Tinsel, garland, gifts under the tree, smells and scents that connote a beautiful time of year–these all are reminiscent of Christmas, a time for the joyous celebration of Christ’s birth.
The first real gift of Christmas is the Baby Himself, Jesus Christ. He is ours to receive, to know, to love, to worship as Savior of the World, the Only Begotten in the flesh, the Son of God. The second real Christmas gift, intimately connected with Himself, is the key to the knowledge of Him which has been restored to the earth through the re-establishment of His own Church on the earth–The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently called by friends of other faiths, the “Mormon Church”). These are two gifts in one: the Savior, and His Church in our day! These are the real gifts of Christmas!
Established His Church & Restored It In Our Day
From the creation of the world, the prophets foretold and the children of God anticipated the coming of the Redeemer, the Savior of the World, Jesus Christ. As He had promised, our Heavenly Father, the Father of our spirits, sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth over 2,000 years ago.
Jesus Christ, now diluted, de-throned, sidelined by many pundits and blanched naysayers, lives! He is resurrected! He is real. He is the perfect, sympathetic, just, merciful, omniscient Savior who stooped in agony and hung in great condescension, to be able to lift us back into His presence. This is not a fable, as Paul said, who was one of many eyewitnesses, both of His suffering and of His glory. For those in doubt, we witness to you that He lives! Please read on, to learn more about the second gift of Christmas.
Jesus Christ lived a sinless life. He established His Church, taught His gospel, and performed many miracles. He chose twelve men to carry His authority, to be His Apostles, including Peter, James and John. He taught them and enabled them by the laying on of hands to perform certain ordinances or rites of salvation, such as baptism.
When Jesus Christ established His Church, He received instructions and revelation from the Father for the benefit of all. He then taught His followers and they, in turn, received a witness of the truths He taught, by revelation as well. Revelation–or things shared by the Spirit from God to man–was the rock on which the Savior built His Church.
At the end of His life, Jesus Christ suffered and died for each of our sins and infirmities–those of everyone who has lived or who will yet live on this earth. This sacrifice is called the Atonement. Through His suffering, death, and Resurrection, the Savior made it possible for us to be forgiven and to regain His presence–a presence which brings light, power, glory, joy into our lives, a presence which transforms us. Those who exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent, and keep His commandments with His help, receive forgiveness of sins, greater light and truth, increased peace and joy in this life, and eternal life in the world to come.
The Great Apostasy: God and Jesus Christ Knew There Would Be A Falling Away From Truth
Following the death of Jesus Christ, evil schemers persecuted and killed many Church members. Others drifted from the truth by degree. The Apostles themselves were killed or martyred and priesthood authority–the ability to act in the Savior’s name to perpetuate His kingdom on earth–was taken from the earth. Because the Church was no longer led by those the Savior designated as authorities, error crept into Church teachings. The pure gospel truths that Jesus taught were mixed and diluted and changed. This period of religious history is called the Great Apostasy.
The Savior, knowing all things, anticipated this apostasy–or falling away from the truth. Through an Old Testament prophet, He said:
Behold, the days come…that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: And people shall wander form sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it (Amos 8:11-12).
This apostasy resulted in the formation of many churches with conflicting and confusing creeds. During this time, many men and women sought the truth but were unable to find it in its fullness. Many good people believed in God and Jesus Christ and tried to understand and teach truth but they had neither the authority nor the complete gospel. As a result, each generation inherited partial and distorted beliefs from the preceding one, and were in a state of apostasy still.
Inspired reformers, such as Martin Luther and John Calvin, recognized that practices and doctrines had been changed or lost. They tried to reform the churches to which they belonged and to reconstruct the truth. Without priesthood authority, however, Christ’s gospel could not be returned to its original form. A restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ–not a reformation of the gospel of Jesus Christ–was needed.
The Second Christmas Gift!
Our Christmas message to you is that there are two gifts for you this Christmas, should you choose to accept them–one, the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ, as Savior of the World–the One who provides all we need for a full life and for godliness; and two, the additional news that His Church–even the Church of Jesus Christ–has been restored to the earth! It’s here, with all of the pure doctrines and priesthood authority needed for you and I to be freed from sin and sanctified to become more and more like Him, filling our eternal potential! We invite you as friends of other faiths, to pray about this message for yourselves and to investigate its truthfulness further.
Christmas Message: The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
In 1820, our Father in Heaven chose a prophet to restore the gospel and priesthood to the earth! That prophet’s name was Joseph Smith. As a young man, Joseph Smith wrestled with questions about the teachings of many churches around his home, each seeking their own followers in a competitive way. Each preacher, moreover, taught something different about the Savior and the path to salvation. Joseph Smith wanted to know which church was right. Knowing he lacked wisdom, he followed James’ counsel in the Holy Bible: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).
Joseph took that promise to heart. He found a spot in a nearby grove of trees, knelt and prayed in faith, submitting his question to God. Unexpectedly, Joseph found himself visited by glorious personages–even the Father Himself, who introduced His Son, Jesus Christ. They instructed Joseph not to join any of the churches, suggesting that they held not the ‘power’ of godliness.
Joseph Smith was called by Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father to be a prophet of this last dispensation or gospel era, through whom the complete gospel of Jesus Christ would be restored.
In his words,
I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me… When the light rested upon me, I saw two Personages whose brightness and glory defy all description standing above me in the air. one of them spake unto me, calling me by name, and said, pointing to the other, This is My Beloved Son, hear Him!” (Joseph Smith: History 1:16-17).
We invite you to learn more about these two incomparable Christmas gifts this year. Don’t miss Christmas. The real gift is Jesus Christ. He is the Gift–the Author and Finisher of our faith. He has restored His Church to the earth–that we may have all we need to know Him and to grow in glory to become more and more like Him, until the perfect day, when His glory shall be revealed in full and our joy perfected in Him.
Living out a great season of my life, thanks to Jesus Christ, and two wonderful daughters, a great life's work. Loving this opportunity to share faith online... I'm a single Mom, convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, second-gen Italian, from the East coast originally. Love the fine arts, dance, frozen yogurt, temples, scriptures, writing, jazz, helping others reach their potential, king salmon, ....and not in that order. God is good. I feel it deeply when people have a misconception of Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ, His Son, that lessens or cheapens Them and blinds one's ability to feel His presence or to trust in an ultimately good eternal end to life's circumstances.