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RS/MP Lesson 11: “The Life of Christ” (Gospel Principles Manual)

Posted by BrianJ on June 6, 2010

Section One
Notice how this lesson picks up where the previous left off: “The Life of Christ Was Predicted Long before His Birth.” Just two lessons prior, we discussed prophets, and this lesson begins by making the point that “all of the prophets from Adam to Christ testified that He would come.” Now, in one sense, this is a bit redundant: go back to Lesson 9 and we read that the definition of a prophet is “a special witness of Christ.” Thus, by combining statements, we get something like: “all of the special witnesses of Christ testified of Christ.”

But I’m interested in is what that signifies. Why were there people testifying of Christ before Christ came—100, 500, 2000 years before he was even born? What was the need? It’s pretty simple to understand the impact on, say, the Nephites who lived during Samuel the Lamanite’s ministry: they were just about to see the signs of his birth…and later to meet him in person. But what difference could it possibly make to someone so far removed from it all?

Sections Two and Three
“[Jesus Christ] inherited divine powers from His Father.” What powers? The manual goes on to suggest one: the power to resist death (die only on his own terms) and the power to reverse his own death:

Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. (John 10: 17-18)

Consider, however, that some scriptures use a slightly different wording:

Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. (2 Cor. 4: 14)

In the first (John), Jesus raises himself, whereas in the second (Corinthians), Jesus was raised by someone else. Is that distinction important? Is it even accurate?

Section Four
I have only one question from this section: When did Jesus realize his divinity?

Section Five
“He came to earth not only to die for us but also to teach us how to live.” Which mission is more important? Presumably, he could not delegate someone else to do the former, but could he have delegated someone else to do the later? In fact, isn’t that precisely one of the roles of prophets (and other righteous leaders): to stand as examples to us of how to live? Why isn’t their collective example—all five hundred (or however many of them there have been)—enough? What don’t they exemplify that Christ does? Take Ruth, or Moses, or Joseph Smith, or Enoch, or all of the rolled into one: why isn’t that sufficient to “teach us how to live”?

I’m not sure how I would answer my questions myself, but the last paragraph of this section has a sentence that sticks in my mind: “Jesus even loved those who…were unrepentant.” Why? Why would he “waste his time” on someone who refused to accept him? What does that say about the motivations for Christ’s love? What does it say about how he defines ‘love’? How does it affect how we view his command to “love one another, as I have loved you”? (John 15:12)

Sections Six and Seven
I am skipping these sections because they are addressed in two other chapters (16 and 12, respectively).

Section Eight
Continuing with the line of questioning above, what does Jesus mean when he says that the “manner of men [we should] be” is “even as [he is]”? (3 Nephi 27:27) Is there a particular virtue he had in mind in saying this, or did he mean that we should follow his example in every way; i.e., true perfection? Try to defend your answer, both in terms of what the context of Jesus’ words supports but also in terms of how that answer “makes sense” in practice.

24 Responses to “RS/MP Lesson 11: “The Life of Christ” (Gospel Principles Manual)”

  1. Niklas said

    Indeed, when did Jesus realize his divinity? I have wondered that too. Was there some certain moment when boy Jesus understood: “Oh boy, I am the Savior of the world!”
    How would that feel? Suddenly you would realize that you are the most important person n whole world.

  2. kirkcaudle said

    “[Jesus Christ] inherited divine powers from His Father.” What powers?-Brian

    This question made me think of a couple related questions: Could these inherited powers also refer to our own spiritual gifts in this life, or are the powers that Christ inherited from his Father completely different than these? Also, if we eventually can be co-heirs with Christ and gain all that the Father has will we one day have all the same divine powers as Christ himself?

  3. Niklas said

    The divine powers the manual gives – the power to resist death (die only on his own terms) and the power to reverse his own death – are quite different than any spiritual gifts I have.
    But those two probably weren’t the only powers He inherited.

  4. kirkcaudle said

    Niklas, thanks for pointing that out, I have not yet read the actual lesson (maybe I should have).

    However, my second question remains:

    If we eventually can be co-heirs with Christ and gain all that the Father has will we one day have all the same divine powers/spiritual gifts as Christ himself? Or are their some gifts He will have that we will never obtain?

