Jesus Christ
Week 52 is scheduled for study Dec. 20-26, 2021. What difference does it make that Christ is alive today? What would that mean in your life if he wasn’t?

Day 1

One way to focus your thoughts on the Savior this Christmas is to study “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles.” 

“None other has had so profound an influence.”

I’m not sure how to quantify Christ’s influence on the people of earth. Where does one even begin. World religions have all had a massive impact over the centuries in their influence on the behavior of their followers. Some have advocated living life for inner peace, others have advocated spread through conquest and repression. Only Christ’s teachings have been an advocate of promoting the love Jesus showed his followers. His example has stirred the hearts of many millions of people, affected the course of governments, and had a profound effect on individuals and their families.

In the whole history of the world there has not been another example of a life lived perfectly. Jesus is the ultimate purveyor of truth and hope for the ills of mankind and the shared aspirations of all humanity. It is in Christ that we learn where we came from, why we are here on earth, and the purpose for having been sent here. His life gives us a reason for change that has eternal consequences, eternal blessings. No other religion or system of thought can make such a bold statement, nor offer such a glorious conclusion to a mortal life lived well.

Day 2

One way to focus your thoughts on the Savior this Christmas is to study “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles.” 

“He rose from the grave.”

Every founder of a world religion has lived an extraordinary life. Buddha, Mohamed, you name one, they were all unique as individuals and in what they taught. Have you ever considered what makes following Christ any different from following any other religion? We are all devoted to the religion of our choice, so why do we believe that Jesus is a cut above any other world religion founder?

The answer to that question is that Jesus rose from the grave. All who have ever founded a religion, anywhere on the planet, have lived their life then died. All are together in the spirit world. The only exception is Jesus. He is the only one who rose the third day and is still walking around with a corporeal body, still guiding and directing his followers on earth.

The difference between Jesus and all others is that Jesus is the Only Begotten Son of the God of Heaven. He is the very creator of heaven and earth, and is the ruler of all the elements of the universe. He has been appointed by God to be our judge in the final day of judgment. Of all the world religious leaders, Jesus is the only one who lived a perfect life, showing us how to live and how to worship God. He is the only path back to God.

We tout that we have God’s priesthood, His ordinances, His Church here on earth, but these things are only appendages to the fact that we worship the true and living God in the name of His beloved Son. The resurrection of the Christ marked the completion of the atoning sacrifice. His resurrection opened the door to enable our ability to repent of our sins, for without the resurrection, his suffering and dying for our sins would have been a pointless exercise. Without the resurrection, he would have been just as damned as we would have been without the resurrection, for none of us could have returned to God. We cannot return to God without resurrected bodies.

The key difference in our worship of Christ is that he broke the bands of death and by doing so he opened the door to exaltation and eternal life in the presence of God. No one else can offer such a blessing, not in any other religion, for only a God could offer such an opportunity.

Day 3

One way to focus your thoughts on the Savior this Christmas is to study “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles.” 

“His priesthood and His Church have been restored.”

In these, the latter days, God’s Church and the priesthood that administers the covenants of that Church exist hand in hand. We are so blessed to have the authority from God to perform the ordinances of salvation required for our personal exaltation. Because of the ordinances we are able to administer using God’s authority, we can be sealed together as couples and as families in a house of God for eternity.

The church, founded by Joseph Smith, Jr. in 1830 is in reality the kingdom of God on earth. Prophets and Apostles are God’s chief stewards over His kingdom on earth. They receive their direction and instructions from Jesus, Himself. So in a very literal way, Christ is the head of the Church, and we are his stewards employed to carry out his will among the children of men. I say employed, because salvation isn’t free. We must keep his commandments and use all our faculties to bring about God’s purposes among His children. We are told we must wear out our lives in his service. The “pay” for our obedience and efforts is to be forgiven for our sins and trespasses, and to receive exaltation, to return to live with God again. Christ has promised to share with us all that the Father gives him, which is all that God has. And that is more than any of us can comprehend.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is more than just a legal entity, a social club, or another Christian sect. Christ’s Church is the beginning of his worldwide government on earth. When Jesus returns again, it is through his church that all the work of salvation will be done during the millennium. We are but caretakers and participants as we prepare and wait for his Second Coming.

The priesthood isn’t just an administrative arm in the Lord’s Church. It is also a teaching tool whereby the men in the Church learn compassion, service, selflessness, and a host of other godly virtues. By fulfilling their duties in their priesthood offices, the brethren of the Church prepare themselves to become more Christlike in their attitudes and behaviors. Among other things, the priesthood is designed to prepare eternal companionships and eternal families for exaltation.

Day 4

One way to focus your thoughts on the Savior this Christmas is to study “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles.” 

“He will someday return to earth.”

The title of today’s lesson is a mantra of hope we all should embrace and hold dear to our hearts. As we serve in the Church, in our homes, and in our communities, we should always have this thought in the back of our mind. When we help our neighbor, we become more aware that they also need to be prepared for his coming. They also deserve to share in the sacred blessings of Temple worship. How enriched would their lives be if they were to be baptized and receive the guidance in their life from the gift of the Holy Ghost?

Faith is belief turned into action. Faith is based on a hope in something to come. Actively watching and waiting for Christ’s return is our motivation for all we do. It matters not if he comes in our lifetime, for what truly matters most is that we are prepared to stand holy, and without spot, in his presence. If that happens in our lifetime then we will be thrilled, but if not, we will still be ready and worthy for that blessed event. If we do not prepare ourselves in this lifetime, what makes us think we will be ready for him in the next life? Yes, we can still keep repenting and working on ourselves, but that is like driving our car along the very edge of the cliff and hoping the ground underneath the tires doesn’t give out. We need to stay in the safe zone where our security is assured.

That Christ lives, and that he is coming again, and soon, is the message we have to take to the world. We have all that we need to offer his gospel to others. We have his priesthood authority, his priesthood power (when we make ourselves worthy of it), we have his earthly government in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. No one else can make such a claim. We lack nothing. Ours is a message of joy and gladness that should fill our hearts with hope and happiness, and we should be grateful we have the opportunity to be Christlike to all with whom we come into contact. And this joy isn’t just ours at Christmas time, but all year, every year.

Day 5

One way to focus your thoughts on the Savior this Christmas is to study “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles.” 

“He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world.”

As I sat and pondered this title, my mind went a little blank. Well of course he is our hope, our light, and our life. What is there to say more than this? As I watch movies and shows from around the world, I am, more and more, aware of their hopelessness, the darkness that is part of their lives without them even realizing they’re walking in the deep shadows of mortality. They lack the light or knowledge of Christ and his gospel. They live their lives aimlessly, for their lives are based on whatever they can personally come up with to direct their own course while they yet live on earth. Watching them write stories based on the world as they understand it fills me with a melancholy.

I was watching a wonderful show from Asia, with subtitles, and was surprised when the great love between the couple was laced with immense sorrow, for they had to live and die with only the hope that in some possible future life, perhaps many hundreds of years in the future, they might both be reincarnated and find each other again, only to learn to love each other once more for just a few years before being separated by death yet again. And that was only a possibility, a hope. How sad. Because of the priesthood covenants God has given us, we know that our love for our family never has to be temporarily or permanently denied. Our families are forever when we place our hope in Christ and keep his commandments. When we place our hope in Christ, we can live our lives with a degree of certainty that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world.

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The Matchless Gift of God’s Divine Son

Week 52