Last Fathers’ Day, I wrote a tribute to my Dad. This Fathers’ Day, I pen a tribute to my Heavenly Father. I love my Father in Heaven and long for the day that I will return to Him and feel His arms around me. This brief piece is meant to honor Him – the Supreme Power in the universe, the God of Creation, the very personal, involved, and loving Father of us all.
The resurrected Lord Jesus Christ told Mary Magdalene, as she embraced Him outside of the empty tomb, that He needed to ascend to “my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God” (John 20:17). Jesus had a Father – a literal Father. This Being begat Jesus with Mary and was His literal, physical Father from whom He inherited the power of God, the power to break the bands of death, the power to redeem all mankind.
During His mortal ministry, Jesus frequently referred to God as “Father.” He taught: “My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). He explained: “[M]y father hath taught me. . . . I speak that which I have seen with my Father” (John 8:38). Jesus admonished that whoever hates Him, “hateth my Father also” (John 15:23). On the other hand, He promised: “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” (John 14:23). Jesus prayed for His disciples in these words: “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are” (John 17:11). Finally, when He was in anguish of soul as He began working out the awesome Atonement, the Lord pleaded: “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).
In all things, Jesus gave honor and glory to His Father. Even the title which Jesus used to refer to Himself more than 80 times, “Son of Man,” is a reference to the Father. “Man of Holiness” is a title attributed to the Father. When Jesus called Himself the “Son of a Man,” it really meant the “Son of the Man of Holiness,” highlighting the fact that He was the Son of a holy and exalted Man, the Man, the very Eternal Father. Jesus loved His Father, deferred to His Father, taught us the things His Father wanted us to know, and, most importantly, showed us that His Father was also our Father.
It is one of the most misunderstood, yet superlative, of all doctrines that God is our literal Father and that we lived in His presence before our time on earth. My book The Lineage of the Gods is devoted to explaining our Parent-child relationship with our Eternal Father. Our Father in Heaven is the literal Father of our spirits. We are His literal children! His spiritual DNA is intertwined in our souls. We hail from His lineage. Our pedigree runs directly back to God our Father. His home is our true home – our first home.
As His actual children, we are loved by our Father more than we can comprehend. He has been with us, quite literally, from the beginning. He has watched over our first steps – spiritual and physical. We are created in His image just like every child is created in the image of his or her earthly parents. It opens the Heavens to us and makes our prayers more meaningful when realize our true relationship with our Father.
To understand ourselves, it is helpful to understand more about the Personage we call Father. In fact, it is essential to know both the Father and the Son. Jesus taught: “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). We often hear that God is “unknowable” and “indefinable.” As the scripture just cited demonstrates, this is false doctrine. Not only can we know God, we must know Him!
Our Father is separate from the Son and from the Holy Spirit. They are three individual Beings. The Father and Son have glorified bodies of flesh and bone; the Holy Ghost is a Personage of spirit Who will one day receive a body. Together, these three divine Individuals comprise the “Godhead.” They are “One” in the sense that they share the same purpose and mission – to save and exalt mankind.
Furthermore, the members of the Godhead are not devoid of bodies, parts, and passions. As noted, the Father is a Man of Holiness. He is a Man, albeit a glorified and exalted Man. Jesus, clearly, was a Man – though He was also God. Recognizing the humanity of our Father and our Redeemer is essential to knowing them.
We can learn more about the Father by looking at the Son. We are told by Luke that the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ has a perfected body of flesh and bone. He could be seen by mortal eyes and felt by human hands. He could even eat food. You and I can relate to all of these activities and attributes because they are so very human. And as the Son is and does, so is and does the Father. When we recognize this, we can relate better to Him and say that we know something of Him.
Every trait of goodness, compassion, and love that we rightly attribute to Jesus the Christ is equally attributable to our Eternal Father. In fact, the Lord once said that “none is good, save one, that is, God” (Luke 18:19). Our Father is the galactic epitome of greatness, goodness, light, justice, truth, charity, mercy, and love. It’s no wonder that Jesus said: “[T]he true worshippers shall worship the Father” (John 4:23).
The Christian firebrand, Brigham Young, made this intriguing remark about how we can know God. He said:
“This intelligence which is within you and me is from heaven. In gazing upon the intelligence reflected in the countenances of my fellow beings, I gaze upon the image of Him whom I worship—the God I serve. I see His image and a certain amount of His intelligence there. I feel it within myself. My nature shrinks at the divinity we see in others” (President Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 13, 171, May 29, 1870).
We all have a portion of our Father’s divinity inside of us. Our Father’s spiritual DNA is wound tightly into our souls. We are from His lineage and, like any children, we have the potential to become like Him. The honorable Ezra Taft Benson made this remark:
“As God’s offspring, we have His attributes in us. We are gods in embryo, and thus have an unlimited potential for progress and attainment” (President Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 21).
This is a controversial point in Christendom, nevertheless it is substantiated in numerous places throughout the Bible. I cite only three. The Lord Himself, referring to ancient revelation He had given as Jehovah, stated: “Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods” (John 10:34). And again, the Apostle Paul plainly stated: “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16-17). Finally, John said: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
It is a glorious truth that we are the children of our Father and that we may, through the redemption of Christ, become like Him and dwell eternally in His Kingdom. What kind of a Kingdom will it be? It will be a Kingdom of light, love, and joy because our Father is a Being of light, love, and joy. Many years ago, a Christian leader in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave this wonderful description of our Holy Father:
“I am perfectly satisfied that my Father and my God is a cheerful, pleasant, lively, and good-natured Being. Why? Because I am cheerful, pleasant, lively, and good-natured when I have His Spirit. That is one reason why I know; and another is – the Lord said, through Joseph Smith, “I delight in a glad heart and a cheerful countenance.” That arises from the perfection of His attributes; He is a jovial, lively person, and a beautiful man” (President Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 4, February 8, 1857).
It warms my heart to think of my Father as “a jovial, lively person, and a beautiful man.” I want to be like Him and to eventually grow into His attributes. Since I know that I’m a son, I also know that I can become like my Father. These truths have been pressed into my soul by the witness of the Holy Spirit. They’ve also been in my mind since childhood when I sang the hymn “I Am a Child of God.” The verses teach:
“I am a child of God,
And he has sent me here,
Has given me an earthly home
With parents kind and dear.
“I am a child of God,
And so my needs are great;
Help me to understand his words
Before it grows too late.
“I am a child of God.
Rich blessings are in store;
If I but learn to do his will
I’ll live with him once more.”
We are children of God. He is our Father. And we will return to His Heavenly Home one day if we understand His words, follow His Son, and really come to know Them.
This Fathers’ Day, I encourage everyone to get on their knees and pray to their Father in Heaven. Express gratitude to Him that He is your Father and that you are His child. Thank Him from the depth of your soul for sending His Son – our Elder Brother – Jesus Christ to redeem us from death and hell. Pour out your gratitude to your Father for watching over you throughout your life, providing a beautiful world to live on, giving you the necessities of food, water, and a home, and answering your prayers.
The best gift you can give your Eternal Father this holiday is to acknowledge Him, speak with Him, and follow His Son so that the Lord may bring us back to Him one day. Always remember the words of our Savior:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16-17).
June 21, 2020