Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Gaining a Witness

I have many intelligent friends who feel that to believe in a thing, there must be evidence to prove it's veracity. Most of them believe in evolution, because science has provided them with some theories that seem logical to them. But they cannot accept the notion that we can believe in something because of faith.

Faith is more than just a belief. Faith is a power that motivates us and gives us strength. In some ways, faith can be likened to a muscle. A muscle cannot grow without use. So too, faith must be exercised in order for it to become strong.

One of the principle reasons for the creation of this earth was to give us an opportunity to develop faith. In our religion we believe that we existed before we were born. We lived as spirit children with God. But living with God, we could not truly learn faith. Living here on Earth, away from God, with no memory of Him, we truly have an opportunity to develop real faith. We can't see God, so we must have faith that He exists. When we pray, we must believe that God listens and will answer our prayers.

God does expect us to use our minds to reason things out, but He also has given us another way to know. When Jesus Christ was about to end his mortal ministry, he spoke of this help that we would receive: "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; • • •
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you." John 14:16, 26 The mission of the Holy Ghost is to testify of truth. The Holy Ghost does not as yet have a physical body. His spirit communicates with our spirit to help us to know what is right, and what is true. He can also comfort us as mentioned above.

However, we cannot discount the importance of reasoning things out. This lesson was taught in modern day to Oliver Cowdery. In modern day revelation, the Lord said, "But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.
9 But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong..." Doctrine and Covenants 9:8,9 This is a great pattern for all of us to follow. We should:
1: Study things out in our mind
2: Decide for ourselves if the thing is right
3: Ask God in prayer if our decision is right
4: If it is right, we will feel in our hearts and minds that it is right
5: If it isn't right, we will have a "stupor of thought" or confusion, or a feeling that it isn't right.

Some have thought that asking alone is enough. Others have thought that simply studying is enough. The Book of Mormon tells us what kind of attitude we should have when studying a thing if we want to receive a witness. At the end of the Book of Mormon is a promise. It says, " Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your chearts.
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. (Moroni 10:3-5)
This scripture gives us some additional ideas for how we should approach our study. First it mentions pondering in our hearts. Then it mentions that if we ask with sincere heart, with real intent, we will receive our answer. So many people approach study of a thing with the intent to prove it wrong. Their minds are not open to the possibility that it is true, and their intent is not to truly study. Such people will not receive a witness. I have received such a witness about many things. I echo the testimony of a Book of Mormon prophet, Nephi who said, "Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen." 2 Nephi 4:35

1 comment:

Looney said...

When I think of faith, I always come up with this verse:

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." - Hebrews 11:1

My degrees are in Engineering Science and my profession involves a lot of abstract mathematics to describe physics which is translated into computer software. Abstractions are necessarily things which you cannot see, but I can proceed with a great deal of certainty which is usually realized months or years later. The definition of faith in Hebrews would be a good way to describe my profession.

We have been told that faith and science are in conflict, but I have never experienced this in my work. I have only heard it asserted by others who claim to know someone who had said that there was a conflict. Usually the others aren't even working in science, or they are working in fields which are mainly just observing God's creation.