No. 3 THE PERSONALITY OF GOD
SECTION NO. 5. JESUS CHRIST - HIS SONSHIP "I am the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning" - (Genesis 4:9)
CHRIST ETERNAL AND UNCREATED
Before considering the Sonship of Jesus Christ it is necessary to notice specifically a fundamental truth as abundantly set forth in the scriptures, viz., the eternity of his Being. Any student of our three books must recognize this truth for it runs through them all. We quote but a few:
"But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from old, from everlasting." (Micah 5:2).
"the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven, among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay," (Mosiah 1:97).
"Hearken and listen to the voice of him who is from all eternity to all eternity, the great I AM, even Jesus Christ, the light and the life of the world;" (Doctrine and Covenants 39:1a).
Eternal Being makes impossible any thought of creation in Jesus Christ. He was formed out of an assemblage of various elements into a composite image or form, and started out as a new creation, without experience, and without knowledge, as was man, yet, as we shall see, there was a change, for he could not have existed eternally as the Son, for Sonship involves generation and beginning. His coming into the world to dwell in human flesh we know was a change for him, and the fact of one change shows the possibility of a previous one. There was a pervious one which had to do somewhat with his Sonship, which we shall show.
SONSHIP INVOLVES GENERATION
Fatherhood and Sonship are related terms. We know what they mean as to earthly relationship, and while they are applied to God and Christ we must recognize that they do not mean exactly the same thing as when applied to men. In dealing with the things of God we have no earthly parallels, but no doubt the terms Father and Son are such as most nearly convey the idea of the divine relationship of Father and Son to each other, to us, yet we cannot attach to God and Christ all the conditions belonging to earthly father and sonship.
Whatever else Sonship may mean in Christ it must mean this: that at some time there was brought about a change; as a Son he was something that he was not before becoming a Son. As a Father, God had brought forth something that was in some respects or in some relations different from what had previously existed. By that change God became Father and Christ became a Son.
IN THE BEGINNING WITH GOD
The scriptures speak of "the beginning," sometimes rather indefinitely, and in slightly different relations. In some cases the expression refers to the actual beginning of the divine processes preparatory to the creation of the world and man, and in others to the period between the time of the spiritual creation and the physical creation of man. We use the expression here in the former relation.
Beginning: (Doctrine and Covenants 90:4)
"I was in the beginning with the Father" (Doctrine and Covenants 90:4a). "Ye were also in the beginning with the Father;" (Doctrine and Covenants 90:4b). "that wicked one, who was a liar from the beginning." (Doctrine and Covenants 90:4b). Note the different meaning in these three uses of this word.
Christ was in the beginning with God. John says, "In the beginning, the Son was with God. The same was in the beginning with God." (John 1:1-2). The Lord said to Adam, "I am the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning" (Genesis 4:9). To our mind the beginning means more than the pre-carnate state. It carries us back into the eternity of the past before man existed at all, when the infinite God conceived and determined the creation of this world, or as stated in Genesis 1:1, "this heaven and this earth;" which probably means the solar system, and all of its living forms including man, and devised his method of procedure through to the end when his purposes therein should have been reached.
At this time of beginning, and prior thereto, Christ could not have existed as Son, for it was then that he "came out from God." (John 16:27). In this relation his being "with God" means more than merely being in association with him. It can mean no less than that he was in God, without separate existence, being one with God, at which time there was nothing relating to the Divine Being which was in the least suggestive of two personalities.
"the triumph and the glory of the Lamb, who was slain, who was in the bosom of the Father before the worlds were made." (Doctrine and Covenants 76:4f).
"I was in the beginning with the Father, and am the Firstborn;" (Doctrine and Covenants 90:4a). Christ was the firstborn, the only-begotten Son of God from the beginning. As Son Christ had a beginning.
There was then a beginning to Christ's Sonship. There was something attaching to Christ which was not eternal, just as when he came into this world and took upon him human flesh, he possessed something which had not before attached to him, and as he again by his resurrection took upon him a glorified body which constituted a change in His Being. By assuming a fleshly body he assumed that which made him different from what he had ever been before. Such a change shows the possibility of previous change "in the beginning," at which time he took on himself form. The Spirit of God assumed form and became a pattern for the creation of man.
CHRIST CAME OUT FROM GOD
John says "the Son was of God." (John 1:1). He was of his Being, of his nature, and his person; but he "came out from God." (John 16:27). This was the change of which he spoke, a change which took place in the beginning, before the world was made, and before man was created. It was evidently a change, a development, in preparation for the vast work of creation, which God had designed to accomplish relative to mankind who as yet did not exist. Our scriptures reveal that the whole solar system was designed to meet the requirements of man and that more planets than the earth are and will be the places of abode of the human creation. This change, involving the coming out of Christ from God, is vitally important, and we shall give the scripture references:
Jesus while teaching the Jews said, "I proceeded forth and came from God;" (John 8:42). By no reasonable interpretation can these words be made to mean that Christ, as an eternally separate person who was in the association of God, merely left that association to come to earth. The term "proceeded forth and came from" suggest an outcoming of the actual essence of God, a forming of something of God with a degree of separateness which had not before existed. That something Jesus called "I." "I proceeded forth and came from God;" He was given and assumed some of the characteristics of a separate personality (as we commonly think of personality), yet retained all the qualities and powers of his original Being, which was God, and also retained perfect communion, or oneness with God. The coming out did not involve a separation of personality which remained One as it always had been and always must be.
