Sunday, October 17, 2021

Knowledge Through Sacrifice (Lectures on Faith 6)

An Actual Knowledge of Your Standing Before God

 

READ LoF 6:1-2

What is an “actual knowledge”?

Actual knowledge comes from having real experiences.

An actual knowledge means that one’s faith is dormant, in that specific area of knowledge (see Alma 32:33-34); you don’t need faith because you know the truth from your past experience.

What is the difference between having an “actual” knowledge that one’s course of life is according to the will of God and “having faith” that it is?

Having an actual knowledge from God that one’s life is acceptable to Him means you have received a declaration from God Himself that the course of your life is pleasing or according to His will; and since He is a god of truth and cannot lie or He will cease to be God, you can believe His statement to you.

“Having faith” that you know your course in life is according to God’s will is another way of saying you “believe” your life is in line with God’s will (but don’t know for a surety…) and based on that belief, and your understanding of the promises Christ makes in scripture to those whose lives are in accordance with His will, you “have faith” that you are acceptable to God and “have faith” that God will honor His promise; the problem is, that if you’re wrong about your standing, you are in big trouble because your assumption will not motivate you to the further repentance He requires of you to actually qualify for and receive that promise (see Matthew 7:21-23); and the other problem is that just because someone in the scriptures received a promise, and God wants to extend these promises to His children generally, doesn’t mean that you will receive such a promise; and until you have received such a promise from God Himself, you’ve really have nothing that will save you.

When Christ gives you an actual knowledge that the course of life you are pursuing is in accordance with His will, what is really happening?

In the context of this Lecture, it means that you have reached a definitive point in time where Christ makes you a promise of salvation, based on the course of your life.

He’s not just stopping by to tell you, face to face, that you’re “doing good, just keep it up…!”

This promise is what is referred to as having your calling and election made sure.

It is “made sure” (even though it has still not occurred in linear time) because He is a god of truth and cannot lie.

 

READ LoF 6:3-6

What happens after one has received this “actual knowledge” from God regarding their standing?

This promise or hope from Christ’s lips is an actual knowledge; however, it sets up the next trial of faith, which is to believe in and act in accordance with the actual knowledge that you will be saved, despite all your imperfections and current propensities for sin.

Your faith will be tested again – this time it will be your faith in the promise you received from God.

Satan will be allowed to really turn up the heat on you in direct opposition and magnitude to the promise you have received from God, up to and including death in its most horrid forms.

How do those who have received this actual knowledge from God react to the tribulations they are faced with?

Due to their knowledge from God regarding their standing before Him, they will suffer it all willingly, in fact, joyfully – because of the perspective this knowledge has given them; their paradigm of reality has shifted completely.

Like the character Neo in the movie “The Matrix”, they have finally seen through the “simulation” element of this probationary state and know it for what it is; while all of the effects of suffering and pain are real in this sphere, they are actually just an amazingly detailed live simulation; at the end of the simulation or probationary experience, Christ will dry the eyes of those who suffered and they will receive the light and rewards they have been blessed with through His mercy and grace; but if one were to “wake up” to the simulation while they were still in it (and this is what the ministry of Christ and His promise to you should do – the Second Comforter and having one’s calling and election made sure), any further trials or pain, although “real” in this sphere, are not “really “ real outside of this sphere, and this perspective should make it easier to abide with grace through the trials and pain you are called to go through – up to and especially including death, because that will be the absolute end of the simulation (but in a good way, for you because it means you have completed this level and are done with the trial).

What happens if we do not receive an actual knowledge from God regarding our standing before Him?

We will not be able to generate the faith necessary to receive salvation.

We will continue to be tested and tried – sometimes as a direct result of our sins, but many other times as a result of the use of others’ agency, and sometimes just an act of God to remind us to repent but we may lack the faith to trust God or repent; the more light we acquire, the more pointed and extreme the afflictions become at the hands of those who hate the light. 

We will grow weary in our minds and faint.

We will be overcome by the world because we lacked the faith to face and see the world’s terrible persecutions for what they are – a “real simulation” bounded in time.

Why will the worldly always persecute those who know Christ personally and are filled with His light?

Light cleaves to light (D&C 88:40) but it repels darkness – darkness cannot abide where light is present, it must flee away.

Those who do not believe Christ have hard hearts and darkened minds; they will not let light or love penetrate their hearts.

Darkness hates the light because it is blinding to it; light vibrates at such a higher frequency than darkness, and heat warms up what was cold, “slow” darkness; if one prefers darkness and if they are composed of it, they will feel threatened by the light and heat; they will fear it, they will hate it, and they do not comprehend it; they will either fight it violently to try to stop it or “put it out” or they will flee from it to attempt to escape it; that fighting or fleeing from includes those who have that light within them – not just the light itself.

Christ and those who know Him are filled with this light, to one extent or another – and the world (which is a cold, dark place with people who are comfortable here) will persecute those who threaten them with light.

What does the Lord ask us to lay down?

Our “all” or whole soul (see Omni 1:26).

Our character, our reputation/good name, our honor and the applause of men; this is what happens when a nobody like you or me says to the world “I saw a light, and in that light I saw two personages, and they did in reality speak to me…”

Our material possessions – lands and houses and savings accounts.

Our family members and loved ones (this doesn’t mean to abandon them if they don’t share your beliefs – in fact, it means to serve them even more – but not to chose them over Christ; in fact we chose Christ by loving and serving them).

Our own lives.

We must lay down anything that we have placed between us and Christ; following anyone or anything but Christ Himself (His doctrine and His words to you – see 2 Nephi 31-32) cannot save you.

