I’ve been reading recently about Christ’s visit to the Americas and I ran across this bit that Jesus says:
35 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.
36 And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one. (3 Nephi 11:35-36)
If you’re like me, you probably read those verses and everything just sort of flows together in a swirling mass and at the end you just kind of find yourself thinking, “Huh? Okay, the Godhead is unified. Moving on.”
I read it recently and started realizing it was a statement about how all the Godhead bears witness of the others. So I started wondering how the Father bears record. On occasion the Father has borne record with His voice, but here it also says that the other way is to send fire and the Holy Ghost.
We are not used to thinking of the Holy Ghost’s witness like this. We think the Holy Ghost comes on his own to bear record of the truth, but this tells us that the Father sends the Holy Ghost and fire as part of the Father’s witness, and then the Holy Ghost bears record and that’s the Holy Ghost’s witness. So the presence of the Holy Ghost represents the witness of the Father, and the message, the bearing record is the witness of the Holy Ghost.
When I grasped this, immediately thought of another puzzling scripture that this clarified. In John 5:37-38, Jesus tells the Jews at Jerusalem this:
37 And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.
38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.
Jesus was telling the Jews that the Father had borne witness to them of Jesus and the Jews hadn’t accepted that witness. The Father had sent the Holy Ghost, but they hadn’t accepted it, or its witness.
It is interesting there is a little promise in the 3 Nephi verses. “whoso believeth in me. . .unto him will the Father bear record of me”. Those who believe in Christ will get that witness. So if the Jews did not believe in Christ, they would not hear the witness of the Father sent of fire and the Holy Ghost.
I personally think the promise teaches a neat principle that we can practice. When we hear the truth, we can choose to believe and rejoice in the truth, even if we’ve heard it many times before, and then look for the Father’s witness in the presence of the Holy Ghost.
It is neat to me to know that the witness of the Holy Ghost is both the Father’s witness and the Holy Ghost’s witness. It reminds me the Holy Ghost is so tightly integrated with the Godhead that they are all unified with each other. It’s hard to explain why that is so cool, but it is. They are so at one with each other, and our goal is to seek that at-one-ment as well.
Jesus says, “whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also.” I’ve wondered how that belief in the Father is so folded into a belief in Christ. But I’ve realized that to believe in the Son of God, implies He has a Father who is God. To believe the Son was sent is to believe in the Father who sent Him and to whom the Son would return and to whom we want to return. To believe in the Son who would take away the sins of the world is to also believe in the Father who is not only just and holy (requiring sins to be paid for and removed), but loving and merciful (desiring everyone’s return and providing a way for sins to be removed).