Sunday, September 5, 2021

God of the Fathers (Lectures on Faith 2)

A Knowledge That God Actually Exists


READ LoF 2:1-2

Why is defining “the object upon which faith rests” correctly, so important?

It is not enough just to have a great deal of faith.

You must have faith in things that are true, or your faith will fail in time, as the false premise upon which your faith rests shows itself to not be capable of fulfilling your trust in it.

You must have faith in things which are perfect, or the same issue will occur.

You do not need to have a perfect knowledge to have faith, as obtaining that perfect knowledge is the result of the exercise of faith; but you do need to choose to act in alignment with what you know about things (regardless of how small) that are actually true.

Who must the principle of faith be grounded in, and why?

In God (or the Gods) alone.

The character and attributes of a God, including the traits of omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, and all good things of which love and mercy are preeminent, are such that you can put your complete trust in them and feel confident that your faith is well placed – they will not fail you.

What is the problem with placing your faith in anything or anyone else, including a loved one, the leader of a Church, or even the true Church (institution) itself?

Faith in anyone or anything else means that you do not have the faith necessary to attain to salvation; faith in other things takes away from your faith in God (you are hedging your bets) and amounts to idol worship.

Putting your faith in a mortal person or an institution, however genuinely noble their intentions were, will end up in heartbreak and disappointment when they fail you, because they will – it is guaranteed because they lack the individual or collective intelligence or power to save you or even to love you with absolute unconditionally.

Placing your faith on anything but the living God is what the scriptures refer to as building on a sandy foundation; things will seem fine until the floods come… (see Matthew 7:24-27; 3 Nephi 18:12-13; 3 Nephi 11:39-40) but they are not inherently fine and never were – you just didn’t know it yet.

Why is it difficult to exercise faith in God if the combination of Their traits and love mean that They cannot fail you?

Their ways are higher than our ways; their understanding of what it means to be truly happy, and how to attain it – while absolutely true – is beyond the comprehension of the natural man, and this may present real trust problems when what we think will bring joy and what they know will bring joy conflict (and really even the spiritually reborn may understand some of it cognitively, but like Christ prior to the atonement, it Is impossible to truly understand all that is required until you experience it, see D&C 19:15-20).

We are outside of Their tangible presence and surrounded by a world which seeks to distract us into worshiping other things and dissuade us from believing in God; but that is the whole point of the test of our faith.

 

READ LoF 2:3-4

What are the evidences mankind have had to believe in the existence of a living God?

The natural world around us and the heavens above us; if we knew enough, science itself would provide countless evidences of the existence of a living God.

The testimony of others’ experience with God.

The portion of God’s Spirit that dwells within us if we will listen for it and heed its direction.

 

READ LoF 2:5-12

What was mankind’s situation at their creation upon this earth?

Adam and Eve were placed on earth as adults, in God’s image = male and female.

They were given dominion or made governor over all things on the earth.

They were in God’s presence and spoke with Him regularly – there was no veil between them so that they could see what was actually occurring in the spiritual realm.

 

READ LoF 2:13-19

What is implied about Adam “not being left without intelligence” while in the garden?

When we say he was “innocent”, it’s not like he was a developmentally impaired adult with the mind of a six-year-old.

Being in God’s presence with the associated intelligence “bursting upon his understanding”, we seriously underestimate Adam if we think he was impaired intellectually; he knew enough to feel fear and shame at the approach of God, having transgressed the commandment to not partake of the fruit of the tree (until commanded to do so).

Either his innocence was more of a function of his lack of experiential knowledge, or it was a factor of the veil of the flesh (albeit Terrestrial, not Telestial, at that point) that his spirit had been placed in.

It is also very interesting that Eve was the one with the inherent wisdom to plunge the world into a Telestial experience (with all of its upside and downside spiritual risks), as spiritual “wisdom” is associated with women and Heavenly Mother.

