As I've been reading in the scriptures lately I've noticed a few central themes that I hadn't picked up before. There is a theme of our being sons (or daughters) of God. There is also the idea of our becoming the sons of God. While it's true that we are all children of God, it's also true that we are not all children of God. We came down from God, and he is our father, yet only a few become qualified while in this life for God to refer to us as truly his sons and his daughters. There are several examples of this:
"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name." (John 1:12)
"And as many as have received me, to them have I given to become the sons of God; and even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name..." (3 Nephi 9:17)
"And after that he came men also were saved by faith in his name; and by faith, they become the sons of God..." (Moroni 7:26)
"...pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love... that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him..." (Moroni 7:48)
"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)
"...but unto as many as received me gave I power to do many miracles, and to become the sons of God..." (D&C 45:8)
"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." (2 Cor. 6:18)
What then does it mean to become a true son or daughter of God? It means to become one with him, to become like him in our motives and desires. It means to become a person of faith, filled with love as he is. It means that we will have his power (not priesthood authority alone, but power) to perform miracles in his name.
And how does one reach this designation? What must a man do to qualify for the Lord to call him a son? The answers are clear. We must receive Christ, follow him completely. We need to demonstrate faith, repentance, and receive baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost – which can and should lead to our becoming sanctified and having all things manifest to us.
We learn that these doctrines and ideas were taught by all the great prophets and patriarchs: Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Moses. We learn from the book of Moses that there is depth to the basic and core doctrines that we seldom express and perhaps still don't fully understand.
Incidentally, As Latter-day Saints, we believe the text making up the book of Moses was originally part of Genesis. As Joseph Smith worked on his inspired translation of the Bible, information that had previously been lost to the world was revealed to him. At the beginning of the work there is a previously unknown account of an additional visit by God to Moses on a mountain. The time at which this vision takes place is after his initial experience with the burning bush, but before he has undertaken the great task of leading Israel out of Egypt (Moses 1:25).
In this encounter God teaches Moses plainly that he (Moses) is his son, created in the similitude of Christ. Three times God tells Moses that he is his son:
And, behold, thou art my son; wherefore look... (1:4)
And I have a work for thee, Moses, my son; and thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten... (1:6)
...this one thing I will show unto thee, Moses, my son... (1:7)
It's tender, and its personal. God is helping to give Moses strength and confidence by telling him who he really is. This is a time of tutoring and instruction for Moses, a preparation for what is coming -- when he will stand before the waters of the red sea and command them to part and make way for the children of Israel (see verse 25).
Then in the narrative after Moses has this encounter with God, Satan shows up. And almost the first words from Satan to Moses are designed to refute what God has just taught him: "Moses, son of man, worship me." (1:12). He calls him a son of man. He tries to bring Moses back down to earth.. to say, look - you're just a man, you're small, not great. And at the same time he tries to puff himself up - he exhibits that core pride that caused his downfall in the pre-mortal life. He commands Moses to worship him.
The ensuing account of Moses rebuking Satan is one of the most dramatic recorded events we have in scripture. Moses recieved great strength and confidence by understanding that he was a son of God (verse 16). We also can take confidence in this knowledge, as we consider our Heavenly parents and our true place and standing -- this can give us confidence to meet the challenges we face each day.
Later in the Pearl of Great Price, in Moses 6:51-62 the great prophet Enoch teaches his people about a conversation between Adam and God.
Here we learn that baptism was a commandment from the very beginning. God taught Adam that he needed to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, and to give this commandment to his children. Adam is the first one to ever ask this question:
Why is it that men must repent and be baptized in water? (Moses 6:53)
How many people have asked this very question down through the centuries? What follows over the next several verses is an extensive answer given by God himself as to why men must be baptized. And it was given at the very beginning of the world to Adam, but over time was lost until it was revealed again through the prophet Joseph Smith.
The answer given by God to Adam's question is remarkable, a beautiful overview of his entire plan for the salvation of his children. He begins by telling Adam that he has been forgiven of his transgression in the Garden of Eden, and that Jesus Christ has paid the debt -- and thus Adam's children are not held responsible for his mistake (Moses 6:53-54). But, he says - as the children (all of us) begin to grow up, we commit our own sins.
"...sin conceiveth in their hearts, and they taste the bitter that they may know to prize the good." (verse 55)
We are here to learn by experience, in effect - no more abstract explanations about bitter and sweet, hot and cold - we have each the privilege of touching the stove to learn for ourselves, to one degree or another. Some of us are slow learners.
Our Father of course knew that this would occur, and plans were laid so that sin could be overcome. To all men is given freedom to choose, "wherefore they are agents unto themselves" (verse 56). As we all commit sin, it is a reality that "all men, everywhere, must repent, or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God, for no unclean thing can dwell there..." (verse 57). We must be completely clean and purified from all sin in order to return to live with God, and to inherit all that he has in store for us. But how can we accomplish this?
Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten, "a righteous Judge, who shall come in the meridian of time" (57) was foreordained and given the mission to come to earth and to take upon himself all of our sins. He was not merely to taste the bitter, but rather to fully "drink out of that bitter cup" (3 Nep 11:11). He makes repentance possible.
Thus Adam was given a commandment to "teach these things freely unto your children" (verse 58). We need to know that by "by reason of transgression cometh the fall, which fall bringeth death" (verse 59) We might assume that God is here referring to Adam's transgression and fall, but because of our sins we each experience our own fall. It's not Adam's fall that we need to be concerned about, that's been forgiven. It is true that Adam's fall brings physical death, but our transgressions bring spiritual death to each one of us.
And so God requires that we are "born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water (baptism), and of the Spirit (gift of the Holy Ghost), and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin" (verse 59).
I also love the thought here that while we are striving to gain eternal life in the next world, while here we have the opportunity to "enjoy the words of eternal life" (verse 59). In that single statement there's a whole sermon about the value of making the scriptures an important part of one's daily life. One might ask, if a person doesn't enjoy reading and studying the scriptures in this life - the "words of eternal life", how could they qualify or enjoy eternal life itself? Would they even feel comfortable in that environment -- in the very presence of God and Christ the son?
There is a great deal of doctrine taught and hinted at in verse 59 alone.
What follows then is the account of the baptism of Adam. He being moved at the words spoken and the answer given by the Father to his question, he "cries unto the Lord", and is carried by the Spirit to the water. He is immersed in the water, and also receives the Holy Ghost -- being "baptized with fire" (Moses 6:64-66).
Then the Lord proclaims, "Behold, thou art one in me, a son of God, and thus may all become my sons." (Moses 6:68)
And we further learn that "...our father Adam taught these things, and many have believed and become the sons of God..." (Moses 7:1)