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The book is a doctrinal study on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ and is widely appreciated by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The book consists of 42 chapters, each focusing on important aspects of the life and mission of Jesus as the Messiah.Since it was first published in September 1915, Jesus the Christ has been viewed by the LDS Church as a classic text on its teachings and beliefs concerning the life and ministry of Jesus. Marion G. Romney said, "One who gets the understanding, the vision, and the spirit of the resurrected Lord through a careful study of the text Jesus the Christ by Elder James E. Talmage will find that he has greatly increased his moving faith in our glorified Redeemer."In his preface to the first edition, Talmage wrote: "The author has departed from the course usually followed by writers on the Life of Jesus Christ, which course, as a rule, begins with the birth of Mary's Babe and ends with the ascension of the slain and risen Lord from Olivet. The treatment embodied in these pages, in addition to the narrative of the Lord's life in the flesh, comprises the antemortal existence and activities of the world's Redeemer, the revelations and personal manifestations of the glorified and exalted Son of God during the apostolic period of old and in modern times, the assured nearness of the Lord's second advent, and predicted events beyond—all so far as the Holy Scriptures make it plain. It is particularly congruous and appropriate that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—the only Church that affirms authority based on specific revelation and commission to use the Lord's Holy Name as a distinctive designation—should set forth her doctrines concerning the Messiah and His mission."
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CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION
CHAPTER 2. PREEXISTENCE AND FOREORDINATION OF THE CHRIST
NOTES TO CHAPTER 2
CHAPTER 3. THE NEED OF A REDEEMER
NOTES TO CHAPTER 3
CHAPTER 4. THE ANTEMORTAL GODSHIP OF CHRIST
NOTES TO CHAPTER 4
CHAPTER 5. EARTHLY ADVENT OF THE CHRIST PREDICTED
NOTES TO CHAPTER 5
CHAPTER 6. THE MERIDIAN OF TIME
NOTES TO CHAPTER 6
CHAPTER 7. GABRIEL’S ANNUNCIATION OF JOHN AND OF JESUS
JOHN THE FORERUNNER
THE ANNUNCIATION TO THE VIRGIN
MARY’S VISIT TO HER COUSIN ELISABETH
MARY AND JOSEPH
NOTES TO CHAPTER 7
CHAPTER 8. THE BABE OF BETHLEHEM
THE BIRTH OF JESUS
REQUIREMENTS OF THE LAW STRICTLY OBSERVED
WISE MEN SEARCH FOR THE KING
THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT
BIRTH OF JESUS MADE KNOWN TO THE NEPHITES
THE TIME OF THE BIRTH OF JESUS
NOTES TO CHAPTER 8
CHAPTER 9. THE BOY OF NAZARETH
NOTES TO CHAPTER 9
CHAPTER 10. IN THE WILDERNESS OF JUDEA
THE VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS
THE BAPTISM OF JESUS—TO FULFIL ALL RIGHTEOUSNESS
THE TEMPTATIONS OF CHRIST
NOTES TO CHAPTER 10
CHAPTER 11. FROM JUDEA TO GALILEE
THE BAPTIST’S TESTIMONY OF JESUS
THE FIRST DISCIPLES OF JESUS
“THE SON OF MAN”
THE MIRACLE AT CANA IN GALILEE
MIRACLES IN GENERAL
NOTES TO CHAPTER 11
CHAPTER 12. EARLY INCIDENTS IN OUR LORD’S PUBLIC MINISTRY
FIRST CLEARING OF THE TEMPLE
JESUS AND NICODEMUS
FROM CITY TO COUNTRY
NOTES TO CHAPTER 12
CHAPTER 13. HONORED BY STRANGERS, REJECTED BY HIS OWN
JESUS AND THE SAMARITAN WOMAN
JESUS AGAIN IN GALILEE: AT CANA AND NAZARETH
NOTES TO CHAPTER 13
CHAPTER 14. CONTINUATION OF OUR LORD’S MINISTRY IN GALILEE
A LEPER MADE CLEAN
A PALSIED MAN HEALED AND FORGIVEN
PUBLICANS AND SINNERS
THE OLD AND THE NEW
FISHERS OF MEN
NOTES TO CHAPTER 14
CHAPTER 15. LORD OF THE SABBATH
THE SABBATH DISTINCTIVELY SACRED TO ISRAEL
THE HEALING OF A CRIPPLE ON THE SABBATH
OUR LORD’S REPLY TO THE ACCUSING JEWS
THE DISCIPLES CHARGED WITH SABBATH-BREAKING
A PHARISAICAL PLOT
NOTES TO CHAPTER 15
CHAPTER 16. THE CHOSEN TWELVE
THEIR CALL AND ORDINATION
TWELVE CONSIDERED INDIVIDUALLY
GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE TWELVE
DISCIPLES AND APOSTLES
NOTES TO CHAPTER 16
CHAPTER 17. THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT
DIGNITY AND RESPONSIBILITY IN THE MINISTRY
THE LAW SUPERSEDED BY THE GOSPEL
SINCERITY OF PURPOSE
TREASURES OF EARTH AND OF HEAVEN
HYPOCRISY FURTHER CONDEMNED
PROMISE AND REASSURANCE
HEARING AND DOING
NOTES TO CHAPTER 17
CHAPTER 18. AS ONE HAVING AUTHORITY
THE CENTURION’S SERVANT HEALED
A YOUNG MAN OF NAIN RAISED FROM THE DEAD
JOHN BAPTIST’S MESSAGE TO JESUS
DEATH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
IN THE HOUSE OF SIMON THE PHARISEE
CHRIST’S AUTHORITY ASCRIBED TO BEELZEBUB
SEEKERS AFTER SIGNS?
