“How should I respond when my friends say that Jesus Christ was a great moral teacher but not the Savior or the Son of God?”02244_000_006
You could begin by sharing your own brief testimony of Jesus Christ. Let your friends know that you agree that the Lord was a great moral teacher but that you also believe the scriptures, which testify that He is the Savior and Son of God. Explain that your testimony brings you peace and confidence. Let your friends know that they can have that same knowledge if they want to. If they are not interested, there is little you can say that will convince them. Just cheerfully move on to another subject.
If they want to know the truth, your testimony may catch their interest and give you a chance to teach them how to gain a testimony of their own. They will need to study the scriptures, hear the testimonies of others, and pray sincerely about what they have learned so the Holy Ghost can reveal the truth to them. You can help them get started by sharing these testimonies:
1. Heavenly Father Himself testified that Jesus Christ is His Son (see Matthew 3:17; 17:5; 3 Nephi 11:7; Moses 6:52, 57). The most recent experience came in 1820 when Joseph Smith heard Heavenly Father say, pointing to the Savior, “This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Joseph Smith—History 1:17).
2. If your friends believe that Jesus was a great moral teacher, then invite them to look at His teachings and testimony. He said things that only the Savior could say, such as, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). To be a moral teacher, He must teach the truth, and the Lord Himself testified, “I am Jesus Christ the Son of God” (3 Nephi 9:15).
3. Prophets also testify of the Savior. For instance, the Apostle Peter testified: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Invite your friends to listen to general conference, or give them a copy of the March 2008 issue of the Ensign. In that issue and in conference, living apostles and prophets—special witnesses of Jesus Christ—bear testimony that He is the Savior and Son of God.
Finally, you could tell your friends why we need a Savior. Explain that sin and death keep us from returning to Heavenly Father. Only the Son of God could perform the Atonement, making forgiveness and the Resurrection possible. Testify that without the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we couldn’t enjoy peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come. “There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
I would tell my friends that Jesus truly was a great moral teacher. One of the most important things He taught was that He was the promised Savior and Son of God. I do not think a person who would lie and make up such a story could be a great moral teacher. My friends must decide if He was a man of honesty. I believe Jesus was who He claimed to be, the Son of God. I have learned that for myself through prayer and scripture study, and I would invite my friends to do the same.
Jacob J., 13, Arizona
One time I was with my friends, and one of them said he didn’t believe Jesus Christ was everything people said He was and that the Bible could have been written by anyone. I never felt the Spirit so strongly as when I said, “I know it’s true. I know it.” Everyone was quiet. My friend said he wished he could have that same knowledge. It was the perfect chance to share with him how to obtain a testimony. Pray for Heavenly Father to guide you so you can be an instrument in His hands. Don’t be afraid to share your testimony.
Laura R., 20, Asunción, Paraguay
Let him or her view the Church DVD Finding Faith in Christ. I’ve seen lots of people who came to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He carried out the infinite Atonement. Also, share your testimony because it will give spiritual witness through the Holy Ghost.
Elder Mahunray Ada, 22, Philippines Manila Mission
In this situation, it is not worth trying to fight and insist that Jesus Christ truly was the Savior. I would try to explain by sharing facts and, at the same time, by testifying that Jesus is the Savior and the Son of God. I am certain that God will give you support, and the Spirit will definitely help you find thoughts and necessary words (see Hebrews 10:15–16; 3 Nephi 28:11).
Elena F., 19, Ulianovsk, Russia
You can share your testimony about Christ. You can tell them what you believe and share passages from the Bible. If they’re not interested, you just have to let it go and not let it dampen your testimony.
Cortney C., 16, Arizona
I wouldn’t argue, but I would share my testimony of the Savior and in this way help them understand that not only did He die and was resurrected, but He also suffered for us so we could repent. He gave us the example of how we could make it back to where He is and live eternally with Him. Also help them know that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ.
Cristopher F., 18, Talagante, Chile
Never be afraid to share your testimony of the Savior. Testify to them that you know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He truly did die for our sins. The Spirit will testify to them that He is the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the world. It just might be your testimony that convinces them of who He really is.
Chelsea N., 18, Nevada
Responses are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.
Encourage your friends to gain a testimony by studying the scriptures, praying with faith, and trying to live the Lord’s teachings.
Refer your friends to scriptures that teach and testify of the Savior.
Respect their opinions—“let them worship how, where, or what they may” (Articles of Faith 1:11)—but also let them know of your testimony of Jesus Christ.
The Church DVD Finding Faith in Christ (item no. 54041) is available through your local distribution center or from www.ldscatalog.com.
Photo illustration by Vladimir Egorov
Photograph of President Monson by Busath Photography
“I testify that He is a teacher of truth—but He is more than a teacher. He is the Exemplar of the perfect life—but He is more than an exemplar. He is the Great Physician—but He is more than a physician. He is the literal Savior of the world, the Son of God, the Prince of Peace, the Holy One of Israel, even the risen Lord.”
President Thomas S. Monson, “Your Personal Influence,” Ensign, May 2004, 23.
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