revealing the signs, He cautioned:
“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. …
“… Be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:42, 44).
Looking forward to the Savior’s Second Coming
Forty days after His Resurrection, Jesus and His Apostles were gathered together on the Mount of Olives. The time had come for Jesus to leave the earth. He had completed all the work that He had to do at that time. He was to return to our Heavenly Father until the time of His Second Coming.
After He had instructed His Apostles, Jesus ascended into heaven. While the Apostles looked up into the heavens, two angels stood beside them and said, “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” (Acts 1:11).
From that time until the present day, the followers of Jesus Christ have looked forward to the Second Coming.
What Will Jesus Do When He Comes Again?
When Jesus Christ comes again to the earth, He will do the following things:
- 1. He will cleanse the earth. When Jesus comes again, He will come in power and great glory. At that time the wicked will be destroyed. All things that are corrupt will be burned, and the earth will be cleansed by fire (see D&C 101:24–25).
- 2. He will judge His people. When Jesus comes again, He will judge the nations and will divide the righteous from the wicked (see Matthew 25:31–46; see also chapter 46 in this book). John the Revelator wrote about this judgment: “I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, … and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” The wicked he saw “lived not again until the thousand years were finished” (Revelation 20:4–5; see also D&C 88:95–98).
- 3. He will usher in the Millennium. The Millennium is the thousand-year period when Jesus will reign on the earth. The righteous will be caught up to meet Jesus at His coming (see D&C 88:96). His coming will begin the millennial reign. (See chapter 45 in this book.)President Brigham Young said:“In the Millennium, when the Kingdom of God is established on the earth in power, glory and perfection, and the reign of wickedness that has so long prevailed is subdued, the Saints of God will have the privilege of building their temples, and of entering into them, becoming, as it were, pillars in the temples of God [see Revelation 3:12], and they will officiate for their dead. Then we will see our friends come up, and perhaps some that we have been acquainted with here. … And we will have revelations to know our forefathers clear back to Father Adam and Mother Eve, and we will enter into the temples of God and officiate for them. Then [children] will be sealed to [parents] until the chain is made perfect back to Adam, so that there will be a perfect chain of Priesthood from Adam to the winding-up scene” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young , 333–34).
- 4. He will complete the First Resurrection. Those who have obtained the privilege of coming forth in the resurrection of the just will rise from their graves. They will be caught up to meet the Savior as He comes down from heaven. (See D&C 88:97–98.)After Jesus Christ rose from the dead, other righteous people who had died were also resurrected. They appeared in Jerusalem and also on the American continent. (See Matthew 27:52–53; 3 Nephi 23:9–10.) This was the beginning of the First Resurrection. Some people have been resurrected since then. Those who already have been resurrected and those who will be resurrected at the time of His coming will all inherit the glory of the celestial kingdom (see D&C 76:50–70).After the resurrection of those who will inherit celestial glory, another group will be resurrected: those who will receive a terrestrial glory. When all these people have been resurrected, the First Resurrection will be completed.The wicked who are living at the time of the Second Coming of the Lord will be destroyed in the flesh. They, along with the wicked who are already dead, will have to wait until the last resurrection. All of the remaining dead will rise to meet God. They will either inherit the telestial kingdom or be cast into outer darkness with Satan (see D&C 76:32–33, 81–112).
- 5. He will take His rightful place as King of heaven and earth. When Jesus comes, He will establish His government on the earth. The Church will become part of that kingdom. He will rule all the people of the earth in peace for 1,000 years.When Jesus Christ first came to the earth, He did not come in glory. He was born in a lowly stable and laid in a manger of hay. He did not come with great armies as the Jews had expected of their Savior. Instead, He came saying, “Love your enemies, … do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you” (Matthew 5:44). He was rejected and crucified. But He will not be rejected at His Second Coming, “for every ear shall hear it, and every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess” that Jesus is the Christ (D&C 88:104). He will be greeted as “Lord of lords, and King of kings” (Revelation 17:14). He will be called “Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
Judgments of God
We are often told in the scriptures that the day will come when we will stand before God and be judged. We need to understand how judgment takes place so we can be better prepared for this important event.
The scriptures teach that all of us will be judged according to our works: “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” (Revelation 20:12; see also D&C 76:111; 1 Nephi 15:32; Abraham 3:25–28). We will also be judged “according to the desire of [our] hearts” (D&C 137:9; see also Alma 41:3).
Here on earth we are often judged as to our worthiness to receive opportunities within the kingdom of God. When we are baptized we are judged worthy to receive this ordinance. When we are called to serve in the Church or interviewed for a priesthood advancement or a temple recommend, we are judged.
Alma taught that when we die our spirits are assigned to a state of happiness or of misery (see Alma 40:11–15). This is a judgment.
