Children of Christ
Before his death, King Benjamin's wants to help his people make a covenant to become the children of Christ. He said, "And now because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters (Mosiah 5:7).
Since Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and Elohim is our Father, people are often confused by this terminology. In what way is Jesus Christ our father? Joseph Fielding Smith answered that question: "What is a father? One who begets life. What did our Savior do? He begot us, or gave us life from death, as clearly set forth by Jacob, the brother of Nephi. If it had not been for the death of our Savior, Jesus Christ, the spirit and body would never have been united again..
"If there had been no redemption from death, our spirits would have been taken captive by Satan and we would have become subject to Satan's will forever.
"What did our Savior do? He begot us in that sense. He became a father to us because he gave us immortality or eternal life through his death and sacrifice upon the cross. I think we have a perfect right to speak of him as Father"( Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 4:177-79.)
Jesus Christ is also the life giver to our wounded and sin-ridden spirits. Without his atoning sacrifice we would be lost forever, unable to enter God's presence. The natural man would reign, and we would be unable to escape the chains that bind us. It is Jesus Christ who heals us, binds our wounds, and takes upon himself our sins. Without the protective cloak of his atonement around us, we would stand naked in our sins at the bar of justice, and be cast off. Since Jesus saves us from physical and spiritual death-he gives us physical and spiritual life. No wonder his sentiment rings with such clarity, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).
Just as a child takes upon himself his father's name, so do we take upon ourselves our Savior's name. It not only indicates that we are seeking to be like him, but that we are under his protection and love. He will lend his strength in our struggle with sin.
Bruce R. McConkie said, "May I speak of the special family relationship enjoyed by those who so live that they become a peculiar people. Of them it is written: 'Ye are the sons of the living God' (Hosea 1:10). That is, those who gain the high status of a peculiar people are adopted into the family of the Lord Jehovah. They become his sons and his daughters and have him as their father."
Who Is God?
How do we become a son or daughter of Jesus Christ? We begin by seeking to understand who God is. What is he like? If we were to think of the most righteous person we ever knew, is God something like that? Or is he like those other authority figures in our lives-our earthly parents? In this finite, mortal state, we struggle to understand God's attributes for he is simply so much more than we can conceive. We taste his love, but we don't comprehend it. Our mortal brains cannot leap far enough to take Him in. Yet, we can read something about the prophet's experiences with him in scripture.
Moses, when he was caught up into an exceedingly high mountain saw God face to face and talked to him. "And God spake unto Moses, saying: Behold, I am the Lord God Almighty, and Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end of years; and is not this endless?"(Moses 1:3). Then Moses was shown "the world upon which he was created; and Moses beheld the world and the ends thereof, and all the children of men which are, and which were created; of the same he greatly marveled and wondered"(Moses 1:8). After this magnificent and sweeping vision in which he began to comprehend the glory of God, Moses fell to the earth and said, "Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed (Moses 1:10).
This was a clarifying moment for Moses, because he had edged closer to knowing who God is, and thus knew more certainly who he was. After the Lord gave his powerful introduction to Moses, he claimed him as his own. "Thou art my son." To be truly related, next-of-kin, to this great and glorious God filled Moses with awe and humility.
Just as Moses came to comprehend something about God's attributes in his vision, so King Benjamin urges his people to know God. "Believe in God," he pleads. "Believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend" (Mosiah 4:9)
It is in coming to "a knowledge of God's goodness, his matchless power and his wisdom, and his patience, and his long-suffering towards the children men" (Mosiah 4:6) that we see ourselves for the first time. We are, as Moses discovered-nothing. We are dependent on him for everything that we are, everything that we have, every breath that we take. We are unprofitable servants. We are beggars. We are in a fallen and carnal state. We are less than the dust of the earth. We are wounded. Yet that very knowledge can fill us with joy, because it is what draws us to him, the source of healing. We can be forgiven and lifted from the ashes of despair. We can be refreshed and renewed through our Savior. We can be cleansed and refined.
It is more joyful to be transformed through Christ, than believe we are self-made and sufficient. It is happier to see our weaknesses and overcome them, than hide them from ourselves. Nothing tastes sweeter than the atonement or is a more healing balm of Gilead. Only when we understand how much we need forgiveness, can we comprehend the extent of God's goodness and love towards us.
The Joy of Forgiveness
King Benjamin's people knew "exceedingly great joy" because they had tasted of God's love and received a remission of their sins. How can we know when our sins have been forgiven? President Harold B. Lee told this story:
"Some years ago, President Marion G. Romney and I were sitting in my office. The door opened and a fine young man came in with a troubled look on his face, and he said, 'Brethren, I am going to the temple for the first time tomorrow. I have made some mistakes in the past, and I have gone to my bishop and my stake president, and I have made a clean disclosure of it all; and after a period of repentance and assurance that I have not returned again to those mistakes, they have now adjudged me ready to go to the temple.