Behold, I say unto you, that when his soul has been made an offering for sin he shall see his seed. And now what say ye? And who shall be his seed?
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I thought it was for my wife, so she would have a place to nurse and rock the baby. Only later did I realize how much that chair was for me.
Borrowed money and a borrowed truck got the chair to our one-bedroom apartment, the only piece of living-room furniture we owned. A daughter soon joined us, and the chair did its duty, many times each day.
I didn’t know much about raising children, but I knew they needed to be rocked, because I grew up being rocked by my mother. My only natural fatherly instinct was to rock my baby to sleep as I quietly sang to her:
I am a child of God,
And he has sent me here,
Has given me an earthly home
With parents kind and dear.
Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with him someday.
I am a child of God,As the Lord has led and guided me, I’ve tried to “understand his words.” Doing so has brought many surprising realizations, including the discovery that the song begins with a false premise:
And so my needs are great;
Help me to understand his words
Before it grows too late.
I’m NOT yet a child of God, and neither, likely, are you.
Now, lest you should die of shock at such a bold assertion, let me hedge just a little: Yes, in one sense, we are all children of God, in that He created us and is working to exalt us. I’m not trying to minimize that relationship nor His important work. Rather, I hope simply to highlight what the Book of Mormon teaches us about who we are, and who we must become.
The scriptures are explicit on this point, and we ought to understand it. The Book of Mormon is brimming with this teaching, to the point that you would have to be blind to miss it. Nevertheless, awful blindness is our common Gentile affliction (1 Nephi 13:32), so let’s search the scriptures and seek understanding.
Children of Men
The general population of planet earth is most commonly described in the Book of Mormon as the “children of men.” In fact, this exact description appears 126 times in the Book of Mormon. It highlights the fact that, though we were created by God, we’ve been sent here to the Telestial world, with its included physical and spiritual separation from God. We are not part of His family here, because that relationship was lost by the fall—both Adam’s fall and our own. God’s family is entirely different than the family of Adam, or “children of men,” here on Earth.
The result is that we’re not born here as God’s children, but rather as children of men, inclined to become God’s enemies.
Whoa! That’s not what your primary teacher told you, is it? The weirdness is expanding! Well, just stick with me. We’re going to stay with the words of scripture until we find some answers. Though it all begins in dismay, it ends in exceedingly good news.
For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. (Mosiah 3:19)We’re all born here in a natural state of separation from God, termed a kind of “enmity.” If we remain in that state, and die in our sins, wo unto us. (2 Nephi 9:38).
On the other hand, we’re offered the opportunity, and even the requirement, to put off that natural state and submit to Christ as our father. More particularly, we’re invited to become children of Christ, by becoming “saints” through His atonement.
But wait, what do you mean by “children of Christ?” Aren’t we supposed to be “children of God?”
Well…two things to keep in mind here. First, Christ is God. Becoming His child makes you a child of God—part of His family—and therefore part of His Father’s family. But even more specifically, the one who redeems you becomes your Father—as in, the father of your salvation. Hence Christ is both the Father and the Son, and bears both titles in scripture. Christ will become your Father in Heaven when He redeems you.
Lost Truth: Becoming a Child of Christ
To even begin to approach this topic, you must first understand that the invitation to “become” something implies that you’re NOT already that thing. Otherwise, there would be no need to “become.” With that in mind, let’s look at some of the pertinent scriptures:
And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters. (Mosiah 5:7, emphasis mine)So King Benjamin’s people became Christ’s children on a specific day, through a specific covenant.
The covenant by which we become Christ’s children is one of the plain and precious teachings and covenants that was removed from the Bible by the great and abominable church. (1 Nephi 13:26-27) It was done with the specific intent to blind our minds and harden our hearts, because Satan absolutely does not want us to seek or receive these things.
His strategy was effective, and their removal from scripture blinded us to the very purpose of our existence and the very definition of redemption. The result is that we can spend a lifetime seeking to follow Christ, without ever knowing how to go about it or where it's supposed to lead. By concealing the goal, Satan has blinded billions into believing redemption has no real requirements.
God foresaw the loss of the plain and precious truths and covenants, so he prepared the solution to the problem well in advance. The Book of Mormon was sent with the specific purpose of rescuing us from our awful blindness. (1 Nephi 13:32-35) This is why the Book of Mormon spends so much space emphasizing the purpose and end of our existence: to come back into the presence of the Lord, be redeemed by Him, and become His child—a new creature in Christ.
The idea of a new spiritual creation, or a new “begetting” is found in a scene in Psalms:
I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. (Psalms 2:7)This is the formal acceptance into God’s family. This is the language the Father spoke from heaven at Christ’s baptism, though the recorded wording was later changed to conceal the truth and satisfy a false doctrinal view.
The new creation is properly termed a “new birth,” creating a “new creature.”
And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; and thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. (Mosiah 27:25-26)So there’s a change that must take place, and it’s evidently a big enough change that it makes you a new creature, and part of Christ’s family. It is not optional if you want to inherit the kingdom of God. Understanding this inheritance necessarily includes understanding this family relationship.