Our Words, Works, and Thoughts Are Used to Judge Us
The prophet Alma testified, “Our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; … and our thoughts will also condemn us” (Alma 12:14).
The Lord said: “Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matthew 12:36–37).
Faith in Jesus Christ helps us be prepared for the Final Judgment. Through faithful discipleship to Him and repentance of all our sins, we can be forgiven for our sins and become pure and holy so that we can dwell in the presence of God. As we repent of our sins, giving up every impure thought and act, the Holy Ghost will change our hearts so we no longer have even the desire to sin (see Mosiah 5:2). Then when we are judged, we will be found ready to enter into God’s presence.
We Will Be Judged by Records
The Prophet Joseph Smith said that the dead will be judged out of records kept on earth. We will also be judged out of the “book of life,” which is kept in heaven (see D&C 128:6–8).
“Every one of you … must stand before ‘the judgment-seat of the Holy One of Israel … and then must … be judged according to the holy judgment of God.’ (II Nephi 9:15.) And according to the vision of John, ‘The books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.’ (Rev. 20:12.) The ‘books’ spoken of refer to the ‘records [of your works] which are kept on the earth. … The book of life is the record which is kept in heaven.’ (Doc. and Cov. 128:7.)” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee , 226–27).
There is another record that will be used to judge us. The Apostle Paul taught that we ourselves are a record of our life (see Romans 2:15). Stored in our body and mind is a complete history of everything we have done. President John Taylor taught this truth: “[The individual] tells the story himself, and bears witness against himself. … That record that is written by the man himself in the tablets of his own mind, that record that cannot lie will in that day be unfolded before God and angels, and those who shall sit as judges” (Deseret News, Mar. 8, 1865, 179).
The Apostle John taught that “the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son” (John 5:22). The Son, in turn, will call upon others to assist in the Judgment. The Twelve who were with Him in His ministry will judge the twelve tribes of Israel (see Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30). The twelve Nephite disciples will judge the Nephite and Lamanite people (see 1 Nephi 12:9–10; Mormon 3:18–19).
Inheriting a Place in a Kingdom of Glory
At the Final Judgment we will inherit a place in the kingdom for which we are prepared. The scriptures teach of three kingdoms of glory—the celestial kingdom, the terrestrial kingdom, and the telestial kingdom (see D&C 88:20–32).
In Doctrine and Covenants 76, the Lord described the ways we can choose to live our mortal lives. He explained that our choices will determine which kingdom we are prepared for. We learn from this revelation that even members of the Church will inherit different kingdoms because they will not be equally faithful and valiant in their obedience to Christ.
The following are the kinds of lives we can choose to live and the kingdoms our choices will obtain for us.
“They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized, … that by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit.” These are they who overcome the world by their faith. They are just and true so that the Holy Ghost can seal their blessings upon them. (See D&C 76:51–53.) Those who inherit the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, who become gods, must also have been married for eternity in the temple (see D&C 131:1–4). All who inherit the celestial kingdom will live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ forever (see D&C 76:62).
Through the work we do in temples, all people who have lived on the earth can have an equal opportunity to receive the fulness of the gospel and the ordinances of salvation so they can inherit a place in the highest degree of celestial glory.
These are they who rejected the gospel on earth but afterward received it in the spirit world. These are the honorable people on the earth who were blinded to the gospel of Jesus Christ by the craftiness of men. These are also they who received the gospel and a testimony of Jesus but then were not valiant. They will be visited by Jesus Christ but not by our Heavenly Father. (See D&C 76:73–79.)
These people did not receive the gospel or the testimony of Jesus either on earth or in the spirit world. They will suffer for their own sins in hell until after the Millennium, when they will be resurrected. “These are they who are liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie.” These people are as numerous as the stars in heaven and the sand on the seashore. They will be visited by the Holy Ghost but not by the Father or the Son. (See D&C 76:81–88, 103–6, 109.)
These are they who had testimonies of Jesus through the Holy Ghost and knew the power of the Lord but allowed Satan to overcome them. They denied the truth and defied the power of the Lord. There is no forgiveness for them, for they denied the Holy Spirit after having received it. They will not have a kingdom of glory. They will live in eternal darkness, torment, and misery with Satan and his angels forever. (See D&C 76:28–35, 44–48.)
We Should Prepare Now for Judgment
In reality, every day is a day of judgment. We speak, think, and act according to celestial, terrestrial, or telestial law. Our faith in Jesus Christ, as shown by our daily actions, determines which kingdom we will inherit.
We have the restored gospel of Jesus Christ in its fulness. The gospel is the law of the celestial kingdom. All the priesthood ordinances necessary for our progression have been revealed. We have entered the waters of baptism and have made a covenant to live Christlike lives. If we are faithful and keep the covenants we have made, the Lord has told us what our judgment will be. He will say unto us, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).
