Ever since I first heard the phrase “The Father and I are One” I have struggled to understand it completely. Since we know that the Father and the Son are physically two different beings, it makes it hard to imagine how they could be one.
My present understanding (allowing room for further light and knowledge) is that there are two meanings. When God was speaking prior to the life and Atonement of Christ, the only God that these people were taught about was Jehovah, who was later born as Jesus Christ. The Old Testament frequently teaches that there is only One God. That being whom they worshiped was Jehovah. “The Lord our God is one Lord”. (Deut. 6:4)
Even during the Nephite era prior to the birth of Christ they taught: “This is . . . the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end.” (2 Nephi 31:21)
During Christ’s ministry, He often stated, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30) I believe while Christ was speaking to non-believers about Himself, he was saying “I am Jehovah”. The ancient Jews understood this, and wanted to kill him because of it.
When Christ was speaking to disciples, he was teaching them about His Father, Elohim. They had difficulty understanding the dual meaning of His words, as do we today. If Christ explained Himself clearly, it was not captured and recorded in scripture. They had to understand via personal revelation.
The second meaning of Christ’s assertion that “I and the Father are One” was that as Christ submitted His will to the Father, that the Father poured out His (the Father’s) Spirit to dwell in Christ. Thus, they became “one”. Such oneness is far more than having identical goals, or even complete harmony of purpose. As Jesus Christ was filled with the Spirit of His Father, he was changed, enhanced and purified until in time He became like the Father in so many ways that they are now literally “one”.
How do we know this? It is because once having become “one” with the Father and perfect through completing His atoning sacrifice, Christ then offers His Spirit (which is “one” with the Father and therefor identical in function) to us. When we allow Christ’s Spirit to captain our souls, and we yield our will to Christ, then Christ’s Spirit uplifts, changes, enhances and purifies us. The very same process that perfected Christ during his mortal ministry, perfects us when we apply it.
2. I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was crucified for the sins of the world, even as many as will believe on my name, that they may become the sons of God, even one in me as I am one in the Father, as the Father is one in me, that we may be one. (D&C 35:2)
In Christ’s great intercessory prayer, He pleads:
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. (John 17: 20-21)
In other words, through the same process whereby the Father became “one” with Christ, we may become one with Christ, and since they are “one” we become “one” with Father and Son, so that we all are “one”.
How does this happen? The “glory” of God is Intelligence, or in other words, light and truth. (D&C 93:36). This simply means that the light and truth which the Father gave Christ through His Spirit, Christ also gives to us when we receive and hearken to Christ’s Spirit.
Christ continued to pray thus:
22 And the glory [light and truth] which thou gavest me I have given them [through the Holy Spirit]; that they may be one, even [through the same process] as we are one.
23 I in them [through the Holy Spirit], and thou in me [through their “oneness”], that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou has given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee [because they had only been taught of Jehovah until Christ’s ministry]: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.
26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.
© June 2011, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted.