26 February 2014

"Thus saith the Father"

When I was in the MTC, I remembering being at a fireside where the speaker said something I never forgot. It has always stuck with me because I knew in the moment that what he said wasn't true.

He was teaching us from 2 Nephi 31, and emphasized verses 15 and 20:

15 And I heard a voice from the Father, saying: Yea, the words of my Beloved are true and faithful. He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.
20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life. [Emphasis mine]

He explained that Heavenly Father rarely speaks in the scriptures--and when He does it's strictly to bear witness of His Son, Jesus Christ. He taught that 2 Nephi 31 was the only place where God the Father wasn't saying some variation of "This is my Beloved Son." His goal for saying this, as far as I can remember, was to encourage us to treasure the words of God the Father. But why would a selectively mute God inspire anyone? Rather, we should treasure up every word that proceeds forth out of the mouth of God, with the assurance that his words never cease.

As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland once taught on this very subject:

"After a sacred vision in a now sacred grove answered in the affirmative the question “Does God exist?” what Joseph Smith and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints force us to face is the next interrogative, which necessarily follows: “Does He speak?” We bring the good news that He does and that He has. With a love and affection born of our Christianity, we invite all to inquire into the wonder of what God has said since biblical times and is saying even now."
My Words... Never Cease, April 2008 General Conference

Elder Holland's title for his talk comes from Moses 1: 4, a chapter in which God the Father is speaking to Moses face-to-face: "for my works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease."

Our Father in Heaven is the Origin of All Scripture

Those who struggle to find Heavenly Father in the scriptures do not understand what scripture is. Scripture is a record of God the Father's dealings with mankind. The moments throughout history in which He has spoken to His children, and called them to receive Him--this is scripture. By definition, we cannot call anything scripture unless God the Father is truly present in the story.

Christ Himself testified to this fact in John 14:

23 If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. [emphasis mine]

Every word that Jesus spoke; where did it come from? They are the words of our Father in Heaven--no less literally than if He were speaking them Himself. It may be Christ's mouth speaking the words, but words themselves are the Father's. 

Every page of scripture we possess communicates the voice, the will, and the identity of God the Father. The purpose is always to help His children achieve salvation, and this is not a casual activity for Him. It isn't something he troubles Himself with only in the role of testifying of His Son, and otherwise resigning Himself to a silent acquiescence to everything going on around Him. God is an active, engaged character in the stories of the scriptures, even if He doesn't seem readily apparent. The challenge in beginning is learning to recognize Him.

I began my search with this mindset, but it still felt incomplete to me. It still left me feeling like God was a puppet master or an orchestrator. I craved to see references in the scriptures to words coming from God's own mouth. So I set about to find them, and the results were almost immediate.

How do we recognize God the Father speaking in the Scriptures? 

First off, it helps to be aware of the situation with Heavenly Father's name/title. When we see "the Lord God" in the scriptures, we need to understand this as a translation of Adonai Elohim (אֲדֹנָי אלהים) from Hebrew. When we see some variation of "thus saith the Lord God" in the scriptures, chances are excellent it's referring to Heavenly Father. Sometimes Jesus Christ uses this title as well, and the context will reveal when this is the case (see D&C 36, D&C 43, 2 Ne 6: 9, and 2 Ne 10: 7.)

It's very useful to know about this convention, because sometimes both the Father and the Son will be speaking in the same chapter. The titles "the Lord God" and "the Lord" will differentiate between the Father and the Son, respectively. (See 1 Nephi 21, 2 Ne 5 and Genesis 1 in the original Hebrew as examples.)

We also need to be aware of the instances which refer to the Father symbolically. Allegories and parables may not obviously mention Heavenly Father as a character, but closer examination with the Spirit testifies that Heavenly Father is speaking. (See Jacob 5)

With that in mind, we can now go searching through the scriptures for instances where God the Father speaks. Here is the list I've compiled so far:

  • All 8 books from Moses in the Pearl of Great Price (especially 4 & 7)
  • Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 50: 26-27
  • 1 Ne 21: 22-23
  • 2 Nephi 5: 21-23, 25, 30
  • 2 Nephi 26: 17-31
  • 2 Nephi 28 & 29
  • 2 Nephi 31: 15, 20
  • Jacob 5, the Lord of the Vineyard
  • Enos 1: 5
  • Alma 5: 50-51
  • Helaman 5: 29-33, 46-47
  • Helaman 10: 1-11
  • John 12: 28
  • 3 Nephi 10: 3-7
  • Hebrews 12: 26-27
  • Revelation 16: 17
  • D&C 1 (especially verse 38. This admonition makes the MOST sense when coming from our Father in Heaven.)
  • D&C 133 & 136
Here is a list of references in which God the Father bears testimony of Jesus Christ
  • Matthew 3:17
  • Matthew 17: 5
  • Mark 1: 11
  • Luke 3:22
  • 3 Nephi 11: 3-7
  • 2 Peter 1: 18
  • Joseph Smith History 1: 17
  • D&C 93: 15

I've only just begun my study on this topic. I'm sure there are many other references in the Bible where God the Father speaks to His children. I will continue to search and update this list as time and occasion permit me to do so. 

I know that God is our Father. I know He hears our prayers and answers them. What better way for Him to answer than to speak? And if the lives of men are consequential enough to be included in the scriptures, I maintain that the words of God Himself are even more essential.

The Church of Jesus Christ is restored to the earth. Joseph Smith truly was a prophet. He saw God the Father and Jesus Christ in the Sacred Grove. And the most remarkable thing about that moment wasn't that it was unique--it was the continuation of what God has done with countless other men since the days of Adam. He invites us all to hear His voice, and to return to His presence.


I don't know about you, but these are the words I'm most looking forward to hearing!

Have you come across any other scriptures where God the Father is speaking? Did you ever question something you were taught, and discover something new because of it? Leave it in the comments!

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