My Come, Follow Me studies for this week took me to “The Living Christ.” The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints published “The Living Christ” on January 1, 2000.
In 1838, the Prophet Joseph Smith made a statement that inspired “The Living Christ” many years later. The Prophet declared:
The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 49).
Many years later in 2017, President Russell M. Nelson explained the motivation to today’s leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
… it was this very statement of the Prophet that provided the incentive for 15 prophets, seers, and revelators to issue and sign their testimony to commemorate the 2,000th anniversary of the Lord’s birth. That historic testimony is titled “The Living Christ.” Many members have memorized its truths. Others barely know of its existence. As you seek to learn more about Jesus Christ, I urge you to study “The Living Christ” (“Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2017, 40).
Latter-day Saints believe in continuing revelation and are grateful for the inspired counsel and warnings and for reassurance. We are blessed by the powerful testimonies of Prophets and Apostles, the chosen witnesses for Jesus Christ for all people. The words of “The Living Christ” are as follow:
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.
Fifteen Prophets and Apostles signed their names to this document that testifies of Jesus Christ. They proclaimed that there has been no other person ever to live upon the earth who had such “profound influence” upon all people who ever has lived upon the earth or will live upon the earth.
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…. 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, heling 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.
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.
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.
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).
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 anow; 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 who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father” (Doctrine and Covenants 110:3-4).
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).
We declare in words of solemnity that His priesthood and His Church have been restored – “built upon the foundation of … apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20).
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 46:5. 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.
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.
The document was signed by the First Presidency (Gordon B. Hinckley, Thomas S. Monson, and James E. Faust) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (Boyd K. Packer L. Tom Perry, David B. Haight, Neal A. Maxwell, Russell M. Nelson, Dallin H. Oaks, M. Russell Ballard, Joseph B. Wirthlin, Richard G. Scott, Robert B. Hales, Jeffrey R. Holland, and Henry B. Eyring). Ten of those fifteen Apostles have since passed away, but the fifteen members of today’s First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve Apostles sustain and defend the Living Christ as though they had signed it themselves.