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The Incomparable Jesus

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Grant Palmer closed his thirty-four-year career teaching for the LDS Church Educational System with the final thirteen years as a chaplain and the LDS Institute director at the Salt Lake County Jail. Distilled from his personal and teaching experiences, this tender testament to the incomparable Jesus describes a Savior who walked the halls with him, succoring those in need.

In this slim volume, Palmer sensitively shares his understanding of what it means to know Jesus by doing ...

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The Incomparable Jesus

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Grant Palmer closed his thirty-four-year career teaching for the LDS Church Educational System with the final thirteen years as a chaplain and the LDS Institute director at the Salt Lake County Jail. Distilled from his personal and teaching experiences, this tender testament to the incomparable Jesus describes a Savior who walked the halls with him, succoring those in need.

In this slim volume, Palmer sensitively shares his understanding of what it means to know Jesus by doing his works. He lists the qualities of divine character attested to by the Apostles Peter and Paul, and also those that Jesus revealed about himself in his masterful Sermon on the Mount, particularly in the beatitudes.

With reverence Palmer shares personal spiritual experiences that were life-changing assurances of Jesus's love for him--a love poured out unstintingly in equally life-changing blessings on prisoners whose crimes have not stopped short of sexual abuse and murder. Reading this book offers deeper understanding of the Savior's mercy, a stronger sense of his love, and a deeper commitment to follow him.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781589580923
  • Publisher: Greg Kofford Books, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/1/2005
  • Pages: 194
  • Sales rank: 538,936
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Grant H. Palmer (M.A., American history, Brigham Young University) is a three-time director of LDS Institutes of Religion in California and Utah, a former instructor of the Church College of New Zealand, and an LDS seminary teacher at two Utah locations. During the last thirteen years of a thirty-four year teaching career with the Church Educational System, he served as a chaplain and the LDS Institute director at the Salt Lake County Jail. He has been active in the Mormon History and John Whitmer Historical Associations and on the board of directors of the Salt Lake Legal Defenders Association. He is extensive church service included being a Temple Officiator, a High Councilor, and served in the High Priest Group, and as president of the Elders Quorum, Sunday School, and Young Men. He especially enjoyed teaching the gospel doctrine class and being the high priest instructor in his ward for many years. Now retired, his hobby is pigeon fancying and traveling. ! He has four children and ten grandchildren. He and his wife live in Sandy, Utah.
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Table of Contents

1.  Knowing Jesus
2.  Jesus Define the Christian
3.  The Kingdom of Heaven
4.  The Character of Jesus
5.  The Meaning of Atonement
6.  Doing the Works of God
7.  Finding Jesus in Jail
Appendix: A Chronology of Jesus' Ministry
Subject Index
Scripture Index
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First Chapter

