Every year there is an outpouring of celebration for Mothers in the LDS Church, and rightly so because of their importance. The next month comes Father’s day that gets mentioned and quickly fades away. To be honest, current American culture sees fathers as almost unnecessary. When there are fathers represented in pop culture, they are sloven and stupid. Many of them are shown as sports fanatics and bad mechanics. Certainly for Mormons with Heavenly Father as the guide there shouldn’t be such bad stereotypes. With his son Jesus Christ as an exemplar, husbands and fathers have a great responsibility not to become what media thinks they are. They should be loving, honest, and protective of women and children.
Many complain that we don’t know anything about Heavenly Mother, and some make up theories and rituals to elevate her. If honesty is important, those who want to “graduate” the female half of Heavenly Parents must acknowledge there isn’t much known about Father in Heaven either. We know as much as we do about Him because Jesus is His representative. Ultimately it is through Jesus Christ that we get near the Father. Time and again Jesus Christ states states only in getting to know him can one know the father, (John 14:9) ” . . . he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?”
When Joseph Smith had what we call the First Vision of Father and Son, Jesus was introduced and then was charged to be the spokesman:
“It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (JSH 1:17).
This is similar to when Jesus was first publicly introduced as prophet and teacher to the masses on the day of his Baptism. When John the Baptist took him back out of the water, there as the witness, “And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17). We are to look toward Jesus Christ to know Heavenly Father. The Gospel writer of St. John continually emphasised this relationship, essentially making both of them a collective along with the Holy Ghost. There is the culmination statement of John 14:6-7 that, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.” Every teaching and action by Jesus Christ is in parallel to what Heavenly Father had said or done in the past.
Joseph Smith based the King Follett Discourse upon the knowledge of how connected Jesus’ life is to Heavenly Father. He stated in length:
First, God himself, who sits enthroned in yonder heaven, is a man like one of you. That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today and you were to see the great God who holds this world in its orbit and upholds all things by his power, you would see him in the image and very form of a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion and image of God. He received instruction from and walked, talked, and conversed with him as one man talks and communes with another.
In order to understand the subject of the dead for the consolation of those who mourn for the loss of their friends, it is necessary they should understand the character and being of God; for I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined that God was God from all eternity. [That he was not is an idea] incomprehensible to some. But it is the simple and first principle of the gospel-to know for a certainty the character of God, that we may converse with him as one man with another. God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth the same as Jesus Christ himself did, and I will show it from the Bible.
I wish I had the trump of an archangel; I could tell the story in such a manner that persecution would cease forever. What did Jesus say? (Mark it, elder Rigdon!) Jesus said, “As the Father hath power in himself, even so hath the Son power.” To do what? Why, what the Father did. The answer is obvious–in a manner to lay down his body and take it up again. Jesus, what are you going to do? To lay down my life as my Father did, and take it up again. If you do not believe it, you do not believe the Bible. The scriptures say it, and I defy all the learning and wisdom, all the combined powers of earth and hell together, to refute it.
Here, then, is eternal life–to know the only wise and true God. And you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves–to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done–by going from a small degree to another, from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you are able to sit in glory as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power.
And I want you to know that in the last days, while certain individuals are proclaiming his name, God is not trifling with you or me; it is the first principle of consolation. How consoling to the mourner when he is called to part with a husband, wife, father, mother, child, or dear relative, to know that although the earthly tabernacle shall be dissolved that dear one shall rise in immortal glory, not to sorrow, suffer, or die any more but shall be God’s heirs and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. What is it? It is to inherit the same glory, the same power, and the same exaltation until you ascend the throne of eternal power the same as those who are gone before. What did Jesus do? Why, I do the things I saw my Father do when worlds came rolling into existence. I saw my Father work out his kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same; and when I get my kingdom I shall present it to my Father so that he obtains kingdom upon kingdom, and it will exalt his glory. And so Jesus treads in his tracks to inherit what God did before. It is plain beyond disputation.
It is a lot to take in for those who are used to a simplified view of God as some force in the universe with the designation of “Father” as a spiritual figurative. For a Latter-day Saint, there is a literal relationship between an Earthly and the Heavenly Father. While preaching on Mars Hill, Paul in Acts 17:28- 29 declares to the pagans, “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.” The implication is that God is like humans and not some form of “other” element. That isn’t to take away his glory, for He is more than we are as an exalted and immortal being. Still, He is not so far different that we cannot ever know him.
No matter how different Heavenly Father is to humans because of His glory, we are promised that someday (Matt. 5:8) we have the opportunity to see Him. Critics might quote John 1:18 where it read, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him,” to say its impossible to ever see Heavenly Father. To a degree this is true for no unworthy and evil person has or can see Him. Yet, the scriptures are filled with stories of prophets who witness God through their own eyes. The most prominent are Adam and Eve who walked with him in the Garden, Jacob whose called the place he was renamed Israel at “Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved” (Genesis 32:30), Moses who was transfigured from the experience, and Stephen who “saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55) before his martyrdom by the hand of those he testified of the vision.
Most importantly we must know Heavenly Father better because we are commanded to, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). This is not possible if there is an assumption either that we cannot know or identify with Him. Those who search for someone or something else as role models are seeking idols and false Gods. The perfection we seek in Him is not where no mistakes are made, but turning over our sins to Jesus Christ on a daily basis through repentance. As one commentator wrote on the subject:
We are positionally perfect in Christ Jesus. Colossians 1:28
“Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”
We are practically becoming perfect in our lives. 1Peter 5:10
“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.”
We will prophetically become perfect in the future. Ephesians 4:13
“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”
Eventually we may become perfect enough to obtain holiness through peace and purity of heart, enough to be worthy to see God for ourselves. Almost all people on the Earth will have to wait until the next life for that to take place. For the moment we can learn from the experience of witnessing prophets and the life and teachings of Jesus Christ to learn of Him. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in his talk The Grandeur of God said on the subject:
“I make my own heartfelt declaration of God our Eternal Father this morning because some in the contemporary world suffer from a distressing misconception of Him. Among these there is a tendency to feel distant from the Father, even estranged from Him, if they believe in Him at all. And if they do believe, many moderns say they might feel comfortable in the arms of Jesus, but they are uneasy contemplating the stern encounter of God. 8 Through a misreading (and surely, in some cases, a mistranslation) of the Bible, these see God the Father and Jesus Christ His Son as operating very differently, this in spite of the fact that in both the Old Testament and the New, the Son of God is one and the same, acting as He always does under the direction of the Father, who is Himself the same “yesterday, today, and forever.”
Let us seek to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ and know our Heavenly Father more fully.