Chapter 4: Knowing and Honoring the Godhead

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, (1997), 28–35


God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost constitute the Godhead. President Brigham Young taught the Latter-day Saints to worship God the Father and address prayers to Him in the name of Jesus Christ. He taught further that God the Father was once a man on another planet who “passed the ordeals we are now passing through; he has received an experience, has suffered and enjoyed, and knows all that we know regarding the toils, sufferings, life and death of this mortality” (DBY, 22).

Teachings of Brigham Young

God the Father designed and governs countless worlds, created mankind, and is a personage who can be known and worshiped.

We believe in one God, one Mediator and one Holy Ghost [see Articles of Faith 1:1]. We cannot believe for a moment that God is destitute of body, parts, passions, or attributes. Attributes can be made manifest only through an organized personage. All attributes are couched in and are the results of organized existence (DBY, 23).

Some would have us believe that God is present everywhere. It is not so. He is no more every where present in person than the Father and Son are one in person (DBY, 23–24).

God is considered to be everywhere present at the same moment; and the Psalmist says, “Whither shall I flee from thy presence?” [Psalm 139:7]. He is present with all his creations through his influence, through his government, spirit and power, but he himself is a personage of tabernacle, and we are made after his likeness (DBY, 24).

First Vision

An artist’s perception of Joseph Smith’s First Vision. President Young said that Joseph Smith “took heaven, … and brought it down to earth” by revealing the true nature of the Godhead (DBY, 458).

Some believe or conceive the idea that to know God would lessen him in our estimation; but I can say that for me to understand any principle or being, on earth or in heaven, it does not lessen its true value to me, but on the contrary, it increases it; and the more I can know of God, the dearer and more precious he is to me, and the more exalted are my feelings towards him (DBY, 18).

Let every person be the friend of God [see James 2:23] (DBY, 18).

The great architect, manager and superintendent, controller and dictator [absolute ruler] who guides this work is out of sight to our natural eyes. He lives on another world; he is in another state of existence; he has passed the ordeals we are now passing through; he has received an experience, has suffered and enjoyed, and knows all that we know regarding the toils, sufferings, life and death of this mortality, for he has passed through the whole of it, and has received his crown and exaltation and holds the keys and the power of this Kingdom; he sways his scepter, and does his will among the children of men, among Saints and among sinners, and brings forth results to suit his purpose among kingdoms and nations and empires, that all may redound to his glory and to the perfection of his work (DBY, 22).

He presides over the worlds on worlds that illuminate this little planet, and millions on millions of worlds that we cannot see; and yet he looks upon the minutest object of his creations; not one of these creatures escapes his notice; and there is not one of them but his wisdom and power has produced (DBY, 20).

Our Father in Heaven begat all the spirits that ever were, or ever will be, upon this earth [see Hebrews 12:9]; and they were born spirits in the eternal world. Then the Lord by his power and wisdom organized the mortal tabernacle of man. We were made first spiritual, and afterwards temporal (DBY, 24).

It is written that God knows all things and has all power [see 1 Nephi 9:6] (DBY, 20).

He is the Supreme Controller of the universe. At his rebuke the sea is dried up, and the rivers become a wilderness. He measures the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meteth out heaven with a span, and comprehendeth the dust of the earth in a measure, and weigheth the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance; the nations to him are as a drop in a bucket, and he taketh up the isles as a very little thing; the hairs of our heads are numbered by him, and not a sparrow falleth to the ground without our Father; and he knoweth every thought and intent of the hearts of all living, for he is everywhere present by the power of his Spirit—his minister, the Holy Ghost. He is the Father of all, is above all, through all, and in you all [see Ephesians 4:6]; he knoweth all things pertaining to this earth, and he knows all things pertaining to millions of earths like this (DBY, 19).

He has given form, motion and life to this material world; has made the great and small lights that bespangle the firmament above; has allotted to them their times and their seasons, and has marked out their spheres. He has caused the air and the waters to teem with life, and covered the hills and plains with creeping things, and has made man to be a ruler over his creations (DBY, 18).

