Summary: After an angel had visited King Benjamin and showed him the life and ministry of Christ, he called his people together to share with them what he had learned in his vision. This article takes an in-depth look at what King Benjamin taught his people about the plan of salvation.
King Benjamin ruled over his people with love and in righteousness and sought to help them stay close to God. One night as he neared the end of his life he was visited by an angel who showed him the earthly ministry and atonement of Jesus Christ that would be the means of bringing salvation to all mankind.
So wonderful was this news that King Benjamin wanted to share it with his people. Making a proclamation, he had them all assemble at the temple and there he related to them the things the angel had told him. He rehearsed with them Christ’s ministry, his miracles, his death and resurrection and then explained that “there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent” (Mosiah 4:17)
Today there are many thousands of Christian churches who teach that salvation comes only through a belief in Jesus Christ yet they don’t all teach the same doctrine of what it takes to become saved. Most of them teach that all we need do to be saved is just profess with the mouth that Jesus is the savior (Romans 10:9,10). However, there are many other churches who have a different view of what it takes to be saved.
For example, some say that being baptized is absolutely necessary, while others say that a believer in Christ should be baptized, although it’s not a requirement for salvation, while others say that baptism is merely a symbolic gesture that someone may or may not choose to exhibit.
Even so, despite all these differences in beliefs, nearly all Christian denominations say that it doesn’t really matter which church you belong to (or what they teach about salvation) as long as you confess with your mouth that you believe in Jesus Christ as your savior. In other words, when a professed Christian dies it is taught that God will accept them into heaven regardless of what they believed about salvation or how they lived their life.
In his sermon, King Benjamin clearly explains the doctrine of what we need to do to become saved in a way that is both simple to understand and easy to accept.
King Benjamin told his people that salvation comes “to him that should put his trust in the Lord, and should be diligent in keeping his commandments, and continue in the faith even unto the end of his life… [and that they] must repent of [their] sins and forsake them, and humble [them]selves before God” (Mosiah 4:6,10).
So powerful were King Benjamin’s words that when he was through speaking to his people “they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us… And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us” (Mosiah 5:2,5). When King Benjamin heard this he said, “now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you” (Mosiah 5:7).
It is common today for a preacher to say at the end of their sermon, “If you accept what I have just told you about salvation, come forward and make a public declaration that you accept Jesus as your savior and you will be saved into the kingdom of heaven.” However, the people of King Benjamin didn’t just say they believed his words about Jesus Christ. Instead they entered into a covenant with Christ.
A covenant is something similar to a contract where both parties formally make a legally binding agreement. A contract is usually a written document that contains the terms of the agreement which both parties then put their signature to. In the case of a covenant there is no written document to which we sign our name. Instead we make a verbal commitment which becomes our officially binding pledge or promise that we will abide by and keep the terms of the contract we’ve just made. When we make a covenant with God we are giving our word that we will honor our agreement with him and God accepts our word to be as good as a signature on a written legal document.
The terms of the covenant the people of King Benjamin made with God was that they promised “to do his will and to be obedient to his commandments in all thing that he shall command.” If they would do that then God promised to call them “children of Christ” whereby they become “his sons and his daughter, for behold this day [of their covenant] he has spiritually begotten you.”
This is not a difficult concept to understand because such a covenant is very common thing in life. Parents beget children and when they do those children receive the last name of their parents. For example, if Tom Brown has children, each of his sons and daughters will have the last name of Brown. This signifies that these children belong to Tom Brown’s family. In the case of an adoption, even though the child may not be the biological offspring of the adoptive parents, they are still given the last name of the parents who are raising them.
In the same way, when we accept Christ as our figurative parent, he adopts us and we then take upon ourselves his name to signify that we belong to him. In every parent/child relationship there is an unwritten but well understood agreement that children are required to obey their parents and parents are responsible for caring for their children’s needs. And this same relationship applies to us when we enter into a covenant with God. When we take upon us his name we are agreeing to obey him as a child obeys their parents, and he agrees to watch over and care for us as a parent would do with their children.
This is what King Benjamin meant when he then said, “And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters. Take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives” (verse 7,8).
But why would someone want to enter into a covenant to take upon themselves the name of Christ and to “be obedient unto the end of your lives?” King Benjamin explains it’s because “your hearts are changed through faith in his name.” The reason why someone wants to belong to Christ and to let him adopt them is because of a change that has occurred in their heart. They have felt something so strong in their heart that it makes them desire to have Christ be their parent.
Again, this is something that happens in life. It is not uncommon for a child from one family to say to another child of a different family, “I wish I had your parents.” Usually this is said because the child sees (or at least thinks they see) life being better with a different parent. In the same way, when a person realizes that life could be better for them if they had Christ as their parent rather than remaining as a child of the world, that’s when this change takes place in their heart and they desire to change their allegiance.
But in their inexperience, children tend to think that the grass is always greener in someone else’s home when, in fact, it may be worse. However, when someone desires to accept Christ as their master it’s “because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (verse 2).
The change that takes place in someone’s heart should be real to the point where they no longer enjoy doing things the way the world does. Instead, with a real change of heart, their desire is to do that which is right; it is a desire to want to please Christ and follow his ways. If this kind of change doesn’t happen, then accepting Christ’s invitation to come unto him is not much different than a child wishing he could live with another parent without knowing what that parent is really like. If this is the situation then a person will quickly find themselves giving up on their promise to keep God’s commandments.
