Why I Believe in Jesus Christ

The Come Follow Me online study guide for D&C 76 encourages us to find scripture verses in section 76 that strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ.  I’d like to share a few of those versus.

D&C 76:22-24 declares, “And now, after the many testimonies that have been given of him, the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!  For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father. That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughter unto God.”

Not long ago, I was asked what it means when someone says, “I know Jesus Christ lives.”  What does that declaration, a declaration that Christ is alive, mean? Here is what it means to me and why I believe in Jesus Christ.

I know Jesus Christ lives. He IS alive. He rose from the dead as the Bible testifies. It means he is an active part of my life. He lives to help and encourage me. I can call on him for help and have faith that he has ears to hear and power to help. It means when he asks me to “come unto him” and be part of his way of living, I do so interacting with a living resurrected being of perfect understanding. 

Robert D. Hales said, “When the challenges of mortality come, and they come for all of us, it may seem hard to keep believing. At these times, only faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His Atonement can bring us peace, hope, and understanding. Only faith that He suffered for our sakes will give us the strength to endure to the end.”[i]

I have faith in Jesus Christ because I have felt his peace. I feel of his spirit when I try to be more like him, when I repent after failing, and when I need help to overcome. I have seen his miracles in my life and the lives of those around me. I believe in him because he believes in me.

Most of all, I feel better about who I am when I try to be like Jesus Christ. I keep trying in life because I know Jesus suffered for my sins. This hope gives me faith to try again.

Why Try?

In D&C 76:41-42 Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon testify that a voice from heaven testified:

“That he came unto the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness.  That through him all might be saved whom the Father had put into his power and made by him.”

We can be saved. No matter what has happened in the past, no matter how discouraged we may be, we can be saved. Jesus suffered for us so that we can be made clean.  We can be “cleansed from all unrighteousness.”

How can I be clean?  I can be made perfect in Christ. Through him I can become clean and acceptable before God. That means even though I am imperfect, if I come to him and follow him, he will help me become like him. This hope in Christ encourages me to try. There is power in trying.

My favorite story about the power of trying comes from a moment in our nation’s history.

There are some remarkable dates in U.S. history:  9/11, D-Day, and July 4th. But I believe one of the most remarkable dates in our history December 31, 1776. On this New Year’s Eve, one of the most significant events occurred under the leadership of George Washington.

You know when we think about the leaders of the revolutionary war, we often picture old men… we think of elderly statesmen. But in 1776, they were nothing of the sort. Jefferson was 33 years old when he drafted the Declaration of Independence. John Adams was 40.  Washington was the old man at 43.

Historian and author David McCullough wrote that Washington had never commanded an army in battle before. He wasn’t chosen because of his battle experience but rather his character, his integrity. By the end of 1776, his army had been defeated many times. Over 25,000 Americans were killed during the war. That’s one percent of the population at the time.

Washington’s army was hardly an army. They were rude, crude, un-uniformed, undisciplined, untrained farm boys.  Just months earlier, they had been stuck in defeat at Brooklyn Heights.  The British armada was coming up the east river between Brooklyn and Manhattan, certain doom for the American troops, but for some reason a howling storm out of the northeast appeared and prevented the British war ships from reaching them. 

In the meantime, Washington ordered that every small craft be rounded up to bring his army back to New York.  Similar to the events of Dunkirk in World War II, all night long these small boats ferried men, cannons, and even horses back across the river to New York without the British ever knowing it. 

On Christmas night, Washington and his rabble crossed the Delaware to surprise the British at Trenton. It was bitterly cold. Two men froze to death because they had no winter clothing.  But the little army prevailed in surprising the British.  Despite that on New Year’s Eve, the war was far from over and very little would indicate that the Americans would eventually win.

So, given all of that, you have to imagine in your mind’s eye the scene that takes place on December 31st.  All the enlistments for the army were up at the end of the year. Almost every soldier was free to go home in a matter of hours. Everything they had fought for hung in the balance.  Washington called his troops out into formation.  They were tired, exhausted, cold, sick, clothes and men and women were worn out.  They had endured freezing conditions, lack of food, inadequate medical support, and one privation after another.

