Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Ten Of The Most Powerful Scriptures About Our Savior Jesus Christ

Every time the question "what is your favorite scripture?" comes up, my answer is usually the same the last few years; something like "I don't have one, but I do have a few." I didn't used to be like that. Sure I used to switch off every so often to a different favorite scripture for a few months or even years, but now that I've spent so much time in them over the last ten years there is no possible way I could ever pick just one that I prefer to all others.

My home made scripture case has a picture of Jesus calming the storm on the back, Greg Olsen's "The Gentle Healer" on the front and key verses about Christ and His atonement on all the sides. I couldn't fit ten different passages about that on the sides because the length of the passages I chose were too long to fit more than 7, and even now, my perception regarding which scriptures about Jesus are the best has changed. Either way in this one I'll be explaining why the following ten passages are among my absolute favorites about our Savior and Redeemer.

1. Jacob 4:11-12

  • "Wherefore, beloved brethren, be reconciled unto [God] through the atonement of Christ, his Only Begotten Son, and ye may obtain a resurrection, according to the power of the resurrection which is in Christ, and be presented as the first-fruits of Christ unto God, having faith, and obtained a good hope of glory in him before he manifesteth himself in the flesh. And now, beloved, marvel not that I tell you these things; for why not speak of the atonement of Christ, and attain to a perfect knowledge of him, as to attain to the knowledge of a resurrection and the world to come?"
My favorite part of this is the question at the end. According to Tad R. Callister, the Atonement of Jesus Christ is a doctrine for all seasons as well as the "most sacred and sublime event in eternity. It deserves our most intense thoughts, our most profound feelings, and our noblest deeds."
Also, "it should be paramount in our intellectual and spiritual pursuits." So thus Jacob's invitation to speak of it, in as proper a frame of mind and heart as possible, as often and as intentionally as we can couldn't be more fitting.

2. Isaiah 53:4-5

  • "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."
Something else Callister mentions in The Infinite Atonement is that "He took upon him infinite suffering, but chose to defend with only mortal faculties, with but one exception - his godhood was summoned to hold off unconsciousness and death (i.e., the twin relief mechanisms of man) that would otherwise overpower a mere mortal when he reached his threshold of pain. For the Savior, however, there would be no such relief. His divinity would be called upon, not to immunize him from pain, but to enlarge the receptacle that would hold it. He simply brought a larger cup to hold the bitter drink." So when Isaiah says He has "surely" born our griefs and carried our sorrows, that is not a metaphor, nor is it oversimplified.

Also, for a long time I didn't understand what the phrase 'the chastisement of our peace was upon him' meant. In order to maintain good spiritual standing with God when we sin, we must repent and often be chastised by God in order to experience the change of heart we need to have peace. So the chastisement that we need in order to change and have the blessings of His atoning sacrifice extended to us? He took that upon Himself. Because of this, He didn't need to repent in order to know what it's like to be in our shoes through the repentance process.

3. Alma 34:14-17
  • "And behold, this is the whole meaning of the law, every whit pointing to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal. And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance. And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption. Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you;"
So many people get caught up in saying things like "I know the church is true" or "I know the gospel is true" and both of those are good things. They are essential. But people forget why it matters. This scripture helps to answer that. The very first sentence tells us that the purpose for any commandment we are given by God, "every whit" of it "point[s] to that great and last sacrifice... the Son of God." The Jews had largely forgotten that fact, as evidenced when almost all of them rejected Jesus as the Messiah.

The other awesome parts about this are where we are taught that Jesus was the only one who could see to it that "mercy ... satisf[ies] the demands of justice..." and the invitation at the end: "Therefore, ... begin to exercise your faith unto repentance... that he would have mercy upon you." Fantastic verses right there.

4. John 17:3, 19-22
  • "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent... And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me."

I should have put this verse in my one of my entries (here and here) about misconceptions about Christianity, because it puts to rest one of the most widely misunderstood and most pivotal doctrines ever taught in Christianity, whether or not we can ever understand the mysteries of God and truly know Him. In Romans 6:23 we are taught that "the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." If we are supposed to have eternal life though Him and He Himself says that eternal life is "to know ... God[] and Jesus Christ," it doesn't make sense to assume that we can't know everything He knows as well as know Him. He even explains how when He says "that they also might be sanctified..." and "that they all may be one; as thou, Father art in me, and I in thee." This is not the supposed metaphysical identity which many think God has. He does not expect us to physically merge with Him and He is not physically the same person as Jesus. That would mock the sanctity of Jesus' submission of His will to another person, the Father. He expects us to be united in love, purpose, will, understanding, action - heck, just about everything short of our identity. These few versus carry such a powerful clarification of what Christ really wants us to become and it can be accomplished via His atoning sacrifice.

