If you were to ask a typical member of The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints who Jesus Christ is, you would hear things like He is our savior, our redeemer and our spiritual elder brother. He is also referred to often as the “Lord Jesus Christ”. Very rarely will you hear and LDS member refer to Jesus Christ as “our God” (see D&C 35:1), even though we believe this. I doubt you would ever hear Jesus Christ referred to as our “Father” (see Mosiah 5:7 ) even though we believe this also.
I think the most common role that I hear from LDS members is that Jesus Christ is our “elder brother”. And yet this is probably His least important role to us. In fact the phrase “elder brother” is not found anywhere in the scriptures. This idea comes from Jesus Christ being the “first born” of Heavenly Father’s spirit children before we all came to Earth. But to us Jesus Christ is so much more than just our spiritual elder brother.
All of the scriptures we call the “standard works” teach that Jesus Christ is our “Lord” (i.e. master or ruler), our “God” (i.e. creator, source of all moral authority, the supreme being) and our “Father” (i.e. parent). The purpose of this article is to help us see Jesus Christ for who He truly is, and to help us understand His most important roles.
Jesus Christ – The Father And The Son
In Alma 11:26-39 Zeezrom asks Amulek if there is “a true and living God?” Amulek replies saying “Yea, there is a true and living God.” Then Zeezrom asks “Is there more than one God?” To which Almulek simply replies “No“. When Zeezrom asks Almulek how he knows these things Amulek says “An angel hath made them known unto me”. Later Zeezrom asks Amulek “Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father?, to which Amulek replies “Yea, he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth“.
In Mosiah 15:1-5 Abinidi says “I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people. And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son—The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son—
And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth. And thus the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit, or the Son to the Father, being one God, suffereth temptation, and yieldeth not to the temptation, but suffereth himself to be mocked, and scourged, and cast out, and disowned by his people.
If you read the above scriptures in both Alma 11 and Mosiah 15, you will notice that these scriptures do not mention or talk about Jesus Christ’s father at all. All of these verses are only speaking of Jesus Christ Himself, even when they use the word “father”. Jesus Christ is both the father and the son. He is the father because He attained Godhood before ever coming to this Earth. And He is the Son, because as God He condescended (see 1 Nephi 11:16) and subjected Himself to the will of His father.
Conceived By The Power Of God
What Mosiah 15 is saying is that Jesus Christ was a God in premortality before coming to this Earth to fulfill His mission. Being “conceived by the power of God” has a layered meaning. For the purposes of what we are discussing here the phrase “by the power of God” means through the authority and ordinances of God. In other words Jesus received all the authority and ordinances from His father before this life that He needed to attain Godhood (i.e. fatherhood).
So the Father Jesus Christ condescended (see 1 Nephi 11:16) to this Telestial Earth, subjected His flesh to His Father’s will, thus being both Father and Son. So why is this important to understand? Because “there is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ, of which I have spoken, whereby man can be saved” (see 2 Nephi 25:20). The only way for us to receive salvation and exaltation is through our Father Jesus Christ (yes I said our Father).
Jesus Christ Is Our Father
As I stated above, to us Jesus Christ is so much more than just our spiritual elder brother. Before the creation of all of the worlds that Jesus Christ created for His father, Heavenly Father promised He would give to Jesus Christ all those of His spirit children who repented and took advantage of Christ’s atonement. This is what Jesus was talking about when he said in a prayer to His father “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me” (see John 17:6).
Because of Christ’s atonement, if we truly follow Him, and take full advantage of His atonement, Christ adopts us. We literally become His sons and daughters. In Mosiah 5:7 King Benjamin says “And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.”
The apostle Paul talks about this principle in quite a few scriptures. For example in 1 Cor 6:19-20 he says “19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
In these verses Paul actually uses the word “adoption”: Romans 8:15, 23 “15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby “we cry, Abba, Father…23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
And a few more: Romans 9:4 “Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises. Gal 4:5 “To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. Eph 1:5 “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will”.
Our “Lord and God”
In this next scripture Jesus Christ explains that He is our “Lord” (i.e. master or ruler), our “God” (i.e. creator, source of all moral authority, the supreme being) and our “Father” (i.e. parent). Through the adoption resulting from our taking advantage of His atonement, He becomes our Lord and God, and we His sons and daughters.
D&C 35:1-2 “Listen to the voice of the Lord your God, even Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, whose course is one eternal round, the same today as yesterday, and forever. I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was crucified for the sins of the world, even as many as will believe on my name, that they may become the sons of God”.
Then in the last part of D&C 35:2 Jesus Christ explains how through this adoption process we are able to gain the same relationship to Him, that He has to His father. In other words we can receive the same oneness with Jesus Christ, that He enjoys with His Father. The last part of this verse reads “even one in me as I am one in the Father, as the Father is one in me, that we may be one.” I explain this doctrine of becoming one with Jesus Christ in more detail in my article “The Glory Of God Is Intelligence!”
There are many, many more scriptures that talk about Christ’s roles with respect to us and our salvation. In this article I hope I was able to show enough to establish what I was trying to show, and yet few enough to keep it simple.
Jesus Christ is who we worship. He is our Lord, Father and God. This in no way lessons our Heavenly Father, in fact it adds to His glory; it is His plan. But it is important to truly understand who Jesus Christ is to us. I believe this helps us to more fully understand all that He did for us. It also helps us understand the plan of salvation more completely.
Joseph Smith said that in John 17:3 where it says “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” Jesus is literally saying that for us to obtain eternal life we need to know God, and understand who it is and what kind of a being, we actually worship (see King Follet Discourse).
I know that these things are true. And I close in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.