The definition of eternal


On January 28th, jackdale76 wrote the following in a comment on this blog:

At the Great Judgement the Lord will declare to those who are filthy still:

23 And then will I profess unto them: I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity (3 Nephi 14:23)

JST Matt. 7:33 And then will I say, Ye never knew me

So, Jesus will say both “I never knew you” and “you never knew Me”.  Those people he addresses are former saints for they prophesied, cast out devils and did many wonderful works.

When he tells them “I never knew you”, I interpreted it “I did not bear your pains,sicknesses,infirmities during the Atonement so that I could know how to succor you”. That makes sense because owing to God’s foreknowledge Christ only suffered for those who repent.

22 Therefore, whoso repenteth … for such I have laid down my life, and have taken it up again; (3 Nephi 9:22)

Now, my question is, what does He mean by “you never knew Me”?  My understanding is that to know Christ is to be baptized with fire.

ye … and after this [the baptism of fire] should deny me, it would have been better for you that ye had not known me (2 Nephi 31:14)

So, those former saints did indeed know Christ at some point in their lives. How is it that “they never knew Him”? Any thoughts?

Prior to jackdale76 asking this question, I had never considered the meaning of that scripture.  After he wrote his comment, I took a look at the scripture and an answer popped into my head, which I then wrote into the following comment:

It’s just a reset:

And now, verily I say unto you, I, the Lord, will not lay any sin to your charge; go your ways and sin no more; but unto that soul who sinneth shall the former sins return, saith the Lord your God. (D&C 82:7)

The sons of perdition commit spiritual suicide, going back instead of forward, returning like the dog to his vomit, so everything gets reset to its former condition. In other words, they didn’t know the Lord, then they knew the Lord, then they committed spiritual suicide and so go back to their former condition of not knowing the Lord. Put another way, the Lord never knew them, then He knew them, then they committed spiritual suicide and so the Lord goes back to the former condition of not knowing them. They had sins, their sins were remitted, then they committed spiritual suicide and so all their former sins return, as if the atonement and redemption never happened. The experience of this reset leaves them completely gutted or empty, so that now the devil has full control over them and they are lost (perdition) forever.

However, although I thought the thought and penned the words, I had never heard such a doctrine before, but after writing the comment, I was too lazy to more fully unfold it, so I just let it go. But then on March 10th the following scripture came into mind, which dealt with the same doctrine, so I wrote out a follow-up comment:

It may be that this is the same reset miracle mentioned in the previous comment. Moses 5:

22And the Lord said unto Cain:

Why art thou wroth? Why is thy countenance fallen? 23If thou doest well, thou shalt be accepted. And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door, and Satan desireth to have thee; and except thou shalt hearken unto my commandments, I will deliver thee up, and it shall be unto thee according to his desire. And thou shalt rule over him; 24for from this time forth thou shalt be the father of his lies; thou shalt be called Perdition; for thou wast also before the world. 25And it shall be said in time to come—

That these abominations were had from Cain; for he rejected the greater counsel which was had from God;

and this is a cursing which I will put upon thee, except thou repent.

So, Cain wasn’t called Perdition before the world, and we all knew this, yet once he becomes a son of perdition, miraculously the heavenly record and our memories are changed and he is now found to have been called Perdition before the world. Everyone goes back to check their memories and the records, and lo and behold!, what do you know? He really was called Perdition! And we all remember this to have ocurred.

As this thing keeps grabbing my attention, I might as well delve into it.

Now, if this doctrine is correct, and for the sake of this post I will assume that it is, it seems to me that the implications are as follows:

Time has eternal consequences

God lives in a state of presence, in which all thngs are present before him, both past, present and future:

D&C 38:1Thus saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, the Great I Am, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the same which looked upon the wide expanse of eternity, and all the seraphic hosts of heaven, before the world was made; 2the same which knoweth all things, for all things are present before mine eyes; 3I am the same which spake, and the world was made, and all things came by me.

D&C 130:6The angels do not reside on a planet like this earth; 7but they reside in the presence of God, on a globe like a sea of glass and fire, where all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord.

This means that the future, to God, is actually not ahead in time, as we think of it, but a “day” behind, in the past, in that spot of time which we call the present.  And it means that the past, to God, is actually not behind in time, as we think of it, but a “day” ahead, in the future, in that spot of time which we call the present.  His present consists of both past, present and future, whereas our present is devoid of past and future.

