“Chapter 3: Our Testimony of Jesus Christ,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith (2010)
“Chapter 3,” Teachings: George Albert Smith
In his travels as a General Authority, George Albert Smith occasionally met those who thought that the Latter-day Saints do not believe in Jesus Christ. This misconception amazed and worried President Smith, and he tried to correct it by sharing his personal witness of the Savior.
On one occasion he spoke at a Church meeting in Cardston, Canada, about the life and mission of Christ. The next morning he went to the railway station to buy a train ticket. While he waited in line, he overheard a conversation between a woman and the ticket agent. The woman mentioned that the evening before she had decided to attend a Latter-day Saint worship service.
The ticket agent looked surprised. “My goodness,” she said. “You do not mean to say you went to church there.”
“Yes, I did,” the woman answered. “Why not?”
The ticket agent said, “They do not even believe in Jesus Christ.”
Then the woman replied, “Only last night I listened to one of the elders of the Church speaking of the life of Jesus of Nazareth, and I have never heard anybody who seemed more profoundly impressed with a knowledge that Jesus was indeed the Christ, than the speaker on that occasion.”1 [See suggestion 1 on page 30.]
George Albert Smith gained strength from his testimony of Jesus Christ, and he delighted in sharing it with others. At the age of 44, having served in his apostolic calling for 11 years, he said:
“I have been buoyed up and, as it were, lifted out of myself and given power not my own to teach the glorious truths proclaimed by the Redeemer of the world. I have not seen Him face to face but have enjoyed the companionship of His spirit and felt His presence in a way not to be mistaken. I know that my Redeemer lives and gladly yield my humble efforts to establish His teachings. … Every fibre of my being vibrates with the knowledge that He lives and some day all men will know it.
“The Savior died that we might live. He overcame death and the grave and holds out to all who obey His teachings the hope of a glorious resurrection. … I know this is the work of the Lord, that Jesus was indeed our Savior.”2
President Smith passed away on his 81st birthday, April 4, 1951. During the final moments of his life, with his family close by, his son asked, “Father, is there something you’d like to say to the family—something special?”
With a smile, he reaffirmed the testimony he had shared numerous times throughout his life: “Yes, only this: I know that my Redeemer liveth; I know that my Redeemer liveth.”3
I have found many in the world who have not known that we believe in the divine mission of our Lord, and I have been led to say upon more than one occasion that there are no people in the world who so well understand the divine mission of Jesus Christ, who so thoroughly believe him to have been the Son of God, who are so sanguine [confident] that at the present time he is enthroned in glory at the right hand of his Father, as the Latter-day Saints.4
I know as I know that I live that he was the son of God, that through him and through him only will we gain exaltation in the celestial kingdom and all those who follow in his footsteps and live according to the teachings that he gave, will be happy in this life and will prepare for themselves a mansion in his celestial kingdom, where they will dwell with him forever.5
The Redeemer of mankind was more than a good man who came into the world to teach us ethics. The Redeemer of mankind possessed more than ordinary intelligence. He was indeed the Son of God, the only begotten of God in the flesh. … He came to call men to repentance, to turn them from the error of their way. He went among them representing God the Eternal Father, proclaiming that he was in the image of his Father, and that those who had seen him had seen the Father, and told them that he had been sent to do the will of his Father, and called on all men to turn from the error that had crept in among them, to repent of their sins and go down into the waters of baptism.6
In the time of the Savior the adversary whispered to [the] people, he is not the Son of God, surely you will not accept him, he is just an ordinary man, he is only the son of Mary and Joseph and he is not any more the Son of God than you are, and the people listened to that insidious, wicked one and crucified the Redeemer of mankind.7
He was indeed the Son of God. He labored among [the people] in love and kindness; but they cast His name out as evil. … He was the Son of God, and He did have the right to speak in the name of the Father. The truths He brought to the earth came from the Father; and though they nailed Him to the cross, though they placed upon His head the plaited crown of thorns, and put the mock scepter in His hands, though they spilled His blood with the cruel spear, yet the word that He delivered to them was the word of the Lord, and He was indeed the Son of God.8
Not only do we believe that Jesus of Nazareth lived upon the earth, but we believe that he still lives, not as an essence, not as something incorporeal or intangible, but we believe in him as an exalted man; for he arose with the same body that was laid in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea, the same body that was ministered to there by those who loved him. The same Jesus Christ who came forth from the tomb, brought with him that body which had been purified and cleansed, … and he took it with him when he disappeared from the gaze of humanity at Jerusalem when the two men in white raiment said: “As you see him go, so likewise will he return again.” [See Acts 1:10–11.]