God is the source, the fountain of all intelligence, no matter who possesses it, whether man upon the earth, the spirits in the spirit-world, the angels that dwell in the eternities of the Gods, or the most inferior intelligence among the devils in hell. All have derived what intelligence, light, power, and existence they have from God—from the same source from which we have received ours. Every good and perfect gift cometh from God [see James 1:17]. Every discovery in science and art, that is really true and useful to mankind has been given by direct revelation from God, though but few acknowledge it. It has been given with a view to prepare the way for the ultimate triumph of truth, and the redemption of the earth from the power of sin and Satan (DBY, 18).

Many have tried to penetrate to the First Cause of all things; but it would be as easy for an ant to number the grains of sand on the earth. It is not for man, with his limited intelligence, to grasp eternity in his comprehension. … It would be as easy for a gnat to trace the history of man back to his origin as for man to fathom the First Cause of all things, lift the veil of eternity, and reveal the mysteries that have been sought after by philosophers from the beginning. What then, should be the calling and duty of the children of men? Instead of inquiring after the origin of Gods—instead of trying to explore the depths of eternities that have been, that are, and that will be, instead of endeavoring to discover the boundaries of boundless space, let them seek to know the object of their present existence, and how to apply, in the most profitable manner for their mutual good and salvation, the intelligence they possess. Let them seek to know and thoroughly understand things within their reach, and to make themselves well acquainted with the object of their being here, by diligently seeking unto a super-power for information and by the careful study of the best books (DBY, 25).

Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of the Father in the flesh, atoned for the sins of all who repent.

The Latter-day Saints believe in Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of the Father [in the flesh], who came in the meridian of time, performed his work, suffered the penalty and paid the debt of man’s original sin by offering up himself, was resurrected from the dead, and ascended to his Father; and as Jesus descended below all things, so he will ascend above all things. We believe that Jesus Christ will come again, as it is written of him: “And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus which is taken from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven [Acts 1:10–11]” (DBY, 26).

Our faith is concentrated in the Son of God, and through him in the Father (DBY, 26).

The Latter-day Saints and every other person who is entitled to salvation, and all except those who have sinned against the Holy Ghost, may know that Jesus is the Christ in the same way that Peter knew it [see Matthew 16:13–19]. Miracles do not give this knowledge to mankind, though they may serve as collateral evidence to strengthen the believer. The miracles of Jesus were known to the Jews, yet they suffered him to be put to death as a deceiver of mankind and one possessed of a devil (DBY, 28).

Jesus undertook to establish the Kingdom of God upon the earth. He introduced the laws and ordinances of the Kingdom (DBY, 29).

He did nothing of himself. He wrought miracles and performed a good work on the earth; but of himself he did nothing. He said, “As I have seen my Father do, so do I” [see John 5:19]. “I came not to do my will, but the will of him that sent me” [see John 5:30]. We must come to the conclusion that the Son of God did not suggest, dictate, act, or produce any manifestation of his power, of his glory, or of his errand upon the earth, only as it came from the mind and will of his Father (DBY, 26).

“I and my Father are one,” [John 10:30] says Jesus; what, one body? No. … They are no more one person than I and one of my sons are one person. If my son receives my teaching, will walk in the path I mark out for him to walk in, if his faith is the same as mine, his purpose is the same, and he does the work of his father as Jesus did the work of his Father, then is my son one with me in the scriptural sense (DBY, 28).

The Lord has revealed to us a plan by which we may be saved both here and hereafter. God has done everything we could ask, and more than we could ask. The errand of Jesus to earth was to bring his brethren and sisters back into the presence of the Father; he has done his part of the work, and it remains for us to do ours. There is not one thing that the Lord could do for the salvation of the human family that he has neglected to do; and it remains for the children of men to receive the truth or reject it; all that can be accomplished for their salvation, independent of them, has been accomplished in and by the Savior. … He is now King of kings and Lord of lords, and the time will come when every knee will bow and every tongue confess [see Mosiah 27:31], to the glory of God the Father, that Jesus is the Christ [see Philippians 2:10–11]. That very character that was looked upon, not as the Savior, but as an outcast, who was crucified between two thieves and treated with scorn and derision, will be greeted by all men as the only Being through whom they can obtain salvation (DBY, 27).

The Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit who bears witness to truth.