CHRIST’S MOTHER AND BRETHREN COME TO SEE HIM
NOTES TO CHAPTER 18
CHAPTER 19. “HE SPAKE MANY THINGS UNTO THEM IN PARABLES”
“A SOWER WENT FORTH TO SOW”
THE WHEAT AND THE TARES
THE SEED GROWING SECRETLY
THE MUSTARD SEED
THE HIDDEN TREASURE
THE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE
THE GOSPEL NET
CHRIST’S PURPOSE IN USING PARABLES
PARABLES IN GENERAL
NOTES TO CHAPTER 19
CHAPTER 20. “PEACE, BE STILL”
INCIDENTS PRELIMINARY TO THE VOYAGE
STILLING THE STORM
QUIETING THE DEMONS
THE RAISING OF THE DAUGHTER OF JAIRUS
RESTORATION TO LIFE AND RESURRECTION
A REMARKABLE HEALING BY THE WAY.
THE BLIND SEE AND THE DUMB SPEAK
NOTES TO CHAPTER 20
CHAPTER 21. THE APOSTOLIC MISSION, AND EVENTS RELATED THERETO
JESUS AGAIN IN NAZARETH
THE TWELVE CHARGED AND SENT
THE TWELVE RETURN
FIVE THOUSAND FED IN THE DESERT
“IT IS I; BE NOT AFRAID"
IN THE LAND OF GENNESARET
IN SEARCH OF LOAVES AND FISHES
CHRIST, THE BREAD OF LIFE
A CRUCIAL TEST—MANY TURN AWAY
NOTES TO CHAPTER 21
CHAPTER 22. A PERIOD OF DARKENING OPPOSITION
CEREMONIAL WASHINGS, “AND MANY SUCH LIKE THINGS"
WITHIN THE BORDERS OF TYRE AND SIDON
IN THE COASTS OF DECAPOLIS
ANOTHER MEAL IN THE DESERT; OVER FOUR THOUSAND FED
AGAIN BESET BY SIGN-SEEKERS
THE LEAVEN OF THE PHARISEES AND OF THE SADDUCEES
“THOU ART THE CHRIST"
NOTES TO CHAPTER 22
CHAPTER 23. THE TRANSFIGURATION
NOTES TO CHAPTER 23
CHAPTER 24. FROM SUNSHINE TO SHADOW
HEALING OF YOUTHFUL DEMONIAC
THE LORD’S DEATH AND RESURRECTION AGAIN PREDICTED
THE TRIBUTE MONEY—SUPPLIED BY A MIRACLE
AS A LITTLE CHILD
THE PARABLE OF THE LOST SHEEP
“IN MY NAME"
MY BROTHER AND I
PARABLE OF THE UNMERCIFUL SERVANT
NOTES TO CHAPTER 24
CHAPTER 25. JESUS AGAIN IN JERUSALEM
DEPARTURE FROM GALILEE
AT THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES
“GO, AND SIN NO MORE"
THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE
BODILY AND SPIRITUAL BLINDNESS—SIGHT GIVEN TO A MAN ON THE SABBATH
SHEPHERD AND SHEEPHERDER
NOTES TO CHAPTER 25
CHAPTER 26. OUR LORD’S MINISTRY IN PEREA AND JUDEA
HIS REJECTION IN SAMARIA
THE SEVENTY CHARGED AND SENT
THE SEVENTY RETURN
WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR?
MARTHA AND MARY
ASK, AND IT SHALL BE GIVEN YOU
CRITICISM ON PHARISEES AND LAWYERS
THE DISCIPLES ADMONISHED AND ENCOURAGED
“EXCEPT YE REPENT YE SHALL ALL LIKEWISE PERISH"
A WOMAN HEALED ON THE SABBATH
WILL MANY OR FEW BE SAVED?
JESUS WARNED OF HEROD’S DESIGN
NOTES TO CHAPTER 26
CHAPTER 27. CONTINUATION OF THE PEREAN AND JUDEAN MINISTRY
IN THE HOUSE OF ONE OF THE CHIEF PHARISEES
COUNTING THE COST
SALVATION FOR “PUBLICANS AND SINNERS"—ILLUSTRATIVE PARABLES
DISCIPLES INSTRUCTED BY PARABLE
DERISION OF THE PHARISEES MET; ANOTHER ILLUSTRATIVE PARABLES
TEN LEPERS HEALED
THE PHARISEE AND THE PUBLICAN
ON MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE
JESUS AND THE LITTLE ONES
“ONE THING THOU LACKEST"
THE FIRST MAY BE LAST, AND THE LAST FIRST
NOTES TO CHAPTER 27
CHAPTER 28. THE LAST WINTER
AT THE FEAST OF DEDICATION
OUR LORD’S RETIREMENT IN PEREA
LAZARUS RESTORED TO LIFE
THE HIERARCHY GREATLY AGITATED OVER THE MIRACLE
JESUS IN RETIREMENT AT EPHRAIM
NOTES TO CHAPTER 28
CHAPTER 29. ON TO JERUSALEM
JESUS AGAIN FORTELLS HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTION
THE QUESTION OF PRECEDENCE AGAIN
SIGHT RESTORED TO THE BLIND NEAR JERICHO
ZACCHEUS, THE CHIEF AMONG THE PUBLICANS
UNTO EVERY ONE THAT HATH SHALL BE GIVEN
IN THE HOUSE OF SIMON THE LEPER
CHRIST’S TRIUMPHAL ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM
CERTAIN GREEKS VISIT CHRIST
VOICE FROM HEAVEN
NOTES TO CHAPTER 29
CHAPTER 30. JESUS RETURNS TO THE TEMPLE DAILY
AN INSTRUCTIVE INCIDENT ON THE WAY
SECOND CLEARING OF THE TEMPLE
CHRIST’S AUTHORITY CHALLENGED BY THE RULERS
NOTES TO CHAPTER 30
CHAPTER 31. THE CLOSE OF OUR LORD’S PUBLIC MINISTRY
A CONSPIRACY OF PHARISEES AND HERODIANS
SADDUCEES QUESTION ABOUT THE RESURRECTION
THE GREAT COMMANDMENT
JESUS TURNS QUESTIONER
WICKED SCRIBES AND PHARISEES DENOUNCED
THE LORD’S LAMENTATION OVER JERUSALEM
A WIDOW’S GIFT
CHRIST’S FINAL WITHDRAWAL FROM THE TEMPLE
DESTRUCTION OF THE TEMPLE PREDICTED
NOTES TO CHAPTER 31
CHAPTER 32. FURTHER INSTRUCTION TO THE APOSTLES
PROPHECIES RELATING TO THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM AND THE LORD’S FUTURE ADVENT
THE NEED OF WATCHFULNESS AND DILIGENCE ILLUSTRATED BY PARABLES