Jesus so taught his disciples that they believed that he came out from God, for which belief they were commended, and in commending them he states the matter in direct words:
"For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world;" (John 16:27-28).
And in further confirmation of this teaching Jesus in his prayer says: "I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee" (John 17:8).
There is another significant statement, the words of Jesus in latter day revelation:
"The Spirit of truth is of God. I am the Spirit of truth." (Doctrine and Covenants 90:4c).
"Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father." (John 6:46).
Jesus was not talking of his physical life in these utterances, but of his Spirit Being. He is the Spirit of truth, which is of God. It was that Spirit which, "in the beginning" came out from God, being resolved into a form, and so became the "Only Begotten Son." There had been a "proceeding from," a "coming out of," something akin to generation, or having been begotten. As Son he had origin in the Father.
THE IMAGE AND LIKENESS OF GOD
From present knowledge we cannot think of God, the universal Being, as being in anywise limited to a form like that of man. He fills the heavens and the earth, and is in and through all things. He is the eternal Spirit. But to this view objection is urged that he in person sits down upon his throne in human form from whence he sends out his power and influence to rule the universe. But the scriptures do not so present him: it is he himself that is omnipresent.
One passage more than all others is probably the cause of the anthropomorphic view of God:
"And I, God, said unto mine Only Begotten, which was with me from the beginning, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness;" (Genesis 1:27).
From this the idea of God being in the form of a man can be drawn only by inference. This inference is more or less common, but is it correct? In the absence of any specific revealment that God has such a form, is it either safe or wise to make such an inference from such meager and uncertain evidence? Is it justified?
In the light of what has been presented, with other matter to follow, it is our conception that this "image" is none other than the form into which the Spirit of truth, which was of God, was resolved in the beginning, when God conceived the great plan of creation and redemption of man, and having determined in his infinite mind the form in which he would make man, resolved from himself a corresponding form or "image," which was to become the pattern for all others. This was the Only Begotten Son. Not only was the Son a pattern, but it was to be the medium through whom the whole work of creation and of redemption was to be effected. He was to be the life-giver to the world of living forms which he should create including man, both in the spirit or pre-carnate world and in the present world.
It is well to consider that Divine activity is in constant change of movement, in new creations, dissolving old creations which have served their purpose. "my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease;" (Doctrine and Covenants 22:3b).
There is no stagnation in God's universe. His works change but not his nature or purpose.
Christ's repeated statement "I am in the Father, and the Father in me;" (John 14:11) is most certainly an affirmation of the oneness of personality, and the absence of any actual separation between Father and Son. When an earthly son is born of an earthly father they become two absolutely separate persons, no more capable of reunion. But no such separation divided Christ and the Father-God. Christ, the Son remained in one indissoluble union with the Father, and the Father remained inseparable from the Son. They were one. Jesus said "I and my Father are one." (John 10:30). This was not said as some have urged, that they were one in purpose and character, but the teaching of Jesus here, was dealing directly with personality rather than with unity of mind and heart, as referred to on another occasion when praying for his disciples "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us;" (John 17:21). "I am in the Father, and the Father in me;" (John 14:11).
Can two personalities, which are separate and distinct, even though they be alike in character, be so described? Can two personalities, even so blended into one that they exist as one? Can God be revealed as two Gods acting as one, or as triune in person yet one in saying to the Brother of Jared "I am the Father and the Son." (Ether 1:77)? Jesus did not say, "I am two persons acting in two capacities."
Perhaps the fact of the Son taking form constituted the main, if not the sole measure of separation or of distinction between him and the Father.
It is not strange then that God should say to this Only Begotten Son, who was of himself, and who had come out from him, and assumed a form with a measure of separateness, a form from which was to be evolved the myriads of human spirits of like pattern; "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness;" (Genesis 1:27). This image was the one which God had designed and formed of himself in the divine process of generation. It was the Son, the Only Begotten Son and there was no other.
"And I, God, created man in mine own image, in the image of mine Only Begotten created I him;" (Genesis 1:29).
The latter clause seems to be explanatory of the first and follows the idea we have already expressed, or presented. The meaning is made somewhat clear by Paul's expression concerning Christ "Who is the image of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15) which neither says nor implies that God is in the form of man, but rather that as universal Spirit, God being without form is invisible, that is un-discernable to man except through the image of himself as revealed in the form of Jesus Christ. Nor does this image refer to Christ's physical body for he had this image or form in the Spirit, and so appeared many times before his incarnation. As we have previously explained, it was this form of the Only Begotten Son which was revealed to the ancients as Jehovah and God.
