3 Nephi 9:18 — LeGrand Baker — ‘light and life of the world’
The Savior introduced himself to the Nephites by saying:
3 Nephi 9:15-18
15 Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified his name.
16 I came unto my own, and my own received me not. And the scriptures concerning my coming are fulfilled.
17 And as many as have received me, to them have I given to become the sons of God; and even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name, for behold, by me redemption cometh, and in me is the law of Moses fulfilled.
18 I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.
“The light and the life of the world” is a nice phrase and easily read — and too easily read without thought — but its implications are so huge that they reach to both ends of our eternity.
The Savior is the “Creator God” of the Old Testament as is clearly explained in the books of Moses and Abraham in the pearl of Great Price. And the Gospel of John also testifies:
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men (John 1:3-4).
D&C 93, which is an elaboration of John’s testimony, is even more explicit:
8 Therefore, in the beginning the Word was, for he was the Word, even the messenger of salvation—
9 The light and the Redeemer of the world; the Spirit of truth, who came into the world, because the world was made by him, and in him was the life of men and the light of men.
10 The worlds were made by him; men were made by him; all things were made by him, and through him, and OF HIM (D&C 93:8-10).
“Of him” means what it says— all things are made of him — not of his person but of the enormous aura of light that surrounds his person. That is, his light is the substance from which all things are made. D&C 888 states that without equivocation.
5-6 Jesus Christ his Son — He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth;
7 Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ. As also HE IS … the light of the sun, and … the light of the moon, and … also the light of the stars [we are talking galaxies here], and the power thereof by which they were made;
11 And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, WHICH IS THE SAME LIGHT THAT QUICKENETH YOUR UNDERSTANDINGS;
12 Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God TO FILL THE IMMENSITY OF SPACE —
13 The light which is in all things, WHICH GIVETH LIFE TO ALL THINGS, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things (D&C 88:5-13-45).
Light, truth, and the Savior’s love each fill the immensity of space — that is, this entire universe. Therefore all three occupy the same space at the same time or they are different aspects of the same thing. The scriptures tell us they are equivalents and are the fundamental substance and energy of our existence.
The light we are talking about is more than just photons. It is the fundamental element of which all things are made. Scientists call it “energy” because it is dynamic rather that static. Whether one uses Einstein’s famous E=mc2 or the more recent string theory, the basic conclusions are the same. The fact that all things are made of the Savior’s light is attested in many places in the scriptures.
The word “word” has three doctrinal meanings in the scriptures: (1) It is the name/title of the Savior in John chapter 1. (2) It is the words of God’s the commandments, teachings, and covenants. (3) It is a way of describing priesthood because speaking words is the way priesthood was exercised from the beginning (God said, ‘let there by light’) to every blessing and covenant performed in this life.
D&C 84 equates “the word of the Lord” with “truth,” and with “light,”and with “Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.” It says:
44 For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.
45 FOR THE WORD OF THE LORD IS TRUTH, AND WHATSOEVER IS TRUTH IS LIGHT, AND WHATSOEVER IS LIGHT IS SPIRIT, EVEN THE SPIRIT OF JESUS CHRIST.
46 And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.
47 And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father.
48 And the Father teacheth him of the covenant which he has renewed and confirmed upon you, which is confirmed upon you for your sakes, and not for your sakes only, but for the sake of the whole world (D&C 84:44-48).
This suggests that God’s word, which is his priesthood power, which is truth, which is light, which is Spirit are all the same thing. That may explain why Abraham and his descendants are personified as priesthood in this verse:
11 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee (that is, in thy Priesthood) and in thy seed (that is, thy Priesthood), for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed, or the seed of the body) shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal (Abraham 2:11).
(That asks an intriguing question: Does the priesthood to which we were ordained in the premortal world remain an integral part of who and what we are?)
We have seen that the Savior’s light, truth, love, priesthood, and Spirit fills “the emensity of space.” To know the magnitude of that, we have the Prophet Joseph’s personal testimony that I like so much and that I often quote. +It was he published in the Times and Seasons as part of a poem that he wrote after the pattern of D&C 76.
And now after all of the proofs made of him,
By witnesses truly, by whom he was known,
This is mine, last of all, that he lives; yea, he lives!
And sits at the right hand of God on his throne.
And I heard a great voice bearing record from heav’n,
He’s the Saviour and only begotten of God;
By him, of him, and through him, the worlds were all made,
Even all that careen in the heavens so broad.
Whose inhabitants, too, from the first to the last,
Are sav’d by the very same saviour of ours;
and, of course, are begotten god’s daughters and sons
By the very same truths and the very same powers.
[“A Vision,” Times and Seasons, February 1, 1843]