This is the Jesus of Nazareth that the Latter-day Saints believe in. We also believe that the promises that have been made concerning humanity will be fulfilled, that in due time, when the gospel shall have been preached in all the earth, to every nation, kindred, tongue and people, when men shall be left without an excuse with reference to it, we believe that through the power of our Heavenly Father mankind will receive that wonderful blessing of resurrection from the dead, and that the Redeemer of mankind will come in the clouds of heaven with power and with glory to dwell upon this earth. We believe that Jesus of Nazareth will come to dwell with those who are worthy of celestial glory.9 [See suggestion 2 on page 30.]
Jesus of Nazareth went down into the water and was baptized by John, and when he came up out of the water, the Holy Ghost came and descended upon him in the form of a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” [See Matthew 3:13–17.]
Could there be anything more definite than that? Our wonderful Bible contains all that information and much more, of course. When people say or think that we do not believe in the divine mission of Jesus Christ, let them know that we believe all that the Bible teaches in reference to him. We believe the story of how he organized his people and taught them, and how eventually, … he was crucified.10
We accept without reservation the testimony of all of the evangelists contained in the New Testament with reference to the resurrection of the Redeemer of mankind. It is so plain that it seems to me that no thoughtful person can fail to comprehend it. The fact is that after the Savior was crucified and was laid in the tomb he came forth, and for forty days he associated with his disciples, he partook of fish and honeycomb with them, they felt the prints of the nails in his hands and the spear mark in his side. He declared to them while he stood among them, “Behold my hands and my feet that it is I myself: handle me and see for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have.” [See Luke 24:39–43.] Surely this is incontrovertible evidence and yet there are many of our Father’s children who do not understand it.11 [See suggestion 3 on page 30.]
The question has been raised in the old world that Jesus was not of divine origin, because He was born as a little child, cradled in a manger, His mother being Mary and his reputed father Joseph the carpenter. Many have admitted that He was a great and good man, but they have desired to rob Him of the divinity of His birth.
Fortunately, however, for the Latter-day Saints, we have received a witness that these things are true; and in addition to that, we have received the testimony that He came to [the] western hemisphere, as recorded in the Book of Mormon, and ministered unto the Nephites upon this continent. He did not come this time as a little child, but He came in the clouds of heaven; and His coming was proclaimed by a voice that penetrated to the very center of every person that dwelt in the land. He came this time as a man from heaven, and they saw Him come. They knew that He was the Christ, for His coming had been predicted by their prophets. He gave to them the same organization that existed in the Church at Jerusalem. He taught them that they must be baptized, as He had been, by those having authority to officiate in that ordinance. [See 3 Nephi 11:1–27.] This was not the word of an ordinary man; it was the word of the Son of God, who had ascended to His Father, and who had come back again, that the children of men might have another testimony added to the number that had already been given to them.12
What more direct evidence of resurrection from the dead could have been had than that he, in his resurrected body, came among [the Nephites] and taught them the same Gospel that he taught in Jerusalem? And he now fulfilled the promise he had made in Jerusalem when he said, “Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd.” [John 10:16.] He came in his resurrected body to bring to them the information he had predicted should be given to those to whom he now ministered.
It was a wonderful experience for those people. After teaching them all day … he healed their sick and blessed their children and continued to instruct them in the beauty of his Gospel. There was no doubt in their minds that he was the Savior of the world. They saw him come from heaven and witnessed his marvelous power. … He came in glory. Angels came down from heaven as it were in the midst of fire and surrounded the little children so that they were encircled with fire. And the angels did minister unto them. [See 3 Nephi 17:6–24.]
Those were not hallucinations, but experiences of such marvelous character as to be remembered forever by those who experienced them. As Latter-day Saints we accept this record as evidence of the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord.13
Then in the day and age in which we live there arose another individual. … [Joseph Smith] not only had the witness of the Bible that Jesus was the Christ, but he saw God the Father standing in the clouds of heaven, clothed with glory, and Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of the world, exalted at His right hand, and he heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “This is My Beloved Son, hear Him.” [See Joseph Smith—History 1:16–17.] He bore testimony of this glorious vision to those with whom he associated. Others also received a witness from on high. Their testimony in the divinity of the Savior’s mission had been increased and strengthened, so that it was no longer a matter of ancient history that God lived and that Jesus was the Christ; they knew it personally, because they had received a testimony themselves.14
To my mind one of the strongest testimonies of the divinity of the life of our Savior is the testimony of Joseph Smith who laid down his life as a witness of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.15 [See suggestion 3 on page 30.]
