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One of the key components to LDS theology is that of scripture being an open canon.  According to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Bible Dictionary, scripture is defined as follows:

The word scripture means a writing, and is used to denote a writing recognized by the Church as sacred and inspired. It is so applied to the books of the O.T. by the writers of the N.T. (Matt. 22: 29; John 5: 39; 2 Tim. 3: 15). For an account of the process by which the books of the O.T. and N.T. came to be recognized as scripture, see Canon. Latter-day revelation identifies scripture as that which is spoken under the influence of the Holy Ghost (D&C 68: 1-4).
According to this definition, this leaves things pretty wide-open as to what scripture really is and can be difficult for many people, especially those from other faiths to comprehend.  Basically anything that is spoken by someone under the influence of the Spirit can be interpreted as scripture.  However, this also places great responsibility on everyone to be in tune with the Holy Spirit so they can interpret by the spirit and know if things spoken are essentially the word of God. 
As I pondered this, I thought about the scriptures that the LDS currently use commonly called the “Standard Works.”  These scriptures include the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price.
Most Christians claim that the Bible is infallible and that every single word written therein is exactly what God wants us to have and there can be no more scripture.  This is very hard for LDS people to fathom because they believe otherwise.  Why are such scriptures as the Song of Solomon considered to be considered infallible scripture? Who was it that had the authority to declare that the Bible should be the only scripture?  If the experiences and prophecies in the Bible are the only authorized scripture, what scriptures were the apostles and prophets of the Bible using at the time?
On the other hand, Christians firmly believe that it is heretical to have any additional scripture other than what is in the Bible.  They may have questions and concerns about anyone else who claims to add scripture is a false prophet and therefore their writings and words should be avoided.
Athiests and Agnostics choose to avoid the scriptures altogether because of flaws and condradictions found within the scriptures.
As I contemplate these issues and questions, I’m very grateful for the following scriptures about the Holy Ghost:
Moroni 10:2-5
2 And I seal up these records, after I have spoken a few words by way of exhortation unto you.
  3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
  4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
  5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
John 16: 7;13
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
In the first scripture, there is a promise given that one can know if the things written in the Book of Mormon are true.  However, the promise extends further in verse 5 in that the Holy Ghost will not only help one receive a witness of the Spirit if the Book of Mormon is true, but also know the truth of all things.  Also, in the Bible Jesus says when he leaves the Holy Ghost will show them the truth of all things as well.
If one is to read certain parts of the Bible (such as the Song of Solomon) and if one is to read certain parts of the Doctrine and Covenants (such as the polygamy revelation) it can be hard to feel the Spirit confirm it as truth.  Also, Joseph Smith’s Lectures on Faith used to be “cannonized” scripture but were removed in the early 1900’s.  Furthermore, when Joseph Smith spoke about the Book of Mormon he said that it was the most correct book of scripture written.  But didn’t say it was completely flawless.  I’ve read that the Book of Mormon has been changed and edited over 4,000 times. Also, authors within the Book of Mormon acknowledge their weakness in writing
Acknowleding flaws and/or errors in scripture can be a huge thing for both LDS and Christians to accept.  They both believe that scripture is flawless. Due to the weaknesses of men in writing and translations, etc. and the LDS view of having an open cannon, it is very important–essential–that one maintains a close relationship with the Lord so they can be led by the Holy Ghost to know the truth of all things that are found in the scriptures.
However, this can lead to discrepencies and to people claiming that “the Spirit told them” to say and/or do certain things and believe certain doctrine.  The LDS comeback for this answer would be “that’s why we have prophets and apostles.”  However, the questions then arise: How are we to know if they are indeed prophets and called of God?  How can we know if what they’re speaking is truth?  The answer: the Holy Spirit.
It would take a whole other post to write about how to recognize the Holy Spirit speaking truth to you, but some posts I’ve previously written on this topic include:”Effectively Using the Sword of the Spirit,” “Learning the Mysteries of God,” and “Questions to Know if you’ve Experienced the Holy Ghost.”
I especially like this quote by Gordon B Hinckley:
How do we know the things of the Spirit? How do we know that it is from God? By the fruits of it. If it leads to growth and development, if it leads to faith and testimony, if it leads to a better way of doing things, if it leads to godliness, then it is of God. If it tears us down, if it brings us into darkness, if it confuses us and worries us, if it leads to faithlessness, then it is of the devil” (Jordan Utah South regional conference, 2 Mar. 1997)
I would like to let those who read this know that I’ve felt the Holy Spirit confirm truth to me on numerous occasions throughout my life and that I’m grateful for this.  As I’ve prayed about various scriptures I have felt the Spirit witness truths to me that are found in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and other writings both LDS and otherwise.  I know that I’ve felt the Spirit confirm that there is a God that watches over each one of us and that cares for us.  I’ve felt His love and Spirit as I’ve prayed about big and small decisions in my life and know that he will lead us into the right paths and help us find truth in all things.  I know that God will reveal the truth of all things to everyone if we ask in humility and faith.
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I was looking up something from Joseph Smith’s Lectures on Faith that he gave in 1835 and I came across Jerry Stokes’ website.  In his website he compares these lectures to the Word of Faith movement (which I’ve never heard of before) and says it is heretical.  I will have to agree with him that many things stated in the Lectures on Faith are heretical to mainstream Christianity, which is a given for LDS theology.  One of the things he points out as being heretical is the fact that Joseph Smith states that one of God’s main attributes is faith and that without faith He would cease to be God.  This concept is found in Lecture 1 verses 13 – 17 and is quoted below:

13. As we receive by faith all temporal blessings that we do receive, so we in like manner receive by faith all spiritual blessings that we do receive. But faith is not only the principle of action, but of power also, in all intelligent beings, whether in heaven or on earth. Thus says the author of the epistle to the Hebrews, 11:3 —

14. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God; so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”

15. By this we understand that the principle of power which existed in the bosom of God, by which the worlds were framed, was faith; and that it is by reason of this principle of power existing in the Deity, that all created things exist; so that all things in heaven, on earth, or under the earth exist by reason of faith as it existed in Him.

16. Had it not been for the principle of faith the worlds would never have been framed neither would man have been formed of the dust. It is the principle by which Jehovah works, and through which he exercises power over all temporal as well as eternal things. Take this principle or attribute — for it is an attribute — from the Deity, and he would cease to exist.

17. Who cannot see, that if God framed the worlds by faith, that it is by faith that he exercises power over them, and that faith is the principle of power? And if the principle of power, it must be so in man as well as in the Deity? This is the testimony of all the sacred writers, and the lesson which they have been endeavouring to teach to man.

I can understand Mr Stokes’ concern coming from a Christian perspective.  He may be appalled to hear that Jehovah, who created the world, would need faith.  After all, the Greek meaning of the word faith is “conviction of religious truth or of God.”  If Jehovah is all-powerful and all-knowing and He is the being who we worship, what need is there for Him to have faith in Himself?  Furthermore, does this lesson God’s stature and is it blasphemous to say that God has faith just as man does?

I don’t think it is wrong to say God has faith.  By definition, faith is “the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.”  For example, we read in the first book of the Bible (Gen 1:1-2) that God created the heaven and earth and the earth was without form.  The Hebrew definition of “without form” means “to lie waste; a desolation (of surface), i.e. desert; fig. a worthless thing; adv. in vain” .  Therefore, God hoped for and had faith in himself that the earth would be made and he created the beautiful world that we live in out of chaos (or nothing depending on your belief).  This fits into the definition of faith that we just discussed. 

Now, does saying this lessen God’s stature and elevate man’s in relation to God?  Not at all.  In fact, this proves the majesty of God and shows us our relationship to Him.  We are humans and have seeds of divinity in that we have the power to have faith and create things, etc.  But no one can create a world. 

Now, I will admit that I disagree with Joseph Smith’s statement that God would “cease to exist” if He didn’t have faith.  In the scriptures we read that God is never-changing and always exsisting.  God would be God regardless of whether He created worlds or not.

Overall, I believe in Joseph Smith’s statements on faith and man’s relationship to God.  I believe that man has great potential and that we are children of God and therefore have seeds of divinity within us. 

What are your thoughts?  Do you think God has faith and is it wrong to say that He has faith?  Do you have any other examples from the scriptures where God or Jesus showed faith?

The student of the New Testament should be primarily an historian. The centre and core of all the Bible is history. Everything else that the Bible contains is fitted into an historical framework and leads up to an historical climax. The Bible is primarily a record of events. (History and Faith by J Gresham Machen)

In the previous quote Mr Machen defines history as a main framework for building faith.  Similarly, the people over at Living Hope Ministries in Brigham City Utah feel the same way.  They recently made a video that strives to discredit the Book of Mormon due to lack of historical evidences found to support the Book vs. the Bible that has many historical evidences to support it.  

