I have been thinking about a phrase (or question) in the Book of Mormon “…Knowest thou the condescension of God?” (see 1 Nephi 11:16). It’s a relatively simple question, and yet it made me stop and ponder. What is the condescension of God? Does God condescend?
In its context, this question came up in a recorded visit and conversation Nephi had with “an angel” (see 1 Nephi 11:13-18). At the time, Nephi was caught up in a vision of the Virgin Mary, the mother of the son of God. When the angel appeared, he asked Nephi, “…what beholdest thou?” Nephi’s answer was: “A virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins.” Then the angel asked the question, “Knowest thou the condescension of God?” Here again, Nephi gave a simple and humble response: “I know that (God) loveth His children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.” (A truly humble and honest response.) Frankly, I often find myself with the same sentiment: “I do not know the meaning of all things.” This question motivated me to wanted to know: What is “the Condescension of God?” So, after careful and prayerful reading, pondering and contemplation, here’s what I found:
“The Condescension of God (Jesus Christ)” is essentially this: Jesus Christ (the Great Jehovah Himself) condescended to come down from His Heavenly home (where He lived in the presence of God the Eternal Father) to dwell on earth as a mortal among men. He “condescended” voluntarily in order to fulfill our Heavenly Father’s Great Plan of Salvation. This was an essential element of our Father in Heaven’s plan to redeem His children. Because of Jesus Christ and His mercy, all mankind will be resurrected, may obtain forgiveness of sins, and may gain Eternal Life with the Father.
It was in our premortal life that God’s “Beloved Son, which was (God’s) Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto (God)—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever” (see Moses 4:2 and Abraham 3:27). The Great Jehovah (Jesus Christ), God’s “Beloved and Chosen from the beginning,” condescended to come down from the presence of God the Father and provide the means by which all mankind may be redeemed. Jesus Christ is the Son of God the Father, born of a mortal mother (Mary). He received a mortal body, was subjected to earthly existence, and dwelt in the flesh with men on the Earth. By His own choice, Jesus Christ condescended to be born into this mortal life to fulfill Heavenly Father’s great plan for the benefit and salvation of God’s spirit children on Earth.
During His formal ministry on Earth, Jesus organized His Kingdom (the early Church of Jesus Christ), ordained Apostles and Prophets, taught His disciples to “Come unto Him,” and ushered in the gathering of Israel and the elect of God. In addition, He taught His Doctrine: “The Doctrine of Christ” (see Matt 7:28, John 7:16-17, 2 Nephi 31 and 3 Nephi 11:31-39).
Near the end of His ministry, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus Christ the perfect and sinless Son of God took upon Himself the sins of all those who would have faith in Him, come unto Him, repent of their sins, and follow His Doctrine. Through His suffering and agony in the garden, He somehow endured the enormous burden and took upon Himself the sins of all those who would repent and come unto Him. As a proxy for us, Jesus Christ met the demands of justice and paid for our sins. Later, He was betrayed, tortured and suffered a cruel physical death on the cross. Then, on the third day after His lifeless mortal body was laid in a borrowed tomb, Jesus Christ rose from the dead and broke the bonds of death. By His resurrection, Jesus Christ overcame death and guaranteed resurrection for all (“Resurrection for all in the Spirit World is assured by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” President Dallin H. Oaks); and, as our resurrected, glorified Savior, Jesus Christ ascended into the presence of His Father in Heaven, God the Eternal Father.
Jesus Christ is the glorified and immortal “Only Begotten of the Father.” He is our Savior and Redeemer. He condescended to come to Earth on our behalf and to do the will of the Father. He has redeemed us from the Fall of Adam by overcoming death (all mankind will be resurrected to stand before Him); and, He has paid the price for our sins and transgressions. This is the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the most significant event in world history. Because of the Savior’s Atoning Sacrifice, it is possible for us to be forgiven of our sins and ultimately be found worthy to return and stand confidently in the presence of God. Because of the condescension and Atonement of Jesus Christ, it is possible for us to be saved, forgiven and gain Eternal Life. His gift is available to all those who will: 1) have Faith in Him, 2) Come unto Him, 3) sincerely Repent of their sins, and 4) follow His Doctrine (2 Nephi 31:2-21).
Today, He still calls to all who will listen: “Come unto Me!” The Holy Scriptures and the Prophets testify, and we are sure, He will come again in the not too distant future …sooner than we think! The Holy Spirit whispers this is true. At His Second Coming, Jesus Christ will gather all those who truly love Him, who have come unto Him, sincerely repented of their sins, and who have endured to the end in righteousness following the Doctrine of Christ. And then, the Millennial Era will begin when the final work of Salvation will be completed.
President Russell M. Nelson has said:
“Under the Father’s great eternal plan, it is the Savior who suffered. It is the Savior who broke the bands of death. It is the Savior who paid the price for our sins and transgressions and blots them out on condition of our repentance. It is the Savior who delivers us from physical and spiritual death.”
(Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives, April 2017 General Conference)
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