Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who are sometimes known as Mormons, worship Jesus Christ as their Savior. Mormons read the Bible and also the Book of Mormon, which is a companion book to the Bible and serves as a second testament of Jesus Christ.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began when Jesus Christ and God visited a teenager named Joseph Smith. Joseph wanted to know which church to join. The churches he visited all insisted they had the complete truth, but they contradicted each other. He knew there could only be one truth when something is of eternal significance and he couldn’t figure out how to know which church was true. He read in the Bible, in James 1:5, that if a person lacked wisdom and needed to know what is true, he could ask God. Immediately understanding the intelligence behind that promise—God knows everything—he went to the woods to put that promise to the test.
Because Joseph Smith personally saw Jesus Christ, he knew without question Jesus was real. His testimony has been added to the body of spiritual literature that testifies of the divinity of Jesus Christ.
Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is the literal son of God. He was born to a mortal mother, Mary, but God was His literal Father. Mormons do not believe the Holy Ghost was the father. Nor do they believe God and Mary had an intimate relationship. The Bible says she was a virgin when Jesus was born. We do not know how the conception occurred, only that it was respectful to both Mary and God. Knowing the details is not essential to our eternal salvation.
Mormons do not believe in the trinity. Although the Bible says God and Jesus are one, it also says in John 17:11:
And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
In this verse, Jesus is praying to God that the apostles and His followers will be one in the same way God and Jesus are one. Is He asking that they become the equivalent of a giant trinity? No, He is asking that they be unified. The oneness referred to in the Bible is not physical, but spiritual. God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are one in doctrine, purpose, and work—in everything but the body. Steven saw a vision in which Jesus was on the right hand of God—a clear message that God and Jesus are two beings (and visible and with form)—and he was murdered for revealing that vision and his testimony of it. Mormons don’t take that sacrifice lightly.
Mormon beliefs teach that Jesus Christ has played an essential role in our eternal lives since before the world began. He created the Earth under the direction of the Father and is the God of the Old Testament.
Mormons believe that through the atonement of Jesus Christ, we can be saved, and that there is no other way in which to be saved. The Book of Mormon teaches:
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved (2 Nephi 10:24).
Mormons teach that we were created as spirits before our births and that we lived with God there. Jesus was the first spirit created and is the only Begotten Son of the Father. When it was time to come to earth, Jesus volunteered to be our Savior. The law (justice) required that we live a perfect, sinless life in order to return home to God. God knew that would be impossible for mortal beings, and so, to temper justice with mercy, it was possible for someone else to atone for our sins. That person had to live a perfect life and to perform the atonement voluntarily. Jesus Christ volunteered for this assignment and did so with no request other than that we give the honor and glory to God.
Jesus Christ came to earth through a mortal mother and a divine father, and this made His mission possible. Because of His mortal heritage, He was able to have a mortal body that could suffer and die. Because of His divine heritage, He could live a sinless life, atone for our sins, and rise from the dead.
M. Russell Ballard, an apostle for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said this of the atonement and how it should impact our daily lives:
“Brothers and sisters, I believe that if we could truly understand the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, we would realize how precious is one son or daughter of God. I believe our Heavenly Father’s everlasting purpose for His children is generally achieved by the small and simple things we do for one another. At the heart of the English word atonement is the word one. If all mankind understood this, there would never be anyone with whom we would not be concerned, regardless of age, race, gender, religion, or social or economic standing. We would strive to emulate the Savior and would never be unkind, indifferent, disrespectful, or insensitive to others.” (M. Russell Ballard, “The Atonement and the Value of One Soul,” Ensign, May 2004).
Mormons believe Jesus took our sins on Himself in the Garden of Gethsemane in a very painful process that was personal for each of us. He then suffered severe abuse at the hands of his accusers and died on the cross—voluntarily, because He could have stopped it—and rose from the dead three days later. This made it possible for every person to be resurrected from the dead, to live forever, and to repent of sins and constitutes being saved. Mormons also believe that everyone can choose to be exalted by agreeing to meet the requirements of doing so. It is not reasonable to believe we can live in God’s presence if we choose to be immoral. That would make Heaven no more pleasant than Earth for those who want to live in a clean and moral environment. This means that anyone who wishes to be with God must become God-like. While perfection is not possible in this life, this life is the time to work toward perfection. The Bible outlines several acts required for returning to live with God, including accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior, baptism, obeying commandments, and repentance. (See Romans 10:9-10, Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, and Matthew 7:21.)
However, these acts cannot save us without the Savior’s participation in them—alone they would do nothing. His atonement was essential to make it all possible. In addition, they must be done in a spirit of love for Jesus Christ and God, not merely as a checklist for salvation. Done for the wrong reasons and in the wrong spirit, they are meaningless. Faith, testimony, and love are essential parts of the process.
Mormons remember the sacrifices of the Savior each week when the take the Sacrament (communion.) This allows them to renew their baptismal covenants and to reflect on His sacrifices and love.
The Book of Mormon is read by Mormons as a testimony that proves Jesus Christ is our Savior. Ancient Jewish law required the testimony of two or more witnesses. While there are many who read the Bible and come away believing Jesus was just a man, His appearance on another continent, after His death, and testified of by many, is proof He is divine. There is no way the ancient people who wrote the Book of Mormon could have known of the life of Jesus Christ had He not visited them. The book proves the authenticity of the Bible as well, since these ancient people had the portions that had been written prior to the time they left Jerusalem. Some portions, including some of Isaiah’s writings, are recorded in this book because the religious leaders preached and taught from those texts. You cannot believe the Book of Mormon without also believing in the Bible and in Jesus Christ.
Mormons look forward to a time when they will live with God and Jesus Christ for eternity. They love Him and worship Him for His loving, voluntary, and unselfish sacrifices made on their behalf. They worship only God and Jesus Christ. (Joseph Smith is a prophet and is treated as Christians treat any other Biblical prophet. He is not worshipped.)
Gordon B. Hinckley, a past president and Mormon prophet gave this testimony of Jesus Christ:
“He is the central focus of our worship. He is the Son of the living God, the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten in the flesh. He is “risen from the dead, … the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20). He is the Lord who shall come again “to reign on the earth over his people” (D&C 76:63; see also Micah 4:7; Revelation 11:15).
None so great has ever walked the earth. None other has made a comparable sacrifice or granted a comparable blessing. He is the Savior and the Redeemer of the world. I believe in Him. I declare His divinity without equivocation or compromise. I love Him. I speak the name of Jesus Christ in reverence and wonder. He is our King, our Lord, our Master, the living Christ, who stands on the right hand of His Father. He lives! He lives, resplendent and wonderful, the living Son of the living God.”
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