THE INEVITABLE JUDGMENT
ANOTHER SPECIFIC PREDICTION OF THE LORD’S DEATH
NOTES TO CHAPTER 32
CHAPTER 33. THE LAST SUPPER AND THE BETRAYAL
PRIESTLY CONSPIRATORS AND THE TRAITOR
THE LAST SUPPER
THE ORDINANCE OF THE WASHING OF FEET
THE SACRAMENT OF THE LORD’S SUPPER
THE BETRAYER GOES OUT INTO THE NIGHT
DISCOURSE FOLLOWING THE SUPPER
THE CONCLUDING PRAYER
THE LORD’S AGONY IN GETHSEMANE
THE BETRAYAL AND THE ARREST
NOTES TO CHAPTER 33
CHAPTER 34. THE TRIAL AND CONDEMNATION
THE JEWISH TRIAL
PETER’S DENIAL OF HIS LORD
CHRIST’S FIRST APPEARANCE BEFORE PILATE
CHRIST BEFORE HEROD
CHRIST AGAIN BEFORE PILATE
NOTES TO CHAPTER 34
CHAPTER 35. DEATH AND BURIAL
ON THE WAY TO CALVARY
IMPORTANT OCCURRENCES BETWEEN THE LORD’S DEATH AND BURIAL
THE SEPULCHRE GUARDED
NOTES TO CHAPTER 35
CHAPTER 36. IN THE REALM OF DISEMBODIED SPIRITS
NOTES TO CHAPTER 36
CHAPTER 37. THE RESURRECTION AND THE ASCENSION
CHRIST IS RISEN
A PRIESTLY CONSPIRACY OF FALSEHOOD
CHRIST WALKS AND TALKS WITH TWO OF THE DISCIPLES
RISEN LORD APPEARS TO THE DISCIPLES IN JERUSALEM AND EATS IN THEIR PRESENCE
AT THE SEA OF GALILEE
OTHER MANIFESTATIONS OF THE RISEN LORD IN GALILEE
FINAL COMMISSION AND THE ASCENSION
NOTES TO CHAPTER 37
CHAPTER 38. THE APOSTOLIC MINISTRY
MATTHIAS ORDAINED TO THE APOSTLESHIP
THE BESTOWAL OF THE HOLY GHOST
STEPHEN THE MARTYR; HIS VISION OF THE LORD
CHRIST MANIFESTS HIMSELF TO SAUL OF TARSUS, LATER KNOWN AS PAUL, THE APOSTLE
CLOSE OF THE APOSTOLIC MINISTRY—THE REVELATION THROUGH JOHN
NOTES TO CHAPTER 38
CHAPTER 39. MINISTRY OF THE RESURRECTED CHRIST ON THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE
THE LORD’S DEATH SIGNALIZED BY GREAT CALAMITIES ON THE AMERICAN CONTINENT
FIRST VISITATION OF JESUS CHRIST TO THE NEPHITES
CHRIST’S SECOND VISITATION TO THE NEPHITES
CHRIST’S VISITATION TO HIS CHOSEN TWELVE AMONG THE NEPHITES
THE THREE NEPHITES
GROWTH OF THE CHURCH FOLLOWED BY THE APOSTASY OF THE NEPHITE NATION
NOTES TO CHAPTER 39
CHAPTER 40. THE LONG NIGHT OF APOSTASY
NOTES TO CHAPTER 40
CHAPTER 41. PERSONAL MANIFESTATIONS OF GOD THE ETERNAL FATHER AND OF HIS SON JESUS CHRIST IN MODERN TIMES
A NEW DISPENSATION
“A MESSENGER SENT FROM THE PRESENCE OF GOD"
THE AARONIC PRIESTHOOD CONFERRED BY JOHN THE BAPTIST
THE MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD CONFERRED BY PETER, JAMES, AND JOHN
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS
FURTHER COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE HEAVENS TO MAN
PERSONAL APPEARING OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IN THE KIRTLAND TEMPLE
JESUS THE CHRIST IS WITH HIS CHURCH TODAY
NOTES TO CHAPTER 41
CHAPTER 42. JESUS THE CHRIST TO RETURN
THE LORD’S SECOND ADVENT PREDICTED IN ANCIENT SCRIPTURE
THE COMING OF THE LORD PROCLAIMED THROUGH MODERN REVELATION
THE TIME AND ACCOMPANIMENTS OF THE LORD’S COMING
THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN TO COME
THE CELESTIAL CONSUMMATION
NOTES TO CHAPTER 42
IT IS A MATTER OF history that, at or near the beginning of what has since come to be known as the Christian era, the Man Jesus, surnamed the Christ, was born in Bethlehem of Judea. The principal data as to His birth, life, and death are so well attested as to be reasonably indisputable; they are facts of record, and are accepted as essentially authentic by the civilized world at large. True, there are diversities of deduction based on alleged discrepancies in the records of the past as to circumstantial details; but such differences are of strictly minor importance, for none of them nor all taken together cast a shadow of rational doubt upon the historicity of the earthly existence of the Man known in literature as Jesus of Nazareth.
As to who and what He was there are dissensions of grave moment dividing the opinions of men; and this divergence of conception and belief is most pronounced upon those matters to which the greatest importance attaches. The solemn testimonies of millions dead and of millions living unite in proclaiming Him as divine, the Son of the Living God, the Redeemer and Savior of the human race, the Eternal Judge of the souls of men, the Chosen and Anointed of the Father—in short, the Christ. Others there are who deny His Godhood while extolling the transcendent qualities of His unparalleled and unapproachable Manhood.
