First Presidency Message

Joy in Christ


Ezra Taft Benson
Adapted by President Benson from the message he delivered 1 December 1985 at a devotional in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, his first major address as the newly ordained Prophet of the Lord.

Joy in Christ

Without Christ there can be no fulness of joy.

In our premortal state, we shouted for joy as the plan of salvation was revealed to us. (See Job 38:7.)

It was there our elder brother Jesus, the firstborn in the spirit of our Father’s children, volunteered to redeem us from our sins. He became our foreordained Savior, the Lamb “slain from the foundation of the world.” (Moses 7:47.)

Thanks be to God the Son for the offering of Himself. And thanks be to God the Father that He sent Him. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.” (John 3:16.)

Jesus was a God before he came to live on earth. Our Father in Heaven gave Him a name above all others—the Christ. We have a volume of scripture whose major mission is to convince the world that Jesus is the Christ. It is the Book of Mormon. It is another testament of Jesus Christ and “the most correct of any book on earth.” (Book of Mormon Introduction.)

In its pages we read that “there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.” (Mosiah 3:17.)

As far as man is concerned, we must build “upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ.” (Hel. 5:12.)

The first and great commandment is to love Him and His Father. (See Matt. 22:37–38.)

Jesus Christ is “the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning.” (Mosiah 3:8.)

“Wherefore,” declared Jacob in the Book of Mormon, “if God being able to speak and the world was, and to speak and man was created, O then, why not able to command the earth, or the workmanship of his hands upon the face of it, according to his will and pleasure?” (Jacob 4:9.) God, the Creator, commands His creations even at this very moment.

Every prophet from the days of Adam testified of the divine ministry of the mortal Messiah. Moses prophesied concerning the coming of the Messiah. (See Mosiah 13:33–35.)

“We knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming,” reported Jacob in the Book of Mormon. (Jacob 4:4.)

In that same volume of scripture is recorded the manifestation of the Christ in His spirit body to the brother of Jared. “This body, which ye now behold,” said the Lord, “is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh.” (Ether 3:16.) And so He did.

He was the Only Begotten Son of our Heavenly Father in the flesh—the only child whose mortal body was begotten by our Heavenly Father. His mortal mother, Mary, was called a virgin, both before and after she gave birth. (See 1 Ne. 11:20.)

And so the premortal God; the God of the whole earth; the Jehovah of the Old Testament; the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the Lawgiver; the God of Israel; the promised Messiah was born a babe in Bethlehem.

King Benjamin prophesied of Christ’s coming and his ministry in this manner:

“For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases.

“And he shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men.

“And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.

“And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary.” (Mosiah 3:5–8.)

The Lord testified, “I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me. And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross.” (3 Ne. 27:13–14.) And so He was.

In Gethsemane and on Calvary, He worked out the infinite and eternal atonement. It was the greatest single act of love in recorded history. Then followed His death and resurrection.

Thus He became our Redeemer—redeeming all of us from physical death, and redeeming those of us from spiritual death who will obey the laws and ordinances of the gospel.

His resurrection is well proven in the Bible. The Book of Mormon records the resurrected Lord’s appearance on the American continent. To those people He said:

“Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. …

“Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.”

One by one, about 2,500 people “thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet.”

And they did “cry out with one accord, saying: Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him.” (3 Ne. 11:10, 14–17.)

Today in Christ’s restored church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, He is revealing Himself and His will—from the first prophet of the Restoration, even Joseph Smith, to the present.

“And now,” said the Prophet Joseph, “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.” (D&C 76:22–23.)

And now, what must we do? Why, we must do the same as the Wise Men of old. They sought out the Christ and found Him. And so must we. Those who are wise still seek Him today.

“I would commend you,” urged Moroni, “to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written.” (Ether 12:41.) And God has provided the means—the holy scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon—that all who seek may know that Jesus is the Christ.

In his Lectures on Faith, the Prophet Joseph Smith listed six divine attributes of God that men must understand in order to have faith in Him. The Book of Mormon bears constant witness that Christ possesses all these attributes.

First, God is the Creator and upholder of all things. King Benjamin said, “He created all things, … he has all wisdom, and all power.” (Mosiah 4:9.)

Second, God is distinguished by the excellency of His character, His mercy, long-suffering, and goodness. Alma testified that Christ is “full of grace, equity, and truth, full of patience, mercy, and long-suffering.” (Alma 9:26.)

Third, God changes not. Mormon revealed that “God is not … a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.” (Moro. 8:18.)

Fourth, God cannot lie. The brother of Jared declared, “Thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie.” (Ether 3:12.)

Fifth, God is no respecter of persons. Mormon testified that “God is not a partial God.” (Moro. 8:18.)

Sixth, God is a God of love. Of this divine attribute Nephi wrote that the Lord “doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life.” (2 Ne. 26:24.)

The Book of Mormon was designed by Deity to bring men to Christ and to His church. Both we and our nonmember friends may know that the Book of Mormon is true by putting it to the divine test which Moroni proposed. (See Moro. 10:3–5.)

What a gift it would be to receive a greater knowledge of the Lord. What a gift it would be to share that knowledge with others.

To that end may I encourage you not only to read the biblical account of Christ’s resurrection, but to read and share with a nonmember friend the Book of Mormon account of when Christ appeared to those in the Americas following His resurrection.

Give them or lend them a copy of the Book of Mormon, even your own copy if necessary. It could bless them eternally.

In conclusion, in Book of Mormon language, we need to “believe in Christ and deny him not.” (2 Ne. 25:28.) We need to trust in Christ and not in the arm of flesh. (See 2 Ne. 4:34.) We need to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.” (Moro. 10:32.) We need to come “with a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (3 Ne. 12:19), hungering and thirsting after righteousness (see 3 Ne. 12:6). We need to come “feasting upon the word of Christ” (2 Ne. 31:20), as we receive it through His scriptures, His anointed, and His Holy Spirit.

In short, we need to follow “the example of the Son of the living God” (2 Ne. 31:16) and be the “manner of men” He is (see 3 Ne. 27:27).

With Moroni, I testify that “the eternal purposes of the Lord shall roll on, until all his promises shall be fulfilled.” (Morm. 8:22.)

Not many years hence Christ will come again. He will come in power and might as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And ultimately every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ.

But I testify now that Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph Smith is His prophet, that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and that His church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is true, and that Christ is at the head of this Church.

I do so in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Ideas for Home Teachers

Some Points of Emphasis. You may wish to make these points in your home teaching discussions:

1. Our elder brother, Jesus, the firstborn in the spirit of our Father’s children, was foreordained to be our savior before the world was created.

2. Under the direction of the Father, Jesus created the earth and then came into this world as the Only Begotten of our Heavenly Father in the flesh to do the will of the Father and “to be lifted up upon the cross.”

3. Both the Bible and the Book of Mormon testify of the Lord’s birth, resurrection, and of his atoning sacrifice.

4. The Book of Mormon, restored through the instrumentality of the Prophet Joseph Smith, was designed by Deity to bring men to Christ and His church in the latter days.

5. Members are encouraged to share with nonmember friends the Book of Mormon account of Christ’s personal manifestations to his followers in the Americas.

Discussion Helps

1. Relate your personal feelings about the role of the Savior in our lives.

2. Are there some scriptures or quotations in this article that the family might read aloud and discuss?

3. Would this discussion be better after talking with the head of the household before the visit?

[illustration] “Jesus Christ Visits the Americas,” by John Scott