Day 79: The Nature of God

Mormon 9:9

One of the great truths restored to the earth through Joseph Smith in 1820 is the nature of God: Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate and distinct Beings. They work together in unity as the Godhead to “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39, PoG). God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son have resurrected bodies of flesh and bone. The Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit which enables Him to fulfill his office and responsibilities.

The Book of Mormon sheds further light on the character of God. Moroni teaches in Mormon 9:9, “For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing?” This recurring theme highlights several additional truths also treated in The Book of Mormon: God had a plan for His children at the creation of the world and He has the same plan today; God offers mercy to all who repent regardless of when they lived on earth; God required baptism before Christ came to earth and He still requires it for entrance to heaven; God fulfills all His words and promises today, just as He has done since the foundation of the world.

But as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I also believe in eternal progression. As eternal beings we have the opportunity to progress and develop to become like God. The implicit notion is that God also continues to progress and develop because, “As man now is, God once was: As God now is, man may be” (President Lorenzo Snow, see article for source).

I remember teaching a very bright young man on my mission and I shared these two seemingly contrary beliefs in the course of a lesson. The young man thought he had caught me in a doctrinal dilemma: How can God be both unchanging AND capable of progression? What I learn from The Book of Mormon and continuing revelation is that God IS God because of core, eternal characteristics. He is goodness personified, honest, just, merciful, and more. God’s core characteristics don’t change but He can and does become more good, more merciful, more loving, more kind, more godlike and more perfect.

One of the things I find so beautiful about the Restored Gospel is that we have the opportunity to grow and progress in like manner to develop those crowning eternal characteristics.

Day 37: Being True to God

Alma 11:22

Alma and Amulek’s face-off with the citizens of Ammonihah contains powerful testimony about the Savior from two of the Book of Mormon’s great missionaries. As I read about their interactions with Zeezrom, their chief interlocutor and one of Ammonihah’s leading community figures, I saw a clear application to our day.

In verse 22 Zeezrom sets up what he thinks will be an easy way to destroy Alma and Amulek’s preaching and all “that which was good” (v. 21). He offers Amulek six onties of silver (an onti was the highest value coinage in their society) to “deny the existence of a Supreme Being” (v. 22). Amulek’s testimony of God had become an important part of his character since meeting Alma. He valued the knowledge imparted by the angel who visited him, and he valued the goodness and blessings that God’s prophet (Alma) had brought to him and his household. So, in this moment, what did Amulek value more? Money or his knowledge, testimony, and self-respect?

What do we value today? Do we value our character? Our good name or reputation? What about virtue, honesty, or serving our neighbor? We are faced with Zeezrom-like offers every day, but Satan has increased their subtlety to the point where I think many of us don’t even recognize that we have traded something of eternal value for something of only fleeting worth.

We trade purity for the sating of curiosity. We trade self-respect for something material we want now. We trade a day’s or week’s labor for a promise of “winning big.” We trade the peace of home and the strength marriage for impersonal, physical gratification. We trade our health for a moment of pleasure. We trade agency for something we want now but can’t have. We trade future health and potential prosperity for brief, out-of-body experiences. We trade spiritual sensitivity and bodily strength for a few hours of fun. We trade godly standards for popularity. We trade honesty and integrity for the promise of “getting ahead.” We trade time to have some impersonal fun or entertainment with no tangible benefit. We trade commitment to God’s laws in order to sate ego.

As I read Alma 11:22 I realized that Satan’s subtlety has deceived me many times and led me to trade things of eternal value and significance for things that have no value in the long run. And in so many cases, the thing we trade for is just a counterfeit of what God offers us if we keep His commandments and remain true to Him. It is never wise nor eternally profitable to trade testimony, knowledge, agency, health, or peace of mind for worldly, material, and temporary things.

Like Amulek, let’s be true to God and honor the many gifts He has given us, not least of which are our agency, peace, even the air we breathe, life itself, and the promise of eternal life (see Mosiah 2:21, BoM). Let’s be true to God by being true to our best selves, the divine part of us that endures into eternity.