Summary: When members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints talk about receiving all that the Father has, we interpret that to mean that we will be made “equal in power and in might, and in dominion” with God. However, to most Christians, the idea that man can someday become equal to God seems blasphemous. However, that is a false criticism for a number of reasons. This article explains why.
In 1832 the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith, “And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord; For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me; And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father; And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore, all that my Father hath shall be given unto him” (D&C 84:33-38)
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when we talk about receiving all that the Father has, we interpret that to mean that we will be made “equal in power and in might, and in dominion” with God (D&C 76:95). If that is so, that means we will be equal to God, and when that happens, we will have become a god ourselves, in the same sense and to the same degree that our Father in heaven is God.
To most Christians, this idea is blasphemous because if we think we can become God’s equal, that infers we look forward to the time when we will no longer need God in our life since we’ll be able to do everything he can. They point out that the scriptures say that God is “exalted as head above all” (1 Chronicles 29:11). Therefore, when members of Christ’s restored church say that they can become gods themselves, many Christians say that this echoes the words of Lucifer who said, “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God” (Isaiah 14:13).
However, that is a false criticism for a number of reasons. To understand why, let’s examine them one by one.
By definition, a father is a man who has children, and the scriptures, and society, teaches that children are to obey their father (and mother). But that is only true while the child is living at home with their parents. When a child moves out on their own, and especially when they get married and have children, there are no longer under any obligation – either legally or scripturally – to obey their father in the same way they did when living at home.
When a son has a family of his own, it can rightly be said that he is now his father’s equal, in the sense that he has the same power over his children that his father had over him. But does that mean the son has no more need of his father? In the sense that the son can now make his own decisions without his father’s approval, the answer is yes. However, if we mean that the son no longer needs advice and counsel from his father, the answer is no.
But that’s not why Christians think it’s blasphemous to say that we can become like God. To them it means that we believe God will become irrelevant to us because we’ll think we’re be just as good as God and can therefore push him aside and just ignore him.
However, that’s not what a son does when he becomes his own father. He still honors his father, respects him, and continues to love him. When his father becomes old and can’t do what he once used to, many sons will take the time to do what they can for their father because of their love for him. Some will go over to his home and help with the yard work or help with repairs around the house. If their father is in the hospital or a nursing home, they will come and spend long hours visiting with him. Some children will even take their aged parents into their own homes and care for them.
If a son’s parents invite them over for dinner, a loving son will gladly come, and there will also be times when the son invites his parents to their home for dinner. Therefore, just because a son is now doing what his father once did, doesn’t change the love a father and his children have for one another. In fact, the older a son gets, the more they realize and better appreciate all that their father once did for them. Therefore, their love and respect for their father actually grows stronger and deeper the older they get, notwithstanding that they are now a father themselves and are no longer under their father’s rule.
Our relationship with our Father in heaven is no different. Right now, we are very much “children” of his and are far from being able to do what he does. It is God’s work to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life, and he is working hard to help us achieve both. However, like children, we don’t really appreciate all that he’s doing in our behalf and, like children, we often whine and complain about having to do things we don’t want to do.
But when we’re able to wear the crown of eternal life and be able to do what God does is when we will more fully appreciate all he has done in our behalf. It is when we become gods ourselves that we will truly understand all our heavenly Father went through to get us to become like him. It is when we embark on doing the work of a God that we will be eternally grateful to our Father in heaven for teaching us and preparing us to be able to do all that he does. Therefore, far from thinking that we won’t need God anymore when we inherit all that he has, we will have greater love and respect for him than we do now.
In the Book of Mormon we read of a Lamanite King by the name of Lamoni, who was traveling to the city of Middoni when he encountered his father, who was the king over all the land of the Lamanites. In this account we read that the older king asks his son why he didn’t attend a feast that his father had called him to? “And it came to pass that Lamoni rehearsed unto him (his father) whither he was going, for he feared to offend him” (Alma 20:11).