We operate in time linearly, the past being a path that has already been traveled, and the present being the spot on the path we are on.  In front of us, there is no path, only a planned path or an imaginary one.  Each step we take in the present towards that imaginary future path (in whatever direction we choose) creates a new point on the path, and everything previous to that point is counted as already traveled and immutable.

When we make changes to the present, to our present conditions, we say that what we do or do not do in this present time has eternal consequences, and what we are referring to is the future, because for us, the past is set in stone.  But that is because we are living in time, and time is an illusion appointed unto us so that we can be tried and tested and be able to choose our eternal destiny.

Illusions operate on the principle of blindness, and indeed, we cannot see the future.  And when we gaze upon the past, we see it as unalterable.

But God sees all things and all things are in the present, and this is the actual state of the universe.  So, when you make a change to the present, as future and past are also there, they also change.

Thus, we’ve got it wrong, or only half right.  It is true that what we do in time has eternal consequences, referring to our future state, but the saying and understanding is a manifestation of our ignorance of what the word eternal means in the scriptures, for eternal does not refer to only the future, it refers also to the past.

The meaning of eternal

Abr. 3:18Howbeit that he made the greater star; as, also, if there be two spirits, and one shall be more intelligent than the other, yet these two spirits, notwithstanding one is more intelligent than the other, have no beginning; they existed before, they shall have no end, they shall exist after, for they are gnolaum, or eternal.

Whatever, then, that is eternal, is from everlasting to everlasting, or unchanging in one direction (the future) and unchanging in the other direction (the past).  Something that has a beginning, must have an end, and thus, cannot be eternal, and this, then, is what time is, even a state of existence in which there is a beginning and an end.  Whatever does not have a beginning cannot have an end, and thus must be eternal and this then is what eternal life is, even a state of existence in which there is no beginning and no end.

Eternal cannot be changed

It is, by definition, a never-ending (and never-beginning) state, therefore, it is impossible to change it.  So, how, then, does one take an eternal spirit (of whatever intelligence) and upgrade it (change it) so that now it is enlarged and can receive greater glory?  Through the introduction of time.

Time changes eternity in both directions

Whatever happens in time (our present) alters both our future and our past.  This happens because both future and past are with us.  We cannot see it, but God can see it.  Both states are simultaneously affected and altered by every change that happens in time (the present).  When all is said and done and we are arranged before the judgment bar of Christ, whatever reward we get, whether the telestial kingdom, terrestrial kingdom or celestial kingdom, or exaltation in the celestial kingdom, will be given to us everlastingly in both directions, so that we enter, once again, into eternity, always existing as (whatever we end up as).

D&C 132:20Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them.

These gods, which are exalted men and women, will be made from everlasting to everlasting, continuing in both directions as gods.  Their past will match their future and they will find themselves as having always existed as gods, having no beginning and no end.  It is this power that God possesses to alter the past so that it matches the endless state of the future that allows the fulfillment of the following scripture:

Moro. 7:48Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.

Now, it is not possible to become exactly like Jesus Christ and His Father, right?  They have different histories than us, right?  (So goes the saying among Mormons.)  But when you factor in that the past is right smack in God’s present just as the future is, and that both are simultaneously affected in an equal manner by what happens in the present, and so God’s almighty power holds both the future and the past of men in His eternal hands, then you end up with a doctrine that shows it is in fact very much possible to become exactly like Jesus Christ and His Father!

This applies to more than just the exalted

It is not just the exalted (the gods) who obtain this eternal state, in which they are now gods with no beginning or end.  No, everyone that receives an inheritance in any of the three glories will become eternal (it is called eternal life for a reason!), having no beginning to their history and no end to their state of existence, being unchanging from everlasting to everlasting.  This brings us to the ejected ones: Perdition and his sons and angels.

A liar and murderer from the beginning

D&C 93:25And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning.

John 8:44Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

12 Ne. 2:7And I, Lehi, according to the things which I have read, must needs suppose that an angel of God, according to that which is written, had fallen from heaven; wherefore, he became a devil, having sought that which was evil before God.

