Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Faith and Signs

Written in 2012 to answer a friend's question.

Yes, I think people long to know why they are here, what is the purpose of life, and where they will go afterward. We all want our relationships to continue and want to be with our loved ones forever.

I believe there is a God and that He loves us more than we are capable of understanding. I know he loves me for I have felt His presence supporting me in my most desperate moments.

I believe that He truly is our Heavenly Father, the father of our spirits, and as our father, He wants us to grow and be happy. Our purpose for being here on earth is to learn to choose good over evil -- to learn and become more like our Heavenly Father. With His help we can progress and return and live with Him someday where we can enjoy eternal family relationships.

I believe that all good people who desire to know truth will be given it, and certainly the great religious leaders were given true principles. The rules on how to worship God were often made up by man in their effort to bring man to God. Though well intended, I prefer to listen to my Heavenly Father. I believe that God still gives revelations to man just like He did to Moses and the other prophets. God is who we should follow. Man's religions attempt to interpret God's will. I think He can speak for Himself. I believe He reveals His will  to His prophet who is on the earth today, and I know He answers my prayers. I have received so much help in my life especially with my health problems. Without His help, I doubt that I'd still be here.

You spoke about the importance of faith. I agree that it is essential to happiness. It is something we all use everyday. Without it life would have no meaning. I've heard faith defined as "the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1 Bible), and "If ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true" (Alma 32:21 Book of Mormon).

Without faith that she could become a pharmacist would your granddaughter be going to college? Would any of us set goals? Would we even turn on a light switch? Would we get married and have children? (that sure takes faith!) Faith is more than belief. It is knowing deep down that something is true and being so sure of it that you are moved to take action. It is a principle of power.

Is faith something you can get from merely looking at something or touching something? No! If that was all it took then the ancient Israelites should have had great faith. They had personally experienced the signs in Egypt. They had even walked through the Red Sea on dry ground, but shortly afterward many turned from the God who had saved them, and wanted a golden calf made to worship instead.

Miracles strengthen the faith of those who have it, but displays of power by God do not create faith and character in those who do not have it. They will not even see the miracles. They will always want more and more spectacular events shown to them. They will even say that the miracle is mere coincidence, or that the person was just "lucky" (my mom says this of my granddaughter's surviving being run over twice, but I give thanks for the miracle). There will never be enough "proof" for a person who doesn't have faith.

Here are some scriptures I really like on signs and faith.

17 Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us asign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believe.
 18 Now I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to abelieve, for he knoweth it.
 19 And now, how much more cursed is he that knoweth the will of God and doeth it not, than he that only believeth, or only hath cause to believe, and falleth into transgression? (Alma 32:17-19 Book of Mormon)

Korihor was a person who was deceiving the people and Alma is the prophet
39 Now Alma said unto him: Will ye deny again that there is a God, and also deny the Christ? For behold, I say unto you, I know there is a God, and also that Christ shall come.
 40 And now what evidence have ye that there is no God, or that Christ cometh not? I say unto you that ye have none, save it be your word only.
 41 But, behold, I have all things as a testimony that these things are true; and ye also have all things as a testimony unto you that they are true; and will ye deny them?
43 And now Korihor said unto Alma: If thou wilt show me a sign, that I may be convinced that there is a God, yea, show unto me that he hath power, and then will I be convinced of the truth of thy words.
 44 But Alma said unto him: Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God? Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and call things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator. (Alma 30: 39, 40, 41, 43, 44 Book of Mormon)

Does this mean that we never can have any proof?  No.  It just means that the assurance will only come from effort on our part.  Many people give up responsibility for developing their own faith saying (like my brother did shortly after I was baptized), "If there is a God, then He should show Himself to me and then I would believe." Since God didn't do this, my brother felt justified in not making any effort to learn about God or religion.
I have found that faith, like anything else worthwhile, takes considerable daily effort. Yes, we must start with faith to "experiment with the word" (Alma again). As I live the commandments, study the scriptures, pray, serve others, and listen and follow the inspiration I have received, my faith has grown.  Through my own experiences I have come to know some principles are true; such as forgiving others brings peace. When I know that principle is true, then I have more than faith, I have a knowledge that it is true. I then use my faith to try out another principle so that, through my own personal experiences, I can know that it is true. This is how we progress here on earth.
I was thinking yesterday that we are going to have our 40th wedding anniversary in a few weeks. I may look a little on the worn side, but I am a whole lot  smarter than I was at 22! Faith does work!

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