Knowing Jesus Over 6.3 billion people currently live on the earth. Almost two billion (33 percent) are Christian and another billion and a half (22-25 percent) follow Islam. Islam is increasing 2.9 percent a year, faster than the 2.3 percent growth in world population. This statistical trend suggests that Islam will likely surpass Christianity within a few decades. Asiatic religions represent another billion and a half (25 percent), comprised mainly of one billion adherents of Hinduism (15 percent), 350 million followers of Buddhism (6 percent), and 225 million adherents of Chinese traditional (4 percent). The nonreligious include the final billion (14 percent). Approximately 4,200 religions publish adherent statistics. Of these 4,200 churches, denominations, religious bodies, faith groups, tribes, cultures and movements, most are Christian.1The overwhelming diversity in Christianity is not found in the behavioral requirements of the different churches--the overriding emphasis of Jesus's teachings--but rather in each denomination's theological and philosophical interpretation of scripture. History clearly teaches us that breakaway movements from existing Christian churches were caused by these inherent doctrinal differences.The founding people(s) of these new theological movements usually claim to have received strong spiritual impressions or some other form of revelatory confirmation, for their actions. Revelation, however, is obviously not a very reliable guide in proving truth. Christian churches differ on many topics, such as the form of God, the nature of humankind, who may marry and what forms marriage may take, the responsibilities and powers of ecclesiastical leaders, sabbath day issues, the millennium, additional scripture, the nature of life after death, family structure in this life and the next, eternal punishment, who must be baptized and by whom, and a host of other theological matters on which Jesus had little or nothing to say. Rather, he asks that such "disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine" end (3 Ne. 11:28; see also Matt 5:25). It seems clear to me that Jesus desires us to follow his behavior, not to focus on the distinctive beliefs of our theological systems. The message of the New Testament to me is that Jesus is more interested in right actions than in "right beliefs." He centers on individuals and their behavior. He asks that we come unto him and partake of his divine nature, challenging us to conduct an empirical test to determine whether he and his teachings are of God. Jesus promises in his Sermon on the Mount, that "whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, . . . [they are] founded upon a rock," "and that Rock [is] . . . Christ" (Matt. 7:24; emphasis mine. See also 1 Cor. 10:4). Jesus is the Sermon on the Mount. Rather than advocating a controversial metaphysic or a highly subjective methodology of "feeling spiritual" by which we may know him and his teachings, he emphasizes: "If any man will do his [the Father's] will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself" (John 7:17; emphasis mine; see also Matt. 7:21-25).This is the epistemology of Jesus: To "do" is how one "knows." The apostle Peter, in his old age, reemphasized this point. He had carefully observed Jesus for three years and knew him well. In one of his two surviving epistles, Peter lists nine personal characteristics for which the Saints ought to strive. He repeatedly referred to them collectively as the "way of truth," "the right way," and "the way or righteousness" (2 Pet. 2:2, 15, 21). He undoubtedly observed them in Jesus during his three-year ministry. Jesus displayed "diligence" in revealing his Father's "divine nature," manifested strong "faith" in God, was "virtuous," and demonstrated "knowledge" of the scriptures. He exhibited "temperance" (meaning, self control, moderation, and balance) and "patience" with others. He also demonstrated "godliness" (goodness), "brotherly kindness" (gentleness), and enormous "charity" (love and compassion) for his fellow beings. Peter then explained that when these nine qualities "be in you, and abound" then we have "knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." Nine small words but in them reside eternal life!The four Gospels provide many examples of these qualities during Jesus's three-year ministry, discussed in subsequent chapters. For now, Peter as leader of the Church, advises all who have faith in Christ to: be partakers of the divine nature [of Jesus Christ] and escape the corruption that is in the world. . . [and by] giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . .
Give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall. (2 Pet. 1:4-9, 10) Paul also taught the Saints to strive for these characteristics "until Christ be formed in you." HIs list of the fruits of the spirit by which a Christian is known is almost identical with Peter's. He also lists nine qualities: "love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance" (Gal. 4:19; 5:22-23). Taking upon us the name of Christ and his character, as Jesus said in one of his recorded prayers, is to "know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" and thus receive "life eternal" (John 17:3; cf. 10:27-28; emphasis mine). Being like Jesus is far more ambitious than saying that we know he lives. Arthur R. Bassett, a professor of humanities at Brigham Young University, has observed: "One comes to know Jesus by studying the man himself rather than the teachings he espoused isolated from the facts of his life. My own experience has led me to conclude that we should do more to make Jesus the man a