In the pursuit of eternal life (to know God), we are seeking a “correct idea of his character, perfections and attributes”. (LoF 3:4) We will be using the Lectures on Faith which we looked at previously. Please see the posts on Faith, parts 01, 02 and 03.
We will start by looking at an account that might seem to contradict the principle that one must have a correct idea of these things in order to exercise faith “in God unto life and salvation”. That account is the Brother of Jared.
The Brother of Jared is an individual who has walked the path we are on. When it comes to the phrase “follow the prophet”, this is where I believe we find value to that mantra. The experience of The Brother of Jared records a man talking face to face with a god. We should find the path this “prophet” walked, then do likewise. In a sense, “follow the prophet”. But this following is one in which we travel the same steps. It does not mean we praise. It does not me we idolize. It does not mean we create a golden calf and worship. It means that we recognize the pattern and follow the same steps which lead to the same location. We recognize correct principles and then apply them.
I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves. Joseph Smith
(Modern Source Link – “The Organization of the Church,” Millennial Star, Nov. 15, 1851, p. 339.)
The Brother of Jared has walked this path and this record shows the way. Do not idolize him. Do not place him on a mantle high above yourself. Do not allow your understanding to be “God revealed to him because he was a prophet”. No! This is recorded for YOU so you might see the path to God.
One of the steps the Brother of Jared’s account mentions might call into question this “correct idea” principle. Here, the Brother of Jared did not know the Lord had flesh and blood but he was still able to see the Lord.
And he saith unto the Lord: I saw the finger of the Lord, and I feared lest he should smite me; for I knew not that the Lord had flesh and blood. (Ether 3:8)
At this point Jared’s brother has only seen the finger of the Lord. Even here he might not have a complete understanding. Notice what might be some clarification from the Lord:
Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh. (Ether 3:16)
This brings up a few questions. In no particular order other than as they came into my mind as I read that verse:
- “this body” – does this suggest different bodies?
- the spirit has a body? (All spirit is matter – D&C 131:7)
- man was created after the body of his spirit – does this verify that we are first spiritual beings
- does that mean this body we currently reside in, is not our body?
- does this verse prove that our flesh body looks like our spirit body?
- is our spirit body the same thing as our spirit?
When we read the scriptures, we should be asking those types of questions. The answer might not come right away. But we should ask. ”And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (Luke 11:9)
Read the story before that scripture in Luke. It starts in verse 5. At least read through 9 – at least. Learn from the scriptures here. Ask questions about this story. For instance, what does “importunity” mean? Hopefully the answer for this one comes quickly. Hopefully it gives you a smile.
Back to the topic. It would seem that because the Brother of Jared did not know this principle, he should not be able to exercise faith. But here is just one of the many areas the LoF proves its value. In the lectures there is a description of his character and a list of his perfections and attributes. I suspect that this list (which was indorsed by an individual who obtained what we seek – Joseph) is vital. We should become familiar with this list. After that it would be fun to compare the list with other scripture sources and see if the record of other individuals testify of the same list.
THE LIST FROM THE LECTURES ON FAITH:
- supreme governor
- independent being
- fullness and perfection dwells
- omnipotent (infinite in power)
- omnipresent (everywhere at the same time)
- omniscient (infinite knowledge or understanding)
- without beginning or end
- every good gift dwells in him
- every good principle dwells in him
- he is the Father of lights
- the principle of faith dwells in him independently
- he is the object all beings faith centers for life and salvation
That was a copy from the last message. There is more (this list will not be all inclusive of what is contained in the lectures) see LoF 3:11-18:
- he was God before world was created
- he is the same God after the world was created
- slow to anger
- abundant in goodness
- changes not
- a God of truth
- cannot lie
- no respecter of persons
- he is love
THE LIST FROM THE BROTHER OF JARED:
This list will show the things the Brother of Jared believed or knew, which lead to his rending the veil.
- Lord preserves land of promise – a good gift (Ether 2:7)
- the Lord shows mercy (Ether 2:15)
- “we know that thou art holy” (Ether 3:2)
- “we know that thou…dwellest in the heavens” (Ether 3:2)
- “thou hast been merciful unto us” (Ether 3:3)
- “that thou hast all power” (Ether 3:4)
I wonder if one were to put forth the effort, would they discover an overlap between the LoF and the Brother of Jared’s experience pertaining to the characteristics and attributes of God.
We (LDS culture) often speak of how important it is to know that God the Father and God the Son are separate beings and that they have bodies of flesh and bone just like us. Lets look at what the “doctrine” has for us in this regard. Specifically, look at LoF 5. Once we do that we should look at the scriptures and see what we find there.
Q. How many personages are there in the Godhead?
A. Two: the Father and the Son (wait – is that what D&C 20:28, AoF 1:1 and D&C 130:22 says?)
Q. What is the Father?
A. He is a personage of glory and power.
Q. What is the Son?
A. First, he is a personage of tabernacle.
- was made or fashioned like unto man
- he is in the likeness of the personage of the Father
Q. Why was he called the Son?
A. Because of the flesh? (according to D&C 130:22, the Father has a body of flesh and bones as well – what does this mean?)
Q. Do the Father and the Son possess the same mind?
A. They do.
Q. What is the mind?
A. The Holy Spirit.
Q. Do the Father, Son and Holy Spirit constitute the Godhead?
A. They do.
Q. Does the believer in Christ Jesus, through the gift of the Spirit, become one with the Father and the Son, as the Father and the Son are one?
A. They do.
Confusing – right?! Now this is the list (the one contained in the LoF) we should concern ourselves with. Joseph states that: “Does the foregoing account of the Godhead lay a sure foundation for the exercise of faith in him unto life and salvation?” – “It does.” (Questions and Answers from page 58 of 1835 D&C)
So what do we do with the other scriptures we find, like this one found in The Brother of Jared experience:
Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters. (Ether 3:14)
All those who believe on his name shall become HIS sons and daughters. If you become the son or daughter of Christ, would that mean Christ is your Father?
When truth comes and is verified by the spirit… even taught by the spirit, there is no room for doubt. Light fills the soul and doubt and darkness flee. Why is it that a scripture found in the Book of Mormon creates doubt in our mind? According to Joseph:
I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book. (Book of Mormon – Introduction)
I think the answer to that question is a result of a few errors on our part. First, our lack of reading the scriptures. Truly this will bring about our condemnation (lack of knowledge concerning God) (D&C 84:57). Second, our desire to rely upon anothers witness and revelations. We put our trust in flesh. We ought not to do that. (2 Nephi 4:34) We should seek knowledge ourselves. (James 1:5) Also, we don’t ask questions. We presume to have the answers already. We act as though we have enough. Surely, this behavior is a pride and of the devil. (2 Nephi 28:30)
Remember the LoF. There is a sure foundation of the characteristics of God which will allow us to exercise faith in him, sufficient to know him. Don’t apply all the other characteristics we believe we “know” about God. Chances are, if those beliefs have not yet produced a knowledge it is either because something in those beliefs is incorrect OR we are not being diligent…OR both.
We lack wisdom.