Monday, October 17, 2011

"I want to believe in God again."

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In September, I asked my friends on Facebook to email me with any questions that they might have for me about The Book of Mormon or what we, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe.

I was pleasantly surprised when I received a response from someone I knew in my teens.  

He had grown up as a devout member of a certain religion, but lost confidence in that faith after sex scandals rocked the church.  He started to wonder why God would allow innocent children to suffer in that way, at the hands of people who professed to be men of faith.  While struggling with these questions, he eventually lost his faith in his religion and God all together.  

He now describes himself as agnostic.  He believes that we came from a higher power, but isn't quite sure what/who that higher power is.  Although my friend considers himself to be agnostic, I thought his note actually displayed great faith and a sincere hope that God would make Himself known to him.  

My friend writes, "I want to believe in God again.  I want someone to pray to in difficult times...I want to believe again that I will see my Grandparents in Heaven.  I want to believe my wife and I will spend eternity together, and that I will always keep an eye on my children after I am gone."  He believes in the eternal nature of families so much that he had "till death do us part" removed from his wedding vows.

He ended his email with this question:  "How does your church view God?  How do other churches view God?...I know that if any of my friends can help it is you!"  

(Hello, pressure!!)

Could there be a more important question to answer in this life than "Who is God?"

I have been thinking about his questions and his email ever since he sent it.  But it wasn't until this morning that I found time to sit down and ponder the answer.  From 5-7am this morning, I read and studied.  I started with a prayer, then my mind was immediately lead to many of the answers that I was seeking.

I ended up with a list of 10 things that I know about God, which I will share with you in just a minute.  I know these things because of scripture (both from the Bible and The Book of Mormon) and because of modern revelation.  So to my friend I say: I will not go into detail about what every other religion teaches about God, but I do know that no other religion teaches what I am going to tell you right now.  

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: "It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God."  Elder Bruce R. McConkie, an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ in our modern day, has added, "[Knowing the character of God] is the rock foundation upon which all true religion is based."

Now these are my words:  This "rock foundation"...this clear knowledge of the true nature of God was destroyed during the centuries of apostasy that occurred when the apostles of Jesus Christ were murdered in the first century.

I believe that every Christian religion that exists today is doing their very best to pick up the pieces of truth left behind when Christ's church was taken from the earth.

Only The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims to be the original church of Jesus Christ--which has been restored to the earth by Jesus Christ himself.  He appeared to Joseph Smith, who was just 14 years old at the time.  He was just a boy, who was, like yourself, honestly seeking to know what he should do next...and which church he should join.

As a result, God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to Joseph Smith, instructed him to join none of the churches currently on the earth, because none of them contained the fullness of the gospel.  

Through this uneducated, innocent boy of fourteen, the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ restored his true and full gospel, which includes a restored knowledge of the true nature, character, and form of God, the authority to seal on earth what is sealed in heaven (including sealing families together forever), and the translation of The Book of Mormon, which teaches more about Jesus Christ, in plain language, than any other book.

Bruce R. McConkie has said, "We know the truth about God, because of what God has said and done in our own day, and not because of the fragments of what he said thousands of years ago, which has been passed through the generations."

When Joseph Smith called The Book of Mormon the keystone of our religion, and promised that men would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book, he was also saying that by reading and living the doctrines found in the Book of Mormon, "we can know God more perfectly, more completely, more intimately, more thoroughly, and more profoundly than by any other means."

In our church, we learn about the nature of God from the very earliest age.  My daughter Autumn is only two years old, and she already knows a lot more about the true nature and form of God than most people in the world.

As you can imagine, this is a large topic to tackle in a blog post.  There are intricacies about coming to know God personally that would take a lifetime/an eternity to discover, let alone to explain to another person, but here is my best effort to share with you, what I know about God, and what we as Mormons know about him and the rest of the Godhead.  

As I mentioned before.  You will not hear these truths, compiled so completely, in any other religion.  These truths, however were known by people in past dispensations of time (starting with Adam & Eve).  They were revealed in each time period through God's prophets (i.e. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses on through Jesus Christ, and again through Joseph Smith).  

