Chapter 24: Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant, (2011), 219–28


Jesus Christ is the literal Son of God, the Redeemer of mankind, and the living head of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

From the Life of Heber J. Grant

President Heber J. Grant said, “There is nothing so dear to the human heart as the testimony of Jesus Christ.”1 President Grant was profoundly concerned for those who lacked a sure testimony of the Savior. “What the world needs today more than anything else,” he declared, “is an implicit faith in God, our Father, and in Jesus Christ, His Son, as the Redeemer of the world.”2 He saw this great need as he traveled the world to preach the gospel and encountered false teachings about the life and mission of Jesus Christ. He was saddened by what he referred to as “a lack of belief in God, and in the divinity of Jesus Christ.” For example, he once told of a newspaper article in which a man had recommended that “people discard the ‘absurdity’ of Jesus Christ as a God on earth and a Redeemer of the world.” President Grant was always quick to counter this idea and bear testimony in defense of the truth. He said:

“Whenever I have read that statement—and I have read it in a number of places—I have taken the trouble to state to the people in the various places where I preached, the position of the Latter-day Saints as to the gospel in which we believe.

“I announced in those meetings, in some of which the majority of the audience were non-members of the Church, that every Latter-day Saint must subscribe to the doctrine that God Himself visited the boy Joseph Smith, and that God Himself introduced Jesus Christ to the boy as His beloved Son.”3

Every word President Grant spoke about the Savior revealed his love for and delight in the Lord. “It is a remarkable fact,” he said, “that we can never read or hear of the labors which our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ performed, without taking pleasure in it, while, on the other hand, there is nothing so interesting in the life and history of any other individual but what by hearing or reading it time and time again we become tired of it. The story of Jesus the Christ is a story of old that ever remains new. The oftener I read of His life and labors the greater are the joy, the peace, the happiness, the satisfaction that fill my soul. There is ever a new charm comes to me in contemplating His words and the plan of life and salvation which He taught to men during His life upon the earth.”4

President Grant’s character was defined by his testimony of the Savior and the restored gospel. Elder John A. Widtsoe, who was ordained an Apostle by President Grant, wrote: “Men who attain true greatness adhere carefully to fundamental, guiding principles. This is notably true in the life of President Grant. Faith in God and in his Son, Jesus Christ, and in the restored gospel, has guided him from boyhood. It is quite impossible to understand his notable career unless the guiding power of this faith is taken into account. … His testimony of the divinity of Jesus Christ and of the restored gospel pierces the soul with its thrilling earnestness.”5

Teachings of Heber J. Grant

Jesus Christ is the literal Son of God.

We believe absolutely that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, begotten of God, the first-born in the spirit and the only begotten in the flesh; that He is the Son of God just as much as you and I are the sons of our fathers.6

I rejoice that the Church of Jesus Christ is founded upon the first great vision that was enjoyed by the boy Joseph Smith over one hundred years ago. He declared that he saw two Heavenly Beings, whose glory and grandeur were beyond the power of man to describe and that one of them addressed him and pointed to the other and said: “This is my beloved Son, hear Him.” [See Joseph Smith—History 1:17.] There cannot be any doubt in the heart of a Latter-day Saint regarding Jesus Christ’s being the Son of the living God, because God Himself introduced Him to Joseph Smith.7

“Behold the man!” said Pontius Pilate, Roman governor of Judea, as Jesus, platted with a crown of thorns and mockingly bedecked with a purple robe, stood before the mob who cried, “Crucify him, crucify him!” [John 19:5–6.]

Blinded by ignorance, bigotry, and jealousy, the crowd saw in the condemned man only a malefactor, a violator of traditional law, a blasphemer; one whom they madly and unjustly condemned to the cross. Only a comparatively small group of men and women beheld Him as He really is—the Son of God, the Redeemer of mankind!

For nineteen centuries Christ’s birth has been celebrated by nations that call themselves Christian. Annually the pealing of bells, the harmony of music, and the declaration of voices have united in heralding anew the angelic message “on earth peace, good will toward men.” [Luke 2:14.]

However, as on the occasion of that historic trial, so through the ages, men have beheld Him from different viewpoints. Some, who reject Him as venomously as did the rabble, see in Him and His disciples “inventors of a Christian moral system that has undermined and sapped the vigor of the modern European world.” Others with clearer insight, begotten by experience, behold Him as the originator of a system that “promotes industry, honesty, truth, purity, and kindness; that upholds law, favors liberty, is essential to it, and would unite men in one great brotherhood.”

Many behold Him as the “one perfect character—the fearless personality of history,” but deny His divinity.

Millions accept Him as the great Teacher, whose teachings, however, are not applicable to modern social conditions. A few—O how few!—of the … inhabitants of the globe, accept Him for what He really is—“the Only Begotten of the Father; who came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness.” [See D&C 76:23, 41.]8

Jesus Christ came to earth to redeem mankind.

