“Savior at Center of Yule Season Say President Benson, Elder Oaks,” Ensign, Feb. 1986, 73–74
President Ezra Taft Benson bore a powerful testimony of Christ, urging all people of the world to seek after the Lord as did the wise men of old, in his first public address since being ordained President of the Church.
President Benson’s message was complemented by the testimony of Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Council of the Twelve, who spoke of Christmas as a time to offer again the greeting of peace that was proclaimed by angels at the Savior’s birth.
They addressed Church members throughout the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico during the annual First Presidency Christmas Devotional December 1. The Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City was filled to capacity for the program, which was also broadcast via satellite to receiver-equipped stake centers.
President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, conducted the program. Christmas music was provided by the Tabernacle Choir, joined by the congregation on some carols.
President Benson noted in his address that the “major mission” of the Book of Mormon is to testify of Christ. “Every prophet from the days of Adam knew of that first Christmas and testified of the divine ministry of the mortal Messiah,” he said, and quoted from Jacob 4:4 in the Book of Mormon: “‘We knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming.’
“In Gethsemane and on Calvary, he worked out the infinite and eternal atonement,” President Benson explained. “It was the greatest single act of love in recorded history.”
The resurrection of Christ is “well attested in the Bible,” and the risen Lord revealed himself also to believers on this continent. “Today in Christ’s restored Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he is revealing himself and his will—from the first prophet of the Restoration, even Joseph Smith, to the present,” President Benson testified.
“And now, my beloved brothers and sisters, what must we do this Christmas season—and always? Why, we must do the same as the wise men of old. They sought out the Christ and found him. And so must we. Those who are wise still seek him today.”
He pointed out that “the Book of Mormon was designed by Deity to bring men to Christ and to his Church. Both we and our nonmember friends may know that the Book of Mormon is true by putting it to the divine test which Moroni proposed.”
He urged members to give to nonmembers the gift of greater knowledge of the Lord through making them acquainted with the Book of Mormon. He admonished Latter-day Saints to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him” (Moro. 10:32), to come “with a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (3 Ne. 12:19), hungering and thirsting after righteousness (see 3 Ne. 12:6), “feasting upon the word of Christ” (2 Ne. 31:20).
“Not many years hence Christ will come again. He will come in power and might as King of kings and Lord of lords. And ultimately every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ.
“But I testify now that Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph Smith is his prophet, that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and that his Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is true, and that Christ is at its helm,” President Benson affirmed.
Elder Oaks said that “Jesus of Nazareth is the most important person who ever lived, … the Savior and God of this world.
“‘Peace, good will toward men’ (Luke 2:14) is the message of Christmas,” proclaimed at Christ’s birth, Elder Oaks said. The message is old and familiar; it has been preached repeatedly throughout the ages. Like other important teachings, “the repetitious message of Christmas is not a message to be revised but a message to be renewed in our lives.
“God bless the helping hands” who reach out to others—the aged, the hungry, the homeless, the sick—at Christmastime, he said. “We should all support them. Those who serve lovingly and unselfishly are true servants of the Prince of Peace.”
But there is more to Christmas than giving—even giving of one’s self. “Christmas is also a time for forgiving—a time to heal old wounds and restore relationships that have gone awry,” Elder Oaks said. “The heavenly hosts proclaimed good will to all men—to casual friends, to strangers, even to enemies.
“Whether Latter-day Saints are in the majority, as we are in Utah, or in the minority, as we are everywhere else, we should reach out to all the sons and daughters of God. We should extend the sincere hand of fellowship to all persons,” he counseled. “We ought to be the friendliest and most considerate of all peoples anywhere.”
He emphasized that Latter-day Saints can shun associations and practices which go against our beliefs without cutting ourselves off from cooperative efforts with those of other faiths.
“Just as Christmas celebrates the birth of him who gave his life for all of us, so each of us should use Christmas as a time for perfecting the ways we give to our fellowmen.
“As we do so—as the giving spirit of Christmas permeates our thoughts and our actions—we will each be making our own contribution to the eternal goal of ‘peace on earth, good will toward men.’”