Dr. D. Kelly Ogden is a professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University.
Some years ago my colleague and relative, Stephen Robinson, wrote a popular book entitled Believing Christ. He later wrote a sequel called Following Christ. Pursuing yet another approach to the study of our Savior, I am now interested in Proving Christ.
Nephi engraved in his record the words of his brother Jacob, who was a great theologian/scriptorian and general authority of the Church of Jesus Christ in ancient America. After inscribing some of Jacob’s powerful teachings, Nephi continued:
And now I, Nephi, write more of the words of Isaiah, for my soul delighteth in his words . . . for he verily saw my Redeemer, even as I have seen him.
And my brother, Jacob, also has seen him as I have seen him; wherefore, I will send their words forth unto my children to prove unto them that my words are true. Wherefore, by the words of three [for example, Isaiah, Nephi, and Jacob], God hath said, I will establish my word. Nevertheless, God sendeth more witnesses, and he proveth all his words.
Behold, my soul delighteth in proving unto my people the truth of the coming of Christ . . . and all things which have been given of God from the beginning of the world, unto man, are the typifying of him.
And also my soul delighteth in the covenants of the Lord which he hath made to our fathers; yea, my soul delighteth in his grace, and in his justice, and power, and mercy in the great and eternal plan . . .
And my soul delighteth in proving unto my people that save Christ should come all men must perish (2 Nephi 11:2-6, emphasis added).
As with Nephi (and Matthew, Isaiah, and all true prophets, and all true Saints), my soul also delights in proving the coming of Christ.
Nathanael asked, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” His friend Philip answered him, “Come and see . . .” (John 1:46). To all of us the Savior is saying “come and see” if any good thing came out of Nazareth, and out of Galilee. We may know him by his fruits, meaning his good works, his miracles, his teachings, his whole life.
Proof of Christ
Luke wrote about all the things Jesus began both to do and teach . . . and how he showed himself alive . . . by “many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:1, 3); that is, by many unmistakable, flawless, perfect proofs.
Alma proved “that the word is in Christ unto salvation”; he called on the words of Zenos, Zenock, and Moses “to prove that these things are true.” Then his missionary companion, Amulek, declared, “And now, behold, I will testify unto you of myself that these things are true” (Alma 34:6-8). “Ye have had so many witnesses” (Alma 34:33).
Nephi and Lehi preached Christ with such power and authority that thousands were convinced by the “greatness of the evidences” (Helaman 5:50).
Another Nephi gave us a catalog of numerous witnesses of Christ’s coming and His mission:
Moses . . . had such great power given unto him, yea, the words which he hath spoken concerning the coming of the Messiah.
Yea, did he not bear record that the Son of God should come? . . .
And now behold, Moses did not only testify of these things, but also all the holy prophets, from his days even to the days of Abraham.
Yea, and behold, Abraham saw of his coming, and was filled with gladness and did rejoice.
Yea, and behold I say unto you, that Abraham not only knew of these things, but there were many before the days of Abraham who were called by the order of God; yea, even after the order of his Son; and this that it should be shown unto the people, a great many thousand years before his coming, that even redemption should come unto them.
And now I would that ye should know, that even since the days of Abraham there have been many prophets that have testified these things [Zenos, Zenock, Ezias, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lehi, Nephi] . . .
And also almost all of our fathers, even down to this time; yea, they have testified of the coming of Christ, and have looked forward, and have rejoiced in his day which is to come.
And now, seeing ye know these things and cannot deny them except ye shall lie, therefore in this ye have sinned, for ye have rejected all these things, notwithstanding so many evidences which ye have received; yea, even ye have received all things, both things in heaven, and all things which are in the earth, as a witness that they are true (Helaman 8:13-14, 16-20, 22, 24, emphasis added).
Now in our day we prove Christ best through the Restoration, through Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. In addition to the Book of Mormon, we have convincing evidence of Christ in the Doctrine and Covenants and in the Pearl of Great Price—most of which came to us through the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Just talking about Christ brings a good spirit into any room.
Witnesses and Evidences in the Scriptures
The Topical Guide is an alphabetical index and concordance of topics for all the standard works. It is nearly 600 pages long with 750 major subheadings and has its own cross-referencing system.
One of the Topical Guide’s most important entries is the fifty-eight categories of information about Jesus Christ: eighteen pages of small print, single spaced, listing thousands of references on the subject, constituting, as Elder Boyd K. Packer declared, “the most comprehensive compilation of scriptural information on the mission and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ that has ever been assembled in the history of the world” (Ensign, Nov. 2005, 72).
We will examine a number of the topics that help prove Christ to us.
Christ’s Pre-mortal Existence
Jesus was with the Father before this world. He speaks directly to the Father of “the glory which I had with thee before the world was” (John 17:5). He was prepared, chosen, and foreordained before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:20). He was the Firstborn in the spirit (D&C 93:21), and later the Only Begotten in the flesh (John 1:14, 18; 3:16). He was the Creator of all things, and the light and life of all things (Moses 1:31-33; John 1:4; Ether 4:12). He was the great Jehovah (3 Nephi 15:4-5) and the promised Redeemer (1 Peter 1:18-20).
Christ’s Authority and Power
He was of the roots of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1); he was a righteous Branch and King (Jeremiah 23:5) of the loins of David, and was born as prophesied in the town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).
He is over an everlasting Kingdom: the government shall be upon his shoulder (Isaiah 9:6). His Kingdom has been set up on earth in these last days and it will never be destroyed (Daniel 2:44; Revelation 11:15).
He has authority and power from the Father. He has unique power to forgive sins. He taught as one having authority, not as the scribes and others (Matthew 7:29).