But what does God offer us in return? King Benjamin explains, “And it shall come to pass that whosoever doeth this (take upon them the name of Christ) shall be found at the right hand of God, for he shall know the name by which he is called; for he shall be called by the name of Christ” (verse 9).
To be found “at the right hand of God” is the same position that Christ occupies (see Acts 7:55,56). It means that they will live in heaven, crowned with everlasting life and shall inherit everything that Christ has. This is what Christ will do for us and it is the greatest gift he has to offer.
But this gift is only offered to those who have accepted Christ. As King Benjamin went on to explain “that whosoever shall not take upon him the name of Christ must be called by some other name; therefore, he findeth himself on the left hand of God” (verse 10). It was Jesus who explained that he shall, “say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).
There are some people who think it is unfair for God to save only those who accept him as their savior but we do this sort of thing in life all the time. When a parent dies they generally leave all that they possess to their children. This would include their house, furniture, money, and any other worldly possessions they had. No one would think it unfair if a parent didn’t leave everything they owned to the children of someone else. If those who take upon themselves the name of Christ become children of God then they are entitled to the inheritance of God. But those who refuse to accept Christ as their parent have no claim on his inheritance.
King Benjamin explained this very principle when he said, “I would that ye should remember to retain the name written always in your hearts, that ye are not found on the left hand of God, but that ye hear and know the voice by which ye shall be called, and also, the name by which he shall call you. For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?” (verses 12,13).
When children are outside playing with one another and a parent wants their child to come back home, they call out to their child by name. The child not only recognizes their own name being called but also recognizes the voice of their parent so they stop what they are doing and go home. However, the other children do not recognize the voice of the person calling or know it is not their parent so they ignore it. In the same way, God calls to his children and those who are obedient recognize his voice and respond to it while those who do not want to accept Christ or who are disobedient children ignore his voice.
But how do we recognize the voice of God? King Benjamin explained that it’s the same way a servant recognizes the voice of his master. If someone is a stranger to his master or is someone who has not or will not serve their master then they can’t possibly know his voice. In the same way, if the intent of one’s heart and his thoughts are far from those of his master, they won’t learn to recognize their master’s voice because they don’t want to learn or do the master’s will.
King Benjamin went on to say, “And again, doth a man take an ass which belongeth to his neighbor, and keep him? I say unto you, Nay; he will not even suffer that he shall feed among his flocks, but will drive him away, and cast him out. I say unto you, that even so shall it be among you if ye know not the name by which ye are called” (verse 14).
In the cattle business, farmers brand their cattle with their own unique emblem. It is this emblem, burned into the hide of the cow or bull that identifies who the animal belongs to. If a cow from one farmer were to wander into the herd of another farmer, that cow would not be accepted into the herd. In fact, the farmer wouldn’t even feed it. Instead, they would “drive him away and cast him out,” sending him back to its rightful owner.
In the same way, those who have taken upon themselves the name of Christ are branded as his and he cares for them and feeds them, but when someone who has not been willing to enter into God’s fold by way of a covenant and seeks to claim the inheritance belonging to the children on God, they are cast out and sent back to get their reward from those whom they served.
When we enter into a covenant with Christ it is like we are signing a contract to be his employee. Christ puts out the invitation for people to come work for him and he is willing to accept everyone who is willing to accept him as their employer. Yet, as generous as this offer is, there are many people who do not want to work for Christ.
Christ is in the business of saving souls and those who sign up to work for him not only sign up to help his business grow but to pledge their loyalty to him and his cause. When they accept to work for Christ they agree to do their best at wherever job they may be assigned and not do anything that will help his competition. God might put them working in the mail room as an usher passing out programs or in the library passing out teaching materials, or he might put them in the finance department helping record tithing and other donations, or he might put them in the marketing department helping to teach in Sunday School, or put them in the sales department helping to do missionary work.
At the end of the work week the employer pays his workers what was agreed upon. If someone who doesn’t belong to the company comes by on pay day, asking to be given a pay check, if their name isn’t on the company’s payroll list, no matter how hard they might have worked for someone else, they will not receive any money from the company. Instead they will be told to go back to the company they worked for and get their money from them.
In the same way, Christ pays those who have made a covenant with him and who have obeyed his voice and kept his commandments. There may be many good people in the world who have worked hard for other worthy organizations, but if they don’t belong to Christ’s company (i.e., church) then they must get their reward from those whom they work for.
There are many churches who teach people to believe in Christ and who do a lot of good in the world, but if they are not part of Christ’s true church, helping him to spread his one true message, and bringing people to a correct knowledge of his salvation then they are in competition with Christ, seeking to gain customers for their own organization. That’s why they are not entitled to the reward that God offers those who have entered into a covenant with him and have faithfully kept their promise.
King Benjamin concludes by saying, “Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all” (verse 15).
The covenant we make with Christ is not only that we will take upon ourselves his name but that we will keep his commandments. Those who keep that promise by being “steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works” in their commitment to God and who are “diligent in keeping his commandments, and continue in the faith even unto the end of his life” are they who will be rewarded with “everlasting salvation and eternal life.”
In one short sermon, through the use of easy to understand illustrations, King Benjamin taught his people everything they needed to know concerning the plan of salvation.