We ought to fear God more than we fear man – even if we are ostracized; we ought to love God more than we fear the loss of anything that is down here; we must know that when these sufferings are ended, we will enter into eternal rest – this requires more than mere belief or supposition but requires the same conditions be met for all who receive that knowledge.

Why is this the case?

In a way we do not fully understand now, none of those other things are important in the eternal scheme of things compared to coming unto Christ.

It is all just a “real simulation” – real, but a simulation that is all put right again by virtue of Christ’s atonement.

The fact that family members are on this list is a very interesting thing given the Church’s doctrine of sealed, eternal families.

 

 

Obtaining That Knowledge Through Sacrifice

 

READ LoF 6:7

How does one obtain the knowledge that the course s/he is pursuing in this life is according to the will of God?

ONLY by the sacrifice of all things (or all earthly things).

With this sacrifice you are trading the things of most value to you in this life (earthly things you have already gained or the “glory” you have obtained here) for blessings you might receive in the next life – you are exercising faith.

The sacrifice is also a show of your love for the Lord – you are trusting Him and showing Him that you believe He has your best interest at heart and loves you, so much so that you are willing to give up all earthly security and control and submit your whole soul completely to Him.

Once you have made this required sacrifice, you will acquire the desired knowledge, in the Lord’s time; if you have not yet received the knowledge, either you have not truly made the sacrifice or you are waiting patiently on the Lord.

Why is sacrifice required to obtain this knowledge or promise of eternal life from God?

God does not require pain – this is not about God saying “if you sacrifice all things and suffer, I will give you the promise of eternal life you seek”.

This level of sacrifice is required to produce the necessary magnitude of faith in the person making the sacrifice; it is like how Cortes burned his ships when he invaded Mexico, you have no way to escape or back down from your choice and can only go forward in your resolve; the message from the sacrifice is to YOU, not to God; you are trying to gain sufficient faith because you are the barrier to that faith!  Sacrifice helps you to overcome your barrier.

The sacrifice of all things shows to God and to yourself that nothing is even close to being as important to you as He is; it also shows one’s extreme faith in God – that He truly does embody the character and attributes we’ve described in Lectures 3-4, including unconditional love for us, no respecter of persons or player of favorites, the omniscience to know how to save us, and the omnipotence to be able to save us – in the next life, for certain, and in this life if it is His will; this level of faith says “I am willing to lose my life if it is your will because I trust you, that you have my best interest first and foremost in your heart”.

Does the religion require this sacrifice?

In this case the word “religion” is being used to describe a system of beliefs, not an institution or organization.

In reality, it is the Lord who requires this sacrifice, because He knows it is only through this level of sacrifice that sufficient faith can be generated to rend the veil and obtain the audience with the Lord needed to receive the promise or knowledge of salvation from Him.

To the degree that your system of beliefs has been directly revealed to you from God, then it is fair to say that the religion, or revelations regarding what must be believed and accomplished to be saved, requires this sacrifice.

While it is possible that a religion of man also requires the sacrifice of all things (in the name of God but without His sanction), that sacrifice will not enable the necessary faith because it is, by definition, built on an incorrect or false understanding of God (i.e. that God cannot do His own work but has given His power to men to act as a mediator, see 2 Nephi 28:5-6).

What if you “believe” you were called to make a specific sacrifice of this nature by God but you were mistaken?

You cannot merely believe – you must be sure; this must be a matter of direct, unmistakable revelation.

You must be called by God Himself to make the sacrifice; God will not just honor your sacrifices or consecrate them to your gain if He did not ask you for them.

As this sacrifice leads directly back into the presence of God, you must receive an invitation from Him; we have all received a general invitation via the scriptures, but the specifics of what the Lord will ask of each of us is up to Him alone to know and tell us, as is the timing (see 2 Nephi 32:6).

Proactively (steadying the ark) or mistakenly (a lack of discernment) making up your own sacrifices is frowned on by God (see Genesis 4:1-7; Moses 5:16-27; Isaiah 24:5-6); it shows either a lack of faith that God will speak to you, a lack of ability to receive His will, a lack of discernment regarding the source of a revelation, a lack of patience or putting your timetable, will and wisdom before God, or an ulterior motive where are trying to manipulate God or your fellow men to your own ends.

 

READ LoF 6:8-12

Why is it vain to fancy ourselves “safely dead” after this life because we have remained active in the Church, if we have not offered our all in sacrifice and know that the sacrifice was accepted by receiving the sure knowledge of our standing before God?

Because only God can promise us our salvation.

And each of us are on our own journey – we each come with an individual amount of light and must learn certain things to gain more, much less to be sealed up to eternal life.

While the scriptures explain God’s promises to mankind and detail the experiences of certain individuals who have obtained those promises from Him as examples, the promises given to another in an “old book” will not save you if God has not made a “new” and everlasting covenant with you, personally (see TPJS 79-80).

While God desires to save all mankind – as many as will come unto Christ – “odds are (NOT) that we will be exalted” if we do not have sufficient faith to rend the veil and enter into God’s presence and receive such a promise from Him during this mortal life, and that level of faith requires the sacrifice of all earthly things.

If you have not made such a sacrifice (which is not the same as promising to make such a sacrifice in the future, if called upon), it is vain (and dangerous) to assume that you will merit the same reward as those who have – you have no grounds upon which to assume it other than your own conjecture as to your standing before God, which is faulty.

What is the difference between making a covenant “to sacrifice” and making a covenant “by sacrifice”?