D&C 76:25And this we saw also, and bear record, that an angel of God who was in authority in the presence of God, who rebelled against the Only Begotten Son whom the Father loved and who was in the bosom of the Father, was thrust down from the presence of God and the Son, 26and was called Perdition, for the heavens wept over him—he was Lucifer, a son of the morning.

Lucifer was a liar and a murderer from the beginning, yet also an angel in authority in the presence of God?  Why would God allow a liar and murderer to be angel in authority in his presence?  The answer is that He didn’t.  In Lucifer’s eternal state, he was an angel in authority in the presence of God from everlasting to everlasting, having no beginning nor end.  He was always an angel.  That was his history.  However, the moment that he entered into his first estate and rebelled, his past and future altered, as did the past and future of the angels who were cast out with him.  Now he is always a liar and always a murderer, from everlasting to everlasting.  His sons will likewise obtain the same history, because of their acts committed in time.

As numerous, as it were, as the sands of the sea

Not only does God have power to alter our eternal history, but He also has power to alter the history of time.

Gen. 22:17That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

Gen. 32:12And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.

Jer. 33:22As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me.

Hosea 1:10Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.

Rom. 9:27Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:

Heb. 11:12Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.

The children of Israel, then, were to be as numerous as the sands of the sea or the stars in the heavens. The children of Lehi, being, of course, of the house of Israel, got this blessing of innumerability.  For example, there is Nephi’s vision:

1 Ne. 12:1And it came to pass that the angel said unto me: Look, and behold thy seed, and also the seed of thy brethren. And I looked and beheld the land of promise; and I beheld multitudes of people, yea, even as it were in number as many as the sand of the sea.

Nephi saw these numbers before Jesus ever arrived on the continent.  As the Nephites were (almost) always of a limited number, this vision of innumerable multitudes of people could only be speaking of the Lamanites.  Mormon, in fact, actually ends up describing one of the Lamanite armies in such terms:

Alma 2:27And behold, as they were crossing the river Sidon, the Lamanites and the Amlicites, being as numerous almost, as it were, as the sands of the sea, came upon them to destroy them.

Lamanite numbers are always described as vast, even beyond comprehension.  Lamanite casualty numbers are given only if the numbers are sufficiently small enough, but when they become too large to number, they are always left out.  The Lamanites seem to have had an endless population supply.  Even when the Lamanites attack the Nephites and get decimated, we find them coming back for more a short time later with another seemingly endless supply of men.  They do this time and time again, with no end in sight to their numbers.  There is a finite amount of land and a finite amount of resources, yet the Lamanites appear to be infinite.  How can this be possible?

It may be that what the text is describing is yet another miracle occurring, one in which God is inflating the Lamanite numbers at will.  For example, if there are 100 Lamanites only, and everybody knows there are only 100, but suddenly 500 more Lamanites show up, this miracle, which altered the present Lamanite numbers, must have also caused a corresponding alteration in the Lamanite history.  So, when the unknown Lamanites show up, they are asked, “Where did you come from?  We didn’t even know you existed!”  And the answer is the revised history: “Oh, we are descendants of Uncle Ishmael’s third son that was assumed missing.  We’ve been living in the east wilderness all this time and heard shouting.  We thought it was a raiding party assembling to attack the Nephites and we wanted to be involved.”  When the genealogy is checked, everything matches up perfectly, and yet, these were unknown, even missing Lamanites, who had been living among the larger Lamanite population without anyone knowing about them until now.  There is still that thing called finite space, so it’s still impossible, right?

Sure, it’s impossible, but God has power to make one hundred yards into 100,000 yards.  You measure it out and it measures out each and every time to 100 yards, yet you can fit 300 air craft carriers into it.  The Lamanites weren’t too particular on things.  It was pretty easy to hide an innumerable, seemingly infinitely large population right under their (and everybody else’s) noses.

The point I’m trying to make is that if God did perform such miracles, altering the present, even the present Lamanite population numbers, miraculously, then these people don’t just appear out of thin air.  No, they appear with histories.  And those histories are instantaneously-made pasts, which they actually lived, and they will recall their past lives and the histories of their ancestors.  God has power to do all this because it’s all there, in front of Him: past, present and future, and whatever He alters or creates in the present, comes complete with a past and a future.

Btw, to be fair to the Nephites, after Christ came and visited them, they also got this same, apparent, miracle of innumerability:

Morm. 1:7The whole face of the land had become covered with buildings, and the people were as numerous almost, as it were the sand of the sea.

