TRUE AND LIVING GOD
The most basic doctrine of the true Mormon church is belief in the true and living God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Ex. 3:15); and in Jesus Christ as our Savior. Constantine changed this Judaic and Christian God, to the Trinitarian god of paganism that he worshipped. He also changed the identity of Jesus from the seed of Abraham, the tribe of Judah, and house of David, according to the flesh, to the virgin born demi-god doctrine of paganism. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)
Although all Christians share a mutual belief in the existence of God, there are considerable differences in their beliefs concerning the actual character and attributes of God. Christians are not the only people to believe in a heavenly Father. The concept is embodied in almost every religion on earth.
“And here I have to notice, first, the identity of the objects of worship in Babylon and Rome. The ancient Babylonians, just as the modern Romans, recognized in words the unity of the godhead; and, while worshipping innumerable minor deities, as possessed of certain influence on human affairs, they distinctly acknowledge that there was ONE infinite and Almighty Creator, supreme over all. Most other nations did the same. ‘In the early ages of mankind,’ says Wilkenson in his ‘Ancient Egyptians,’ ‘the existence of a sole and omnipotent Deity, who created all things, seems to have been the universal belief; and tradition taught men the same notions on this subject.’ ‘The Gothic religion,’ says Mallet, ‘taught the being of a supreme God, Master of the Universe, to whom all things were submissive and obedient.’– (Tacit. de Morib. Germ.) The ancient Icelandic mythology calls him ‘the authoror of every thing that existeth, the eternal, the living, and awful Being; the searcher into concealed things, the Being that never changeth.’ It attributeth to this deity ‘an infinite power, a boundless knowledge, and incorruptible justice.’ We have evidence of the same having been the faith of ancient Hindostan. Though modern Hinduism recognizes millions of gods, yet the Indian sacred books show that originally it had been far otherwise. Major Moor, speaking of Brahm, the supreme God of the Hindoos, says: ‘Of Him whose Glory is so great, there is no image’ (Veda). he ‘illumines all, delights all, whence all proceeded; that by which they live when born, and that to which all must return’ (Vedo). In the ‘Institutes of Menu,’ he is characterised as ‘He whom the mind alone can perceive; whose essence eludes the external organs, who has no visible parts, who exists from eternity… the soul of all beings, whom no being can comprehend.’ In these passages, there is a trace of the existence of Pantheism; but the very language employed bears testimony to the existence among the Hindoos at one period of a far purer faith.” (Rev. Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons, p. 14)
The importance of knowing the only true and living God is exemplified in the first greatest of the ten commandments, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy might, and with all thy strength: thou shalt adore him, and serve him, and obey him: thou shalt have no other gods before thee…thou shalt not adore anything that thine eye beholdeth, or thy imagination conceiveth of; but the Lord thy God only.” The importance of this command is found in the judgment that is to come upon the world at Christ’s return, “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thess. 1:8)
Although most people worship God in word, they do not worship the same God either in attributes character, or in perfection. Some believe he is some type of mysterious spirit; without body, parts, or passions. Others have accepted the mysterious Trinitarian god of the pagans and believe that the Father, Jesus, and Holy Ghost are one and the same God. Many consider the eternal heavenly Father to be some kind of mysterious spirit and force that works in the Universe; but, that has no direct contact with man.
The Brighamite (Utah) church believes that God was once a man like us and progressed to His current perfections. Brigham even taught that God was Adam and that he brought wives from another planet. This absurd doctrine remains in that church.
