Mormons use the Book of Mormon and the Bible as scripture. This series has been exploring a small percentage of teachings in the Book of Mormon that are related to Jesus Christ. Today’s discussion continues an exploration of King Benjamin’s retirement speech to his people. He had been teaching them about the atonement of Jesus Christ and now asked them if they believed what he had taught them—that it is only through Jesus Christ that we can be saved. They overwhelmingly assured him they did and expressed a willingness to enter into a covenant with Him and to keep the commandments. Naturally, King Benjamin was thrilled. 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.
And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives (Mosiah 5: 7-8).
He promised them the name of Christ, if they wrote it in their hearts, would never be blotted out unless they became unworthy of it through sin. Certainly, taking on the name of Christ is a serious matter. It would be entirely disrespectful to do so and then to regularly abuse his name. People will judge Christ by the behavior of His followers. He Himself said that if we love Him, we must keep His commandments. This means that if we are unwilling to make sacrifices of some worldly pleasures in order to honor His name, we are suggesting we do not love Him, in which case we should not be wearing His name. No one is perfect, but we’re expected to be working towards perfection, repenting when we fall short.
Dallin H. Oaks, a Mormon apostle, explained what it means to take the name of the Savior on us:
We see that we take upon us the name of Christ when we are baptized in his name, when we belong to his Church and profess our belief in him, and when we do the work of his kingdom…..
“Willingness to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ can therefore be understood as willingness to take upon us the authority of Jesus Christ.… Our willingness to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ affirms our commitment to do all that we can to be counted among those whom he will choose to stand at his right hand and be called by his name at the last day. In this sacred sense, our witness that we are willing to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ constitutes our declaration of candidacy for exaltation in the celestial kingdom. Exaltation is eternal life, ‘the greatest of all the gifts of God’ (D&C 14:7)” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1985, 102–3, 105; or Ensign, May 1985, 80–81, 83).
This, then, is not an honorary title. It means that salvation is more than merely saying a few words and then going about our lives just as we did before. We don’t earn Heaven, but we do demonstrate our love for Jesus Christ, as He taught, by keeping the commandments and showing that He means so much to us we are willing to do anything He asks of us. When done in a spirit of love, obedience to the commandments is an essential part of salvation because it signifies we have truly had a change of heart—our whole lives have changed.
If our lives haven’t changed, what is the point of becoming a Christian? Christianity, taking on the name of the Savior, accepting the atonement of Jesus Christ—these things are all meant to change our lives, both now and for eternity.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.