Records on earth affect heavenly records

As it is time that modifies eternity, and not the other way around, so it is that earthly records (of time) modify the eternal heavenly records.  So we get stuff like this from Joseph Smith:

D&C 128:6And further, I want you to remember that John the Revelator was contemplating this very subject in relation to the dead, when he declared, as you will find recorded in Revelation 20:12—And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

7You will discover in this quotation that the books were opened; and another book was opened, which was the book of life; but the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works; consequently, the books spoken of must be the books which contained the record of their works, and refer to the records which are kept on the earth. And the book which was the book of life is the record which is kept in heaven; the principle agreeing precisely with the doctrine which is commanded you in the revelation contained in the letter which I wrote to you previous to my leaving my place—that in all your recordings it may be recorded in heaven.

8Now, the nature of this ordinance consists in the power of the priesthood, by the revelation of Jesus Christ, wherein it is granted that whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Or, in other words, taking a different view of the translation, whatsoever you record on earth shall be recorded in heaven, and whatsoever you do not record on earth shall not be recorded in heaven; for out of the books shall your dead be judged, according to their own works, whether they themselves have attended to the ordinances in their own propria persona, or by the means of their own agents, according to the ordinance which God has prepared for their salvation from before the foundation of the world, according to the records which they have kept concerning their dead.

9It may seem to some to be a very bold doctrine that we talk of—a power which records or binds on earth and binds in heaven. Nevertheless, in all ages of the world, whenever the Lord has given a dispensation of the priesthood to any man by actual revelation, or any set of men, this power has always been given. Hence, whatsoever those men did in authority, in the name of the Lord, and did it truly and faithfully, and kept a proper and faithful record of the same, it became a law on earth and in heaven, and could not be annulled, according to the decrees of the great Jehovah. This is a faithful saying. Who can hear it?

Again, whatever is bound or loosed on earth is bound and loosed in heaven in both directions (future and also past.)

Okay, so I’m not going to take this any further.  If any of the other blog contributors want to see where else this doctrine leads to, such as the life of Christ and the Great Millennium in which there will be “time no longer,” they can be my guests and blog about it.  I think what I’ve written here is sufficient food for thought for the day.

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THE MIRACLE OF FORGIVENESS & KIMBALL’S CADILLAC – Pt. 2


Later on Kimball’s spirit would continue the confession. When the following April rolled around, I felt Spencer’s presence return. He drew my mind to some pretty nasty dirt which had been swept under the rug. But the rug was lifted, revealing things from President Kimball’s past life that his higher self was not too pleased with. Apparently, in April of 1977, when Mike and I were both just free flying little orbs of light, not yet fully focused into twinkles in our dads’ eyes, there was some foul business afoot in Salt Lake City, Utah. Spencer W. Kimball found himself involved in a tangled triangle of Church, State, and Free Agents. A white man by the name of Douglas A. Wallace, who had acted on orders from the Holy Spirit to ordain Larry Lester, a non-LDS, black man to the Priesthood, now sought an audience with Kimball. He had been rather relentless in his attempts over the course of two General Conferences of the Church. After a year of legal actions and excommunication by the courts of the Church, this High Priest was just as determined as ever in his mission. The Church President gave counsel to his fears, likely listening to his brethren of little faith, who felt it best to enlist the protective services of the Salt Lake Police Department. The so-called General Authorities contacted “the authorities”, their joint feauxthority folding under paranoia in the presence of true authority. Brother Wallace made it publically known that he came in peace but was, nonetheless, placed under surveillance at the request of the First Presidency of the LDS Church.

In the early morning hours on Sunday, April 3rd, during the second day of the springtime Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in ’77, while on the stakeout, Detective David W. Olson, was accidentally but critically wounded when his partner’s weapon discharged and left Olson paralyzed from a single shot to the neck. Both the Church and the Police Department initially denied that the undercover officer had been keeping surveillance on the Mormon dissident. After a few days the P.D. eventually admitted the truth but the Church remained silent. Detective Olson was very distraught over the matter and would end up committing suicide in 1980. With bitter sarcasm and desperate depression in his voice he stated:

“I would also like to thank Spencer W. Kimball for his incorrect press release concerning the police involvement combined with the LDS church’s efforts to restrict Douglas A. Wallace from the temple grounds, specifically the Tabernacle, on April 3, 1977. “His denial of these actions is wrong. Any man who can take such actions and still call himself a prophet deserves more than I to be confined to this wheelchair.”