“… you believe Adam was made of the dust of this earth. This I do not believe.” (JD, 2:6)
“Brother Pratt… could not believe that Adam was our God or the Father of Jesus Christ. President Young said that He was that he came from another world & made this brought Eve with him.” (WWJ, Sept. 17, 1854)
On Oct. 8, 1854 , Brigham Young stated, “… Adam is the Father of our spirits… and Adam obeyed his Master the Lord, and probably many of his wives did the same, and they did the same, and they lived, and died upon an earth, and then were resurrected again to Immortality and Eternal Life.” (Brigham Young, Oct. 8, 1854 , Afternoon Session of the General Conference, Church Archives. Quoted from Craig L. Tholson, Adam-God, Publishment, Payson , Utah , 1991, p. 60)
On Oct. 8, 1854, Brigham stated, “… so we had a grandfather or we would have had no father, and our grandfather had a father and gradfather and great-great-great- grandfather so far back there is no beginning – They always existed on some world – and when this world was made – our God who is Adam came and commenced the peopling of it – Though he is God and had lived and died and had been resurrected on some other planet – and obtained his exaltation and begat the Spirits of children enough to people this world.” (John Pulsipher account of same discourse. Quoted from The Teachings of President Brigham Young, Vol. 3, 1852 – 1854, Comp. and Ed. by Fred D. Collier, Collier’s Publishing Co., October 1987, p. 369)
On June 23, 1875, Wilford Woodruff stated, “… and whoever goes back into the presence of God our Eternal Father will find that he is a noble God… they will also learn that he has placed us here that we may pass through a state of probation and experience, the same as he himself did in his days of mortality.” (JD, 15:319)
On Jan. 10, 1886 , Apostle Lorenzo Snow stated, “As man now is, God once was.” (JD, 26:368)
On Dec. 7, 1913 , President Joseph F. Smith stated, “… The Son, Jesus Christ, grew and developed into manhood the same as you or I, as likewise did God. His Father grew and develop to the Supreme Being that He now is. Man was born of woman; Christ the Savior, was born of woman and God, the Father, was born of woman.” ( Deseret Evening News, Dec. 27, 1913 , Sec. III, p. 7. More recently in Deseret News, on Sept. 19, 1936 , pp. 2, 8)
Biblical accounts address a God that is a physical being like man; that has walked, talked, conversed, and made His will known to man. At the very beginning of the Bible it is noted, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Even as “Adam…begat a son in his own likeness, after his image.” (Gen. 5:3) Jesus was, “the express image of his [Father’s] person.” (Heb. 1:3)
The Jews, after almost two thousand years of being scattered among the nations of the world, still maintain their belief in the same God. There can be only one true and living God and His son Jesus Christ. “5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Eph. 4) The God of Abraham is spoken of 26 times in the Bible. “And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.” (Ex. 4:15)
Mormons shared a common belief in God; until after the murder of Joseph Smith when many failed to follow James J. Strang. Joseph Smith taught of one supreme, unchangeable, God. He never taught that God and Jesus Christ were equals with the Holy Ghost. He taught, “The Father, and the Son are persons of Tabernacle [physical bodies]; and the Holy Ghost a spirit.” (Times and Seasons, Vol. 3, p. 926) He taught that a knowledge of, and faith in, God is essential to eternal life. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Heb. 11:6)
Many have misunderstand the description of the Father as “a personage of spirit.” Like him, we are also personages of spirit. It has been objected that “God is a spirit.” (John 4:24) Angels are also “spirits sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation” (Heb. 1:14). Yet, Abraham and Lot mistook angels and God for men (Gen. 18:2, 5, 16-20; 19:1, 15) John the Revelator mistook one for God (Rev. 22:8, 9). Our soul is comprised of a spirit and a physical body joined by the breadth of life. When we die our spirit is taken back to the God that made it and judged according to whether we knew God, obeyed the Gospel, and remains faithful to the laws of God. These await the resurrection in the bosom of Abraham (death). All others wait with the spirits in prison (hell). The heathen (Gentile) concept of heaven and hell originated with Nimrod and was brought through Babylon, to Rome, and to Christianity through Constantine. The concept of a fiery hell originated with Nimrod the first king of Babylon. At the resurrection, the spirit and the body are once again united– never again to be separated (except for those of the second death).
God appeared to His people throughout Biblical history; until through sin and disbelief they drew away from God. God walked with Adam in the garden of Eden (Gen. 3:8). Abraham mistook him for a man, invited Him into his tent, and feasted with Him (Gen. 18). Jacob wrestled with Him and saw him face to face (Gen 32:24, 28, 30). “30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” God spoke with Noah (Gen. 7:1). He conversed with Moses face to face, as a man converses with his friend (Ex. 33). “11 And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.” God appeared to Ezekiel in the likeness of a man (Ezek. 1:26, 27).
