Sunday, August 10, 2008

Will We Always Have Faith?

Joseph Smith taught that "faith is the assurance which men have of the existence of things which they have not seen, and the principal of action in all intelligent beings. . . . But faith is not only the principle of action, but of power also, in all intelligent beings, whether in heaven or on earth." (Lectures on Faith, 1:9, 13) In other words, faith encompasses two very disparate concepts; one dealing with our physical reactions to belief in things not seen, and another dealing with our ability to physically harness the power of this belief. I do not claim to know every facet with regard to our exercise of faith, but here are a few of my thoughts:

1) Alma teaches us that "if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it." (Alma 32:18) He further teaches that when a man's "knowledge is perfect" in some thing, his "faith is dormant." (Alma 32:34) In this life, we live by faith; faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice; faith in God's plan and the assurance of exaltation. Whether in this life or the afterlife, when a man obtains a perfect knowledge of these things, does he continue to exercise faith in them as a principle of action?

2) The brother of Jared possessed great faith that the Lord was able to simply touch 16 small stones to make them provide light for his 8 vessels. "Behold, O Lord, thou canst do this. We know that thou art able to show forth great power, which looks small unto the understanding of men." (Ether 3:5) Accordingly, the brother of Jared acted on his faith. But notice what happens next.

The veil was taken from his eyes and the brother of Jared sees the finger of the Lord, and subsequently sees the Lord Himself. The Lord explained that "never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast." (Ether 3:9) In other words, the brother of Jared's faith was so refined that it allowed him to pass through the veil and obtain a perfect knowledge of our Savior. "Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence." (Ether 3:13)

The Lord then proceeds to explain this concept. "And never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast." (Ether 3:15) Of course Christ had shown himself to others before. But he had never before revealed himself like this. Because of the brother of Jared's great faith, he could not be kept within the veil (see vs. 19-20). Thus, Christ was compelled to reveal himself unto man at this time, where as before, it was Christ's will whether to reveal himself or not.

Note the language in Ether 3:19, "he had faith no longer, for he knew, nothing doubting." In my opinion, this is truly the culmination of our faith; that we may one day see with our natural eye those things which we have seen for so many years with our eye of faith.

3) I believe that receiving the Second Comforter, as spoken of in John 14, and having our calling and election made sure in this lifetime are a direct result of continued faith as a principle of action. This reception may furthermore also be tied to the oft misunderstood ordinance of the second anointing. As LDS, we understand that the Second Comforter is "no more nor less than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself." (TPJS, 149-151) A person who receives the Second Comforter "will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him from time to time, and even He will manifest the Father unto him, and they will take up their abode with him . . . the Lord will teach him face to face, and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God." (Id.)

Does this person, now having a perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ and the "mysteries of the Kingdom of God," subsequently require faith in these things? What of the Celestial Kingdom inhabitants who live with God and Jesus Christ, do they require faith in them anymore? Is this what John meant when he defined eternal life (God's life) as gaining a perfect knowledge of God and His Son? That we increase in knowledge og God through faith as a principle of action?

Faith as a principle of power, I believe, must be eternal since it is "the principle by which Jehovah works, and through which he exercises power over all temporal as well as eternal things." (Lectures on Faith, 1:16) I believe that we, as joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, will use this principle of power throughout eternity.

But, does our faith as a principle of action cease to exist when we gain an intimate and personal knowledge of eternal truths? For that matter, does God exercise faith as a principle of action? And if so, in what does He have faith?

6 comments:

Hans said...

"Is this what John meant when he defined eternal life (God's life) as gaining a perfect knowledge of God and His Son? That we increase in knowledge og God through faith as a principle of action?"

Another verse came to mind when reading this: "It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance." D&C 131:6. I think this is in relation to what you are saying, that through faith, we come to a complete knowledge of the surety of our salvation.

You pose an interesting question when wondering whether God works by faith. I like to look at it as a two part process, that faith is the first part and knowledge is the second part. God is all-powerful in his knowledge of bringing about our salvation, so it is not technically possible for him to believe in something unknown, but he is obivously in the same position as Mahonrimoriancumor, which means that his faith is perfected unto power.

Apologies that I am still under some theraflu and my thoughts are not very nuanced. I don't really feel well enough to look up some more info on this but will hopefully be able to tomorrow.

One final note, I think that you question about whether receiving the Second Annointing is connected to the Second Comforter is a topic for a great post by itself.

LifeOnaPlate said...

I believe that we will always need faith. Agency seems to demand it.

Hans said...

I agree with you to the extent that I think that faith, as a principle of power, is perfected when it becomes knowledge. In this sense, God is all-knowing and by faith/knowledge, organized the universe.

Alma 32:24 says, "And now, behold, is your knowledge perfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant; and this because you know, for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand."

When we receive knowledge, our faith becomes dormant, but we don't lose it. We simply work on our knowledge.

Jeremy said...

I also agree that we will always need faith, but will there be an all-consuming point when our faith "as a principle of action" will, of necessity, become dormant?

As I briefly outlined in my post, the scriptures are clear that when our faith becomes perfect in something (i.e., Jesus Christ, as was the case with Mahonrimoriancumer) our faith no longer is needed, for we will have a perfect knowledge.

In my opinion, as discussed in my post, this is what Christ urged us to strive for in order to gain eternal life (John 17:3).

However, Joseph Smith was clear that faith is a two-pronged beast. As our faith (as a principle of action) becomes dormant in one thing, our faith (as a principle of power) remains, for it is the power by which we will perform our godly duties.

Ian said...

I remember hearing once how it was possible that God created the earth by faith. Obviously He had a perfect knowledge of what He was doing, and did not need to believe. What I was taught was that the faith was in those who were obeying Christ. The intelligences that moved and listened to Him. They didn't have the perfect knowledge, but had faith that He was perfect and that He would not ask them to do something which was wrong. In D&C it says "my honor is my power." Perhaps this honor, or faith, of those being obedient to God is the faith that is used to create all things.

Jeremy said...

Ian, thanks for your comment.

You are right, God did create the earth through the "power" of faith.

"Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." (Heb. 11:3)

This is what Joseph Smith was referring to when he taught that faith is not only a principle of action, but also of power. I believe that the power that we harness through our faith is what sets things in motion when they otherwise would remain motionless.

So, if at some point through a perfect knowledge of things our faith as a principle of action becomes "dormant," as Alma teaches, our faith as a principle of power may remain unaffected. Thus, we may always have faith, but not the type of faith we generally wield in this mortal realm.