Sunday, November 15, 2009
As I was searching my posts to see what I had already written on the subject of the Godhead, I found that I haven't written much about our view of the "trinity". I did post an excellent talk by Elder Jeffrey Holland on this subject, and it can be viewed by clicking this link. But I would like to write a little more about this crucial doctrine.
In our religion, we believe that the Godhead is made up of three separate, distinct personages. We believe that they are one in purpose, thereby making up the Godhead, but they are separate physically. It's interesting to me that some religions believe that they are one being, with three separate identities, and refer to this as one of the "mysteries". I believe that understanding the nature of God is essential to our understanding of the plan of salvation, and that it shouldn't be a mystery.
The first personage in the Godhead is God the Father. He has a physical, glorified body. He is the literal father of our spirits, and we were created in His image. He is the literal physical father of Jesus Christ. All that Jesus did while on this earth was to carry out the Father's will. The Savior said, "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 His actions were in such perfect alignment with what the Father would do if He were on earth, to the degree that Jesus said, "Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also." John 8:19
The second personage in the Godhead is Jesus Christ. He is the Savior of the world, because of the atonement that He made for all mankind. He is our spirit brother, and advocate with the Father. When we pray to Heavenly Father, we do so in the name of Jesus Christ, who is our mediator. He also has a physical, glorified body of flesh and bone, just as we will have one day because of the resurrection that Jesus brought to pass.
The third personage in the Godhead is the Holy Ghost. He does not have a physical body as yet. He is a personage of spirit. His mission is to testify of truth. Because He is a spirit, He can communicate with our spirits. He can bring the comfort promised of the Savior. He can reveal all things to us.
One of the greatest examples in the scriptures of the separate nature of the Godhead is found in the account of Jesus' baptism:
16 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 descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Matt. 3:16,17
This account records that Jesus was in the water, while the Father spoke from heaven, and the Dove lighted upon him as a symbol that the Holy Ghost was present.
Another great scripture talking about the separateness of the Father and the Son is found in the account of Stephen who personally saw them.
55 But he, 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,
56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. Acts 7:55,56
Clearly Stephen saw two personages, Jesus Christ standing on the right hand of God. This account is very similar to the eye witness account of Joseph Smith who also beheld their glory and saw Jesus Christ standing on the right hand of God. The position of standing on the right hand is one of honor.
In His great intercessory prayer, the Savior prayed:
11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
We believe that Jesus wasn't suggesting that the apostles become one entity, but that they become one in purpose, just as He and the Father are one in purpose.
I encourage you to also read the talk I linked above by Jeffrey Holland. And I also encourage all to study these things out in their mind, and ask God the Father, with a sincere heart, about the truth of these doctrines. Understanding the true nature of God can help us more fully understand the plan of salvation that He has established for us.