I have often heard and read that Mormons – or members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – are not real “Christians.” This always surprises me because the name of our church includes the name of Jesus Christ. How can we not be Christians when we believe in Jesus Christ? I learned that we are accused of being non-Christian because we believe in the Jesus Christ as described in the Bible and not the blob of spirit without body, parts, or passions that other people believe.
Our first Article of Faith states: “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” We believe that the Father and the Son have bodies of flesh and bone while the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit. We believe that we are literally spirit children of a loving Heavenly Father, and we believe that Jesus Christ is our loving Elder Brother and the father of our spirituality because He made it possible for us to return to the presence of God.
We believe that Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God and the Savior of the world. We believe that He was the Firstborn Son of our Father, and He was chosen and ordained in our pre-earth life to prepare the way for our salvation. We believe that He came into this world as the Son of God to pay the ransom for our sins if we will believe in Him. We believe that we are saved by the grace of God after we have done all that we can do for ourselves.
As the Son of God, Jesus Christ had the ability to live forever, but as the Son of a mortal mother, He had the ability to die. As such, He had the power to lay down His life and then to take it again. “Therefore doth my Father love me, because 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. This commandment have I received of my Father” (John 10:17-18).
Because Jesus Christ was willing to suffer in the garden of Gethsemane and to die on the cross, we can receive eternal life. Because He was resurrected, we too may be resurrected and have our body and spirit united forever. The only thing that is required of us is to believe in Jesus Christ, repent of our sins, and be obedient to His commandments.
President Joseph Fielding Smith stated, “[Jesus Christ] is indeed the only begotten Son of God, and through His grace, and the grace of His Father, hath redeemed us from sin on condition of our repentance. We know that He has risen from the dead, that He has ascended on high, taking captivity captive [see Psalm 68:18], and has become the author of salvation unto all who will believe, who will repent of their sins and accept Him as the Redeemer of the world [see Hebrews 5:9]. Latter-day Saints are not left in doubt regarding these things.”
President Smith also stated, “While men may formulate plans, adopt theories, introduce strange works, and gather and teach many peculiar doctrines, one teaching is fundamental, and from it we cannot depart: all things are concentrated in and around the Lord Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world. We accept him as the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh, the only one who has dwelt in the flesh who had a Father who was immortal. Because of His birthright and the conditions surrounding His coming to the earth, He became the Redeemer of men; and through the shedding of His blood we are privileged to return into the presence of our Father, on conditions of our repentance and acceptance of the great plan of redemption of which he is the author.”
We believe that Heavenly Father has a plan for the eternal happiness of all His children. We believe that this plan is the gospel of Jesus Christ. We believe that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is the centerpiece of that plan. We believe that He made His atoning sacrifice in order that all of us could be raised in immortality to stand before Him to be judged according to our thoughts, words, and actions. We believe that through our faith in Jesus Christ and our obedience to His commandments we can be raised unto eternal life in the kingdom of our Heavenly Father.