Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My Witness, at Christmastime

A while ago as I sat in church, I was thinking about the unbelief and misunderstanding of the world regarding Jesus Christ, and it made me sad. Today there are many who admire Him as a great teacher but deny the miracles that He did. There are some who say that He never existed, but was only a personification of God’s love for the people of the world, and that the disciples made up stories of Him as a metaphor of this love. There are an increasing number in the world who deny the existence of God altogether and preach the secular doctrines of atheism and humanism instead of the worship of Christ.

All of these groups, though varying widely in some beliefs, share one common false belief: that the man Jesus, if He existed at all, was not divine, miraculous, or powerful in any way other than that which is common to mankind. If they profess a form of godliness at all, they deny the power thereof. This secularism is preached persistently and tenaciously by text books, news reporters, politicians, celebrities, and important men and women holding powerful positions in society. They broadcast their false doctrines with an air of intellectual superiority, often with a sneering, condescending disdain for those they call foolish enough to believe in Divine power. At worst, they are militant in pushing their doctrine of disbelief and reckless in their efforts to let the chips of shattered faith fall where they may; at best, they view the believers as poor fools who need to be rescued from their ignorance.

Choosing to draw a line of demarcation between those who believe in a Divine Christ and those who do not, I can’t say how widespread the nonbelievers are, or whether their recruiting efforts are succeeding. All I know is that the more I perceive the things of the world and the more that time goes on, it appears to me that the secularists’ attacks on Christians are growing more loud and persistent than they once were. It is within this toxic culture of spiritual warfare that my children are growing up, and that so many good, humble men and women are left feeling confused—and that makes me feel sad.

Though I am but a single voice and no one of any consequence in the world, I want to stand up today as yet another witness that Jesus Christ lives, that He is divine, and that He will come again to earth. I testify without reservation that the time will come when Jesus of Nazareth will return to this world and be seen as a glorified, exalted Man by all those who survive the calamities of the last days before His coming. I testify that He was born to a virgin mother under circumstances that cannot possibly be called anything but miraculous. I testify that He is, literally, the mortal Son of our Eternal Father. Angels really did herald His birth to a few, chosen witnesses who received their testimony. I testify that as a man, He really did walk the streets and paths of Palestine; that He calmed the seas; that He healed the sick in a miraculous way that man’s inventions cannot reproduce; that He raised the dead; and that He went about doing good: loving, lifting, serving, and acting out of pure, selfless love in all that He did. I testify that He was the only perfect man to ever walk as a mortal on this earth—that He kept every divine law perfectly and never had cause to apologize, repent, or ask forgiveness of another.

I testify that Jesus the Christ went with witnesses to the Garden of Gethsemane, where as a God, He took upon Him the weight and sins of the entire world. Through means we do not comprehend, He suffered the demands of broken law so that all the rest of us could find a merciful release from the eternal consequences of sin, through faith in Him. I testify that He took upon Himself not only our sins, but also our pains and sicknesses and troubles, so that He would be enabled to succor us individually in whatever trials and tribulation we are called to pass through. Through His grace we can overcome our own failings, the consequences of others' sins, and the natural turmoil of the world as it spins on its appointed axis.

I testify that Jesus the Savior allowed Himself to be taken by ignorant, hateful men and tried on spurious charges, convicted, spit upon, and scourged. He carried His own cross to the hill Golgotha where He was nailed to it and lifted up for all to see as He finished payment of the penalty for our sins. He finished His terrible work in completeness, paying the price for our salvation to the last bit, and then voluntarily gave up his life, His spirit departing from his mortal body. On the third day afterward, angels rolled away the stone from the tomb where his body was laid, and our triumphant Redeemer took up His body again and rose from the grave, breaking the bonds of death. Again through means not understood by mortal men, His triumph over death enables all mankind to rise from the dead.

I testify that all men will rise again from the dead to be judged by Christ the Lord. I testify that the spirit of man is eternal; that this mortal life is but a moment in the grand story of endless existence; and that the condition of life we will enjoy in future eternities depends entirely on our acceptance of Jesus Christ’s atonement for us and our willingness to be His disciples, to turn over our free will to Him, to emulate Him and render to Him all that we have and are. He bought us with the price of His own blood, and we owe all that we have to Him.

I testify that in the latter days Jesus of Nazareth appeared in glory to the boy Joseph Smith, and used him as the appointed vessel to restore the full authority and organization of His church. The church of Jesus Christ that once graced the earth during His ministry in Palestine has been restored in completeness to the earth again, with the express purpose to preach the everlasting gospel to the world, to provide the ordinances of salvation that enable families to be sealed for eternity, to relieve the burdens of the oppressed and afflicted, and to prepare the world for the second coming of the Savior. Jesus Christ is the head of His church, and I testify that He leads it today exactly has He led it after departing this world two thousand years ago, through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost to the apostle He has set at the head of the Church. I testify that today this chosen leader is Thomas S. Monson, and that he holds the governing keys today that were given by Jesus to Peter of old, and that the succession of key-bearing, apostolic leaders of Christ’s church will continue unbroken until He comes once again to lead it in person.

I testify that Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed One, chosen and set apart by our Father in Heaven to be the Redeemer of the whole human family, and is the only one who can save us. Salvation comes through no other name, by no other way, and by no other conditions than those that Christ the Lord has laid out for us. I testify that He created this world under the direction of our Father, that He redeemed this world through the shedding of His own blood, and that he will judge the world with a perfect, righteous judgment. I testify that someday, every knee will bow before Him and every tongue will confess that He is our righteous Savior and that He is our King, our Judge, and our Lawgiver. Someday the haughty and unbelieving will bend in shame before His majesty and bemoan their fate as those who would not be redeemed, even though a Redeemer never ceased to seek after them during their probationary estate. And someday the meek, humble disciples of Christ will fall down before Him, and kiss His feet, and wet His feet with their tears, as He raises them up and crowns them with the angels of heaven, to dwell with Him in eternal splendor as families and friends, engaged in celestial work and glory that never ends.

I testify of these things through the witness of the Holy Ghost that is in me—the same witness given to Peter, Paul, Joseph Smith, Moses, Adam, and every other witness of God throughout the ages. Though I do not have the same calling these prophets had, I have the same witness through the same mechanism that they obtained it. I testify that every humble seeker of truth can obtain the same witness of the Holy Ghost through diligent study of God's word in the scriptures, earnest prayer, and a determination to obey and serve Jesus the Christ.

He is real. He lives today. And He will come again.

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