And it came to pass that Alma, having authority from God, ordained priests; even one priest to every fifty of their number did he ordain to preach unto them, and to teach them concerning the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
And he commanded them that they should teach nothing save it were the things which he had taught, and which had been spoken by the mouth of the holy prophets. Yea, even he commanded them that they should preach nothing save it were repentance and faith on the Lord, who had redeemed his people.
And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another. And thus he commanded them to preach. And thus they became the children of God. (Mosiah 18:18-22, emphasis mine)Here we learn that the Lord has sent, and does send, teachers to preach the truths that lead to His covenant. These truths include repentance and faith on the Lord:
And after that he came men also were saved by faith in his name; and by faith, they become the sons of God. (Moroni 7:26, emphasis mine)Those who receive these teachings desire to live peaceably:
And blessed are all the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. (3 Nephi 12:9, emphasis mine)Such search diligently until they have laid hold upon every good thing:
Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ. (Moroni 7:19, emphasis mine)Part of the path to becoming His child involves “laying hold upon every good thing.” In His mortal ministry, Christ taught “Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.” (Mark 10:18) After His resurrection, when Christ ascended to the throne of the Father, He also became God, and therefore worthy of the title “good.”
So…if you are to lay hold on every good thing, does this involve, literally, laying hold on Christ? Does it involve touching Him? Embracing him as the returning Prodigal? Hearing Him speak your name? Feeling the nail prints in His hands and in His feet?
The Nephites who did so, were converted and described as follows:
There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God. (4 Nephi 1:17, emphasis mine)As Christ’s children, they were also his heirs. It couldn’t be more plain; heaven is a family gathering.
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. (Romans 8:16-17)This brings us directly back to Mosiah 27:26: “…and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the Kingdom of God.”
Only Christ’s children will inherit Christ’s kingdom. His children are a distinct, identifiable group—known to Him—who have received the fulness of what He offers:
Nevertheless the children of God were commanded that they should gather themselves together oft, and join in fasting and mighty prayer in behalf of the welfare of the souls of those who knew not God. (Alma 6:6)These children of God were distinguished by their knowledge of God, as opposed to those who “knew not God.” This does not refer to some sort of abstract knowledge about God, but rather a personal knowledge from having met Him and been accepted as His child and heir.
Those who have not received such blessings have been known to persecute and hate those who have. Often, they are taught to do so by their false religious traditions:
And it was because of the wickedness and abomination of their fathers, even as it was in the beginning. And they were taught to hate the children of God, even as the Lamanites were taught to hate the children of Nephi from the beginning. (4 Nephi 1:39, emphasis mine)But this is all to be expected. When you have part in the kingdom of heaven, the kingdoms of this earth and the “rulers of the darkness of this world” (Eph. 6:12) will persecute you.
And blessed are all they who are persecuted for my name’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. And blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake;
For ye shall have great joy and be exceedingly glad, for great shall be your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you. (3 Nephi 12:10-12)Note that those who were persecuted, were persecuted for “my name’s sake.” And so it was among the Nephites; the persecuted were those who had taken Christ’s name:
But it came to pass that whosoever did not belong to the church of God began to persecute those that did belong to the church of God, and had taken upon them the name of Christ. (Alma 1:19)And now we arrive, at last, at the point of this whole series. With this scriptural background in place, it’s finally time to discuss the Name of Jesus Christ.
The Name of Jesus Christ
When one enters into certain kinds of covenants, a new name is part of the covenant. This happens in gospel covenants, as well as in secular life. Think of a marriage or adoption, wherein one receives a new name and a new, legally binding family relationship. An inheritance, or a share in the family’s possessions, is also included in such covenants.
The surprising thing about the topic of taking Christ’s name, is that in our blindness, we’ve made something that ought to be straightforward and easily understood, into a mystery beyond comprehension. We’ve invented all sorts of ideas about how we receive His name by merely claiming it, or by believing in Him, or by accepting him, or by an earthly ordinance, or by joining an organization—and that one or more of these acts somehow places His name upon us, when no such thing is taught in scripture.
What IS taught in scripture is a covenant, spoken by Him, accepting you as His child. This is an adoption—in every legally binding sense of that word. God’s word is law; therefore when he says, “Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee” it is done. You are, from that point forward, His child, and He is your father.
These are the words Father Ahman spoke to Christ. These are the words we hope to hear Christ speak to each of us. By these words, we receive His name. By these words, we inherit His kingdom. This is a simple truth, adapted to the understanding of even the weakest, because our families on earth perfectly mirror this arrangement. A child can understand this teaching, and so can we, if we will become as little children. This is a plain and precious truth, too long hidden. This is the covenant he yearns to make with us, if we will receive it.
The name we use here on Earth for the heavenly family of Christ is “the church of the Firstborn” because it is comprised of those individuals who have received the right of the firstborn.
