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Saturday, August 14, 2021

What Is the Light of Christ and What Does It Do?

            My Come, Follow Me lesson this week took me to Doctrine and Covenants 88. The revelation that is contained in this section was received through the Prophet Joseph Smith in three parts. The first part, Doctrine and Covenants 88:1-126 was revealed on December 27-28, 1832. The second part, verses 127-137, was received on January 3, 1833. The third part, verses 138-141, was received prior to the publication of the 1835 volume of the Doctrine and Covenants.

The Prophet Joseph Smith referred to the revelation as an “‘olive leaf’ … plucked from the Tree of Paradise” (section heading of Doctrine and Covenants 88). The name may have been given as a message of peace that could help to ease the harsh feelings that some members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were experiencing toward Church leaders in Kirtland, Ohio.

In the first half of the revelation, the Lord told the elders of the Church to teach each other and to prepare to serve as missionaries. He also revealed other information, including signs of His Second Coming, the general order for the resurrection of all people, and some events surrounding the final battle with Satan at the end of the Millennium. Towards the end of the revelation, the Lord commanded the Saints to build a “house of God” or temple in Kirtland, Ohio (verse 119), and to organize “a school of the prophets” (verse 127).

One of the principles taught in this section is that “light and law come from Jesus Christ” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:4-13).

4 This Comforter is the promise which I give unto you of eternal life, even the glory of the celestial kingdom;

5 Which glory is that of the church of the Firstborn, even of God, the holiest of all, through Jesus Christ his Son—

6 He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth;

7 Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made.

8 As also he is in the moon, and is the light of the moon, and the power thereof by which it was made;

9 As also the light of the stars, and the power thereof by which they were made;

10 And the earth also, and the power thereof, even the earth upon which you stand.

11 And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings;

12 Which light proceedeth froth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space—

13 The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things.

            The words light and law are repeated many times in section 88. These words are used in other scriptures to describe Jesus Christ and His gospel. Some examples are Isaiah 60:19; John 1:1-9; 3 Nephi 15:9). Studying these and other scriptures can inspire us to make changes in our lives to receive more light and to better live the “law of Christ” (verse 21). The Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual for Religion 324-325 [2018] gives the following information.

Jesus Christ is the Firstborn of Heavenly Father’s spirit children (see Doctrine and Covenants 93:21). In the premortal life He obtained all knowledge and power and represented the Father as the Creator of all things (see Doctrine and Covenants 38:1-3; 45:1; 76:23-24). It was through His power that the sun, moon, stars, and earth were made (see Doctrine and Covenants 88:7-10). This creative power is identified as “the light of truth,” or “the light of truth,” or “the light of Christ,” which “proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:6-7, 12). This “light … which giveth life to all things” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:13) is also the spiritual power that “quickeneth [our] understandings” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:11). In earlier revelations the Saints had learned that if they would receive and hearken to this light, it would lead them to Heavenly Father and the covenants of the gospel “see Doctrine and Covenants 50:24: 84:45-48).

            This explanation illustrates why the power of God is known as the “Light of Christ.” Elder Richard G. Scott (1928-2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained as follows:

The Light of Christ is that divine power or influence that emanates from God through Jesus Christ. It gives light and life to all things. It prompts all rational individuals throughout the earth to distinguish truth from error, right from wrong. It activates your conscience [see Moroni 7:16]. Its influence can be weakened through transgression and addiction and restored through proper repentance. The Light of Christ is not a person. It is a power and influence that comes from God and when followed can lead a person to qualify for the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Ghost [see John 1:9; Doctrine and Covenants 84:46-47] (“Peace of Conscience and Peace of Mind,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2004, 15).

            The Light of Christ is the power that bring life and light to all things. We should also understand that the Light of Christ is also “the law by which all things are governed” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:13). This insight increases our appreciation for God’s power and for the fact that it makes life possible for all. President Joseph Fielding Smith gave this description:

This Light of Christ is not a personage. It has no body. I do not know what it is as far as substance is concerned; but it fills the immensity of space and emanates from God….

… Unless a man had the blessings that come from this Spirit, his mind would not be quickened; there would be no vegetation grow; the words would not stay in their orbits; because it is through this Spirit of Truth, this Light of Truth, according to this revelation [in Doctrine and Covenants 88], that all these things are done (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:52).

            The Light of Christ is a power that comes from God. It is the power by which the sun, moon, stars, and earth were created and have light. It is the power that brings life and light to all living matter on earth. Without the Light of Christ, none of us would be here.        

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