central focal point in our meetings and lessons. Theological principles become much more meaningful when viewed in the context of a life. People inspire us much more than principles do."2There is indeed a critical need to make Jesus Christ himself "a central focal point in our meetings and lessons." Recently the LDS Church has reemphasized the importance of centering our worship in Christ. This emphasis appears in frequent general conference sermons that draw on the life of Christ, but I have not noticed much change at the local level. Sometimes I think that, by emphasizing the Book of Mormon, we unconsciously send a message that the Bible is inferior. This inadvertent negative result came to my attention several years ago when my twelve-year-old granddaughter asked her mother: "Is it all right to read the Bible in our church?"The Church is a vehicle to deliver the good news of Jesus Christ; thus, all that we do in our weekly services, especially the preaching and teaching, should be framed around, linked to, and focused on Christ. Is it not in Christ and his teachings alone that we are judged? Focusing on anything less than Jesus Christ in our weekly services not only devalues him but is also a disservice to worshippers who come to church seeking to know him. The apostle Paul was certainly capable of speaking on a variety of religious subjects but he explained to his converts: "I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:2). In many sacrament meetings, I have noticed the tendency to simply mention Jesus's name and then talk about other matters rather than to discuss him and his ministry. In adult Sunday School we teach the Gospels for several months once every four years, then move on to the epistles. In priesthood and Relief Society, the adults study the life and teachings of modern prophets twice a month each year and general conference talks for at least another of the remaining weeks. We center our discussions on twenty-four gospel topics as identified in the supplementary manuals. Few of these lessons are directly related to Jesus Christ.3 Active LDS adults can usually recite an overview of Joseph Smith's ministry beginning in New York, then in Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, and his death in 1844 but find it difficult to give an overview of the Savior's three-year ministry beginning in Galilee, the Gentile area, Judea, Peraea, and concluding with Holy Week. (See Appendix.) I would invite the Saints to ask themselves how central Christ's life and ministry are in their study and worship.These observations have concerned me for a number of years but were amplified several years prior to my assignment at the jail. I was struggling with some of the LDS Church's foundational claims when one night I had a dream that both reflected my difficulties with the Mormon past and offered a clear way of resolving them. I was walking down the street of a suburban neighborhood. The farther I traveled, the darker it became. Turning a street corner, I found myself in total darkness. I searched in vain to find my way, then became frightened and cried out, "How do I find my way"? Behind me I could see a brilliant light. Turning around, I saw the most loving radiant face and person with outstretched arms, seeking to embrace me. It was the Lord Jesus Christ and he said to me: "I am the way."I awoke from the dream, arose, took my Bible, and read the full verse: "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). I pondered how often Jesus used similar expressions when speaking with his disciples. Jesus asked repeatedly that we focus our attention directly on him: "I am the living bread," "I am the light of the world," "I am the good shepherd," "I am the Son of God," "I am the true vine," "I am the resurrection, and the life," and "I am the door" (John 6:51; 8:12, 10:9, 14, 36; 11:25; 15:1).He repeatedly asked us to focus our attention directly on him, saying: "Come unto me," "learn of me," "continue with me," "draw nigh unto me," "come after me,""watch with me," "hearken unto me," "look unto me," "follow me," "hear me," "confess me," "gather with me," "remember me," "seek me," "believe on me," "live by me," "know me," "serve me," "see me," "receive me," "love me," dwell in me," honour me," "abide in me," "ask me," "testify of me," and "be witnesses unto me" (Matt. 11:28-29; 15:8, 32; 16:24; 26:38; Mark 7:14; Luke 7:20, 22, 34; 10:16; 11:23; 12:8; 22:19; John 6:26,47, 56-57; 8:19, 54; 12:26, 45; 13:20; 14:23; 15:4, 26; 16:5; Acts 1:8; verb forms adapted). Jesus uses the phrase "follow me" more than fifteen times when speaking to different individuals and groups in the four Gospels.The peace and joy this experience brought me created within me the desire to focus more directly on Jesus Christ himself in my church participation. In sacrament meeting, when asked to pray, preach, sing, or testify, I emphasize Christ. The prayers of blessing on the emblems of Christ's life and sacrifice specifically place us under covenant to "remember him." When teaching classes, I make Christ the central figure of whatever scripture, lesson, or course of study is being used. I recommend this course of action to others. Examples from the life of Jesus on faith, love, and forgiveness deepen and enhance the spirituality of our meetings. Think of the quality of interactions that will occur both at church and at home when a teacher incorporates examples of how Jesus resisted temptation, settled disputes, improved relationships--what he asked for in his prayers, why he returned good for evil, and his way of doing service.
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