And now, verily I say unto you, I was in the beginning with the Father, and am the Firstborn; And all those who are begotten through me are partakers of the glory of the same, and are the church of the Firstborn. (D&C 93:21-22; see also Heb. 12:22-23, D&C 76:54)Called by His Name
Receiving Christ’s name here is critical to our eternal salvation. How do I know? The Lord said so:
Have they not read the scriptures, which say ye must take upon you the name of Christ, which is my name? For by this name shall ye be called at the last day; (3 Nephi 27:5, emphasis mine)It must happen before the last day. Alma taught it:
Behold, I say unto you, that the good shepherd doth call you; yea, and in his own name he doth call you, which is the name of Christ; and if ye will not hearken unto the voice of the good shepherd, to the name by which ye are called, behold, ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd.
And now if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what fold are ye? Behold, I say unto you, that the devil is your shepherd, and ye are of his fold; and now, who can deny this? Behold, I say unto you, whosoever denieth this is a liar and a child of the devil. (Alma 5:38-39, emphasis mine)King Benjamin learned it from an angel, and taught it to his people:
And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent. (Mosiah 3:17, emphasis mine)
And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives.
And it shall come to pass that whosoever doeth this shall be found at the right hand of God, for he shall know the name by which he is called; for he shall be called by the name of Christ.
And now it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall not take upon him the name of Christ must be called by some other name; therefore, he findeth himself on the left hand of God. (Mosiah 5:8-10, emphasis mine)The Lord spoke it to Alma:
Yea, blessed is this people who are willing to bear my name; for in my name shall they be called; and they are mine.
For it is I that taketh upon me the sins of the world; for it is I that hath created them; and it is I that granteth unto him that believeth unto the end a place at my right hand. For behold, in my name are they called; and if they know me they shall come forth, and shall have a place eternally at my right hand.
And it shall come to pass that when the second trump shall sound then shall they that never knew me come forth and shall stand before me. And then shall they know that I am the Lord their God, that I am their Redeemer; but they would not be redeemed.
And then I will confess unto them that I never knew them; and they shall depart into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (Mosiah 26:18, 23-27, emphasis mine)Whosoever Denieth This
I’ve had discussions with people who question the necessity, or even the value, of meeting the Lord in this life and becoming His child. Dallin H. Oaks, who claims the title of Apostle, summarized this viewpoint with the following statement:
Of course, all of the righteous desire to see the face of our Savior, but the suggestion that this must happen in mortality is a familiar tactic of the adversary. (June 14, 2015, Boise, Idaho)The above scriptures should put to rest all such nonsense. Our Lord explicitly states that the only way to salvation is to know Him and bear His name—or in other words, to be His child. If you don’t bear his name, you have no part with Him. If you can’t see this truth in the scriptures above, you are in an awful state of blindness indeed!
The idea that such things are not necessary? THAT is a familiar tactic of the adversary—and those he employs to teach anti-Christ falsehoods. Denying these truths has been Satan’s plan from the beginning.
To borrow Alma’s words, “Behold, I say unto you, whosoever denieth this is a liar and a child of the devil.” It is beyond disgusting that one who pretends to be an Apostle would stand and preach against the very purpose of the atonement, and thus assist Satan in blinding and damning souls.
From such, turn away. (2 Timothy 3:5)
A Willing Heart
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ; by baptism, yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost. (2 Nephi 31:13, punctuation and emphasis mine)The ordinance of baptism symbolizes our death and rebirth into Christ’s family. But it is only a symbol; it is not the actual adoption. It shows the Father our willingness to be part of His family. Alma offered baptism to those who were “desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people.” (Mosiah 18:8) Baptism is the first step in demonstrating our desire to be children of Christ.
Holy Flesh, Holy Blood
I served my mission in the Southern United States, where it’s common to refer to your relatives as your “flesh and blood.” There’s no more fitting way to show your willingness to be Christ’s child than to symbolically partake of His flesh and blood often, thus incorporating it into your own flesh and blood, and remembering the relationship you hope to have with Him.
In Moroni, we read “The manner of their elders and priests administering the flesh and blood of Christ unto the church.” The prayer includes the provision “….that they may…witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son.” (Moroni 4:1-3)
There is no more fitting witness and reminder of our intent. We should partake often so that we may “always remember Him.” Christ commanded that we “meet together oft” to do this holy thing. (3 Nephi 18:22, Moroni 6:5-6).
Like all earthly ordinances, both baptism and sacrament are witnesses and reminders. They symbolize that perfect day when you may come into His presence, embrace and be embraced, know as you are known, and become His child in very deed.
That Family Resemblance
And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts? (Alma 5:14)
I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances? (Alma 5:19)
And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. (Revelation 14:1)
And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. (Revelation 22:3-4)At that day, you can “sing the song of redeeming love.” (Alma 5:26)
At that day, you can properly testify:
I am a child of God.Now that we’re no longer blind to this plain and precious teaching, may we humble ourselves as little children, submit to Him as our father, and become His children in very deed.
His promises are sure;
Celestial glory shall be mine
If I can but endure.
For these are they whose sins he has borne; these are they for whom he has died, to redeem them from their transgressions. And now, are they not his seed?