And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (John 17:3).
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known (1 Corinthians 13:12).
They who dwell in his presence are the church of the Firstborn; and they see as they are seen, and know as they are known, having received of his fulness and of his grace (Doctrine and Covenants 76:94);
These scriptures teach us the incomprehensible gift reserved for the worthy followers of Jesus Christ. Someday, they will know God and Christ as well as God knows them. Developing Christ-like characteristics takes us closer and closer to this great blessing. Heaven is populated by “just men made perfect,” those who emulate the Savior on earth, and then are perfected through His grace in the afterlife.
These are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood (Doctrine and Covenants 76:69).
If this is our goal, it is important to gain a solid, if basic, understanding of the nature of God and Christ. With this understanding, we know whom we worship and whom to trust. Without God’s perfect consistency of behavior, we would not be able to trust the Lord in all things. Thus, one of the important things to understand about God is that He is unchanging and always reliable. Secondly, even though God is the creator of all things, and therefore has incomprehensible power, He is also ultimately personal. He guarantees us that all prayers are heard, and all of our thoughts and deeds are known.
The First Vision
Joseph Smith‘s first vision is an example of the personal nature of God. Joseph was but a lad of fourteen when he resorted to a grove of trees on his parents’ property to pray. There was a great deal of religious fervor in the area where he lived, and tent meetings and revivals were common. Various Christian sects were vying for converts, and there was considerable disagreement between the sects on points of doctrine, including the nature of God. Joseph’s family was of split loyalties, some preferring Methodism and others, Presbyterianism. Joseph was following the admonition of James in the Bible, that if anyone lacked wisdom, he should ask of God. When Joseph asked, God the Father appeared to him and introduced His “beloved Son.” Thus, Joseph saw two separate beings. They were not spirits, but resurrected, perfected, glorious men, whose whiteness and glowing brilliance defied all description. Joseph told his minister about the vision, and instead of positive interest, Joseph received the minister’s ire. The vision refuted the doctrine of most Christian sects that God is a spirit, large enough to fill the universe, and small enough to dwell in one’s heart, devoid of body parts and passions. Christ was supposed to be an incarnation of God, and not a separate being.
Christ announced to Joseph that true doctrine and true authority were about to be restored in their fulness—the restoration of the church Christ himself had established during His ministry—and that if he remained faithful, Joseph could lead out in this great work. Mormonism, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, proclaims these truths about the nature of God…
- God is a glorified, exalted, resurrected man who is all powerful, all knowing, and all loving.
- We are created in God’s image.
- God’s work and glory are to bring about the eternal life of man, “eternal life” being defined as living forever in God’s presence as perfected, resurrected beings.
- God is a personal god who knows us all as individuals, and indeed, is the literal father of our spirits. We existed as spirit children of God in a spiritual realm before we were born with physical bodies to dwell temporarily on earth. Earth life is a time of testing and learning, hopefully to prove ourselves worthy of regaining God’s presence and dwelling with Him in an exalted state.
- Jesus Christ created the earth and all things under the command of His Father. He was the first born of God in the spirit, and God’s Only Begotten Son in the flesh. He is not an incarnation of God, but is a separate being. He took upon Himself the sins and sorrows of all mankind, that all men, if they repent and come unto Christ, might regain God’s presence.
- The Holy Ghost is the third personage in the Godhead. He is a being of spirit and thus can abide in one’s heart and speak to one’s mind. He testifies of the truth, imparts revelation and inspiration from God, and warns of danger. He can be the constant companion of one who is baptized with authority and who remains worthy.
- God is patient and all wise. He only grants unto man what is best for man. When we pray, He will give us anything we request if it draws us closer to Him. Trials increase our understanding, our compassion, and our faith, if we turn to God in our adversity.
- God guarantees man his free agency, the opportunity to choose good over evil. Therefore, God does nothing that will compromise agency. Opposition in all things is an important principle, since choice cannot be made unless there are opposites to choose from. God is not the author of evil and does not tempt or torment man. Some people lose their faith because they see such evil on the earth. They need to realize that good will triumph and the wounds of men will all be healed through the efforts of a loving God.
Learn about the nature of God at the official site for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Inadvertently called by friends of other faiths as the “Mormon Church”)
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