What does God look like? Look in the mirror. You were created in the image and likeness of God. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Gen. 1:26) Even as “3… Adam… begat a son in his own likeness, after his image.” (Gen. 5:3) Only the degradation of the human body has caused man to look less like God and to possess less of the divine nature.
God has always spoken to His people; when they are faithful and obey His law. “God said” is found 71 times in the Bible. The “Lord said” is found 285 times in the Bible. The Bible is a history of God’s relationship and direct communication with His people.
Some say: He has not spoken since the days of the Apostles. Men of every nation and every belief claim to have contact with the eternal world. Only sin and disbelief separate man from God. “1 Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” (Isa. 59:)
God and Jesus appeared to Joseph Smith and to James J. Strang. The proof of this meeting is found in their works. They taught the same as the prophets of old and contrary to the pagan doctrines that had entered the Christian church through Constantine.
The time will soon come when He will gather the House of Israel and speak with them, even as in the days of Moses. “33 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you: 34 And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out. 35 And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. 36 Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD.” (Ezek. 20)
The Bible tells that Jesus is the “express image of his [Father’s] person,” that through Jesus He created “the worlds,” made him “heir of all things,” and sits “on the right hand” of God. “2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Heb. 1)
It is only in relatively modern times that man has not had a direct relationship with God. In the beginning, God walked and talked with Adam (Gen. 3:8). The generations from Adam to Noah includes: (1) Adam lived 930 years, (2) Seth 912, (3) Enos 905, (4) Cainan 910, (5) Mahalaleel, 895 (6) Jared 962, (7) Enoch was translated at 365, (8) Methuselah 969, (9) Lamech 777, and (10) Noah 950.
Lamech, who was 9th from Adam and the father of Noah, lived 721 years after Adam died. Seth 112, Enos 210, Cainan 305, Mahalaleel 360, Jared 492, Enoch was translated after 57, Methuselah 726. All of these men were living on the earth at the same time. It is easy to understand how all had a perfect knowledge, and communication with, God.
Enos was the grandson of Adam. Noah was 84 years old when Enos died. Enos, Cainan, Mahlaleel, Jared, Methusalah, and Lamech, were all acquainted with both Adam and Noah. A perfect knowledge of God was passed directly from Adam to Noah. God spoke personally with many, if not all, of these men.
From the flood to Abraham was 352 years. Abraham was 58 years old when Noah died, 210 when Shem died, 148 when Arphaxed died, 178 when Salah died, 239 when Eber died, 48 when Pelig died, 78 when Reu died, 101 when Serug died, 49 when Nahor died, and 135 when his father, Terah, Died. Again, notice how easy it was for a perfect knowledge of God to pass from Adam to Noah and then from Noah to Abraham. Abraham was born about 2,000 years after the garden of Eden and about 2,000 years before the birth of Christ.
From Abraham to Isaac was 100 years. From Isaac to Jacob 60 years. From Jacob’s birth to his entering Egypt was130 years. Abraham knew God as a friend and feasted with Him (Gen. 18). God covenanted with Abraham, “3 And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, 4 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. 5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. 6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. 7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.” (Gen. 17)
God renewed His covenant with Isaac and with Jacob, “24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25 And God looked upon the children of Israel [Jacob], and God had respect unto them.” (Ex. 2)
A knowledge of God passed easily from father to Son as He spoke with His people during each generation. God spoke to Joseph and to Jacob evidently until their death. Jacob’s blessings upon his sons were prophetic [from God]. Thirty years after going into Egypt they were taken captive and held as slaves for 400 years; until Moses.
