Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Evidence of My Faith

Some people confuse faith with hope and hope with speculation. But the scriptures tell us the true meaning of faith. According to the Bible, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Therefore, hope is the assurance, but faith is the substance of that assurance. A song I learned growing up equated faith with "knowing the sun would rise, brightening each new day." Equating religious faith with the reality of the sun rising each morning is a fascinating comparison. In the same way there is proof of the earth in its regular orbit around the sun, there is evidence that God's word is faithful and true. The difference between each type of evidence, is that the sun can be measured with scientific instruments and described with equations. God's word can be experimented upon, but it is measured by living it and personal and collective experience. But, just as I set my alarm clock the night before counting on the sun rising the next morning, I can arrange my life around the commandments and promised blessings of God.

John 7: 17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

[Lec 1:24a] Faith then, is the first great governing principle which has power, dominion, and authority over all things; by it they exist, by it they are upheld, by it they are changed, or by it they remain, agreeable to the will of God.

Alma 34:4 Yea, even that ye would have so much faith as even to plant the word in your hearts, that ye may try the experiment of its goodness.

Some Evangelical Christians have charged that because there is no archaeological and scientific evidence that the Nephites described in the Book of Mormon existed, that I exercise faith in a vain hope. However, I don't believe in God because I scientifically measured Him. I do not believe that Jesus Christ came back from the dead and ascended to heaven because some archaeologist found ancient video tape of the events. Therefore, I don't base my belief in the Book of Mormon based on what archeologist's have yet to find.

First off, it is impossible to scientifically prove or disprove the existence of God. To do either would require that the person be God. Accordingly, I believe in God not because I can scientifically measure Him, but because He has revealed Himself to me. In the same way, I believe in Christ, and in Joseph Smith, and in the Bible and Book of Mormon because God has revealed in the same way that these things are true and of Him.

While emotions are subjective by definition, I also have objective evidence of my faith? I believe in the LDS faith because the Bible says that the New and Everlasting Covenant carries the promise of a more perfect sanctification as well as future salvation. Therefore, this more perfect sanctification which is a more complete mastery over the appetites of the flesh, becomes a testable proof of God and His word. I have experimented upon God's word and the LDS faith and I have found that it has proved to produce the promised increase in sanctification and self control. behavior is measurable and objective. Therefore, by objective as well as subjective evidence, I have hope in a future salvation as well.

Subjectively, my evidence of God and the LDS religion is based on the fruit that the LDS gospel produces in my life. This is something that Satan cannot duplicate or falsify. "The fruit of the spirit is love, peace, joy, happiness, temperance, patience, father; against such there is no law" Objectively, the LDS doctrine focused on sanctification in Christ inspires and encourages and empowers men to bridle their appetites and master their flesh. Remember, the higher covenant is all about sanctification. If you do not understand what the word of Christ means when Christ said "If thou wilt be perfect" and what Heb says about the NT vs the OT having power to make us perfect then you have missed the whole meaning and purpose of the NT and the atonement of Christ who came to save us from our sins.

The LDS gospel helps me and others around me be better. I see that the people I associate with who keep their covenants, can be depend on, can be trusted, and they exemplify better mastery of their flesh and appetites and this is what Zion is all about. Zion is the "pure in heart"

I respect many Christians who have confessed and forsaken serious sins through Christ. LDS don't deny this but carry the promise to the next level. LDS teach a message of eternal progression and encourage our members to never stand still, because when it comes to spirituality, if you are not progressing your are backsliding. The Scriptures promise that after coming to Christ, Christ will bring us to the Father through a more perfect Sanctification. Therefore, the message of the New Covenant and the LDS gospel is sanctification and striving through Christ to be better as Pres Hinkley said "try a little harder to be a little better"

I am careful not to confuse peace with prosperity. God said he would cause it to rain on the just and the unjust. Therefore, temporal prosperity is not necessarily a sign of God's favor. But the Bible and the Book of Mormon do clearly state that what does differentiate the righteous in Christ with the wicked is peace and happiness. Isaiah said, "There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked." Alma in the Book of Mormon taught his son, "Wickedness never was happiness." Therefore, the fruit of my faith is not only prosperity but primarily peace, temperance, patience and a more perfect sanctification "against such there is no law."

Some Evangelicals vilify LDS doctrine because it is focused on trying to inspire people to be better? Why call good evil and evil good? Why say, "LDS are trying to be better and focus on sanctification because they think they are better than everyone else? Or, LDS focus on being better is because they think they can save themselves?" The simple truth is that the higher covenant of the NT is about being empowered by Christ to enjoy a greater more perfect sanctification. Therefore, the evidence of my faith in the LDS religion is the fruit of better self-mastery over the appetites of the flesh that I have experienced as a member of this church. The evidence of my faith in Christ is that His atonement is not just mercy to save me in my sins, but also power to help me overcome, escape, and forsake them. I have witnessed this power, and have witnessed this power in the lives of others.


Anonymous said...

Great post.I have seen that in my life also. The Grace that the Christ offers me not only saves me but also gives me the strength to do things that I could not do on my own. To paraphrase Ether when I come unto Christ he will make weak things become strong. I am the weak thing but with Christ he is my strength. I owe everything in my life to the Father and the Son. Through living the gospel a change has happened and is measurable by the 20 years I have spent serving the Lord. Worshiping the Father through service and ordinances like the sacrament have changed me for the better. His strength enables me to change.

Anonymous said...

The problem with LDS doctrine and people is not that "it is focused on trying to inspire people to be better" and "they think they are better than everyone else" (although that is true of LDS and is problematic).

The problem is your doctrine is not true because it invokes a doctrine of a "just world" - a world where people get what they deserve. Good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people.

That doctrine leads you into not only arrogance, but blaming the victim" attitudes and behaviors.

For instance, you arrogantly claim LDS have "the higher covenant" and are "empowered by Christ to enjoy a greater more perfect sanctification." Then you add the erroneous belief that, presumably because of your superior works and righteousness (sanctification), YOU are blessed with "prosperity"! Of course, those who are not "prosperous" must be committing some sins somewhere, according to arrogant and incorrect LDS doctrine.

How absurd! Did those 300,000 people killed by the tsunami "deserve" it because they weren't as righteous and sanctified as YOU?

Did all those 200,000 people killed in the Haiti earthquake "deserve" it because they are not living the "higher law of sanctification" like YOU are?

Jesus' words refute your arrogance: "your Father which is in heaven...maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." (Matt.5:45)

Your "prosperity" is NOT a sign or "evidence" of your faith! It is proof of your blindness and failure to understand the teachings of the Master!

David B said...

I think there is an unfortunate misunderstanding here. Please re-read the Second to Last paragraph were I make it very clear that temporal prosperity was NOT as sign of divine favor.

While God does make it rain on the just and the unjust alike, the scriptures do make it very clear "THERE IS NO PEACE UNTO THE WICKED".

The amazing thing about Christ is that people can have enjoy HIS PEACE even in the face of great adversity. This peace in adversity is a sign of divine favor.

But speaking objectively, in my own life, an ability to forsake sin and improve is objective evidence of the power of Christs atonement as well as His mercy. Christ empowers repentance and not just forgiveness.