To members of the Church throughout the world, and to peace-lovers everywhere, we say, behold in this Man of Galilee not merely a great Teacher, not merely a peerless Leader, but the Prince of Peace, the Author of Salvation, here and now, literally and truly the Savior of the World!9

We desire the advancement of all mankind, and we pray God to bless every man that is striving for the betterment of humanity in any of the walks of life; and we say of every man who believes that Jesus is the Christ and who proclaims it: O God, bless that man. … Jesus is the Redeemer of the world, the Savior of mankind, who came to the earth with a divinely appointed mission to die for the redemption of mankind. Jesus Christ is literally the Son of God, the Only Begotten in the flesh. He is our Redeemer, and we worship him, and we praise God for every individual upon the face of the earth who worships our Lord and Master as the Redeemer of the world.10

From the beginning of time, as we count it, to the present, God our Father has, at divers times, both by his own voice and the voice of his inspired prophets, declared that he would send to earth his only begotten Son, that through him, by means of the resurrection, of which our Lord was the first fruits, mankind might be redeemed from the penalty of death, to which all flesh is heir, and by obedience to the law of righteous living, which he taught and exemplified in his life, be cleansed from personal sin and made heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven.11

The birth of Christ our Lord was more than an incident, it was an epoch in the history of the world to which prophets had looked forward, of which poets had sung, and in which angels joined their voices with mortals in praise to God. It was the day decreed and foreordained by our Father who is in heaven when he would manifest himself to his children, who are here upon earth, in the person of his Only Begotten Son. …

He came that man might see and know God as he is, for he bore witness that whoever had seen him had seen the Father, for he was the express image of his person [see John 14:7–9; Hebrews 1:3].

He came to teach us the character of God, and by example and precept pointed out the path which, if we walk in it, will lead us back into his presence. He came to break the bands of death with which man was bound, and made possible the resurrection by which the grave is robbed of its victory and death of its sting.12

In the divine ministry of His life, the Lord proclaimed the Gospel, and as a mortal being He gave us the example of the perfect man.

The Gospel is a plan for the guidance of men in their minglings together here as mortals, and for their direction in their spiritual lives to the end that they may be saved and exalted in the world to come.13

During the brief period of his ministry he effected the organization of his Church, selected twelve apostles, upon whom, with Peter at their head, he conferred the keys of the priesthood, and to whom he made plain the organization of his Church and the doctrines of his Gospel, by obedience to which mankind may be redeemed and brought back into the presence of God.14

The life of Jesus Christ, born in a stable, cradled in a manger and put to death between two thieves, was one of the greatest of all failures from man’s point of view, but our Lord and Master came to the earth not to do His own will but that of His Father, and He successfully fulfilled His mission. He has triumphed over death, hell and the grave and has earned the reward of a throne at the right hand of His Father.15

Christ exiting the tomb

“Our Lord and Master came to the earth not to do His own will but that of His Father, and He successfully fulfilled His mission. He has triumphed over death, hell and the grave and has earned the reward of a throne at the right hand of His Father.”

“We believe that through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” [Articles of Faith 1:3.]

We believe that Christ, divinely begotten, was born of woman, that He lived a mortal life, that He was crucified upon the cross, that He died, His spirit leaving His body, and was buried, and was on the third day resurrected, His spirit and body re-uniting. …

We testify that men [Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon] to whom Jesus came as He was rounding out the establishment of His Church left this record of that glorious vision:

“And while we meditated upon these things, the Lord touched the eyes of our understandings and they were opened, and the glory of the Lord shone round about.

“And we beheld the glory of the Son, on the right hand of the Father and received of His fulness;

“And saw the holy angels and them who are sanctified before His throne, worshiping God, and the Lamb, who worship Him for ever and ever.

“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.” [D&C 76:19–24.]

… We add our own humble testimony: that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, that He is a resurrected being, and that in His pattern, every man, woman, and child that ever lived, shall come forth from the grave a resurrected being, even as Christ is a resurrected being, the righteous to lives of glorious joy and eternal progression.16

I rejoice in knowing that Jesus is the Redeemer of the world, our elder brother, and that His name and His name alone, is the only one under heaven whereby we can gain salvation and come back and dwell with our Heavenly Father and our Savior, and our loved ones who have gone before.17

Through His Atonement, the Savior offers us lasting peace, comfort, and joy.

In the living of the Gospel of Christ, and in the joy which flows from service in His cause, comes the only peace that lives forever.

To the multitude Jesus said:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” [Matthew 11:28–30.]

To His Apostles in the Passover chamber He said:

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” [John 14:27.]

His peace will ease our suffering, bind up our broken hearts, blot out our hates, engender in our breasts a love of fellow men that will suffuse our souls with calm and happiness.

