Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Personal God

I don't think God is one to multiply many words.  For that reason, when I read things in the scriptures, I try to understand why they are phrased the way they are.  I find it interesting and significant that in many places, we read about "the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob."  (1st Nephi 19:10, Mosiah 7:19, Alma 29:11, and many others)  Why not just say God?  Or perhaps Jesus?  There is a reason why it is phrased this way.

We read in John 17:3 that "...this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."  So to have eternal life is to KNOW God.  We also read in John 14:23 "Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."   Lest you think that this is somehow meant in a spiritual sense or something that is for the next life, don't forget what Joseph Smith said in D&C 130:3 about this verse - "The appearing of the Father and the Son, in that verse, is a personal appearance; and the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false."

The concept that is being taught in these verses is that Jesus Christ will appear to men in the flesh, and that such an appearance is what constitutes eternal life.  What does this have to do with "the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob?"  It is referring to the fact that God appeared to each of these men, individually, and ministered to them individually, and loves each of them.  He is a knowable, personal God, and desires to know each one of us. 

The whole reason that the Book of Mormon was brought forth was to teach the knowledge of a personal God to mankind, knowledge that was lost but restored by Joseph Smith when God appeared to him.

I pose this question - How can we come to know God if we are not saved by the atonement of Jesus Christ?  The obvious answer is that we cannot, for if we have not been cleansed by the power of the atonement, we cannot stand to be in His presence (Alma 12:14).   

Since we are individuals and have agency, it is up to us to choose whether we will repent and turn to God and receive His mercy through the atonement.  He offers it as a free gift for those who turn to Him with full purpose of heart.  This mercy is not offered to a select group or to us as a whole; it is offered to each of us, individually, and if we exercise our agency to come to Him, He will give us knowledge that our sins have been remitted.  Such knowledge is communicated to us in a heavenly ordinance called the baptism of fire, which I have previously written about.

Each of us must individually come to Him and be cleansed, and He will acknowledge us individually.  He invites ALL men to come to Him, not just some, not as part of a specific group.  Coming to Christ does not require you to be part of a specific religious group, ethnic group, race, or sex.  He knows you as an individual, and has personally remitted your sins.  His atonement was wrought for us as individuals.  He didn't just suffer some nebulous agony of mind and body for us as a group.  He suffered for each of our sins individually.  How else could He know us or succor us in our times of need?

With this in mind, I read with utter incredulity the account of Will Carter, who was excommunicated from the church for teaching false doctrine.  His account can be found at his blog, In 200 Words or Less.  

If you read the comments on the post I linked to above, Will recounts the following exchange:

One high priest asked "Do you believe that Jesus Christ saves us personally?"
I said "Yes."
"That's false doctrine", he said.
No one in that room spoke up in my defense or refuted his statement. 

False doctrine????!!!!!???? To teach that Jesus Christ saves us personally?  I cannot understand such a concept and I do not believe it.  I KNOW, in the literal, real sense of the word, that Jesus Christ DOES save us personally.  He is a knowable, personal God who loves us as individuals, not as a group.  I hope that the LDS church never acknowledges such a doctrine.  I do not think I could affiliate with an institution that espoused such an idea.

It is sad and discouraging to read such things.  To think that men who purport to be the Lord's servants are kicking men out of the church for teaching about Jesus Christ saving them personally is frightening.  Thankfully, those who are willing to see falsehoods will be able to overcome such stumbling blocks.

I KNOW that Jesus Christ can and does save us personally.  I know this because of my own experience with Him.  He lives.  I cannot claim certain knowledge of this, but the manifestations of Him in response to my faith are undeniable.  I love Him and I know that He loves us beyond our ability to comprehend.  I hope that people will not be deceived by those who teach anti-Christ doctrines.    

No comments:

Post a Comment