Making a covenant “to sacrifice” is the promise we make in the Temple endowment – that we will use everything God has given us to build up the Church and the Kingdom of God; it is to promise a sacrifice in the future, if called upon; these covenants are based on future faithfulness.

Making a covenant “by sacrifice” means to make a covenant at the time of the sacrifice; this is what the Lord requires as it is only through actually sacrificing that it is possible for the Lord to make a covenant with you; the sacrifice symbolizes the shedding of the blood of the Savior and that act sanctifies or makes holy or sets apart from the profane, the covenant that has been entered in to, and also seals that covenant or makes it efficacious or in effect (not to be confused with sealing the end result of the covenant because all of the terms have been met – this “sealing” means that the covenant is “live” or in effect; it is more than the promise of a future covenant).

What we sacrifice shows us where our true treasure lies; when we make that sacrifice holy through covenant by sacrificing whatever it is the Lord requires of us personally, that gives us faith unto salvation.

Who does God use to gather His saints unto Him?

He uses his angels.

This sacrifice (of all things) and knowledge is what the 144,000 High Priests after the Holy Order of the Son of God must offer in order to be gathered and sealed by His angels (see D&C 77:11).

Why will one who has not received an assurance or promise from God regarding their acceptance lack the faith to be saved?

Regardless of how righteous you think you are or how merciful you believe the Lord to be, unless you have made an acceptable sacrifice, which produced the faith necessary to hear from the Lord Himself of your standing before Him, it is still a matter of doubt in your mind.

And if there is even an ounce of doubt and fear, you cannot have unshaken confidence and your faith will be too weak to endure the opposition that you will encounter.

Where doubt, uncertainty and fear exist, faith cannot; it is like light and darkness in reverse; in a dark room, if you turn on the light, the dark flees; but with faith, if you have any uncertainty, doubts or fears, your faith will be reduced by that same degree.

This is why the Fullness of the Gospel begins with faith, repentance and a baptism of water and fire, and ends with receiving the Second Comforter and having Him make your calling and election sure – this is THE message of the Book of Mormon.

 

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Knowledge Through Sacrifice (Lectures on Faith 6) QUESTIONS

An Actual Knowledge of Your Standing Before God

 

READ LoF 6:1-2

What is an “actual knowledge”?

What is the difference between having an “actual” knowledge that one’s course of life is according to the will of God and “having faith” that it is?

When Christ gives you an actual knowledge that the course of life you are pursuing is in accordance with His will, what is really happening?

 

READ LoF 6:3-6

What happens after one has received this “actual knowledge” from God regarding their standing?

How do those who have received this actual knowledge from God react to the tribulations they are faced with?

What happens if we do not receive an actual knowledge from God regarding our standing before Him?

Why will the worldly always persecute those who know Christ personally and are filled with His light?

What does the Lord ask us to lay down?

Why is this the case?

 

 

Obtaining That Knowledge Through Sacrifice

 

READ LoF 6:7

How does one obtain the knowledge that the course s/he is pursuing in this life is according to the will of God?

Why is sacrifice required to obtain this knowledge or promise of eternal life from God?

Does the religion require this sacrifice?

What if you “believe” you were called to make a specific sacrifice of this nature by God but you were mistaken?

 

READ LoF 6:8-12

Why is it vain to fancy ourselves “safely dead” after this life because we have remained active in the Church, if we have not offered our all in sacrifice and know that the sacrifice was accepted by receiving the sure knowledge of our standing before God?

What is the difference between making a covenant “to sacrifice” and making a covenant “by sacrifice”?

Who does God use to gather His saints unto Him?

Why will one who has not received an assurance or promise from God regarding their acceptance lack the faith to be saved?

Sunday, October 3, 2021

The Godhead (Lectures on Faith 5)

A Correct Idea of the Godhead

 

READ LoF 5:1-3

Why does Joseph Smith say there are “two personages” who constitute the supreme power over all things?  Aren’t there three personages - what about the Holy Ghost?

Joseph Smith knew, from first-hand experience, how many personages constitute the supreme power over all things – he saw them in the Sacred Grove, in countless visions in heaven including D&C 76 and in the School of the Prophets in Kirtland; if his knowledge continued to expand past 1835 (when the Lectures on Faith were canonized), he had opportunities to update this scripture based on new revelation but he never did and we have no information suggesting that he ever considered it.  So the question really could be – did Joseph Smith understand the government of heaven or not?  And if not, which subsequent Church leaders/prophets understood it so much better?

The Holy Ghost is not a “personage of spirit” in the way we have been taught (see discussion of Orson Hyde’s doctrinal error in the post on D&C 130 – July 25, 2021 post “Question and Answer Session with Joseph Smith”).

When Joseph created what we now call the temple endowment ceremony and performed it with select individuals in the Red Brick Store, he did not introduce a character named the Holy Ghost but instead featured Michael/Adam, who was symbolic of all mankind; Michael is not the Holy Ghost as we would think of the HG (in the same way that Jehovah was born as Jesus of Nazareth), but Michael had the opportunity, through sanctification, to become holy as God is holy – to be one with God and a joint heir with Christ; he was given the promise that his spirit or ghost could become holy like Christ’s is; and we are all to consider ourselves as if we were Adam and Eve – so we should all be seeking to become holy and one with God.

If God the Father was once a Savior on another planet (see TPJS 390-392; John 5:19), how can Joseph say that the Father and Son are the supreme power over all things and have created all things throughout the immensity of space, as the Father must have been a Son to another God?

