God the Father
Mormon doctrine upholds the idea that the Godhead is comprised of three separate beings who are one in purpose: God the Father, Jesus Christ (the Son), and the Holy Ghost. Mormon doctrine also teaches that God is the Father of our spirits, and that we dwelled with Him in a Pre-Mortal Life. His goal is to make of us exalted beings. Life on earth is a test of faith as well as a place to learn compassion through our experience, and to learn how to use the agency God has given us.
Our Heavenly Father loves us. We are His children. He is all-powerful (omnipotent—see Ether 3:4). He is all-knowing (omniscient—see 2 Nephi 9:20). He is in and through all things (omnipresent—see Doctrine and Covenants 88:41). The Doctrine and Covenants teaches us: “By these things we know that there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God, the framer of heaven and earth, and all things which are in them; . . .” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:17.) Heavenly Father is not only unchangeable in His role and dealings with His children, He is no respecter of persons (see Moroni 8:18; Doctrine and Covenants 38:16). His work and His glory are to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of all of His children (see Moses 1:39). All can ask Him and He will give according to our needs and faith, for He seeks to help us return to His presence. Having a relationship with God is what life is all about. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). When we know our Heavenly Father and our Savior we will be humble. We know we are the children of God and that we are totally dependent upon Him for all things. We love our Heavenly Father and our Savior. We will seek the will of God and be forever grateful for all things.
WHAT THE SCRIPTURES TEACH US
• John 3:16—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.
Our Heavenly Father loves us so much that He was willing to sacrifice His Son for our eternal welfare. This should move us to such gratitude that we not only love Heavenly Father (see Matthew 22:36-40) but we have an overwhelming desire to keep His commandments (see John14:15).
• Ether 3:4—And I know, O Lord, that thou hast all power, and can do whatsoever thou wilt for the benefit of man; therefore touch these stones, O Lord, with thy finger, and prepare them that they may shine forth in darkness; and they shall shine forth unto us in the vessels which we have prepared, that we may have light while we shall cross the sea.
When we know and appreciate the power and goodness of God our faith in Him increases. The prophets always use this as an example when people begin to have doubts or stray from the truth. They remind them of the power and goodness of God in preserving His children (see 1 Nephi 4:3).
• 2 Nephi 9:20—O how great the holiness of our God! For he knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it.
When we realize that God in fact knows all things, we are more anxious to call upon Him for help. Our faith increases and a desire to become like Him is paramount in our lives (see 3 Nephi 12:48), for we know that He will give us all that He has (see Doctrine and Covenants 84:38).
• Doctrine and Covenants 88:41—He comprehendeth all things, and all things are before him, and all things are round about him; and he is above all things, and in all things, and is through all things, and is round about all things; and all things are by him, and of him, even God, forever and ever.
The knowledge, power, and omnipresence of God bring comfort to our soul. Confidence in our God inspires our faith and obedience, knowing as we do that He is in control. He is full of justice and mercy and judges us perfectly (see Mosiah 29:12).
• Doctrine and Covenants 130:22—The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.
Our Father in Heaven has a resurrected body of tangible substance. We are created in His image.
• Alma 26:35—Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for he has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name.
Should we not rejoice in our Heavenly Father? When we have these feelings, our life will be different. We will recognize and remember the goodness of God in all things. It will move us to such gratitude we will want to be good and do good. Our lives will be centered in the gospel of Jesus Christ and the magnificent plan of happiness.
• Psalm 111:10—The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever. (See also Proverbs 9:10)
There are many references in the scriptures concerning “the fear of the Lord,” meaning that we should always strive to serve God and keep His commandments with complete resolve and obedience. Fearing God brings great blessings into our lives, including wisdom and understanding.
MODERN PROPHETS SPEAK
How can you and I remember, always, the goodness of God, that we can retain a remission of our sins? The Apostle John recorded what the Savior taught us of a gift of remembrance which comes through the gift of the Holy Ghost: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26.)
- (Henry B. Eyring, To Draw Closer to God: A Collection of Discourses [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 77-78.)
Christ healed by the power of God, which was within him. That power he gave to his chosen disciples, saying, “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 16:19.)
- (Gordon B. Hinckley, Faith: The Essence of True Religion [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], 30.)
Just as the love of God for us is unconditional, one day ours for Him will be likewise. This is what the first commandment is all about. But even then, the adoration and awe we have developed for God will take humble and eternal notice of the vital fact stressed by John—that God loved us first. (1 John 4:19.) Indeed, while God’s great plan of redemption was made feasible by His omniscience and His omnipotence, it was made inevitable because of His perfect love for us!