As a counter-attack, people at the FAIR LDS site have put out a video on how many things in the Bible can not be historically proven while acknowledging that most things in the Book of Mormon can not be supported historically. (As a side note, there is an interesting site called The Nephi Project where George Potter traces Lehi’s trail through the Arabian desert by using the Book of Mormon as a reference.)

The question then is: Does one need historical evidence to believe and have faith?

My initial response is that one doesn’t need to have historical evidence to believe.  The definition of faith, according to the Bible in Hebrews 11:1 is that it is the “substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.”  The Bible doesn’t support history as something needed to build faith.

Secondly, I feel that Even if something can be historically proven, one still has to have the witness from the Spirit in order to believe on it.I’m reminded of the classic Book of Mormon scripture in Moroni 10 that says “by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”  Therefore, it appears that a witness from the Holy Spirit is the most essential element to one’s faith. 

I’ll admit that I’ve struggled with my faith when I try to reason with both Bible and Book of Mormon stories that seem to have no “evidence.”  However, I always fall back on the witness I’ve received from the Holy Ghost that both books are true and they come from God.  I know they are both true because I’ve felt and seen the fruits of the Spirit in my life as I’ve read and applied principles found in both books.  As historical “evidences” appear they are an added bonus to my faith, but not the main source.

What has your experience been with either the Bible or the Book of Mormon?  Do you feel historical evidence is necessary to have faith?

What would you do if you heard of someone taking their son up into the mountains and tying him to a pile of rocks to sacrifice him to God?  That probably wouldn’t fly over too well, yet Christians, Muslims, and Jews all revere Abraham as a prophet.

What about a man that killed a high-ranking official and then stole valuable records from him and fled into the wilderness, claiming that God told him to do all of these things?  That’s Nephi’s story in the Book of Mormon.

How about a more recent one? A man who claimed authority from God to translate additional scripture, build temples, and practice poligamy.  That’s part of Joseph Smith’s story.

These are a few examples.  Kaimi over at By Common Consent wrote more examples from the Old Testament as well.

So why is it that some people believe in Abraham, but not the New Testament and Jesus, yet others believe in the Bible, but reject the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith?  I believe it comes down to what people want to believe, along with what they are willing to allow the Spirit to teach them.

I believe strongly in the power of the Holy Spirit to tell you the truth of all things.  Although specifically referring to the Apocropha, Doctrine and Covenants, Section 91 gives a good example of using the Spirit to decipher and determine which scriptures to follow.  Below is part of the section:

  4 Therefore, whoso readeth it, let him aunderstand, for the Spirit manifesteth truth;

  5 And whoso is enlightened by the aSpirit shall obtain benefit therefrom;
  6 And whoso receiveth not by the Spirit, cannot be benefited….
According to this scripture, one can determine which scripture is true and which isn’t.  This is one answer, but it is highly subjective and people can interpret the Spirit in so many different ways.  However, I firmly believe that one can feel the light and truth of things that are true by the power of the Holy Spirit, and I know personally I’ve felt the spirit confirm many truths found in scriptures of all faiths. 
So when I read something in the scriptures such as Abraham sacrificing Isaac or Joseph Smith and others in the Bible practicing polygamy I figure they were individuals and maybe God told them to do it…maybe not.  It’s o.k. if I don’t know or understand everything.  I take the scriptures that I feel the Spirit with and apply them to my life.  Even though I don’t understand everything fully I’m grateful for the scriptures that help me learn and grow.
US MEMBERSHIP CHURCH RANKING: Largest 25 Churches  
Denomination Name Current Ranking (Ranking in 2007 ed.) Inclusive Membership Percentage Increase/Decrease
The Catholic Church 1(1)             67,515,016 0.87%
Southern Baptist Convention 2(2)             16,306,246 0.22%
The United Methodist Church 3(3)                7,995,456 -0.99%
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 4(4)                5,779,316 1.56%
The Church of God in Christ 5(5)                5,499,875 0.00%
National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc. 6(6)                5,000,000 0.00%
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America 7(7)                4,774,203 -1.58%
National Baptist Convention of America, Inc. 8(8)                3,500,000 0.00%
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) 9(9)                3,025,740 -2.36%
Assemblies of God 10(10)                2,836,174 0.19%
African Methodist Episcopal Church 11(11)                2,500,000 0.00%
National Missionary Baptist Convention of America 11(11)                2,500,000 0.00%
Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc. 11(11)                2,500,000 0.00%
The Lutheran Church– Missouri Synod (LCMS) 14(14)                2,417,997 -0.94%
Episcopal Church 15(15)                2,154,572 -4.15%
Churches of Christ 16(16)                1,639,495 0.00%
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America 17(17)                1,500,000 0.00%
Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc. 17(17)                1,500,000 0.00%
The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church 19(19)                1,443,405 0.21%
American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. 20(20)                1,371,278 -1.82%
United Church of Christ 21(21)                1,218,541 -0.47%
Baptist Bible Fellowship International 22(22)                1,200,000 0.00%
Christian Churches and Churches of Christ 23(23)                1,071,616 0.00%
The Orthodox Church in America 24(24)                1,064,000 0.00%
Jehovah’s Witnesses 25(25)                1,069,530 2.25%
TOTAL       147,382,460 0.24%
Percentage changes in italic/bold signify that membership was not updated from previous reported

