The priests of King Noah believed that we are saved by the law. The prophet Abinadi pointed out their hypocrisy: “If ye teach the law of Moses why do ye not keep it?” (Mosiah 12:29). But he went on to teach them a fundamental principle of the gospel: “Salvation doth not come by the law alone; and were it not for the atonement, which God himself shall make for the sins and iniquities of his people, that they must unavoidably perish” (Mosiah 13:28).
After quoting Isaiah’s discussion of the suffering of the Savior in Isaiah 53 and after explaining how the Savior’s atonement fulfills another passage which the priests had asked him to explain: Isaiah 52:7-10, Abinadi testifies that salvation comes only through Christ. Near the end of his testimony, he describes the Savior in the following words:
He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death (Mosiah 16:9).
No other prophet in the Bible or in the Book of Mormon uses the phrase “the light and the life of the world.” This phrase is unique to Abinadi.
When Jesus Christ visited the American continent following His death and resurrection, He used the phrase twice.
1. Speaking to the people as they sat in darkness following the destructive natural disasters which coincided with His death, He said:
I came unto my own, and my own received me not. And the scriptures concerning my coming are fulfilled.
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.
I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end (3 Nephi 9:16-18).
2. Later, when He appeared to a group of people assembled at the temple in Bountiful, He introduced Himself in these words:
Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world.
And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning (3 Nephi 11:10-11).
There are many ways that Jesus Christ is our light. He sets an example for us to follow. He reveals truths to us which we cannot learn on our own. He gives us hope when we are in situations which seem impossible.
There are also many ways that He is our life. Through His resurrection, He has enabled us to overcome physical death. By paying the price for our sins, He made it possible for us to overcome spiritual death and to be cleansed and sanctified before returning to the presence of our Father in Heaven. He also helps us to live “more abundantly,” to find joy and meaning in our daily lives which we would not enjoy without His influence.
Even though the phrase “the light and the life of the world” doesn’t appear in the Bible, the Savior does affirm in the Bible that He is “the light of the world” (John 8:12, John 9:5). And just before raising Lazarus from the dead, He tells Lazarus’s sister Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25).
Today, I will remember the personal role the Savior plays in my salvation. As important as God’s commandments are, there is no checklist to return to Him, independent of His Son. I will be grateful that Jesus Christ Himself gives me light and life when I turn to Him and strive to follow Him wholeheartedly. I will turn my heart and mind to Him, so that I can receive the light and the life which He has brought into the world.