What is implied by the fact that the Fall did not deprive Adam of the knowledge of God he had gained previously in the Garden of Eden?

That the “veil of forgetfulness” is the body of flesh, which Adam was already “wearing”.

And since he was already in the flesh and had experienced God face to face, when he fell he retained his memories of being in God’s presence.

It was his life with God prior to his introduction into the Garden of Eden that was forgotten (as Satan pointed out to him).

 

READ LoF 2:20-25

What motivated Adam to continue to pray and offer sacrifices to God “for many days” without any sign of acknowledgement from heaven?

He KNEW God; he had past experience with God and while he was now separated from Him, it did not deter him from continuing to seek Him – to beg Him to come out from behind the veil that was hiding Him – to reconcile with Adam and Eve.

This knowledge or memory of the nature of their former relationship before the Fall was augmented when Adam was filled with the Holy Spirit or mind of God; Adam now had God within Him in the form of His Spirit, so while he continued to be separated from His being, he now was a step closer by being connected to God via His Spirit – or more precisely, Adam’s spirit had become quickened to some degree – His spirit had become more holy or like God.

 

READ LoF 2:30

How did Adam first become acquainted with the existence of a God?

After God breathed the breath of life into Adam and he awoke into this existence, the first thing he saw was God.

Man did not conceive of God, but God manifested or revealed Himself to Adam, first.

Why did God continue to communicate to man after the Fall via His voice but not face to face?

Seeing God face to face or being brought back into His presence is redemption from spiritual death (see Ether 3:13).

Mankind was not yet ready to be redeemed; they must first be made aware of the reality of God and their desperate need for Him, then exercise faith and repent and covenant with Him via baptism, to take upon themselves His name – to become His children; in time they would regain His presence and speak with Him again face to face in mortality.

However, God did not leave Adam alone and He “called” to Him from “eastward in Eden”, if Adam had the ears to hear Him (was waiting and listening for Him; was attuned to His frequency), which He did.

God’s instructions to Adam, by voice, were designed to enable him to exercise faith sufficient to repent, be baptized by water and fire, and begin the journey back into His presence again, in the flesh – but with more light and knowledge from his obedience and experience in this mortality, than he had previously when he had lived in God’s presence.

 

READ LoF 2:31, 33-35

How did Adam’s children and the rest of posterity first conceive of the thought that a God existed?

Through the testimony of those who had already gained direct, experiential knowledge of Him.

In the economy of heaven (and to further test those to whom such a testimony has been given), mankind must minister unto mankind regarding things that are fully within their ability to do so – like their own personal experiences with God.

Not only are these experiences not “too sacred to share” but the salvation of many people hang in the balance, dependent upon the willingness of true witnesses to share their testimonies of the existence of God and the path they followed to find Him; without that knowledge, the rest of mankind cannot conceive of God or His correct attributes until He either reveals Himself to them or those to whom He has revealed Himself bear testimony to that fact in a way that guides and motivates others to seek and have the same experience – to know Him for themselves.

 

READ LoF 2:32

What is implied by the fact that God continued to speak to Cain AFTER the murder of his brother?

If God will speak to Cain after he has committed the world’s first murder, He will SURELY condescend to speak to us, if we will muster the faith to hear His voice and receive His words.

Although God cannot tolerate sin in the least degree, He will still have mercy and communicate with those who demonstrate the required level of faith in Him; our faith is even more important than our relative righteousness in hearing the voice of the Lord.

 

READ LoF 2:36

What can be implied about all the different religions of the world from the fact that Adam walked with God before and after he fell?

As Adam is the common progenitor of all mankind and bore his witness of the true and living God, it follows that all the various religions are influenced, to one degree or another, by the truths he taught his descendants.

And given this fact, coupled with the depth of truth that is the gospel of Christ, it would be foolish not to seek truth from all of the various peoples and religions of the world, on the off chance that they have kept safe some particle of truth that your belief system subsequently lost.

What differentiated Abel’s experience with God from the rest of his brothers and sisters?

