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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Relationships With Deity

One of the consummate truths restored by Joseph Smith is the individuality of the Godhead.  In his great theophany that spring morning of 1820, Joseph saw with his mortal - yet transfigured - eyes two separate Personages "whose brightness and glory defy all description" (JSH 1:17).  God, the Eternal Father - the Man of Holiness - and His Only Begotten in  the flesh, Jesus Christ, showed themselves to this young boy of 14.  In those few moments, Joseph learned more about God than had been known for centuries previous.

Jesus, Himself, taught that eternal life - the greatest of all the gifts of God (D&C 14:7) - is coming to know who God is: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent" (John 17:3).  Joseph Smith taught that "correct ideas of the character of God are necessary in order to the exercise of faith in him unto life and salvation; and that without correct ideas of his character the minds of men could not have sufficient power with God to the exercise of faith necessary to the enjoyment of eternal life" (Lectures on Faith, p.45).

I'd like to suggest three relationships with deity that will help us come to know the Godhead and better connect with them in ways befitting their respective links.


Heavenly Father - A Paternal Relationship


Heavenly Father is just that - our Father.  Jesus told his close friend, Mary Magdalene, "I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God" (John 20:17).  While on the cross, experiencing "all the infinite agonies and merciless pains of Gethsemane" again, Jesus called out to His Father (Bruce R. McConkie, The Purifying Power of Gethsemane).  "In that most burdensome moment of all human history with blood appearing at every pore and an anguished cry upon His lips, Christ sought Him whom He had always sought - His Father.  'Abba,' He cried, 'Papa,' or from the lips of a younger child, 'Daddy.'  This is such a personal moment it almost seems a sacrilege to cite it.  A Son in unrelieved pain, a Father His only true source of strength, both of them staying the course, making it through the night - together" (Jeffrey R. Holland, None Were With Him).

That same Father that the Savior - the most powerful One to walk the earth - turned to in His most difficult time is also the same Father we can turn to.  He literally is the Great Parent of the Universe, the Father of our spirits.  He knows His children perfectly, and His entire purpose is to help those children progress and grow up to become like Him.  His is the ultimate power to exalt and glorify.

Our relationship with Him is cultivated through direct communication; we speak with Him.  We worship Him through two-way communication: prayer (Alma 33:3).  "As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are his children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instictive on our part (Matt. 7:7-11).  Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship.  Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other" (BD, Prayer).


Jesus Christ - A Redemptive Relationship


We do not have the same relationship with Jesus Christ as we do with our Heavenly Father.  They are distinct Beings and have distinct roles in our lives.  Jesus Christ is our Redeemer.  He, our Elder Brother, has purchased us with His blood and our salvation comes through Him. 

Orson F. Whitney penned a majestic view of Christ's role in our lives:

"Go forth, thou Chosen of the Gods, 
Whose strength shall in thee dwell!
Go down betime and rescue earth,
Dethroning death and hell. 
On thee alone man's fate depends,
The fate of beings all.
Thou shalt not fail, though thou art free-
Free, but too great to fall.

"By arm divine, both mine and thine,
The lost thou shalt restore,
And man, redeemed, with God shall be,
As God forevermore.
Return, and to the parent fold
This wandering planet bring,
And earth shall hail thee Conqueror,
And heaven proclaim thee King."

Jesus reveals His identity to us over and over again in the scriptures: "I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ.... In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name" (Ether 3:14).  We have so much information about the Savior, and ours is the responsibility to learn of Him and His example.  We come to know more about the characteristics and qualities of both Heavenly Father and His Son through studying the life of Jesus.

We do not worship Christ the same way we do the Father.  Bruce R. McConkie states that the scriptures referring to worship of Christ are speaking in "the sense of standing in awe and being reverentially grateful to him who has redeemed us" (Our Relationship with the Lord).  We do not pray to Christ, but rather approach our Father in His name.  Our relationship with Christ grows as we study about Him, obey His commandments, and recognize His importance in our lives.  He bought back our souls from destruction, and is our Lord, God, and King.


The Holy Ghost - A Revelatory Relationship


The Holy Ghost, a member of the Godhead, is an unembodied God.  He is a Revelator, Sanctifier, and Comforter.  His crowning role is to testify and bear record of the Father and the Son.  Through Him are spiritual gifts dispensed to the faithful.  While He is only in one place at a time, His power and influence may be manifest everywhere.  Nephi taught that angels work through this medium to assist in our lives (2 Ne. 32:3).  "Every person who knows or has ever known that Jesus is the Christ has received that witness from the Holy Ghost" (Marion G. Romney, The Holy Ghost).  

The Holy Ghost reveals to us the divinity of the Father and Son and also of gospel truths.  "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God" (Romans 8:16).  "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things" (Mor. 10:5).  We pray frequently and partake of the Sacrament weekly for His companionship.

The Spirit of God is a master Teacher.  He will teach us what we should do & say, give us revelation, and uncover the mysteries of all things (Luke 12:11-12, John 14:16,26).  He is omniscient like the Father and Son, and has a knowledge of things past, present, and future (D&C 93:24).  He has been doing His job for a very long time and is expert at what He does.  There is no problem He hasn't dealt with, no struggle He hasn't seen, no answer he does not have, and no heartache He cannot soothe.  

All three members of the Godhead are closely interconnected with one another and make up one God or Godhead.  We pray to our Heavenly Father (paternal relation) in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ (redemptive relation), by the power of the Holy Ghost (revelatory relation).  Understanding and fostering our relationship with each member of the Godhead will allow us to realize our deepest desire - eternal life.  

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