What Elder Rasband learned from studying the names of Christ

When Elder Ronald A. Rasband was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles five years ago, President Thomas S. Monson emphasized to him that he was to be one of the “special witnesses of the name of Jesus Christ in all the world” (Doctrine and Covenants 107:23).

“I want you to know, I did not take that charge lightly,” Elder Rasband said during a prerecorded BYU-Hawaii devotional address broadcast on Oct. 20. 

Since that time, he has pored over the scriptures and identified more than 200 names and titles of the Lord Jesus Christ, “all the while focusing on their significance in my own life and the lives of all of God’s children,” he said.

Studying the names of Christ is not reserved for Apostles. Speaking to the students of BYU–Hawaii, he said, “I encourage you to know Him not only through His teachings, His miracles and His parables, but to know Him by His many names.”

The Book of Mormon is a great resource in one’s study of Christ’s many names. Nephi pays tribute to the Lord in the very first verse of the book and the people of King Benjamin testified of a mighty change in their hearts because of the “Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent” (Mosiah 5:2). Moroni called for each person “to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written” (Ether 12:41).

I encourage you to know Him not only through His teachings, His miracles and His parables, but to know Him by His many names.

“When we seek Jesus, as these Nephites did, we receive a witness of His divinity, we desire to follow His example, we recognize His power and His mission to atone for each one of us, that we may have eternal life,” Elder Rasband said.

Christ is there for each person whether they falter or press forward. “He loves us in our brightest and our darkest hours,” Elder Rasband said.

The account of the brother of Jared demonstrates the Lord’s willingness to give light as well as correction. During the calamities of the Tower of Babel, the brother of Jared turned to the Lord for deliverance. The Lord instructed the Jaredites to journey to a land of promise. But when they arrived at the seashore, they grew complacent and for four years, they “remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord” (Ether 2:14).

The Lord then came to the brother of Jared in a cloud and chastened him for three hours.

“Did the Lord dismiss the brother of Jared and look for another disciple to exhibit obedience and commitment to be led to the promised land?” Elder Rasband asked. “No. Neither does He give up on us when we falter.”

Elder Ronald A. Rasband speaks during a BYU–Hawaii devotional broadcast on Oct. 20, 2020.
Elder Ronald A. Rasband speaks during a BYU–Hawaii devotional broadcast on Oct. 20, 2020. Credit: Screenshot

The Lord instructed the brother of Jared to build barges for his people to cross the ocean to the promised land, telling them to cut holes in the top and bottom in order to let in air. When the brother of Jared asked what they would do about light, the Lord asked, “What will ye that I should do that ye may have light in your vessels?” (Ether 2:23).

The brother of Jared then moltened 16 small stones and asked the Lord to touch them with His finger so they would shine in the darkness. When the Lord granted his request, the veil lifted and he saw the Lord’s finger and in vision the full history of the world.

“We, like the Jaredites, are on a journey to the promised land which is exaltation with our Father in Heaven and His Son,” Elder Rasband said. “Do you feel that glow of the gospel in your heart and do you touch others with your sure knowledge and testimony that Jesus Christ is ‘the great Redeemer,’ the ‘light of truth,’ ‘the light which ye shall hold up’?”

When we seek Jesus … we receive a witness of His divinity.

This same light was in the Sacred Grove when Joseph Smith had the First Vision. When Joseph saw two personages in a pillar of light, one spoke to him by name and pointed to the other, saying, “This is my Beloved Son. Hear Him” (Joseph Smith History 1:17).

“The name ‘Beloved Son’ says much about Jesus Christ and the love and confidence the Father has in His First Born,” Elder Rasband said. “As part of the Father’s plan of happiness, Jesus Christ was to be ‘the light and the Redeemer of the world’” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:9).

