Continued from part eight.
The last five articles of this series have been analyzing the three ingredients of faith, which are the word of God, belief on that word and the Holy Ghost, as well as the special role of Jesus Christ and his atonement and prayer and fasting for the generation of faith. Once a thorough understanding of these ingredients is gained, any man, woman or child can obtain unlimited amounts of faith by simply following the “recipe of faith.” There is no mystery involved. Just as a cake is baked to perfection by following simple steps, so faith is generated by following simple instructions. When a very large cake is desired to feed many people, you just take the cake recipe and double or triple the ingredients, following the same instructions. With faith it is the same. Increase the ingredients and follow the recipe, and you get more faith.
The “recipe of faith”
First, mix the word of God in the form of the pure doctrine of the atonement of Jesus Christ and his eternal gospel with absolute belief on that word. The pure, unadulterated doctrine of the atonement can be found in the Holy Scriptures (the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price.) It can also be found in manifestations of the Holy Ghost via direct revelations, prophecies, visions, dreams, ministrations of angels, etc. The more of the word of God obtained, the more faith can be generated, therefore, daily study of the Holy Scriptures and daily seeking of the manifestations of the Spirit will result in obtaining greater faith.
Second, after at least a measure of pure doctrine of Christ and his atonement is obtained, believe it to be true. This will plant the word of God in your heart. Unplanted word of God is the “seed of faith” and is dormant. When planted by belief on it into the heart of man, it can then become growing faith, or what we simply call faith. If belief is not available, having not yet been given by the Holy Ghost, desire to believe on the word of God. Desire is an act of will, or free agency. It is a choice that everyone can make on his own. By desiring to believe, and letting that desire work in you, this will activate the Holy Ghost who will then come and deposit the gift of belief in you, allowing the seed of faith (the word of God) to be planted in your heart. The more belief on the word of God present, the greater the faith that can be generated, so to obtain greater belief, desire to believe and to obtain all of the gifts of the Spirit and all of the rewards offered by God. These desires will, like the gift of belief, activate the Holy Ghost to come and deposit even more belief, which is necessary to obtain the desired gifts.
Third, after belief on the word of God has planted the seed of faith in your heart, relax and passively watch and feel as the Holy Spirit comes in and acts upon the seed to make it grow into faith. If there is no resistance of the Spirit on your part, in other words, if you just allow the Spirit to do its work, your understanding will increase, your mind will be enlightened and your heart will be touched. Once the seed of faith is planted by belief on it, the Holy Spirit immediately enters and starts growing it into faith. This can be startling to some, as the newly generating faith starts changing their very being into something different, what the scriptures call becoming a “new creature.” The important point to understand in this process is that any action on your part, any resistance at all to the Spirit, will stop the process. This is the baking part of the recipe and the Spirit is like the heat of the oven. Like a cake, once it is in the oven, you let it bake. Don’t take it out until it is done. However, unlike an oven in a cake, the recipe for faith makes faith fast or slow depending upon how much heat (the portion of the Holy Spirit) that is present. By increasing the portion of the Holy Spirit, greater faith will be generated faster. To do this, two tools have been provided: the prayer of faith and fasting. By daily prayers of faith to obtain greater portions of the Spirit and frequent and extended fasting, the portion of the Holy Spirit given can be increased without limit.
The above recipe requires no time limit to generate or obtain faith. As soon as belief on the word of God plants it into your heart, the Holy Spirit will immediately generate faith. That faith will grow continually as long as it is kept in the oven (under the influence of the Holy Spirit) and will be increased according to the amounts of ingredients in the mix. Mix in more of the ingredients, you get more faith.
Some things that will ruin the recipe
All three ingredients are absolutely necessary. If you hear or read the word of God, but never believe it, faith will never be generated. If you do not believe the word, but desire to believe it for an instant, the desire won’t activate the Spirit to deposit belief. The desire to believe must be allowed to work in you long enough for the Spirit to deposit belief. If you believe only part of the word, but not the other parts, faith will be limited or hampered. This happens to people who willingly accept the Bible, but reject the Book of Mormon, or to people who accept all the Holy Scriptures, but reject modern manifestations of the Holy Ghost. If you plant the word in your heart through belief, but resist the Holy Spirit when it starts changing you, the generation of faith will immediately stop. If the Holy Spirit is in the process of generating faith in you, but you start to doubt the word, which is the opposite of belief, faith will stop growing immediately. If, when the Holy Spirit is doing its work in you, you act actively, not passively, so that you can “do it yourself” or control the action of the Spirit, this will inevitably turn into resistance and stop the Spirit from working in you. If other seeds are planted in your heart (tares) and the Spirit attempts to yank them out, you must allow the seeds to be removed, otherwise, the tares will grow and choke the good seed, killing it. The seed of faith is the only seed that should be planted in your heart.
Jesus’ parable of the sower
In Matthew chapter 13, the Lord gave the parable of the sower and its meaning. It applies to the recipe of faith.
