I talked in an earlier post about how often here at the MTC I am able to reconnect with friends and acquaintances. Another blessing of serving here is the new people I am able to meet and the new friends I am able to make. I do feel very blessed as I have met so many different people. One thing I have found interesting is how much my perception of people change as I get to know them better. It often is not until we get to know each other that our personalities come out and we learn more truly the character of the person. In the same way, I have noticed how much this applies when talking about the Gospel and Jesus Christ. We cannot truly know how good it is until we are able to try it for ourselves.
Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of the World, a perfect being. But yet, Isaiah describes him like this;
“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” -Isaiah 53: 3-5
Christ being the epitome of good was certainly not recognized as being such. These verses cause me to ponder very much, “How is it that the people could have rejected Jesus Christ? With the miracles He performed and with the good He was able to do, how could people reject Him?” After all, He healed all the sick and afflicted who came to Him, He walked on water, and He raised the dead. Jesus Christ was certainly one person who was misunderstood. Maybe a little more unsettling is Isaiah’s prophecy that “all we like sheep have gone astray.” How can we be sure we are following Christ, how can we know we have accepted Him? It is these last questions which I wish to answer now.
The apostles were called as special witnesses of Jesus Christ. They were called to be especial witnesses, to teach the world about Him and how we can accept Him. The question we can ask ourselves is how did the apostles recognize Christ for who He was? How did they know to follow and accept Him as their Savior? I am certain we all desire to have the faith of Peter, which was certainly solid in his life and ministry as I talked in a previous post. Peter could not have gotten his testimony from reading the Bible, it wasn’t written. I would imagine living and walking and talking with Christ helped. But what about Paul? He didn’t learn about the gospel until much later, after the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.
Christ, Himself, asked His apostles who they perceived Him as being, and with their answer, He helped them to know how they came to that knowledge. We read the account in Matthew 16 starting in verse 13:
“When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples saying, . . . whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”
Even Peter did not know Christ was our Savior and the Son of God from the miracles and the mighty things Christ was able to do. He knew it because it had been revealed to Him from God. It was not from studying the scriptures or looking for prophecy, but from the revelation of God. The Sadducees, the Pharisees, the scribes, and the religious scholars of the day all seemed obsessed with following and studying the law. But even they missed the focus and meaning entirely, many were not able to recognize Christ for who He was. The only way we can know who Christ is, is by revelation from God.
Paul reaffirms this in his epistle to the Galatians. In the first chapter we read: “For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
What is the revelation of God, and how does it come? We learn from the Holy Ghost, from God’s spirit. We read in John 14: 26, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance.” The Holy Ghost is our teacher. He brings us the communication from God. He teaches us the truth. The Holy Ghost brings us a unique and powerful witness of truth in our lives. Elder Howden talked about the witness which comes from the Spirit in a recent post he had. It is something which is best known from experience, such as trying to describe what salt tastes like. Salt is easiest explained by giving someone salt to taste. The Holy Ghost speaks to our minds and our hearts. Paul describes the feelings we can receive later in his epistle to the Galatians, in 5: 22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith. Meekness, temperance, against such there is no law.”
While I may not have the perfect words to describe the Holy Ghost, and I may not be able to explain how I know this church is true. I know one of the surest ways we can know this church is true is through the Spirit we find from reading the Book of Mormon. I know the Book of Mormon is the Word of God. I know it brings us the Words of Jesus Christ and helps us know how we can follow Him in our lives. I know reading the Book of Mormon helps us to come closer to God in our lives and become more like Christ. I know as I have seen this in my life I have come to know it is true for me. I do know God hears our prayers. I know He is there for every one of us. I am grateful for our loving God who has given me so many blessings, who has given me the Book of Mormon to help me know this church is true. I know as each of us take the time to read and ponder it in our lives we can know from God it is true as we pray and ask Him with a sincere Heart and faith.