- • Romans 2:6–9; Revelation 20:12–13 (the Judgment)
- • Alma 11:41, 45; Mormon 7:6; 9:13–14 (we are judged in a resurrected state)
- • 2 Nephi 29:11; 3 Nephi 27:23–26 (books used in the Judgment)
- • Alma 41:2–7 (our judgment is determined by our works, the desires of our hearts, repentance, enduring to the end)
- • Mormon 3:22 (repent and prepare to stand before the judgment seat)
- • Luke 12:47–48; D&C 82:3 (of whom much is given, much is required)
- • D&C 88:16–33 (we each receive that for which we are worthy)
Christ is the Mediator, our Advocate before the Father
At the throne I intercede;
For thee ever do I plead.
I have loved thee as thy friend,
With a love that cannot end.
Be obedient, I implore,
Prayerful, watchful evermore,
And be constant unto me,
That thy Savior I may be.
|1 Jn. 3: 5||he was manifested to take away our sins.|
|Rev. 1: 5||washed us from our sins in his own blood.|
|Rev. 5: 9||thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us.|
|2 Ne. 1: 15||Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell.|
|2 Ne. 2: 6||redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah.|
|2 Ne. 11: 2||he verily saw my Redeemer.|
|Mosiah 15: 10||his soul has been made an offering for sin.|
|Mosiah 15: 24||have eternal life, being redeemed by the Lord.|
|Alma 7: 13||Son of God suffereth according to the flesh.|
|Alma 9: 27||And behold, he cometh to redeem those who will be baptized.|
|Alma 11: 40||And he shall come into the world to redeem his people.|
|Alma 42: 15||God himself atoneth for the sins of the world.|
|Hel. 5: 9||Jesus Christ, who shall come . . . to redeem the world.|
|Hel. 14: 16||redeemeth all mankind from . . . spiritual death.|
|Hel. 14: 17||Christ redeemeth . . . bringeth them back into the presence of the Lord.|
|3 Ne. 9: 17||by me redemption cometh.|
|3 Ne. 11: 11||glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins.|
|John 1: 29||Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.|
|Rom. 3: 24||(Mosiah 16: 15; Mosiah 18: 2; Morm. 9: 12) through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.|
|Rom. 5: 10||(Heb. 2: 17) we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.|
|1 Cor. 15: 3||Christ died for our sins.|
|Gal. 1: 4||who gave himself for our sins.|
|John 14: 6||no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.|
|1 Tim. 2: 5||one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.|
|Heb. 8: 6||he is the mediator of a better covenant.|
|Heb. 9: 15||the mediator of the new testament.|
|Heb. 12: 24||(D&C 107: 19) Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.|
|2 Ne. 2: 28||ye should look to the great Mediator.|
|D&C 76: 69||made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.|
The Mission and Gospel of Christ
3 Nephi 11:11 Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. And behold, I am the alight and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter bcup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in ctaking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the dwill of the Father in all things from the beginning. Behold, I say unto you that the alaw is fulfilled that was given unto Moses.
What Is Faith?
Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel. It is a spiritual gift, and it is necessary to our salvation. King Benjamin declared, “Salvation cometh to none … except it be through repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Mosiah 3:12).
Would we study and learn if we did not believe we could obtain wisdom and knowledge? Would we work each day if we did not hope that by doing so we could accomplish something? Would a farmer plant if he did not expect to harvest? Each day we act upon things we hope for when we cannot see the end result. This is faith. (See Hebrews 11:3.)
Many scriptural stories tell how great things were accomplished through faith.
By faith Noah built an ark and saved his family from the flood (see Hebrews 11:7). Moses parted the waters of the Red Sea (see Hebrews 11:29). Elijah called down fire from heaven (see 1 Kings 18:17–40). Nephi called for a famine (see Helaman 11:3–5). He also asked the Lord to end the famine (see Helaman 11:9–17). Seas have been calmed, visions opened, and prayers answered, all through the power of faith.
As we carefully study the scriptures, we learn that faith is a strong belief of truth within our souls that motivates us to do good. This causes us to ask: In whom should we have faith?
Why Should We Have Faith in Jesus Christ?
We must center our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
To have faith in Jesus Christ means to have such trust in Him that we obey whatever He commands. As we place our faith in Jesus Christ, becoming His obedient disciples, Heavenly Father will forgive our sins and prepare us to return to Him.
The Apostle Peter preached that “there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12; see also Mosiah 3:17). Jacob taught that men must have “perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel [Jesus Christ], or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God” (2 Nephi 9:23). Through faith in the Savior and through repentance, we make His Atonement fully effective in our lives. Through faith we can also receive strength to overcome temptations (see Alma 37:33).
We cannot have faith in Jesus Christ without also having faith in our Heavenly Father. If we have faith in Them, we will also have faith that the Holy Ghost, whom They send, will teach us all truth and will comfort us.