At some point, you have to assume they may have said to themselves, “Why try anymore?”  Or at least “Why am I here?” “I am not making much of a difference. Why Try?”

You could assume that they were thinking of returning home, that they likely had accepted the fact that the British army was more well supplied, trained and capable, that the fight wasn’t worth fighting.  With the thoughts of escaping back to their homes—and letting someone else pick up the fight…

Washington rides out in front of the formation and urges them to re-enlist.  He said if they would re-enlist for another 6 months, he would give them a bonus of 10 dollars each.  These men and their families were starving, and $10 would be a god send to most.

The drums rolled and those who would stay and re-enlist were asked to step forward….  No one stepped forward. The drums kept rolling. No volunteers. No movement.

Washington turned and started to ride away.  Then, as if to try one last time, he stopped, contemplated, and turned back.  He spoke to them again, and among other things he said,

My brave fellows, you have done all I asked you to do, and more than could be reasonably expected, but your country is at stake, your wives, your houses, and all that you hold dear. You have worn yourselves out with fatigues and hardships, but we know not how to spare you. If you will consent to stay one month longer, you will render that service to the cause of liberty, and to your country, which you can probably never do under any other circumstance.[ii]

In short, he said, “You have a chance to serve your country in a way nobody else will be able to do again. Just try… for one more month. This is the time. You have a chance to do something remarkable if you will just stay and try.”

Again, the drums rolled. And this time, the men began stepping forward. “God Almighty,” wrote Nathaniel Greene “inclined their hearts to listen to the proposal and they engaged anew.”[iii]

More than half of those present stepped up to try again. Placing their faith in God and George Washington, three days later those men and women would go on to change history.

To engage anew, to re-enlist, to try again when you have been trying for some time, is no easy feat. To let your desire to “try” outweigh discouragement is a noble thing. And it doesn’t have to be in war or heroic or even notable to be noble. Trying itself is noble.

When we understand through Christ all might be saved, we can engage anew knowing we are not condemned by our past mistakes.

Speaking to BYU students, professor Cassy Budd said,

“[I have] a deep appreciation for the value of the ‘try.’ Simply showing up and starting where you are is all that can be asked of you. Regardless of your level of experience, your failures, or your perception of your own potential, wherever you are in life, you just need to show up and try. Try to listen to the patient instruction of the Savior, try to imitate His movements, try to ignore the negative self-talk when your movements do not measure up, and try to focus on the joy in the learning instead of the defeat in the failure. And amidst your ‘try,’ recognize that others around you are in the middle of their own ‘try.’ Celebrate their progress, even when they seem to be farther along than you, and give them a pass when they fall short.”[iv]

There is something about just trying no matter what that works. It reminds me of a fun article I read a few years back, it said:

“With all the sadness and trauma going on in the world at the moment, it is worth reflecting on the death of a very important person, which almost went unnoticed last week. 

“Larry LaPrise, the man that wrote ‘The Hokey Pokey’ died peacefully at the age of 93. The most traumatic part for his family was getting him into the coffin. They put his left leg in. And then the trouble started.”

Sometimes it feels like you’ve come to your last straw, that you will go to your grave without having overcome a weakness, just keep doing the hokey pokey and trying even if you’re on your last leg. Because you see God’s delays are not God’s denials.  And I believe in the promises that Jesus will strengthen those who come unto him. Good things do come to those who wait and keep trying.

Trying requires faith. You may not see how, you may not see the end from the beginning, and you may not want to try again. But, despite all of that, continue to try. Ironically, in that trying, is where you become who you were meant to become.

I believe this is one of the core messages of the gospel of Jesus Christ–that trying matters.  When we keep trying, repenting, and following his example, we are not alone.  He gives us his grace.

