According to modern revelation - from an LDS perspective, what is the source of God's power?

I'm looking for references from the standard works and quotes from the brethren that may indicate to us what God's power is and how it works.

  • I tried asking it from a broad perspective, but then my question got flagged as a possible duplicate, so I narrowed it a bit. – ShemSeger Aug 1 '14 at 15:24
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    Everyone... Extended conversations in comments is not OK. I've deleted the whole lot as they're all either partial answers, follow-up questions, or rebuttals. If you wish to chat, please take it to chat. – David Stratton Aug 1 '14 at 17:45
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    With our edits, and a minor one from me to match the tags that you put in, this is scoped enough to be re-opened. – David Stratton Aug 1 '14 at 19:55
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    @DavidStratton: I wound suggest deleting all existing answers, too, as these recent edits change the natureof the question drastically. Anyone who wishes to modify their answer to match the LDS perspective can easily undelete it again. – Flimzy Aug 2 '14 at 12:41
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    @ShemSeger Do you mean God the Father or God the Son? (As you probably know, in LDS doctrine, the two are distinct. Interestingly, sometimes that distinction isn't significant because the Father and Son are so perfectly unified. However, so far, my preliminary research makes it clear that the Son got all power from the Father, so in this question, the clarification is probably important.) – Matt Aug 4 '14 at 4:32

This is a difficult question to answer. If you asked "What is source of gravity?", what would the answer be? Matter? Matter has gravity.

Similarly, the answer to "What is the source of God's power?" is probably "God". God has God's power. Perhaps that isn't really satisfying, but it's accurate.

Cleon Skousen, a famous LDS scholar, had interesting things to say about God's power.

Disclaimer: These are Skousen's insights, based firmly in LDS doctine, but his own beliefs nonetheless.

Most of this is from a sermon "A Personal Search for the Meaning of the Atonement". The recording and transcipt are available. Similar statements are also in his book The First 2,000 Years in "The Source of God’s Power."

Skousen quotes Doctrine and Covenants 29:36:

for, behold, the devil was before Adam, for he rebelled against me, saying, Give me thine honor, which is my power; and also a third part of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency;

God possesses power over the sea, the earth, the heavens because they honor him. And they honor him because he is who he is.

This honor is more than figurative; all things have an "intelligence"...for lack of better word, a fundamental spark of divinity/existence that cannot be created or destroyed (Pearl of Great Price, Abraham 3). This universe of intelligences honor God, and so he has power.

Alma 42 explains the necessity of Jesus's sacrifice for sin, to satisfy justice while offering mercy:

...except it were for these conditions, mercy could not take effect except it should destroy the work of justice. Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God.

...which repentance, mercy claimeth; otherwise, justice claimeth the creature and executeth the law, and the law inflicteth the punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God.

What, do ye suppose that mercy can rob justice? I say unto you, Nay; not one whit. If so, God would cease to be God.

God would "cease to be God" if he were unjust. He would his lose his honor, and also his power. Of course, God is just and good, and will be yesterday, today, and forever, and so all things obey him, and he has all power in heaven and in earth.

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The Lectures on Faith answer this query very directly and eloquently. From Lecture 1:15:

By this we understand that the principle of power, which existed in the bosom of God, by which the worlds were framed, was faith; and that it is by reason of this principle of power, existing in the Deity, that all created things exist—so that all things in heaven, on earth, or under the earth, exist by reason of faith, as it existed in HIM.

And the next verse even goes so far to say (emphasis added):

Had it not been for the principle of faith the worlds would never have been framed, neither would man have been formed of the dust—it is the principle by which Jehovah works, and through which he exercises power over all temporal, as well as eternal things. Take this principle or attribute, (for it is an attribute) from the Deity and he would cease to exist.

So according to the Lectures on Faith, the source of God's power is faith. This makes perfect sense and is consistent and complementary with all other scripture.

I would highly recommend reading all of Lecture First (as well as the other Lectures) to get a thorough and deep understanding of God's power, His character, and many other important teachings about Him (and ourselves as His children). The Lectures on Faith are an indispensable scripture for understanding God's power and where it comes from.