We have another testimony, another evidence that is even more perfect and more convincing than the others, because it is a testimony that comes to the individual when he has complied with the requirements of our Father in Heaven. It is a testimony that is burned into our souls by the power of the Holy Ghost, when we have performed the work that the Lord has said must be performed if we would know that the doctrine be of God or whether it be of man.16
He Himself has said, “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” (John 7:16–17) That was His own promise. We as Christians in all [the] world accept that promise and should try to prove it to see whether it is workable or not. There are many who have done this. I realize that there are … many who have put that to the test, many who know that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ, that He is the Savior of the world.17
So, not only do we have the evidence of the records … , not only do we have the testimony of good men who have lived upon the earth in our day, but if we have complied with the requirements of our Heavenly Father, if we have had faith in God, if we have repented of our sins, if we have received baptism by immersion, if we have received the Holy Ghost under the hands of authorized servants of the Lord, I say, if we have done all these things then there is in each soul a sure knowledge that cannot be gainsaid [denied] that God lives and that Jesus Christ was the Redeemer of mankind. …
… As one of the humble members of this Church I bear you my witness that I know he lives as I know that I live. … Jesus is the Christ, and I know that the children of men must come to that knowledge, that they must receive it, and in the language of him who lives in heaven, “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ.” [See D&C 88:104.]18 [See suggestion 4 on page 31.]
I say to you Latter-day Saints, there are no other people in all the world who have all the information that we have with reference to the divinity of the Savior; and if we did not believe in Him we would be under greater condemnation than the others that have never had that information. And so we can say to the world without hesitation that we believe these things. …
I congratulate you that there has come into your lives this privilege and this blessing. And now I adjure you as your brother, plead with you as one of the humblest among you, do not hide your candle under a bushel. Do not conceal the knowledge God has bestowed upon you from your fellows.
Do not annoy them, but do not be unwise enough as to hide from them the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is the only power of God unto salvation in the celestial kingdom.19
The happiest men and the happiest women that you know in the world are those who are conforming their lives to the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are those who have the assurance of eternal life; they are those who understand the purpose of our being. … As I have traveled to and fro in the world bearing this message, my soul has been filled with joy, and my eyes have been dimmed with tears, when I have seen how perfectly men’s lives may be transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have seen those who were discouraged, those who were in darkness, those who questioned the purpose of their being, and when they have had taught to them the glorious truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ, they have changed, they have learned to be happy, to be contented, to be satisfied, to be enthusiastic in believing and teaching the gospel that was proclaimed by Jesus Christ when he dwelt upon this earth and traveled in Galilee.
Brethren and sisters, the world does not understand that, but it is our mission to assist them to understand it, and it is not with egotism, it is not with arrogance, but with charity for all, with loving tenderness, that this message is sent forth. …
As one of the humblest among you, I thank him with all my heart for the assurance that has come into my life. … Above all, I thank him for the knowledge that has been burned into my soul; I know that my Heavenly Father lives, I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior of mankind, and that there is no other name under heaven whereby men and women may be exalted, but the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. I do know that he came into the world in this latter day, that he bestowed divine authority upon a humble boy who was seeking the truth, and the result of that has been the organization of the Church with which we are identified; and there is with it the power of God unto salvation to all those who believe.20
I pray that we may so live as to be worthy exemplars of His cause. I pray that our lives may be such that we may show by them that we are indeed believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.21 [See suggestion 5 on page 31.]
Consider these ideas as you study the chapter or as you prepare to teach. For additional help, see pages v–vii.
Read the story on page 21. How would you respond to someone who says the Latter-day Saints do not believe in Jesus Christ?
President Smith taught, “Not only do we believe that Jesus of Nazareth lived upon the earth, be we believe that he still lives” (page 23). What reasons do Latter-day Saints have for believing that Jesus Christ lives today? What reasons do you personally have for believing this?
Briefly review pages 24–27. What are some stories or passages from the scriptures that have strengthened your testimony that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? Read 1 Nephi 10:17 and consider ways you can increase your understanding of the Savior’s mission.
As you read page 28, think about how obedience to the principles and ordinances of the gospel has strengthened your testimony of Jesus Christ. What can parents do to help their children gain this testimony?
What thoughts or feelings do you have as you read President Smith’s testimony on pages 29–30? Think about times when you have seen people’s lives change because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. How has the gospel changed your life?
Teaching help: “[Avoid] the temptation to cover too much material…. We are teaching people, not subject matter per se; and … every lesson outline that I have ever seen will inevitably have more in it than we can possibly cover in the allotted time” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Teaching and Learning in the Church,” Ensign, June 2007, 91).