This is a talk I gave today (July 21, 2019) in my ward.
Being a member of the Church in the 1800s had its perks; there were revelations and miracles, but it also involved people mobbing you and setting your stuff on fire.
How about building a city out of a snake and mosquito-infested swamp? Next, there was the whole leaving the United States and going on a horrible family road trip for hundreds of miles across an incredibly boring landscape.
After that long journey, they came to the mountains. Now they had to climb way up there with all their stuff and build another city at the top. They kept going and built more cities, hundreds of them; these were hardcore people.
Fast-forward 170 years or so.Read Full Post
The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he already knows, without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him.Leo Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is Within You
There is a school of thought out there that I have come across that frowns upon certainty or is at least highly skeptical of it. Tolstoy’s quote points out how hard it can be to change one’s mind if they are “firmly persuaded” that they “already know”.
“O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish. But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.”2 Nephi 9:28-29
“Wo be unto him that shall say: We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God, for we have enough! For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.”)2 Nephi 28:29-30
The scriptures from the Book of Mormon likewise talk about “know[ing] of themselves” and thinking that you “have enough” knowledge.Read Full Post
We talk a lot about receiving and following revelation, but I’ve learned in my experience that the process itself is not as simple at it may first seem. There are real dangers involved because not all revelation that crosses our path comes from God.
The word revelation in Greek is apokalupsis and means “disclosure:–appearing, coming, lighten, manifestation.” The English word revelation comes to us from the French revelare around the 1300s and means to “unveil, uncover, lay bare.”  In its plainest sense, when revelation is happening, we are basically seeing something that was unseen before.
The trick is determining what exactly we are looking at, its source, and what we should do with it, if anything. If we simply swallow any new information without vetting it first, we are going to have potentially disastrous problems.Read Full Post
Every now and then you find an answer that is extremely satisfying almost in a thirst-quenching kind of way.
I was perusing Lectures on Faith again with my copy I carry to church and I was again confronted with Lectures 3 and 4 and how they address God’s characteristics and attributes. There are six of each in their respective lectures and there seemed to be some redundancy as it pertained to mercy and truth appearing on both lists.
As I pondered this, I thought about why there was even a need to differentiate between characteristics and attributes since they seem to mean the same thing. Here is how they are defined in the Webster’s 1828 dictionary:
Characteristic: That which constitutes a character; that which characterizes; that which distinguishes a person or thing from another.
Attribute: That which is attributed; that which is considered as belonging to, or inherent in;
I had a hard time understanding the difference between the two, they seem to both be indicating that characteristics and attributes were both qualities that belonged to something.
It wasn’t until a little digging thatRead Full Post
I decided that it was time to readdress the home page of LecturesOnFaith.com, it was looking kind of homely. I’ve been wanting to spruce it up for some time now but never really got around to it.
What inspired me was attending an Elders quorum class in my previous ward where the presidency had been teaching from the Lectures on Faith for their first Sunday lesson! We were on Lecture 3 and I was just about to lose my mind at how awesome it was to get to study an entire lecture in church! Realizing that people were using this resource made me want to make it a better, more inspirational experience.
So I made a big focus area on the home page and put some of my favorite excerpts from the Lectures in there and made them rotate after several seconds. I also added big buttons that link to the Lectures and made them very prominent (I’d like to create some custom icons for each lecture one day). I adjusted the titles I gave to the Lectures so that they are more uniform in length. Now everything looks nice and neat, but I’m sure I’ll think of more updates in the future.
I love having this as a side project and hope to always keep it available for people to enjoy.
What testimony have men, in the first instance, that there is a God?
Human testimony, and human testimony only. (2:56)
What excited the ancient saints to seek diligently after a knowledge of the glory of God, his perfections and attributes?
The credence they gave to the testimony of their fathers. (2:56)
How do men obtain a knowledge of the glory of God, his perfections and attributes?
By devoting themselves to his service, through prayer and supplication incessantly, strengthening their faith in him, until like Enoch, the brother of Jared, and Moses, they obtain a manifestation of God to themselves. (2:55)
Is the knowledge of the existence of God a matter of mere tradition, founded upon human testimony alone, until a person receives a manifestation of God to themselves?
How do you prove it?
From the whole of the first lecture of the second section.
The questions and answers above are from the very end of the catechism in Lecture 2 of the Lectures on Faith. These particular questions and answers condense the message of scripture into a few words that take only seconds to read. There is no doubt in my mind as to the source of their inspiration. Based on personal experience, I can soberly state that I know of myself that these words are factual.
For 86 years, the Lectures were the “Doctrine” part of theRead Full Post
If you haven’t read them, you are missing out. They deserve our ponderous study and are some of the greatest scripture to come out of the restoration.
Currently, there is no other text that lifts my mind closer to understanding the character of God and the mechanics of faith.
