Prophet urged members to 'come unto Christ'

"The mission of the Church is glorious - to invite all of us to come unto Christ through proclaiming the gospel, perfecting our lives and redeeming our dead."

General Conference, April 3, 1988

"That man is greatest and most blessed and joyful whose life most closely approaches the pattern of the Christ," President Ezra Taft Benson said during the First Presidency Christmas devotional on Dec. 7, 1986.

Calling people to "Come unto Christ" was a constant, familiar message during the ministry of the prophet, who repeatedly urged members to not only believe in the Savior, but also to love Him, to keep His commandments and to faithfully serve Him.

"The only true test of greatness, blessedness, joyfulness is how close can a life come to being like the Master, Jesus Christ," he said during the Christmas devotional. "He is the right way, the full truth and the abundant life.

"The constant and most recurring question in our minds, touching every thought and deed of our lives, should be, `Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?' (Acts 9:6.) The answer to that question comes only through the light of Christ and the Holy Ghost. Fortunate are those who so live that their being is filled with both."

Continuing, President Benson said: "Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends and pour out peace. Whoever will lose his life in the service of God will find eternal life."

In the October 1987 general conference, the prophet spoke of the major mission of the Book of Mormon being that of calling men to come unto Christ. "The honest seeker after truth can gain the testimony that Jesus is the Christ as he prayerfully ponders the inspired words of the Book of Mormon."

Continuing, President Benson said: "Over one half of all the verses in the Book of Mormon refer to our Lord. Some form of Christ's name is mentioned more frequently per verse in the Book of Mormon than even in the New Testament.

"Once one is convinced," he expounded, "through the Book of Mormon, that Jesus is the Christ, then he must take the next step, he must come unto Christ. We have an increasing number who have been convinced, through the Book of Mormon, that Jesus is the Christ. Now we need an increasing number who will use the Book of Mormon to become committed to Christ. We need to be convinced and committed.

"We need to know that Christ invites us to come unto Him," President Benson explained, and then quoted Alma 5:33-34: "Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them . . . . Yea, he saith: Come unto me and ye shall partake of the fruit of the tree of life."

At the conclusion of the April 1988 general conference, President Gordon B. Hinckley read President Benson's closing remarks. In this address, the prophet expressed the hope: "May we all go to our homes rededicated to the sacred mission of the Church as so beautifully set forth in these conference sessions - to invite all to come unto Christ' (D&C 20:59),Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.' (Moro. 10:32.)

"This grand mission of the Church is accomplished by proclaiming the gospel, perfecting the Saints and redeeming the dead. In the next few days, in each of our homes, may we prayerfully consider specific ways we as families and individuals can accomplish this mission.

"While we still feel the spirit of this great conference and while the words still ring in our ears, let us determine how each of us can be doers of the word and not hearers only. (See James 1:22.)

"I pray that we will be obedient to God, learn His will and do it, and, above all, that we will keep the first and great commandment - to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.

"As your humble servant, I desire with all my heart to do God's will and to faithfully serve you and Him to the end. Let us all come unto Christ and be perfected in Him."

President Benson's life itself was a message of coming unto Christ and serving Him faithfully until the end.

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