Many passages tell of Moses relationship with God. “3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. 4 And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. 5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. 6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.” (Ex. 3) “11 And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.” (Ex. 33)
God continued to converse with man throughout Biblical history. The ministry of Malachi, the last prophet recorded in the Old Testament, was about 400 years before Christ. The people of God were constantly made aware of His presence. He spoke with Joseph, the father of Jesus (Matt. 2:13) The angel of the Lord spoke with Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist (Luke 1:13). When Jesus was baptized the Spirit of God (Holy Ghost) descended upon him and God spoke, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:17)
The whole ministry of Jesus reflected his communication with God (the Father). “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” (John 5:30) Jesus could only be sent by being ordained to the priesthood. “8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; 10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.” (Heb. 5) He was ordained a Lawgiver, prophet and Apostle, even as Moses before him. “For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.” (Acts 3:22) “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.” (Heb. 3:1) When a prophet of God speaks, it as if from the lips of God. When Israel did not obey the law, as given through Moses, they became cursed. Jesus, like Moses, spoke as if by God’s own lips, “And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.” (Acts 3:23) This includes Jew and Gentile alike. Among the most important teachings of all men of God, from Adam to Jesus, was the gospel, the good news, God’s plan of salvation for mankind. The gospel, like God, is unchangeable. Neither Adam, nor Noah, nor Abraham could be called righteous without the gospel. “8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. 9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.” (Gal. 3)
“20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. 24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. 26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17)
The Apostles taught that all of those who follow in the gospel of Christ are entitled to continued communication with God. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5) “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16:13)
The promised gifts of the Holy Ghost were to all believers in all future generations. “38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” (Acts 2)
“1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant… 4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit… 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another…knowledge… To another faith… to another the gifts of healing… To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues.” (1 Cor. 12)
It was only through sin and disbelief that man became separated from God and the gifts of the Holy Ghost were lost; as the priesthood called of God vanished from the earth sometime after the Apostles. No man can minister by the authority (in the name of) God without being called by revelation through one holding that priesthood. “And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” (Heb. 5:4) Even Jesus had to obey this law. “Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.” (Heb. 5:10) How was Aaron called? By revelation to Moses, “And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.” (Ex. 40:13)
Knowledge of, and faith in, God is the first principle of the gospel of Christ. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Heb. 11:6) Faith can only come through one that is called of God, even as Aaron and all ministers of God. “14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? 17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom. 10)
Only those called of God are offered gospel faith. “4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” (Eph. 1) The Apostles did not go to preach the gospel to the world without authorization. They were expressly commanded, at the beginning, not to take the gospel to Gentiles. “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not.” (Matt. 10:5) It was only after Christ’s death that a dispensation was opened to the Gentiles, “15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16)
Predestinate means to foreordain by divine decree. Those who are called of God have an opportunity to hear and obey the gospel. Man’s free moral agency always allows him the right to choose either the approbation, or the reprobation. “13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thess. 2)
A knowledge of God, the gospel, and the priesthood of God was lost as the people after the Apostles fell into sin and disbelief. There are numerous passages and historical evidence that proves a general apostasy of the Gentile church. It had already started in the days of the Apostles. “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.” (2 Thess. 2:7) It is obvious in numerous revelations, “O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit.” (Jer. 16:19)
The Church of England attests of the same in the Homily Against Peril of Idolatry of the sixteenth century. “So that laity and clergy, learned and unlearned, all ages, sects, and degrees of men, women, and children of whole Christendom– an horrible and most dreadful thing to think– have been at once drowned in abominable idolatry; of all other vices most detested of God, and most damnable to man; and that by the space of eight hundred years and more.”
See the, “Divine Priesthood,” page for greater detail on the great apostasy and the restoration.
Evidence of that apostasy is found in the adoption of pagan gods, worship, and ceremonies given Christian names. The greatest of all commandments is a love of God. The worship of anything other than the God Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is idolatry; whether an idol, or something imagined by the mind of man. Even the world is an idol if it is of more importance than God.
Probably the most elaborate, mysterious, and confusing doctrine on God was developed by Saint Athanasius for the new universal, Catholic church, organized by the Roman Emperor Constantine in the early part of the fourth century. Most Christians subscribe to the concepts of this creed of Saint Athanasius. After establishing the new Catholic religion and its creed, Constantine set about canonizing the Scripture to agree with the pagan concepts embodied in this creed.