His message and the virtue of His atoning sacrifice reach out to the uttermost parts of the earth; they brood over the remotest seas. Wherever men go, there He may be reached. Where He is, there may the Holy Spirit be found also, with its fruit of “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.” [Galatians 5:22.]

He will be our comfort and solace, our guide and counselor, our salvation and exaltation, for “there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” [Acts 4:12.]

Out of His divine wisdom comes the eternal truth: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” [Matthew 16:26.] “For” said Paul, “the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” [See Romans 14:17.]

Just before He offered up the divine prayer [see John 17], Jesus, teaching the apostles, said: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” [John 16:33.]18

Jesus Christ lives and directs His Church today.

Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God. … We proclaim to all the world that we know that He lives.19

This Church is … a marvelous work and a wonder. There is nothing like it in all the world, because Jesus Christ, the Son of God established it, and is the head of it.20

Jesus is the Christ, and He is the chief corner stone of this great work—He is directing it, and He will continue to direct it.21

We testify that God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ have appeared in our own times to the Prophet Joseph Smith to set up again His Church never to be again torn down, that heavenly messengers have restored His priesthood and the holy authority thereof.22

I have had joy beyond my ability to express, in lifting up my voice, in bearing witness to those with whom I have come in contact that I know that God lives, that I know that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world, the Redeemer of mankind; that I know that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of the true and living God, that I have the abiding testimony in my heart that Brigham Young was a chosen instrument of the living God, that John Taylor, that Wilford Woodruff, that Lorenzo Snow were, and that today Joseph F. Smith is the representative of the living God, and the mouthpiece of God here upon the earth. [President Grant shared this testimony on 4 October, 1918, about seven weeks before he succeeded Joseph F. Smith as President of the Church.]23

To the people of the world we appeal to come unto Christ, through whom redemption cometh to all those who take upon them his name, and keep the commandments which he has given. We bear witness that the fulness of his gospel has been restored, that his Church is established, and will continue to spread until peace shall prevail among men, and his kingdom come and his will be done upon earth as it is done in heaven. O Lord, hasten that glorious day.24

Suggestions for Study and Discussion

  • Why is faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ “what the world needs today more than anything else”? What worldly influences can undermine people’s faith in Jesus Christ as God’s Son? What can we do to increase our faith in the Savior?

  • What difference has your testimony of the Savior made in your daily life? How does knowing that the Savior triumphed over all adversity give you hope as you face challenges?

  • Why did Jesus Christ come to earth? How can we better assist the Lord in His purposes?

  • How does the progress of the Church testify of the continuing mission of Jesus Christ? How does knowing that Christ Himself stands at the head of the Church increase your commitment to participate in the kingdom of God?

  • How can our understanding of the Savior’s mission influence our interactions with those who are not of our faith?

Show References

    Notes

  1.   1.

    In Brian H. Stuy, comp., Collected Discourses Delivered by President Wilford Woodruff, His Two Counselors, the Twelve Apostles, and Others, 5 vols. (1987–92), 1:183.

  2.   2.

    Gospel Standards, comp. G. Homer Durham (1941), 146.

  3.   3.

    Gospel Standards, 6–7.

  4.   4.

    Gospel Standards, 22.

  5.   5.

    “The Living Prophet,” Improvement Era, Nov. 1926, 4, 8; paragraphing altered.

  6.   6.

    “Analysis of the Articles of Faith,” Millennial Star, 5 Jan. 1922, 2.

  7.   7.

    Gospel Standards, 23–24.

  8.   8.

    In James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. (1965–75), 6:37–38.

  9.   9.

    In Messages of the First Presidency, 6:39.

  10.   10.

    In Conference Report, Apr. 1921, 203.

  11.   11.

    Message from the First Presidency, in Conference Report, Apr. 1930, 3–4; read by President Heber J. Grant.

  12.   12.

    In Messages of the First Presidency, 5:246.

  13.   13.

    In Messages of the First Presidency, 5:346.

  14.   14.

    Message from the First Presidency, in Conference Report, Apr. 1930, 6; read by President Heber J. Grant.

  15.   15.

    “Letter from President Heber J. Grant,” Millennial Star, 26 Feb. 1903, 131.

  16.   16.

    In Messages of the First Presidency, 6:32–35.

  17.   17.

    In Conference Report, Apr. 1916, 37.

  18.   18.

    In Messages of the First Presidency, 6:140.

  19.   19.

    Gospel Standards, 164.

  20.   20.

    In Conference Report, Oct. 1924, 7.

  21.   21.

    In Conference Report, Oct. 1909, 30.

  22.   22.

    In Messages of the First Presidency, 6:34.

  23.   23.

    In Conference Report, Oct. 1918, 24–25.

  24.   24.

    In Messages of the First Presidency, 5:247–48.