How Can We Increase Our Faith in Jesus Christ?
Knowing of the many blessings that come through exercising faith in Jesus Christ, we should seek to increase our faith in Him. The Savior said, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, … nothing shall be impossible unto you” (Matthew 17:20). A mustard seed is very small, but it grows into a large tree.
How can we increase our faith? The same way we increase or develop any other skill. How do we develop skills in woodcarving, weaving, painting, cooking, making pottery, or playing a musical instrument? We study and practice and work at it. As we do so, we improve. So it is with faith. If we want to increase our faith in Jesus Christ, we must work at it. The prophet Alma compared the word of God to a seed that must be nurtured by faith:
“But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.
“Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding. …
“Now behold, would not this increase your faith?” (Alma 32:27–29).
So we can increase our faith in God by acting on our desire to have faith in Him.
We can also increase our faith by praying to Heavenly Father about our hopes, desires, and needs (see Alma 34:17–26). But we must not suppose that all we have to do is ask. We are told in the scriptures that “faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (James 2:17). The following story is about a man whose faith was shown by his works.
This man wanted to study the scriptures, but he could not read. He prayed for Heavenly Father to help him learn to read. In time a teacher came to his village, and he asked the teacher to help him. He learned the alphabet. He studied sounds and learned to put the letters together to make words. Soon he was reading simple words. The more he practiced, the more he learned. He thanked the Lord for sending the teacher and for helping him learn to read. This man has increased his faith, humility, and knowledge to such a degree that he has served as a branch president in the Church.
President Spencer W. Kimball explained, “There must be works with faith. How foolish it would be to ask the Lord to give us knowledge, but how wise to ask the Lord’s help to acquire knowledge, to study constructively, to think clearly, and to retain things that we have learned” (Faith Precedes the Miracle , 205; italics in original).
Faith involves doing all we can to bring about the things we hope and pray for. President Kimball said: “In faith we plant the seed, and soon we see the miracle of the blossoming. Men have often misunderstood and have reversed the process.” He continued by explaining that many of us want to have health and strength without keeping the health laws. We want to have prosperity without paying our tithes. We want to be close to the Lord but don’t want to fast and pray. We want to have rain in due season and to have peace in the land without observing the Sabbath as a holy day and without keeping the other commandments of the Lord. (See Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball , 142.)
An important way to increase our faith is to hear and study the word of the Lord. We hear the word of the Lord at our Church meetings. We can study His word in the scriptures. “And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118).
What Are Some Blessings That Follow Faith?
Through the gift of faith, miracles are wrought, angels appear, other gifts of the Spirit are given, prayers are answered, and men become the sons of God (see Moroni 7:25–26, 36–37).
“When faith comes it brings … apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, gifts, wisdom, knowledge, miracles, healings, tongues, interpretation of tongues, etc. All these appear when faith appears on the earth, and disappear when it disappears from the earth; for these are the effects of faith. … And he who possesses it will, through it, obtain all necessary knowledge and wisdom, until he shall know God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, whom he has sent—whom to know is eternal life” (Lectures on Faith , 83).
The Plan for Our Progression
When we lived with our Heavenly Father, He explained a plan for our progression. We could become like Him, an exalted being. The plan required that we be separated from Him and come to earth. This separation was necessary to prove whether we would obey our Father’s commandments even though we were no longer in His presence. The plan provided that when earth life ended, we would be judged and rewarded according to the degree of our faith and obedience.
From the scriptures we learn that there are three kingdoms of glory in heaven. The Apostle Paul mentioned that he knew a man who was “caught up to the third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:2). Paul named two of the kingdoms in heaven: the celestial and the terrestrial (see 1 Corinthians 15:40–42). The celestial is the highest, and the terrestrial is second. Through latter-day revelation we learn that the third kingdom is the telestial kingdom (see D&C 76:81). We also learn that there are three heavens or degrees within the celestial kingdom (see D&C 131:1).
Exaltation is eternal life, the kind of life God lives. He lives in great glory. He is perfect. He possesses all knowledge and all wisdom. He is the Father of spirit children. He is a creator. We can become like our Heavenly Father. This is exaltation.
If we prove faithful to the Lord, we will live in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom of heaven. We will become exalted, to live with our Heavenly Father in eternal families. Exaltation is the greatest gift that Heavenly Father can give His children (see D&C 14:7).
Blessings of Exaltation
Our Heavenly Father is perfect, and He glories in the fact that it is possible for His children to become like Him. His work and glory is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).
Those who receive exaltation in the celestial kingdom through faith in Jesus Christ will receive special blessings. The Lord has promised, “All things are theirs” (D&C 76:59). These are some of the blessings given to exalted people:
- 1. They will live eternally in the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ (see D&C 76:62).
- 2. They will become gods (see D&C 132:20–23).
- 3. They will be united eternally with their righteous family members and will be able to have eternal increase.