In Doctrine and Covenants 22:8, Moses makes a statement to Satan, "behold I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten;" (Doctrine and Covenants 22:8b). Here Moses speaks of being created after the image "of his Only Begotten;" that is in the form of God; in the image and likeness of the Son. Then Moses adds, "For, behold, I could not look upon God" (Doctrine and Covenants 22:8c). It was in this form or image that Christ appeared to the Brother of Jared more than two thousand years before he came in the flesh, the account of which is so clear and pertinent that we quote therefrom:
"behold the Lord shewed himself unto him, and said, Because thou knowest these things, ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I shew myself unto you. Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. (Ether 1:76-77). Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were created in the beginning, after mine own image. Behold this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit, will I appear unto my people in the flesh." (Ether 1:80-81).
In the explanation of this revelation, Moroni, a prophet and historian adds:
"Jesus shewed himself unto this man in the spirit, even after the manner and in the likeness of the same body, even as he shewed himself unto the Nephites, and all this, that this man knew that he was God" (Ether 1:82-83).
In dealing with man from the beginning God was under the necessity of adapting himself to man's measure of capacity. Is it not evident that Jesus Christ as the "Only Begotten Son" in the beginning, as well as in his physical earth life was the manifestation of God in this limited form adapted to human capacity to comprehend?
Here is God revealing himself to man in human form, but that form was Jesus Christ, the only human form in which God ever has been revealed to man, for the scriptures abundantly show that the divine image seen by the ancients was always Christ. Here is Christ revealing himself in "the body of my Spirit," apparently using the word "body" in the sense of form, and saying that that was the image after which all men were created. Notice his statement further: "man have I created after the body of my Spirit;" (Ether 1:81). And in this very connection he also says, "I am the Father and the Son." (Ether 1:77). There were not two images of God, but "our image." That image was Christ's. It was Christ who created man, and it was his own form that supplied the pattern.
"the body of my Spirit;" (Ether 1:81) here suggests a form into which the Spirit of God had been resolved, or which had been resolved out of the Spirit of God which otherwise existed as the universal Spirit without form or limitation. It was a form derived from God enfolding the divine personality and nature, becoming the pattern for the creation of man, spirit and body, and becoming to them the representation of God in human form.
The bringing into existence of this "body of my Spirit;" (Ether 1:81) cannot be classed as a creation in any such sense as the word is used in relation to man and all material things. Men were created "in the beginning," as it is written, "And I, the Lord God, had created all the children of men, in heaven created I them, and there was not yet flesh upon the earth" (Genesis 2:6). Christ was not created but "came out from God." (John 16:27) though the form which he assumed at that time, as we have seen, was resolved of himself. It was the eternal Spirit of Truth resolving of itself a form, without however changing or losing any of its essential characteristics or powers. This form continued in oneness with the universal Spirit. The separation being seeming only and not absolute.
Illustrations which can be used to represent divinity are few and none of them are altogether fitting. We can not represent infinite things by finite, yet there may be illustrations that will help. But sometimes an illustration will represent a single idea which is helpful. It is with this thought that we notice the distinction between the making of a bronze statue which is strictly the work of creation, and the producing of a marble statue which is strictly a forming, or bringing forth out of a pre-existing body. The marble statue always existed, since the creation of the earth, in the mass of marble, but by the skill of the sculptor it "came out of" that mass, and became something which it was not before, yet retaining its original nature. It is still marble identical with the mass from which it was taken. If we can carry this idea into the realm of spirit, recognizing some measure of a parallel with spiritual things, and forgetting material things we may be able to catch the idea of Christ coming out from God, yet retaining the same nature and character belonging to God.
Though our illustration is imperfect and only partially fitting, yet it represents the idea of Christ coming out from God and still retaining the divine nature and personality. The illustration ends there. It is on the basis of those retained qualities, powers, and personality, and the fact of continuing communion in the fullest degree with God, that Jesus Christ can consistently speak of being eternal, of knowing all things, of having all power, etc., and it is upon this basis, and upon this basis only, that he can say, "I am the Father and the Son." (Ether 1:77).
CHRIST PREPARED FROM THE BEGINNING
There are some other scriptures which deal with this marvelous event "in the beginning," and which we must consider in order that the wonderful story shall be complete in our minds. They have to do with Christ's preparation. They are scriptures which we have largely if not entirely overlooked in our study of God and Christ. This preparation points to the great purpose in the mind of God which gave occasion for him to "come [came] out from God," (John 16:27) for it points to the great mission of the Son. We present here some of these scriptures:
"they would not hearken unto his voice, nor believe on his Only Begotten Son, even him whom he declared should come in the meridian of time; who was prepared from before the foundation of the world." (Genesis 5:43).
"Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people." (Ether 1:77).
