Our Heavenly Family

This is the second chapter of the Gospel Principles manual for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To view the entire lesson, go here: Our Heavenly Family.

We Are Children of Our Heavenly Father – What do scriptures and latter-day prophets teach us about our relationship to God?

I have been thinking a lot about this lately. In my recent post on being a daughter of God, I quoted many of the scriptures which say that we are indeed children of God. We are his spiritual offspring. We lived with him in a pre-mortal existence and have the ability to become like our Father in Heaven someday. In God’s plan for His children, He has made it possible for us to return to live with Him again. (See How Do We Know We Are Spiritually Born of God? for more thoughts on this question.)

How does your knowledge that you are a child of God influence your thoughts, words, and actions?

There is not a day that goes by, that I do not think about how my choices affect my relationship with God. I have a testimony that I am a child of God and that my thoughts and actions in this life will determine the reward my Father gives me after this life. I think often about whether or not my choices will make God proud of me. I aspire to be the kind of person who finds favor with God, the way the great people in the scriptures did. I know that if I did not know or believe that God is my Heavenly Father, I would not try so hard to do what is right. This knowledge also helps me to have the will and desire to repent for the mistakes I make. I know that I am far from perfect, and in order to become more like Him, I need to be better, make changes, and be repentant for those things that take me away from Him.

We Developed Personalities and Talents While We Lived in Heaven – Think about talents and gifts you have been blessed with.

As a mother of three, I have witnessed the fact that infants come to this earth with their own distinct personalities and talents. Each of my children are different, even though they have familial similarities. One can see that these personalities are a part of our individual makeup. One of the things that I believe develops personalities and talents is the choices we make. In the pre-mortal existence, we had agency. We can know of at least one choice that we were willing to make, which was that we chose to follow the plan to follow the Savior rather than Satan. I am sure that our agency allowed us to make countless other choices which helped us to develop our individual personalities and talents before we came to the earth. We are taught in Doctrine and Covenants 138:56 that there was teaching in the pre-mortal world as well. In that verse we read, “Even before they were born, they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men.” We were learning about the kind of people we wanted to be long before we were born on the earth.

How have other people’s talents blessed you? How can your talents and gifts bless others?

I am so grateful that we are all different kinds of people with different personalities and talents. This makes life interesting and gives greater purpose to our being here in this preparatory state. I cannot begin to measure the blessings that I have received from the talents of others. So often they inspire me to work on my own talents, find ways to improve myself, and feel the inspiration of the Holy Ghost in ways I could not on my own. The talents of others make up for the areas I am lacking, while my talents make up for their own. When we work together, we can accomplish many great and wonderful things. I am a firm believer in the principle that all our talents can be used to further the work of God on this earth and I think we all can find ways to use what we have been blessed with for good. This is because all good gifts come from God. In James 1:17 we read, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” We show the greatest amount and quality of gratitude to the Lord, by using those gifts to do what he would have us do.

Our Heavenly Father Presented a Plan for Us to Become Like Him – How does earth life help prepare us to become like our Heavenly Father?

As a member of the LDS faith, I believe that God had and presented a plan for us, while we existed in the pre-mortal world. In Abraham 3:22 we read the following:

22 Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;
23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.
24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;
25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;
26 And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.
27 And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first.
28 And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him.

The plan was for a world to be created for us to prove that we could follow the commandments of God and therefore gain our second estate, or eternal life. As I said above, this is a preparatory state we are in now. We are living this life, to prepare to become like our Father in Heaven, who is perfect. This is part of the plan of God, or the plan of Salvation. Through our life experiences, both good and bad, we gain knowledge we cannot gain otherwise. We can be told that kindness is godly, but we cannot learn that for ourselves without putting it to the test. This is the perfect testing ground for us. We couldn’t gain a true understanding by God making us be kind to others, or by Him taking us by the hand to do it either. We needed separation from him and a chance to truly use the gift of agency that He has given each of us. In addition, we could not learn how to be like God, if we were always spiritual beings. We had to come to earth and gain physical bodies in order to be able to become resurrected beings later. We could not learn how to have joy without pain and part of the pain had to be physical. Because we have the ability to experience all things spiritually and physically, we can gain the joy that Heavenly Father has promised us.

List some of Heavenly Father’s attributes. How does the plan of salvation help us develop these attributes?

The scriptures teach us the attributes of God. In 1 John 4:8 we read one, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” Heavenly Father is loving. He is also charitable, wise, full of knowledge, full of joy, all-powerful, just and true, among countless other good things. Through the plan of salvation, we have the opportunity to learn to have this attributes in our own lives. We can gain knowledge by seeking for it and testing the principles of the gospel in our daily activities. We can learn to be just and true by discovering what is good, righteous, honest and fair in the way that God intended it. We can gain the attribute of being all-powerful, by becoming worthy of priesthood blessings which are from the power of God. The more we can gain from these blessings in our lives, the more power will be allotted to us from God. This is not the kind of power that men seek after in this life, but it is the power to be and act as God would himself. The plan of salvation allows us the opportunity to learn and grow to eventually become what God is and gain all that He has.

We are children of God and as such, we have the ability to become like He is. This is what he wants for each of us. I am so grateful for the knowledge that I have a Father of my spirit and that I can look to Him and His holy Son for examples of the person I want to become. I am glad that I am an individual with my own unique gifts and abilities. Being able to use these to help others and to draw nearer to my Father in Heaven, is an amazing gift. I hope that I will recognize the attributes of God that I have, as well as those that I need to work on, so that I can become more like He wants me to be.

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I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.

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