    And by the same token, are there any spiritual gifts that others might obtain that I will never obtain?

    • Lyndon said

      We are told that if we are faithful and endure to the end we will inherit all that the Father hath. Surely this means that we will have all powers equal to our Heavely father and our Messiah. With this power and authroity however comes the great resposibility. Just try and consider the burden of responsibility placed on Jesus Christ and then imagine, if you feel you can, the responsibilities our Heavely Father carries.

    • Ryan said

      D&C 132:19 is the set up for v.20

      Verse 20 states, “Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.”

      To me… “they have all power” is enough for me to believe we will become just like God.

  5. BrianJ said

    Ryan: we could have all power by becoming “just like” God or by becoming one with God (and thereby participating in whatever power he possesses).

  6. Ryan said

    Exactly!

    • Ryan said

      Hold on… The more I studied your comment. The more it’s looking like a question. If it is a question, here ya go, if not, then ignore it — LOL

      At the end of v.20, “Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.”

      They(we) shall be Gods, just like our Father in Heaven is God. He wants us to become just like him. If he didn’t, then we wouldn’t have the chance to “have all power” just like him.

  7. Colby said

    BRILLIANT!!!!! Thanks!!

  8. BrianJ said

    Ryan: my implied question is, “What makes you think that God wants us to be ‘just like’ him?” D&C 132:20 says that we can “have all power,” but it doesn’t say how that is accomplished.

    One way is for us to be transformed or exalted to be exactly like God.

    Another way is for us to be included in his exaltation—become part of his team, so to speak. We are still distinct in our personalities, our talents, etc., but because we are one with him we then we have all power—no one can find the dividing line between us and him.

  9. kirkcaudle said

    Brian, your question was the root of my question, so I am glad you asked it. I already had an answer in mind, but I thought I would bring it up anyhow.

    The reason for my question though stemmed from a conversation I was having with a friend over LDS theology the other day. The question was (mostly based off of D&C 132) do Mormons believe they will be “equal” with God or will they always be “below” Him even though they themselves are gods.

    In other words, will Christ always be God (uppercase) while we will always be god (lowercase), even though we will (to use the words of Lyndon #4), “have all powers equal to our Heavenly father and our Messiah.”

    The person I was discussing this with is also LDS and I was surprised (as was he) to learn that we had a difference of opinion on this issue. We both thought ours was the common stance.

  10. J. Madson said

    “He came to earth not only to die for us but also to teach us how to live.” Which mission is more important? Presumably, he could not delegate someone else to do the former, but could he have delegated someone else to do the later? In fact, isn’t that precisely one of the roles of prophets (and other righteous leaders): to stand as examples to us of how to live? Why isn’t their collective example—all five hundred (or however many of them there have been)—enough? What don’t they exemplify that Christ does?

    I would answer with what Jesus said of himself, “If you have seen me, you have seen the father.” As NT Wright mentions,

    “This is what the gospel writers intend to do: they are enquiring after the meaning of the word ‘god’ itself, and simply enquire about what precisely this (known) god wants, has done, intends to do. Who precisely is this god of whom the Jewish scripture had spoken, the god who made himself known to Abraham, Moses, David and the prophets? Which community (of the two in question, at least) is speaking truly, or at least more truly, about this god?”

    I think it goes back to the prior discussions on how God can be loving and command genocide, how can God be like x or y. It seems to me that Jesus is definitively revealing the true nature of God.

    How do we decide the nature of God? Whatever vision was incarnated by and in the historical Jesus. The person, not the book, and the life, not the text, are decisive. In other words, all scriptures, including problematic texts must be reread in light of this revelation, ie Jesus. Is this not what the Road of Emmaus is about?

  11. BrianJ said

    “The person, not the book, and the life, not the text, are decisive. In other words, all scriptures, including problematic texts must be reread in light of this revelation, ie Jesus.”

    Interesting.

  12. Ryan said

    I’m a little late getting back here. It’s been a busy week.

    How can we become like God? In my opinion… How can we become like our Earthly parents??? There are patterns in all things. God works in patterns. The Earthly example is a lower scale to the Heavenly scale is.

    Romans 8:16-17
    “the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”

    In D&C 132 – “have all powers equal to our Heavenly father and our Messiah.”