Christ did not design to do all that was requisite in the redemption of man without enlisting willing and qualified men to assist. Alma speaking of such men whom God calls to the high priesthood as his representatives in this world, affirms that this priesthood was "after the order of his Son" (Alma 9:63) and that men called were chosen from the foundation of the world, and prepared for this ministry. It is in this connection that he says that Christ was prepared:
"thus this holy calling being prepared from the foundation of the world for such as would not harden their hearts, being in and through the atonement of the only begotten Son, who was prepared;" (Alma 9:68).
"grant unto you eternal life, through the redemption of Christ, whom he has prepared from the foundation of the world." (Mosiah 9:44).
The preparation of Christ differed from that of men chosen for the high priesthood, the latter being by development, training and experience; but Christ being Divine needed no such preparation. His preparation must have consisted only in the matter of the Divine Spirit assuming a form, not to encompass the universal Spirit of God, but sufficient to occupy in that form for the purpose of acting in a special and limited capacity, while preserving oneness of person. It was this coming out from God which constituted the begetting by which Christ became the "Only Begotten Son," thereby preparing him to be the "mediator" between God and man, and to deal with man on man's own level.
Christ's preparation was with a definite purpose, and though that purpose involved his giving his life for the world, yet that was but an incidental part of the whole; it included the entire work of redemption which would not reach its end until the earth and as many of its inhabitants as would were glorified in God. His preparation was accompanied by a choosing, a foreordaining of him, for this age-long task, as may be seen in the following:
"ye were not redeemed with corruptible things. But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot; Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you," (I Peter 1:18-20).
"those things which were from the beginning before the world was, which were ordained of the Father, through his only begotten Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, even from the beginning. he is the Only Begotten of the Father; that by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created; and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God." (Doctrine and Covenants 76:3b, 3h).
"I (John) saw his glory that he was in the beginning before the world was; therefore in the beginning the Word was; for he was the Word, even the messenger of salvation, the light and the Redeemer of the world; the Spirit of truth, who came into the world because the world was made by him; and in him was the life of men and the light of men." (Doctrine and Covenants 90:1d, 1e).
"And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ; According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Ephesians 3:9, 11).
The Only Begotten Son was prepared for a specific work, being given a commission to create man in his own image. The worlds needed by and for man in the great process of developing and bringing him to "immortality, and eternal life" (Doctrine and Covenants 22:23b) encompassing the solar system, and in redeeming man to become sons of God. With Christ in God and God in Christ and the oft repeated statement that they are one, we cannot think of absolute separation insomuch that they constituted two personalities. They remain one in their eternal nature. There is "one Spirit" (I Corinthians 12:13) says Paul. That same Spirit constitutes God and constitutes Christ. There are not two Spirits making two persons.
That age-long task included the creation of the earth and its attendant solar system, and the bringing of the human race to sonship in God. He who had this great task was the "Word, even the messenger of salvation" (Doctrine and Covenants 90:1d) which makes him the revealer of God and his truth to men. He was to be the purveyor of light and life to the world. The work of redemption necessitated his being a Restorer also, even to the raising of the dead. These are some of the details in the vast work for which Christ was prepared at the beginning.
Just what this change was as expressed in the words "was prepared" (Genesis 5:43) is not revealed, but of this it must be certain that there was a change so that Christ became what he had not been before. The various statements that originally he was "with God" (John 1:1) and "proceeded forth and came from God;" (John 8:42) together with the further statement that "the Son was of God." (John 1:1) i.e., of the essence or personality of God, suggest that he is a manifestation of God, though that manifestation was definite enough to be expressed in a Spirit form before the world was made. Or to be more specific, prior to this change, Christ was in the absolute degree one with God, having no image or form, or separateness of Being, and through the change was resolved from the very Being of God into a Spirit form, not created in any such sense as man was created, but coming out from God, and yet retaining the fullness of the nature of God, and also absolute and unrestricted communion with God. He was God expressing himself in that particular form.
This preparation was in view of the great work contemplated in the mind of the infinite God, which included the creation of worlds and their inhabitants, and the developing of them by age-long processes to perfection, and to such a likeness with God that they would be capable of dwelling in his glorious presence, in a state so much higher that the present world gives but the faintest conception of it. Can we not see in this preparation an adaption upon the part of God to the particular conditions and needs involved in this work? An adaption of his person in Christ to the particular form and personality of man whose creation was then in contemplation?
This preparation of the Son may be better understood by considering briefly that with infinite foreknowledge God laid out the whole plan relative to the creation and development of man from the beginning to the end, making provision for every detail of human need both in the spirit and in the flesh. It was then that the gospel was conceived, so that it was no new thing when it was revealed to Adam, much less when it was restored through John the Baptist and Jesus. Christ was made the Word, the messenger of salvation in the beginning. "In him was the gospel, and the gospel was the life" (John 1:4).
"thus God bringeth about his great and eternal purposes, which were prepared from the foundation of the world." (Alma 19:108).