To the student of history this Man among men stands first, foremost, and alone, as a directing personality in the world’s progression. Mankind has never produced a leader to rank with Him. Regarded solely as a historic personage He is unique. Judged by the standard of human estimation, Jesus of Nazareth is supreme among men by reason of the excellence of His personal character, the simplicity, beauty, and genuine worth of His precepts, and the influence of His example and doctrines in the advancement of the race. To these distinguishing characteristics of surpassing greatness the devout Christian soul adds an attribute that far exceeds the sum of all the others—the divinity of Christ’s origin and the eternal reality of His status as Lord and God.
Christian and unbeliever alike acknowledge His supremacy as a Man, and respect the epoch-making significance of His birth. Christ was born in the meridian of time; and His life on earth marked at once the culmination of the past and the inauguration of an era distinctive in human hope, endeavor, and achievement. His advent determined a new order in the reckoning of the years; and by common consent the centuries antedating His birth have been counted backward from the pivotal event and are designated accordingly. The rise and fall of dynasties, the birth and dissolution of nations, all the cycles of history as to war and peace, as to prosperity and adversity, as to health and pestilence, seasons of plenty and of famine, the awful happenings of earthquake and storm, the triumphs of invention and discovery, the epochs of man’s development in godliness and the long periods of his dwindling in unbelief—all the occurrences that make history—are chronicled throughout Christendom by reference to the year before or after the birth of Jesus Christ.
His earthly life covered a period of thirty-three years; and of these but three were spent by Him as an acknowledged Teacher openly engaged in the activities of public ministry. He was brought to a violent death before He had attained what we now regard as the age of manhood’s prime. As an individual He was personally known to but few; and His fame as a world character became general only after His death.
Brief account of some of His words and works has been preserved to us; and this record, fragmentary and incomplete though it be, is rightly esteemed as the world’s greatest treasure. The earliest and most extended history of His mortal existence is embodied within the compilation of scriptures known as the New Testament; indeed but little is said of Him by secular historians of His time. Few and short as are the allusions to Him made by non-scriptural writers in the period immediately following that of His ministry, enough is found to corroborate the sacred record as to the actuality and period of Christ’s earthly existence.
No adequate biography of Jesus as Boy and Man has been or can be written, for the sufficing reason that a fulness of data is lacking. Nevertheless, man never lived of whom more has been said and sung, none to whom is devoted a greater proportion of the world’s literature. He is extolled by Christian, Mohammedan and Jew, by skeptic and infidel, by the world’s greatest poets, philosophers, statesmen, scientists, and historian. Even the profane sinner in the foul, sacrilege of his oath acclaims the divine supremacy of Him whose name he desecrates.
The purpose of the present treatise is that of considering the life and mission of Jesus as the Christ. In this undertaking we are to be guided by the light of both ancient and modern scriptures; and, thus led, we shall discover, even in the early stages of our course, that the word of God as revealed in latter days is effective in illuming and making plain the Holy Writ of ancient times, and this, in many matters of the profoundest imports.
Instead of beginning our study with the earthly birth of the Holy Babe of Bethlehem, we shall consider the part taken by the Firstborn Son of God in the primeval councils of heaven, at the time when He was chosen and ordained to be the Savior of the unborn race of mortals, the Redeemer of a world then in its formative stages of development. We are to study Him as the Creator of the world, as the Word of Power, through whom the purposes of the Eternal Father were realized in the preparation of the earth for the abode of His myriad spirit-children during the appointed period of their mortal probation. Jesus Christ was and is Jehovah, the God of Adam and of Noah, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of Israel, the God at whose instance the prophets of the ages have spoken, the God of all nations, and He who shall yet reign on earth as King of kings and Lord of lords.
His wondrous yet natural birth, His immaculate life in the flesh, and His voluntary death as a consecrated sacrifice for the sins of mankind, shall claim our reverent attention; as shall also His redeeming service in the world of disembodied spirits; His literal resurrection from bodily death to immortality; His several appearings to men and His continued ministry as the Resurrected Lord on both continents; the reestablishment of His Church through His personal presence and that of the Eternal Father in the latter days; and His coming to His temple in the current dispensation. All these developments in the ministration of the Christ are already of the past. Our proposed course of investigation will lead yet onward, into the future concerning which the word of divine revelation is of record. We shall consider the conditions incident to the Lord’s return in power and glory to inaugurate the dominion of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, and to usher in the predicted Millennium of peace and righteousness. And yet beyond we shall follow Him, through the post-Millennial conflict between the powers of heaven and the forces of hell, to the completion of His victory over Satan, sin, and death, when He shall present the glorified earth and its sanctified hosts, spotless and celestialized, unto the Father.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints affirms her possession of divine authority for the use of the sacred name, Jesus Christ, as the essential part of her distinctive designation. In view of this exalted claim, it is pertinent to inquire as to what special or particular message the Church has to give to the world concerning the Redeemer and Savior of the race, and as to what she has to say in justification of her solemn affirmation, or in vindication of her exclusive name and title. As we proceed with our study, we shall find that among the specific teachings of the Church respecting the Christ are these:
(1) The unity and continuity of His mission in all ages—this of necessity involving the verity of His preexistence and foreordination. (2) The fact of His antemortal Godship. (3) The actuality of His birth in the flesh as the natural issue of divine and mortal parentage. (4) The reality of His death and physical resurrection, as a result of which the power of death shall be eventually overcome. (5) The literalness of the atonement wrought by Him, including the absolute requirement of individual compliance with the laws and ordinances of His gospel as the means by which salvation may be attained. (6) The restoration of His Priesthood and the reestablishment of His Church in the current age, which is verily the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. (7) The certainty of His return to earth in the near future, with power and great glory, to reign in Person and bodily presence as Lord and King.
As to the year of Christ’s birth, see chapter 8.
See chapter 6.
The Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price constitute the standard works of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These will be cited alike as Scriptures in the following pages, for such they are.
WE AFFIRM, ON THE AUTHORITY of Holy Scripture, that the Being who is known among men as Jesus of Nazareth, and by all who acknowledge His Godhood as Jesus the Christ, existed with the Father prior to birth in the flesh; and that in the preexistent state He was chosen and ordained to be the one and only Savior and Redeemer of the human race. Foreordination implies and comprizes preexistence as an essential condition; therefore scriptures bearing upon the one are germane to the other; and consequently in this presentation no segregation of evidence as applying specifically to the preexistence of Christ or to His foreordination will be attempted.
John the Revelator beheld in vision some of the scenes that had been enacted in the spirit-world before the beginning of human history. He witnessed strife and contention between loyalty and rebellion, with the hosts defending the former led by Michael the archangel, and the rebellious forces captained by Satan, who is also called the devil, the serpent, and the dragon. We read: “And there was war in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels.”
In this struggle between unembodied hosts the forces were unequally divided; Satan drew to his standard only a third part of the children of God, who are symbolized as the “stars of heaven”; the majority either fought with Michael, or at least refrained from active opposition, thus accomplishing the purpose of their “first estate”; while the angels who arrayed themselves on the side of Satan “kept not their first estate”, and therefore rendered themselves ineligible for the glorious possibilities of an advanced condition or “second estate”. The victory was with Michael and his angels; and Satan or Lucifer, theretofore a “son of the morning”, was cast out of heaven, yea “he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him”. The prophet Isaiah, to whom these momentous occurrences had been revealed about eight centuries prior to the time of John’s writings, laments with inspired pathos the fall of so great a one; and specifies selfish ambition as the occasion: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascent into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”
Justification for citing these scriptures in connection with our present consideration will be found in the cause of the great contention—the conditions that led to this war in heaven. It is plain from the words of Isaiah that Lucifer, already of exalted rank, sought to aggrandize himself without regard to the rights and agency of others. The matter is set forth, in words that none may misapprehend, in a revelation given to Moses and repeated through the first prophet of the present dispensation: “And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor. But, behold, my Beloved son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever. Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down; and he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.”
Thus it is shown that prior to the placing of man upon the earth, how long before we do not know, Christ and Satan, together with the hosts of the spirit-children of God, existed as intelligent individuals, possessing power and opportunity to choose the course they would pursue and the leaders whom they would follow and obey. In that great concourse of spirit-intelligences, the Father’s plan, whereby His children would be advanced to their second estate, was submitted and doubtless discussed. The opportunity so placed within the reach of the spirits who were to be privileged to take bodies upon the earth was so transcendently glorious that those heavenly multitudes burst forth into song and shouted for joy.
Satan’s plan of compulsion, whereby all would be safely conducted through the career of mortality, bereft of freedom to act and agency to choose, so circumscribed that they would be compelled to do right—that one soul would not be lost—was rejected; and the humble offer of Jesus the First-born—to assume mortality and live among men as their Exemplar and Teacher, observing the sanctity of man’s agency but teaching men to use aright that divine heritage—was accepted. The decision brought war, which resulted in the vanquishment of Satan and his angels, who were cast out and deprived of the boundless privileges incident to the mortal or second estate.
In that august council of the angels and the Gods, the Being who later was born in flesh as Mary’s Son, Jesus, took prominent part, and there was He ordained of the Father to be the Savior of mankind. As to time, the term being used in the sense of all duration past, this is our earliest record of the Firstborn among the sons of God; to us who read, it marks the beginning of the written history of Jesus the Christ.
Old Testament scriptures, while abounding in promises relating to the actuality of Christ’s advent in the flesh, are less specific in information concerning His antemortal existence. By the children of Israel, while living under the law and still unprepared to receive the gospel, the Messiah was looked for as one to be born in the lineage of Abraham and David, empowered to deliver them from personal and national burdens, and to vanquish their enemies. The actuality of the Messiah’s status as the chosen Son of God, who was with the Father from the beginning, a Being of preexistent power and glory, was but dimly perceived, if conceived at all, by the people in general; and although to prophets specially commissioned in the authorities and privileges of the Holy Priesthood, revelation of the great truth was given, they transmitted it to the people rather in the language of imagery and parable than in words of direct plainness. Nevertheless the testimony of the evangelists and the apostles, the attestation of the Christ Himself while in the flesh, and the revelations given in the present dispensation leave us without dearth of scriptural proof.
In the opening lines of the Gospel book written by John the apostle, we read: “In the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.... And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.”
The passage is simple, precise and unambiguous. We may reasonably give to the phrase “In the beginning” the same meaning as attaches thereto in the first line of Genesis; and such signification must indicate a time antecedent to the earliest stages of human existence upon the earth. That the Word is Jesus Christ, who was with the Father in that beginning and who was Himself invested with the powers and rank of Godship, and that He came into the world and dwelt among men, are definitely affirmed. These statements are corroborated through a revelation given to Moses, in which he was permitted to see many of the creations of God, and to hear the voice of the Father with respect to the things that had been made: “And by the word of my power, have I created them, which is mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth.”
John the apostle repeatedly affirms the preexistence of the Christ and the fact of His authority and power in the antemortal state. To the same effect is the testimony of Paul and of Peter. Instructing the saints concerning the basis of their faith, the last-named apostle impressed upon them that their redemption was not to be secured through corruptible things nor by the outward observance of traditional requirements, “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.”
Even more impressive and yet more truly conclusive are the personal testimonies of the Savior as to His own pre-existent life and the mission among men to which He had been appointed. No one who accepts Jesus as the Messiah can consistently reject these evidences of His eternal nature. When, on a certain occasion, the Jews in the synagogue disputed among themselves and murmured because of their failure to understand aright His doctrine concerning Himself, especially as touching His relationship with the Father, Jesus said unto them: “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” And then, continuing the lesson based upon the contrast between the manna with which their fathers had been fed in the wilderness and the bread of life which He had to offer, He added: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven,” and again declared “the living Father hath sent me.” Not a few of the disciples failed to comprehend His teachings; and their complaints drew from Him these words: “Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?”
