Week 4 is scheduled for study Jan. 18-24, 2021. Faith and works is the theme this week. Over and over again we see the Lord require that we choose to believe in His words, and do the work asked of us, before He gives us the promised witness that what we have done it correct and good.

Day 1

Doctrine and Covenants 3:1-15 – I should trust God rather than fearing man.

Write down what you learn and feel as you study the scriptures. This will help you remember those impressions and share them with others.

I love the questions and comments in the manual for today’s lesson. They sparked my imagination to the point that I wrote a separate article for today’s reading. I refer you to “Why Is it Hard to Fear the Lord?” I hope the rest of your reading from the manual will be more comfortable and easier to think about after reading the article.

Day 2

Doctrine and Covenants 4 – The Lord asks me to serve Him with all my heart.

Write down what you learn and feel as you study the scriptures. This will help you remember those impressions and share them with others.

Once again, as I read through today’s material, I was impressed with what the scriptures have to say about serving God. Here is an article I wrote specifically with today’s lesson in mind.

Day 3

Doctrine and Covenants 5 – I can gain my own witness of the Book of Mormon.

Write down what you learn and feel as you study the scriptures. This will help you remember those impressions and share them with others.

The Lord has an interesting way of operating. Instead of rolling out all the evidences of proof that what He says is true, He instead says, ‘You have no proof, but I want you to choose to believe in my word anyway. Proof will be provided later.’ In today’s world such a statement would get someone laughed out of the building. But that is the way God has always worked. You might ask – Why?

Part of the answer as to why the Lord makes us choose to believe even before we have been given proof, is because He knows that much of what eternal beings will and can accomplish in the eternities must be done on faith, and we need to learn to walk by faith while in mortality. This is our training ground and proving ground to develop the ability to trust that God knows what He is talking about. We cannot know something and exercise faith in it at the same time. Faith, by definition, is not knowing, but acting as though it is true. Once we receive our proof, or confirmation of our faith, we no longer need faith, for we are now working in the realm of knowledge.

Think it not strange that the Lord tells us all to grab hold of the hope we have for something to be true and then to put it to the test and live the principle we want to gain proof about. Each time we do this the Lord shows us that our trust/faith in Him was not misplaced, for our efforts have been rewarded by knowledge.

This pattern of exercising faith then eventually receiving a confirmation of that faith is what creates celestial people. They cannot be created any other way. This would explain why the Lord, in his mortal ministry, roundly condemned those who were not willing to exercise faith. Those whose hearts are so firmly rooted in this mortal existence cannot ever come to learn the workings and thoughts of God, for to do that we are required to learn to listen to our hearts and follow the Spirit who leads us and teaches us the truths of eternity. And those truths can only come in regular measure to those who exercise faith, trusting in what cannot be seen by the mortal eye, nor comprehended by the mortality-focused mind.

Just because the Lord needs us to learn to walk by faith, it doesn’t mean He leaves us without any evidences to His claims. His own law, given at the beginning of mortality, states that all things will be verified by two or more witnesses. Even the Godhead do not bear witness of themselves, they only bear witness of each other. Christ, for example, states who he is, but must rely on the testimony of his Father and that of the Holy Ghost, who both bear witness that Jesus really is who he says he is. All through history the Lord has provided us with witnesses to whom He has given knowledge of certain gospel principles and practices. These people are tasked with the responsibility, answerable to God, to bear witness of the truth of what God wants His people to do in their lives. This is known as the law of witnesses, and God, Himself lives that very law in all things concerning His own dealings with His children.

When you search for your own witness of something, like the Book of Mormon, remember that the Lord has given us witnesses to help us accept and believe His word. I finally realized I had a testimony of the Book of Mormon when I recognized that I had received many hundreds of tiny witnesses of the book’s truthfulness over the course of my growing up. All those testimony meetings, Sunday School classes, and private witnesses I was given in the nighttime, all lead up to a realization that I already knew the Book of Mormon was true. I didn’t need an overwhelming, life-changing experience to tell me it was true, for I had received my testimony from the testimony of many hundreds of others who shared their experiences with that sacred book.

Day 4

Doctrine and Covenants 5:1-10 – This generation shall receive God’s word through Joseph Smith.

Write down what you learn and feel as you study the scriptures. This will help you remember those impressions and share them with others.

Satan has an interesting way of working. His goal is to cast doubt and weaken faith. If we listen to the living prophet Satan whispers in our ears that we should doubt their word, because some of the prophets of old did things that are frowned upon today. If we listen to the former prophets and support them then Satan whispers in our ear that because things aren’t done the same way today that the current prophets must be fallen or have strayed from the truth. There is literally nothing that can be said or done in the Church that Satan cannot find a way to twist into causing doubt and the wrecking of testimonies.

Joseph Smith was, and still is, the prophet of this dispensation of time. The keys for the restoring of Christ’s gospel were given to Joseph Smith, and he will always hold those keys until the Savior requires them back. We are not worshiping Joseph Smith to acknowledge him in his vital and important roll as the prophet through whom the Lord re-established His gospel to the earth. We can be faithful to both the earlier prophets, as well as those living today, and have no contradictions in our lives.

Because Joseph Smith was the prophet called by God to restore Christ’s gospel to the earth, much of what we  hold most valuable and dear today came from the teachings of Joseph Smith. The prophets today still teach us what we were all given through the prophet Joseph. The modern prophets may not directly quote which doctrine their teachings are based on, but all that essentially makes the Church what it is today, came because of what we were taught by Joseph Smith.

FHE/Personal Study

Doctrine and covenants 5:7 – Truths you cannot see

This is an exercise that might bring you comfort or may even bring you a level of discomfort. The Lord told Joseph Smith that if they, those who pressured and mocked Joseph Smith, wouldn’t believe Joseph’s words that they wouldn’t believe Christ’s words either, even if God provided the proof they sought. Refer back to Day 3 of this week’s lessons.

The lesson manual asks us to think of some doctrines/teachings of the restored Church for which there is either no physical proof, or very little. I think a better question would be to ask for any teachings for which there is concrete evidence. As you think about these questions I believe you will realize all spiritual truths are based on spiritual confirmation and personal experience with that truth. There is little proof in mortality that will convince anyone of most any of the doctrines of the gospel of Christ. Everything is founded upon faith first, confirmation later.

Some doctrines to consider when fulfilling today’s assignment from the manual might include such examples as listed below. There would be many more you could put in this list, but these should help to make the point.

The truth of the Book of Mormon (and by extension all the other scriptures by which we govern our lives)

The principle of continuing revelation

The laws of tithing, Fast Offerings and all other contributions to the kingdom of God

The existence of God

The atoning sacrifice of Jesus as the Messiah or Christ

The efficacy of prayer

These doctrines make up just the tip of a very large iceberg of beliefs for which there is no physical evidence from God that would lead us to believe, beforehand, that they are true. Can you see any more clearly now why we are told that in this life we must walk by faith? God requires us to literally base our entire system of judgment and behavior on His teachings, which require we believe and act on those beliefs before we are given a witness that what we have done is correct and right. Yet, for all that is required of us before the witness is born to our soul, aren’t we able to live our lives with far more certainty than anyone living in the world without God in their lives? Do we not have access to a greater peace in our lives than the rest of the world? What a marvelous work and a wonder.

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print a PDF copy of the file.

My Work Shall Go forth

Week 04