Some people may say that the Lectures aren't scriptural, but that's actually false. They were a part of standard Church canon all the way from 1835 to 1921. You can see a copy of the above-quoted verses in the original Doctrine and Covenants. According to the Joseph Smith Papers website (which is owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints):

[...] As the bipartite title “Doctrine and Covenants” suggests, the new book was made up of two parts. The first part, on “the doctrine of the church,”[11] comprised a series of seven doctrinal lectures on the subject of faith, first prepared as a course of instruction for the School of the Elders [commonly known as "the School of the Prophets," which was taught by Joseph Smith] held in the second Kirtland printing office in the winter of 1834–1835.[12]


The second part of the Doctrine and Covenants contained the “covenants and commandments of the Lord,”[15] or revelations. Inasmuch as the revelations made up the majority of the volume and the volume’s title indicated that the texts therein were “carefully selected from the revelations of God,” it is curious that the revelations were placed in the second part of the book.

(taken from the Historical Introduction to the 1835 D&C)

It would, therefore, appear that the Lectures on Faith originally comprised the "Doctrine" of the Doctrine and Covenants (the other revelations comprising the "Covenants"). It is a mistake to consider the Lectures non-scriptural or non-doctrinal. They were only removed as the result of a fairly arbitrary decision by a committee in 1921. For further details on its removal, see The 'Lectures on Faith': A Case Study in Decanonization by Richard S. Van Wagoner, Steven C. Walker, and Allen D. Roberts. Suffice it to say, this removal did not follow the law of common consent. No general vote of the church was taken to excise this portion of scripture from the standard works. So I would argue that the Lectures are still scriptural, despite claims to the contrary.

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Short answer to corroborate what the others have said: the name of God in the Old Testament, which is shown as LORD in the King James Version, and is translated as Jehovah or Yahweh (note: I'm not a Hebrew expert); and which is what Christ called himself in John 8:58 -- "I am", or "I am that I am", means the "Self-existent one" -- meaning his power, etc. comes from within himself. Which is what the other answers are trying to say in their answers. My point is that the Lord's Old Testament name suggests that very idea.

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This might not satisfy your question, but I don't believe there is an answer that could fully satisfy your question.

First off it depends if your talking about Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ. Christ got his power from the Father. Here are a few references to back that up. (These aren't actual quotes, they're just small interpretations I found on a page on lds.org. You can visit the actual scriptures to see what they say)

Christ is called the Father because he was conceived by power of God: Mosiah 15:3.

the Father gives the Lord power to redeem men from their sins: Hel. 5:11 .

the Son received all power from the Father: D&C 93:17 .

In the case of Heavenly Father, I believe that he doesn't get his power from anywhere he is power in himself. He is a self-sustaining infinite power source. However, this is not doctrine, this is only what I believe.

Here are a few snippets of scripture where I get this idea from. Some of these scriptures are probably talking about Jesus, but Jesus's power originated from Heavenly Father so it still applies here. (These are actual quotes)

he hath all power unto the fulfilling of all his words: 1 Ne. 9:6

the Lord is able to do all things according to his will: 1 Ne. 7:12

the all-powerful Creator of heaven and earth: Jacob 2:5

he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth;: Mosiah 4:9 .

the Lord God hath power to do all things which are according to his word.: Alma 7:8 .

God has all power (not exact quote) : Alma 26:35 . ( Morm. 5:23. )

all-powerful God,: Alma 44:5 .

O Lord, that thou hast all power, and can do whatsoever thou wilt for the benefit of man;: Ether 3:4 .

Retaining all power,: D&C 19:3 .

So basically There is a recurring thought that god has all power and he created all things. Well human and mortal logic would tell you "something had to have created Heavenly Father, he couldn't have been around forever, something had to have been before him. Something had to have created him and thus given him his power." This doesn't have to be the case.

No matter what you believe, the idea that time has been around for infinity before now is basically impossible to comprehend and the idea that there was a beginning is also impossible to comprehend. If there was a beginning, what happened 5 minutes before the beginning? What was before the beginning that caused the beginning to happen? As you can see, these concepts are impossible to understand.

When god tries to explain things to humans who are infinitely less intelligent than him, he has to kind of beat around the bush for us to understand. So when the scriptures say "God has all power and created all things". This could mean that God truly created all things and all power. And would this mean he created himself? If so, then he was around before he was created, which makes no sense. He could also just be explaining a complicated God-like law of physics in a way that us humans would understand. Remember, God is only going to tell us what we need know.

In respect to how limited our human brains are, the answer to your question in my belief is that God doesn't get his power from anywhere, he is power in himself. He is a self-sustaining infinite power source. (whether something else created him and so that is the root of his power, I have no idea)

Again, this is not doctrine, this is only what I have reasoned.

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  • The question specifically asks for doctrine, not personal beliefs. – ShemSeger Nov 20 '14 at 20:32

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