The creed of Saints Athanasius brought the character and attributes of the Trinitarian god of paganism into the Christian faith. Rev. Alexander Hislop in The Two Babylons wrote, “And her I have to notice, first, the identity of the objects of worship in Babylon and Rome. The ancient Babylonians, just as the modern Romans, recognized in words the unity of the godhead.” (p. 14)
“So utterly idolatrous was the Babylonian recognition of the Divine unity, that Jehovah, the Living God, severely condemned His own people for given any countenance to it: ‘They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens, after the rites of the ONLY ONE, eating swine’s flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together’ (Isaiah lxvi. 17). In the unity of that one Only god of the Babylonians, there were three persons, and to symbolize that doctrine in Trinity, they employed, as the discoveries of Layard prove, the equilateral triangle, just as it is well known the Romish Church does at this day. In both cases such a comparison is most degrading to the King Eternal, and is fitted utterly to pervert the minds of those who contemplate it, as if there was or could be any similitude between such a figure and Him who hath said, ‘To whom will ye liken God, and what likeness will ye compare unto Him?’ ” (pp. 16, 17)
Joseph Smith restored a knowledge of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He taught in the Lectures on Faith, “1 In the second lecture it was shown, how it was that the knowledge of the existence of God, came into the world, and by what means the first thoughts were suggested to the minds of men, that such a being did actually exist: and that it was by reason of the knowledge of his existence, that there was a foundation laid for the exercise of faith in him, as the only being in whom faith could center for life and salvation. For faith could not, center in a being of whose existence we had no idea; because the idea of his existence in the first instance, is essential to the exercise of faith in him. Rom. 10:14: “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (or one sent to tell them?) So then faith comes by hearing the word of God. (New Translation.)
“2 Let us here observe, that three things are necessary, in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation.
“3 First, The idea that he actually exists.
“4 Secondly, A correct idea of his character, perfections and attributes.
“5 Thirdly, An actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing, is according to his will. For without an acquaintance with these three important facts, the faith of every rational being must be imperfect and unproductive; but with this understanding, it can become perfect and fruitful, abounding in righteousness unto the praise and glory of God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (pp. 35, 36)
Of the attributes of God, Joseph wrote in the same lectures, that “2 We here observe that God is the only supreme governor, and independent being, in whom all fulness and perfection dwells; who is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient; without beginning of days or end of life; and that in him every good gift, and every good principle dwells; and that he is the Father of lights: In him the principle of faith dwells independently; and he is the object in whom the faith of all other rational and accountable beings centers, for life and salvation.” (p. 12)
He further explained the attributes of God in lecture four, noting that God is the fountain of knowledge and is like none other. “Knowledge. Act 15:18. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Isaiah 46:9,10. Remember the former things of old; for I am God and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient time the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.
“6 Secondly, Faith, or power. Heb. 11:3. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God. Gen. 1:1. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Isaiah 14:24,27. The Lord of hosts has sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand. For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?
“7 Thirdly, Justice. Ps. 89:14. Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne. Isaiah 45:21. Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take council together: who has declared this from the ancient time? Have not I the Lord? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Savior. Zeph. 5:5. The just Lord is in the midst thereof. Zech. 9:9. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King comes unto thee: he is just, and having salvation.
“8 Fourthly, Judgment. Ps 89:14. Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne. Deut. 32:4. He is the Rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth, and without inequity: just and right is he. Ps. 9:7. But the Lord shall endure forever: he has prepared his throne for judgment. Ps. 9:16. The Lord is known by the judgment which he executes.
“9 Fifthly, Mercy. Ps. 89:15. Mercy and truth shall go before his face. Exodus 34:6. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious. Neh. 9:17. But thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful.
“10 And Sixthly, Truth. Ps. 89:14. Mercy and truth shall go before thy face. Exodus 34:6. Long suffering and abundant in goodness and truth. Deut. 32:4. He is the Rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are judgment. A God of truth and without iniquity: just and right is he. Ps. 31:5. Into thy hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.
“…God had all knowledge…God had power over all things…without the idea of the existence of Justice, in the Deity, men could not have confidence sufficiently to place themselves under his guidance and direction…it is by judgment that the Lord delivers his saints out of the hands of all their enemies…when the idea of the existence of [mercy] is once established in the mind it gives life and energy to the spirits of the saints…with the idea of the existence of [truth] in the Deity, in the mind, all the teachings, instructions, promises and blessings become realities.”