To certain wicked Jews, wrapped in the mantle of racial pride, boastful of their descent through the lineage of Abraham, and seeking to excuse their sins through an unwarranted use of the great patriarch’s name, our Lord thus proclaimed His own preeminence: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” The fuller significance of this remark will be treated later; suffice it in the present connection to consider this scripture as a plain avowal of our Lord’s seniority and supremacy over Abraham. But as Abraham’s birth had preceded that of Christ by more than nineteen centuries, such seniority must have reference to a state of existence antedating that of mortality.
When the hour of His betrayal was near, in the last interview with the apostles prior to His agonizing experience in Gethsemane, Jesus comforted them saying: “For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.” Furthermore, in the course of upwelling prayer for those who had been true to their testimony of His Messiahship, He addressed the Father with this solemn invocation: “And this is the life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father glorify thou with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.”
Book of Mormon scriptures are likewise explicit in proof of the preexistence of the Christ and of His foreappointed mission. One only of the many evidences therein found will be cited here. An ancient prophet, designated in the record as the brother of Jared, once pleaded with the Lord in special supplication: “And the Lord said unto him, Believest thou the words which I shall speak? And he answered, Yea, Lord, I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie. And when he had said these words, behold, the Lord shewed himself unto him, and said, Because thou knowest these things, ye are redeemed from the fall: therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I shew myself unto you. Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am theFather and the Son. In me shall all mankind have light, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters. And never have I shewed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast. Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were created in the beginning, after mine own image. Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit, will I appear unto my people in the flesh.” The main facts attested by this scripture as having a direct bearing upon our present subject are those of the Christ manifesting Himself while yet in His antemortal state, and of His declaration that He had been chosen from the foundation of the world as the Redeemer.
Revelation given through the prophets of God in the present dispensation is replete with evidence of Christ’s appointment and ordination in the primeval world; and the whole tenor of the scriptures contained in the Doctrine and Covenants may be called in witness. The following instances are particularly in point. In a communication to Joseph Smith the prophet, in May, 1833, the Lord declared Himself as the One who had previously come into the world from the Father, and of whom John had borne testimony as the Word; and the solemn truth is reiterated that He, Jesus Christ, “was in the beginning, before the world was”, and further, that He was the Redeemer who “came into the world, because the world was made by him, and in him was the life of men and the light of men.” Again, He is referred to as “the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, even the Spirit of truth, which came and dwelt in the flesh.” In the course of the same revelation the Lord said: “And now, verily I say unto you, I was in the beginning with the Father and am the firstborn.” On an earlier occasion, as the modern prophet testifies, he and an associate in the priesthood were enlightened by the Spirit so that they were able to see and understand the things of God—"Even those things which were from the beginning before the world was, which were ordained of the Father, through his Only Begotten Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, even from the beginning, of whom we bear record, and the record which we bear is the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the Son, whom we saw and with whom we conversed in the heavenly vision.”
The testimony of scriptures written on both hemispheres, that of records both ancient and modern, the inspired utterances of prophets and apostles, and the words of the Lord Himself, are of one voice in proclaiming the preexistence of the Christ and His ordination as the chosen Savior and Redeemer of mankind—in the beginning, yea, even before the foundation of the world.
1. Graded Intelligences in the Antemortal State.—That the spirits of men existed as individual intelligences, of varying degrees of ability and power, prior to the inauguration of the mortal state upon this earth and even prior to the creation of the world as a suitable abode for human beings, is shown in great plainness through a divine revelation to Abraham: “Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones; and God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.” (P. of G.P., Abraham 3:22, 23.)
That both Christ and Satan were among those exalted intelligences, and that Christ was chosen while Satan was rejected as the future Savior of mankind, are shown by the portions of the revelation immediately following that above quoted: “And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; and we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them; and they who keep their first estate shall be added upon, and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads forever and ever. And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first. And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him” (verses 24-28).
2. The Primeval Council in the Heavens.—"It is definitely stated in the Book of Genesis that God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness;’ and again, after Adam had taken of the forbidden fruit the Lord said, ‘Behold, the man has become as one of us;’ and the inference is direct that in all that related to the work of the creation of the world there was a consultation; and though God spake as it is recorded in the Bible, yet it is evident He counseled with others. The scriptures tell us there are ‘Gods many and Lords many. But to us there is but one God, the Father’ (1 Cor. 8:5). And for this reason, though there were others engaged in the creation of the worlds, it is given to us in the Bible in the shape that it is; for the fulness of these truths is only revealed to highly favored persons for certain reasons known to God; as we are told in the scriptures: ‘The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant.’—Psalms 25:14.
“It is consistent to believe that at this Council in the heavens the plan that should be adopted in relation to the sons of God who were then spirits, and had not yet obtained tabernacles, was duly considered. For, in view of the creation of the world and the placing of men upon it, whereby it would be possible for them to obtain tabernacles, and in those tabernacles obey laws of life, and with them again be exalted among the Gods, we are told that at that time, ‘the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.’ The question then arose, how, and upon what principle, should the salvation, exaltation and eternal glory of God’s sons be brought about? It is evident that at that Council certain plans had been proposed and discussed, and that after a full discussion of those principles, and the declaration of the Father’s will pertaining to His design, Lucifer came before the Father with a plan of his own, saying, ‘Behold [here am] I; send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore, give me thine honor.’ But Jesus, on hearing this statement made by Lucifer, said, ‘Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.’ From these remarks made by the well beloved Son, we should naturally infer that in the discussion of this subject the Father had made known His will and developed His plan and design pertaining to these matters, and all that His well beloved Son wanted to do was to carry out the will of His Father, as it would appear had been before expressed. He also wished the glory to be given to His Father, who, as God the Father, and the originator and designer of the plan, had a right to all the honor and glory. But Lucifer wanted to introduce a plan contrary to the will of his Father, and then wanted His honor, and said: ‘I will save every soul of man, wherefore give me thine honor.’ He wanted to go contrary to the will of his Father, and presumptuously sought to deprive man of his free agency, thus making him a serf, and placing him in a position in which it was impossible for him to obtain that exaltation which God designed should be man’s, through obedience to the law which He had suggested; and again, Lucifer wanted the honor and power of his Father, to enable him to carry out principles which were contrary to the Father’s wish."—John Taylor—Mediation and Atonement, pp. 93, 94.
