Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Living Christ

                I think it is only fitting that Jesus Christ be the VIP for this week since we are celebrating His birth just a few days from now.  I have just one problem:  what can I write about this magnificent Personage that has not already been written about Him?

                Over the past few months I have come to know the Savior with a deeper understanding that I previously had.  Most of this understanding came as I memorized the document known as “The Living Christ.”  I have memorized few things in recent years and had to work to memorize this wonderful summary of Christ.  As I put words together, then sentences, and then paragraphs, I pondered the meaning of the words and phrases much more than I would have done simply by reading it.

                The document begins, “As we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago, we offer our testimony of the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice.  None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth.”  No one else has done or can do what the Savior did.  His life was “matchless” and His atoning sacrifice was “great” and “infinite.”

                “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 anything 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.”  I find it amazing that this Man who was already a God walked among men and women, blessing their lives, and teaching His gospel.  

                “He instituted the sacrament as a reminder of His great atoning sacrifice.  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.”  Jesus had divine blood running through His veins, and He could not be killed.  He voluntarily gave up His life to atone for your sins and for my sins.

                “We solemnly testify that 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.”  Jesus Christ came to earth for two main purposes:  (1) to gain a physical body and (2) to make it possible for all of us to be resurrected and to prepare the way back to Heavenly Father’s presence for those who choose to follow Him.

                “He rose from the grave to `become the firstfruits of them that slept’ (1 Corinthians 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’ (Ephesians 1:10).”  Many people - at least hundreds - have witnessed the resurrected Christ.  The Prophet Joseph Smith had the great privilege of seeing both God the Father and His Son.

                “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 was slain; I am your advocate with the Father”’ (Doctrine and Covenants 110:3-4).”  The Prophet described Jesus Christ in order for us to know what He looks like!

                “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’ (Doctrine and Covenants 76:22-24).”  Joseph Smith was not the only person to see God the Father and His Son in our day.

                “We declare in words of solemnity that 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’ (Ephesians 2:20).”  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is His Church here upon the earth.  It is led by prophets and apostles under the direction of Christ.

                “We testify that He will someday return to earth.  `And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together’ (Isaiah 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.”  All of us will see Christ when He returns to earth, and each of us will stand before Him to give a report on our lives here on earth.

                “We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles – that 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.”

                Fifteen men signed their names to this document, the three members of the First Presidency and the twelve members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  They published this document to the world that all of us might know and worship The Living Christ.  

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