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Thursday, December 13, 2007


So I've got this question. Hopefully I can explain it well enough. I'm wondering about faith. We are all faced with situations where we are told we should exercise faith. I'm going to pick one from the scriptures that we are all familiar with. The brother of jared and the stones. We are taught that because the brother of Jared had so much faith, that the lord reached down and touched the stones to make them light. Here's the question. Did he have "so much faith" that the lord would light up the stones, or did he just have "so much faith" in the lord that whatever happened was right. Do you see the difference. When we have a situation or decision, are we supposed to have faith that a certain outcome will happen or should our faith be such that the outcome doesn't matter, but that we trust the outcome is right because of our faith in the lord. The scriptures seem to teach both, but to me they seem different. On the one hand they say if we had enough faith we could move a mountain (faith in the outcome of a certain event) and on the other hand they tell us that we should just have faith in the lord. It seems to me that the faith in the outcome of an event is more difficult because of the great risk involved. The second, while it seems to sound better because our faith is centered in Christ, doesn't seem to me to have the power to help the event happen. It kind of seems to me like the low risk alternative. "yeah, I want it to happen, but if it doesn't that's just because the lord didn't want it to" It seems to take all the responsibility off our shoulders and leaves a way out if the outcome isn't the one we want.


Dallas said...

Faith seems to be a blanket statement that people use that covers a few topics. Let’s look at Moroni 7 40 - 42 “And again, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you concerning hope. How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope? And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise. Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope.”

Hope can be used to describe the incidents where we “don't seem to me to have the power to help the event happen.” We hope Christ can help us decide if this job was right. We hope that Christ can heal children who are sick. After re-reading the account of the Brother of Jared, it seems that Faith on the other hand is what can be used to have Jesus touch the stones.

It is just like a ladder first rung is Hope, next rung is Faith, than the next rung is Knowledge. I hope (no pun intended) this all makes sense.

Robby C said...

Dallas, I like your comment that Faith seems to be a blanket statement. The more I study faith, the more I think that it is bigger than how it is commonly thought of. In one of my other posts I wrote how I wonder if faith is a universal power that encompases priesthood, salvation, and answers to prayers. I guess I'm wondering if Faith in Christ unto salvation, and Faith to perform "miracles" (faith that a certain outcome will happen)ARE the same? COULD BE the same? Or DON'T HAVE TO BE the same? Being a math guy, let me describe it this way. If I were making a Venn Diagram and my two circles were:
1. Faith in Christ unto salvation
2. Faith as a power that will produce a certain outcome
How would my circles be arranged. Would 1 be completely inside 2, would 2 be completely inside 1, or would 1 and 2 just intersect?

Katiedid said...

The brother of Jared was commanded to build barges according to the instructions of the Lord. After completing the barges, the brother of Jared noted that they needed both oxygen and light. The Lord provided further instruction as to how to receive air (barreling holes). The Lord then asked the brother of Jared to propose a solution for the need for light. The Lord guided his thinking by ruling out windows and fire.
The brother of Jared immediately began to work. He ascended mount Shelem and by his skill did "molten out of a rock sixteen small stones." He then cried to the Lord. The brother of Jared had a testimony that the Lord hears and answers prayers. "O Lord, thou hast given us a commandment that we must call upon thee, that from thee we may receive according to our desires."
The brother of Jared did not come before the Lord and say, hey, I was thinking that if you touched these stones maybe they could light up, that is, of course, if you like this idea. Otherwise, I'll accept whatever you think is a better idea.
No. The brother of Jared was very assertive and explicit as he practiced his faith. He had a testimony of the great power of the Lord.
He prayed, "And I know, O Lord, that thou hast all power, and can do whatsoever thou wilt for the benefit of man; therefore touch these stones, O Lord, with thy finger, and prepare them that they may shine forth in darkness; and they shall shine forth unto us in the vessels which we have prepared, that we may have light while we cross the sea. Behold, O Lord, thou canst do this. We know that thou art able to show forth great power."
The Lord trusted the brother of Jared to come up with a proposal. The brother of Jared adhered to this command and immediately went to work. He called upon God in faith having hope (which will be discussed later) that the Lord could work this miracle for him and the Jaredites.
After the exercise of faith, a miracle did occur. "And it came to pass that when the brother of Jared had said these words, behold, the Lord stretched forth his hand and touched the stones one by one with his finger. And the veil was taken from off the eyes of the brother of Jared, and he saw the finger of the Lord."
Why was the brother of Jared able to see the finger of the Lord and later His spirit body? "For so great was his faith in God, that when God put forth his finger he could not hide it from the sight of the brother of Jared, because of his word which he had spoken unto him, which word he had obtained by faith. And after the brother of Jared had beheld the finger of the Lord, because of the promise which the brother of Jared had obtained by faith, the Lord could not withhold anything from his sight; wherefore he showed him all things, for he could no longer be kept without the veil."
In faith, the brother of Jared called upon God to touch the stones and light them. Because of faith, God did perform this miracle. Because of the intensity of faith, the brother of Jared was also able to see the very finger of God. Because the brother of Jared was so faithful, he could see, even beyond the veil.
From the Bible Dictionary, "All true faith must be based upon correct knowledge or it cannot produce the desired results. Faith in Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel and is more than belief, since true faith always moves its possessor to some kind of physical and mental action."
As we align our lives with the principles of the gospel and work toward worthy goals, we can exercise our faith with as much intensity as the brother of Jared.
We can demonstrate our faith through our works. From the very moment we begin to exercise our faith, we should begin to work. We should live by the maxim "Pray as if everything depends on God; act as if everything depends on you." From James 2 "Yea, a man say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee thy faith by my works."
President Hinckley has said that we should pray with the expectation that our prayers will be heard and answered. Jesus taught, "Ask, and it shall be given you."
We have every right and responsibility to search, ponder, and pray. As we live our lives in accordance to the gospel, we know what is required of us and can ask specifically for things we need to meet these expectations. We can approach God in prayer prepared (as the brother of Jared was with the stones) and exercise our faith. We can ask for specific results. If we are exercising faith in true knowledge, we can obtain our desired results. Of course, work will be required to obtain these results. Occasionally, the required work can be as simple as the prayer itself.
I have discovered and practiced this recently. I thought a lot about a certain situation, and I determined what would be an appropriate blessing from the Lord and prayed very specifically. I was overcome the next day as my prayer was answered exactly as I had prayed. I hadn't changed the will of God but had brought mine and His will in accordance and asked for a blessing that God was willing to grant but was made conditional on me asking for it. This experience has changed my attitude toward faith and prayer.
Hebrews 11 is such a great chapter that demonstrates what can be accomplished when faith is exercised.