- (Neal A. Maxwell, All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979], 128.)
God has given us the power of love. Love of what? Love for the Lord; love for his work, his cause, and his kingdom; love for people; love for one another. I have seen, time and again, how the love of God can bridge the chasm of fear.
- (Gordon B. Hinckley, Faith: The Essence of True Religion [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1989], 16.)
IDEAS FOR DAILY LIVING
Here are some ideas for knowing, loving, and obeying God:
1. How to know God. • Through Jesus Christ—We not only learn of God the Father through our Savior but we come to Him through the Savior as well (see Ether 5:5). • The earth testifies of God —Seeing the handiwork of God’s creation give to us a witness of His presence and His power (see Alma 30:44). • Scriptures and written records testify of God—From the beginning of time the written record has spoken of God and has revealed God to mankind through His holy prophets (see Matthew 3:17; John 3:16). • Revelation—Adam, the Prophet Joseph, and others have witnessed His presence (JS-H 1:17). We through prayer can come to know of our Heavenly Father and His goodness (see Doctrine and Covenants 67:10). • Prayer—As we seek to know and understand the things of life, we will come to know of Heavenly Father (Alma 26:24). The Holy Ghost will testify to our spirit that there is a God in the heavens who is our Father and who loves us (2 Nephi 31;18; 3 Nephi 28:11)
2. Increasing our love for God. • Recognize and remember the goodness of God—There are many examples from the Book of Mormon: Nephi and his brothers were protected from Laban and enabled to obtain the records (see 1 Nephi 7:11). Lehi’s family was led through the wilderness by the Liahona (see Alma 9:9). The Lord preserved them in their voyage across the ocean (see 2 Nephi 4:20). In our own lives we can enumerate examples of when the Lord has preserved us, strengthened us, and supported us in all that we do. Once we recognize the grace of God in all things, we receive His enabling power. • Appreciate the gift of His Only Begotten Son—When we comprehend the magnificence of the sacrifice of our Savior, our love for God will deepen. This gratitude magnifies our love for God (see John 3:16; 16:27) and then our lives are changed because we have the love of God in our hearts (see 4 Nephi 1:15-16). • Be aware of the blessings of life—To see, hear, smell, taste, and feel brings a sense of joy to life. To breathe and have our bodies function are all blessings from our Heavenly Father (Alma 34:38). When we recognize these blessings and all other blessings our love is intensified (see Mosiah 4:5-6). • Have concern for the work of the Lord—When we care about the things that Heavenly Father cares about (see Moses 1:39; JST Matt.6:38), we will seek to serve Him and our brothers and sisters (see Helaman 10:4-5; Mosiah 28:3; Alma 36:24; D&C 18:10-16). An interesting thing occurs as we serve: we learn to love those we serve. The more we serve Heavenly Father, the more we will love Him (see John 13:34-35; D&C 42:29).
3. Obeying God. • The greater the love, the greater the obedience—The scriptures have taught us clearly that if we love God we will keep His commandments (see John 14:15). Love surely is the motive for every righteous act. • Understand and appreciate the doctrines, principles, and covenants—Once we can comprehend the truth and power of the doctrines, principles, and covenants, we become full of gratitude. This becomes the catalyst for change. Our attitudes, even our hearts, are full of faith and hope, resulting in a change of behavior (see 3 Nephi 27:13-15). • Loving the law—There is an excitement in the gospel of Jesus Christ when we joy in the privilege of keeping the commandments—the joy of loving and serving our God and our fellowmen (see Matthew 22:36-40). The fruits of loving others are simply enjoyable; hence we love the great commandment to love. The list goes on as we come to love the Lord and the commandments that are designed to bless our lives. Surely we will make obedience our quest because we love the law.
MORE THOUGHTS ON GOD THE FATHER • “We are the offspring of our Father in heaven, and we possess in our spiritual organizations the same capabilities, powers, and faculties that our Father possesses, although in an infantile state.” —Lorenzo Snow (Deseret Weekly News 20:597, January 14, 1872). • “We know that we are created in the image of God, both male and female; and whoever goes back into the presence of God our Eternal Father will find that He is a noble man, a noble God, tabernacled in a form similar to ours, for we are created after His own image.” —Wilford Woodruff (Journal of Discourses 18:32, June 27, 1875). • “He is our Heavenly Father; He is also our God and the Maker and upholder of all things in heaven and on earth. He sends forth His counsels and extends His providences to all living. He is the Supreme Controller of the universe.” —Brigham Young (Journal of Discourses 11:41, January 8, 1865).
- This article was adapted from What We Need to Know and Do" by Ed Pinegar and Richard J. Allen.