“18 In view, then, of the existence of these attributes, the faith of the saints can become exceedingly strong: abounding in righteousness unto the praise and glory of God, and can exert its mighty influence in searching after wisdom and understanding, until it has obtained a knowledge of all things that pertain to life and salvation.
“19 Such, then, is the foundation, which is laid, through the revelation of the attributes of God, for the exercise of faith in him for life and salvation; and seeing that these are attributes of the Deity, they are unchangeable–being the same yesterday to day and forever–which gives to the minds of the Latter Day Saints the same power and authority to exercise faith in God, which the Former Day Saints had: so that all the saints, in this respect have been, are and will be alike, until the end of time; for God never changes, therefore his attributes and character remain forever the same. And as it is through the revelation of these that a foundation is laid for the exercise of faith in God unto life and salvation, the foundation, therefore, for the exercise of faith, was, is and ever will be the same. So that all men have had, and will have an equal privilege.” (Ibid., pp. 45-51)
Joseph also explained the term Godhead. “2 There are two personages who constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power over all things–by whom all things were created and made, that are created and made, whether visible or invisible: whether in heaven, on earth, or in the earth, under the earth, or throughout the immensity of space–They are the Father and the Son: The Father being a personage of spirit, glory and power: possessing all perfection and fulness: The Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle, made, or fashioned like unto man, or being in the form and likeness of man, or, rather, man was formed after his likeness, and in his image;–he is also the express image and likeness of the personage of the Father: possessing all the fulness of the Father, or, the same fulness with the Father; being begotten of him, and was ordained from before the foundation of the world to be a propitiation for the sins of all those who should believe on his name, and is called the Son because of the flesh–and descended in suffering below that which man can suffer, or, in other words, suffered greater sufferings, and was exposed to more powerful contradictions than any man can be. But notwithstanding all this, he kept the law of God, and remained without sin: Showing thereby that it is in the power of man to keep the law and remain also without sin. And also, that by him a righteous judgment might come upon all flesh, and that all who walk not in the law of God, may justly be condemned by the law, and have no excuse for their sins. And he being the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and having overcome, received a fulness of the glory of the Father-possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit, that bears record of the Father and the Son, and these three are one, or in other words, these three constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power over all things: by whom all things were created and made, that were created and made: and these three constitute the Godhead, and are one: The Father and the Son possessing the same mind, the same wisdom, glory, power and fulness: Filling all in all–the Son being filled with the fulness of the Mind, glory and power, or, in other words, the Spirit, glory and power of the Father–possessing all knowledge and glory, and the same kingdom: sitting at the right hand of power, in the express image and likeness of the Father–a Mediator for man–being filled with the fulness of the Mind of the Father, or, in other words, the Spirit of the Father: which Spirit is shed forth upon all who believe on his name and keep his commandments: and all those who keep his commandments shall grow up from grace to grace, and become heirs of the heavenly kingdom, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ; possessing the same mind, being transformed into the same image or likeness, even the express image of him who fills all in all: being filled with the fulness of his glory, and become one in him, even as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one.
“3 From the foregoing account of the Godhead, which is given in his revelations, the Saints have a sure foundation laid for the exercise of faith unto life and salvation, through the atonement and mediation of Jesus Christ, by whose blood they have a forgiveness of sins, and also, a sure reward laid up for them in heaven, even that of partaking of the fulness of the Father and the Son, through the Spirit. As the Son partakes of the fulness of the Father through the Spirit, so the saints are, by the same Spirit, to be partakers of the same fulness, to enjoy the same glory; for as the Father and the Son are one, so in like manner the saints are to be one in them, through the love of the Father, the mediation of Jesus Christ, and the gift of the Holy Spirit; they are to be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.” (Ibid., pp. 52-54)
All prophets of God teach alike. As God is changeless, the same from eternity to eternity, so are the spiritual laws and teachings of His holy prophets. James J. Strang continued to teach on the character, being, and attributes of this one true and living God. For a detailed review of his teachings in the Book of the Law, Refer to the page “Book of the Law of the Lord”–The True God.