Sunday, December 16, 2007

Do Mormons Believe Jesus and the Devil Are Brothers?

Before this world was created, we lived as spirits in Heaven. We were "beloved spirit [children] of heavenly parents." (The Family: A Proclamation to the World). God is the Father of our spirits, and we knew and worshipped Him as our Heavenly Father. (Acts 17:29; Romans 8:16-17; The Family: A Proclamation to the World) Our relationship with God was better than most of us realize. In fact, when this life ends and we see God again, "nothing is going to startle us more . . . than to realize how well we know our Father and how familiar his face is to us." ("Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations," Speeches of the Year, 1974, 1975, 313.)

Jesus Christ is the Firstborn of God's spirit children. (Colossians 1:15-17; D&C 93:21). Before he came to Earth, He was Jehovah, the Great I AM. (John 8:57-58; D&C 110:1-4). Nevertheless, He revealed Himself to some as Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World. (See Ether 3:6-16). But it was not until Jesus was born in Bethlehem that He received a body of flesh and bones. (Luke 2:1-21; Ether 3:16). Jesus is the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh, which means our Heavenly Father is the Father of both Jesus' spirit and physical bodies. (John 1:14; John 3:16).

Lucifer, who is now known as Satan or the devil, was also a spirit son of God. (See Isaiah 14:12; see also D&C 76:25-26). Lucifer was an angel who was in a position of authority in Heaven. (D&C 76:25). But he became power hungry and rebelled against God and Jehovah. (Id.) This rebellion occurred during a great council in which our Heavenly Father presented a plan to us, the Plan of Salvation:

Although our spirits were created in God's image, we were not like our Heavenly Father in many ways. He possessed a perfect, immortal, physical body. (D&C 130:22). He had a fulness of joy and glory that we did not. And He was perfect in every way, unlike us.

But as our children have the capacity to become like us, Heavenly Father knew that we had the capacity to become like Him: perfect. And He wanted us to receive the fulness of joy that He had. And through the Plan of Salvation, we could become like Him. We would come to Earth for a body and to be given agency—the power to choose—whereby we would be tested if we would choose to follow God. (See Abraham 3:24-26).

The power to choose for ourselves was central to this Plan. We could not become like God at once. We would need to learn from our choices to be obedient. (Hebrews 5:8). Only by obeying could we progress until we became who our Father knew we could be. Without agency, no growth or progress would be possible.

Heavenly Father also told us of obstacles that would impede our progress. Although He would create a paradisaical Earth free of sickness, suffering, sin, and death, He taught that its first inhabitants would be given a choice to either remain in paradise or pass through mortality, and if they chose mortality, mankind would be lost unless He sent a Savior, "[His] Beloved and Chosen from the beginning" (Moses 4:2), Jehovah, who would be known in the flesh as Jesus Christ. Furthermore, because we would have the power to choose, at times we would choose to sin. Our sins would also cut us off forever from the presence of our Heavenly Father. And without Jesus, we had no hope to overcome them.

Our Heavenly Father’s Plan hinged on the future sacrifice of Jesus Christ which would overcome death and sin. Father testified that "there [would] be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation [could] come unto [us], only in and through the name of Christ, . . ." (see Mosiah 3:17).

Heavenly Father gave each of us the choice to accept His plan for us. And to accept the Plan of Salvation required faith in our Father’s promises and in the ability of Jehovah, Jesus Christ, to effect the Atonement.

Lucifer offered a variation to the Plan: He would take away our agency to prevent us from sinning so that none of us would be cut off. But he wasn’t interested in helping us to progress until we became like God with a fulness of joy. In fact, the only one he cared about was himself. (See Moses 4:1-3). Lucifer’s plan enticed some to follow him even though it would not allow us to become like our Heavenly Father.

And war erupted, polarizing the hosts of heaven.

The war that ensued wasn’t fought with sword and shield but with words. And even though Heavenly Father had gathered us together in the Great Pre-mortal Council to present the Plan of Salvation, I do not believe that it was first time that we had heard it; nor do I believe that it was a surprise that He presented His Firstborn, Jehovah, to be our Savior. I am certain that there were those among us who were already exercising great faith in Jesus Christ and who took every opportunity to learn the exalting doctrines of the Plan of Salvation, among whom were you and I. And when we heard Lucifer attack God’s plan and His Anointed, we stood and testified that Jehovah would do the Father’s will as He had promised. We were victorious, and Revelation 12:10-11 teaches that "[we] overcame [Lucifer and his legions] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of [our] testimony [of the Atonement of Jesus Christ]. . . ."

As punishment for their rebellion, God cast Lucifer and his followers, a third part of His spirit children, out of heaven. (Jude 1:6; Revelation 12:4, 9-17; D&C 29:36-38). And Lucifer became Satan or the devil who now seeks our misery and destruction because we refused to follow his plan. (D&C 76:25-26; Moses 4:2-4). As an additional punishment for Lucifer and his followers, they will never receive a body of flesh and bones. (See Abraham 3:24-28).

Therefore, because all of us, including Jesus Christ and the devil, are spirit offspring of God, the Eternal Father, we are all spirit brothers and sisters. So Mormons believe Jesus and the devil are spirit brothers. But Jesus and the devil are complete opposites of each other. Jesus is the perfect, obedient Son of God who has received the fulness of the Father. The devil is the selfish, rebellious, and evil father of lies and sin who will suffer for eternity for his wickedness.

Next Week's Post: If Jesus and Heavenly Father Are Two Separate Beings, Why Does He and the Scriptures Refer to Him at Times as "The Father?"

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