- 4. They will receive a fulness of joy.
- 5. They will have everything that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have—all power, glory, dominion, and knowledge (see D&C 132:19–20). President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: “The Father has promised through the Son that all that he has shall be given to those who are obedient to His commandments. They shall increase in knowledge, wisdom, and power, going from grace to grace, until the fulness of the perfect day shall burst upon them” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 2:36; italics in original).
Requirements for Exaltation
The time to fulfill the requirements for exaltation is now (see Alma 34:32–34). President Joseph Fielding Smith said, “In order to obtain the exaltation we must accept the gospel and all its covenants; and take upon us the obligations which the Lord has offered; and walk in the light and the understanding of the truth; and ‘live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God’” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:43).
To be exalted, we first must place our faith in Jesus Christ and then endure in that faith to the end of our lives. Our faith in Him must be such that we repent of our sins and obey His commandments.
He commands us all to receive certain ordinances:
- 1. We must be baptized.
- 2. We must receive the laying on of hands to be confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ and to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
- 3. Brethren must receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and magnify their callings in the priesthood.
- 4. We must receive the temple endowment.
- 5. We must be married for eternity, either in this life or in the next.
In addition to receiving the required ordinances, the Lord commands all of us to:
- 1. Love God and our neighbors.
- 2. Keep the commandments.
- 3. Repent of our wrongdoings.
- 4. Search out our kindred dead and receive the saving ordinances of the gospel for them.
- 5. Attend our Church meetings as regularly as possible so we can renew our baptismal covenants by partaking of the sacrament.
- 6. Love our family members and strengthen them in the ways of the Lord.
- 7. Have family and individual prayers every day.
- 8. Teach the gospel to others by word and example.
- 9. Study the scriptures.
- 10. Listen to and obey the inspired words of the prophets of the Lord.
Finally, each of us needs to receive the Holy Ghost and learn to follow His direction in our individual lives.
- How do ordinances and covenants prepare us for exaltation?
- How does faith in Jesus Christ help us obey the commandments?
- Why must we learn to follow the direction of the Holy Ghost to become exalted?
After We Have Been Faithful and Endured to the End
The Lord has said, “If you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God” (D&C 14:7). President Joseph Fielding Smith said, “If we will continue in God; that is, keep his commandments, worship him and live his truth; then the time will come when we shall be bathed in the fulness of truth, which shall grow brighter and brighter until the perfect day” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:36).
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil [died] before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 268).
Joseph Smith taught: “It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God. … He was once a man like us; … God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith , 345–46).
Our Heavenly Father knows our trials, our weaknesses, and our sins. He has compassion and mercy on us. He wants us to succeed even as He did.
Imagine what joy each of us will have when we return to our Heavenly Father if we can say: “Father, I lived according to Thy will. I have been faithful and have kept Thy commandments. I am happy to be home again.” Then we will hear Him say, “Well done … ; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:23).
Additional Scriptures and Other Sources
- • 2 Nephi 25:12 (the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh)
- • Moses 6:57 (Jesus Christ named as the Only Begotten)
- • Matthew, Mark, Luke, John (life and teachings of Jesus Christ)
- • Matthew 10:1–8; Luke 9:1–2 (Apostles ordained with power and authority)
- • Matthew 26–28; Mark 14–16; Luke 22–24; John 18–20 (Jesus in the garden; betrayed, crucified, and resurrected)
- • “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles,” Ensign, Apr. 2000, 2–3“Chapter 11: The Life of Christ,” Gospel Principles, (2009),50–58
A. Jesus Christ is literally the son of God the Eternal Father.
B. Jesus Christ is a being of glory, might, and majesty.
C. As the Son of God, Jesus fills many roles essential to our salvation.
5. Through the Atonement, the Savior provided redemption from physical and spiritual death (see Alma 11:40–43 ; 34:8–10 ; 2 Nephi 9:6–13, 26 ; D&C 18:11–12 ; 19:16 ; Helaman 14:15–18 ; 1 Corinthians 15:19–23 ).
A. Jesus Christ is literally the son of God the Eternal Father.
■ “Among the spirit children of Elohim, the first-born was and is Jehovah, or Jesus Christ, to whom all others are juniors” (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 70).
■ “That Child to be born of Mary was begotten of Elohim, the Eternal Father, not in violation of natural law but in accordance with a higher manifestation thereof; and, the offspring from that association of supreme sanctity, celestial Sireship, and pure though mortal maternity, was of right to be called the ‘Son of the Highest.’” (James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, 81).
■ “We believe absolutely that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, begotten of God, the first-born in the spirit and the only begotten in the flesh; that He is the Son of God just as much as you and I are the sons of our fathers” (Heber J. Grant, “Analysis of the Articles of Faith,” Millennial Star, 5 Jan. 1922, 2).
