Light of Christ

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(This is an excerpt from the entry "Light of Christ" in the book LDS Beliefs.)

We do not travel far in our study of the gospel before we read that Jesus Christ is “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9). Because Jehovah was the foreordained Redeemer and Savior of worlds (D&C 76:22–24; Moses 1:32–35) and the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 5:6; 13:8; Moses 7:47), the Father’s plan became his by adoption; the gospel of God (Romans 1:1–3) thus became known as the gospel of Jesus Christ. Because Elohim has invested his Beloved Son with his own attributes and powers (Mosiah 15:3; D&C 93:17) and because the “Father of lights” (James 1:17) has ordained that Christ is to be the Light of lights and the Light of the world, those powers of life and light that we know as the power of God have come to be known as the Light of Christ or the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

Though there is but passing reference to the Light of Christ in the New Testament, the scriptures of the Restoration abound in detail, assisting us to understand how and in what manner the Light of Christ lights every man and woman born into mortality. We come to know first of all that that light is a manifestation of the glory of God, a divine influence that fills the immensity of space, and the means whereby God, a corporeal being who can be in only one place at one time, is omnipresent (D&C 88:12–13). Elder Charles W. Penrose declared that “this spirit which pervades all things, which is the light and life of all things, by which our heavenly Father operates, by which He is omnipotent, never had a beginning and never will have an end. It is the light of truth; it is the spirit of intelligence” (26:23).

The Light of Christ has both natural and redemptive functions. Elder Parley P. Pratt explained: “It is, in its less refined existence, the physical light that reflects from the sun, moon, and stars, and other substances, and, by reflection on the eye, makes visible the truths of the outward world. It is also in its higher degrees the intellectual light of our inward and spiritual organs, by which we reason, discern, judge, compare, comprehend, and remember the subjects within our reach. Its inspiration constitutes instinct in animal life, reason in man, and vision in the prophets, and is continually flowing from the Godhead throughout all his creations” (25). The Holy Ghost is a male personage of spirit and, like the Father, can be in only one place at a time. He draws upon the Light of Christ to communicate sacred truths and to dispense spiritual gifts to myriad beings separated in time and space (Moroni 10:17; Smith, 1:54; McConkie, 258–59).

The same power that makes it possible for us to see with our physical eyes also makes it possible for us to see with our spiritual eyes (D&C 88:6–13). Discernment, the innate ability to distinguish good from evil and the relevant from the irrelevant, also comes through this Spirit of Jesus Christ (Moroni 7:12–19). Further, those who are true to the Spirit within them—which includes their conscience and the canons of right and wrong and decency in society—will be led, either in this life or the next, to the higher light of the Holy Ghost that comes through the gospel covenant (D&C 84:44–53).

Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote: “The light of Christ (also called the Spirit of Christ and the Spirit of the Lord) is a light, a power, and an influence that proceeds forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space. . . . It is the agency of God’s power and the law by which all things are governed. It is also the agency used by the Holy Ghost to manifest truth and dispense spiritual gifts to many people at one and the same time. For instance, it is as though the Holy Ghost, who is a personage of spirit, was broadcasting all truth throughout the whole universe all the time, using the light of Christ as the agency by which the message is delivered. But only those who attune their souls to the Holy Spirit receive the available revelation. It is in this way that the person of the Holy Ghost makes his influence felt in the heart of every righteous person at one and the same time” (70).

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