It began exactly like the experience each of his brothers and sisters had: his father told him about his own experiences with God – that He existed, what He was like, and how he came to know Him.

But for Abel it did not end there; Abel planted that seed of faith in God’s existence, believed in the attributes of God that he’d been told of including His love for His children and that He is no respecter of persons but wants all to come unto Him, and followed the path his father followed which had led Adam back into God’s presence (including the making of sacrifice, hearing the voice of God, etc.), until Abel’s own sacrifices were accepted by God, preparatory to entering back into God’s presence himself.

Cain also sought the path but did not follow it precisely but instead was tempted by Satan to make changes; when those changed ordinances were rejected, in his hurt and pride, he rebelled again against God instead of humbly repenting.

But most of the rest of the posterity of Adam never even pursued the path in the first place – they did not seem interested and did not believe him.

 

READ LoF 2:37-53

Why did Joseph Smith go to the trouble of laying out the lifespans of the patriarchs?

He wanted to show that access to a person who walked and talked with God was always present on the earth from Adam to the flood, and again from Noah and Shem (who was Melchizedek?) through to Abraham, despite the apostasy of Abraham’s father(s) (see Abraham 1:5).

He was trying to show that Adam, Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, and Lamech (the father of Noah) all knew each other and were “preachers of righteousness” (see D&C 107:53-56).

That Adam died 57 years before Enoch and his City of Zion was translated.

That the patriarchs who remained (Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Lamech, and Methuselah) all died before the flood but that all of them except Seth also knew Noah.

And that Shem (who some think was Melchizedek) would have been alive to know Abraham; he “died” (or was translated to heaven with his city of Jerusalem) just a few years later, but would have been alive to anoint him prior to receiving the fullness of the priesthood from God and to give him the keys of the kingdom  (the “keys” or the knowledge regarding how to reconstitute the kingdom of God on earth via the Law of Adoption and the Patriarchal Priesthood with its sealing power; see Abraham 1:2-4).

 

READ LoF 2:54-56

What is the proper role of men, women and a Church with regards to your faith?

First of all, as Church is a collection or fellowship of likeminded believers; the testimony of their experiences should instruct you about the existence of God and about the true nature of God.

Their role is to inspire or motivate you to obtain the same knowledge and relationship they and others have obtained; to seek after Him, that through your own diligence and obedience (faithfulness to His commandments and eternal law, which will enable you to be filled with a greater portion of His light or Spirit), you might also obtain faith in God sufficient to behold Him yourself, face to face, that you might also know Him – which is eternal life.

What is “the most glorious discovery”?

It is to “discover” the person of God.

To know God for yourself.

To know that He really exists – really lives, with a surety or physical encounter.

And that He wishes to reveal Himself to you, and to any who will seek after Him, as He is no respecter of persons.

What is “the eternal certainty” that we most want?

It is knowing the actual state of our salvation, which only God can give to us.

It is to obtain the promise or “hope” of our salvation or exaltation from God’s own lips, knowing He cannot lie; and that He will then be bound to help us to achieve it, as long as we honor Him and do His will – which is to align ourselves perfectly with eternal law.

What is implied by Joseph Smith’s statement “the inquiry…always terminated when rightly pursued”?

One’s inquiry of the Lord, to know Him, ALWAYS ends in His personal ministry to you, and your being sealed up to eternal life by His promise.

If your inquiry after the Lord does not end in a personal manifestation, it is not being “rightly pursued” or in other words, you are doing it wrong; Joseph would suggest that it is because you do not have a correct understanding of God’s attributes and characteristics and this is limiting your faith, while others would say that you are not keeping all of the commandments you’ve been given because you do not yet love Christ enough; a third option might be that you are being tried (an Abrahamic sacrifice) and you must be patient and wait upon the Lord in humility.

But we should all find solace and hope in the Joseph’s statement; God is hiding in plain sight and wants us to find Him.

 

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