Monday, January 19, 2009

JSH 1:1-24

In the October Conf. of 2007, Elder Holland gave a talk about the differences between the standard Christian idea of God and Christ and how the LDS church's ideas differed. When I began this week's lesson, I read the following quote from Elder Holland.
In the year A.D. 325 the Roman emperor Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea to address—among other things—the growing issue of God’s alleged “trinity in unity.” What emerged from the heated contentions of churchmen, philosophers, and ecclesiastical dignitaries came to be known (after another 125 years and three more major councils)4 as the Nicene Creed, with later reformulations such as the Athanasian Creed. These various evolutions and iterations of creeds—and others to come over the centuries—declared the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost to be abstract, absolute, transcendent, immanent, consubstantial, coeternal, and unknowable, without body, parts, or passions and dwelling outside space and time. In such creeds all three members are separate persons, but they are a single being, the oft-noted “mystery of the trinity.” They are three distinct persons, yet not three Gods but one. All three persons are incomprehensible, yet it is one God who is incomprehensible.

Ask yourself, if you were confused about God, earnestly seeking Him, and to follow his will, yet the preachers you went to told you the above, how would you feel? In Joseph's account he uses the term "darkness and confusion" to describe how he felt. This was no momentary bout of confusion, he studied and prayed for months. He went to different churches, he talked to the learned men of his area, he wanted to know and he worked to find an answer. This answer changed the world.

President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “I submit that in the few minutes that Joseph Smith was with the Father and the Son, he learned more of the nature of God the Eternal Father and the risen Lord than all the learned minds in all their discussions through all centuries of time” (Church News, 24 Oct. 1998, 6).
These truths about God, that God the Father is separate from Jesus Christ, that they have bodies, that they answer prayers, that they know each of their children are so important that they color every moment of my life. Think about these ideas, what is the impact of Joseph's vision on your life? Many of these ideas are so central to how I think that it is truly difficult to understand others don't have this knowledge. And how is this knowledge of benefit to you? It informs the way we pray, the hope of resurrection, the trust and faith in a Christ that is not "unknowable" but personal and real and who has suffered, in a body, so that our sufferings could be relieved.
Think about what we learn from the First Vision:

a. God the Father and Jesus Christ live.
b. The Father and the Son are real, separate beings with glorified bodies of flesh and bones.
c. We are created in the image of God.
d. Satan and his power are real, but God’s power is infinitely greater.
e. God hears and answers prayers and cares for us.
f. None of the churches on earth had the fulness of Christ’s gospel.
g. Revelation has not ceased.

When I was a missionary I loved to teach about the First Vision because the spirit was always so strong. The Holy Ghost testifies that this really happened. To have a testimony of the appearance of God the Father and Jesus Christ is of paramount importance to a member of the church and anyone interested in it. Study it, ponder it, compare it to the Nicean Creed. What feels right? I feel joy and hope and happiness, to know that our Heavenly Father loves us, and cares for us enough to reveal himself to the prophet, so we can have the hope of salvation.


jendoop said...

At this particular moment I'm appreciatin' the resurrection :)

Great lesson, I'm sure the class could feel your passion and testimony of this subject. And I agree it is hard to fathom life without these basic truths.

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