Faith: Harnessing the Divinity Within You

Below is an excerpt from a final paper I wrote for my Book of Mormon class that just ended yesterday.  I haven't been able to get these words out of my head, and I'm hoping that sharing them here might affect change in both my life and yours.

The theme of faith is a major doctrine of not simply the third chapter of Ether, but also the entire Book of Mormon:  Another Testament of Jesus Christ.  We learn much about faith, for example, from Alma 32 or Helaman 8.  In Ether 3, however, the message of faith is shared in a way that is somewhat more unique and explicit than found elsewhere in the standard works; restated another way, the doctrines of faith found in Ether 3 have the power to become a key in unlocking great truths regarding faith.  In the pericope at hand, there are two methods with which one can learn on the topic of faith; first, there are explicit statements made by the Lord on the subject and, second, the brother of Jared’s actions exemplify faith and its true ability to enable.  As the passages with explicit reference to faith are quite plain, much time will be spent examining the actions of the brother of Jared.
             Figure 2.  Actions Requiring Faith
Verse 1
The brother of Jared prepares to ask the Lord to touch the stones by making the stones before the request
Verse 2
The brother of Jared calling unto the Lord, according to commandment
Verse 3
The brother of Jared asking that the Lord would take pity and touch the stones
Verse 4
The expressing that the Lord “hast all power”
Verse 4
The brother of Jared’s belief that the mere touching of the stones by the Lord would illuminate them
Verse 6
The falling down of the brother of Jared before the Lord, showing that he believes He is Lord
Verse 6
The fact that the brother of Jared can see the finger of the Lord at all
Verse 12
The brother of Jared declaring that he does believe the words of the Lord
Verse 13
The Lord showing Himself to the brother of Jared
Verse 19
The brother of Jared has such exceeding faith as to convert belief to knowledge
Verse 20
The brother of Jared is so filled with faith that he cannot be kept without the veil
(Verse 22)
(The brother of Jared will need to have faith to follow the commandment given him by the Lord
(Verse 23)
(The future prophet who is given to finding the Jaredite text and Urim and Thummim will need to believe in the power of the Urim and Thummim to use them)
            As seen in figure 2 to the left, many, if not all, of the actions that occur (or that will occur at a future time a designated by the text) require at their very core a foundation of faith on the part of the protagonist.  The brother of Jared displays ample faith in both thought–meaning that the very way in which he thinks indicates that
his faith is sure–and action.  Indeed, the brother of Jared’s actions in the chapter would seem irrational at best were they not founded upon the faith that the Lord would
both 1) care and 2) respond, on top of the fact that they assume that there is a being called the Lord in the first place. 
            To demonstrate that the brother of Jared’s faith was integral to his entire thought process, let us play out the scenario that takes place in Ether 3:1.  In Ether 2:23, the Lord commands the brother of Jared to propose a solution to the imposing problem that there was to be a lack of light in the vessels that the Lord commanded the Jaredites to fashion.  The methodology of thought as well as the solution that the brother of Jared decides to pursue are both indicative of his faith in the Lord.  If the brother of Jared did not believe–truly believe–that the Lord was real and that His love for men was indeed factual, then he would have been wasting his time forming the stones in the first place.  If the brother of Jared’s underlying assumption was not that the Lord loves His people, then he would not have even considered the idea that the stones would give light plausible in the first place.  Rather, he would have relied more heavily on his own abilities and means to create light.
            Faith to this exceeding degree calls to mind the Lectures on Faith, which aid the reader in grasping the almost tangible faith of the brother of Jared.  His faith echoes the teachings of Joseph Smith concerning faith in that faith first and foremost requires a sure knowledge of God.  In verse 2 of the fourth lecture in The Lectures on Faith, Smith writes “for without the idea of the existence of the attributes which belong to God the minds of men could not have power to exercise faith in him.”[1]  In Ether 3, we see this to the be the case.  The brother of Jared approaches the Lord with stones, asking Him to illuminate them, and then proceeds to testify of his knowledge of the very nature of God Himself.  The brother of Jared testifies of his absolute knowledge that the Lord has all power, that He is merciful unto the sons of men.
            The punch line in this pericope, however, is not that the brother of Jared has faith, but that the faith of the brother of Jared has imbued in it inherent power.  Faith is the elementary principle of action and it is according to the degree of our faith that we are able to harness the power of heaven–the very power of God of which the brother of Jared speaks­, which is subject to our own divine nature and the mercy of God­–and affect change in the mortal sphere.  Indeed, referring back to The Lectures on Faith, we see that
every man received according to his faith–according as his faith was, so were his blessings and privileges; and nothing was withheld from him when his faith was sufficient to receive it. He could stop the mouths of lions, quench the violence of fire, escape the edge of the sword, wax valiant in fight, and put to flight the armies of the aliens; women could, by their faith, receive their dead children to life again; in a word, there was nothing impossible with them who had faith. All things were in subjection to the Former-day Saints, according as their faith was.[2]

Indeed, in other scriptures we see this same principle at play if only we are careful in our readings:  “O Lord, give us strength according to our faith which is in Christ;[3]If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me;[4] "Remember that without faith you can do nothing.”
            With this in mind, we must ask ourselves, what implications does this understanding of faith have for Latter-day Saints?  If Latter-day Saints first recognized this truth and then incorporated it into their most basic assumptions so that it changed their every thought, we Latter-day Saints would be a much more powerful people.  We would increase exponentially our ability to live our lives in a way that truly reflects the knowledge that has been bestowed upon us–that we are children of God, that we were born with a divine spark, that with faith we can move mountains, that our Heavenly Parents have invested in us power and divinity beyond measure.  In thereby doing, we would obtain the promise asserted in The Lectures on Faith, that faith “gives to the minds of the Latter-day Saints the same power and authority to exercise faith in God which the Former-day Saints had…for the exercise of faith was, is, and ever will be, the same; so that all men have had, and will have, an equal privilege.”[5]

[1] Joseph Smith, The Lectures on Faith:  Delivered to the School of the Prophets in Kirtland, Ohio 1834–1835.
[2] Joseph Smith, The Lectures on Faith:  Delivered to the School of the Prophets in Kirtland, Ohio 1834–1835, 7th Lecture, verse 17.  Emphasis added.
[3]  Alma 14:26.  Emphasis added.
[4] Moroni 7:33.  Emphasis added.
[5] Joseph Smith, The Lectures on Faith:  Delivered to the School of the Prophets in Kirtland, Ohio 1834–1835, 4th Lecture, verse 19.  


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