"Whom do men say that I am?"
|Most people accept that
Jesus was a great teacher.
He made a greater impact on this world than anyone who ever lived.
Christians accept him as Lord and God.
"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"
Before the universe was planned
"Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? ... When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?"
Modern revelation has the answer. You lived before you were born. You and I were there in that great pre-mortal council. Jesus presented a plan that would enable all our Father's children to gain even greater happiness. It is as a result of this plan that the universe was created.
The creation of the universe
Doctrine and Covenants 76:24
"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."
Hence, as creator, Jesus is the father of heaven and earth. He is also our Lord and our God. But he has taught us to worship his Father. In obedience to that, when we refer to 'God' we usually mean our Heavenly Father. Jesus referred to God as "my Father, and your Father; and my God, and your God." (John 20:17)
The creation of this world
"I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded."
This earth was not made to just pass the time. It has a great and glorious purpose:
Moses 1:39 (in the Pearl of Great Price)
"For behold, this is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."
The need for a Savior
2 Nephi 2:24-28 (in the Book of Mormon)
"But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things.
"Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
"And the Messiah cometh in the fullness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given. Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself. And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit."
The Old Testament
"Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink."
1 Corinthians 10:1-4
"Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ."
Many Christians forget that Moses' laws were given because the Israelites at the time were not ready for the higher law. But before Moses (and for great prophets like Moses), the higher law was always there. Moses had the full gospel, and not just the law of Moses:
Romans 4:13, 16
"For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. ... Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all."
The gospel of Jesus Christ is eternal! It was not just invented 2000 years ago.
We also tend to forget that Jesus is Lord of the whole world, and not just the middle east. He was the Lord of the far east, the islands of the sea, and even of America. The Book of Mormon records some of his dealings with ancient America. It also reveals that other nations have ancient scriptures that are still to be discovered.
The New Testament
Jesus Christ chose to be born and live as a mortal so that he could experience everything that we experience, and suffer everything that we could suffer - and more. Nobody can say "you do not know what it it like". He understands perfectly.
The most important act of this period - the most important event in the history of the world - the reason why the universe was created - was the atonement of Jesus Christ.
This part of his life - his mortal ministry - is well known, thanks to the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
But again we tend to forget that Jesus is the Lord of the whole world. There are legends that, before his mortal ministry, he may have visited other parts such as Britain. But more certain than this are the records that, after his resurrection, he visited the Americas. This, the other witness of Jesus Christ, was recorded by an ancient historian called Mormon, and hence the book is called "the Book of Mormon - another Testament of Jesus Christ".
The Dark Ages
After New Testament times, the church gradually lost the spirit that it once had. The church slipped into apostasy.
Although for the first hundred years or so, Jesus visited his people from time to time (see for example the visions recorded in the New Testament), these visits fell of to nothing when the people were no longer ready. The church became like those less faithful towns that Jesus visited:
"And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief." (Matthew 13:58)
After appearing to the early saints, Jesus was received into heaven until a time when the ancient truths would be restored again.
"And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." (Acts 3:21)
As noted here and elsewhere, the Lord promised to restore his gospel. This was not the first time the church was rejected and had to be restored. it is part of a normal pattern. Abraham restored the church, through angelic visitations, after a period of apostasy. So did Moses. So did Enoch and Noah (though this is not clear in the traditional canon). And of course, so did the Lord himself.
For hundreds of years, from the fourteenth century onwards, the world as being prepared for a return to the original gospel. Great leaders appeared, who once more began to look seriously at the Bible. But the gospel is not a man-made creation, and cannot be restored by man. it has to be done by the Lord himself.
The Lord appeared again to a mortal in the year 1820. His church was restored soon after, in the year 1830. Since then the Lord has appeared at certain times and places, according to his wisdom and the faith of men. He is as active today as in New testament times.
As in ancient times, the Lord appears to his people from time to time. These visits are usually personal and are not spoken of. They are not as infrequent as we may imagine. Many people, for example, have had "near death experiences" or other dreams in which they see a figure they believe to be Christ, and it changes their life. This is not limited to church members - the Lord loves all his people. However, when it comes to spreading his gospel, he is a God of order and of confusion. As in ancient times, he speaks to the world through apostles and prophets.
"Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets."
God is active today, and so his prophets are as well.
Matthew 24:3, 26-30
"And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? ... [and he answered] Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
Christ to reign personally on the earth (in the approaching Millennium)
(This millennium is not to be confused with the year 2000. The scriptural millennium is counted from when Satan is bound, and not from some arbitrary calendar date)
"And cast him [Satan] into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. And 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 which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."
Revelation 20:11- 21:1
"And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 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.And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea."
Doctrine and Covenants 130:6-9
"The angels do not reside on a planet like this earth; But they reside in the presence of God, on a globe like a sea of glass and fire, where all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord. The place where God resides is a great Urim and Thummim. This earth, in its sanctified and immortal state, will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim and Thummim to the inhabitants who dwell thereon, whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom, or all kingdoms of a lower order, will be manifest to those who dwell on it; and this earth will be Christ's."
"The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us."
this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true
God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."