Because of the weakness and imperfections of human nature, and the great frailties of man; for such is the weakness of man, an such his frailties, that he is liable to sin continually, and if God were not long suffering, and full of compassion, gracious and merciful and of a forgiving disposition, man would be cut off from before him in consequence of which he would be in continual doubt and could not exercise faith: for where doubt is, there faith has no power, but by man’s believing that God is full of compassion and forgiveness, long suffering and slow to anger, he can exercise faith in him and overcome doubt, so as to be exceedingly strong. (Lecture 3, Question 18)
One of the six characteristics of God mentioned in Lecture 3 of Lectures on Faith is mercy. In describing mercy, we see terms like long suffering, compassion, graciousness, forgiving and slow to anger. I think much of mercy can be expressed in the word patience. Noah Webster defined patience as:
PATIENCE, noun pa’shens. [Latin patientia, from patior, to suffer.]
1. The suffering of afflictions, pain, toil, calamity, provocation or other evil, with a calm, unruffled temper; endurance without murmuring or fretfulness. patience may spring from constitutional fortitude, from a kind of heroic pride, or from christian submission to the divine will.
2. A calm temper which bears evils without murmuring or discontent.
3. The act or quality of waiting long for justice or expected good without discontent.
4. Perseverance; constancy in labor or exertion.
5. The quality of bearing offenses and injuries without anger or revenge.
As a disposition of God, it is clear that this is something that we must develop on our own. It seems that patience is impossible to develop without situations that require it. Patience is, in fact, a response to afflictions, pain, toil, calamity, provocation or evil. Patience must be developed, and it seems that it cannot exist without there being situations that require it.
In other words, you are not going to sit and tolerate something difficult unless Read Full Post
Just some thoughts on the following verses from Lecture 1. (Lectures on Faith)
18 The Savior says, (Matthew 17:19-20), in explaining the reason why the disciples could not cast out the devil, that it was because of their unbelief: “For verily, I say unto you,” said he, “if ye have faith as a grain of mustard-seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place! and it shall remove: and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
Faith without belief isn’t real faith. Faith is centered on something while belief expects something. The less that you expect that your faith will bear fruit, the less fruit you will find. There is a fine line here that becomes more tricky to walk as your belief and faith increase. Your expectations must be based on what it is possible for God to do, or what his will is concerning you. To know this, you must Read Full Post
The inspiration for this article came from an observation I made today during an Elders quorum lesson on prayer.
We read the following portion of the sermon from Amulek in Alma 34:
17 Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you;
18 Yea, cry unto him for mercy; for he is mighty to save.
19 Yea, humble yourselves, and continue in prayer unto him.
20 Cry unto him when ye are in your fields, yea, over all your flocks.
21 Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening.
22 Yea, cry unto him against the power of your enemies.
23 Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness.
24 Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them.
25 Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase.
Of the seven Lectures on Faith, Lecture Sixth is perhaps my personal favorite. It is the only lecture that has this footnote:
This lecture is so plain, and the facts set forth so self-evident, that it is deemed unnecessary to form a catechism upon it: the student is therefore instructed to commit the whole to memory. (Emphasis Added)
So what are these facts that are so plain and self-evident and why are they important? In verse 7 we findRead Full Post
Well, today was like Christmas for me when I noticed that a domain that I have been wanting for quite some time had dropped!
I’m now the owner of “LecturesOnFaith.com“! You can find the Lectures online, but the websites are pretty terrible. I was surprised that nobody has taken the time to make a site worthy of the Lectures. Within a few hours, I built a brand new site where anyone can read the Lectures on Faith for free! On the main page, be sure to read everything there to understand the history behind them.
They originally constituted the “Doctrine” portion of the Doctrine and Covenants and contain some of the most simple and profound teachings concerning faith and how one may exercise it in a manner to bring salvation to one’s soul.
The Lectures on Faith is a fantastic addition to the doctrinal knowledge base of the Latter-day Saints. They were part of the Doctrine and Covenants for almost 100 years and were separated from the canon on the grounds that they were not specific revelations to the Church. It’s a complicated story that I’m going to have to address at another time.
What I’m going to be presenting is from the Fifth Lecture that contains teachings about the Godhead that may at first seem foreign to our traditional views as we have come to understand them. When we are seeking to learn eternal truths through the insufficient languages of man, we can often encounter things that puzzle us.
As inconvenient as this is, I believe that it plays an important role in our quest for truth. It causes us to question, to stretch our understanding and ponder deeply upon things. So let’s look into one of these teachings and see what profound truths that we can draw from it.
The mind of the Father and the Son
In Lecture Five we read:
“And he being the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and having overcome, received a fullness of the glory of the Father – possessing the same mind with the Father; which mind is the Holy Spirit, that bears record of the Father and the Son;”
If you read this literally or within a different paradigm it will sound confusing to you. It almost sounds as if the Holy Spirit is nothing more than some kind of shared consciousness. It might seem that way, but I don’t believe that this is the right interpretation. First of all, in translating the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith would be well aware of what Nephi said when he conversed with the Holy Spirit in a vision:Read Full Post