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Condescension of God

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Condescension the act of descending to a lower and less dignified state; of waiving the privileges of one’s rank and status; of bestowing honors and favors upon one of lesser stature or status. The condescension of God is the descent of Christ below all things. He came to earth to dwell as a man, and suffered more than any man who has ever lived in order to redeem the children of God, that they might inherit His kingdom.

It is possible to say that there are two condescensions of God—first, that the Immortal Father—the glorified, exalted, enthroned ruler of the universe—came down from his station of dominion and power to become the Father of a Son who would be born of Mary, ‘after the manner of the flesh;’ and second, that God the Father also condescended by sending His Only Begotten Son to suffer the sins of the world. The Savior is God’s gift to us. [1]

So if we are going to speak of the condescension of God, meaning that of our Eternal Father, we must first know the nature and kind of being he is. We must come to know the dignity and majesty and glory that attend him, of the things that he had and is doing for us and for all his children and in all eternity among all his creations.
...we read this question, “Knowest thou the condescension of God?” and discover that somehow it is associated with his love for us, his children, his spirit children who are now dwelling as mortals here on earth. We discover in our text that he shall be the Father of a Son born “after the manner of the flesh”; that is, he condescends, in his infinite wisdom, to be the Father of a holy being who shall be born into mortality. He determines to fulfil what he decreed and announced in the plan of salvation in the premortal life when, having explained the plan, he asked for a redeemer and a savior and said, “Whom shall I send to be my Son?” Thus the condescension of God is that he is the Father literally of a Son born in mortality, in the language here, a Son born “after the manner of the flesh.” [2]
And it came to pass that I saw the heavens open; and an angel came down and stood before me; and he said unto me: Nephi, what beholdest thou?
And I said unto him: A virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins.
And he said unto me: Knowest thou the condescension of God?
And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.
And he said unto me: Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh.
And it came to pass that I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had been carried away in the Spirit for the space of a time the angel spake unto me, saying: Look!
And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms.
And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!
And after he had said these words, he said unto me: Look! And I looked, and I beheld the Son of God agoing forth among the children of men; and I saw many fall down at his feet and worship him.
And the angel said unto me again: Look and behold the condescension of God!
And I looked and beheld the Redeemer of the world, of whom my father had spoken; and I also beheld the prophet who should prepare the way before him. And the Lamb of God went forth and was baptized of him; and after he was baptized, I beheld the heavens open, and the Holy Ghost come down out of heaven and abide upon him in the form of a dove.
And I beheld that he went forth ministering unto the people, in power and great glory (1 Nephi 11:14-21, 24, 26-28).

"We read the words which an angel spake to King Benjamin, in which the angel described him as “the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity,” and then said that he would come down and tabernacle in a body of clay and minister among men; that he would be the Son of God and that Mary would be his mother (see Mosiah 3:5, 8).

"Here we have a glorious thing. Here we have exalted, noble beings on a plane and status so far above our present circumstance that we have no way of comprehending their dominion and glory, and we have one of them, God our Eternal Father, through the condescension and infinite love and mercy that he has for us, stepping down from his noble status and becoming the Father of a Son after the manner of the flesh. We have that Son being born, that Son who was his firstborn in the spirit, who had like power and omnipotence with the Father. We have each of them performing a work that there is no way for us to understand as far as magnitude and glory and importance is concerned.

"Now the greatest and most important single thing there is in all eternity—the thing that transcends all others since the time of the creation of man and of the worlds—is the fact of the atoning sacrifice of Christ the Lord. He came into the world to live and to die—to live the perfect life and be the pattern, the similitude, the prototype for all men, and to crown his ministry in death, in the working out of the infinite and eternal atoning sacrifice. And by virtue of this atonement, all things pertaining to life and immortality, to existence, to glory and salvation, to honor and rewards hereafter, all things are given full force and efficacy and virtue. The Atonement is the central thing in the whole gospel system. The Prophet said that all other things pertaining to our religion are only appendages to it.

"Well, this atonement is made possible because of the doctrines of the Divine Sonship; and if Christ had not been born into the world in the express and particular manner in which he was, he would not have inherited from his Father the power to work out this infinite and eternal atoning sacrifice, in consequence of which the whole plan of salvation would have been void and we never would have inherited or possessed the blessings of immortality or the glories of eternal life. [3]

An Infinite Atonement for Mankind

"In the 34th chapter of Alma, Amulek testifies of the need for the Son of God to personally come down to perform the Atonement according to the great plan of the Eternal God. He explains that the Atonement must be “a great and last sacrifice,” not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast or fowl as was customary (see Alma 34:9–10). It had to be infinite, covering all transgression, all suffering, and it had to be eternal—applying to all mankind from the infinite beginning to the endless end. No, it could not be a sacrifice of man, beast, or fowl. It had to be a sacrifice of a God, even God the Creator, God the Redeemer. He had to condescend from godhood to mortality, and in mortality to sacrificial lamb. His gift of redemption, through His condescension, necessitated His suffering, exquisite pain, and humiliation.

For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;
Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink” (Doctrine and Covenants 19:16–18).

"Like the vastness of God’s creations, incomprehensible to the finite mind, His suffering is equally incomprehensible, as His Atonement is also infinite. His condescension is an integral, necessary, and inseparable part of the Atonement. The Atonement itself was predicated upon His willingness to descend and suffer. His condescension, as part of the Atonement, is probably as essential to the redemption of mankind as was His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane or on the cross. His Atonement was a free gift to all mankind—a gift that could be obtained no other way. It resulted from His willingness to descend. He descended not because of obligation, nor for glory, but only for love. His condescension to redeem us through the Atonement was the price He paid to provide salvation and exaltation." [4]


  1. Richard C. Edgley, “‘The Condescension of God’,” Ensign, Dec 2001, 16. [1]
  2. Bruce R. McConkie, “Behold the Condescension of God,” New Era, Dec 1984, 35. [2]
  3. Ibid.
  4. Edgley, "The Condescension of God"

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