Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Father and Son

                    For this Freedom Friday I thought that I would write an article defending freedom of religion.  As there are two men known as "Mormons" currently running for the office of President of the United States, their religion has been much in the news.  As a member of the same church, I take this opportunity to write a few of our beliefs about Heavenly Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.

                    I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - known by some people as the Mormon Church.  The name "Mormon" was a derogatory name when first given to people who believe in the Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Christ, and it may still be used in derision.  We do not resent that name, but we prefer to be known as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or simply as Latter-day Saints.  As you can see from the name of our Church, we believe in Jesus Christ.  We believe that He stands at the head of our Church and leads it in these last days.  Thus the name:  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

                    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints considers four sacred books to be scripture:  Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price.  There are many quotes from these books in this article.

                    Members of other Christian churches sometimes claim that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a cult because our beliefs about Jesus Christ are different from theirs.  I am not quite sure what kind of Jesus Christ they believe in, but we believe that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are glorified resurrected Beings and the Holy Ghost is a Spirit.  We believe that "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." (See Doctrine and Covenants 130:22.)

                    In a letter listing the main beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote the following statement known as the first Article of Faith:  "We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost."  (See Pearl of Great Price, Articles of Faith.) 

                    This belief comes directly from an event that Joseph Smith experienced.  The Prophet Joseph wrote that he went into the woods to pray on a "beautiful, clear day, early in the spring of eighteen hundred and twenty.  It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt … to pray vocally.
                    "After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God….
                    "… I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.
                    "… 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!"  (See Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith-History 1:14-17.)

                    Everyone who studies the Bible, particularly the New Testament, should not be surprised to know that Joseph saw two Individuals - the Father and the Son.  Let me share just a few scriptures with you to explain other reasons why we believe that the Father and the Son are separate and distinct Beings.

                    Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe that this earth was created by Jesus Christ (Jehovah) and Michael (Adam) under the direction of God the Father.  The first chapter in the Bible describes the creation.  Near the end of the chapter, we read:  "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:
                    "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them" (See Genesis 1:26-27."

                    God had to have a body with an image for man to be created like it!  Numerous prophets and others in the Old Testament saw God.  "And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him" (Genesis 5:24).  "These are the generations of Noah:  Noah was a just man and perfect [complete, whole, having integrity] in his generations, and Noah walked with God" (Genesis 6:9).  "Thus I, Abraham, talked with the Lord face to face, as one man talketh with another" (Pearl of Great Price, Abraham 3:11).  "And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved" (Genesis 32:30).  "And Jacob said unto Joseph, God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me" (Genesis 48:3).  "Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel:  And they saw the God of Israel" (Exodus 24:9-10). "And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend" (Exodus 33:11).  Since the God of the Old Testament was Jehovah (or Jesus Christ), these prophets would have seen the pre-mortal Christ because He had not yet been born to Mary.

                    Another man saw the pre-mortal Christ, a man known as the brother of Jared in the Book of Mormon.  The brother of Jared saw the finger of God when it touched some stones and became afraid.  "I saw the finger of the Lord, and I feared lest he should smite me; for I knew not that the Lord had flesh and blood.
                    "And the Lord said unto him:  Because of thy faith thou hast seen that I shall take upon me flesh and blood….
                    "And the Lord said unto him:  Believest thou the words which I shall speak?
                    "And he answered:  Yea, Lord, I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie.
                    "And when he had said these words, behold, the Lord showed himself unto him, and said:  Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you."  (See Ether 3:8-14.)

                    There appears to be little doubt that a Man known as Jesus Christ came to earth to receive a body.  He was born of Mary and protected by his stepfather Joseph.  A description of Jesus as a youth is found in the New Testament:  "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man."  (See Luke 2:52.)  Jesus Christ is considered to be the Son of God and the Savior and Redeemer of the world by Christians; he is considered to be a great Prophet by Jews and Muslims. 

                    When Jesus came to John the Baptist to be baptized in the Jordan River, John was hesitant to do so because he knew that Jesus was greater than he.  Nevertheless, John performed the baptism.
                    "Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.
                    "But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
                    "And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now:  for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.  Then he suffered [baptized] him.
                    "And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God [the Holy Ghost] descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
                    "And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Italics added.)  (See Matthew 3:13-17; see also Mark 1:9-11 and Luke 3:21-22.)

                    The account in John is a little longer.  "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
                    "This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me:  for he was before me.
                    "And I knew him not:  but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.
                    "And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit [Holy Ghost] descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.
                    "And I knew him not:  but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
                    "And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God."  (See John 1:29-34.)

                    I have some questions of those who do not believe that the Godhead consists of three separate Beings with one, united purpose:  If Jesus Christ was standing in the water with John the Baptist, who was it that descended like a dove and who spoke from heaven claiming that Jesus was His Son?  How can there be a Son without a Father?

                    There is another experience in Acts 7:55-56 that describes the Father and the Son as two separate, distinct Individuals.  Stephen, one of the seven men chosen to help the Apostles, was on trial for teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  At the end of the trial, the elders "gnashed on him with their teeth" - whatever that means.  The next verse says:  "But he [meaning Stephen] being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.
                    "And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God."
                    Following this testimony, Stephen was taken out and stoned to death.  Stephen died while calling upon God:  "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
                    "And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.  And when he had said this, he fell asleep [died]."  (See Acts 7:59-60.)  It is very obvious that some people did not like Stephen's testimony that God the Father and Jesus Christ are two separate and distinct Beings! 

The New Testament contains many testimonies that Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected on the third day.  There were others besides Stephen who saw the resurrected Jesus Christ.  In 1 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul testified:  "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
"And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
"And that he was seen of Cephas [Peter], then of the twelve:
"After that, he was seen of above [more] that five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep [died].
"After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
 "And last of all he was seen of me also…." (See 1 Corinthians 15:4-8.)

"The resurrection consists in the uniting of a spirit body with a body of flesh and bones, never again to be divided."  (See Bible Dictionary, p. 761.)  Jesus Christ was the first to be resurrected, and, because of His victory over death, resurrection will come to all mankind.  Since resurrection is the "uniting of a spirit body with a body of flesh and bones, never again to be divided," we know that Jesus Christ is a resurrected Being with a body of flesh and bones.

In modern days Joseph Smith testified that he saw Jesus Christ standing on the right hand of God the Father in answer to his prayer in the early spring of 1820.  In addition, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon testified that they saw Jesus Christ on February 16, 1832:  "Of whom we bear record; and the record which we bear is the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the Son, whom we saw and with whom we conversed in the heavenly vision….
"And now after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony last of all, which we give of him:  That he lives!
"For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father -
"That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters of God."  (See Doctrine and Covenants 76:14, 22-24.)

I have used scriptures from the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price to provide testimonies of Jesus Christ having a body - a glorified, resurrected body of flesh and bone - separate from the body of the Father.  Since Christ has a body of His own, we can know that the Father also has a body.  It would only be fair for the Holy Ghost to also receive a body of flesh and bone after He has completed His work as a Spirit because having a body is one of the purposes why Heavenly Father sent His spirit children to earth and one of the greatest blessings God gives to His children. 

I have not seen Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ, but I have felt the presence of the Holy Ghost with me many times.  The Holy Ghost has testified to me that the scriptures about the Father and the Son are true.  For this reason I know that They live!

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