The Nature of God – Gospel Study Sesh
After rocking the Plan of Salvation, we’ve moved to a study of the Nature of God. Great times.
We hope you enjoyed studying the Plan of Salvation. Did you get more out of your study? Did you have any insights? We’d love for you to share them with us.
But now, with a firm understanding of the Plan of Salvation, we forge on to other topics. Our next discussion will be around The Nature of God.
The Nature of God is something we don’t often visit in our study because again, we often feel like it’s elementary, but humor us.
- What is the Nature of God (Physical / Spiritual)? What do you know about Him?
As I started writing on the topic of “What is the Nature of God” my thoughts weren’t taking much out of the suggested reading, though those were nice refreshers. I quickly knocked out God’s attributes that we know, but my pen kept going to the new temple film, and what my experiences with God have taught me. For example, I know he is a loving person, not because of the writings in the scriptures, but because of experiences I’ve had, so I spent some time writing on that. Not sure what I expected, but I was sort of surprised my thoughts weren’t merely doctrine based.
- What personal experiences have taught you about the Nature of God? How did your perception change?
I’ve been given a lot to think about with yesterday’s question – What personal experiences have taught you about the nature of God? Some, of course, are more sacred than others and won’t be shared in this forum, but what I really wound up focusing on is God’s love for us, couple by His ongoing concern and even grief over us.
I think of the pain Heavenly Father must have experienced allowing his Only Begotten to come to the earth to fulfill the plan, especially from a very paternal point of view. God loves all of us equally, but This is God’s only bit of progeny containing His own DNA.
Likewise, I’ve never viewed God as a wrathful, vengeful God (after all, that’s the common one in the Old Testament, so you could get into some really out-there tangents about Jehovah’s anger not being representative of Heavenly Father). I think of time in my life when I’ve screwed up and prayed for understanding and repentance. While I’ve needed to feel the weight of my errors, I have always felt God’s sadness over my troubles instead of anger. I know that He watches over us and truly weeps for our shortcomings, not to mention how much he weeps over those who reject Him or fail to acknowledge Him completely.
- What truths about the nature of God have been revealed in the latter days? You might have already answered this in part on Saturday, but really focus in on the differences between what was known before Joseph Smith and after.
- “Apostasy and Restoration” – Elder Dallin H. Oaks
- “Joseph Smith – Prophet of the Restoration” – Elder Tad. R. Callister
- “Plain and Precious Truths Restored” – Clyde J. Williams
In my humble opinion, one of the most important truths about the nature of God revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith is the fact that God is the whole “One purpose, three beings.” thing. We really take that for granted, as the commonly-held belief in Trinity dates back to the Nicene Creed. In fact, for a brief rundown of why the concept of the Trinity exists in the first place:
- Sometime after 300 A.D., Arius, an Alexandria-based presbyter, argued that although Jesus was surely divine, the fact that he was a creation of the Father made Him unequal, and, therefore, not co-essential. This resulted in the Arianism movement which was, of course, a problem, as it risked demeaning the Son.
- So the Nicene Creed of 325 A.D. uses the term “consubstantial” to express the shared and equal divinity of the Son and explicitly denounced Arianism.
- There were further Creeds, but the groundwork was laid for co-essential divinity, which eventually resulted in the interpretation of the Father and the Son as one.
So there you go, friends. That’s a very simplified version of things (feel free to correct me on some of it), but how glorious is it that this long-held belief was clarified by the First Vision? We so often focus on the results of the First Vision – many churches had some part of truth, but not all of it, and the full truth needed to be restored – and overlook how absolutely radical it was for Joseph Smith to preach about the Father and the Son being distinct beings.
And, at least to me, this bit of truth makes so much sense and gives me greater perspective and piece of mind when evaluating my role in the eternities.
- How has your understanding of the nature of God changed the way you treat others?
Classmate Brittany was kind enough to share with us her thoughts from yesterday’s question:
“Just wanted to share some thoughts I had during my SESH today about how my understanding of the Nature of God has changed (or should change) the way I treat others…definitely a reminder I needed….
“While thinking about God’s nature, my thoughts turned to how he is a loving, understanding, kind, forgiving, generous father. OUR Father. We are ALL created in his image and have ALL inherited characteristics from him. Understanding more about the Nature of God actually seems to create a certain bond (even a teeny tiny one) with everyone I come into contact with. Knowing we have something in common creates a greater interest in others and produces more kindness, patience, acceptance and understanding of differences.
“Thank you for creating/implementing the Gospel Study Sesh! I am loving it.”
Thanks, Brittany! To the rest of you, we’d love to use your comments to help out with future posts and recaps. Please email us!
- How can I come to know God?
- Mosiah 4
- D&C 76:1-5; 19-21
- “If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves” – Joseph Smith
Yesterday’s question, “How can I come to know God?” was tricky. On the surface it feels very primary-answer-prone, but those didn’t fit. How do I come to know God? Be good? Pray hard? I didn’t have an answer for it until I started writing through my study. I settled in Mosiah 4:6 where there is one of the great “if/then”‘s of the scriptures. I read it as IF we:
- Come to a knowledge of God’s goodness
- Come to a knowledge of God’s power, wisdom, patience, and longsuffering
- Put our trust in the Lord
- Are diligent in keeping the commandments
- Continue in the faith
THEN we come to know God. But put a big HOW at the end of each of those. What is goodness and how do I know it? Gospel? Atonement? Love? What is His goodness? How do I know His power and wisdom and patience? How do I trust in the Lord? I settled on the idea that we come to know God’s power, wisdom, goodness, patience, long suffering, etc., through life; through success, through failure, through hope, through disappointment, and so on. Really, life is about coming to know God. Not so much a trial per se, but more we are learning things about God here that maybe we could never have known if we didn’t spend time in the trenches with Him? It felt right to me, so I’m taking it. What about you all? How do you come to know God?
- What have I learned about the Nature of God that I didn’t know before? Summarize your work for the week.
- None. You are free. But you might enjoy this for funsies.