What we see here is that although these two men were both kings, one was greater than the other, and it was for this reason that Lamoni didn’t want to offend his father. In the same way, even though we can someday become equal in power, authority, and dominion to our Father in heaven, we are still not really his equal. For one, he has been an exalted king for a much longer period of time than we will ever be, therefore, we will forever respect him for his position of authority that will always be superior to us.
Since immortal beings never get old, sick, or infirmed, God, our Father, will always be our Father, who will always be a strong, healthy king. Just like King Lamoni was afraid to offend his father, the king, when we become gods ourselves, we will likewise not want to do anything that will offend our Father in heaven. Should we ever think of doing such a thing, we would quickly learn that he still can exercise tremendous power over us. God our Father is a very loving God, but he is not someone to be trifled with. He not only deserves our respect, but he demands it.
God will forever be our Father, and that will never change, even if we become equal to him in power and glory. Should he ever ask us to do something, and we refuse to do it, as the scriptures tell us, “In nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments” (D&C 59:21). This is why King Lamoni feared to offend his father, despite the fact that they were both kings, and we too should be afraid to offend our heavenly Father, regardless of our status.
The Lord told Moses, that we should “honor thy father and mother that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord they God giveth thee” (Exodus 20:12), and the apostle Paul wrote, “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord…for this is right” (Colossians 3:20; Ephesians 6:1).
If God is our Father and we are his children, then this law applies to how we relate to him as well. Since God will live forever, and so will we, then we will be children of his forever. Therefore, we are under commandment to obey God, our Father, forever.
Jesus said, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). To become like our Father in heaven, we must become perfect, and to do that we have to keep God’s commandments perfectly. Jesus kept all the commandments perfectly and because of this he became an exalted being who now sits on the right hand of God, the Father.
To become a God, we too must learn to keep all the commandments perfectly (which will take a very long time before we reach that point). It is when we have become as perfect as our Father in heaven that we will be worthy to become gods ourselves. But, if after becoming a god, should we no longer obey our heavenly parent, then we would no longer be perfect because we would not be keeping all the commandments perfectly. Should that happen then we could no longer remain as a god. Therefore, in order for us to be a god and remain that way, throughout all of eternity we could never afford to disregard or ignore any of our heavenly Father’s commandments.
But there is a far more important reason for obeying God after we become a god ourselves. The greatest commandment in the law is to love God with all of our heart, mind, strength and soul. That commandment doesn’t apply just while we live here on earth, but remains in full force forever. There will never come a time when we will be freed from loving our Father in heaven, and we will always need to do so with all of our heart.
Take for example a man who marries a woman. At the time they are married, they each make a solemn promise to love one another in sickness and health, in poverty and wealth, and during bad times as well as in good times. When a man truly loves his wife with all of his heart, he shows that love by the way he treats her, both in small insignificant ways as well as in big, obvious ways. And when a man loves his wife to this extent, his love for her doesn’t go away just because she dies before he does.
In the same way, if we truly love our Father in heaven with all of our heart, we will show him that love both in small and large ways. Jesus taught, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). When we truly love God with all of our heart, we will want to show him our love by doing whatever he asks, and we will do it with joy. On the other hand, when God asks us to do something and we deliberately choose to ignore his command, that is not only a sign of disrespect but it’s an indication of our lack of love for him.
It is inconceivable that we would spend our time here on earth striving to show God how much we really do love him as imperfect as we are, and then think that we will turn our back on him once we’ve become perfect enough to become just like him. If God loves us with a perfect love, so much so that he willing sent his only begotten Son to die to save us, then to become as perfect as he is means that we too must learn to love him just as perfectly as he loves us, and since God, our Father, loves us forever, then our love for him must likewise last forever.
