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Jesus Christ our Savior

Biblical Framework

Firstborn of All
Jesus Christ is not the firstborn in the flesh (that would be Adam), but he is the “firstborn of every creature,” meaning the firstborn spirit offspring of God the Father (Colossians 1:15 and Hebrews 1:5-6). Jesus is also the only begotten son of God the Father by the Holy Ghost through Mary. All other men and women on earth, while also spirit offspring of God the Father, are begotten by mortal parents. Jesus is the elder brother among brethren, the spirit offspring of God the Father (Romans 8:29).

God of the Old Testament
As explained in the chapter on Adam and Eve, God the Father limited his direct communication with man after the Fall of Adam. He delegated the bulk of such communication to Jesus Christ.
This delegation is first evidenced by the abrupt change in terminology from “Lord God” (God the Father) in chapters 1, 2, and 3 of Genesis to “Lord” only starting in chapter 4. This change is coincident with the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden. “Lord” denotes Jesus Christ when the term “God” does not immediately follow. (See chapter on Adam and Eve.)

In various ways and in various contexts, the Old Testament gives evidence that God the Son is the God most frequently referred to in that testament:

  • Old Testament passages refer to God as the Savior and Redeemer (Isaiah 43:3, 45:21-22, 49:26, 60:16, and 63:16 and Hosea 13:4);

  • Old Testament passages use atonement imagery in reference to God (Isaiah 43:25 and Isaiah 50:6) and tell of the coming of Christ (Malachi 3:1);

  • Old Testament passages use the term Jehovah to refer to God (Genesis 22:14, Exodus 6:2-3, Psalm 83:18, Isaiah 12:2, and Isaiah 26:4); and

  • Old Testament passages report that Jesus, the God the Son, spoke about God the Father as separate from himself (Exodus 34:14).

Paul links Jesus to Moses (Hebrews 11:24-26 and 1 Corinthians 10:9). Finally, Jesus plainly declares his place in Old Testament events when he declares, “… Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58).

Mortal Son of the Father
The conception of Jesus was accomplished by the Holy Ghost overshadowing Mary (Luke 1:35 and Matthew 1:20, 23). Jesus thus became the only begotten son of God the Father (John 1:14 and John 3:16). Begotten in this context means “born in the flesh.”

The Atoner
The ancient Israelites were given the law of the atonement as a similitude of Christ’s sacrifice to come (Exodus 29:33, 36-37). Jesus atoned for the sins of all humankind. The Atonement of Christ eradicates the spiritual effects of sin and with repentance enables full reconciliation with God the Father (Romans 5:10-11). God the Son was perfect in every way, the unspotted sacrificial lamb, and thus the only one capable of performing the infinite Atonement (1 Peter 1:19).

The Atonement began in the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus took upon him the sins of the world and suffered pain “even unto death.” His sweat became as drops of blood, and he begged God the Father, if it was the Father’s will, to allow him to forego the agony of the Atonement (Matthew 26:38-39 and Mark 14:34-36). But Jesus moved forward despite his fears, and was ministered to by an angel (Luke 22:42-44).

Jesus completed the Atonement by dying on the cross (John 19:17-18, Matthew 27:33, 35, 46, 50, Mark 15:22, 25, 34, 37, and Luke 23:33, 46).

Where thousands throughout history have been crucified, only one of them was both God and man. Only one went to his death voluntarily to atone for the sins of the World.

The Resurrected
Three days after his death, Jesus was resurrected through an integrated physical and spiritual process that is beyond human comprehension (Mark 16:6). The spirit of Jesus was reunited with his body in perfection and glory. Jesus showed his disciples his glorified physical body, but they feared he was a ghost (a spirit). He told them that a spirit did not have flesh and bones as he did, and he invited them to touch him to confirm this (Mark 16:9, 12, 14 and Luke 24:36-40). To further prove the resurrection of his physical body, Jesus ate a meal with his apostles (Luke 24:41-43) and declared that he would drink the fruit of the vine in his Father’s kingdom (Mark 14:25). After his ascension to God the Father (Acts 1:9-11), Jesus returned and revealed his resurrected physical body to a chosen few (Acts 7:55-56).

