Why did Jesus come to earth? After Adam fell, men were separated from God. Great is the love of God for his children and great is his desire to again dwell with them. The only way to recover mankind from death was for Jesus to bring them into holy marriage covenant and offer himself for their transgressions. As the groom, he alone knows what is required for his bride to dwell in the presence of a perfect God. He, therefore, modeled the way for his children to mature, such, that they could again abide the Father’s presence. The purpose of this work is to consider what it means to come to know the Father.
The words New Testament in Hebrew are B’rit Hadashah, where b’rit means covenant and hadashah means a cycle of restoration or renewal of the relationship. This was first spoken of by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:31-34) where b’rit hadashah is translated as new covenant. It would be more accurate to say renewed covenant or, even better, renewed relationship.
Renewing a relationship requires a commitment, an understanding of the commitment, and a consistent adherence to the tenants of the agreement, or in other words a covenant. This is key in how the Lord is accomplishing his work. Thus, Yehoshua—the Hebrew equivalent for the Greek Jesus which is often shortened to Yeshua—is still seeking a bride, a body of people with whom he can live in full agreement.
Why is a Renewed Relationship Needed?
The Lord made with Israel, as a collective people (corporate body), a covenant at the base of Mt Sinai (Exodus 24:8). This is referred to as the old covenant. Israel broke this covenant (Jeremiah 11:10), which brought about their destruction, and the broken relationship led to the death of Jesus, because they did not know him. At his death, the covenant was no more (Zechariah 11:10). Therefore, Yehoshua is renewing the relationship via the new covenant.
At first, this is an individual covenant, established via authoritative priesthood, witnessed in the waters of baptism (Mosiah 9:49-50, 11:96; Acts 2:47, 16:5). However, God’s original intent to have a corporate covenant has not changed. Israel’s covenant began to break down when they broke into two kingdoms (Israel and Judah). Ultimately, Jesus will again have a corporate covenant (Galatians 3:20; Hebrews 8:8; D&C 104:9b) with both Israel and Judah (3 Nephi 9:5785), as well as all others who are adopted into the covenant (Romans 8:15, 9:4; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5) in order to have one family relationship.
The ancient Hebrew espousal process, where four cups of wine are drunk to signify full agreement to the marriage covenant, provides insight. Since we are to be the bride of Christ, does it not follow that Jesus and his Father are bringing us into full agreement with the marriage and all it entails? These four cups represent four levels of covenant relationship—servant-hood, friendship, son-ship, and bride. When we first accept Christ as our Savior, we enter into a blood covenant relationship as his servant. For most people it takes a while to achieve consistent obedience to his laws, but once this happens, we enter into a friendship relationship, where Yehoshua shares more. As time passes, if we lay down self and continue to grow spiritually – meaning we achieve greater intimacy and understanding – we enter a son-ship relationship. In this we are trusted with Jesus’ authority to do the things that he himself would do in the earth. Eventually, there will be a body of people, well prepared through great sacrifice, who are equally yoked with Christ as his bride.
Scriptures that reflect this pattern of four are the explanation of the glories (D&C 76), the parable of the sower (Matthew 13; Mark 4; Luke 8) and the parable of the marriage supper (Matthew 22). In these, we see people in four groups, where some end up with greater reward (or glory) than others. Thus, to be part of the bride we must continue to come unto Jesus, submitting ourselves fully, if we want to receive his fullness, which is a place with him and his Father for eternity. Only the bride, those in celestial glory, will dwell with the Father.
Enacting the Covenant
The key to the bridal relationship—meaning a fully prepared body that consists of fully prepared individuals—is a relationship not only with Yehoshua, but also with the Father. Adequate preparation requires that each individual must progress through the four levels of espousal relationship. The corporate body must also progress through the four levels of relationship. It is much more challenging to live as one with many people, as compared to living as one with one person, yet, this is what will be, once Zion is fully established. Additionally, in order for Zion to be redeemed, there must be individuals who are functioning in the Spirit of the Father – well prepared for the Lord to use them to accomplish this great work of redemption.
