Friday, September 21, 2018

Belief, information, faith, action

This is not a real conversation, but it could have been.

Person: "I don't know if God is real. I want to believe he is, but I don't really hear his voice. I pray and ask, and I don't get anything."

Rob: "What kind of experiences do you want?"

Person: "Hear a voice, see a vision..."

Rob: "What would you change if he said he was?"

Person: "Huh?"

Rob: "You are asking him if he is real. What would you do differently if he was? What action would you take?"

Person: "Well, I just want to know if he is real."

Rob: "27 O then despise not, and wonder not, but hearken unto the words of the Lord, and ask the Father in the name of Jesus for what things soever ye shall stand in need. Doubt not, but be believing, and begin as in times of old, and come unto the Lord with all your heart, and work out your own salvation with fear and trembling before him.
28 Be wise in the days of your probation; strip yourselves of all uncleanness; ask not, that ye may consume it on your lusts, but ask with a firmness unshaken, that ye will yield to no temptation, but that ye will serve the true and living God. (Mormon 9)

What do you think it means to 'be believing' and 'begin as in times of old' by 'com[ing] unto the Lord with all your heart' without doubt?"

Person: "Um..."

Rob: "Do you think belief comes by information, or by choice?"

Person: "Well, I guess I always figured by signs, but I never thought of information."

Rob: "Signs do not necessarily inform action, but information does. Belief is a choice. Information isn't given for belief, it is given to inform action. This passage describes that before asking, one must already have their minds firm in the choice to believe. Then you seek what you seek not for lusts, but in order to serve God."

Person: "How is asking if God is real 'consuming it on [my] lusts?'"

Rob: "James 4:3 says 'Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.' In literal Greek it says 'You ask and not receive because wrongly you ask that in the pleasures of you you may spend it.' Lust is seeking something for your own purposes. We should only ask God for things that we believe are according to his purposes."

Person: "So I shouldn't ask God if he is real?"

Rob: "It is not about what you are asking, it is about why you are asking. Consider the following passage:

14 And since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself; but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance, and so forth; and that he breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory; and Aaron did expound all these things unto the king.
15 And it came to pass that after Aaron had expounded these things unto him, the king said: What shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken? Yea, what shall I do that I may be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy, that I may not be cast off at the last day? Behold, said he, I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy.
16 But Aaron said unto him: If thou desirest this thing, if thou wilt bow down before God, yea, if thou wilt repent of all thy sins, and will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest.
17 And it came to pass that when Aaron had said these words, the king did bow down before the Lord, upon his knees; yea, even he did prostrate himself upon the earth, and cried mightily, saying:
18 O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day. And now when the king had said these words, he was struck as if he were dead. (Alma 22)

This man was asking God if he was real. And God answered him. Why was he asking?"

Person: "He said 'that I may have this eternal life.'"

Rob: "Exactly. What was he seeking?"

Person: "The will of God."

Rob: "I seek experiences from God so I can learn about parts of his will and character that I don't know about. That is very different than asking for these things so that I believe. Because I seek his will, he gives me what I ask.

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: (1 John 5:14)

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: (1 John 5:14)

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. (John 5:7)"