(This is taken from a report from the National Council of Churches. Just think if Joseph Smith was looking for a church today!)

P.S. It was brought to my attention that the column on the far left that contains percentage of increase or decrease in conversions isn’t showing up.  I reccomend clicking on this link: http://www.ncccusa.org/news/080215yearbook1.html to view a more indepth study online.

Jehovah’s Witnesses had the best conversion rate last year with 2.25% and LDS had the next with 1.56%.

Episcopal Church had the worst with a -4.15% drop and Presbyterian Church was next with over -2%.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints boldy declares itself as the only true and living church.  Furthermore, Joseph Smith boldly states that God the Father and Jesus Christ declared that the christian churches only had a portion of the truth and that he should join none of them.  Therefore, The Church of Jesus Christ (Mormon) declares that it’s baptism and confirmation is the only valid one in order to receive exhaltation. 

Obviously, a member of the LDS church isn’t following their religion if they judge someone for joining another religion as it states in the Articles of Faith to let everyone worship whatever or whoever they want to

However, in this article it discusses the droves of people that join other churches and many other churches and faiths claim the Holy Spirit told them to start their specific denomonation or join their religion. 

As stated in Bruce Nielson’s blog, some may argue about the definition of what a “church” really is.  However, I think whether a church is a congregation, or an actual building it is irrelevant.

I believe that God answers prayers of people of all faiths and leads them closer to Him if they ask in faith.  However, if they are recieving answers to their prayers and feel led by God to join a certain faith, how is it that God can lead someone to something that he told Joseph Smith was wrong? 

My theory is that God loves all truth no matter where it is and will lead all of us according to what we are willing to receive and that God has revealed much truth in forms of religion, science, and other means as well.  I also believe He has much more to reveal as soon as we are ready to receive it.  What are your thoughts?

I have deep roots in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  My fourth great-grandfather was the first bishop of the church, Edward Partridge.  Amasa Lyman was one of my ancestors as well and he was an apostle and a polygamist.  In addition, I’ve had many great spiritual experiences within the church and served as a missionary in Frankfurt, Germany and served in leadership positions of the church. 

If you read my post entitled “How I became a Mormon,” you will know of my conversion story and will know why I chose and still choose to be a Mormon.

That being said, I have had my own personal struggles with issues in our church history and our current practices in the church.  It has been hard for me to swallow the “polygamy” pill and the first time I went through the temple I was freaked out and had struggles going to the temple for 7 years afterwards. 

Being raised in a predominately LDS community in small-town southern Idaho, one is raised to think in black and white.  For example, the church is true (what does this mean anyways?) and everything else is false, prophets and apostles are infallible, Joseph Smith is the closest thing to Jesus there is, you have to go on a mission, etc. 

A few years after my mission I started learning more about the history of the church and many things that church leaders have said and done and things in the temple and my faith waivered.  I started exploring my personal faith and other faiths as well.  I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t deny the witnesses that I’d felt when I read the Book of Mormon and served in the church.  After examining other religions, I concluded that although our prophets and church aren’t infallible, they are definitely good.  Furthermore, I came to the conclusion that it is o.k. if I don’t know without a shadow of doubt everything there is to know.  I do know that I’m happier when I serve in the church and that I feel the Spirit and have felt the Spirit confirm to me on many occasions that many of the doctrines in the church are true.  I believe for me personally this is the path that God would have me travel and I’m very grateful for the blessings I’ve recieved as I’ve made the journey.

For those who have struggled, or are currently struggling in their personal faith within the church, I can totally empathize.  I have seen very close family members and friends leave the church and I don’t blame them or judge them in the least because I’ve had to deal with many of the same issues as well. 