"Now if it had not been for the plan of redemption, which was laid from the foundation of the world, there could have been no resurrection of the dead; But there was a plan of redemption laid, which shall bring to pass the resurrection of the dead" (Alma 9:42-43).
The universality of this plan of redemption is shown in the following:
"this is the man who receiveth salvation, through the atonement which was prepared from the foundation of the world, for all mankind, which ever were, ever since the fall of Adam, or who are or ever shall be, even unto the end of the world;" (Mosiah 2:11).
"our understandings were enlightened, so as to see and understand the things of God; even those things which were from the beginning before the world was, which were ordained of the Father, through his only begotten Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, even from the beginning" (Doctrine and Covenants 76:3a, 3b).
"the works of God were prepared, (or finished,) from the foundation of the world." (Hebrews 4:3).
Thus we find that the full plan of the gospel was foreordained from the beginning. The works that Christ was to perform were predetermined, including his death and resurrection, not, as some suppose that God predetermined, and made it personally obligatory, that certain persons should crucify the Son of God; but that knowing beforehand what men would do under given circumstances, he permitted this sinful act and made use of it to the fulfilling of his own purposes. Other acts of sin upon the part of all men made necessary the death of Christ and his resurrection that his work of redemption might be made complete. This was in the designs of God in the beginning:
"I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me; And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross;" (III Nephi 12:25-26).
"But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot; Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world" (I Peter 1:19-20).
Both the plan of redemption and the personal Redeemer were prepared in the beginning.
CHRIST MADE A MEDIATOR
We are inclined to think of the mediatorship of Christ from the human side, which is more in the nature of an intercessor. He is our representative before the Father, and pleads our cause. But we wish to look at it from the other side, and consider him as God's mediator to man.
As before expressed God is the "invisible" (Colossians 1:15) Being, to whom man cannot directly approach. Nor could God immediately make himself approachable, or comprehensible to man. To establish contact with man and make possible mutual relations he must "prepare" a "mediator," in whom his own nature and character shall be embodied, and through whom his whole purpose regarding man shall be wrought out. This mediator must be able to interpret and reveal God to man within man's extremely limited capacity. He must, in a sense adapt God to man's measure of understanding. He must even assume the form of man, and be able to condescend to walk and talk with men (like a professor adapting himself to his two or three year old child), and show himself to them, that they may know God thereby, and learn of his purposes and requirements. These are some of the characteristics of Christ's mediatorship. These he did as the Son of God.
The idea of Christ possessing "all the fullness of the Godhead" (Colossians 2:9) and at the same time adapting himself to man's small capacity, is like (to use another single idea illustration), a transformer on an electric line, which receives current of high voltage as it comes from the great dynamo, and reduces it to low voltage whereby it is adapted to the various electrical apparatus in our homes. To turn 25,000 volts into our household motors and lamps would destroy us. Lines running out of the power houses at Boulder Dam carry as high as 220,000 volts but by transformers patrons receive the power at 112 volts.
Christ receives of the fullness of God. His oneness with the Father leaves the stream of divinity flowing unrestricted to him. But in ministering to man that fullness flows only in such measure as is adapted to man's capacity to receive and power to use. Moses was permitted to see the Lord with but a portion of his glory, but even then, not until he had been himself quickened by a portion of that glory, and his capability greatly enlarged. Moses realized that what he had seen was with "not mine natural but my spiritual eyes, for mine natural eyes could not have beheld, for I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me, and I beheld his face, for I was transfigured before him." (Doctrine and Covenants 22:7b, 7c). The Lord also said to him, "no man can behold all my glory, and afterwards remain in the flesh, on the earth." (Doctrine and Covenants 22:3d).
Man receives only such portion of the things of God as his condition will admit.
The scriptural use of the word "mediator" as applying to Christ, refers to his representing God to man rather than man to God. He is the "Mediator between God and man;" (I Timothy 2:4) of "the new covenant;" the "mediator of life;" (Galatians 3:20).
All God's dealings with man are mediated through his Son Jesus Christ, who is the "one mediator between God and men" (I Timothy 2:5). He is the "Only Begotten" (I Timothy 2:4). On the other hand, man's approach to God can be only through Christ, who is "an advocate with the Father" (I John 2:1). "no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6). As mediator, Christ "hath power over all men." (I Timothy 2:4) for the Father has "given him power over all flesh" (John 17:2). Again we are told that "the Father judgeth no man; but hath committed all judgment unto the Son;" (John 5:22). Christ's position as Mediator is absolute; "The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hands." (John 3:35).
(In adapting himself to man's limited capacity he must bring himself within the reach of man's senses - the physical senses, with such spiritual sense as he possesses.
Man sees with eyes. God must assume a limited form if man is to see him. Hence the image of God resolved from his own Spirit, and called the Son; that image having been "begotten" in the beginning, that is in the beginning of God's processes looking toward the creation and the perfection of man.
