One of the things that intrigued my parents into investigating the LDS church was when they heard that Mormons believed that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, were 3 separate and distinct beings. The modern day belief of many Christian churches regarding the Godhead being one being in 3 separate forms came about at the council of Nicea.
In A.D. 325, a council of Christian bishops met to discuss a consensus on their belief in God. One problem with this council was the church of Christ had ceased to exist and had gone into apostasy, leaving a group of men to reach an uninspired consensus on the nature of God. If you will recall the letters of the disciples to the various churches throughout the New Testament region, they were always trying to correct doctrine and ensure there was a unity of the faith (Eph. 4:13) among the branches of the church. As the disciples were put to death, the church members and even leadership began to lose its bearings. There was nobody to give direction to the false doctrines that permeated a church full of converts with different backgrounds and beliefs. This apostasy, or as some term it a falling away, was well known to the disciples of Christ. When the Thessalonians were getting geared up for the second coming of Christ, Paul warned them in these words that there had to be a full apostasy first.
2 Thess 2:1-3
1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
If there was to be a falling away, the only way to restore the church of Christ was by again calling a prophet and apostle to the earth. The prophet Amos said:
Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.
Peter taught this shortly after Christ’s resurrection that the people needed to focus on repentance and not the second coming. He specifically told the people that Christ would remain in the heavens until the time was right for God to again speak by the mouth of holy prophets.
19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:
21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
In the Spring of 1820, a young man named Joseph Smith prayed in faith to God asking which church he should join, because he was very confused about the different churches and their contradictory doctrines. Joseph’s prayer was answered by a glorious manifestation of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appearing to Joseph. Forevermore, Joseph would know with a perfect knowledge that these two heavenly beings were in fact separate and distinct individuals who were one in purpose, not one in body. He was also given to know that the Holy Ghost was also a separate personage of spirit.
When the Bible says man was created in the image of God, it’s literally true. (Gen 1:26-27)
When Jesus was baptized and the people heard the voice of the Father from the heavens, it’s because the Father is a separate holy being whose magnificent son had just fulfilled a necessary covenant to show us the path home. (Matt 3:13-17)
When Stephen was being stoned and he looked up into the heavens and saw two separate beings standing together acknowledging that his work on earth was complete:
55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
When Jesus said, “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19), he was being literal.
When Jesus prayed to the Father and asked if there was any way the bitter cup of the crucifixion might be taken from him, it was Him praying to his Father *in* Heaven. (Matt 26:42)
When Jesus said during his ministry, “And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him” (John 8:29), on the cross he said, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt 27:26). Moments later he said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.” (Luke 23:46)
We know these things to be true and the Bible to be understood in this context, because God spoke to a prophet in these latter days and restored that simple truth to the earth. For more specifics on our views of each member of the Godhead, please see this post “Who is God?“