The Parable: “Behold, a sower went forth to sow; and when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:” (Matthew 13: 3-4)
The Interpretation of the Parable: “When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.” (Matthew 13: 19)
Such a person plants the word of God (the seed of faith) in his heart by belief on that word, but when the Spirit comes and starts generating faith, which enlightens the understanding (according to Alma in Alma 32: 28), he resists the Spirit, which causes the seed to be cast out. The key to understanding the Savior’s interpretation of the parable are the words “understandeth it not,” which indicates that the Spirit was resisted and also the words “sown in his heart,” which indicates that the word was planted by belief in the man’s heart.
The Parable: “Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.” (Matthew 13: 5-6)
The Interpretation of the Parable: “But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while; for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.” (Matthew 13: 20-21)
This person’s heart is stony on the inner parts, soft soil on the outside. He plants the word of God by belief on that word and does not resist the Holy Spirit for a time, but when the Spirit attempts to grow the faith plant’s roots deep into the heart soil, effecting great changes in the individual, he does not allow it to happen and so when the public becomes aware of his acceptance of the gospel and he is exposed to the examinations and opinions of the world (the sun was up) and persecutions and trials start to be heaped upon him because of his acceptance of the gospel, he considers the price of the gospel too high and the plant of faith gets burned up. Such a person does not fully convert to the Lord, but accepts the terms of the gospel as long as things are going good.
The Parable: “And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:” (Matthew 13: 7)
The Interpretation of the Parable: “He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.” (Matthew 13: 22)
This person’s heart is accepting of the seed of faith, allowing it to be planted by belief and not resisting the Holy Spirit, but there are other seeds also planted, specifically, worldly desires for riches and other false seeds, which he keeps in the heart, allowing them to grow side by side with the seed of faith. These other seeds eventually choke the word of God, and the fruits and gifts of the Spirit never become manifest, though he may go through all the outward motions of a saint. People such as these, and there a whole lot of them, never understand that the abundances of the manifestations of the Spirit are only available to them who forsake the riches of the world and who work to make all men temporally equal. (See D&C 70: 14.) Temporal inequalities will always choke the faith plant, killing the abundances of manifestations (the best gifts.)
The Parable: “But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.” (Matthew 13: 8 )
The Interpretation of the Parable: “But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Matthew 13: 23)
The key words of this parable are “understandeth it,” which indicates that he does not resist the Holy Spirit’s action, which enlightens the understanding and also “beareth fruit,” which indicate that the powers and gifts of the Spirit attend him, as all men who exercise faith manifest some gifts of the Spirit. However, why do some bring forth different amounts of fruit, some 100, some 60 and some 30? The reason is because the amount of each ingredient of faith determines the amount of faith generated, and the more faith generated, the more fruit it will produce. Some people (the 100 people) seek to get all the word of God possible, including personal visions, revelations, etc., they believe it all, and also engage in daily prayers of faith and many extended fasts, to obtain as much faith as possible. Others (the 60) obtain less of the word and pray and fast less, but still more than the minimum. While the 30 obtain the minimum of the word and engage in the bare minimum of prayer and fasting, believing all that they obtain. The only real difference between the 100, the 60 and the 30, are their desires. Those bearing 100 fruits, desired most, while those bearing 30 fruits desired least. (We know this because God always grants unto men according to the desires of their hearts. See Alma 29: 4.) This also seems to correspond to the three degrees of glory (another topic.)
God possesses these ingredients of faith
Turning my attention back to the faith of God, whether he has faith or not, it is interesting to note that God possesses all of the ingredients of faith in fullness.
He has all of the word of God, he being the lawgiver, or generator of the word. It all comes from him. This goes for all past words he has spoken, as well as all future words. In fact, when we say he has a fullness of the word of God, it doesn’t mean a set amount, but an infinite amount, that never stops growing. The Lord has said, “There is no end to my works, neither to my words.” (See Moses 1: 38.) Also, “My works are without end, and also my words, for they never cease.” (See Moses 1: 4.)
God believes all the words he speaks. It is important here to understand that belief is a component of faith and not faith itself. Everything we see with our eyes must also be believed. Some say, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Others say, “I see it, but still don’t believe it.” Belief can be present or absent whether something is seen or not seen, whereas faith “is things which are not seen.” The opposite of belief is unbelief, or doubt. God doubts none of his words. If you have no doubts, you have belief, by default. Said the Lord, “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” (See D&C 1: 38.) This verse indicates that the Lord believes every word he has or will speak.
Finally, the action of the Holy Spirit generates faith where there is belief on the word of God. The Spirit is always called “my Spirit” by the Lord. It is also stated that he possesses a fullness of the Spirit. (See D&C 93, for example.)
So, seeing that when you take these three ingredients and combine them, faith is generated, it becomes apparent that as God possesses all these ingredients in their fullness, he ought to possess a fullness of faith, according to his own scriptures. This presents evidence that God does, in fact, possess faith.
Next Faith of God article: The faith of God, part ten: The relationship of faith to agency (power)
Previous Faith of God article: The faith of God, part eight: the Atonement is the word