The Holy Ghost, we believe, is one of the characters that form … the Godhead. Not one person in three, nor three persons in one; but the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one in essence, as the hearts of three men who are united in all things. He is one of the three characters we believe in, whose office it is to administer to those of the human family who love the truth. I have stated that they are one, as the hearts of three men might be one. Lest you should mistake me, I will say that I do not wish you to understand that the Holy Ghost is a personage having a tabernacle, like the Father and the Son; but he is God’s messenger that diffuses his influence through all the works of the Almighty (DBY, 30).

The Holy Ghost is [the Father and the Son’s] minister to bring truths to our remembrance, to reveal new truths to us, and teach, guide, and direct the course of every mind, until we become perfected and prepared to go home, where we can see and converse with our Father in Heaven (DBY, 26).

I have proven to my satisfaction, according to the best knowledge I can gather, that man can be deceived by the sight of the natural eye, he can be deceived by the hearing of the ear, and by the touch of the hand; that he can be deceived in all of what is called the natural senses. But there is one thing in which he cannot be deceived. What is that? It is the operations of the Holy Ghost, the Spirit and power of God upon the creature. It teaches him of heavenly things; it directs him in the way of life; it affords him the key by which he can test the devices of man, and which recommends the things of God. Not only the Saints who are present, and who gathered to Zion, but those of every nation, continent, or island who live the religion taught by our Savior and his Apostles, and also by Joseph Smith; they also bear the same testimony, their eyes have been quickened by the Spirit of God, and they see alike, their hearts have been quickened, and they feel and understand alike, and there are no disputations among them with regard to the doctrines of the Savior (DBY, 31).

Without the power of the Holy Ghost a person is liable to go to the right or the left from the straight path of duty; they are liable to do things they are sorry for; they are liable to make mistakes; and when they try to do their best, behold they do that which they dislike (DBY, 31).

I want to see men and women breathe the Holy Ghost in every breath of their lives, living constantly in the light of God’s countenance (DBY, 31).

Suggestions for Study

God the Father designed and governs countless worlds, created mankind, and is a personage who can be known and worshiped.

  • What did President Young teach about the importance of knowing God the Father? (See also John 17:3.) How does knowing someone affect our relationship with that person? What things have helped you come to know God the Father?

  • How can God’s influence be “considered to be everywhere at the same moment”? What are some examples of Heavenly Father’s concern for even the “minutest object of his creations”?

  • The doctrine that God was once a man and has progressed to become a God is unique to this Church. How do you feel, knowing that God, through His own experience, “knows all that we know regarding the toils [and] sufferings” of mortality?

  • President Young taught that all good and true discoveries in science and art have “been given by direct revelation from God.” How have inspired advances in these areas helped to move God’s work forward?

  • What does President Young say is the “calling and duty of the children of men”? How can we better understand things within our reach and be acquainted with our purpose on earth? Where should we seek for such understanding?

Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of the Father in the flesh, atoned for the sins of all who repent.

  • What did President Young teach about Jesus Christ and His mission on earth?

  • The first principle of the gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In what ways does having faith in the Son of God change our lives? (See also Jacob 4:10–11 and Moroni 7:41–42.)

  • President Young taught that every Latter-day Saint may know that Jesus is the Christ in the same way that the Apostle Peter knew (see also Matthew 16:13–19). How may someone come to know that Jesus is the Christ? Why do miracles by themselves not provide enough knowledge for a person to know that Jesus is the Christ? Why is this knowledge so important to our salvation?

  • Whose errand did Jesus perform when He ministered to the inhabitants of the earth? What can we learn from Jesus’ example and apply to our lives? How can we learn and accept our own errands from the Lord?

  • President Young reminded us that one day “every knee will bow and every tongue confess” that Jesus is the Christ (Mosiah 27:31; see also Philippians 2:9–11). Living as a true disciple of Jesus Christ is more difficult than merely saying that Jesus is the Christ. What can give you the strength to live the gospel as a dedicated disciple?

The Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit who bears witness to truth.

  • What is the mission of the Holy Ghost? How does He work in the lives of God’s children?

  • How is the personage of the Holy Ghost different from that of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ? (See also D&C 130:22.) In what way are the three members of the Godhead “one”?

  • How is the Holy Ghost the minister for the Father and the Son?

  • What experiences have you had that testify to you of the Holy Ghost’s ability to teach and guide you?