As a side note, I just wanted to add a little on hope. From True to the Faith, "The word hope is sometimes misunderstood. In our everyday language, the word often has a hint of uncertainty...In the language of the gospel, however, the word hope is sure, unwavering, and active." Hope is a confident expectation and an anticipation of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. The scriptures say that hope comes of faith and because of faith.

Robby C said...

I've always been interested in this part of the story of the brother of Jared.
"For so great was his faith in God, that when God put forth his finger he could not hide it from the sight of the brother of Jared, because of his word which he had spoken unto him, which word he had obtained by faith. And after the brother of Jared had beheld the finger of the Lord, because of the promise which the brother of Jared had obtained by faith, the Lord COULD NOT withhold anything from his sight; wherefore he showed him all things, for he COULD NO LONGER be kept without the veil."
The key word being COULD. To me it seems to say that whether or not it was God's will, the Brother of Jared's faith demanded it. Does strong enough Faith have the power to supersede God's will?

Katiedid said...

"I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say;" God lives by eternal truth and laws. No person or thing can supersede His will. However, if we keep the commandments, the Lord cannot deny us blessings. The brother of Jared made covenants with the Lord. As the brother of Jared lived up to his promises, the Lord then was bound to fulfill His promises.
The brother of Jared's faith was so great that he could see the outstretched finger. I believe that if my own faith was that great and I was living the commandments as perfectly as I possibly could, then I, too, could look upon God.

Dallas said...

Robby as to your question, “Does strong enough Faith have the power to supersede God's will?” I would have to say Yes, here is why. I think we are all familiar enough with the story of Martin Harris and the lost 116 pages of manuscript. Three times, I believe, Joseph was told not to give him the pages, but with enough persistence Martin Harris was finally allowed to receive permission to take these pages.

I think this goes along with the topic we have discussed about “becoming.” Part of becoming is aligning our will with Gods will, If we have the faith to “supersede God’s will” we will have to also be ready to pay the price for the consequences.

As for the topic of Hope, I want to thank Katiedid for the reference to True to the faith. I am a little confused by it however. After reading in True to the Faith that “In the language of the gospel, however, the word hope is sure, unwavering, and active.” It gives reference to two scriptures that mention a “firm hope” (Alma 34:41) and a “lively hope” (1 Peter 1:3) This argument seems circular. If Hope in the Gospel in and of it self is sure and unwavering, why do we need have the words “Firm” or “lively” to describe it.

Being thus confused I looked up what Hope would have meant to Joseph Smith in that time that he was translating the Book of Mormon. The 1828 Webster’s dictionary defines Hope as “A desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable. Hope differs from wish and desire in this, that it implies some expectation of obtaining the good desired, or the possibility of possessing it. Hope therefore always gives pleasure or joy; whereas wish and desire may produce or be accompanied with pain and anxiety.”