Church History Lesson 02 (Behold, I Am Jesus Christ)
THE DOCTRINE & COVENANTS TESTIFIES OF CHRIST
In the Doctrine and Covenants Introduction, 8th Paragraph, the last sentence in the paragraph says the following:
“Finally, the testimony that is given of Jesus Christ—his divinity, his majesty, his perfection, his love, and his redeeming power—makes this book of great value to the human family and of more worth than the riches of the whole earth.”
There are many examples of this. We see His love in the admonition, “Fear not little children . . . I am in your midst”(D&C 50:41–44). And we see Him instructing and blessing His priesthood servants many times (see for example D&C 76:22–24).
This week’s lesson shares selected teachings in the Doctrine and Covenants about the Savior.
THE SAVIOR AND HIS ATONEMENT
Elder Boyd K. Packer said, “[The Atonement of Jesus Christ] is the very root of Christian doctrine. You may know much about the gospel as it branches out from there, but if you only know the branches and those branches do not touch that root, if they have been cut free from that truth, there will be no life nor substance nor redemption in them.”1
• The Savior describes His suffering during His atoning sacrifice (D&C 19:16–20).
— Note that He “suffered these things for all” (v. 16). He has suffered for the sins and sorrows of every child of our Father in Heaven—including those who will not repent and, therefore, will not take advantage of His free gift to them.
— Note also the conditions of His offering: “That they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I” (vv. 16–17). His suffering on their behalf will have been in vain and they will suffer themselves the pains that He has already gladly suffered for them.
— This is the one place in all of scripture where the Savior describes the depth of His suffering: “Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink” (v. 18). We cannot comprehend such pain; we will never experience it, except for our own sins if we do not repent.
— “Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men” (v. 19). Notice that He did it to honor His Father—“glory be to the Father”—not for His own glory. What a contrast with the selfish, sniveling, “give me thine honor” attitude of Lucifer!
— “Wherefore, I command you again to repent, lest I humble you with my almighty power; and that you confess your sins, lest you suffer these punishments of which I have spoken, of which in the smallest, yea, even in the least degree you have tasted at the time I withdrew my Spirit” (v. 20). Having paid the price of our sins, He is now our Master. To qualify for the benefits of what He has done we must be willing to do what He has asked us to do. And this is the price He requires: repent (change, do better, improve yourself, rise above your carnal natures).
• Every soul is precious to the Savior, and to the Father (D&C 18:10).
— “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God” (v. 10). We might contemplate how precious our own little children are to us, and then ponder whether we fully appreciate how much our Father in Heaven loves us. Brigham Young said, “The least, the most inferior person now upon the earth…is worth worlds.”2
David O. McKay said, “There is an unchanging truth in an unchanging world which should be an anchor to the soul of every person in it: the sacredness of personality. The least child was sacred to Jesus. It is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. That simple truth in the world, what would it mean? ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.’ (Matt. 25:40) And in this modern day he said: “Remember the worth of souls is great.” (D&C 18:10) A proper conception of this divine principle would change the attitude of the world to the benefit and happiness of all human beings.”3
EXAMPLES OF DOCTRINE CONCERNING CHRIST
• The spirit and the body (D&C 88:14–18). In the resurrection they will be reunited and inseparably connected—forever. Our bodies are a free gift from God, and we will possess them through all eternity, whether we are righteous or not.
— “The spirit and body are the soul of man” (v. 15). We are incomplete if we have one but not the other.
— “The resurrection of the dead is the redemption of the soul” (v. 16). It saves both our spirits and our bodies. The perfected version of both will rise from our graves.
• Resurrection is necessary for us to receive a fulness of joy (D&C 93:33–34).
— “Man is spirit” (v. 33). The living, thinking, intelligent part of us in our spirits. The body is nothing by elements, which without the spirit are useless, motionless, and dead.
— “The elements are eternal” (v. 33). Einstein got it right when he said that matter cannot be destroyed. But the Latter-day Saints already knew that. God revealed it to us more than 100 years earlier, through the Prophet Joseph Smith.
— “Spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy; and when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy” (vv. 33–34). We need a spirit because that is the living element of our souls. We need a body because it possesses greater power and ability than a mere spirit. For example, it possesses the power to procreate living offspring. We need both spirit and body to be fully functioning and fully happy.
• Was made possible by the Savior’s suffering which he suffered for all of us (D&C 18:11–12). Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “When . . . difficult times come to us, we can remember that Jesus had to descend below all things before He could ascend above them, and that He suffered pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind that He might be filled with mercy and know how to succor His people in their infirmities (see D&C 88:6; Alma 7:11-12).”4
— “The Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh . . . [and] he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him” (v. 11). The Father’s plan required that every child of God should be accounted for when the scales of justice fell so heavily and unmercifully upon our Savior. “The pain of all men” so that “all men might repent” and return unto the Father forever. That is the standard; nothing less.
— The atonement saved our spirits. The resurrection saves our bodies. Therefore, suffering for our sings was not sufficient alone to save our souls. “He hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance.” We cannot enter the presence of God without a glorified and perfected body. Since the ones we have now are not glorified, we must first die and then be resurrected into a perfected body. Once we have that, then, if we have repented and saved our spirits, we can enter into the presence of the Father.
• When we repent, the Lord forgives us and remembers our sins no more (D&C 58:42). God is quite capable of remembering everything . . . forever. The fact that He will purposefully forget out sins is an amazing act of grace. And it points out the completeness of our redemption through the atonement. Our forgiveness is full, and forever.
THE SAVIOR’S ROLES AND ATTRIBUTES
The Prophet Joseph Smith said, [To have faith in God, we must have] “a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes.”5 So just what kind of being is our Savior? What are the attributes of godliness that He possesses. The Doctrine and Covenants provides a more complete list of these attributes than any other scriptural source. The following list is only partial, but is helpful.
Some of the Savior’s Roles and Attributes
Described in the Doctrine and Covenants:
— If we are faithful and diligent, he will encircle us in the arms of His love (D&C 6:20–21). He is the light that shines in darkness.
— He offers us protection and comfort and is ready to bless us when we remember Him and obey His commandments (D&C 6:32–37).
— He has subdued all things and retained all power (D&C 19:1–3). He will destroy Satan and his works. He will judge all people according to their deeds.
— His mercy has atoned for our sins (D&C 29:1–2). If we hearken to His voice and humble ourselves, He will gather us as a hen gathers her chickens.
— He is the Creator of the world, and He knows all things (D&C 38:1–3).
— He is the Savior of the world (D&C 43:34).
— He is our Advocate with the Father (D&C 45:3–5).
— He is the Good Shepherd and the Stone of Israel, a sure foundation upon which we can build (D&C 50:44).
— He is merciful and gracious to those who fear Him, and He delights to honor those who serve Him in righteousness and truth to the end (D&C 76:5).
— The Light of Christ “[fills] the immensity of space” and “giveth life to all things (D&C 88:12–13).” It is the power by which the universe is governed.
— He is the Only Begotten of the Father (D&C 93:5–19). He grew “from grace to grace” until He received a fulness of the glory and power of the Father.
— When He comes in power at the time of the 2nd Coming, those whom He has redeemed will receive His loving-kindness and goodness (D&C 133:42–52).
— His arm is stretched out to save His people (D&C 136:22).
1. In Conference Report, April 1977, 80; or Ensign, May 1977, 56.
2. In Journal of Discourses, 9:124.
3. Gospel Ideals: Selections from the Discourses of David O. McKay , 347.
4. In Conference Report, Oct. 1995, 91; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 69.
5. Lectures on Faith, 38,