The Millennial King
Jesus will come again to rule and reign on the earth in what is referred to as the “second coming” (Isaiah 11:11 and Hebrews 9:28). He will return the same way he departed: in all glory and splendor (Revelation 1:7).

No man knows when the second coming will take place (1 Thessalonians 5:2), not even Jesus. Only the Father knows (Mark 13:32). The second coming of Jesus is described as both great and terrible (2 Peter 3:10-13)—great in that the faithful will reign with Christ during the millennium, and terrible for those who are unprepared at his coming.

Man of Many Names
Jesus Christ, Heavenly Father, and the Holy Ghost are the three separate beings who constitute the Godhead. They are perfectly united in purpose, and therefore sometimes share names and labels.
Jesus is called Savior, Redeemer, and the son of God in the Bible. He also shares names that are usually reserved for the Father. For example, Jesus is called Everlasting Father, Immanuel, and Mighty God in the Bible.

  • Isaiah 7:14—Immanuel

  • Isaiah 9:6—Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace

  • Exodus 6:3—Jehovah

  • Mark 1:1—Son of God

  • Matthew 8:20—Son of Man

  • Matthew 15:22—Son of David

  • John 1:1—The Word

  • John 1:29—The Lamb of God

  • Matthew 16:16—Christ

  • Luke 2:11—Savior (Saviour)

  • John 1:38—Rabbi

  • Mark 5:35—Master

  • Acts 3:15—Prince of Life

  • Revelation 1:8—Alpha and Omega, Almighty

  • Revelation 5:5—Lion of the Tribe of Judah

  • Revelation 19:16—King of Kings, Lord of Lords

  • Revelation 22:16—The Bright and Morning Star

  • Revelation 19:13—The Word of God

  • Acts 3:14—The Holy One

  • Ephesians 5:23—Head of the Church

  • Matthew 22:43-44—Lord

  • John 4:25-26—Messiah (Messias)

  • Titus 2:14—Redeemer

  • John 8:12—Light of the World

  • 1 Timothy 2:5—Mediator

  • John 6:35—Bread of Life

  • John 14:6—The Way, the Truth, and the Life

  • Romans 11:26—Deliverer

  • Ephesians 2:20—Chief Corner Stone

  • John 10:11—Good Shepherd

The choice of names or labels for Jesus is usually based on delegation: When Jesus acts for the Father, he may be called father, just as the copilot of an aircraft is called the “pilot” whenever he is at the controls, whether or not he is the senior officer. Names, then, can also signify function or esteem.

Mormon Doctrinal Clarification

Plan of Salvation
The mission of Jesus Christ—his role in the creation, his role in the salvation of mankind, and his role in the millennium and the Final Judgment—was ordained in the premortal existence long before Jesus came to the earth.

God the Father’s plan of salvation provided the opportunity for all his spirit offspring to choose to leave him and their premortal existence, come to the earth, and take on bodies of flesh and bone. The plan anticipated that the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, would leave the Garden of Eden and make themselves subject to the joys and sorrows of mortality, including procreation and death.
Finally, the plan called for Jesus Christ, the first-born spirit child of Heavenly Father, to come to the earth, to be born to the Virgin Mary as the only begotten (born in the flesh) son of Heavenly Father, and to suffer and die for the redemption of mankind. Jesus knowingly and willingly accepted this mission despite the suffering he knew he would endure.

Jesus is the literal savior of all mankind. Without his Atonement (his suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, his death on the cross, and his resurrection), no man or woman could return from mortality to the presence of God the Father in heaven.

Firstborn of All
Jesus Christ is the firstborn of all creation, the first spirit child born to Heavenly Father in the premortal existence. God the Father created all things through Jesus Christ. The Father delegated to Jesus Christ the task of creating the world. Jesus, also by delegation, was the God of the Old Testament before coming to the earth in the flesh to be the savior of mankind.