You are Not Alone

D&C 76:107 tells us that in the resurrection of all things Jesus Christ will “…deliver up the kingdom and present it unto the Father, spotless, saying: I have trodden the wine-press alone, even the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of the Almighty God.”

Years ago, when my wife Jennifer and I visited the BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies, we learned the lesson of the winepress.  As part of the historical displays at the Center, there is a replica of an early century winepress.

The winepress is large limestone basin which can hold several people. At its base on each side of the basin are small drains through which the juice extracted from the grapes escapes to waiting containers.  Sometimes, twigs and thorns would be placed along the path to act as a filter catching larger particles in the wine.

Each fall semester, students participate in the ritual grape harvest.  After basket loads of grapes are dumped into the winepress basin, a student is invited to climb into the basin alone and use his or her bare feet to step on the bunches of grapes.  What she soon learns is that the mounds of grapes are not easy to press. The wet grapes slip and slide under her feet. What she soon realizes is that atop this slippery footing she can’t keep her balance. It takes tremendous effort to lift her feet high enough to step on top of the mound of grapes and then press down only to squish or make contact with just a few grapes. 

And on she goes lifting, stepping and pressing with little progress. Soon, she realizes the futility of the effort.  She can’t keep her balance. She quickly realizes that he may never be able to “press” every grape in the basin. It is extremely frustrating and tiring.

The solution?  You invite others into the basin with you.  With lots of feet working at the same time, the grapes can’t slip and slide away. The cumulative pressure of lots of feet give stability to the mass of grapes underfoot allowing them to be pressed. And as a result, when you step on a bunch of grapes, they remain secure and you find the job much easier.

You cannot walk away from that experience in Jerusalem without the words of D&C 76:107 flowing through your new understanding: “I have trodden the wine-press alone, even the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath of the Almighty God.”

As we come unto Christ and he shows unto us our weakness, it’s natural to sometimes feel discouraged as much as encouraged. What if I can’t overcome?  Can I be valiant in the testimony of Christ? Am I one of those honorable men who are blinded by the craftiness of men?  Will I measure up?

In my life, I have come to understand this important lesson:  That Jesus Christ did trod the winepress alone. He suffered for my sins and yours. There is no one else at the gate of heaven.  He employeth no servant there. We will someday be face to face with our Savior and he will know us personally.

Yes, that means he will know our sins. But he will also know our “try.”  It means we are not alone. He joins us in the “press” of life. If we let him, he will be with and help us.  Of all the lessons I have learned trying to live the gospel, this is the most encouraging: Rely on Jesus Christ, have faith in him, and keep trying no matter what.  He will not let you down.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said,

“This reliance upon the merciful nature of God is at the very center of the gospel Christ taught. I testify that the Savior’s Atonement lifts from us not only the burden of our sins but also the burden of our disappointments and sorrows, our heartaches and our despair. From the beginning, trust in such help was to give us both a reason and a way to improve, an incentive to lay down our burdens and take up our salvation. There can and will be plenty of difficulties in life. Nevertheless, the soul that comes unto Christ, who knows His voice and strives to do as He did, finds a strength, as the hymn says, ‘beyond [his] own.’ 

“The Savior reminds us that He has “graven [us] upon the palms of [His] hands.” Considering the incomprehensible cost of the Crucifixion and Atonement, I promise you He is not going to turn His back on us now. When He says to the poor in spirit, “Come unto me,” He means He knows the way out and He knows the way up. He knows it because He has walked it. He knows the way because He is the way.”

What I Know About Satan

D&C 76:25-39 teaches the following about Satan:

  • He was an angel of God in authority
  • He rebelled against the Son of God
  • The heavens wept over his rebellion
  • He maketh war with the saints of God
  • He encompasseth them round about
  • There is no forgiveness for Satan and his angels
  • He will not be redeemed in due time like you and me

In short, he has no hope. He has one purpose: to destroy the plan of God and to do that by enticing you and me.  He desires our destruction. 