Jesus is the only person who ever lived a perfect life. If anyone could claim any glory for himself and claim not to need the Father, he was certainly entitled to do so, and yet all throughout his ministry, he gave all the glory to God, his Father. To the multitudes he taught, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, italics added), and he taught us to pray, not to himself, but to “Our Father which art in heaven” (Matthew 6:9).
When the Jews tried to stone Jesus for saying that he was the Son of God, thereby making himself equal with God, he answered them saying, “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do; for what things soever he doeth, these also the Son does likewise. For the Father loveth the Son and sheweth him all things that he himself doeth” (John 5:19,20). He later told them, “I do nothing of myself; but as my Father taught me, I speak these things” (John 8:28), “For I have not spoken on my own authority; but the Father who sent me gave me a command what I should say and what I should speak” (John 12:49).
During his greatest trial of temptation, as he suffered in such agony that he bled from every pore, Jesus, the greatest person who ever lived, still submitted himself to the will of his Father as he cried out in great agony, “Nevertheless, not my will be done but thine” (Luke 22:42). Throughout his entire life, Jesus showed his love for God by doing whatever his Father commanded him, rather than doing what he wanted. Clearly, Jesus didn’t think he was beyond being obedient to his Father.
Th apostle Peter explained that after Jesus rose from the grave, he “is gone into heaven and is on the right hand of God, and angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him” (1 Peter 3:22). In the book of Acts we read, “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour” (Acts 5:13), “where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1).
Surely, if anyone has the right to no longer need God the Father after being exalted to a God himself, it would be Jesus Christ, and yet, notice that the scriptures don’t say that Jesus took over his Father’s throne, but rather the Father still sits on the throne from where he continues to rule supreme, while the Son sits beside him, indicating that even in his exalted position, Jesus supports – not supplants – his Father’s right to rule.
In speaking about how Christ will gather all things in one, the apostle Paul taught, “Then the end will come, when he (Jesus) hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he has put everything under his feet. Now when it says that everything has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he (Jesus) has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God [the Father] may be all in all.’ (1 Corinthians 15:24-28, NIV).
There are two significant things we learn from these verses of scripture. One is that the Father has given his Son, Jesus, authority over all things, with one exception, which is that Jesus does not have authority over his Father. What that tells us is that, even though Jesus is perfect, and sits on the right hand of God, the Father, he is still not equal to the Father. The Father is, and always will be, greater than the Son, notwithstanding that the Son is as perfect as the Father.
The second thing we learn is that, after Jesus has gathered all things to himself, instead of being the ruler over all that he has gathered, he will turn everything over to his Father so that his Father then become the ruler over all things (“so that God may be all in all”) and then Jesus will make himself subject to his Father. This clearly shows that even after Jesus has become exalted and has gained authority over all things, he still honors his Father as being superior to him.
Jesus said, “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Matthew 12:50). Notice, Jesus doesn’t say, “Whosoever shall do my will shall be my brother and sister.” In order for someone to be a follower of Jesus they must obey the will of the Father. This is what Jesus did while he lived on earth, that is what he taught us to do, and is what he himself does, even while he reigns as an exalted being in heaven.
Jesus explained to the apostle John, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Revelation 3:21). If Jesus is an exalted being, who sits on the right hand of God because he was obedient to the will of his Father, then Jesus promises that we too can become exalted and sit with him at his right hand, but only if we overcome all things as he did.
But notice the line of authority this seating arrangement infers. As an exalted, perfected, and sanctified person, Jesus sits beside his Father, thereby showing his submissiveness to God who is superior to him. According to the scripture just cited, when we become an exalted, perfected, and sanctified person, we will not sit on the right hand of God, our Father in heaven, but rather we will sit on the right hand of Christ. This strongly infers that we will be subject to Jesus when we become gods, and it is unarguable that Jesus is superior to us.
Therefore, to say that when we become a god we will no longer need to listen to or obey God, our Father or our Savior, Jesus Christ, is clearly and completely not true.
Related articles can be found at The Nature of Mormonism