But again, I digress. Or should I say, converge? Everything is connected and ‘this’ always ties in with ‘that’. Anyone who tells you differently is trying to sell you some ‘bad fruit’. All of this business with Priests and Police on the morning of April 3, 1977 came as an absolute shock to me when randomly running across the news articles precisely 35 years and 25 days after the fact. But even more shocking were the personal pre-existential memories that came into my heart and mind. There were six cops stationed around the vicinity of that house at 2177 Carriage Lane near 4600 South. We had targeted the big one. Mike and myself, as yet to be born angels, made sure that these occurrences, though swept behind a veil of forgetfulness in the minds of many, would not be completely covered up. In the momentous year of 2012, many are awakening. In my personal reconnecting with former versions of my self, I was shown the role I played in the events of that Salt Lake spring morning, 35 years and 25 days ago, but why?  Mike and I can not be questioned regarding our involvement by any court of the land. Can we? Habeas Corpus is a Latin phrase, which can be literally translated as “(we command) that you have the body”. At the time we did not have bodies. With the N.D.A.A having been enacted one has to be careful how one speaks about the government these days. But Obama promised not to use those abusive powers, only sign them into law. Right? So I guess I can rest easy, until Romney pulls them out to prosecute enemies of the Church & State. Was S.W.K. trying to warn us of Church disciplinary action? Was he trying to point to even shadier levels of conspiracy? At first I felt uneasy and thought I ought to be on guard. But now I know that God protects those whom He calls. Brother Wallace is apparently still kickin’ after all this time. Fear was what had embroiled Spencer in so much trouble. And it was fear that his ghost was advising against. As I resolved in my mind to not sweep this revelation aside as mere crazy thoughts, but to accept the past prophetic whisperings of this kind soul to soul communication, I felt my heart begin to beat like the brave Indian war drum. My heart slowly received witness as the sound built in my chest. I of course realized that Spencer’s soul did not need to get these things off of his chest with me. He had already done so with his maker. So, what was he trying to tell me and why now?

Well, if I said that Mike and I crossed paths in Orem, I was mistaken. To be specific, Orem is where our paths in this life merged. But they had intersected briefly before. After a year of association, Mike and I discovered that we had both been in attendance at the same Hip Hop concert, years before meeting, back in the winter of 2000 at the Bricks Club in Salt Lake City. This was realized as he recounted the anecdotal story of how Chris, his partner in rhyme in those days, had somehow managed to be picked from among those in the front area, to perform on the stage in an impromptu opening act. Chris looked around excitedly and talked into the mic to let Mike know of the situation so he could hop up on stage with him and take advantage of the opportunity to showcase their skills in front of a sizable crowd. But Mike was all the way in the back and up top on the balcony level with some girls and drinks in hand. This was the same area where I was watching the show from with some of my friends. As he described the way he tried in vain to reach his homey on the stage to share in the spotlight that had unexpectedly fallen on him, I suddenly remembered seeing this all play out and realizing that poor fellow up on the balcony with us saying, “Excuse me, let me through.” was the one who the dude on stage was shoutin’ out to. “That was you?!” I exclaimed. “I was like three feet away and off to your right.”

Now my mind was being allowed to discover an even earlier meeting between my brother and I – 35 years and 25 days earlier to be exact. If you take the coordinates for the club in Salt Lake where we came in close contact for the first time in this life and draw a straight line on a map, from there to a point where we came together before this life, nearby the home on Carriage Lane that was being unwarrantably watched. And if you establish the line between these two points as the base of a triangulation, using an angle of 35 degrees for the first and 25 for the second, you will find that the lateral sides converge on a neighborhood not far from the University of Utah campus. 2028 Laird Drive, Salt Lake City, Utah is the spot where stands the house that was home to Spencer W. Kimball from 1947 to 1979, spanning almost the entire time of his presidency, and where he was living at the time of those unfortunate events that brought us all together under such strange circumstances.