They are the supreme power in this cosmos and eternity; within the dimension and epoch that we exist, there are none greater!

However, since becoming a God requires being one and co-equal with all other Gods, the fact that other Gods exist in other cosmoses and eternities means that while none are greater than the Father, they are all equal to Him (see LoF 3:19).

With regards to the progression of mankind and the building and redeeming of earths and the children of God who come to reside on them for a season, there are always “two” personages – a Father and a Son; that is not to say that there are only two Gods in all the dimensions of the heavens but that there are only two who constitute the supreme power over all things in that cosmos, dimension and eternity in which any given probation will take place; in the heavens where the Gods dwell in everlasting burnings, there are many mansions – many Gods and Sons of God.

What does it mean that the Father is a personage of spirit, glory and power, possessing all perfection and fullness but is not a personage of tabernacle?

There is no such thing as immaterial matter - all spirit is matter but it is more fine or pure and can only be discerned by purer eyes (D&C 131:7) - so the Father’s body is composed of physical matter.

However, that matter is so refined - is resonating at such a high frequency and is composed of element or energy so glorious and powerful, that it would dwarf the sun billions of times over in its intensity.

He is an inseparably connected soul or spirit and body; they are one entity now – He does not live in a temporary abode or tabernacle of clay. 

What does it mean that the Son is described as a personage of tabernacle?

A tabernacle was a temporary structure; it was a portable “temple” and was required for worship in the wilderness but not when the Israelites finally arrived at their destination, the promised land.  In the same way, these mortal bodies are temporary abodes or “tabernacles” while we reside in the wilderness that is this fallen, mortal sphere.

Christ came to earth to inhabit a temporary structure - a mortal body of corruptible element or “clay” - to do a job.

When He was resurrected, His physical body could pass through the ceiling of an upper room in Jerusalem and could ascend to heaven through a conduit of light!  But could also be handled by mortals and eat fish - it is a “physical” body now but not like ours.  It is not bound by the laws governing a mortal tabernacle.  Again, it is made of more refined matter; for additional scriptures, see: Mosiah 3:5; Alma 7:8; D&C 93:4 & 35.

Why are the bodies of the Father and the Son compared in this way?

What is being laid out here is the difference between a god who has previously attained to the resurrection of the dead and a fullness of glory (the Father or Ahman) and a “Son of God” whose mission it was to attain the resurrection of the dead and a fullness of glory during this eternity (the Son or Jehovah/Jesus).

To us in this eternity, the Father is the “personage of glory” while the Son is the one who left His glory in heaven and condescended to earth to live in a mortal “tabernacle” so He could work out the atonement.

Since the Father loves the Son with a perfect love and because a God of Light will always sacrifice to save His children, the fact that the Father sent the Son to be sacrificed implies that the Father could no longer perform that specific role – He could no longer lay aside His glory to condescend to take upon Himself a tabernacle of clay; since we know He (the Father) had previously attained to the resurrection of the dead Himself (see TPJS 390-393), we can imply that once a God attains to this level of glory via this kind of infinite and eternal sacrifice, that they can no longer lay aside their glory (their body), even if they wanted to because their spirits and bodies are permanently welded together (see D&C 93:33); within this context it makes sense to describe the Father as a personage of “glory” and the Son a personage of “tabernacle” (see Mosiah 3:5; Alma 7:8).

What did Christ do before the foundation of this world to qualify to perform the role of Savior here?

Christ had proved Himself able to work out the atonement and attain to the resurrection in some “first place” before this world was ever designed, let alone created (see Alma 13:3-5) – and because of this, He was ordained to be called a Son of God.  That being said, He’d never performed the work as He was expected to do here (which might be why He asked the Father to remove the “cup” from Him, when it came down to the moment He had to actually perform it – but to His everlasting credit, He did it regardless).

He had already become a God – in the express image or likeness of the Father, through His obedience to God’s commandments or eternal law, up to that point; implied is that there are various levels of godhood.

He had gained the ability to suffer all that a god can suffer, even though He had not yet done it.

What did Christ’s role as the Son of God require of Him?

To descend below all things or experience more suffering and temptation than any mortal man could experience and live (while being mortal Himself).

While keeping the Law of God/Eternity and remaining without sin.

To show that it is possible to condescend to leave heaven, take upon oneself mortality, alienation, and the fall of man with its veil of forgetfulness and corruption (the flesh) and still remain connected to heaven by keeping ALL of the eternal laws of the universe (God’s commandments) perfectly.

To set the standard of judgement against which all the rest of mankind will stand condemned.

And THEN, to suffer the guilt of all the sins and afflictions of the world and die unjustly (as death is the wage of sin, and yet He was sinless), to win the victory over death and save all who would come unto Him.

When did Christ receive a fullness of the glory of the Father and what does this mean?

After He had overcome all things in this world and attained to the resurrection of the dead (see D&C 93:12-14; 3 Nephi 12:48; Matthew 5:48).

Christ now possesses all the fullness of the Father or the same fullness with the Father; Christ is one with the Father and shares a fullness of His (the Father’s) intelligence (mind or Holy Spirit or glory or light), character and attributes.

He received this after He had performed or experienced the eternal and infinite atonement and attained to the resurrection of the dead Himself, as His Father had done before Him (see TPJS 390-393).

What is the Holy Spirit?

The “mind of God”.

The “Spirit of the Father”.

The intelligence, light, glory, truth or Spirit of God; it is part of God and extends from Him to fill the immensity of space; it is the “unified field” of super-refined energy which is in and through all things and holds them together because it is the energy or element of which all things are created.

