Faith is not meant to be blind: truth can be determined and found according to promises in the Bible
Faith plays an important role in any religion, and any religion that makes a man a better person and brings him closer to his Creator is a great and worthwhile thing. But faith is not meant to be blind. The Bible tells us that there is a way to test what things are true.
Imagine that you had a child that you loved dearly. Imagine that the time was soon approaching that you had to send them off to school, to learn and be taught and to have experiences that would help them grow. Would you leave them on their own to find their own way home? Would you leave them a set of instructions hoping that they will have enough confidence to figure it out? Or would you guide them and teach them subtle things to remember until they knew the correct way?
Would a loving God leave us without some way to find our way home? Is there more than a written set of instructions left to help us determine the path?
Almost every religion says that you just have to have faith and believe. Sadly, there are many that even say that if you don't have faith in their religion, then you're not going to make it home. So how do you know which religion you should put your faith in? Isn't there something more than just blind faith to help someone make their choice?
There is more than just faith
There is a way to confirm what is true. The Bible tells you how to find out for yourself in several places.
In Mathew 7:
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."
In John 14:
"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.
And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it."
In Mathew 21:
"And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive."
In 1 John 5:
"And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:
And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him."
In James 1:
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed."
This is the promise that is in the Bible: That you can ask, and it will be given to you.
We know that God abides by the same laws now that He did back then, because He is the same now and forever. If this is true, then all of these promises should also hold true; that you can ask, and that you will receive an answer.
The Book of Mormon also gives this promise:
"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."
The man speaking here is named Moroni. Within the Mormon community, this scripture is often referred to as Moroni's promise.
There are conditions
If you review Moroni's statement above, you will notice that there are conditions to receiving this answer:
A sincere heart - You have to be asking with an actual desire to know. If you are asking just to prove that it doesn't work then you're not going to get anything. From your viewpoint, it didn't work, just like you were expecting. If you have no reason to hope that it's true because you have no desire to change, or because you are set in your beliefs, then you will receive no answer because you've already made up your mind.
Real intent - If you are asking just to know and have no plans on following through with what you learn, you will receive no answer.
Faith in Christ - You have to at least have some hope that there is a Christ which can answer you. Even if it is small, it should be sufficient.
I have often seen people state, "I read your book and asked and nothing happened so I know it can't be true." Does this sound like a person that really wanted to know? Now, I don't know anyone's intent, or their heart, and I certainly don't know all of the wisdoms of God, but I know that for every one that has told me that they did not receive an answer, there are dozens who have.
Why would there be conditions?
Why would God not give someone an answer when they asked for it? Wouldn't He want them to know even if they did not have a sincere heart or real intent?
We believe many things about the nature of God, but there are two features that really come to light here. We believe that God loves his children, and wants the best for them. We also believe that God must also be a just God, and to whom is given much, much is required.
A just God would have to hold someone accountable for their actions. If someone who did not have real intent, or did not have the desire to do that which was right, was to receive this answer, they would then have to be held accountable for it when the time came. Thus, if they didn't receive an answer, this could not be used against them. Because God loves his children and doesn't want those who were not willing to take the burden of this knowledge on themselves to be in a worse state, He would not provide an answer to them.
Perhaps it is because our Father in Heaven loves us enough that He can't afford to lose us. I don't know the wisdom of God. What I do know is that almost every time I have heard about someone investigating the church for the first time, having the desire to know for themselves and asking this question, they have received an answer.
Recognizing the answer
Above I had mentioned that in order for an individual to receive an answer, they had to have some hope or desire that it may be true. A good psychologist would say that they just wanted it be true so bad, they would believe they received an answer anyway. If this was the case, the feeling that we would have would be very faint, and would have to be easily confused with our own emotions. This would allow us to believe that we had received an answer because we desired it. But this is not the case.
The answer is usually very distinct. The best description that I have heard is that it's as if a feeling of peace is gently set on top of you like a heavy blanket. The experience is different per each individual so your answer may not be made in the same way, but almost always there is a feeling of peace. Words really cannot give it justice. I have felt this very distinctly on more than one occasion. Quoting from the Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood manual,
"For some, receiving a testimony is a very vivid experience. For others, it is less spectacular, but it is no less important or valuable. Elder Loren C. Dunn said, "It may not come like a flash of light (I don't know how the Lord is going to communicate with you), more than likely it will be the reassurance and a feeling in your heart, a reaffirmation that will come in a rather calm, natural but real way from day to day until you come to a realization that you do know"
This is why the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints grows like it does. It's not just because they have a good concept. It's because people can actually confirm that it's true.
What do I do when I receive this answer?
When you receive an answer, write it down. There is an unseen enemy out there that will do everything in his power to try and convince you that it is not true. He has been on the earth much longer than you, and is incredibly intelligent.
Then make sure you review it. There have been many who have received this answer, but time causes memories to fade and doubts begin to creep in. Some go back and ask the question again, "Is it true?" My experience with this has been that most often those seeking reconfirmation in such a manner do not receive it. Again this may not be the case in all situations. I do not claim to know why our Father in Heaven does some things the way that He does. My best guess would be that there is a change in faith involved. In the first instance their faith was growing toward hope. In the second instance their faith is falling.
Again, this is not all inclusive, but often times when someone falls away from the gospel, they are even more hardened to it before they were a member, some even working to tear down the belief of others. The book of Alma states this succinctly:
"And thus we can plainly discern, that after a people have been once enlightened by the Spirit of God, and have had great knowledge of things pertaining to righteousness, and then have fallen away into sin and transgression, they become more hardened…"
Can this promise be applied elsewhere?
This promise holds true for other things as well. How many churches do you know that say, "Find out for yourself if it is true?" How many ask you to gain your own testimony of them, and not just "take it on faith?" The LDS church does. According to their topic page found on their website,
"Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have the sacred opportunity and responsibility to obtain their own testimonies."
They want people to find out for themselves if the Book of Mormon is true. They want them to verify for themselves the existence of God and Jesus Christ. They want them to find out for themselves if the church is true and if there really is a prophet on the earth today. One of my favorite quotes from the leaders of the LDS church comes from Brigham Young,
"I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self security. Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not."
Though the critics would have you believe that the church wants you to follow their teachings and the prophet like blind sheep, this is not true. The church wants you to question how things work. They want you to question the mysteries of God. And then they want you to go and find out why these things are the way that they are through the confirmation of the Holy Ghost. There are many good and true things that are in science and they should be embraced. They are a testament to the Father who created all of these things. Man may not know all of the details, and may err in some of their theories, but nonetheless these things help clarify some of the mysteries of our Father in Heaven.
As for myself I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I've had that distinct confirmation on more than one occasion. I know that Joseph Smith was called of God to be a prophet, and that there is a prophet on the earth today. I know these things because I can confirm them. The more that I have studied science, the more I understand the designs and workings of our Father in Heaven. The more that I have studied biblical and other religions, the more I see that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true. I see too many things that parallel the biblical religions too closely to be just a coincidence. The more that I have studied the Bible, the more I have seen that which matches and strengthens the Book of Mormon. Being a very logical person, my belief has been greatly strengthened by these things. I know that not all individuals who take the time to read this will believe me, and that's ok. But for those of you who are actually looking, I encourage you to find out for yourself.
|2 -||Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 135, 1954|