3. The Jaredites.—"Of the two nations whose histories constitute the Book of Mormon, the first in order of time consisted of the people of Jared, who followed their leader from the Tower of Babel at the time of the confusion of tongues. Their history was written on twenty-four plates of gold by Ether, the last of their prophets, who, foreseeing the destruction of his people because of their wickedness, hid away the historical plates. They were afterward found, B.C. 123, by an expedition sent out by King Limhi, a Nephite ruler. The record engraved on these plates was subsequently abridged by Moroni, and the condensed account was attached by him to the Book of Mormon record; it appears in the modern translation under the name of the Book of Ether.
“The first and chief prophet of the Jaredites is not mentioned by name in the record as we have it; he is known only as the brother of Jared. Of the people, we learn that, amid the confusion of Babel, Jared and his brother importuned the Lord that He would spare them and their associates from the impending disruption. Their prayer was heard, and the Lord led them with a considerable company, who, like themselves, were free from the taint of idolatry, away from their homes, promising to conduct them to a land choice above all other lands. Their course of travel is not given with exactness; we learn only that they reached the ocean, and there constructed eight vessels, called barges, in which they set out upon the waters. These vessels were small and dark within; but the Lord made luminous certain stones, which gave light to the imprisoned voyagers. After a passage of three hundred and forty-four days, the colony landed on the western shore of North America, probably at a place south of the Gulf of California, and north of the Isthmus of Panama.
“Here they became a flourishing nation; but, giving way in time to internal dissensions, they divided into factions, which warred with one another until the people were totally destroyed. This destruction, which occurred near the hill Ramah, afterward known among the Nephites as Cumorah, probably took place at about the time of Lehi’s landing in South America—590 B.C."—The author, Articles of Faith, xiv:10-12.
Rev. 12:7; see also verses 8 and 9.
Rev. 12:4; see also Doc. and Cov. 29:36-38; and 76:25-27.
P. of G.P., Abraham 3:26.
Isa. 14:12-15; compare Doc. and Cov. 29:36-38; and 76:23-27.
P. of G.P., Moses 4:1-4; see also Abraham 3:27, 28.
For a further treatment of the preexistence of spirits see the author’s “Articles of Faith” x:21-30.
Note 1, end of chapter.
Note 2, end of chapter.
Psalm 25:14; Amos 3:7.
John 1:1-3, 14; see also 1 John 1:1; 5: 7; Rev. 19:13; compare Doc. and Cov. 93:1-17, 21.
P. of C.P., Moses 1:32, 33; see also 2:5.
1 John 1:1-3; 2:13, 14; 4:9; Rev. 3:14.
2 Tim. 1:9, 10; Rom. 16:25; Eph. 1:4; 3:9, 11; Titus 1:2. See especially Rom. 3:25; and note the marginal rendering—"foreordained"—making the passage read: “Whom God hath foreordained to be a propitiation.”
1 Peter 1:19, 20.
John 6:38, 51, 57, 61, 62.
John 8:58; see also 17:5, 24; and compare Exo. 3:14. Page 37.
John 16:27, 28; see also 13:3.
John 17:3-5; see also verses 24, 25.
Note 3, end of chapter.
B. of M., Ether 3:11-16. See also 1 Nephi 17:30; 19:7; 2 Nephi 9:5; 11:7; 25:12; 26:12; Mosiah 3:5; 4:2; 7:27; 13:34; 15:1; Alma 11:40; Hela. 14:12; 3 Nephi 9:15.
Doc. and Cov. 93:1-17, 21.
Doc. and Cov. 76:13, 14.
WE HAVE HERETOFORE SHOWN THAT the entire human race existed as spirit-beings in the primeval world, and that for the purpose of making possible to them the experiences of mortality this earth was created. They were endowed with the powers of agency or choice while yet but spirits; and the divine plan provided that they be free-born in the flesh, heirs to the inalienable birthright of liberty to choose and to act for themselves in mortality. It is undeniably essential to the eternal progression of God’s children that they be subjected to the influences of both good and evil, that they be tried and tested and proved withal, “to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.” Free agency is an indispensable element of such a test.
The Eternal Father well understood the diverse natures and varied capacities of His spirit-offspring; and His infinite foreknowledge made plain to Him, even in the beginning, that in the school of life some of His children would succeed and others would fail; some would be faithful, others false; some would choose the good, others the evil; some would seek the way of life while others would elect to follow the road to destruction. He further foresaw that death would enter the world, and that the possession of bodies by His children would be of but brief individual duration. He saw that His commandments would be disobeyed and His law violated; and that men, shut out from His presence and left to themselves, would sink rather than rise, would retrograde rather than advance, and would be lost to the heavens. It was necessary that a means of redemption be provided, whereby erring man might make amends, and by compliance with established law achieve salvation and eventual exaltation in the eternal worlds. The power of death was to be overcome, so that, though men would of necessity die, they would live anew, their spirits clothed with immortalized bodies over which death could not again prevail.
Let not ignorance and thoughtlessness lead us into the error of assuming that the Father’s foreknowledge as to what would be, under given conditions, determined that such must be. It was not His design that the souls of mankind be lost; on the contrary it was and is His work and glory, “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” Nevertheless He saw the evil into which His children would assuredly fall; and with infinite love and mercy did He ordain means of averting the dire effect, provided the transgressor would elect to avail himself thereof. The offer of the firstborn Son to establish through His own ministry among men the gospel of salvation, and to sacrifice Himself, through labor, humiliation and suffering even unto death, was accepted and made the foreordained plan of man’s redemption from death, of his eventual salvation from the effects of sin, and of his possible exaltation through righteous achievement.
