Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Savior and Redeemer

Dillon and I gave talks in our new ward Sunday. My topic was "Jesus Christ is My Savior and Redeemer." Dillon's was similar and he did such a great job.

I opened with a joke that I thought of on the stand. I can never think while I am up there because I am usually so nervous, so I was so proud of myself, but I don't think many were listening because not very many laughed. And I know it wasn't because it wasn't funny! ;-)

I was supposed to start my talk at 11:55 but the youth speaker when over. It was more like 12:01 or so when it was my turn. I got up and said, "Good morning... I know it's technically not morning anymore, but I didn't have time to rewrite my talk." Ha! I know, right? Anyway, it took a bit and there were only a few small chuckles. I don't think they were listening.

I went on, "Brothers and Sisters "... the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father." (Mosiah 3:19)

King Benjamin did not mince words when speaking about us and our state here on Earth. We are enemies to God, always have and always will be... UNLESS... we change through Christ our Lord.

"Wherefore, all mankind were in a lost and in a fallen state, and ever would be save they should rely on this Redeemer." (Nephi 10:6)

Because we are here, we sin, and since no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God, we need a Savior and Redeemer. Brothers and sisters, we have a Savior and Redeemer. He is our brother, Jesus Christ. He gave His life so that we might have eternal life and happiness.

Two of my favorite words in the English language are charity and grace. I can rarely think of these words without thinking of our Lord and Savior. To me, He also defines these words. Charity being the pure love of Christ and grace being the only way to God through Christ.

Jesus loves so perfectly and purely that he was willing to give his life for us. There was no fame to be had, no glory to be gained, no ulterior motives, just love.

"But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever." (Moses 4:2)

In Doctrine and Covenants the Savior speaks of His suffering for us and our sins (section 19 verses 18-19):
"Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink— Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men."

Before, during, and after the greatest suffering this Earth has and will every know, He gave the glory to our Father not Himself. That is charity.

He volunteered to walk among us, to do nothing but good and preach The Gospel to us, to be hated, mocked, and crucified by us, and by doing so save us. That is charity.

President Boyd K Packer said: "He by choice accepted the penalty in behalf of all mankind for the sum total of all wickedness and depravity; for brutality, immorality, perversion, and corruption; for addiction; for the killings and torture and terror—for all of it that ever had been or all that ever would be enacted upon this earth. In so choosing He faced the awesome power of the evil one, who was not confined to flesh nor subject to mortal pain. That was Gethsemane!"

Without God's saving grace, we could never know true happiness. Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ is God's saving grace. He is grace. Even after all that we can do, without Jesus, it isn't enough and never would be. Without Him, we would not be able to return to Heavenly Father and thus, not ever realize true and everlasting happiness.

He is our advocate, our mediator, our savior, our redeemer, our brother and our friend.

Christ tells us in Doctrine and Covenants 110:4 "I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father."

Christ becoming our Savior and Redeemer did not start at the Last Supper, it did not start at Gethsemane, nor did it start on the cross. It started before we can remember. When He accepted the call from The Father.

As I read earlier from Moses 4:2 "...my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning." It was our Brother's "calling" .... What if he hadn't accepted? ... I shutter to think...

Christ continued his role as Savior and Redeemer in his life here on Earth. He walked with the most lowly and meager of circumstance. He healed the sick. He reached out to those banished from society. He fed the hungry. He taught truths and lessons of The Gospel. He turned the other cheek. He was our ultimate example.

He asked us in 3 Nephi 27:27 "... Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am."

President Ezra Taft Benson counseled in 1975 "That man is greatest and most blessed and joyful whose life most closely fits the pattern of the Christ. This has nothing to do with earthly wealth, power, or prestige. The only true test of greatness, blessedness, and joyfulness is how close a life can come to being like that of the Master, Jesus Christ. He is the right way, the full truth, and the abundant life. The constant and most recurring question in our minds, touching every thought and deed of our lives, should be, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6.)

Christ then suffered and died for us. A suffering we cannot comprehend, yet we taste of it in sin. When we sin, The Holy Spirit, God's Spirit cannot be with us. By not repenting, this becomes a willing separation on our part that brings nothing but hurt and suffering.

Elder Jeffery R Holland offered some wonderful insight for me on Christ's suffering in last spring's General Conference.

"Now I speak very carefully, even reverently, of what may have been the most difficult moment in all of this solitary journey to Atonement. I speak of those final moments for which Jesus must have been prepared intellectually and physically but which He may not have fully anticipated emotionally and spiritually—that concluding descent into the paralyzing despair of divine withdrawal when He cries in ultimate loneliness, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

The loss of mortal support He had anticipated, but apparently He had not comprehended this. Had He not said to His disciples, “Behold, the hour … is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me” and “The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him”?

With all the conviction of my soul I testify that He did please His Father perfectly and that a perfect Father did not forsake His Son in that hour. Indeed, it is my personal belief that in all of Christ’s mortal ministry the Father may never have been closer to His Son than in these agonizing final moments of suffering. Nevertheless, that the supreme sacrifice of His Son might be as complete as it was voluntary and solitary, the Father briefly withdrew from Jesus the comfort of His Spirit, the support of His personal presence. It was required, indeed it was central to the significance of the Atonement, that this perfect Son who had never spoken ill nor done wrong nor touched an unclean thing had to know how the rest of humankind—us, all of us—would feel when we did commit such sins. For His Atonement to be infinite and eternal, He had to feel what it was like to die not only physically but spiritually, to sense what it was like to have the divine Spirit withdraw, leaving one feeling totally, abjectly, hopelessly alone."

Elder Holland's words struck me and I believe them to be true. Through and only through our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, can we regain the Spirit of our Father after we have sinned."

I improvised a bit here and told them that I often feel such a debt to The Lord. I said that the scriptures tell us a way that we can serve Him. I read Mathew 25:34-40 to them before I closed.

"Even after Christ's ultimate sacrifice, atonement and death, he has never stopped acting as our Savior and Redeemer. The 3 days that His body rested in a tomb here on Earth, He was organizing the Spirit World for the continuing salvation of souls. After his body and spirit were reunited he appeared to the people of this continent and taught them, healed them, and blessed them. He appeared to our Prophet Joseph Smith on several occasions and continues to come to our prophets and leaders to guide and lead his church on the Earth. He lived, he died, and he lives to save and redeem God's children. I know that he lives and is our savior and redeemer."


Finding Joy in the Journey said...

I thought the joke was funny, but I think people didn't get it. It sounds like you had a great meeting filled with the spirit though. Your talk was fantastic! It depicted who Christ is and what we need to do to make sure his mission wasn't in vain. I loved Elder Holland's talk; it was so powerful. Anyway, great job and thanks for sharing!

TJ and Jessica said...

Wow Cerra! That was amazing!! And the pictures you posted are so beautiful. I especially love the one near the top of Christ and the African American baby. That is so touching. Thank you so much for sharing, seriously that was an amazing talk. Wish I could have been there to hear it in person (I would have laughed at your joke :)

Emily :) said...

Hahaha.. I would have laughed super hard at your joke..I thought it was halarious!!!! :) Cerra, seriously, I have read your talk over and over about 4 times now. WOW! What a perfect topic and you did such an amazing job...and thanks so much for also sharing those beautiful pictures of our Savior! I wish I could have been there to hear you guys speak! Love you Cerra!

Cerra said...

Thanks guys for the kind words!