Elder Dallin H. Oaks: 'We are followers of Jesus Christ'
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There is no middle ground: "We are followers of Jesus Christ," said Elder Dallin H. Oaks on Sunday afternoon.
"Our citizenship is in His Church and His gospel, and we should not use a visa to visit Babylon or act like one of its citizens. We should honor His name, keep His commandments, and seek not the things of this world but seek first to build up the kingdom of God, and to establish His righteousness" (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 6:38).
Elder Oaks, of the Quorum of the Twelve, began his conference address with the same question Jesus used to confound the Pharisees of His day: "What think ye of Christ?" (Matthew 22:42).
"With those same words I ask my fellow Latter-day Saints and other Christians what you really believe about Jesus Christ and what you are doing because of that belief.'"
During his address, titled "Teachings of Jesus," Elder Oaks shared scriptural quotations from the Bible, because it is most familiar to most Christians. "My interpretations will of course draw on what modern scriptures, notably the Book of Mormon, teach us about the meaning of Bible scriptures so ambiguous that different Christians disagree on their meaning. I address believers, but others as well. ...
"To address them, I have used the words of Jesus himself. We should all consider what He Himself taught about who He was and what He was sent to earth to do."
Elder Oaks said Jesus taught that he was the only begotten son. "Said He: 'For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life'" (John 3:16-17).
Jesus also taught that His appearance was the same as His Father's. "To His apostles he said: 'If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him'" (John 14:7-9).
Elder Oaks said that during His ministry to His people in Palestine, Jesus taught that He was Jehovah, the Lord God of Israel. Later, as the Risen Lord, He ministered to His people on the American continent. He said, "I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth" (3 Nephi 11:14).
Jesus is "the life of the world because He is our creator and because through His resurrection we are all assured that we will live again," said Elder Oaks. "And the life He gives us is not merely mortal life. He taught, 'I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand'" (John 10:28).
Elder Oaks said that, always, Jesus honored the Father, followed Him and did His will. "We return to the Father by doing His will," he added.
In addition, he said, Jesus is the great Examplar. "Again and again He invited us to follow Him."
Elder Oaks said, "The Savior gave priesthood power to His apostles (Matthew 10:1) and gives guidance through the Holy Ghost (John 14:26, John 16:13).
"He also guides us by His commandments," Elder Oaks said.
Further, he added, "He also challenges us to focus on Him, not on the world.... The Savior taught that He was the bread of life, the source of eternal nourishment. Speaking of the mortal nourishment the world offered, including the manna Jehovah had sent to feed the children of Israel in the wilderness, Jesus taught that those who relied on this bread were now dead. In contrast, the nourishment He offered was 'the living bread which came down from heaven' and, Jesus taught, 'If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever'" (John 6:51, 58).
The culmination the Savior's mortal ministry was His resurrection and His atonement for the sins of the world, said Elder Oaks. "We understand that the atonement of Jesus Christ gives us the opportunity to overcome the spiritual death that results from sin, and, through making and keeping sacred covenants, to have the blessings of eternal life."
Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten and Beloved Son of God, Elder Oaks testified. "He is the light of the world. He is our Savior from sin and death. This is the most important knowledge on earth, and you can know this for yourself, as I know it for myself. The Holy Ghost, who testified of the Father and the Son and leads us into truth, has revealed these truths to me and He will reveal them to you. The way is desire and obedience."