“The Witnesses of Christ,” Ensign, Jan. 1974, 49
In about the year A.D. 30 there came to the banks of the River Jordan a man—young, strong, and rustic in appearance. He began to baptize people, but he was not like others who were baptizing in Jordan; and there were others, for they baptized only to bring people into their particular religious sect.
He was different. He preached repentance from sin and said that he baptized for repentance, but that there would come one after him who would baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, one who would be so much greater than he, John, that he would not be worthy to perform the most menial of tasks, that of stooping down and loosening the fastenings of his sandals.
So powerful was John’s preaching and so important was the message he bore that people flocked to him to be taught and to be baptized.
In addition he bore witness that they must do good, must share their goods with the poor; and he witnessed that they were about to see their salvation.
Those who heard him were much affected by what he said, and some asked him if he were the Christ. (See Luke 3:11–15.)
Then one day there came to him a man asking to be baptized. When John saw him, he recognized him to be the Son of God and protested that the situation should be reversed. He said: “… I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?” (Matt. 3:14.) The Lord, for it truly was he, said: “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. …” (Matt. 3:15.)
Then John witnessed that the Holy Ghost fell upon Jesus like a dove, and he heard the voice of the Father from heaven say: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:17.)
In this manner the earthly work of the Lord began. A prophet testified and identified him, after which the voice of God confirmed the identification.
You have already heard from Brother Romney of the beginning, when the preexistent Savior appeared to the brother of Jared, and I shall not repeat that. You have also heard how in the beginning Adam was taught to make a sacrifice, the reason for it being that the Lord Jesus Christ was that sacrifice to be consummated in the meridian of time.
It was the purpose of the Father and the plan that men on earth should not forget what Adam taught. There was to be a Savior, and he was to do what his father intended—to be a lamb without blemish slain from before the foundation of the world—that is, the whole plan for the sacrifice of the Savior and for the redemption of men on earth was completed long before the earth was made.
Enoch asked the Lord when the great sacrifice would be made and was told that it would “be in the meridian of time, in the days of wickedness and vengeance.” (Moses 7:46.)
By the mouths of the prophets as the time drew closer to the eventful year, the Lord spelled out to the people how they might know of the coming of the true Redeemer. Witness: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isa. 7:14.)
He was to be despised and rejected and bruised for our iniquity. He was to bear our grief and carry our sorrows; he was himself to be a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief. He was to be brought as a lamb to the slaughter, yet he would open not his mouth, even as sheep brought to be sheared are dumb. He was to make his grave with the wicked and the rich. He was to be an offering for sin. (See Isa. 53.)
It was prophesied also that this son should “be called Wonderful, Counsellor,” and with a final burst of inspired words Isaiah revealed him as “The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isa. 9:6.)
And now in our day, our message is that once more the voice of God, the Eternal Father, has been heard. In this dispensation he has revealed himself in his own glory, his majesty, his person. With him also was revealed his Beloved Son Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, the Counseler and Wonderful of Isaiah; the Lord who met Moses on the mountain amid thunderings and lightnings; the Lord who stood transfigured with glory before Peter and James and John on the mount; who, having arisen on the third day, after suffering the most painful death ever devised by man, appeared to Mary, then to the eleven apostles, and later to upwards of 500; and who, after a cloud had received him out of their sight, sent an angel to tell them that he would return even as he had ascended into heaven.
The visit of these two to Joseph Smith, their persons filling the forest aisle with heavenly light, testified that indeed they live. The young prophet heard the heavenly voice of the Father affirm his Son: “… this is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (JS—H 1:17.) Joseph Smith heard! He saw! He bore solemn testimony of the great revelation.
We bear witness that this revelation is true. From that glorious morning until now The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which Joseph Smith was commanded to organize, has journeyed 143 years on its divine and destined mission to fill the earth.
We invite all men to listen to the message of salvation which is offered by the Lord through his servants, some of whom you have heard yesterday and today. By repentance from sin and baptism by immersion by those having divine authority from the Lord, anyone may find the peace which the Lord has promised to those who will accept him and obey his word.
You may ask: “How may I know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true church which Christ the Lord accepts as his?” He, the Lord, has prepared an infallible witness that you may know. Nearly four thousand years ago the Lord began to prepare this witness by showing himself as a preexistent spirit to the brother of Jared, a prophetic leader in the days of the Tower of Babel. The Lord inspired his people who followed this prophet to be led to America, an unknown land in that day; and later he caused groups of the House of Israel in Palestine to migrate also. Of them all he commanded that records be kept of their travels and their knowledge of the Lord.
At the appointed time, his birth in Bethlehem was marked in America by three days of light in which there was no darkness, and at his crucifixion there were three days of total darkness with mighty destruction of the wicked and their cities and habitations. The righteous received a visit from the Lord. Listen to the description given by the prophet who compiled the record:
“… they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven; and they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn.
“And it came to pass that again they heard the voice, and they understood it not. …
“And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them:
“Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him.
“And it came to pass, as they understood they cast their eyes up again towards heaven; and behold, they saw a Man descending out of heaven; and he was clothed in a white robe; and he came down and stood in the midst of them; …
“And it came to pass that he stretched forth his hand and spake unto the people, saying:
“Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.
“And behold, I am the light and the life of the world. …” (3 Ne. 11:3–4, 6–11.)
I shall not take time to describe his visit except to say that he taught them his gospel and organized his church here in America among them. He taught the same principles as he had taught in his earthly ministry in Palestine. He blessed their children and blessed them, stating that he would come again. You will be interested to know that the promise to come again lingers in the legends handed down to this day by the descendants of those people. Cortez easily conquered Mexico because the Mexican people thought he was that God returning.
Moroni, the last prophet to keep the records, seeing the destruction of the people by war and contention about four hundred years later, said:
“And now I, Moroni, bid farewell unto the Gentiles, yea, and also unto my brethren whom I love, until we shall meet before the judgment-seat of Christ, where all men shall know that my garments are not spotted with your blood.
“And then shall ye know that I have seen Jesus, and that he hath talked with me face to face, and that he told me in plain humility, even as a man telleth another in mine own language, concerning these things.” (Ether 12:38–39.)
This prophet sealed his record and deposited it in a stone box in a hill. In 1827 this same prophet, resurrected, delivered the record to Joseph Smith, who by the power of God translated it. In it is a promise that any man who will read the book with a contrite heart and desire to know the truth will receive a witness that it is true. (See Moro. 10:4–5.) This book is called the Book of Mormon. It could not have been written by a man without divine help. It is an abridgment of more than a thousand years of records kept, yet it rings true. No person mentioned in the book is out of place or out of character. The Lord stands forth as sharp and vivid as in Palestine, and he completed his witness when the translation was published in 1830, a witness began two thousand years before Christ. Anyone reading this book, the Book of Mormon, with a desire to know, and who will ponder as he reads and then ask the Lord if it be true, will know that it is a true account. He will know too that this Church is Christ’s Church and he will know that Joseph Smith was a prophet, a true prophet of the Lord Jesus Christ and his Father, the living God. Jesus Christ is the God of this earth, and he has carried its destiny in his hands from the beginning and will continue to do so until he gives the work complete to his Father, who is our Father in heaven.
Anyone who will do these things will also know that President Harold B. Lee is a prophet of God. I add my witness to that of the others, that I know he is as I know the others have been, and I know that God will see that this work goes on to its end as he plans it, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.