I recommend reading the following essays and podcasts by John Dehlin for those who are struggling, or who have a close friend or family member struggling:

1. How to Stay in the Church

2. Why do People Leave the Church?

John interviewed people who had left the church for over two years and compiled reasons why people leave.  He also addresses what we can do to help those who are on the edge or already gone (and that could include ourselves).

Listening to these has helped me very much knowing that I don’t have to have a black and white mentality and also that other people, including Stake Presidents and others have had questions and overcome them as well. 

In conclusion I would like to emphasize that I know what the Spirit has testified to me throughout the years line upon line and grace for grace.  I know the scriptures make me feel closer to God when I read them; I know of the peace I now feel when I’m in the temple; I know that when I serve in the church I feel closer to God and love in my heart grows; I know as I partake of the sacrament I feel closer to God; I know and have felt the confirmation from the Spirit as I pray.  I know that I have a ton to learn and am grateful that I’ve had many experiences to help me keep moving forward. 

It is my hope that this helps anyone who may be struggling. 

In one of my recent posts, I said it was a law that God would answer our prayers.  I was wrong….he’ll answer our prayers if we are keeping the commandments.  Here’s proof: John 15:10 “if ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love…” and John 15:7 “if ye abide in me and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you.”

Furthermore, it is important to keep the commandments because if we “keep not the commandments, the love of the Father shall not continue with us and we’ll walk in darkness.” (Doctrine and Covenants 95:12).  Therefore, if we are keeping the commandments God is bound by his promise to answer our prayers.

I was reading an article in the Ensign today and a reader posed a question about prayer.  Here is the question:

I have always been taught to pray, but often I don’t seem to get answers.  I have faith and think I’m worthy.  What should I do?

It appears that this person is trying to keep the commandments and believes that they will receive an answer to their prayers, but either isn’t receiving an answer to their prayers or they are not recognizing the answer to their prayers.

How would you respond to this person?  How do you receive answers to your prayers and how do you recognize the answers are from God?  What would you suggest this person should do to receive an answer or recognize an answer to their prayers?

Leave your comments below…

Recently I posted a blog on why I believe in God.  Many of you emailed me directly and a couple of you left responses.  This blog is written in response to a comment left by someone on my blog who says he doesn’t believe in God.  I appreciate him getting in touch with me and sharing his perspective with me.  It caused me to reflect on my beliefs.  Here were the comments left on my page:

“…after careful consideration, pondering, reading, rationale, et. al, I’ve come to the conclusion  that there isn’t a god.  And because I don’t believe in a god, I only have to live for myself and those that I love.  And I mustn’t fear death, for I also don’t believe in hell.  It’s a wonderful way to live life.  It makes me very happy.”

First off, I commend this person for sharing their views.  Although many of his views are not aligned with mine, one of them is.  The view that he loves those around him and loves himself.  This I find to be very positive and there are many (including myself) that need to work on further developing the trait of loving and respecting oneself as well as his friends and family.    

Next, I would like to offer some suggestions to my friend just in case my friend ever has a faint desire to learn if there is indeed a God and how to find out. 

I would like to address a few laws that I know to be true.  In Doctorine and Covenants 130:20 it states that when we keep the commandments of God, he is bound to bless us.  It is a law and with every blessing there is a law attached to it.  What are some laws of Heaven?  Some examples include: Faith, Prayer, Tithing, Fasting, all of the commandments basically.  For purposes of addressing the topic on hand, I would like to focus on the laws attached to faith and prayer.

The Law of Faith

In my opinion, the most beautiful and simple explanation of how to excersize faith is in Alma chapter 32 of the Book of Mormon.  If my atheist friend even has the faintest desire to find out if there is a God, I recommend a careful study of this chapter.  It outlines step by step how to excersize faith.  Here are the steps:

1. Develop Humility (Alma 32 verses 12-16)

2. Desire to believe (verse 27)

3. Experiment upon the word (verse 27)

4. Hold on to truth…nourish the “seed” through prayer (verse 37)

5. Patience (verse 42)

6. Diligence (verse 42)

7. Recieve reward of Faith (verse 43)

If faith is a law, then god is bound to bless us with knowledge if we follow these steps.  He only blesses us with knowledge and miracles according to our faith. ( 2 Nephi 27: 23; 2 Nephi 26:13) Alma compares faith to a seed that if planted in our hearts will grow into a tree of knowledge if we are patient and nourish the seed by reading and studying and believing.  If we do not practice these steps then God can not bless us according to the laws of nature as seen when Jesus couldn’t perform miracles in the Bible because of lack of faith.  (see Matthew 13:58 and 3 Nephi 19: 35

However, numerous examples are contained in the scriptures of the miracles that are able to be perfomed because of following the prescribed steps of faith.  Some examples are: the miracles of Paul in the bible (Acts 19:11); numerous examples of healings in the scriptures; and people receiving a testimony or witness of the spirit according to their faith.  There are thousands of other examples in the scriptures that witness of miracles as well. 