Man hears with physical ears. God must speak to him in such a way that those physical ears can hear him. Hence the form or image of God in Christ the Son, who both in the Spirit and in the flesh has spoken with man "face to face;" and "even as a man talketh one with another" (Genesis 7:4).
Man feels not only by the sense of touch in his fingers but in his inner emotions. With Christ there is the physical touch and the spiritual touch and man's emotional feelings are susceptible of being touched by the Spirit of Christ. Through Christ man can come into contact with God and feel him.)
CHRIST'S SONSHIP IN THE FLESH
Christ's Sonship is primarily of the Spirit; that is, in his Spirit form, which he assumed in the beginning. He was then the Only Begotten, "the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world." (Genesis 14:31). Long before he came into the world he said to the Brother of Jared, "I am the Father and the Son." (Ether 1:77). It was necessary therefore, that in coming into the world the vital fact of his Sonship should be extended to the flesh, and that he should be born of a virgin by the Holy Spirit in this world. He was not the Son of God so much because of the manner of his birth, but rather that his being already the Son of God made necessary, and determined, the manner of his birth in the flesh. He was already the Son of God begotten before the foundation of the world, and it was necessary and consistent that that relation of Sonship should be extended to the flesh, thereby revealing in the flesh the great spiritual fact of his spiritual Sonship.
Christ's Sonship in the Spirit did not reach its finality, or fulfill its purpose, until he had become a Son in the flesh also. His Spiritual Sonship had that end in view, and had he not been born the Son of God into the world there would have been no occasion for his being "prepared" as the "Only Begotten Son" in the Spirit. A denial of his divine Sonship in the flesh is a denial of his divine Sonship in the Spirit, and of the whole scheme of redemption. The failure of men to recognize the fact of Christ's Sonship in the Spirit tends to and makes easy their failure to recognize or to deny his Sonship in the flesh. The whole purpose of God concerning man, and the gospel of salvation, rest upon one basic fact, viz., the divine Sonship of Jesus Christ in both Spirit and body. To deny this great basic fact is to deny all, and to take away the hope of mankind.
In the face of growing disbelief in, and of insistent denial of, the divine Sonship of Jesus in these modern times, comes to Latter Day Saints the added and confirmatory witness of the Book of Mormon and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. In them the testimony of the Bible regarding the virgin birth is more clearly and more directly affirmed. God has "left not himself without witness" (Acts 14:17) upon this vital truth in these difficult times, but has given much new light.
THE NATURE OF PERSONALITY
In considering the evidences heretofore set forth regarding the singularity of God and Christ, the reader may still be puzzled because of the persistency of the thought of two personalities. We recognize the difficulty of understanding the fundamental fact of that singularity, but our chief fault is in our failure to understand the nature of God, or more specifically, the nature of personality.
Our whole conception of personality has been gained from our knowledge of human persons, all of whom have form like our own, from which we have easily assumed that form and personality are inseparably connected, and that neither can exist without the other. Having believed that God is in the form of a man, and that Christ is in "the express image" of God (Hebrews 1:3), we inevitably reach the conclusion that they are two separate and distinct personalities.
In attributing to God a form with which his personality is bound up we become involved in another error, viz., the limiting of that personality in its expression to that particular form. God is in no such way so restricted, but finds free expression for his Being in the universal Spirit which he is.
The Spirit which fills all space, and is in and through all things, the power by which all things are created, maintained and governed, the universal invisible and incomprehensible God.
His activities are manifest in an infinite number of ways regardless of any bodily form, though it is by no means impossible for him to provide a form in which his personality may have expression in some particular way.
It must be remembered that God's revelations to man cover only a part from a few basic principles or attributes of his character, his work pertaining to this world, or at most, "this heaven and this earth;" (Genesis 1:1). And of matters relating to other worlds or systems he says (see revelation to Moses; Doctrine and Covenants Section 22), that for wise reasons this knowledge "remaineth in me." (Doctrine and Covenants 22:21a). It is enough for man to know himself and his earthly environment and the purpose of his being.
Personality in this connection is nicely set forth in the following;
"What is the essence, the essential idea, of personality? It is not outline, it is not limitation, it is not location in space. John Locke, the English philosopher, says that the central idea of personality is thought and intelligence. Hermann Lotze, one of the foremost scientific philosophers of the world, asserts the same. Conscious selfhood, he says, is the essence of personality. And so we may assert and believe that God is personal, while we eliminate from the definition of that word all that limits, all that locates, all that cripples, all that hampers personality, as we are acquainted with it in ourselves and in each other. And we may rightly, I believe carefully defining terms and understanding what they mean, assert of God that he is the infinite person." (Belief in God by M. J. Savage, page 74).
Albert C. Knudson defines a person as "one who thinks and feels and wills," and that "personality in its essence means self-hood, self-knowledge and self-direction." He says further:
"But while personality must be construed in psychological terms, it does not necessarily imply limitations and imperfections such as those incident to the growth and development of the human spirit." (The Doctrine of God, pages 399, 297 and 396 respectively).
