Here is another blog post from John that would be good to follow up on our recent discussions. I have divided it into two parts.
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
Joseph Smith added to this very valid truth:
“Three things are necessary in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation.
“First, the idea that he actually exists.
“Secondly, a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes.
“Thirdly, an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing is according to his will.” (Lectures on Faith 3:2-5)
It seems obvious to you and me that one must believe God actually exists to have faith, but to one struggling with believing in God, it is a nearly impossible obstacle. I have a beloved relative who is very brilliant. He has a photographic memory and a very high IQ. We have at times talked about faith, and how it is impossible for him because he has been unsure much of his life that God actually exists.
He told me a few years ago that he had been studying the replication of DNA. He observed that as the double helix unwound to separate, that it tangled, just the way two spiral telephone cords being pulled apart do. Science has observed that there is a little protein machine (for lack of a better word), an intelligent, purposeful, organic device within every cell, which goes down the helix and snips it at the entanglement. The little, intelligent machine then stays with the strand, and once it is free, reconnects the strand, then goes up and down it to check for integrity. If the strand is up to specs, the little machine disappears. If the DNA is flawed, the little machine triggers a destruction sequence of that DNA strand so that it cannot create a mutation.
As a logical scientist, he knew it was an intelligent design. It was too perfect, and too genius to have come from random evolution. He told me that that evening he had gone for a long walk, and somewhere during that walk, he looked up and asked out loud, “Is there a God out there?” He said he heard an instant reply, an audible voice that said, “I am here.”
He now says, “I know without doubt that there is a God; I just don’t know what He is like, or what He wants from me.”
This is where Joseph’s second requirement for saving faith arises so powerfully.
We must have a correct understanding of His attributes and perfections. As Hebrews 11:6 states, we must know — not merely believe, but know — that God is a rewarder of them that seek Him. How will we ever know this? We learn by accepting and accessing the grace of Christ, which leads to acts of faith, which are followed by unfailing blessings from God. As we obey we come to see that God never fails us, but that He always faithfully pours down blessings every time we obey His laws. He never changes. His laws function the same yesterday, today and forever. In addition, He never asks us to serve Him or sacrifice for Him without preparing a way for us to succeed, by empowering us with His grace and atonement to achieve every task before us. And then He incredulously rewards us a hundredfold!
Without this essential understanding of God’s attributes, one would falter at the altar of sacrifice, doubting that God would follow through, thinking our sacrifice might be in vain. We might look at a covenant we are being asked to make, or to live faithful to, and doubt that God would keep His end of the contract.
But we need not worry, because we obtain an understanding of the attributes of God through our experience. We turn fully to Christ, who enables us to choose obedience to some law or prompting; and then year after year we observe how He always blesses us, how He is faithful and anxious to prosper and uplift us. We pray year after year, and receive answers year after year, until we no longer just believe, but we are sure witnesses that God has faithfully blessed us when we sought and obeyed Him.