Selected Teachings on
We Gain Power to Become Like God Through
Christ's Atonement and the Adoption

See Scriptural Teachings

John Taylor (President)

A man, as a man, could arrive at all the dignity that a man was capable of obtaining or receiving; but it needed a God to raise him to the dignity of a God.  For this cause it is written, “Now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him.”  And how and why like Him?  Because, through the instrumentality of the atonement and the adoption, it is made possible for us to become of the family of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ; and that as He, the potential instrument, through the oneness that existed between Him and His Father, by reason of obedience to divine law, overcame death, hell and the grave, and sat down upon His Father’s throne, so shall we be able to sit down with Him, even upon His throne. (Mediation and Atonement [1882], pp. 145-146)

Thus shall we also become legitimately and by right, through the atonement and adoption, Kings and Priests--Priests to administer in the holy ordinances pertaining to the endowments and exaltations; and Kings under Christ, who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, to rule and govern, according to the eternal laws of justice and equity, those who are thus redeemed and exalted. (Mediation and Atonement [1882], pp. 158-159)

Bruce R. McConkie (Quorum of the Twelve)

We are well aware that all men are the children of God, the offspring of the Father, his sons and his daughters.... What is not so well known is that nearly all the passages of scripture, both ancient and modern, which speak of God as our Father and of men on earth being the sons of God, have no reference to our birth in preexistence as the children of Elohim, but teach rather that Jehovah is our Father and we are his children.  

In setting forth that all men must be born again to gain salvation, we have seen that this means they must be "born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters." (Mosiah 27:25.) Whose sons and whose daughters do we become when we are born again? Who is our new Father? The answer is, Christ is our Father; we become his children by adoption; he makes us members of his family....

But there is more than this to the doctrine of becoming sons of God. Those who so obtain are adopted also into the family of Elohim. They become his adopted sons so that they can receive, inherit, and possess along with his natural Son.

To envision what is meant by being sons of God, meaning the Father, let us follow Paul's reasoning in two passages of superlative insight and inspiration. To the Romans our apostolic friend of old wrote: "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." Standing alone, this could be taken to mean that by faith the saints become the sons of the Lord Jesus. But the perspective begins to change when our apostolic colleague says: "Ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father." That is, we call upon our Eternal Father in a familiar and friendly way, as children here call to their fathers with whom they maintain a familiar intimacy. Having attained this state of friendship with the Eternal One, "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit," Paul continues, "that we are the children of God." He has now laid the groundwork. A pronouncement of deep and wondrous import is immediately forthcoming. "And if children"–note it well–"then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ." (Rom. 8:14-17.) ...

The reasoning is perfect. The Father had a Son, a natural Son, his own literal Seed, the Offspring of his body. This Son is his heir. As an heir he inherits all things from his Father–all power, all might, all dominion, the world, the universe, kingship, eternal exaltation, all things. But our revelations speak of men being exalted also and of their ascending the throne of eternal power. How is it done? Paul has explained it perfectly. They are adopted into the family of the Father. They become joint-heirs with his natural Son....

We are adopted into the family of the Father; we are adopted sons, appointed to inherit along with his natural Son.

The laws whereby faithful men may enter into their exaltation and become "gods, even the sons of God" (D&C 76:58) are infinite and eternal. They govern in all worlds and from one eternity to the next without end. They constitute the sole and only way the eternal increase of an Eternal Father can become like their great Progenitor. As pertaining to this earth, they were revealed first to father Adam. He was baptized, born again, received the priesthood, and kept the commandments. As a result thereof, "a voice out of heaven" proclaimed: "Thou art one in me, a son of God; and thus may all become my sons." (Moses 6:65-68.) "Our father Adam taught these things," the scripture says, "and many have believed and become the sons of God, and many have believed not, and have perished in their sins." (Moses 7:1.) 

As to the infinite scope of the laws of adoption and sonship, the voice from heaven spoke also to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, bearing testimony that the Lamb of God is the Only Begotten of the Father, and saying: "That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God." (D&C 76:21-24.) This means that through the infinite and eternal atonement, those who are true and faithful on all the endless creations of Christ are adopted into the family of the Father as heirs, as joint-heirs, who will with him receive, inherit, and possess all that the Father hath. (The Promised Messiah [1981], p. 351-357)