God is a person but not necessarily a form. It is his universal and all-pervading Spirit which is possessed of intelligence, of feeling and of will. His intelligence and power are everywhere manifest, and that without any bodily presence. God is essentially Spirit.
These qualities, or in other words, his personality is, and may be, manifest in every part of his being in every place wherever God is. Where a portion of his Spirit is resident in a human soul, there God is in all the qualities and powers of his being his personality is there manifest. This condition may exist in thousands or millions of souls at the same time, yet it is the same personality in all.
The personality of God is manifested in and through Jesus Christ, who is possessed of a form. Because of that form we have erroneously supposed that he is another person. Such supposition does not rest upon any sound basis. The very universality of God as the Spirit, makes possible the manifesting of his personality in any way, in any place, in any form which he may choose, or sometimes independently of any form. But such manifestation in a form does not constitute a separate personality, any more than would his varied manifestations independently of a form constitute separate personalities.
When a man is born of the Spirit and the Spirit takes its abode within his soul that man is in communion with God; he has contact with the divine personality. Paul refers to this relation as "Christ in you" (Colossians 1:27). The man discerns and thinks the thoughts of God (within bounds); he feels and partakes of the Divine nature. The Divine personality is within him. That Spirit may speak as God to him. It may reveal deep mysteries and exalted truths. There is no limit to its possibilities though there may be limits to the man's power of reception. The personality of God there is without limitation. But here is another man having possession of the Spirit of God; two men; ten thousand men, in every one of whom the person of God dwells; he hears petition and answers; he speaks and reveals, counsels or directs in every one.
Are we so simple as to believe because of this distribution and separate activity of the Spirit of God in ten thousand persons, that the Spirit is divided into ten thousand separate entities? Paul says there is "one Spirit, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." (Ephesians 4:4, 6). There are many different ministrations yet "all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will." (I Corinthians 12:11).
If when the Spirit of God can dwell in many persons without dividing its personality, remaining all the time one and the same Spirit, cannot then the Spirit of God dwell in a greater degree in Jesus Christ, without dividing the personality, remaining one with God? The indwelling presence of the Spirit of God in the form of Christ the Son (and Jesus possessed no other Spirit apart from the Spirit of God), need not and did not reveal a personality separate or distinct from God. Jesus confesses his identity with the Father, not only in such expressions as "I and my Father are one." (John 10:30) but in "if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also." (John 8:19); "he that hath seen me hath seen the Father;" (John 14:9) and "the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." (John 14:10).
In dealing with this creation, involving the human race, God chose to manifest himself through a form which was specifically "prepared" for the particular purpose, and through whom his whole work of creation, development, redemption and perfection, could be executed, and whom he designated "Mine Only Begotten Son." In other words, Christ is God's medium of expression and of operation to the human race, and, so far as we know, to the human race only. He is not necessarily a Messiah and a Savior to other worlds, unless the other planets of our solar system are included in the scope of his particular work as suggested by "this heaven and this earth;" in Genesis 1:1. There is no evidence that the Son's work as Mediator and his mission as Redeemer extend to the whole universe. He is mediator between God and Man, and the Redeemer of the world. The purpose of his preparation stated by himself, "I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people." (Ether 1:77). This with its correlated work is the only reason for Christ coming out in his separateness in a definite form. For this purpose and this purpose only, did he come out from God, and became the Only Begotten Son, and was prepared and became the Mediator between God and man.
Christ has declared the eternity of his being. However, especially since he says "I am the Spirit of truth." (Doctrine and Covenants 90:4c) so that he is essentially Spirit, it does not follow that Christ existed eternally in human form. It was his form which was prepared from the beginning and which constituted his Sonship. It had a beginning. As Spirit he was eternal but as to his form that originated when he came out from God and became "the Only Begotten Son." His personality always existed but in the beginning when he "was prepared," be became a form, that personality was associated with that form, though by no means confined to it solely. Since Christ ascended into the heavens after his resurrection, his Spirit is shed abroad, or in other words, his personality, into the hearts of his people, showing that personality is not limited to form.
In the matter of Christ coming out from God and assuming an apparently separate identity, while still retaining complete unity with God, we have no earthly parallel, and can offer but little in the way of illustration. However the following may give some little measure of help.
A man builds up four walls and upon them constructs a roof and calls the enclosure "The Auditorium." But what has he done? Just this: he has enclosed a little bit of the universal space by four artificial walls and a roof, and given that space an individuality and a name, which individuality is designed for a specific purpose different from that of the whole universe of space. It becomes known by its individual form and name, and stands out as a thing in and of itself, and apart from other space, and having a separate identity. But while he has done all this, that space known as The Auditorium still remains absolutely a part of the universal space: it is not even detached. The separation is seeming rather than real, the walls which suggest separateness being artificial, and may be removed at any time, leaving what had been the enclosed space, just what it had always been - a part of the universe. Whether enclosed or unenclosed, that space always possessed all the properties of and remained as one with universal space.