It is not a personage – of spirit or anything else (see post on D&C 130:22-23).

If the Holy Spirit is not a personage but is the mind or intelligence or light of God, why does Joseph Smith describe these “three” as composing the Godhead?

The godhead is composed of the Father, the Son, and any who accept their invitation to rise up and reconnect with them as a god themselves via receiving a fullness of the mind of God or Holy Spirit -to become Holy, a “Holy Spirit” or “Holy Ghost” or a Holy Personage with a celestialized body of spirit, power, and glory.

This is the “great secret” = that we can become gods ourselves, part of the (or a…) Godhead.

If we keep God’s commandments (abide by eternal law – i.e. become precisely as Christ is), we have the opportunity to rise up and, by that same Spirit, be partakers of the same fullness and enjoy that same glory.

We can become one with the Father and the Son as they are with each other; possessing the same mind, being transformed into the same image or likeness, even the express image.

Our spirits or “ghosts” can become holy like Christ’s is; and the Holy Spirit (which is the light and glory of God which fills the immensity of space) is the element that binds us all together if we will welcome it into our bodies and become one with it in our spirits.

We can become part of the “Godhead” by submitting completely to the mind of God or Holy Spirit, so that it truly becomes our mind; this is not a matter of assimilation and loss of identity but of transformation so that through understanding the will and mind of God, one agrees with it so completely that they adopt it – it becomes their way of thinking and being; at that point it is not submission to a higher power but rather choosing to be perfectly aligned because you ARE perfectly aligned – it that makes sense.

Why is the Lord, through Joseph Smith, going to the trouble of describing doctrines which most people feel are unnecessary for our salvation?

Because we cannot exercise faith unto salvation in a God that we do not correctly understand; you can’t have saving faith in something that is not true; so in other words, understanding these things IS necessary to our salvation, whether most people understand that or not.

If we don’t know who we really are and where it is God would have us go and be, we will never consider taking the journey which leads to true salvation.

Joseph is laying out how it was that Christ (and God the Father Himself) came to be God; when we get to section 7 we will learn that to be saved we must be precisely like Christ; and in section 6 we learn that we must sacrifice all things to transcend this earth and be one with God (doing the same things that those who came before us did, see TPJS 390-393); Joseph is giving us a hint of who we really are and what the path is to fulfill the measure of our creation; and when he says we must descend below all and ascend to the highest heaven, he wasn’t using hyperbole – you think you have to exercise faith now, think about what it will take for sinful, weak you to become precisely like Christ!  If Christ makes you a promise of your exaltation, He is promising you that, as crazy as it sounds now, you will accomplish the climb back to heaven to become as God is – that is exercising faith in Christ and His promises.

How do we become One with the Father and the Son?

We become one when we receive the Holy Spirit or mind of God, the record of heaven, the Comforter, the truth of all things, that which quickens all things, and has all power

Receiving a fullness of the Holy Spirit means being transformed into the same image or likeness, even the express image - it is the Holy Spirit that does this – sanctification (see Moses 6:61).

But remember that it already abides in you; the kingdom of God is within us – we must tap in to and embrace the light that is already there – and be open to receiving more and more until we receive it all.

What should you do if you are confused by the doctrine taught by Joseph here (who had seen the Father and the Son AT LEAST twice by this point, and more likely many more times) when compared with the doctrine taught other places (D&C 130:22) or over the pulpit in General Conference?

Find out for yourself FROM GOD! This is a perfect opportunity to go to God to understand something that He said is critical to our exercising faith unto salvation!  He wants you to know the truth and will make Himself known unto you (see LoF 2:54-56).

Or be damned by our careless indifference (2 Nephi 32:4 and 7).

 

Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Godhead (Lectures on Faith 5) QUESTIONS

 A Correct Idea of the Godhead

 

READ LoF 5:1-3

Why does Joseph Smith say there are “two personages” who constitute the supreme power over all things?  Aren’t there three personages - what about the Holy Ghost?

If God the Father was once a Savior on another planet (see TPJS 390-392; John 5:19), how can Joseph say that the Father and Son are the supreme power over all things and have created all things throughout the immensity of space, as the Father must have been a Son to another God?

What does it mean that the Father is a personage of spirit, glory and power, possessing all perfection and fullness but is not a personage of tabernacle?

What does it mean that the Son is described as a personage of tabernacle?

Why are the bodies of the Father and the Son compared in this way?

What did Christ do before the foundation of this world to qualify to perform the role of Savior here?

What did Christ’s role as the Son of God require of Him?

When did Christ receive a fullness of the glory of the Father and what does this mean?

What is the Holy Spirit?

If the Holy Spirit is not a personage but is the mind or intelligence or light of God, why does Joseph Smith describe these “three” as composing the Godhead?

Why is the Lord, through Joseph Smith, going to the trouble of describing doctrines which most people feel are unnecessary for our salvation?

What should you do if you are confused by the doctrine taught by Joseph here (who had seen the Father and the Son AT LEAST twice by this point, and more likely many more times) when compared with the doctrine taught other places (D&C 130:22) or over the pulpit in General Conference?

 

Sunday, September 19, 2021

God’s Character and Attributes (Lectures on Faith 3-4)

A Correct Idea of God’s Character

 

READ LoF 3:2-5

What is necessary for any rational and intelligent being to exercise faith in God unto salvation?

The idea that He actually exists; which you get from someone else – either another mortal, an angel or God Himself.

A correct idea of His character, perfections and attributes.