    I’m not a scientist or claim to be one, but I do know we are all made up of matter. Tables, chairs, metal, and any type of powder are all made up of matter, and if we have the faith of a mustard seed… We can move them. In other words move mountains, river, etc…

    If we succeed in returning back to our Father. We will have the faith of a mustard seed. We could move/do anything we wanted. That makes up like our Father, or equal to him.

    On Earth… When we become parents, we become like our Earthly parents, but that doesn’t make us greater than they. We are equal to them, regardless of our Earthly acheivements. We(or I don’t) look down on my parents, because I’m so much more awesome than they.

    We will always look up to our Father in Heaven regardless of what we become. Therefore… He’ll always be OUR God! Even when we acheive that “God” like status.

  13. kirkcaudle said

    We will always look up to our Father in Heaven regardless of what we become. Therefore… He’ll always be OUR God! Even when we achieve that “God” like status.-Ryan #12

    I agree. However, will God still have authority over us as he does now or will we be equals? In other words, when you say that he will “always be our God,” does that mean we are forever under his jurisdiction.

    Two scenarios:

    #1, I grow up as a child looking up to my Dad. He is a great guy. He raises me well. He loves me, disciplines me, and helps me with my problems. He is the one to which I always turn to for help. I grow up and start my own family. I start to turn to my wife and pay more attention to my own children. When I am old I am now “equal” to my father. He is the grandfather to my children and he is still my dad. However, he no longer is “above” me. He has no real authority or jurisdiction over my life. However, I still show him respect because he is my father, but I no longer see any difference between us as men.

    #2, I grow up as a child looking up to my Dad. He is a great guy. He raises me well. He loves me, disciplines me, and helps me with my problems. He is the one to which I always turn to for help. I grow up and start my own family. I start to turn to my wife and pay more attention to my own children. But now the situation changes. My father is always still in my life. No matter how old I get he is always “above” me. I can never surpass the love my father has for me or the knowledge that he holds. He created me and that is something I cannot escape. Because of this he will never truly be “equal” to him. My father will always hold some sort of jurisdiction over my life and marriage. I can never grow to the point where I ever get to his level.

    These examples are imperfect to be sure. However, I think example #1 is where we become “co-equal” with God/Christ and example #2 is where we become something “like” God, but yet not entirely “equal” with Him.

    Thoughts?

  14. BrianJ said

    “I still show him respect because he is my father, but I no longer see any difference between us as men.”

    If there is no difference between you, then I see no reason for one to show deferential respect to the other. Mutual respect, sure, but not deferential.

  15. kirkcaudle said

    Brian, under the first scenario I would agree.

    The respect between the father and son would be mutual, not deferential. The son respects the father as the father mutually respects the son as “co-equals.” Therefore, the son would not only be like the father, but would be exactly like the father. He would hold the same power and authority as his father.

  16. joshjoshboo said

    Rich topic and thoughts here kirk and Brian. I do not normally read this blog but your comments ready stood out to me. I think scenario number one that you set out works best. I do not think god is our “boss” after exaltation. I do not see how god can still be above an exalted being if both are co-equals as you say in scenario one. But I have not thought about this really until now. Thank you for bringing these two examples to my attention. It make things clear in my mind.

    • joshjoshboo said

      oh oops after i read back my comments back i meant to say scenario one and not scenario two :) [fixed]

  17. kirkcaudle said

    Glad if helped Josh, and welcome to the blog.

  18. charlyn said

    What a great question concerning when Christ became aware of his divine mission. the lesson also states that he was the one perfect being to ever walk the earth… why was it important that the Savior had not sinned? Would the atonement be possible if he had?

  19. Robert C. said

    Charlyn #18, I think that if Christ had sinned, we could always tell ourselves that his suffering was rooted solely in justice, without the excess of mercy that I think is so crucial to the workings of the atonement (I just posted a lengthy comment on this on the Lesson 12 thread…).

    In the Book of Job, I think this is a key issue since many accuse Job of suffering in a just manner so that Job has to keep arguing for his innocence, that he is not suffering according to this kind of tit-for-tat justice (for a lengthy post touching on this topic, see Joe Spencer’s post here). These kind of arguments that Job has to deal with and make, then, are obviated by Christ’s sinless life.

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