This article isn’t an effort to do something we aren’t supposed to do. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate a point about the relationship between God and Christ, and about God, Christ, and us.
Who loves you more?
When we historically talk about God the Father, here are the types of scriptures people very often refer to.
2 Nephi 28:15
15 O the , and the learned, and the rich, that are puffed up in the of their , and all those who preach , and all those who commit , and pervert the right way of the Lord, , wo, wo be unto them, saith the Lord God Almighty, for they shall be thrust down to hell!
Doctrine and Covenants 76:104-106
104 These are they who suffer the of God on earth.
105 These are they who suffer the of eternal fire.
106 These are they who are cast down to and the wrath of , until the of times, when Christ shall have all enemies under his , and shall have his work;
2 Peter 2:4-6
4 For if God spared not the that sinned, but cast them down to , and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto ;
5 And spared not the old world, but saved the eighth person, a preacher of , bringing in the upon the world of the ungodly;
6 And turning the cities of and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an unto those that after should live ungodly;
These are just a sampling of verses that talk about God punishing the wicked. When I say God here, I am referring to our Father in Heaven, even though both God and Christ are Gods. God’s main role in the Godhead is the lawgiver. He established the plan for our salvation, which includes all the rules, blessings, boundaries, punishments, and plans for all of His children’s behavior who both did and did not accept his plan. There is no doctrine or circumstance that can happen in mortality that isn’t already planned for in the plan for our salvation.
Be honest, when we talk about God and Christ, who do we focus on as the one who loves us more, Our Father or Christ? We know they both love us, but honestly, do we ever think about where the love of God, our Father, fits into His own plan for our happiness? For those who come from a hellfire and damnation religious background, that answer is easy, Christ loves us more, because God is the great punisher. For those who come from a background of the restored gospel of Christ, that view is softened considerably. There are many passages in the Book of Mormon alone that talk about God’s love for His children.
We focus on Christ’s love for us, because God must remain as the lawgiver. It requires a third party to step in between the lawgiver and the law breakers to offer them mercy. That is the role of the Messiah and Redeemer. His role is to pay the price of our sins then set his own terms (agreeable to the Father, of course) for us to follow in order to be forgiven for our tresspasses and willfulness. Of the two of them, Christ appears to be the only one who can directly offer us mercy and grace.
So if God loves His children as much as Christ does then why do the scriptures talk so much about the love of Christ, and not nearly so often about the love of God for His children? Perhaps the scriptures do, and we just don’t focus on those passages as much as we do on the love of Christ. Ever wonder why that might be so?
I find it interesting that God loves us so much that for our own sakes He is willing to have us focus our love on Jesus, since Jesus is our only way back home to God. Yet Jesus never says “Love me.” He always tells us to love and revere our Father. Both are completely selfless in their devotion to the other. Neither feels a need to be the center of our attention. So we revere and honor Christ, and do all things in his name, as per our Father’s instructions, but we worship only the Father, as per Christ’s instructions.
Building the plan for our salvation
The plan of salvation presented to us by our Father in Heaven is a highly involved and complex plan. Yes, there are some simple ideas in there, but His plan holds all the laws that govern our agency, all the conditions for each kingdom of glory, for how it is determined who will go to hell, how hell works, and how long people will stay there. The plan determines what constitutes the need to cast someone out of heaven and what efforts on a person’s part qualify them to become a son of perdition. The list goes on and on. Everything we talk about in the gospel of Christ is part of this plan, and our Father had it all outlined and decided before we even attended the grand counsel in heaven where He outlined it all for us. He may likely have even had it all mapped out before we were plucked from the world of intelligences and given spirit bodies, for He chose as His first born, the one who would play the biggest part in His plan.
Dealing with limitations
There are some things God cannot do. Returning to mortality, once having already passed through it, is one of those things. Mortality is a one-shot deal. The problem is that in order for God to provide a way to save His children, who He loves with as perfect a love as there is, they needed a Savior to come into mortality with them to pay for their sins. God could not come to do this, because He had already gone through mortality. Someone else would have to do this.
