25947_000_004From an October 1986 general conference address.
The first article of faith is familiar to all members of the Church. It is the pivotal position of our religion. It is significant that in setting forth the primary elements of our doctrine, the Prophet Joseph put this number one:
I believe without equivocation or reservation in God, the Eternal Father. He is my Father, the Father of my spirit, and the Father of the spirits of all men. He is the great Creator, the Ruler of the Universe. He directed the Creation of this earth on which we live. In His image man was created. He is personal. He is real. He is individual. He has “a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s” (D&C 130:22).
In the account of the Creation of the earth, “God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen. 1:26).
Could any language be more clear? Does it demean God, as some would have us believe, that man was created in His express image? Rather, it should stir within the heart of every man and woman a greater appreciation for himself or herself as a son or daughter of God.
God Has a Body
I remember the occasion of more than 50 years ago when, as a missionary, I was speaking in an open-air meeting in Hyde Park, London. As I was presenting my message, a heckler interrupted to say, “Why don’t you stay with the doctrine of the Bible which says in John [4:24], ‘God is a Spirit’?”
I opened my Bible to the verse he had quoted and read to him the entire verse: “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
I said, “Of course God is a spirit, and so are you, in the combination of spirit and body that makes of you a living being, and so am I.”
Each of us is a dual being of spiritual entity and physical entity. Jesus’s declaration that God is a spirit no more denies that He has a body than does the statement that I am a spirit while also having a body.
I do not equate my body with His in its refinement, in its capacity, in its beauty and radiance. His is eternal. Mine is mortal. But that only increases my reverence for Him. I worship Him “in spirit and in truth.” I look to Him as my strength. I pray to Him for wisdom beyond my own. I seek to love Him with all my heart, might, mind, and strength. His wisdom is greater than the wisdom of all men. His power is greater than the power of nature, for He is the Creator Omnipotent. His love is greater than the love of any other, for His love encompasses all of His children, and it is His work and His glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of His sons and daughters of all generations (see Moses 1:39).
Testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ
I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the eternal, living God. I believe in Him as the Firstborn of the Father and the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh. I believe in Him as an individual, separate and distinct from His Father. I believe in the declaration of John, who opened his gospel with this majestic utterance:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
“The same was in the beginning with God. …
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:1–2, 14).
I believe that He was born of Mary of the lineage of David as the promised Messiah, that He was in very deed begotten of the Father. I believe that in His mortal life He was the one perfect man to walk the earth. I believe that in His words are to be found that light and truth which, if observed, would save the world and bring exaltation to mankind. I believe that in His priesthood rests divine authority—the power to bless, the power to heal, the power to govern in the earthly affairs of God, the power to bind in the heavens that which is bound upon the earth.
I believe that through His atoning sacrifice, the offering of His life on Calvary’s hill, He atoned for the sins of mankind, relieving us from the burden of sin if we will forsake evil and follow Him. I believe in the reality and the power of His Resurrection. I believe in the grace of God made manifest through His sacrifice and redemption, and I believe that through His Atonement, without any price on our part, each of us is offered the gift of resurrection from the dead. I believe further that through that sacrifice there is extended to every man and woman, every son and daughter of God, the opportunity for eternal life and exaltation in our Father’s kingdom, as we obey His commandments.
None so great has ever walked the earth. None other has made a comparable sacrifice or granted a comparable blessing. He is the Savior and the Redeemer of the world. I believe in Him. I declare His divinity without equivocation or compromise. I love Him. I speak His name in reverence and wonder. I worship Him as I worship His Father, in spirit and in truth.
This is the Christ in whom I believe and of whom I testify.
The Holy Ghost Is the Third Member of the Godhead
That knowledge comes from the word of scripture, and that testimony comes by the power of the Holy Ghost. It is a gift, sacred and wonderful, borne by revelation from the third member of the Godhead. I believe in the Holy Ghost as a personage of spirit who occupies a place with the Father and the Son, these three composing the divine Godhead.
The importance of that place is made clear from the words of the Lord, who said:
“All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
“And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come” (Matt. 12:31–32).
That the Holy Ghost was recognized in ancient times as a member of the Godhead is evident from the conversation between Peter and Ananias when Ananias held back a part of the price received from the sale of a piece of land.
“Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost … ?
“… Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God” (Acts 5:3–4).
The Holy Ghost stands as the third member of the Godhead, the Comforter promised by the Savior who would teach His followers all things and bring all things to their remembrance, whatsoever He had said unto them (see John 14:26).
The Holy Ghost is the Testifier of Truth, who can teach men things they cannot teach one another. In those great and challenging words of Moroni, a knowledge of the truth of the Book of Mormon is promised “by the power of the Holy Ghost.” Moroni then declares, “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moro. 10:4–5).
I believe this power, this gift, is available to us today.
Members of the Godhead Are One in Purpose
I believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
I was baptized in the name of these three. I was married in the name of these three. I have no question concerning Their reality and Their individuality. That individuality was made apparent when Jesus was baptized by John in Jordan. There in the water stood the Son of God. His Father’s voice was heard declaring His divine sonship, and the Holy Ghost was manifest in the form of a dove (see Matt. 3:16–17).
I am aware that Jesus said that they who had seen Him had seen the Father (see John 14:9). Could not the same be said by many a son who resembles his parent?
When Jesus prayed to the Father, certainly He was not praying to Himself!
They are distinct beings, but They are one in purpose and effort. They are united as one in bringing to pass the grand, divine plan for the salvation and exaltation of the children of God.
In His great, moving prayer in the garden before His betrayal, Christ pleaded with His Father concerning the Apostles, whom He loved, saying:
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us” (John 17:20–21).
It is that perfect unity between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost that binds these three into the oneness of the divine Godhead.
Miracle of miracles and wonder of wonders, They are interested in us, and we are the substance of Their great concern. They are available to each of us. We approach the Father through the Son. He is our intercessor at the throne of God. How marvelous it is that we may so speak to the Father in the name of the Son.
I bear witness of these great, transcendent truths. And I do so by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost.
Next month in this series, read how one young woman comes to realize what it means to take responsibility for her own sins.