A witness from God can be relied upon. As you read our thoughts, beliefs, and experiences, we invite you to obtain a witness for yourself. If something we say or imply does not ring true, then you should feel no obligation to accept it. Life is an individual and unique journey with God. Although we can help and encourage each other, we need to be careful not to come between God and another person.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Looking for Witnesses of Christ, Part 3

Studying the scriptures is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. All the pieces are needed to see the whole picture. Each witness of Christ helps us understand different pieces of the puzzle. Very few of them are commissioned to tell the whole story 3 Nephi 23:1-2. Christ gives instructions as to what they can and cannot say 1 Nephi 14:24-26. Much of what they share overlaps and builds upon what another has said.

Because of the many individual witnesses of Christ contained in the Book of Mormon, the whole book becomes a powerful witness of Christ. The doctrine of Christ is laid out. Eyewitnesses share their struggles and how they overcame through the power of the atonement. The deception of an anti-Christ is also presented. Results of wickedness and righteousness are clearly exposed. We are also shown how most of us, as gentiles, will reject Christ in these latter-days. 3 Nephi 16:10-14, 2 Nephi 30:1, 2 Nephi 28:32

We still have an opportunity to accept Christ and come unto him. Witnesses of Jesus can teach and help us as we seek to also become witnesses. Let’s look at some of the experiences and commonalities among witnesses in the Book of Mormon. There are many examples. Here are just a few:

  • There is a time of trying and testing before the witness of Christ is obtained.

Nephi was commanded to go and get the plates of brass. Laban tried to kill him, he was beaten by his brothers, and rescued by an angel 1 Nephi 3. He was also required to slay Laban. He had never killed a man and recounts, “I shrunk and would that I might not slay him” 1 Nephi 4. His brothers bound him with cords and left him to be devoured by wild beasts in the wilderness 1 Nephi 7.

  • The challenges don’t stop after one becomes an eyewitness.

Nephi and Lehi, the sons of Helaman, were cast into prison for many days without food. The Lamanites went forth into the prison to take them that they might slay them Helaman 5:21-22.

After prophesying about the murder of their chief judge Helaman 8:26-28, Nephi was accused of being an accomplice to the murder. He was cast into prison Helaman 9:1-41.

Although the Lord allows his witnesses to be tried, tested, and persecuted; “I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.” 1 Nephi 1:20

This does not mean that all of God’s witnesses will be spared alive. For some are required to seal the truth of their words by laying down their life. “And now, when Abinadi had said these words, he fell, having suffered death by fire; yea, having been put to death because he would not deny the commandments of God, having sealed the truth of his words by his death.” Mosiah 17:20

  • No unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God Moses 6:57. Before coming into His presence, He forgives your sins and redeems you from the fall.

“But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from hell; I [Lehi] have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love” 2 Nephi 1:15.

“And I will tell you of the wrestle which I had before God, before I received a remission of my sins. . . And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee” Enos 1:2, 5.

“For, said he, I [Alma the Younger] have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit” Mosiah 27:24.

“I [Nephi] glory in plainness; I glory in truth; I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell” 2 Nephi 33:6.

  • Witnesses see Jesus Christ and speak to Him face to face.

“The Lord showed himself unto him [Brother of Jared], and said: Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you. Ether 3:13

“And then shall ye know that I [Moroni] have seen Jesus, and that he hath talked with me face to face, and that he told me in plain humility, even as a man telleth another in mine own language, concerning these things;” Ether 12:39

“I [Nephi] spake unto him as a man speaketh; for I beheld that he was in the form of a man; yet nevertheless, I knew that it was the Spirit of the Lord; and he spake unto me as a man speaketh with another.” 1 Nephi 11:11

  • Witnesses not only see Christ face to face, but they view his birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection. They are witnesses of his life’s mission.

“The virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God . . . I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms. . . the Lamb of God went forth and was baptized of him; and after he was baptized, I beheld the heavens open, and the Holy Ghost come down out of heaven and abide upon him in the form of a dove. . . he went forth ministering unto the people, in power and great glory; and the multitudes were gathered together to hear him; and I beheld that they cast him out from among them. . . And I, Nephi, saw that he was lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world” 1 Nephi 11:13-33.

“Wherefore, we would to God that we could persuade all men not to rebel against God, to provoke him to anger, but that all men would believe in Christ, and view his death, and suffer his cross and bear the shame of the world; wherefore, I, Jacob, take it upon me to fulfil the commandment of my brother Nephi” Jacob 1:8.

  • “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” Revelation 19:10. When Jesus redeems you from the fall by His own testimony, he also allows you to see the past, present, and future. Thus you can prophecy because you’ve seen it yourself.

“And we, ourselves, also, through the infinite goodness of God, and the manifestations of his Spirit, have great views of that which is to come; and were it expedient, we could prophesy of all things.” Mosiah 5:3

“And when the Lord had said these words, he showed unto the brother of Jared all the inhabitants of the earth which had been, and also all that would be; and he withheld them not from his sight, even unto the ends of the earth” Ether 3:25.

“And behold, the things which this apostle of the Lamb [John the Revelator] shall write are many things which thou [Nephi] hast seen; and behold, the remainder shalt thou see” 1 Nephi 14:24.

“The first came and stood before my father, and gave unto him a book, and bade him that he should read. And it came to pass that as he read, he was filled with the Spirit of the Lord. And he read, saying: Wo, wo, unto Jerusalem, for I have seen thine abominations . . .” 1 Nephi 1:11-13

“Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing” Mormon 8:35.

  • Witnesses are given an assignment to teach and prophesy 2 Nephi 32:6.

“Therefore, I would that ye should know, that after the Lord had shown so many marvelous things unto my father, Lehi, yea, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, behold he went forth among the people, and began to prophesy and to declare unto them concerning the things which he had both seen and heard” 1 Nephi 1:18.

“Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments” Helaman 10:4.

“And it came to pass that after the space of two years that Abinadi came among them in disguise, that they knew him not, and began to prophesy among them, saying: Thus has the Lord commanded me, saying—Abinadi, go and prophesy unto this my people, for they have hardened their hearts against my words; they have repented not of their evil doings; therefore, I will visit them in my anger, yea, in my fierce anger will I visit them in their iniquities and abominations” Mosiah 12:1.

  • Witnesses of Jesus Christ are filled with God’s love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ that they may become the sons of God Moroni 7:48. Having obtained this love, they are filled with compassion and love for their fellowmen and make intercession for the people.

“Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble” Mosiah 28:3.

“Wherefore it came to pass that my father, Lehi, as he went forth prayed unto the Lord, yea, even with all his heart, in behalf of his people” 1 Nephi 1:5.

“ . . . I began to feel a desire for the welfare of my brethren, the Nephites; wherefore, I did pour out my whole soul unto God for them. . . And after I, Enos, had heard these words, my faith began to be unshaken in the Lord; and I prayed unto him with many long strugglings for my brethren, the Lamanites. . .” Enos 1:9-18

“And now, O Lord, wilt thou turn away thine anger, and try again if they will serve thee? And if so, O Lord, thou canst bless them according to thy words which thou hast said” Helaman 11:16.

Although witnesses of Christ have many similarities, they have different personalities, backgrounds, and life experiences. It’s their differences that teach us the invitation to come unto Christ is open to all. What can we learn from their differences? What hope does it give a sinner like me?

To be continued . . .

Looking for Witnesses of Christ, Part 1
Looking for Witnesses of Christ, Part 2
Looking for Witnesses of Christ, Part 3
Looking for Witnesses of Christ, Part 4 Conclusion

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