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Monday, January 26, 2015

What is God Like?

Most of what I write is my attempt to answer a question someone has asked me. This article is part of my response to a woman who wanted to know what God is like. Some scriptures in the Bible made her wonder if He was a vengeful God. These are my comments.

I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when I was 19 ( 46 years ago). I grew up in a religion that saw God as stern and unknowable. Coming to know Him has been a major concern in my life.
Not only I have studied and prayed many years and tried to live His teachings, but my serious health problems have given me the opportunity to come to know God. He has been there when no one knew what to do and carried me through the moments when I couldn't go any further. I have felt His presence and His love. I know that our Savior gave His life for me and that all He does is to help us all grow and return again to live with Him and Heavenly Father.

Your concern is whether He a vengeful God to be feared. Here is some commentary on that:
 : http://www.lds.org/ensign/1980/09/understanding-the-old-testament-keys-to-resolving-difficult-questions?lang=eng

"God’s anger. Some readers complain that the supposed harsh, vengeful Old Testament God seems inconsistent with the loving, peaceful God of the New Testament. The scales of justice and mercy seem to be out of balance.

I feel that the reason people misconstrue the anger of the Lord is that they tend to assume that God’s anger is identical to their own as fallen mortals—they don’t understand correctly the nature of divine anger.

Lehi [a prophet in the Book of Mormon ] gives us a more correct definition of righteous anger. When Laman and Lemuel [his disobedient sons] complained of Nephi’s [his righteous son] anger toward them, Lehi explains: “Ye say that he hath used sharpness; ye say that he hath been angry with you; but behold, his sharpness was the sharpness of the power of the word of God, which was in him; and that which ye call anger was the truth, according to that which is in God, which he could not restrain, manifesting boldly concerning your iniquities” (2 Ne. 1:26).

The “anger” of the Lord, then, is the truth of God’s justice manifested against the disobedient. When individuals are not in harmony with the eternal principles of justice and accountability, they may perceive the revelation of that truth (through God or his prophets) as anger or harshness. “The guilty taketh the truth to be hard,” Nephi said, “for it cutteth them to the very center” (1 Ne. 16:2). This was often the response of the rebellious Israelites to the consequences of their breach of eternal laws—laws which God is bound by and which he administers in long-suffering, mercy, and love."

Here are more articles you might like to read

http://www.lds.org/search?q=Is+God+a+vengeful+God&lang=eng&domains=top-results


Please understand this right now—God is not a vengeful, punitive god who is somehow looking for new ways to torment, embarrass, and punish you.  (Patricia Holland) http://http//speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=1282 (great talk)

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http://www.lds.org/search?lang=eng&query=nature+of+god

Yes, sometimes the Lord speaks very strongly.  This does not mean that He is cruel or vengeful, but that He loves and respects us. He allows us free agency (the ability to choose and act for ourselves) and therefore allows us to suffer the consequences of our actions. If we repent, He atones (pays for our sins). God often strongly warns people of the consequences of their actions. This is not evidence that He is mean and punishing, but that He is trying to help us change and avoid the suffering our actions are leading us to.

I find the Bible Videos really help me come to know the Savior. (LDS.org, Resources, Media Library, Bible Videos- The Life of Jesus Christ ) I think you will enjoy them.
http://www.lds.org/media-library/video/bible-videos-the-life-of-jesus-christ?lang=eng

Remember that coming to know the Savior is a life long process. Hold to other's faith as you gradually gain your own witness. It will come with effort. Questioning can lead to the deepening of testimony.  It has for me. Have faith and search for answers.  http://www.lds.org/search?lang=eng&query=questioning+the+Gospel As you pray, study the scriptures and try to live with love, you will come to know that God is truly loving.

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