An actual knowledge that the course of life which one is pursuing is according to His will – this can only come from God, otherwise it’s not an “actual” knowledge.

Why is it important to have a correct idea of God’s character, perfections and attributes?

You can’t believe in a being that doesn’t exist.

If you don’t know God’s true character, you’re making things up; you’re worshipping a god of your own creation or imagination, or of someone else’s; you are engaging in idol worship.

His actual character traits are such that we can have faith in Him, when we understand what they are – they generate faith in us.

But if you don’t understand the correct idea of God, you are missing something and this prevents you from being able to exercise true faith unto salvation, regardless of your good intentions or positive self-talk.

How does one gain an actual knowledge regarding one’s life course and standing before the Lord?

Directly from the Lord, as a result of having sacrificed all that He required of you (see LoF 6).

Actual knowledge implies that your understanding does not come from conjecture (I.e. the promises made to others in scripture based on criteria that you think you have met but it has not been actually confirmed to you by God), or from the pronouncement of a man (again, as men make mistakes, who is to say whether he is giving you an accurate assessment), or even from inspiration via the Holy Spirit (as again, while God might be trying to communicate with you in clarity, the possibility of your own human error – either from sin or blinding emotional desires – means that doubt has been introduced into the situation and your faith will suffer as a result).

What is the difference between “perfect and fruitful” faith and “imperfect and non-productive” faith – isn’t it better to have faith of any kind than no faith at all?

Perfect and fruitful faith achieves the desired result of the individual acting in faith in God, while anything less (imperfect faith) yields non-productive results.

Fruitful faith means to experience the glorious discovery and receive the eternal certainty discussed in the last section – it means to know God with a surety (see 3 Nephi 11:14-15) and to receive a promise or hope of eternal life (see D&C 88:75) – which is the fullness of the Gospel and the desire of God for each of us (see Moses 1:39).

Anything less than this outcome is the definition of “non-productive” faith.

So, if one desires to be redeemed (see Ether 3:13) and receive an actual knowledge of their salvation, anything less than that is non-productive or a failure; that being said, for every eternal law that is lived, one receives a portion of glory or light which is to their advantage in the world to come (see D&C 130:18-21).

 

READ LoF 3:6-7

Why can no one find out God by searching for Him; why must He reveal Himself?

God reveals Himself or He is forever unknown by mankind; our imagination cannot conceive of the true reality of God – what He is really like; we are limited to our experience and if that never included Him, our conception of what He might be like would be absolutely off the mark as our frame of reference is mankind and this world; we will be off fundamentally, not just by orders of magnitude (see Job 11:7-9; 1 Corinthians 2:9-11).

This is why the “eye of faith” (our imagination) must be informed by God Himself and His revelations to be effective (otherwise it will only make God over in mankind’s image – thus destroying faith because we will have invented a god of our own making, one that is not living and so, it will fail us in the end because it has no power to save us), and why it is a tool to build requisite faith to experience the true and living God (in the same way an ordinance points to a real event but is only a rite) but is ONLY a tool, and we must be careful that it does not constrain the reality of who and what God is, when He finally reveals Himself to us; we must have a “soft” or open heart to the truth, as foreign to our experience on earth it may be; and we must continually and patiently watch for God to appear in reality and not settle for the “manufactured” experiences available through our imagination (as in a visualization or guided meditation) or an ordinance.

 

READ LoF 3:8-11

What are God’s primary character traits and why do they enable our faith?

That He was God before the world was created, and is the same God that He was after it was created (there is no “bigger” god that can come in and supplant Him and His plan, see v 13).

That He is merciful, and gracious, slow to anger, abundant in goodness, and that He was so from everlasting, and will be to everlasting. (we all sin, see v 14).

That He changes not, neither is there variableness with Him; but that He is the same from everlasting to everlasting, being the same yesterday to-day and forever; and that His course is one eternal round, without variation. (the plan is the plan, see v 15).

That He is a God of truth and cannot lie (and we can have confidence in His word, see v 16).

That He is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that fears God and works righteousness is accepted of Him. (He is fair - whoever may come, may come - ALL may come, from the least to the greatest if they will abide by the requirements, see v 17).

That He is love (which is why He sacrifices for us, see v 18).

 

READ LoF 3:19

Why is the fact that there is no God greater than the Father essential to faith unto salvation?

If another God existed who was wiser than the Father, then the possibility that there could be a better way or that the way might change, could be introduced into our thinking, causing doubt.

If another God existed that was more powerful than the Father, the possibility that the Father could be defeated by that God, who if They sought to defeat the Father would show themselves to not have our best interest in mind; this would introduce doubt into God’s ability to fulfill the promises He has made to us.

How can God be over all, from everlasting to everlasting and that there is none greater than He who could disrupt His plans, if Jesus saw the Father perform an atonement on another world where He was acting the role of Savior – implying that He had a Father who is greater?

By implication, God the Father is not the only supreme being but none is greater; however, that does not mean that none are equal to Him.

To become a God is to become one with all other Gods – to share the same mind and will or Holy Spirit, as we will discuss in Lectures on Faith 5; so to disrupt the plans of another God that you are one with is to disrupt your own plans – it is especially unlikely since becoming a God requires you to become precisely as Christ is, with all of the attributes and characteristics we are discussing in the LoF – it requires you to love and sacrifice all things for those who will reject you – it is to abide precisely by the eternal law of light.

So, for a God to separate Him or Herself from the other Gods (violating these attributes and characteristics) to disrupt the plans of another God means that individual would cease to be God and would lose the light, glory and power they had gained; and in losing that power, would not be able to disrupt the plans of the Gods who retain that power and glory.