I see it as a three sided symbol of the connection between past, present, and future. If it is the past that has made the present what it is and the present will make the future, then the past will always be felt. This is a good thing for us when we speak of the good that we build over time. But there is also much of sorrow and pain in our past. We must let Jesus teach us how to be centered on the gift of the present. He is teaching us how it is only from the present that we may navigate and change for the better, not only our futures, but our past as well. Through the miracle of forgiveness, repentance becomes a personal time travel vehicle. So may our sight be endlessly set upon our dear savior, who on the cross, listened while many in the throng of onlookers and even one of the thieves who was hanged there at His right were hurling abuse at Him. They mocked Him in His present state and talked of His past in a snide way when they said, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.” To His left there hung another thief of time who spoke hopefully but unknowingly of the future, saying: “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom! But Christ speaks always firmly in the present tense when He says: “Truly I say to you, TODAY you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

The faith of God, part two


Continued from part one.

Before one can talk about the faith of God, faith itself must be defined.

Small English Lesson – Faith is a Noun

Modern dictionaries do not give the scriptural definition of faith, as they record modern and ancient usage of terms, which may or may not correspond to the scriptures, however, they are, at least, helpful in determining whether faith is a noun, a verb, an adverb, etc. If you consult a good dictionary, you’ll find that faith is used as a noun most times, unless it is used in its archaic, transitive verb form. The archaic, transitive verb form is not used, to my knowledge, in the scriptures. An example of the archaic use would be the sentence, “I faith all that you say to me.” As a transitive verb, the construction in a sentence would be “to faith [something].” We no longer use this awkward construction in modern speech, and, as I said, in the scriptures it is always used as a noun. So, let’s begin this discussion by considering faith as a noun.

Scriptural Definition of Faith

The definition of faith can be assembled by some of the prophetic teachings found in the scriptures. As faith is a concept revealed from heaven, it is of no concern what we, the dictionary authors or anyone else give as the definition of faith, the important thing is to get the correct, heavenly-given definition, which comes from the scriptures.

Paul taught that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). He also taught that faith comes by hearing the word of God preached. (See Rom. 10: 14-17.) Alma taught that “faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things” and also that if we have faith, we “hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” (See Alma 32: 21.) He also explained that exercising the smallest bit of faith (“a particle of faith”) is nothing more than desiring to believe. (See Alma 32: 27.) Moroni, in my opinion, gave the clearest definition of faith when he said, “faith is things which are hoped for, and not seen” (Ether 12: 6).

I’ll come back to these scriptures later…

Faith as hope (noun) or to hope (verb)

I find that when discussing faith with LDS, the general definition given by them is “a hope of things not seen which are true.” I imagine they are extrapolating this definition from Alma 32: 21. They may also be getting it from the LDS Bible Dictionary, which states in the opening sentence on its entry on faith, “faith is to hope for things which are not seen, but which are true.” This grammatically incorrect sentence defines faith (a noun) as a verb (“to hope”). (The only way to cause the opening Bible Dictionary sentence to make grammatical sense is to understand that the author meant to put the words “to have” in front of faith, so that it reads “to have [verb] faith [noun] is to hope [verb] for things [noun]…” The second sentence of the entry does this very thing when it states, “To have [verb] faith [noun] is to have [verb] confidence [noun]…” The second sentence is grammatically correct, everything on one side of the “is” equalling everything else on the other side of the “is.” This could and should have been done with the opening sentence.) Even if we assume that the Bible Dictionary author was referring to the archaic, verb form of faith and not the noun form, the use of the word in the sentence is in the intransitive form, instead of the correct transitive form. So, whether used as a noun or a verb, the sentence is grammatically incorrect and makes no sense whatsoever. To illustrate, put any noun in the place of faith, for example, “Car [noun] is to hope [verb] for things…” It doesn’t make sense. But if you say, “To drive [verb] is to hope [verb] for things…” that makes more sense because you are stating a verb is a verb, not a noun is a verb. Had the author used faith correctly as an archaic, transitive verb, it should have read, “To faith [something] is to hope for things…” Okay, enough with invalidating this messy Bible Dictionary sentence.