But this is not all. The person who pays for all of our sins has certain rights and priesthood responsibilities to fulfill in addition to his atoning sacrifice for all of God’s children. There is the resurrection, and the right to be judge of every soul who comes into mortality, and the right to be the Father of heaven and earth. This means he would have to be the creator of all that exists as we know it. There is a lot wrapped up in this calling to be the Savior of all the children of God.
There is no question that God, our Father loves us. But He just could not come to earth to show us how much He loves us. He couldn’t make the sacrifices and demonstrate His love in this physical world like someone in a mortal body could do it. To demonstrate just how much He loves us He had to be willing to give us all up. He chose Jesus, His firstborn, who was as much like himself as any of His children could be. He had to trust Jesus to fulfill the responsibilities of the Christ, the Messiah, the Redeemer, and all the other appellations attributed to Jesus.
God, our Father’s willingness to give us up and turn us over to someone who was just like Himself is the ultimate symbol of His love for us. He declared that Christ is the only path back home. None of us can return to our Father in Heaven without full devotion to Christ, God’s beloved Son. In all ways, Christ is united, is one with our Father. He differs in nothing, not even in small matters. Jesus has subdued his own will to fulfill the will of our Father in all things. He did this before we came to earth, during his mortal ministry, and is doing so now, even as you read this article. Christ is completely obedient to the will of our Father in Heaven. This is why God can trust us in Christ’s care and keeping. He knows how much Jesus loves Him, and how willingly Jesus will always submit his own will to His. We are perfectly safe in the hands of Jesus. What more could a Father want?
Returning to the beginning
If Christ can offer us grace and mercy, why can’t God, our Father? Well, He can, and He does. Remember, it is precisely because God loves us that He gave us up into the loving care of Christ. Christ is our Father’s manifestation of His grace and mercy. He knows that if we come to mortality without a Savior in place that we are lost to Him forever. In His infinite love and mercy for us, He planned and prepared our Savior for us so we wouldn’t be lost unless we chose to become that way on our own. God’s only desire is our safe return to Him, and that requires us turning to Christ, the one and only way back to God. Christ literally represents all that is most precious about God, our Father. Jesus teaches us and demonstrates for us God’s mercy, His love, His concern, His tenderness, and His forgiving heart. If we can see something good in Jesus, that is what we should be ascribing to God as well.
Does this mean God won’t be exacting punishments from those who choose not to follow Christ? No, it does not. Remember that forgiveness for sins is only available to those who repent because of belief and faith in Jesus and his atoning sacrifice for us. Those who are taught of Christ’s offer to forgive us, and turn that offer down, must suffer as though no atoning sacrifice was ever made. They must suffer as Christ suffered, and the penalty will be a permanent separation from God, our Father. This is the very definition of damnation, to be cut off and no longer enabled to progress in the eternities, just like water that gets stopped in its progress by a dam wall.
So often when we read the scriptures we get confused because we can’t tell who is speaking, Christ or God, our Father. Honestly, does it really matter? They are so united in their purpose that what one would say the other would as well. Christ speaks for the Father and gives us His words all the times. After all, who is in charge of the plan of salvation? Is is Christ? No, it is God, our Father. Christ fulfills God’s will in all things. His calling is to do all that the Father requires of him to bring as many of us back safely to God as he can. We see Christ as being in charge of his kingdom, but until something changes in the distant future, everything Jesus does is fulfilling the will of our Father, first and foremost.
I seriously suggest you go to your New Testament and your Book of Mormon. Try to count all the times Jesus prays to God to talk to Him about what is about to happen and to receive instructions from Him. This is not the Savior’s show, it is God’s plan and His work. Jesus is carrying out the will of God in all things.
So the next time you are reading the scriptures, and you get lost in who is talking, remind yourself that it doesn’t really matter. The point I am trying to make by the title of this article is that we can’t separate God and Christ. They are one in every sense of the word, except for their physical bodies. They each possess their own body, and their own will. But when Jesus accepted the assignment to become our Savior, one of the stipulations was that he would completely subject his own will to the will of our Father. And interestingly enough, Jesus teaches us that we need to do the same thing. Our happiness depends on it. Our exaltation depends on it. And our eternal family status depends on it. Jesus truly is our example of God’s love for us in all things.
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