To personify space: that portion enclosed by the walls of The Auditorium, speaking from the standpoint of universality, could correctly say, "I am the universe speaking; I am universal space;" and from the standpoint of its enclosure, "I am also The Auditorium." It could correctly say, "I am both universal and local." "I am God and man."
In taking that space, known as The Auditorium, out of the universal space, it was given a form which universal space did not have. Universal space and form are contrary terms for form means limitation. Infinity cannot be confined within limits, though a form may be included in infinity, even as the Son is included in the infinite God. While the space in The Auditorium is the express likeness of universal space, that is not to say that universal space is in any sense limited to the same form and proportion.
The personified auditorium space could speak as universal space and it could speak as The Auditorium. It could describe or define its infiniteness or its finiteness. That is just what Christ did. He spoke as God the infinite One, and he spoke as the limited and finite "Son of man" (Genesis 6:60). He spoke sometimes as Father and sometimes as Son. While speaking as Son he could say "my Father is greater than I." (John 14:28). In speaking as Father he could say "I am, the Almighty God." (Genesis 1:2). He could say, "I am the Father" (Ether 1:77) and he could say, "I am the Son" (Doctrine and Covenants 68:1d).
In somewhat similar manner we conceive of Christ. Insofar as he was the Son he was "of God" (see John 16:27), and in coming out from God (whatever that process was) acquired a separate identity, and individuality, which established a point of partial distinction between him and God, which distinction, however, or separateness, like The Auditorium in relation to space, was purely artificial, and which in no sense destroyed his absolute unity with God or changed his universal nature. It did not give him a separate personality - it did not constitute him a separate person. Under no other way would he be justified in saying, "I am the Father and the Son." (Ether 1:77). In no other way would he be justified in saying, "I am God," (Doctrine and Covenants 6:1b, 10a) and I am "from all eternity to all eternity, the great I AM" (Doctrine and Covenants 39:1).
In the flesh Christ's personality was limited most extremely in its expression and operation. So far as that personality was manifested in the flesh, it revealed God, though that revelation was incomplete. It should be observed that his fleshly nature was of the earth, and tainted with the evil that is common to man which rendered him susceptible to temptation and weakness. His physical conditions were no different from those of other men; he hungered and thirsted, and became weary; he collapsed under extreme mental and physical strain; his Spirit could act only through the limited powers of the physical body.
Christ voluntarily assumed these limitations of the flesh and while in his earth life kept within those limits. By the exercise of his Spirit power he could have made for himself bread but he suffered hunger instead. He might have smitten the rock and brought forth a stream but he thirsted. He might have called into operation the powers of the universe in his defense but he died; all just the same as other men, because he had assumed to become a man. He was a man.
It was because of these conditions that he had need to pray, for he prayed out of his weak humanity. The barrier of carnal flesh placed his divine Spirit under such restraint that the universal Spirit - the Father - was at times hidden from his view. It was at such a time that he cried out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:50). As man, Jesus had need of the inflow of divine light and power the same as other men. It was his life struggle to bring his carnal nature into conformity with his divine Spirit and thus produce "one new man" (Ephesians 2:15) which should become the pattern for all men.
As man Jesus did have need to pray to his Father, and the Father found it necessary to commune with him, as if they were distinct persons, just the same (if in imagination we again personify space) the enclosed space of the auditorium might commune with universal space, and vice versa, and that without giving us occasion to assume that there were two universal spaces.
AS TO GOD'S PERSONALITY
Enoch looked upon the earth, and he heard a voice from the bowels thereof, saying, "Woe! woe is me, the mother of men! I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children!" (Genesis 7:55).
Here the universal Spirit which pervades all things, speaks from the earth, as if of the earth, and as if limited to the earth. To put it differently; that portion of the Spirit of God resident in the earth assumes some characteristics of a separate personality and speaks as if it were a separate entity. It is the Spirit within the earth which suffers, and complains of the wickedness of men. Yet no one would assume from this that the Spirit of God resident in the earth was a separate person.
This is a similar condition to the Spirit of God coming into a human soul where it assumes the characteristics of an individual person, communing with that soul, revealing truth, speaking as a man. It rejoices with the joyous and mourns with the sad, and grieves in the transgressor. Yet that Spirit is one with the Spirit which may be in other souls. While rejoicing in one, it mourns in another, and weeps in another. It reveals varied emotions of personality, but not a multiple of personalities. The personality it reveals is God's, the same personality the Spirit always reveals, and the same which Christ revealed.
"And it came to pass that there was a voice heard among all the inhabitants of the earth upon all the face of this land, crying, Wo, wo, wo unto this people; wo unto the inhabitants of the whole earth, except they shall repent," (III Nephi 4:26).
This is Christ's utterance to the Nephites from heaven, in America, after his crucifixion in Jerusalem, and before he appeared unto them. It is not a physical voice. This was the Spiritual Christ - not a separate personality. He was moved by the actions of men.