“Who is this Jesus?” Perhaps that is the most important question a person could ask. Elder Robert D. Hales, an apostle in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently asked and then answered this question in a recent general conference address. He said the following, “He [Jesus] participated with His Father in the Creation of the world and was responsible, under the direction of His Father, to create all things on the face of the earth. “And worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten.” Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh. He is our Mediator with the Father. He is the Savior who laid down His life for us and pleads our cause with the Father.” (May, 2008, Ensign)
The name “Christ” means the anointed one” in Greek or Messiah in Hebrew. To believe that Jesus is the Christ is to believe that He is the one chosen and anointed by Father to be the author of our salvation. He is the “firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, and the Redeemer of the world.” (The Living Christ)2. It is to believe that he is the source of eternal life and that salvation comes only in and through faith on his name and obedience to the principles of his gospel.
Jesus’ whole ministry was devoted to bearing witness that he was indeed the Son of God, our Redeemer, the Anointed One, and that He came to do the will of the Father. He repeatedly spoke of his Father and that his Father sent him. After feeding the five thousand on the shores of Galilee the people wanted him to be their king, but Jesus takes the opportunity to bear witness of his Father. He says, “I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me.” (John 6:38) Every act and every miracle was calculated to bear witness of his divinity and had the approval of His Father in Heaven. His loving relationship with his Father permeates his ministry. He speaks of him as “my Father.” He addresses Him as “my Father” in prayer. On the cross He pleads with Abba, his Father. Abba is a personal, familiar term for father in Hebrew (Bible Dictionary). It is an intimate term for the Father in Heaven. This is no distant relationship. His deep desire for his listeners to believe that he is the Son of God sent down from heaven to do the will of his Father is heartfelt and moving. During his last conversation with his Apostles he clearly states, “I came forth from the Father and am come into the world. Again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.” His Apostles respond, “Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.” Jesus plaintively asks, “Do ye know believe?” john 16:30
To bear witness that Jesus is the Christ is the stated purpose of the Book of Mormon. On the title page of the Book of Mormon, Moroni writes that the forthcoming record is written “to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL GOD, manifesting himself unto all nations.”
The purpose of scripture is to bear witness that Jesus is the Christ
Jesus clearly states that the purpose of the scriptures is to testify of Him when he says, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39). Towards the end of his record John also states that the scriptures are written that we “might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” (John 20:31) Even though the Book of Mormon was written a continent away and the bulk of it was written before Jesus’ earthly ministry, each writer knew that the divine purpose of their writing was to bear witness that Jesus is the Christ. Nephi states, “For the fulness of mine intent is that I may persuade men to come unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved. (1 Nephi 6:4) He later says, “Behold, my soul delighteth in proving unto my people the truth of the coming of Christ; for, for this end hath the Law of Moses been given; and all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of him. (2 Nephi 11:4)
It is clear that the Book of Mormon prophets knew of Christ. They knew his name. They worshipped the Father in his name. Jacob, Nephi’s brother, taught, “For, for this intent have we written these things, that they (their children) may know that we knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us. Behold, they believed in Christ and worshiped the Father in his name, and also we worship the Father in his name. “ (Jacob 4:4-5)
The Bible and the Book of Mormon are united in their cause to bear witness of Christ.
Ezekiel prophesied of the testimony of two books uniting when he said: “Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions. And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.” In Old Testament language “stick” means books or scriptures. The stick of Judah is the Bible which originated from the tribe of Judah or the Jewish people. The stick of Ephraim is the Book of Mormon because
Indeed Nephi teaches the same truth “Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.”
Certainly we limit God when we say that the Bible is the only witness of Him and that there can be no more revelation. How can we as mere mortals presume to know all of the ways in which God communicates to his children? Jeremiah and Paul both describe God as the “true and living God.” Prophets in the Book of Mormon also use the term “true and living God.” A “living God” means a God who is actively involved in the lives of his children. He communicates with them. He’s not silent and distant.
The Bible and the Book of Mormon bear witness of each other.
The Bible and the Book of Mormon bear witness of each other. God, in his mercy, provides more than one witness of the divinity of Jesus Christ, that he is the Savior of the world and he is the only way to salvation. At one point Nephi sees a great vision of the life of the Savior and the latter days. In this vision he is taught by an angel. When the angel says, “the record of thy seed,” he is referring to the descendants of Nephi. The angel states, “These last records, (the Book of Mormon) which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (the Bible) . . . and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved. And they must come according to the words which shall be established by the mouth of the Lamb; and the words of the Lamb shall be made known in the records of thy seed (the Book of Mormon) as well as in the records of the twelve apostles of the Lamb; wherefore they both shall be established in bone; for there is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth. (1 Nephi 13:40-41) If God is “the same yesterday, today and forever,” and if he is “from all eternity to all eternity,” then so is his gospel. Truly there is “one God and one Shepherd over all the earth,” and that God is Jesus Christ.
Mormon who abridged and compiled the Book of Mormon also teaches that the gospel of Christ will come forth in two records which validate each other. In these verses Mormon is concluding his record. He is speaking personally not only to his descendants, but to each of us. He says, “Therefore repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus, and lay hold upon the gospel of Christ, which shall be set before you, not only in this record (the Book of Mormon) but also in the record which shall come unto the Gentiles from the Jews (the Bible) which record shall come from the Gentilesunto you. For behold, this is written for the intent that ye may believe that; and if dye believe that ye will believe this also.” (Mormon 7:8-9)
It is clear that each Book of Mormon writer knew of his divine commission in writing. it was to bear witness that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. It is not couched in symbolism that only those “who have ears to hear may understand.” From its very beginning the Book of Mormon uses clear and unmistakable language in bearing witness that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. In the very first chapter Lehi sees a vision of the Savior described as “One descending out of the midst of heaven, and he beheld that his luster was above that of the sun at noon day.” He gives Lehi a book to read. Lehi testifies to the Jews that the book “manifested plainly of the coming of a Messiah and the redemption of the world.” Lehi’s vision sets the tone for the rest of the Book of Mormon as a testimony of Jesus, the Son of God, and that he was the promised Messiah.
Nephi gives more of his father’s prophecies a few chapters later. In an unusual prophecy of a time-frame, Nephi quotes his father, “six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem, a prophet would the Lord God raise up among the Jews—even a Messiah, or, in other words, a Savior of the world.” (1 Nephi 10:4)
In the same chapter Nephi defines clearly that the future Messiah to come is the Son of God, “And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in vision, and also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost, which power he received by faith on the Son of God—and the Son of God was the Messiah who should come—I, Nephi, was desirous that I might see and hear of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” Nephi then has his own remarkable vision of the coming Messiah. He testifies, “And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me again, saying: Look! And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Son of the everlasting God was judged of the world; and I saw and bear record. And I, Nephi, saw that he was lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world.” 1 Nephi 11:32 – 33)
After this beginning testimony of Lehi and Nephi, we could march through the Book of Mormon and glean a prophetic testimony of Jesus from almost every page. Moroni finishes the record with a powerful invitation to come unto Christ, “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot. (Book of Mormon | Moroni 10:32 – 33)
There is probably no other book written that is so true to its purpose than the Book of Mormon. It not only teaches that Jesus is the Christ, it teaches us how to come unto Christ and be saved. It teaches us that he is the only way to salvation. It teaches the doctrine of Christ. It teaches us of the “straight and narrow” way to eternal life. It teaches us that Jesus “inviteth all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.” (2 Nephi 16:33).
Nephi pleads with us “hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good. (2 Nephi 33:10) One cannot read those words without feeling of the love, passion and purity of intent of the Book of Mormon writers.