This light in the Sacred Grove ushered in the Restoration of the gospel. During the April 2020 general conference, President Russell M. Nelson presented “The Restoration of the Fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: A Bicentennial Proclamation to the World” — an inspired document prepared by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Elder Rasband encouraged each person to personally study the Restoration Proclamation and consider committing it to memory. “So many important truths about Jesus Christ are made clear and will strengthen your testimony and that of others as you … share what you know,” he said.

Read more: Elder and Sister Rasband to young adults during Face to Face: ‘We need you’

Just like the Jaredites, everyone today will face tempests of challenges, setbacks and disappointments that will propel them forward in their journeys to the promised land. Instead of only seeing the fierceness of the wind, the Lord sees progress in personal development and changes of heart.

“We may go down into the deep as did the Jaredites, but the Lord will bring us up and even while we are there, He will continue to provide us His light,” Elder Rasband said. “From the storms of life, we become faithful and effective servants of Jesus Christ able to, someday, command mountains as did the brother of Jared.”

Mountains of doubt, rejection, disappointment and sorrow can weigh one down. But a sure foundation can be found in Jesus, the “rock of our Redeemer” (Helaman 5:12).

This same sure foundation is found in the temple, in homes where the Spirit of the Lord is invited, in Church attendance, in fulfilling ministering assignments, in partaking of the sacrament and in trusting in the Lord.

From the storms of life, we become faithful and effective servants of Jesus Christ.

When his grandson, Paxton, died at age 3, Elder Rasband and his family felt the healing that comes from trusting God in the midst of trials. Paxton had been born with a rare genetic disorder and had many health problems during his short life, but Heavenly Father taught their family many special and tender lessons during that time.

Like the Jaredites, “we were out on the water with the wind and the waves, yet He provided us His light, even in the depths of our grief,” Elder Rasband said.

In honor of Paxton, Elder Rasband’s sister Nancy Schindler made a quilt featuring 26 names of Jesus Christ — from A to Z. “The quilt reminds me of the glorious future family reunion with Paxton made possible through our Savior’s suffering, sacrifice and Resurrection,” he said.

Elder Rasband closed his address with the promise that “if you will study His many names, you will feel the love of the Lord in your life, and in the process, come to know Him for who He is … .”

Elder Ronald A. Rasband and Sister Melanie Rasband
Elder Ronald A. Rasband and Sister Melanie Rasband Credit: Shannon Rasband Norton

Sister Melanie Rasband, Elder Rasband’s wife, also spoke during the devotional. She recounted an experience she had while she and Elder Rasband had travelled to Kailua, Hawaii, on assignment for a stake conference. During that trip, Sister Rasband was taking a walk on the beach at their hotel when she tripped on a tree root and fell on a lava rock.

“I struggled to get ready to join my husband for a meeting that day,” she recalled during her devotional remarks. “My wrists were extremely sore and I had scrapes on my palms and on my knee and I just wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make it.”

When her ride brought her to a dinner prior to the meeting, the stake president and others greeted her with great compassion and a doctor was summoned. Her wrists had both been sprained — thankfully not broken — and he quickly got to work taking care of her scrapes and wrapping her wrists in ace bandages to give them the support they needed.

Sister Melanie Rasband speaks during a BYU–Hawaii devotional broadcast on Oct. 20, 2020.
Sister Melanie Rasband speaks during a BYU–Hawaii devotional broadcast on Oct. 20, 2020. Credit: Screenshot

“This was an especially tender experience for me and one that was very special because that … stake was the same stake that I had lived in as a teenager when my father served in the army at Fort Shafter and we lived in Hawaii,” Sister Rasband said. 

“I felt I had come home to a loving family who truly cared for me spiritually, emotionally and — especially this time physically.”

Many students at BYU–Hawaii are away from home, but through the gospel, they are part of a BYU family. By being obedient, faithful and desirous to help others, the Holy Ghost will give guidance on how to tend and help one another with comfort and care, she said.

“While away from home, may you truly be brothers and sisters in helping each other as the Lord would in serving and ministering one to another.”

Names and titles of Christ

These were listed by Elder Rasband during his devotional address: