A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to give a talk in sacrament meeting in our local ward. I told the bishopric that I was willing to speak, but that I wanted the freedom to pick the topic according to my own inspiration of the Spirit. They agreed, and so the week before Christmas I spoke of having “even now” faith in Jesus Christ, just as Martha did when Jesus arrived after her brother Lazarus was already dead.
“Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.” (John 11:22)
Martha’s great faith opened the door which allowed the great miracle of Lazarus’ resurrection to occur. The Lord’s delay in arriving was divinely appointed to demonstrate his great power unto his disciples that they may more fully believe in His heavenly mission. One cannot argue with a miracle of such magnitude, for Lazarus had been in the grave four days. In fact, the leaders of the Jews sought to kill Lazarus to eliminate the living proof of Christ’s great power.
The main point of my talk was that in order to have this great faith, we need to elevate Christ in our thinking, WE NEED TO SEE HIM AS GOD, NOT AS OUR ELDER BROTHER. How many times have you heard him characterized as our elder brother in the Mormon Church? I believe this characterization tends to downgrade him to a demigod who is somewhere between God the Father and us mortals. Instead we need to think of Him as the physical embodiment of God the Father. I know this sounds trinitarian, but it fully supported by the very scriptures we claim to believe.
Take, for example, Abinadi’s teachings in Mosiah 15, where he explains that “God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people.” This is powerful and bold doctrine. Christ is God, who deigned to lower himself to come to this earth. The angel who was teaching Nephi asked the pointed questions: “Knowest thou the condescension of God?” (1 Nephi 11:16, 26)
Websters 1828 dictionary defines “condescension” as “voluntary descent from rank,” pointing to the fact that God voluntarily chose to come down among us to atone for our sins.
Abinadi goes on to explain why Christ is called the Son of God:
And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son—The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son—And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and earth. (Mosiah 15:2-4)
In other words, Jesus Christ is only called the Son of God because he took upon himself a body and came to this earth. In all other respects we should think of Him as God, completely one with the Father, for they are ONE GOD, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth.
In the Gospel of John, Chapter 14, Philip implores the Lord to show unto the disciples the Father. Jesus’ reply is very telling when he says:
“Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.”
The Father dwelleth in the Son—they are one and the same. Few people are aware of the subtle, but significant change that Joseph Smith made to Luke 10:22 in his New Translation of the Bible (also known as the Joseph Smith Translation). Joseph’s version reads:
“All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth that the Son is the Father, and the Father is the Son, but him to whom the Son will reveal it.”
Whoa! I can tell you that the Son has not revealed this great mystery to me personally, but I do know what the definition of “is” is. This is an incredible testimony of oneness of the Father and the Son. We need to think of them that way. It will energize our faith in Christ as we do so.
I believe we tend to focus on the Father, to the downgrading and exclusion of Christ in our worship. We should elevate Christ. He is God. The Book of Mormon teaches that we must worship Christ:
“And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and you whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out.” (2 Nephi 25:29)
Unfortunately, we hear too much of the philosophies of men in the Mormon Church. The new curriculum for this year focuses on teachings of the leadership of the Church, not on Christ or the scriptures. This is a tragedy. We should hear much more of Christ every week. Go upstream people! Go to the pure source which is unfiltered through men who claim prophetic mantle.
We can’t cast off the curse until we “begin to believe in Christ.” (2 Nephi 30:7)
Knowing that He is God who came down among us in the flesh is a necessary first step.
P.S. The Lectures on Faith also teach this trinitarian notion of the Godhead in which there are two personages, God the Father as a personage of spirit, and Jesus Christ as a personage of tabernacle. The Holy Ghost is the mind of God. See Lecture 5.