 

READ LoF 3:20

Whose goodness or righteousness is our salvation dependent upon and what is implied?

It is dependent upon God’s righteousness, and God’s alone; our salvation depends completely on His merits and mercy.

Our job is to exercise sufficient faith in His ability and in His desire to save us - that we come unto Him and offer our whole souls, which is not the same as offering Him a perfect life (i.e. being 100% compliant with the fullness of eternal law…at least not at this stage of our development).

When we come unto Him with a repentant or broken heart and contrite spirit, He is quick to forgive – He is a “first watch God” in this area (see Matthew 14:24-25).

The paradox about this argument for God’s mercy is that those who are more spiritually attuned to Him are the ones most in danger of losing their faith, if God was not merciful and salvation not based on His merits – because they are the ones who see more fully the chasm between their current state and the requirements of salvation.

 

READ LoF 3:21

If God is absolutely unchangeable, why has the gospel changed over time?

It hasn’t! 

The gospel revealed to Adam and Eve (the “Ancient Order of Things” to quote Joseph Smith) is the Fullness of the Gospel and the only one which can save us in Celestial glory.

Changes to what has been revealed to mankind as “the gospel” have either come as a result of mankind’s rejection of the fullness of the gospel and God’s mercy in giving them a lesser law (see D&C 84:19-27) or the changes are the result of evil and conspiring men who, in the name of God, have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances, and broken the covenant (see Isaiah 24:5).

 

READ LoF 3:22

Although God cannot lie, He seems to have a history of withholding truth from mankind in a way that could be construed as deceptive; is this the case and does it undermine faith?

The fact that God cannot lie or He would cease to be god is a trait that we can rely on 100%; if He tells you your standing before Him, you can believe it.

Man’s thoughts and ability to comprehend the fullness of the reality that God deals with is so low that God is constrained by our cognitive ability with regards to some information – we wouldn’t understand it even if He revealed it; also, some things can only be understood if they are experienced and we lack the ability to experience many of the requisite challenges required to understand the full truth, at this level of our development (i.e. we would not survive an atonement, for instance).

In addition, the true magnitude of what is required to become like God is so daunting that understanding it now might cause many of us to forgo it and choose either a path that will not maximize our happiness in the long term (remaining how we are with the level of light we have already accumulated but not venturing beyond – I.e. damnation) or cause us to embrace an easier path (as Lucifer and his followers have done) – which in reality is a path to a different destination all together.

God does not lie but He cannot tell us all the truth and have us remain in the flesh, nor would it be merciful to do so (see Moses 1:5); so knowing that, we must trust Him to reveal to us what is needful at any given time.

Having said all of this, God does not lie or ask us to lie (as the liar is trust down to hell), He is just merciful regarding how and when He reveals the truth to us. 

 

READ LoF 3:23

If God is no respecter of persons, why does He have “chosen people”?

God honors the actions of His children in whatever sphere they are living in; to the degree we align our behavior with eternal law, we will receive more light (see D&C 130:18-21).

If we received enough light and covenanted to be God’s seed in the “first place”, we may be rewarded in this life by being “chosen” and given easier access to the true gospel (see D&C 50:42; Matthew 17:6-16) – as the knowledge gained in a first place or a place one resided before this world, should give us an “advantage” in this world or life; however, this assumes that chosen status is always a sign of former righteousness, but this may not be the case – there are so many things we do not understand about why certain people are born into the circumstances they are born into here.

However, just because someone has been born into a “chosen” status in this life, based on the actions of a former life (see Alma 13:3-9), doesn’t mean that they will live up to the added responsibilities placed on them (see D&C 82:3).

Regardless, everyone who is born into this world is given the light of Christ (to be able to choose between good and evil, see John 1:9; D&C 93:2; D&C 88:7-12), all have full access to agency (see 2 Nephi 2:16), all are being enticed by both evil and good (see Moroni 7:12-13), and God wants all of His children to gain light from their experiences here and come unto Him to be saved (see D&C 130:18-21; 2 Nephi 26:33).

So, there is no real advantage of being a “chosen one”, hence the truth that God is no respecter of persons; if you love Him and come unto Him, He will make you His – and He is bound by His word to do that.

This same logic also applies to callings in the Church, although it is further muddied by the fact that those who call people to leadership callings may not be inspired (and they may make their decisions based on worldly criteria, like leadership ability), so they may not even discern light within a person; in addition, unlike many of us, the Lord doesn’t value Church leadership or callings as important for salvation.

Chosen people are “chosen” to share the light they have been given with others – to minister to them and bless them.  They are called and chosen to be servants.  But as Christ was the servant of all, being chosen to serve is actually an important rung on the ladder to salvation – if we must become precisely like Christ, we must be chosen to serve.

 

READ LoF 3:24

Why is understanding God’s love for us absolutely essential for our faith?

In this life and at our current stage of development, we will never understand enough about what we are getting ourselves into here to make an educated decision regarding whether to proceed or not.

So, we must trust that God loves us above anything else – even His own love for Himself, because if He does not, we might be pawns in a much bigger game and we will never figure out that we’ve been played until the end; if we didn’t trust His love enough, we would not have chosen to come to this earth – the risk would have been too great.