Born of a Virgin
Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary. The spirit of the Holy Ghost came upon Mary and the power of God overshadowed her. Through God his father, Jesus, the “only begotten son of God,” retained his divinity; from his human mother he inherited mortality.

Although little is known about his youth, we know Jesus “ . . . grew and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom” (Luke 2:40), and at twelve years old he had knowledge of his divine mission (Luke 2:46-49).

Public Ministry
At about 30 years of age, Jesus was baptized “ . . . to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). After his baptism, Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days. During this fast, Jesus was tempted by Satan. All of this was to prepare Jesus to begin his public ministry. During his public ministry, Christ set an example of service, performed a variety of stirring miracles, demonstrated human love with divine nature, established his church, and taught the gospel to all who would hear.

Although he declared himself to be “the way, the truth, and the life,” Jesus always referred deferentially to God the Father. Jesus proclaimed, “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38). Jesus said it was the will of his father “that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40).

The Atonement
At the end of his public ministry, Jesus completed his mission on earth by suffering the Atonement and dying on the cross. He went into the garden of Gethsemane, and there took upon himself the sins of every human who has ever lived or will ever live on the earth. It was here that Jesus endured what no other mortal could endure, saying “ . . . my soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death.”

The pain Jesus suffered in the garden was beyond what is humanly imaginable. Though he was the very Son of God, the creator of worlds, Jesus came to a moment in which he “fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39).

Significant in this prayer is Christ’s expression of unwavering deference and loyalty to the Father—and to Christ’s role as savior: The deferential conditions, “If it be possible” and “not as I will, but as thou wilt,” surround the request and are clearly superior to it. There was a job to be done. Jesus was the only one who could do it. How it was to be done was left to the Father.

After enduring the suffering of Gethsemane, Jesus allowed himself to be taken by the Pharisees and the Romans, to be physically and verbally brutalized, and to be crucified on the hill of Calvary

Jesus was both God and man. He knew this. Unlike other men, he remembered clearly having been with his Heavenly Father in the premortal existence. Throughout his ministry, he testified of his Heavenly Father being with him, supporting him—“the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works..” (John 14:10).

Therefore, Jesus—alone among all men—knew fully and could suffer fully in the brief interval of separation from the comforting spirit of the Father. In that moment, at his ninth hour upon the cross, Jesus sensed what it was like to die a spiritual death, to be separated from God. In that ultimate agony, he cried out with a loud voice, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).
There could be no greater suffering. Voluntarily confined in a dying human body and fully sensing what it was like to be separated from the divine, Jesus completed his mission.

The sacrifice Jesus made upon the cross was accepted by God the Father: “At-one-ment” between God the Father and every man and woman born into mortality was achieved.

Death and Resurrection
The body of Jesus was placed in a sealed tomb. During the three days before his Resurrection, his spirit entered the spirit world to organize and commence the teaching of his gospel to those who had died before him and would die in the future without the gospel (1 Peter 3:18–20).

After three days, Jesus was resurrected. His spirit and his body were reunited in a perfection and glory no human could comprehend. Through the fulfillment of his mission, Jesus made it possible for every man and woman to be resurrected into immortality. He gave every person who accepts the Atonement the opportunity of being saved from spiritual death.

Following his Resurrection, Jesus appeared to many individuals and groups, including his apostles in Jerusalem and people in the Americas, who were his “other sheep” (John 10:16). He taught and strengthened those in need.

The Ascension
Following this brief period on earth, Jesus ascended into heaven and now sits at the right hand of God the Father, serving him as he has from the beginning. Jesus Christ will come again in fulfillment of scriptural prophecies, will reign in righteousness during the millennium, and will oversee the Final Judgment.

See chapter5 in The Biblical Roots of Mormonism for a more comprehensive explanation, scriptural references and commentary on Jesus Christ our Savior

See the following Sword SeriesTM papers for summaries:

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