Much can be said of the purpose of Holy Scripture. Sectionalized the scriptures have been referred to as history, a compilation of law, poetic wisdom and counsel, teachings for a life to be well lived, the Word. However, there is much more to Scripture than book and verse, for as a whole there is a greater commonality.
Elder Tad R. Callister taught, “The atonement is the burden of all scripture.” All scripture holds as its greatest burden and mission to bring to light and understanding the infinite atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Scripture, and therefore the prophets who by revelatory means wrote the sacred text, is witness that Jesus is the Christ and He brought salvation to man.
“The atonement is the burden of all scripture.”
Elder Tad R. Callister
The ancient prophets recorded revelation received as a testimony of Jesus Christ, and therefore they, as the words they wrote, are witnesses of the same. They were commanded to testify of these truths that the world might know to whom we should turn for salvation.
The Old Testament prophet probably best known for his prophecies of the coming Christ is Isaiah. Through Messianic revelation he recorded, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it” (Isaiah 40:1-5).
The witness of Isaiah was confirmed in the warning voice of John the Baptist, who witnessed also as a voice crying in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord. The words made renown by biblical record, were set to music by George Frideric Handel and has stood as witness further in Handel’s Messiah that Jesus is the Christ.
When I was in college I set out to learn this verse set to music. It was a moving experience for me. While I never learned it well enough that I would consider performing in public, the words as I have heard them, and as I have sung them in the hallways of my own home for more than 35 years, have been further witness to me, and I hope my children of this same truth. Jesus is the Christ and He atoned for our sins, and I will proclaim that forever.
Isaiah received this revelatory vision and was commanded to share it with the world. John was commanded to fulfill the prophecy. The Savior confirmed its fulfillment by His cousin John, and apostles recorded the prophecy confirmed. Inspired monks were guided to translate and include these important prophecies in the books they painstakingly preserved and perpetuated. Martyrs gave their lives that men might be able to read the word of the Lord. The Spirit of God stirred in the heart of Handel who drew from these words and created the masterpiece that sings to our hearts still.
To be a witness of Jesus Christ one must receive by the Spirit of God that same witness. When a prophet of God has a revelatory experience it is by the Spirit of God that occurs and therefore he becomes a witness of the Lord Jesus Christ, as if he heard it from the Lord himself. When that prophet of God fulfills the commandment of sharing that witness, that testimony, by speaking it or writing it for future generations, anyone that receives with the spirit of truth that testimony also becomes a witness, as if the Savior shared it directly with that individual.
If Isaiah was His witness, and the same spirit confirming witness lives in the Scriptures, and in the songs of musicians still, and we as Christians have received by the Spirit this same testimony, have we not also the obligation to stand as witnesses at all times and in all things that Jesus is the Christ?
Through Isaiah the Lord revealed, “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am He: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour. I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God” (Isaiah 43:10-12).
In teaching the importance of God’s people standing as witnesses always, Sister Margaret D. Nadauld explained, “In standing as a witness at all times, we promise to love the Lord, to honor Him all the time—daytime and nighttime, summer and winter, good times and bad times—love the Lord and let that love show by the way we live. …Standing as a witness in all things means all things—big things, little things, in all conversations, in jokes, in games played and books read and music listened to, in causes supported, in service rendered, in clothes worn, in friends made. …, we say that we will stand as a witness in all places. That means not only in public places but in private places, in secret, in dark or in light places; in church, school, home, or cars; in mountain places or beach places; on the street or in the park. …When we think of the magnificence of [the Savior’s] gift to us, what small thing could we do for Him and for our Heavenly Father who sent Him? We could stand as witnesses of Their love and teachings at all times, in all things, and in all places” (General Conference, April 2000).
“When we think of the magnificence of [the Savior’s] gift to us, what small thing could we do for Him and for our Heavenly Father who sent Him? We could stand as witnesses of Their love and teachings….”
Margaret D. Nadauld
We as those who have received a witness that the Savior Jesus Christ atoned for our sins need to remember Him always, and share His name in the words we speak and in the lives we live, both in public and in private, in business and in fellowship. By sharing the testimony of Christ we further His work. As the Lord revealed, “I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins. Put me in remembrance: let us plead together: declare thou, that thou mayest be justified” (Isaiah 43:25-26).
Every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is the Christ, and we need to be about spreading that word in all we do. He will save us, and witness on our behalf to the Father of us all that we may be justified in Him. “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear” (Isaiah 45:22-23).
Jesus Christ has borne witness for us. Should we not be about bearing witness for Him? The evidence of His covenant to redeem is in His atoning sacrifice, in the nail marks of His hands and His feet, the wound in His side, and the redemption of our sin. As the Lord spoke to Isaiah, and therefore to us all, “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands” (Isaiah 49:16). This is the witness of Jesus Christ.
May we stand as witnesses daily, bearing our testimonies that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God, the Redeemer of the World, and the Love of our Father to all His children. May we be not afraid and lift our voices. “Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses” (Isaiah 44:8). Let us testify of the Living Christ in the honesty of our labors, in the tone of our communications, in the generosity of our sharing, in the behavior of our Sabbaths, in the integrity of our every days and quiet places, and with our uplifted and unrestrained voices and our witness that we follow Him. As in the palms of His hands are we, may we too graven Him that all might see. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.