Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Pleasing God

It is self-evident that in order to gain eternal life and live with God in the eternities, one must first do those things that please God. Given that, consider the following verse:
“But without faith it is impossible to please [God]…” (Hebrews 11:6; italics added).
Think about that for a moment. It doesn’t matter how much good you do in your life. It doesn’t matter how much you serve your neighbor. If you don’t have faith, you cannot please Him. It is impossible. You may say to yourself, “I have faith. I go to Church every week, I pay my tithing, I believe in the atonement of Jesus Christ. Is this not faith?” As we understand the word today, participating in an organized religion certainly qualifies as faith. Yet, how does that make you any better than a heathen? Don’t many of them practice their form of religion as fervently as you practice yours? This is not what is meant by faith in the scriptures. This is one of those words that has been so watered down over the centuries that it has become almost meaningless.
In the Lectures on Faith, which were compiled under the direction of the Prophet Joseph Smith, we learn that faith
“is the assurance which men have of the existence of things which they have not seen, and the principle of action in all intelligent beings.”
In addition,
“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, First Lecture)
Is there power in your faith? Do you have power beyond other men because of your faith? If not, why?
If someone were to ask you if you thought God was pleased with your life, what would you say? Could you say with certainty, “I know He is.” Where would that certainty come from? How does one know if God is pleased with his or her life?
The Lord said, “And these signs shall follow them that believe—in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover; And whosoever shall believe in my name, doubting nothing, unto him will I confirm all my words, even unto the ends of the earth.” (Mormon 9:24). The Lord said elsewhere, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” (John 14:12) Are these works or fruits manifest in your life? If not, what does that imply?
Moroni taught the following:
And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me. And he hath said: Repent all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, and have faith in me, that ye may be saved.
And now, my beloved brethren, if this be the case that these things are true which I have spoken unto you, and God will show unto you, with power and great glory at the last day, that they are true, and if they are true has the day of miracles ceased?
Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?
Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.
For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made.(Moroni 7:33-38)
These are strong words. Surely Moroni can’t be saying that if we don’t work miracles or have angels minister to us, then we don’t have faith! Right?! As was already discussed, without faith, we cannot please God. As Moroni puts it, our faith (or lack thereof) is vain, meaning useless, or producing no result, “as though there had been no redemption made” by Christ in the first place. We are not saved by our service projects, our firesides, our education weeks, or our humanitarian aid. No amount of effort can make up for a lack of real, true, honest to goodness faith.
In case someone might think that Moroni is simply going too far in this case, here is a quote from Joseph Smith:
Because faith is wanting, the fruits are. No man since the world was had faith without having something along with it. The ancients quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, women received their dead, etc. By faith the worlds were made. A man who has none of the gifts has no faith; and he deceives himself, if he supposes he has. Faith has been wanting, not only among the heathen, but in professed Christendom also, so that tongues, healings, prophecies, and prophets and apostles, and all the gifts and blessings have been wanting. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 278)
So, you must ask yourself: Where are the gifts? Where are the miracles? Where are the ministering angels? If you see none of these things in your life, you can safely conclude that you have no faith. And if you have no faith, then, to paraphrase Moroni, “Awful is your state”. You will not be, cannot be, saved; come what may.
Do you feel that pit in your stomach? The one telling you that something is terribly wrong? Me too.
Shake thyself from the dust; arise, sit down, O Jerusalem; loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion. (2 Nephi 8:25)
Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust. (2 Nephi 1:23)
If you are ready to cast off your sins and seek for faith in Christ, then please join me. On this blog in the coming days and weeks, I will search out, ponder, and expound upon the Word of God concerning faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
I welcome your thoughtful comments.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

About This Blog

I'm not one to call attention to myself.  Yet, I have felt prompted to record some of the thoughts and impressions that have entered my heart as I have sought the Lord over the past few years.  I don't expect anyone to take interest in what I write, but if anyone does read this who is struggling with faith or seeking the Lord, I hope what I write may inspire or motivate.
For anyone who reads this blog,   the Lord establishes his word through witnesses.  So, if you feel the witness of the Spirit as you read, then you have two witnesses and can know what you've read is true. If, however, you feel nothing; then feel free to dismiss and forget what is written here.