■ “There cannot be any doubt in the heart of a Latter-day Saint regarding Jesus Christ’s being the Son of the living God, because God Himself introduced Him to Joseph Smith. . . .
“Any individual who does not acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world, has no business to be associated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Heber J. Grant, Gospel Standards, 23–24).
B. Jesus Christ is a being of glory, might, and majesty.
■ “Jesus Christ is the heir of this Kingdom—the Only Begotten of the Father according to the flesh, and holds the keys over all this world” (Smith, Teachings, 323).
■ “The Savior did not have a fulness at first, but after he received his body and the resurrection all power was given unto him both in heaven and in earth. Although he was a God, even the Son of God, with power and authority to create this earth and other earths, yet there were some things lacking which he did not receive until after his resurrection. In other words he had not received the fulness until he got a resurrected body” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1:33).
■ “Both the Father and the Son, being omnipotent Gods, are designated by the name-titles, Almighty ( Gen. 49:25 ; Rev. 1:8 ; 2 Ne. 23:6 ; Hela. 10:11 ; D. & C. 84:96 ; 121:33 ), Almighty God ( Gen. 17:1 ; 28:3 ; 1 Ne. 17:48 ; D. & C. 20:21 ; 87:6 ; 88:106 ), Lord Almighty ( D. & C. 84:118 ; 2 Cor. 6:18 ), and Lord God Almighty ( Rev. 4:8 ; 11:17 ; 21:22 ; D. & C. 109:77 ; 121:4 ; 1 Ne. 1:14 ; 2 Ne. 9:46 ). These designations signify that these holy beings have all power and unlimited might. A deep sense of reverence is implicit in the use of each name-title” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 30).
C. As the Son of God, Jesus fills many roles essential to our salvation.
■ “Whether descriptively designated as Creator, Only Begotten Son, Prince of Peace, Advocate, Mediator, Son of God, Savior, Messiah, Author and Finisher of Salvation, King of Kings—I witness that Jesus Christ is the only name under heaven whereby one can be saved! (See D&C 18:23 .)
“I testify that He is utterly incomparable in what He is, what He knows, what He has accomplished, and what He has experienced. Yet, movingly, He calls us His friends. (See John 15:15 .)
“We can trust, worship, and even adore Him without any reservation! As the only Perfect Person to sojourn on this planet, there is none like Him! (See Isa. 46:9 .)
“In intelligence and performance, He far surpasses the individual and the composite capacities and achievements of all who have lived, live now, and will yet live! (See Abr. 3:19 .)
“He rejoices in our genuine goodness and achievement, but any assessment of where we stand in relation to Him tells us that we do not stand at all! We kneel!” (Neal A. Maxwell, in Conference Report, Oct. 1981, 9; or Ensign, Nov. 1981, 8).
■ “Who, among all the Saints in these last days can consider himself as good as our Lord? Who is as perfect? Who is as pure? Who is as holy as He was? Are they to be found? He never transgressed or broke a commandment or law of heaven—no deceit was in His mouth, neither was guile found in His heart” (Smith, Teachings, 67).
■ “As far as man is concerned, all things center in Christ. He is the Firstborn of the Father. By obedience and devotion to the truth he attained that pinnacle of intelligence which ranked him as a God, as the Lord Omnipotent, while yet in his pre-existent state. As such he became, under the Father, the Creator of this earth and of worlds without number; and he was then chosen to work out the infinite and eternal atonement, to come to this particular earth as the literal Son of the Father, and to put the whole plan of redemption, salvation, and exaltation in operation.
“Through him the gospel, all saving truths, and every edifying principle have been revealed in all ages. He is the Eternal Jehovah, the promised Messiah, the Redeemer and Savior, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. By him immortality and eternal life become realities, and through his grace and goodness salvation is possible for all who will believe and obey” (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 129).
■ “Christ is the Father in the sense that he is the Creator, the Maker, the Organizer of the heavens and of the earth, and all things that in them are. . . .
“He is the Father of all those who are born again. . . .
“He is the Father by what has aptly been termed divine investiture of authority. That is, since he is one with the Father in all of the attributes of perfection, and since he exercises the power and authority of the Father, it follows that everything he says or does is and would be exactly and precisely what the Father would say and do under the same circumstances.
“Accordingly, the Father puts his own name on the Son and authorizes him to speak in the first person as though he were the Father” (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 130)
A. The Savior’s Second Coming has been prophesied throughout the ages.
B. The Savior will make several appearances before His Second Coming to all the world.
C. The Lord has spoken about His final appearance in some detail.
7. Those who have laughed and mocked about the Savior’s coming will realize their folly (see D&C 45:49–50 ).
11. The Savior will appear to all the world sometime in the beginning of the seventh thousand years of the earth’s temporal existence (see D&C 77:12–13 ).