The proof of God’s love is that He loves us enough to let us go – He is saying “I love you so much that I am willing to let you choose whether to have this relationship with me”; He allows us to be alienated from Him and to risk the heartbreak that might happen (to Him) if we choose not to reciprocate His love; He made us this offer to see if we would choose to come back to Him, when we don’t think we need to (and we don’t realize how bad things will be if we don’t – so we’re not compelled at all); we chose to leave God’s presence precisely so that we could grow in our relationship with Him; the only way for us to become as the gods is to freely choose to return God’s love with our own, to give ourselves freely to Him in the same way He freely gives Himself to us; He loves us enough to lose us, so that we might make that choice and become gods like He is.  And He then loves us enough to sacrifice Himself (or His Son) to save us from our own poor decisions and behavior – from rejecting Him and His way. 

 

READ LoF 3:25-26

How do we best learn about God’s characteristics?

Primarily, or most importantly and effectively, through our own first-hand experiences with Him over time – we must walk the path that He walked, and pray that He walks it with us.  We must learn to be like Him by trying to be like Him, failing, repenting, and trying again and again.  It is in this cycle that He truly reveals Himself (and His character) to us.

And secondarily, through the experiences that others have had with Him and in the revelations He gives to mortals that we can learn about from them. 

 

 

A Correct Idea of God’s Attributes

 

READ LoF 4:2-10, 17

What are God’s faith promoting attributes?

Knowledge (all things are before His face); He can reveal the path to salvation.

Faith or power (He has power over all things); He can deliver mankind from their enemies, including death and hell.

Justice (He doesn’t play favorites but plays by the rules); His rewards and punishments are fair.

Judgement (He intervenes in the lives of mankind); He will keep His promises and deliver His people.

Mercy (He may not give us what we’ve got coming to us, the just that we deserve); He will comfort His people in their extremities and has provided a way to pay what we owe so that justice is still served.

Truth (Is spirit, is intelligence, is light - D&C 93:36 and D&C 84:45); the truth He possess is to be given as an inheritance to all those who come unto Him.

 

READ LoF 4:11

What aspect of knowledge enables us to have faith in God?

It is not His foreknowledge; that would be great for those that He knows will be saved but bad for the rest of us; the future which He sees “is what it is” – it is not “future” to Him as all things are before His face in the “present”.

The knowledge that is valuable to us is His (Christ’s) knowledge of how to overcome the sins and pain that afflict us in this world that we might be able to stand reconciled with God again.

 

READ LoF 4:12

Why is the attribute of power even important to discuss, as this is God we are talking about?

He is not the only God.

Satan and others like him also have power.

If there was a doubt about God's fail safe ability to perform any work He chose to, it would destroy our faith - we could follow His instructions but He might not be able to fulfill His obligations to us if His power wasn’t absolute.   

 

READ LoF 4:13

Why do we need a just God to have faith in, while hoping that we do not receive justice from His hand for our sins?

We need Him to be a just God so that we have an absolute guarantee that He honors His promises and that His promises are supremely just or “right”; for the same reason, all the elements and energy in the cosmos also require this of Him.

Ironically, all who have come unto Christ (or are seeking so to do) are depending upon God’s just nature – that He will honor the promise of mercy, which by definition is not only undeserved but unjust, which He has offered those who are willing to covenant with Him.

 

READ LoF 4:14

How is the attribute of “judgement” different from “justice”?

Judgement is God’s requirement to hold all things accountable for the actions, thoughts and feelings they use their agency to produce.  Judgement is ensuring consequences exist and are carried out, for actions taken.

Justice is ensuring that the judgement is precisely aligned with the expectations set up front – which are dictated by eternal law, and reiterated by God in the form of commandments; for example, an unjust judge can pronounce an unfair judgement but if he has authority, his judgement will be executed.

 

READ LoF 4:15

What two aspects of the mercy of God is Joseph Smith highlighting here?

Mercy that we will be spared afflictions; that we won’t suffer above that which we can bear and eternally profit from.

Mercy that we will be spared the consequences of our actions; that we won’t get what’s coming to us – what we deserve (i.e. justice).

 

READ LoF 4:16

How is God a god of truth?

All things are before His face – as the definition of truth is things as they really were, are and will be; He knows the truth of all things and stands as God to ensure that they are upheld. 

In addition, God’s glory is light or truth or intelligence or consciousness; the light or truth which proceeds from God and fills the immensity of space IS God; so it is correct to say that God IS truth.

 

READ LoF 4:18-19

What gives the Latter-day Saints the same power and authority to exercise faith in God that any of the former-day saints had?

The revelations of God given through Joseph Smith, who knew Him.

A sure witness of the existence of God (via Joseph Smith) and a correct idea of His character, perfections and attributes (via the Lectures on Faith and scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon, the D&C, and the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible), which should enable each person with this knowledge to do what Joseph Smith did and know God for themselves – and then receive the power and authority from God to do His work and glory, which is their salvation and eternal life.

What would cause the Latter-day Saints to lose the power and authority to exercise faith in God unto salvation?

Changing or ignoring the doctrine and ordinances restored by the God through Joseph Smith – which was the fullness of the gospel (see 3 Nephi 16:10); this generation, or the generation to whom the Book of Mormon was given (until a time that more is given – see D&C 5:9 and 2 Nephi 32:6-7), is to receive the word of God through Joseph Smith (see D&C 5:10); as no more has been given (sealed portion of the Book of Mormon, etc.), we are still living in the “generation” of Joseph Smith.

 

 

 

Knowledge Through Sacrifice (Lectures on Faith 6)

An Actual Knowledge of Your Standing Before God   READ LoF 6:1-2 What is an “actual knowledge”? Actual knowledge comes from having r...