Thursday, January 29, 2009

God the Father

This is the first in the series on my faith. To find the introduction to this series check out this post.

As I've been thinking about how to go about writing these and the approach I wanted to take, I decided I wanted to:

1) Share some great quotes from the prophet and apostles that explain this doctrine well, because I think it's important to hear their words.
3) Share scriptures which illustrate this doctrine.
2) Share my own personal experiences with this doctrine and how I know it to be true.
3) Ask you some questions, as I'd love to hear from you about your personal beliefs and experiences as well. I know all of you are from so many different backgrounds.

In our faith we have something called the 13 articles of faith. They are basically 13 simple statements about our doctrine and what we believe. The first one states. “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” One thing that makes us different from most religions in our belief that God the father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are three separate, distinct individuals. They are not combined in one substance.

I personally believe this. I personally believe in God, that he is my eternal father. That I lived with him before I came to this earth. I know that he loves me and is aware of my needs. Elder Holland states:

"We believe these three divine persons constituting a single Godhead are united in purpose, in manner, in testimony, in mission. We believe Them to be filled with the same godly sense of mercy and love, justice and grace, patience, forgiveness, and redemption. I think it is accurate to say we believe They are one in every significant and eternal aspect imaginable except believing Them to be three persons combined in one substance, a Trinitarian notion never set forth in the scriptures because it is not true.
" (Holland)

I know this to be true based a couple of things.

1) Scriptural doctrine that they are separate beings.

"We declare it is self-evident from the scriptures that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are separate persons, three divine beings, noting such unequivocal illustrations as the Savior’s great Intercessory Prayer just mentioned, His baptism at the hands of John, the experience on the Mount of Transfiguration, and the martyrdom of Stephen—to name just four.

"With these New Testament sources and more ringing in our ears, it may be redundant to ask what Jesus meant when He said, “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do.” On another occasion He said, “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” Of His antagonists He said, “[They have] . . . seen and hated both me and my Father.” And there is, of course, that always deferential subordination to His Father that had Jesus say, “Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.” “My father is greater than I.”

To whom was Jesus pleading so fervently all those years, including in such anguished cries as “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me” and “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me”? To acknowledge the scriptural evidence that otherwise perfectly united members of the Godhead are nevertheless separate and distinct beings is not to be guilty of polytheism; it is, rather, part of the great revelation Jesus came to deliver concerning the nature of divine beings."(Holland)

2) I know because a boy named Joseph Smith prayed to know and had the first vision, in which he saw God the Father and the Son.

"When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and Glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!"

I know personally that Joseph Smith's account and experience is true. I know because I have stepped in that sacred grove where it happened, I have prayed for myself to know if it is true. The spirit has born witness to me over and over, throughout my life, in different circumstances that this IS true. (I will discuss this topic in more depth in another post)

They are separate individuals. With bodies like us only immortal and glorified. Elder Holland explains this belief well.

"A related reason The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is excluded from the Christian category by some is because we believe, as did the ancient prophets and apostles, in an embodied—but certainly glorified—God. To those who criticize this scripturally based belief, I ask at least rhetorically: If the idea of an embodied God is repugnant, why are the central doctrines and singularly most distinguishing characteristics of all Christianity the Incarnation, the Atonement, and the physical Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ? If having a body is not only not needed but not desirable by Deity, why did the Redeemer of mankind redeem His body, redeeming it from the grasp of death and the grave, guaranteeing it would never again be separated from His spirit in time or eternity? Any who dismiss the concept of an embodied God dismiss both the mortal and the resurrected Christ. No one claiming to be a true Christian will want to do that." (Holland)

3) I know from personal experience that God is my Father. The literal father of my spirit as well as yours.

He knows me personally. He knows me by name, he knows my traits, my personality, my weaknesses, my gifts, he knows me better than anyone. I am his literal daughter. I know that to be true. I have had many experiences in my life, where I have had the spirit testify to my heart and mind that I am his daughter and he is very much aware of my needs. I have felt his love at times when I questioned my worth, when I felt unloved, or not needed. I know he has my best interest in heart.

About 7 years ago I had the opportunity to go to the San Diego temple for the first time. It is beautiful, one of the most incredible places you could have the opportunity of walking. I was walking through it admiring the beauty of the place and kept thinking, "I feel like a princess," when suddenly I was overwhelmed with this incredible amount of love and the spirit. I heard in my head and felt in my heart these words, "You are. You are a princess. Your father is the King of Kings and reigns high in the heavens. You are his daughter, you are of infinite worth, you are created in his image, you were created for more than you can ever imagine. You are a princess." It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

If any of you do not believe that there is a God, or that he does not know you personally, I want to bear my testimony that there is. There is a God. He is your father. He loves you. He knows you. You were created in his image. He has a purpose and a plan for you. Believe.

There have been many times when I have knelt by my bed, feeling so completely alone, wondering if anyone cared or if anyone knew me. I cried wondering if God was there, did he know me. It was times like that that I felt the greatest love from him. Times the spirit bore strong testimony to me that he was there, that he did care, that he knew exactly what I was going through. He was my father, and just as my earthly father cares for me, loves me, worries about me and knows me. He does even more so because he is perfect, he is eternal.

I see evidence of his love daily in my life. I feel it all the time. Little things happen here and there that let me know he loves me, he knows my needs, he cares about me. I have come to understand this even more so once I had my own children. When you become a parent, I think you can easily begin to understand more how God can truly love us despite all our faults, despite how horrible we can be sometimes. I love and worry about my children more than anything. I cry when they're hurt, I find joy in their accomplishments. The are my life. I know my Father in Heaven feels the same way about me. He is well aware of each of personally.

I know that there is a God. I know that God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost create the Godhead. I know that they are individual separate beings united in purpose. I know Heavenly Father and his Son have a body like ours, only it is immortal and glorified. Ours will be too one day when we are resurrected all because of the mercy, atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I know that God is personally aware of me, and of you. He loves us. He is real. Here is there.

Do you know if there is a God?
Do you believe he is your father?
What is your understanding and belief of the Godhead?
When in your life have you felt Heavenly Father's love for you, his concern for you individually.

I'd love to hear your responses as well as any questions you might have. :) This was harder to write and explain than I thought so if you have any questions, or need clarification please ask. :)

You can find Jeffery R. Holland's full article here.
You can read more about our belief of God here.

photo credits:
2) House of Sims
3) Del Parsons
4) my own photo

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