“The Lord declared that it is his work and his glory ‘to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.’ (Moses 1:39.) He has established his Church to help in this great work. Accordingly, the Church’s mission is to ‘invite all to come unto Christ’ (D&C 20:59) and ‘be perfected in him’ (Moro. 10:32).” (Melchizedek Priesthood Leadership Handbook, 1990, p. 3.)
I would like to discuss at least in part what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints asks people to do when it invites them “to come unto Christ.” (D&C 20:59.)
It should be understood this invitation is not a request to participate in a single event, but to participate in a process.
This process leads individuals to eternal life, which “is the greatest of all the gifts of God; for there is no gift greater than the gift of salvation.” (D&C 6:13.)
How do we begin this most exciting and important process? The Book of Mormon records the events that occurred when Christ, following his resurrection, visited the people of Nephi in the land Bountiful. So important was this event that his Father introduced him, saying, “Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him.” (3 Ne. 11:7; emphasis added.)
From this introduction we learn the first required action: “hear ye him.” If we are to come unto Christ, we must first listen to him. We must learn who he is. Following his Father’s introduction, he told the people:
“Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.
“And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning.” (3 Ne. 11:10–11.)
He then invited them to come forth, one by one and “see with their eyes and … feel with their hands.” (3 Ne. 11:15.) These people experienced personal knowledge of who he was. However, Jesus reminded them that coming to him through faith is even more acceptable.
“And again, more blessed are they who shall believe in your words because that ye shall testify that ye have seen me, and that ye know that I am. Yea, blessed are they who shall believe in your words.” (3 Ne. 12:2; emphasis added.)
We are fortunate to have the scriptures, which contain the words of ancient Apostles and prophets, and to have the privilege of listening to modern-day Apostles and prophets testify of Christ.
What were the next words Jesus gave to the people in Bountiful? Think of all he could have said. He is the creator of this earth and countless others; he had just wrought the infinite atonement; he had just broken the bonds of death; he had just visited with his Father in Heaven. He could have discussed many, many wonderful and important subjects, but he chose to teach his doctrine, which is:
“And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.” (3 Ne. 11:38–39.)
Not only did the Lord teach the need for baptism, but he called special disciples and gave them power to baptize. He also taught them the correct manner of baptism.
Clearly, it is vital, on the journey to eternal life, to exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repent of our sins, and be baptized in the proper manner, by those holding the proper authority and using the proper prayer. After this kind of baptism we can “be visited with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and … receive a remission of … sins.” (3 Ne. 12:2.) However, in order to progress we must yield “to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord.” (Mosiah 3:19.)
As we come unto Christ, we must surrender our worldly ways, our pride, and our selfishness. As we yield to the promptings of the Holy Ghost, we should experience a “mighty change in [our] hearts” (Alma 5:14) and become willing to submit to or accept “all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon [us]” (Mosiah 3:19).
Life is often difficult. There are trials, disappointments, challenges, sickness, unemployment even for the Saints. These must be borne with submissive patience, for often these trials are evidence of the Lord’s hand preparing us to be worthy of living with him. To yield to Christ means to put him and his teachings first. The total submission of our will to his is one of the most difficult obstacles we face on our journey toward eternal life. The rewards of this submission are beautifully described by President Ezra Taft Benson:
“Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace.” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988, p. 361.)
Self-control and self-discipline are important virtues that need to be developed in the process of coming unto Christ. In my teenage years, when I was going out to an activity, my parents would say, “Son, remember who you are.” Is this phrase familiar to you? This short statement effectively reminded me of the trust my parents had in me, of the expectations of loving grandparents, concerned uncles, aunts, and priesthood leaders. It reminded me of my responsibility to be a good example to younger brothers and sisters.
Heavenly Father provides us with a similar request. He asks us to “always remember him” (D&C 20:77, 79) and “to stand as witnesses of [him] at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in” (Mosiah 18:9).
These reminders provide a simple, but effective, decision-making tool that can help us develop needed self-control and self-discipline.
Any thought, activity, or action that is compatible with the name, the life, or the teachings of Jesus Christ is acceptable. Any behavior that is not compatible with his name, his life, or his teachings is not acceptable and should be avoided.
The process of being perfected requires that we receive special instruction, make sacred covenants, and receive the highest ordinances of the priesthood. These blessings are available only in the temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Individuals who come unto Christ must come to his temple.
It is my prayer that all of us examine our lives and evaluate where we are in the process of coming unto Christ and being perfected in him. The Book of Mormon promised if we “come unto him, and offer [our] whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end … [we] will be saved.” (Omni 1:26; emphasis added.)
If you have not yet accepted the invitation to come unto him, please do so now. Missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are prepared and eager to teach you the doctrine of Christ. They hold the proper authority, baptize in the proper manner, and use the proper prayer.
If you previously began the process of coming unto Christ but lost your way or took a detour, do not despair; begin again. Come back, come back now! Come unto Christ and enjoy the “fruit of the Spirit,” namely, “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” and begin to “walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22–23, 25) and to “lay hold upon every good gift” (Moro. 10:30).
I testify that he lives, that he is the light and life of the world, that he is our Savior and our Redeemer, and I do it in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.