Zion requires a people to live according to the celestial law. These are they who can abide the presence of the Father (D&C 76:7i, 85:2a, 4c). Only those who can abide the celestial law can abide his presence. We know that the work of the Father began when the Book of Mormon came forth (3 Nephi 9:88-93) and the church authority was restored, enabling the corporate new covenant. But, the establishment of Zion is what enacts the corporate new covenant, and it will only be accomplished by the intervention of God, according to Elder Alfred White’s experience: “The time was when my people might have redeemed Zion, if they had kept my counsel, but now it has passed out of their power. I will redeem Zion in its time.” See also D&C 100:3de, Psalms 87:5 and 24:3-10.
A key tenant of the restored gospel vision is the coming to corporate new covenant through Zion beyond an individual new covenant through baptism. Thus, more is required than an individual relationship with Jesus. In order to be part of Zion, we must first ask if we know the difference between the presence of Jesus and the presence of the Father? If we do not, how can we be a part of the redemption of Zion, Jesus’ bride? Where does the Spirit fit into this? Is the Spirit a separate thing from the presence of Jesus or the presence of the Father?
Let us look at scripture to help with these questions. We know that all things are accomplished by the Spirit (Zechariah 4:6) and we gain the Spirit through prayer (D&C 63:16a). The Spirit bears witness of all truth (John 16:13, D&C 50:4c). We are sanctified by the Spirit (Alma 3:95; D&C 83:6c), the washing of water by the word (Ephesians 5:26) or the blood of Christ (Genesis 6:63; Hebrews 10:29). Since there must be two witnesses of a thing (Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15), the Spirit and Jesus bear witness of the Father (Genesis 4:9, D&C 36:1l, John 8:42, John 14:9) and the Father and the Spirit bear witness of Jesus (John 8:18; Genesis 4:9; D&C 1:8c, 36:1l). Therefore, the Spirit must be a separate being (D&C 131:4a). Other passages that verify this say that Jesus is unto all men (1 Timothy 2:4) and the Spirit is sent to bring men to receive him (1 John 5:6). Yet, the only way to know the Father is through the individual new covenant, with Jesus Christ as the mediator (John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:4-5; Hebrews 12:24; D&C 104:9b). The reason the new covenant is better than the old covenant is because the individual relationship enables each one to know the Father, to become one with him, and become one with all others under covenant, because of the abiding presence of love from the Father.
In other words, it is the Spirit that brings men to receive Jesus and enter into the blood covenant of servanthood. It is obedience to Jesus that brings men into a covenant of friendship with him. It is coming to know the Father that enables a sonship covenant of greater service. Moreover, it is full sacrifice (yielding) of self that brings about the bridal covenant. The Lord will provide an opportunity for each individual to lay down that which is most important to them, and by this, is the full sacrifice confirmed and a testimony of love offered.
To Know the Father
Still, is there a difference between having a personal relationship with Jesus versus the Father? The answer is yes. When Yehoshua died the veil to the holy of holies rent and any man individually could then come into the presence of the Father. Before then, only the sanctified high priest could seek his presence on behalf of Israel as a corporate body. This was primarily done yearly, on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). Thus, it is Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, which enables access to the Heavenly Father.
From scripture we know there is a difference between the spirit of the Father and spirit of Jesus. Recall that Jesus, soon after his resurrection, breathed on his disciples and told them to receive the Holy Ghost (John 20:22), which had been promised (John 7:39; Acts 2:33). He also told them to tarry fifty days to receive the promise of the Father (Acts 1:4). The number fifty is the first number after seven sevens are completed. The number seven according to biblical numerology represents spiritual completeness. Thus, seven sevens equals complete completeness. It puts a stamp of importance on how complete it must be. Thus, Israel had to press forward for fifty days from when they exited Egypt until they at last met the Father on Mt. Sinai. This timeframe of fifty was likewise required of Jesus’ disciples when they had to wait fifty days to receive the promise of the Father at Penetcost. The lesson is that complete spiritual preparation must be accomplished to receive the presence of the Father.
The reason for seven periods of seven is because we must come to know God in his fullness, even the seven Spirits of God (KJV Revelation 3:1, 4:5, 5:6). Yehoshua had the seven spirits: “And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:2). If we are to be part of the bride and able to abide the full presence of the Father, we, too, must acquire the seven Spirits of God both individually and corporately.