These truths are sprinkled all throughout the Bible and The Book of Mormon, and are free for all to study and search out for themselves.  Here are:

10 truths that I know about God:

1.  We all existed with God before we came to earth. (Abraham 3:22Revelations 12:7-9)

2.  He knew us...and we knew him. (Jeremiah 1:5)

3.  We are literally his spirit children...his off-spring. (Hebrew 12:9)

4.  All human beings--male and female--are created in the image of God. (Moses 6:9)

5.  In addition to being all-powerful/omniscient, Our Heavenly Father is a personal being who hears and answers our prayers and cares about the details of our lives. (Alma 26:35, Alma 26:37)

6.  God has a body of flesh and bone, with all of the passions that such beings experience. (Ether 3:15-16, Luke 24:36-43, Read more about the fact that God has a body here.)

7.  The "Godhead" is actually made up of three separate and distinct beings that act as one in purpose. (D&C 130:22)

8.  In the meridian of time God sent his Son, Jesus Christ to earth: (2 Nephi 2:21-26)  -to Atone for our sins, to show us the way to return to our heavenly home, to manifest to the world the nature and kind of being that God is. (Read more scripture references about the mission of Jesus Christ here.)

9.  We are God's noblest creation. (Moses 1:39)

10.  It is our destiny, potential, and mission to become like our Heavenly Father. (1 John 3:2, 3 Nephi 27:27,  D&C 130:1)

Joseph Smith said that "If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves." 

There is so much to know about God, and I believe, no, I know that He is willing to let us get to know him if we are humble, if we ask in prayer, and if we are willing to follow Him.  

My testimony comes from the truths that I have shared here, truths that I have been taught all of my life, but my real personal knowledge of God comes from my personal interactions with Him.  

He lives.  He loves us.  He is our Father in Heaven, and like a good father, he waits for us to return to him, to seek his advice, and to build a relationship with him that will last forever.

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  1. good pointers and testimony of a loving Heavenly Father that I too believe in and know He is aware of me and my life, problems, etc. for I received guidance and answers to prayers always. Maybe not in the way or time that I wanted but the comfort and peace came.

  2. That is a beautiful list Jocelyn. I hope it will bring your friend comfort.

  3. What a fantastic post, Jocelyn. I too hope that your friend can find peace in your thoughtful response.

  4. Great post! And what a blessing to have all of this knowledge about our Heavenly Father.

  5. Brilliant...just perfect. :)

  6. My little Tagg was watching this video over and over again tonight and it made me think of this post again :

  7. Jocelyn, you are awesome. You have such an amazing way of summing things up simply yet profoundly. Thank you for sharing the fruits of your study and pondering!

  8. A big amen. The only thing I would add to the list is that He loves us and He is not absent; He wants to communicate with us through prayer and revelation. I'm so grateful to know I have a Heavenly Father that is a present Father in every sense of the word.

  9. Simple profound truths! What a wonderful read to start off the day.

  10. Wow, that was a powerful post of the character of God and his role in our lives. The list was awesome. I have a grandson that sounds so much like your friend. I just about had him on a mission when he turned from the gospel. It's all so sad; but I have great hope that he will come back.
    Blessings to you for this post!

  11. An inspired post about the nature of God, Jocelyn. Thank you so much for sharing it.

    I hope it uplifts not only your friend, but many others who read it.


  12. Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

  13. What a great post! I'm inspired to do a little studying of my own. I hope your friend finds Him.

  14. Wow, Jocelyn! Excellent, as always.

  15. Thank you for sharing this beautiful testimony!

  16. Your friend could NOT have a better resource to turn to than you. :)

  17. This is the first time I have read your blog. I love it! This post was awesome and I felt the Spirit as I read it. You've inspired me to do more to further the gospel on Earth! Thank you!

  18. Hi Jocelyn,

    While I think your post was heartfelt and a great statement of belief, I would respectfully submit that you did not really answer the question at hand. All of the statements you made are interpreted by you to be factual, when in fact they are merely opinion. Historically, all of the sources you use stand on very shaky ground as far as being trustworthy and without question as to the validity of the claims made. It is readily apparent that the bible is a collection of fables based partially on historical events, but are historically unvalidated. So while you may be entirely convinced of the historical truthfulness of the texts you cite to know God, I would be curious to know how you would respond if the agreement that those texts represent equal (and historically accurate) footing were taken away? What could someone base their belief on if the legitimacy and truthfulness of the scriptures and Joseph Smith are called into question?