In accordance with the plan adopted in the council of the Gods, man was created as an embodied spirit; his tabernacle of flesh was composed of the elements of earth. He was given commandment and law, and was free to obey or disobey—with the just and inevitable condition that he should enjoy or suffer the natural results of his choice. Adam, the first man placed upon the earth in pursuance of the established plan, and Eve who was given unto him as companion and associate, indispensable to him in the appointed mission of peopling the earth, disobeyed the express commandment of God and so brought about the “fall of man”, whereby the mortal state, of which death is an essential element, was inaugurated. It is not proposed to consider here at length the doctrine of the fall; for the present argument it is sufficient to establish the fact of the momentous occurrence and its portentous consequences. The woman was deceived, and in direct violation of counsel and commandment partook of the food that had been forbidden, as a result of which act her body became degenerate and subject to death. Adam realized the disparity that had been brought between him and his companion, and with some measure of understanding followed her course, thus becoming her partner in bodily degeneracy. Note in this matter the words of Paul the apostle: “Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.”
The man and the woman had now become mortal; through indulgence in food unsuited to their nature and condition and against which they had been specifically warned, and as the inevitable result of their disobeying the divine law and commandment, they became liable to the physical ailments and bodily frailties to which mankind has since been the natural heir. Those bodies, which before the fall had been perfect in form and function, were now subjects for eventual dissolution or death. The arch-tempter through whose sophistries, half-truths and infamous falsehoods, Eve had been beguiled, was none other than Satan, or Lucifer, that rebellious and fallen “son of the morning”, whose proposal involving the destruction of man’s liberty had been rejected in the council of the heavens, and who had been “cast out into the earth”, he and all his angels as unbodied spirits, never to be tabernacled in bodies of their own. As an act of diabolic reprisal following his rejection in the council, his defeat by Michael and the heavenly hosts, and his ignominious expulsion from heaven, Satan planned to destroy the bodies in which the faithful spirits—those who had kept their first estate—would be born; and his beguilement of Eve was but an early stage of that infernal scheme.
Death has come to be the universal heritage; it may claim its victim in infancy or youth, in the period of life’s prime, or its summons may be deferred until the snows of age have gathered upon the hoary head; it may befall as the result of accident or disease, by violence, or as we say, through natural causes; but come it must, as Satan well knows; and in this knowledge is his present though but temporary triumph. But the purposes of God, as they ever have been and ever shall be, are infinitely superior to the deepest designs of men or devils; and the Satanic machinations to make death inevitable, perpetual and supreme were provided against even before the first man had been created in the flesh. The atonement to be wrought by Jesus the Christ was ordained to overcome death and to provide a means of ransom from the power of Satan.
As the penalty incident to the fall came upon the race through an individual act, it would be manifestly unjust, and therefore impossible as part of the divine purpose, to make all men suffer the results thereof without provision for deliverance. Moreover, since by the transgression of one man sin came into the world and death was entailed upon all, it is consistent with reason that the atonement thus made necessary should be wrought by one. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned ... Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon allmen to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” So taught the apostle Paul; and, further: “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”
The atonement was plainly to be a vicarious sacrifice, voluntary and love-inspired on the Savior’s part, universal in its application to mankind so far as men shall accept the means of deliverance thus placed within their reach. For such a mission only one who was without sin could be eligible. Even the altar victims of ancient Israel offered as a provisional propitiation for the offenses of the people under the Mosaic law had to be clean and devoid of spot or blemish; otherwise they were unacceptable and the attempt to offer them was sacrilege. Jesus Christ was the only Being suited to the requirements of the great sacrifice:
1—As the one and only sinless Man;
2—As the Only Begotten of the Father and therefore the only Being born to earth possessing in their fulness the attributes of both Godhood and manhood;
3—As the One who had been chosen in the heavens and foreordained to this service.
What other man has been without sin, and therefore wholly exempt from the dominion of Satan, and to whom death, the wage of sin, is not naturally due? Had Jesus Christ met death as other men have done—the result of the power that Satan has gained over them through their sins—His death would have been but an individual experience, expiatory in no degree of any faults or offenses but His own. Christ’s absolute sinlessness made Him eligible, His humility and willingness rendered Him acceptable to the Father, as the atoning sacrifice whereby propitiation could be made for the sins of all men.
What other man has lived with power to withstand death, over whom death could not prevail except through his own submission? Yet Jesus Christ could not be slain until His “hour had come”, and that, the hour in which He voluntarily surrendered His life, and permitted His own decease through an act of will. Born of a mortal mother He inherited the capacity to die; begotten by an immortal Sire He possessed as a heritage the power to withstand death indefinitely. He literally gave up His life; to this effect is His own affirmation: “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.” And further: “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself.” Only such a One could conquer death; in none but Jesus the Christ was realized this requisite condition of a Redeemer of the world.
What other man has come to earth with such appointment, clothed with the authority of such foreordination? The atoning mission of Jesus Christ was no self-assumption. True, He had offered Himself when the call was made in the heavens; true, He had been accepted, and in due time came to earth to carry into effect the terms of that acceptance; but He was chosen by One greater than Himself. The burden of His confession of authority was ever to the effect that He operated under the direction of the Father, as witness these words: “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and myjudgment is just; because I seek not mine own will but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”
Through the atonement accomplished by Jesus Christ—a redeeming service, vicariously rendered in behalf of mankind, all of whom have become estranged from God by the effects of sin both inherited and individually incurred—the way is opened for a reconciliation whereby man may come again into communion with God, and be made fit to dwell anew and forever in the presence of his Eternal Father. This basal thought is admirably implied in our English word, “atonement,” which, as its syllables attest, is at-one-ment, “denoting reconciliation, or the bringing into agreement of those who have been estranged.” The effect of the atonement may be conveniently considered as twofold:
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