The Father is a burning fire (Ezekiel 28:14, Hebrews 12:29). There are several verses that say those who will receive Jesus, and be baptized, will receive fire and the Holy Ghost (Matthew 3:38, 3:40, 5:4; Mark 1:6; Luke 3:23; John 1:28). In these we see a distinction—Holy Ghost being Jesus’ presence and the Comforter being the promise of the Father. When Jesus visited Zarahemla and prayed to the Father for the children, they were surrounded by a ring of fire (3 Nephi 9:15). Ezekiel’s heavenly vision came out of the midst of fire (Ezekiel 1:4).
The key difference between those who have an authoritative baptism and other Christians is access to the Father, for Jesus is unto all men and the Spirit was sent to all men to bring men to receive him (Genesis 4:9). Those with an authoritative baptism have the Spirit dwelling within them, not just working outside of them. This baptism requires an intercessory priesthood, who stand in the stead of Christ, since he is the mediator of the new covenant.
Words like Holy Ghost, Spirit, Spirit of truth, Spirit of Jesus Christ and Comforter are all used in scripture, and this makes it difficult to distinguish between the Spirit as a separate being versus Jesus or the Father’s presence. Yet, this is a key understanding if we are to grow to experience and know the fullness of God. The Book of Mormon says that Jesus is the Father (Mosiah 1:102, 8:30; Ether 1:77). However, most scripture passages distinguish the Father from the Son; and, the basic point remains the same, even if ultimately there is only one being, we must still grow to know the distinctions if we are to grow to know the fullness of God.
If we do not know the Father, how can we bring his presence into the earth realm? This is how he manifests through us. How can we do what the Father is doing, just as Jesus did (John 5:19), if we do not know him? How do we bear witness of the fullness of the gospel, such that other Christians can see a difference in us, if we do not know the Father? In the Father’s presence can no unclean thing dwell (Genesis 6:60; Deuteronomy 23:14; Isaiah 52:11), therefore the bride must be spotless to abide the Father.
The Role of the Father
All power comes from the Father (3 Nephi 9:90). God intends his gospel to go forth in miraculous power. This is why he gave it to Jesus (Helaman 2:73; 3 Nephi 9:98); and, for the sake of the Kingdom it is given to us (D&C 50:7e). We need this power today, therefore, we must learn to know and dwell with the Father.
Again, the Father’s presence is different from the Spirit or from Jesus’ presence. It is a burning ember that grows as one grows in their relationship with him. It is like touching infinity. When communing with the Father, we can experience union with all that we can perceive. In the Father’s presence we can experience the heavenly realm, even though we now dwell in the flesh. We can become a burning flame with him.
When a group of individuals learn to walk continually in the Father’s presence, a ring of fire will extend between them. Eventually a fiery ring of protection forms around the whole body, as individuals manifest the power of God unto the blessing of all (Obadiah 1:17-18). Once Zion is established, then will the gospel go forth in power, because we are one with the Father (3 Nephi 10:4).
Elder White saw in his experience a ring of protecting fire around Zion. Only those who could abide the judgment of the Holy Ghost could abide therein: “I saw a narrow and very bright red ring, which enclosed Independence and a portion of the surrounding country, the center of which seemed to be a little southwest of where I was standing, on a high spot of ground … ‘I have sanctified all of the ground inside of this ring, and I will not suffer any person to live inside of this ring except those who keep the celestial law. Now mine elders shall receive an endowment, and it shall be the same endowment that Peter had when he judged Ananias and Sapphira.’ I was given to understand that only such elders received this endowment as were chosen by the Holy Ghost at this time. ‘Now all written law ceases on the inside of this ring, but on the outside it shall continue as it is. Now my judgment commences inside of this ring which is the judgment of the Holy Ghost, that no sin may escape. By the written law and the judgments of men, many guilty ones go unpunished and many of the innocent suffer. You read in my word that Zion shall be redeemed by judgment. Many of my elders misrepresent me in regard to my judgment. They say it is storms, pestilence, earthquakes, etc., but this is not what I mean. I mean the judgment of the Holy Ghost, and as you see Peter yonder judging Ananias and Sapphira by the Holy Ghost, so shall the judgment be here. Death is laid at the feet of every person.’”
For the testimony of the restored gospel to go forth in power, for Zion to be, and for Christ to have his bride, we must learn to know the Father and to walk meekly with him, in order to allow His presence to manifest unto the protecting and blessing of all within his Kingdom.