Joseph F. Smith taught, “… by every possible means [Satan] seeks to darken the minds of men and then offers them falsehood and deception in the guise of truth. Satan is a skillful imitator, and as genuine gospel truth is given the world in ever-increasing abundance, so he spreads the counterfeit coin of false doctrine. … [As] ‘the father of lies’ he has … become, through the ages of practice in his nefarious work, such an adept ‘that were it possible he would deceive the very elect.’”[v]

I know that he seeks to keep me from following Jesus Christ. He wants me to be unhappy. I try to keep the commandments so that I can have strength to resist the deceptions of Satan. He seeks to take clarity, happiness and joy from my life.

We Have Sure Promises if We Follow Christ

In speaking about scriptural promises, Spencer W. Kimball said, “And when [the Lord] gives a blessing, he fulfills it; when he makes a promise, it comes to pass.”[vi]

Here are some of those promises found in D&C 76:

For thus saith the Lord—I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth unto the end.  Great shall be their reward, and eternal shall be their glory. (76:5)

Those who receive the testimony of Jesus, and are baptized and keep the commandments are cleansed from all their sins (76:51-52) and:

  • dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever. (76:62)
  • shall come forth in the resurrection of the just. (76:65)
  • are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood. (76:69)
  • receive a fullness of his grace and he makes them equal in power, and in might, and in dominion. (76:94-95)

Be Valiant in the Testimony of Jesus Christ

D&C 76:79 distinguishes those who inherit the celestial kingdom from others by their valiancy in their testimony of Jesus Christ.

Bruce R. McConkie compared our effort to be valiant in our testimony to that of a fight. Like Washington and his army, when we enlist in the fight of being valiant we have the opportunity to do something remarkable with our life. 

It is a fight, a struggle against the world’s influence and Satan’s influence in our life. Elder

McConkie said, “To be valiant in the testimony of Jesus is to take the Lord’s side on every issue. It is to vote as he would vote. It is to think what he thinks, to believe what he believes, to say what he would say and do what he would do in the same situation. It is to have the mind of Christ and be one with him as he is one with his Father.”[vii]

Paul said, “Be not … ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel.” (2 Timothy 1:8).  When we come to Christ and enter into his way which is the gospel, we enlist in a new way of living.

Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge said “You are valiant if you:

  • Keep on going when you think you can’t go anymore.
  • Admit your mistakes and strive to be better.
  • Pick up the scriptures and put down the TV remote.
  • Tell the truth when a lie would be easier.
  • Refuse to do wrong even when everyone else is doing wrong.
  • Set aside personal interests and postpone education to serve a mission.
  • Speak no ill of another.
  • Are honest even when it seems that no one else is.
  • Choose not to click on a pornographic site.
  • Smile and help another even when you yourself need help.
  • Exercise self-control.
  • Pray with all your heart.
  • Forgive.
  • Strive to raise your children in light and truth.
  • Share the gospel without regard to consequences.
  • Remember the Lord and keep His commandments.
  • Don’t count the cost.”[viii]

Don’t count the cost.  What we give up in coming to Christ we gain many times over in peace, joy and the fullness of the glory of God.

I testify that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  I know he lives and loves us. If we will receive his testimony, be baptized, repent often, keep his commandments and overcome my faith; we can be among those who qualify to receive of his fulness, glory and grace.

[i] Robert D. Hales, Finding Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Ensign, Dec 2007.

[ii] Mountvernon.org.

[iii] David McCullough, Great Moments in History.

[iv] Cassy Budd, On Failing and Finishing, BYU Speeches, 2017.

[v] Marion G. Romney, Satan—The Great Deceiver, April Conference, 1971.

[vi] Spencer W. Kimball, The Rewards, the Blessings, the Promises, October Conference, 1973.

[vii] Bruce R. McConkie, Be Valiant in the Fight of FaithOctober Conference, 1974.

[viii] Lawrence E. Corbridge, Valiant in the Testimony of Jesus Christ, October Conference, 2011.