It appears that my atheist friend was almost ready to recieve an answer or witness that there is a God.  He completed the steps of having a desire to know, and reading and studying.  I’m not sure if this studying was done in humility.  I’m not the one to judge, but if it was done in humility and he still didn’t recieve a witness then it was because he didn’t practice the law of prayer.

The Law of Prayer

In the scriptures it states: “All things ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall recieve” (Matthew 21: 22)  This is a law.  God promised he would do this and I testify from personal experience that he will.  Examples of people recieving a witness that there is a God by praying include Enos in the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith when praying to find out which church he should join, and other examples throughout the scriptures. 

My atheist friend also commented on my experience I posted about praying to know if the Book of Mormon was true that there is no way that I could have had this experience and that it was something I had imagined up.  This story reminds me of an anti-christ in the Book of Mormon named Zeezrom who challenged Jacob, a prophet of the time. 

In closing and in response to my atheist friend, I want to tell you that I have tried the experiment on the words of God.  I know that the law of faith and the law of prayer works.  I know that I have felt God in ways that I can’t describe and that one can’t understand unless they have experienced them.  I feel like Joseph Smith in a small sense that the experiences I’ve had I know are from God and I can’t deny them.  If I were to deny that God has sent me His Spirit to testify that Jesus is our Savior, the scriptures including the Book of Mormon and the Bible are true, and that He (God) actually exists; I would be lying to God and myself.  This I will not do.

I invite my friend to try this experiement with humility and faith.  If you have the desire and patience I testify to you that you will recieve a witness.

If anyone reading this has similar experiences to share or ideas to help my atheist friend, feel free to contribute in your comments.

Last week my wife and I went to the symphony for her Christmas present.  It was amazing!  Beethoven’s 9th.  The only problem was that we go to sleep listening to classical music and so when the slow pieces were playing we started to snooze.  We woke up suddenly though during the last piece…you know the one: “Ode to Joy!”

 We’re all familiar with the “Ode to Joy” theme.  The Seattle Symphony was amazing and I was moved by their sound.  What moved me even more were the lyrics to the song.  I went to Germany on my mission, so I get excited when I hear German lyrics.  The part that really moved me was this part of the song:

Seid umschlungen, Millionen, diesen Kuss der ganzen Welt!  Brueder! Uebem Sternenzelt muss ein lieber Vater wohnen.  Ihr stuerzt nieder, Millionen?  Ahnest du den Schoepfer, Welt?  Such’ ihn ueberm Sternenzelt!  Ueber Sternen muss er wohnen.

The words are beautifully powerful and together with the music and vocals it moved me deeply.  However, that might not mean much to you if you don’t speak German.  Here’s the English translation:

Be embraced, all ye Millions with a kiss for all the world!  Brothers, beyond the covering of the stars must dwell a loving Father.  Do you bow down before him, O Millions?  Do you feel the Creator’s presence?  Search for him beyond the stars!  He surely dwells beyond the stars.

As I heard this, something deep within my soul cried out “Yes!  Yes!  I search for Him.  I feel His presence!  Embrace me, Heavenly Father!” 

This was a very moving experience for me.  I do not know for certain many things, but many things I do know.  I know that I have felt close to God as I sing praises to Him.  I feel Him when I pray.  I know that I have felt close to God as I’ve seen His creations. (see Alma 30:44) I know I’ve felt Heavenly Father’s love as I’ve shared love with others, for God is love.  (see John chapter 4)  I also feel His love through reading the scriptures about the Saviors ministry.  As Elder Holland said in a conference talk, everything the Savior did while he was on earth testified of his Father and our Father in Heaven. (see talk “The Grandeur of God“)  Jesus said he did nothing that he hadn’t first learned from the Father. (see John 8:38)

Joseph Smith stated that the first step necessary for excersizing faith in God unto salvation was to believe that God actually exists. (Lectures on Faith, pg 39

So I pose the same question to you.  Why do you believe there’s a God?  Leave your comments below.

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