5. 2 Nephi 26:24-28
  • "He 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 that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation. Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price. Behold, hath he commanded any that they should depart out of the synagogues, or out of the houses of worship? Behold, I say unto you, Nay."
This specifies, in action, the truth behind number 7 in this list. It offers an... I'd say almost a dare... to the reader to find any place where the Savior said that the blessings of His atonement are only offered to certain people, that repentance was ever off limits to any of God's children. Any place where the people are forced a distance away (physically or spiritually) from the Savior's power or presence was when they chose on their own to walk away, whether by their habits, beliefs or anything else unholy and impure. There is not one place in all the inspired words of prophets or Jesus Himself where He is partial to anyone out of bias. His invitation is utterly saturated with perfect, divine love, to "come unto me... and [have good things] without money and without price." We are the ones who reject Him, He NEVER rejects us. Even sons of perdition haven't been rejected.

As Callister puts it, "The unpardonable sin is an informed, calculated, irreversible rejection of the Savior and his atoning sacrifice.  To then claim that the Atonement is not infinite would be to argue that the son who rejected his father's bequest was robbed of his inheritance.  Suffice it to say, to reject a gift is not to disprove its existence.  The sons of perdition have chosen to spiritually disinherit themselves, to make of themselves spiritual orphans."

He never abandons us

6. Helaman 5:12
  • "And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."
The closest example I can think of (in the moment, though I'm sure there are many others) in mortality to a completely fail-safe "switch", if you will, is in the movie The Core. In the movie, a team of super smart people have to dig down to the outer core of the earth and "jump-start" the flow of hot liquid iron and nickle to stabilize the electro-magnetic field around the earth by using nuclear bombs. In doing so, they end up having to come up with a plan B and a plan C, which is to intentionally sabotage a part of the ship that wasn't built to be sabotaged in order to save the world by turning a switch that is normally not physically accessible to the crew. It was meant to be a completely fail-safe mechanism and they find a way around it.

The reason I mentioned this verse is because, unlike the almost fail-safe switch in The Core, this teaches us that our Savior provided us an actual fail-safe switch which cannot fail. There was nothing Christ left un-suffered, un-experienced, un-thought of, unplanned, or in any way shape or form reversible in God's plan for our redemption on His end. The only "switch" in mortality than isn't fail-safe is our agency. This is why this verse can promise us that if we "build [our] foundation [upon Chris, we] cannot fall."

7. Romans 8:38-39
  • "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Pretty simple, but also profoundly powerful. Similar to the previous verse in principle, Christ's love is all encompassing and there is no way to escape it in all eternity, period.

8. Alma 7:11-13
  • "And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people. And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me."

Alma talks here in a little more detail about the what and the why of the atonement of Christ and he is quite exact about his wording. There are no qualifiers on the phrase "every kind", which means, as already shown, that He left nothing undone. There is also a comforting reassurance that He really does understand us both from a Godly perspective as well as a totally mortal one with the phrase "according to the flesh". A firm reminder is also included that, in response to our repentance, it is "the power of His deliverance" to save us, not our own, that frees us from sin and it's effects.

9. Mosiah 15:7-9
  • "Yea, even so he shall be led, crucified, and slain, the flesh becoming subject even unto death, the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father. And thus God breaketh the bands of death, having gained the victory over death; giving the Son power to make intercession for the children of men—Having ascended into heaven, having the bowels of mercy; being filled with compassion towards the children of men; standing betwixt them and justice; having broken the bands of death, taken upon himself their iniquity and their transgressions, having redeemed them, and satisfied the demands of justice."
During this part of Abinadi's sermon (who is my absolute favorite prophet in the Book of Mormon) to wicked King Noah, He reminds us of the power of the Son submitting His will to the Father in the supreme expression of love to Him and to us. That is followed by the effect flowing from such an act.  "Thus God break[s] the bands of death... giving the Son power to make intercession for [God's children]... having redeemed them, and satisfied the demands of justice."
Only a God could do that and only one who was willing, capable and in a position where He could.

10. Doctrine and Covenants 19:15-19
  • "Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not. For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men."

Yes, the only recorded testimony we have in the Standard Works of the Savior's own testimony of what happened that night in the Garden of Gethsemane. The first part of this can sound like a stern parent point his finger in our faces, but I can think of nothing more earnest and pleading and loving than the Savior's own words begging us to really pay attention, to repent and using the memory of how bad it was for Him to say "how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not." He's saying, basically, "please, I can make this so much easier for you in the long run. Please, repent, so that I can spare you from what I had to go through." You'd be hard pressed to find a more loving statement anywhere else in scripture.


Obviously there are many, many more examples of wonderful scriptures about Him, but these ones stick out to me as ten of the most concise, beautiful and complete explanations of Christ's atonement, God's plan for us and the true power and role Jesus Christ has in our lives.

I love Him. I do my best to be like Him, to repent and follow His example. I'm not at all where I want to be yet, but I'm learning more every day. Layer by layer I unfold more spiritual depth, more layers of understanding and truth as I pray, search the scriptures and look for ways to more effectively keep my covenants. My hope is that something I have said here will convince someone else to increase their obedience to and faith in Jesus Christ and search the scriptures themselves for the same understanding God has blessed me with... and more! Much more!

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