A. The Savior’s Second Coming has been prophesied throughout the ages.
■ “The most often mentioned event in the entire Bible is that wonderful, yet awful experience that we will have when Jesus Christ shall come to judge our world. There are many important gospel doctrines mentioned in the Bible only briefly, and some not at all. The new birth is mentioned in the Bible nine times; baptism is mentioned 52 times, repentance is mentioned 89, but the second coming of Christ is mentioned over 1,500 times in the Old Testament and 300 times in the New Testament. If God thought this subject that important, he must have wanted us to do something about it” (Sterling W. Sill, in Conference Report, Apr. 1966, 19).
B. The Savior will make several appearances before His Second Coming to all the world.
■ “Daniel in his seventh chapter speaks of the Ancient of Days; he means the oldest man, our Father Adam, Michael, he [who] will call his children together and hold a council with them to prepare them for the coming of the Son of Man. He (Adam) is the father of the human family, and presides over the spirits of all men, and all that have had the keys must stand before him in this grand council. This may take place before some of us leave this stage of action. The Son of Man stands before him, and there is given him glory and dominion. Adam delivers up his stewardship to Christ, that which was delivered to him as holding the keys of the universe, but retains his standing as head of the human family” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 157).
■ “Before the Lord Jesus descends openly and publicly in the clouds of glory, attended by all the hosts of heaven; before the great and dreadful day of the Lord sends terror and destruction from one end of the earth to the other; before he stands on Mount Zion, or sets his feet on Olivet, or utters his voice from an American Zion or a Jewish Jerusalem; before all flesh shall see him together; before any of his appearances, which taken together comprise the second coming of the Son of God—before all these, there is to be a secret appearance to selected members of his Church. He will come in private to his prophet and to the apostles then living. Those who have held keys and powers and authorities in all ages from Adam to the present will also be present” (Bruce R. McConkie, The Millennial Messiah, 578–79).
■ “[Christ’s] next appearance [after his appearance in the New Jerusalem] will be among the distressed and nearly vanquished sons of Judah. At the crisis of their fate, when the hostile troops of several nations are ravaging the city and all the horrors of war are overwhelming the people of Jerusalem, he will set his feet upon the Mount of Olives, which will cleave and part asunder at his touch. Attended by a host from heaven, he will overthrow and destroy the combined armies of the Gentiles, and appear to the worshipping Jews as the mighty Deliverer and Conquerer so long expected by their race; and while love, gratitude, awe, and admiration swell their bosoms, the Deliverer will show them the tokens of his crucifixion and disclose himself as Jesus of Nazareth, whom they had reviled and whom their fathers put to death. Then will unbelief depart from their souls, and ‘the blindness in part which has happened unto Israel’ be removed” (Charles W. Penrose, “The Second Advent,” Millennial Star, 10 Sept. 1859, 583).
■ “The great and crowning advent of the Lord will be subsequent to these two appearances [to the New Jerusalem and to the Jews]; but who can describe it in the language of mortals? The tongue of man falters, and the pen drops from the hand of the writer, as the mind is rapt in contemplation of the sublime and awful majesty of his coming to take vengeance on the ungodly and to reign as King of the whole earth.
“He comes! The earth shakes, and the tall mountains tremble; the mighty deep rolls back to the north as in fear, and the rent skies glow like molten brass. He comes! The dead Saints burst forth from their tombs, and ‘those who are alive and remain’ are ‘caught up’ with them to meet him. The ungodly rush to hide themselves from his presence, and call upon the quivering rocks to cover them. He comes! with all the hosts of the righteous glorified. The breath of his lips strikes death to the wicked. His glory is a consuming fire. The proud and rebellious are as stubble; they are burned and ‘left neither root nor branch.’ He sweeps the earth ‘as with the besom of destruction.’ He deluges the earth with the fiery floods of his wrath, and the filthiness and abominations of the world are consumed. Satan and his dark hosts are taken and bound—the prince of the power of the air has lost his dominion, for He whose right it is to reign has come, and ‘the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.’” (Penrose, “Second Advent,” 583).
■ “His first appearance will be to the righteous Saints who have gathered to the New Jerusalem. In this place of refuge they will be safe from the wrath of the Lord, which will be poured out without measure on all nations. . . .
“The second appearance of the Lord will be to the Jews. To these beleaguered sons of Judah, surrounded by hostile Gentile armies, who again threaten to overrun Jerusalem, the Savior—their Messiah—will appear and set His feet on the Mount of Olives, ‘and it shall cleave in twain, and the earth shall tremble, and reel to and fro, and the heavens also shall shake’ ( D&C 45:48 ).
“The third appearance of Christ will be to the rest of the world. . . .
“All nations will see Him ‘in the clouds of heaven, clothed with power and great glory; with all the holy angels; . . .
