Continued from part eleven.
Ye were also in the beginning with the Father; that which is Spirit, even the Spirit of truth; and truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come; and whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning. (D&C 93: 23-25)
Here the Lord defined what truth is. He also defined, in the same sentence, what a lie is. Just about everyone understands this. If a man goes into a convenience store and robs it, taking exactly 10 dollars, and I see it happen and witness to its occurrence, I’ve spoken the truth. If I say he took exactly 11 dollars (more than the truth) or exactly 9 dollars (less than the truth), I’ve spoken a lie. In the economy of heaven, truth has bounds or limits, whereas the liar from the beginning has unlimited freedom to create fables.
Now get this: the word of God is the seed of faith, yet the word of God is truth, which is knowledge. How can faith be knowledge and knowledge be faith?
Knowledge creates faith and faith creates knowledge
That sounds like a reasonable statement, as the word of God, which is truth (knowledge), when planted in the heart of man and watered by the Spirit creates faith and faith eventually produces fruit (knowledge), however, it’s a bit simpler (or more complicated, depending on your viewpoint) than that.
Two types of knowledge*
There is the type of knowledge that you can see with your own two eyes and ascertain with a perfect surety that it exists. This is the first type. This can be termed perfect knowledge. This type of knowledge makes faith dormant in that thing, for the object of faith was to produce such fruit.
The other type of knowledge is awareness of something that really does exist, with witnesses or testimonies or evidence, but which you still haven’t seen with your own two eyes. This can be termed imperfect knowledge.
Faith requires imperfect knowledge
The word of God (the seed of faith) is imperfect knowledge which eventually produces the fruit of perfect knowledge. Imperfect knowledge does not nullify faith, only perfect knowledge makes faith dormant. This is why the obtaining of more and more of the word of God, through revelations, prophecies, visiting angels, visions, dreams, tongues, etc., only has the effect of increasing one’s faith. The more imperfect knowledge we obtain, the greater our faith can become, and the greater our faith becomes the more perfect knowledge we can obtain, or in the case of God, create.
God possesses all knowledge, both perfect and imperfect
Here is the kicker: it is because of God’s imperfect knowledge that he is able to have, maintain and increase his faith. More on this later.
God sees all the fables
Everything that isn’t the truth (what really was, what really is and what really will be) is a fable or a lie. Truth has limits, fables do not. Therefore, there are an infinite number of versions of what wasn’t, what isn’t and what won’t be. (Comic book fans might say these are alternate universes or alternate versions of reality, etc.) At any rate, God can see all the truth as well as all the fables. In fact, the devil’s ability to create fables or tell lies comes from the the Father’s ability to see the lies as well as the truth. The difference is that God presents lies as lies and truth as truth, whereas Satan presents the truth as lies and lies as truth.
Most people have an easy time dealing with the past and present when it comes to the gospel. Where people choke are the future elements of it. How can God tell the future? How can he know what will happen before it does? These and other questions like them are a great mystery to many people.
Some people invent theories such as predestination to explain how he does it. Others just don’t think about it, taking it on faith that this is just how it is and no one will understand it until the Millennium.
The one thing to keep in mind, though, is that God does not violate free agency. Ever. Therefore, theories like predestination are patently false, as they violate one of the revealed laws of heaven. And we know that if God violated one of his own laws he’d cease to be God, so that doesn’t quite work.
Back in the teacher’s quorum
I remember one Sunday being taught by my teacher’s quorum adviser a lesson which really shook up the quorum. The man said, “In the pre-existence, God could have pointed to people and said, ‘You will be saved. You won’t. You will. You will. You won’t.’ etc. He has foreknowledge of all things and knows beforehand who will be saved and who will not.” I don’t know how new this guy was to the gospel, but he seemed pretty sure of himself and no one shot him down. Nevertheless, I didn’t buy the argument, despite myself being new in the gospel.
This idea of his, though, is not unique. I have found many people believe the same thing. Some people try to explain away the problem of a person’s agency (which poses a problem to this line of thinking) by saying that God simply knows us so well that he can tell what we are going to do before we do it, like a parent knows the habits of a child.
The future is uncertain
Contrary to what these people believe, though, the future is uncertain. As we make choices, right or wrong, we are statistically more or less likely to make more right or wrong choices. However, despite statistics, repentance always offers us a way out, unless the last door to salvation is finally closed by us.
When the Lord looks to the future, he sees everything: what will happen, what won’t happen, what can’t happen, what might happen, what probably will happen, what probably won’t happen. Because he sees every possible variation of the future, the truth is in there somewhere along with all the fables. How does he determine what is the truth and what is fable? In a word: FAITH.
The sight of God has divisions
Although God sees all things, both past, present and future, his sight has divisions. For example, he sees all the fables, but not in actuality, as they don’t exist. He sees them in his mind’s eye, or using the incredible imagination that makes up his mind. The truth, however, past and present, actually exists or existed, and he sees or saw them in reality.
When the sight of God is turned to the future, however, the foreknowledge of God (and faith of God) comes into play. Remember, there are two types (or stages) of knowledge: perfect and imperfect. All truth that has existed and exists is perfect knowledge. All truth that will exist is imperfect knowledge. (The reason is because of agency, which is an open variable.) Nevertheless, imperfect knowledge is capable of generating faith and faith is capable of producing perfect knowledge. Therefore, God, when he sees the future (that which will occur) with his mind’s eye (as it is not yet a reality), sees it “with an eye of faith” until it becomes a reality. (See Ether 12: 19; Alma 5: 15 and Alma 32: 40.)
The other things he sees, the fables, he has no faith that they will happen, thus, they do not occur, as faith is what makes things happen, or that makes things reality.
This same principle applies equally to man as to God, which is why faith saves us.
* The prophets of the Book of Mormon emphasize that there are two states or types of knowledge: perfect and not perfect.
Next Faith of God article: The faith of God, part thirteen: How charity fits in
Previous Faith of God article: The faith of God, part eleven: Why knowledge doesn’t save