Sunday, June 27, 2010

There Is a God (Cont)

How Jesus Christ Is Both the Father and the Son

For centuries, Christian theologians debated about the nature of God, whether the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost were three Beings or three expressions of the same Being. The church held several counsels to resolve this dispute but was only able to create the confusing Nicene Creed. And the confusion continued. (See Jeffrey R. Holland, "The Only True God and Jesus Christ Whom He Hath Sent," Ensign, Nov. 2007).
But in the spring of 1820, God settled the dispute. In response to a humble prayer, God the Eternal Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith, then merely a fourteen-year-old boy. (Joseph Smith--History 1:11-17). In that moment, the mystery of Deity was resolved: The Father and the Son are two distinct Beings with bodies as tangible as Man's, while the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit. (D&C 130:22-23).
Yet Jesus often referred to Himself as the Father and the Son. Thus, confusion is understandable. Still, because God is not a God of confusion, (1 Cor. 14:33), He has revealed how Jesus is both the Father and the Son.
Because Jesus Is the Creator, He Is the Father of Heaven and Earth
Under the direction of His Father, Jesus Christ created the heavens and the Earth and all things which are in them. (John 1:3; Mosiah 3:8; Helaman 14:12). It was Jesus who formed the Earth, caused the Sun and Moon to shine, and populated the Earth with plant and animal life. (3 Nephi 9:15). And in His capacity as Creator, Jesus is, therefore, the Father of Heaven and Earth.
Jesus Is the Father Because He Has Submitted Himself Completely to the Will of Heavenly Father and They Are of One Heart and Mind

Throughout Jesus' earthly ministry, He constantly submitted His will to the will of His Father: "I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him that sent me;" (John 6:38); "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me;" (John 5:30); "When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him." (John 8:28-29).
Then, in the Garden of Gethsemane facing the agonies of the Atonement and Crucifixion, Jesus pleaded that the bitter cup would be taken from Him if it was the Father's will. Yet His submission became perfect when He added, "nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." (Matthew 26:36-39). Christ partook and drank the dregs of the bitter cup because it was the will of the Father.
Through this sublime act of submission, Jesus' will became the will of the Father. And because of it, Jesus received all power in heaven and earth. (Matthew 28:18).
Regardless of situation or circumstance, Jesus acted just like God the Father would have acted:
In that sense Jesus did not come to improve God’s view of man nearly so much as He came to improve man’s view of God and to plead with them to love their Heavenly Father as He has always and will always love them. The plan of God, the power of God, the holiness of God, yes, even the anger and the judgment of God they had occasion to understand. But the love of God, the profound depth of His devotion to His children, they still did not fully know—until Christ came.

So feeding the hungry, healing the sick, rebuking hypocrisy, pleading for faith—this was Christ showing us the way of the Father, He who is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, long-suffering and full of goodness.” In His life and especially in His death, Christ was declaring, “This is God’s compassion I am showing you, as well as that of my own.” In the perfect Son’s manifestation of the perfect Father’s care, in Their mutual suffering and shared sorrow for the sins and heartaches of the rest of us, we see ultimate meaning in the declaration: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”
(Jeffrey R. Holland, "The Grandeur of God," Ensign, Nov. 2003).

Therefore, Jesus is the Father because His will has been swallowed up in the will of the Father. They possess the same attributes and characteristics perfectly. And the only real difference between Them is that They are separate personages.

Through Jesus Christ's Atoning Sacrifice, He Is the Father of All Those Who Repent and Receive Him

Jesus' transcendent Atonement not only united His will perfectly with the will of the Father, it also made Him the Father of all those who believe. Jesus taught, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3:3).

No child can be born without a father.
In ancient America, more than a century before Jesus was born, a Prophet-King named Benjamin taught his subjects about Jesus Christ and His Atoning sacrifice. (See Mosiah 3-6). At the end of his sermon, he asked "if thy believed the words which he had spoken unto them." (Mosiah 5:1). They did. And all testified that their hearts had changed so that "[they had] no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually." (Mosiah 5:2). And they covenanted to keep all of God's commandments. (Mosiah 5:5). They had been born again.
King Benjamin then explained,

And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.

And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives.

And it shall come to pass that whosoever doeth this shall be found at the right hand of God, for he shall know the name by which he is called; for he shall be called by the name of Christ.

And now it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall not take upon him the name of Christ must be called by some other name; therefore, he findeth himself on the left hand of God.

(Mosiah 5:7-10).

While all men and women are spirit sons and daughters of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ is the spiritual Father only of those who are born again. And unless Christ becomes our Father, we cannot be saved. We must literally take upon ourselves the name of Christ as His spiritually begotten sons and daughters.

Jesus Christ Is the Literal Son of God

Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh. Mary was his earthly mother, but Joseph the Carpenter was not his father. In some miraculous way yet unknown to us, a Virgin conceived and brought forth a Son. (Isaiah 7:14). After all, the angels had good reason to sing that first Christmas night. In a vision explaining his father’s dream of the tree of life, Nephi saw the "most beautiful and fair [of] all virgins" holding the Son of God. (1 Nephi 11:15-22). Instantly, Nephi recognized that the tree of life symbolized Christ and knew that the baby born in Bethlehem was the embodiment of God’s love for His children; "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16).

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