(I pick on the Bible Dictionary’s grammar not to make a grammatical statement, which really isn’t all that important, as English is not a static language and its rules of grammar do and will continue to change. I pick on it because the entry’s author contributes to the strange custom that people have of calling faith “an action word.” Action words are verbs, of course, hence the tendency to incorrectly define faith, which is scripturally a noun, as a verb, such as to hope. The Bible Dictionary’s opening sentence contributes to this confusion and also to the modern trend of corruption of the English language. For example, the phrase “I couldn’t care less about that,” which grammatically means “that is the least of all the things I care about” has been corrupted into “I could care less about that,” which grammatically means “that is not the least of all the things I care about.” People still retain the meaning of the original phrase, but now, due to the laziness of speaking the necessary “n’t,” it means the opposite of its grammatical meaning. This is language corruption.)

Alma 32: 21 does not state that faith is a hope, only that if we have faith, we “hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” The faith-equals-hope definition arrived at by many LDS is an extrapolation from this scripture. Alma does not say, “to have faith is to hope for things which are not seen, which are true,” but instead he says, “if ye have faith, ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” The two statements are saying entirely different things. In the first, Alma would be categorically stating that faith is hope, which of course he isn’t saying. In the second, Alma is stating that hope (or hoping) accompanies faith (or the possession of faith). This is a big difference that is lost to many people. It is like saying, “If you have this, you do that.” Or, “if you have chicken pox, you scratch your skin.” Having chicken pox and scratching skin are not the same things, but scratching skin accompanies having chicken pox. They go hand in hand, but are not the same thing. (I wish there were more English language majors among our people, instead of business and law majors, as these mistakes would not be made as often as they are.)Despite the lack of English majors in the church, I still find it strange that the LDS have the widespread tendency to think of faith as hope, given that our scriptures emphasize that there are three grand principles (faith, hope and charity) and the scriptures do not confuse faith as hope or hope as faith.

Hope defined

I suppose before I move on, I ought to define hope. I’ll use the dictionary definition, as it is scripturally accurate in this instance. To hope is “to desire with expectation of obtainment.”

Faith is power to obtain or to create or to do [whatever]

A person can hope all they want and yet never obtain. They can desire lots of things and expect to obtain or receive them all and still their desires may remain unfulfilled. Faith, though, is different. When a person possesses faith, he possesses power to obtain something or to create something or to do something. He has power to obtain whatever it is that he hopes for, or whatever it is that he “desires with expectation of obtainment.” This is why hope always accompanies faith. Once faith is possessed, the individual can now expect to receive according to his desires. This is why Ether taught that “hope cometh of faith” (Ether 12: 4). Another example of this principle is found in Helaman’s words. After he and his soldiers poured out their hearts to God in prayer, the Lord gave them faith (assurances, peace to their souls, great faith) and then they were able to hope:

Helaman said, “Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him. ” (Alma 58: 11)

When faith is dormant

Alma on the dormancy of faith:

Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believe. Now I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it. (Alma 32: 17-18 )

And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true. (Alma 32: 21)

Now, as I said concerning faith—that it was not a perfect knowledge—even so it is with my words. Ye cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith is a perfect knowledge. (Alma 32: 26)

Now behold, would not this increase your faith? I say unto you, Yea; nevertheless it hath not grown up to a perfect knowledge. (Alma 32: 29)

And now, behold, is your knowledge perfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant; and this because you know, for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand. (Alma 32: 34)

Alma explained that faith is not a perfect knowledge, but that faith can grow into a perfect knowledge. He also explained that once faith grows into perfect knowledge, faith becomes dormant. If knowledge is given from the get-go via sight (“show us a sign” Alma 32: 17), there is no cause to believe, or faith cannot be engendered. Therefore, if a thing is seen or if one has perfect knowledge of a thing, faith goes down to a zero value in that thing.

The knowledge and sight of God

This brings up an interesting dichotomy when faith is applied to God. God sees all things, both past, present and future. “But they reside in the presence of God, on a globe like a sea of glass and fire, where all things for their glory are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord” (D&C 130: 7). He also is omniscient, or all-knowing, both of the past, present and future. “But the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning” (2 Nephi 9: 6). “O how great the holiness of our God! For he knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it” (2 Nephi 9: 20).

So, based on these evidences, it would appear that faith cannot apply to God, or that God cannot exercise faith. It would seem that my ex co-worker, the monk, was correct in his assessment that God did not have faith, but accomplished (and accomplishes) all things according to his knowledge (and sight) of all things.

But there may be more than meets the eye here…

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