“‘And the Lord shall utter his voice, and all the ends of the earth shall hear it; and the nations of the earth shall mourn, and they that have laughed shall see their folly.
“‘And calamity shall cover the mocker, and the scorner shall be consumed; and they that have watched for iniquity shall be hewn down and cast into the fire.’ ( D&C 45:44, 49–50 .)
“ Yes, come He will!” (Ezra Taft Benson, “Five Marks of the Divinity of Jesus Christ,” New Era, Dec. 1980, 49–50).
C. The Lord has spoken about His final appearance in some detail.
■ “Jesus Christ never did reveal to any man the precise time that He would come. Go and read the Scriptures, and you cannot find anything that specifies the exact hour He would come; and all that say so are false teachers” (Smith, Teachings, 341).
■ “The precise time of Christ’s coming has not been made known to man. By learning to comprehend the signs of the times, by watching the development of the work of God among the nations, and by noting the rapid fulfilment of significant prophecies, we may perceive the progressive evidence of the approaching event: ‘But the hour and the day no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven, nor shall they know until he comes’ [ D&C 49:7 ]. His coming will be a surprise to those who have ignored His warnings, and who have failed to watch. ‘As a thief in the night’ will be the coming of the day of the Lord unto the wicked [ 2 Peter 3:10 ; 1 Thessalonians 5:2 ]” (James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, 362–63).
■ “The second advent of the Son of God is to be something altogether of a different nature from anything that has hitherto transpired on the face of the earth, accompanied with great power and glory, something that will not be done in a small portion of the earth like Palestine, and seen only by a few; but it will be an event that will be seen by all—all flesh shall see the glory of the Lord; when he reveals himself the second time, every eye, not only those living at that time in the flesh, in mortality on the earth, but also the very dead themselves, they also who pierced him, those who lived eighteen hundred years ago, who were engaged in the cruel act of piercing his hands and his feet and his side, will also see him at that time” (Orson Pratt, in Journal of Discourses, 18:170).
■ “At the time appointed by the Father, the Son of Man will come in the clouds of heaven. It is an unknown day in the beginning of the seventh thousand years of the earth’s temporal continuance. War, such as has not been known from the beginning of time, is in progress. All nations are assembled at Armageddon.
“All things are in commotion. Never has there been such a day as this. The newspapers of the world, as well as radio and television, speak only of war and calamity and the dread that hangs like a millstone around every neck. . . .
“And the signs in heaven above are like nothing man has ever seen. Blood is everywhere; fire and vapors of smoke fill the atmospheric heavens. No man has seen a rainbow this year. . . .
“And above all are the vexing words of those Mormon Elders! They are everywhere preaching their strange doctrine, saying that the coming of the Lord is near, and that unless men repent and believe the gospel they will be destroyed by the brightness of his coming.
“In this setting, as these and ten thousand like things are in progress, suddenly, quickly, as from the midst of eternity, He comes! Fire burns before him; tempests spread destruction; the earth trembles and reels to and fro as a drunken man. Every corruptible thing is consumed. He sets his foot on the Mount called Olivet; it cleaves in twain. The Lord has returned and the great millennium is here! The year of his redeemed has arrived!” (McConkie, Millennial Messiah, 21–22).
■ “When the Lord comes in his glory, in flaming fire, that fire will both cleanse the vineyard and burn the earth. In that day, so intense shall be the heat and so universal the burning, the very elements of which this earth is composed shall melt. The mountains, high and glorious and made of solid rock, shall melt like wax. They shall become molten and flow down into the valleys below. The very earth itself, as now constituted, shall be dissolved. All things shall burn with fervent heat. And out of it all shall come new heavens and a new earth whereon dwelleth righteousness” (McConkie, Millennial Messiah, 526–27).
■ “Now brethren and sisters, the great day of the Lord is coming. It is going to be a terrible day. The wicked are going to be destroyed, and when I say the wicked I do not mean everybody outside the Mormon Church. There will be countless millions of people not of this Church spared because they are not ripe in iniquity and to them we will preach the everlasting Gospel and bring them unto Christ” (Charles A. Callis, in Conference Report, Apr. 1935, 18).
■ “Christ’s, the first fruits—who are they? They are all those who were with him in his resurrection. They are all those of Enoch’s city, a righteous people who first were translated and who then gained full immortality when Christ rose from his tomb. They are all those of ages past who have burst the bands of death. They are the living saints who are quickened by the power of God and are caught up to meet their Lord in the air. They are the righteous dead who shall come forth in this, the morning of the first resurrection, to receive an inheritance of eternal life and to be one with their glorious Lord. All these shall have an inheritance of exaltation in the highest heaven of the celestial world. All these shall ‘behold’ their Lord’s ‘face in righteousness,’ for they shall ‘awake’ with his ‘likeness.’ ( Ps. 17:15 .)” (McConkie, Millennial Messiah, 636).