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Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Evidence of Things Not Seen

More than just a mere thought, theory, or belief, faith consists purely of the assurance of true things hoped for; the evidence of which not seen. It is a cycle which propels itself to expand. Hence, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can move mountains. True faith consists of three principles: Assurance (or as I have called it previously, "expectation"), Action, and Evidence. The relationship of these three principles are evident throughout the Holy Writ. Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated, " We find a powerful example of the interaction among assurance, action, and evidence as the children of Israel transported the ark of the covenant under the leadership of Joshua..."

"This day will I begin to magnify thee...
as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee."
We read, "The Lord said unto Joshua, 'This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee. And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, 'When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan.'' And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, 'Come hither, and hear the words of the Lord your God... Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you... Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan. Now therefore take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, out of every tribe a man. And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap.' And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people; And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,) That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap... And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan." (Joshua 3: 7-17, punctuation modernized)

Elder Bednar said, "Recall how the Israelites came to the River Jordan and were promised the waters would part, or "stand upon an heap" (Joshua 3: 13), and they would be able to cross over on dry ground. Interestingly, the waters did not part as the children of Israel stood on the banks of the river waiting for something to happen; rather, the soles of their feet were wet before the water parted. The faith of the Israelites was manifested in the fact that they walked into the water BEFORE it parted. They walked into the River Jordan with a future-facing assurance of things hoped for. As the Israelites moved forward, the water parted, and as they crossed over on dry land, they looked back and beheld the evidence of things not seen. In this episode, faith as assurance led to action and produced the evidence of things not seen which were true." 

The widow exercised great faith with Elijah.
This not the only Old Testament account of the close interaction of "assurance, action, and evidence." Under the reign of the the wicked king Ahab, Elijah the Tishbite, the Lord's Prophet, sealed the heavens to which neither rain nor dew would come upon the earth. During this long period of time, the Lord command Him to go unto a poor widow and eat her food. She was given the assurance that the "The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth." (1 Kings 17: 14) Of course, this was a big deal considering she was expecting to die. (1 Kings 17: 12) With all her Charity, and faith she first gave the cake to Elijah. Thus, indicating her action. Then when she went to make more, she found the evidence of what this prophet spoke is true, "and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days. And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah." (1 Kings 17: 15-16) This evidence led to a stronger assurance for her the next time she made a meal for the Lord's servant, that she would have some for herself. This perpetual cycle of faith had to grow within the two and a half years of no rain. So, do you see how faith is wrought with works, and by works faith is made perfect? This simple principle can be seen in the interactions Jesus Christ had with those he healed.

"And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, "Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." (John 9: 1-5; punctuation modernized) This is a perfect example of Christ doing what he can to give assurance to this man who was born blind. With all of the assurance he had, Christ took an action.

"When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, And said unto him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam..." (John 9: 6-7)
John 9:1–41, Christ heals a blind man with clay
"he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay..."
Hence, Christ extended to him an invitation, (rather a commandment) to act on the assurance He had given him. "He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. (John 9: 7) Thus, it was after his action when he received his evidence. Thus, he could later say, "A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight." (John 9: 11)

Many people we teach approach us saying, "prove to me, with evidence, that what you say is true." Or as James said would happen, "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works..." (James 2: 18) To this, we say, "act on your faith, and you will receive your evidence," or "I will shew thee my faith by my works." You cannot receive evidence before the action, nor could you act without some sort of assurance. The ways of the Lord are unchanging and true, and you cannot receive any witness until after the trial of your faith. "Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?... Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only... For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." (James 2: 18, 22, 24, 26)

So, more than just a mere thought, or a confession with thy lips, the true embracing of Jesus Christ is taking action upon His teachings. That is our purpose as missionaries: "to invite others to come unto Christ..." So don't ask us for evidence you have not worked to see. Only God can provide you with evidence. As a matter of fact, my invitation to you is to act (read the Book of Mormon and pray and ask God) to receive a witness. "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." (John 7: 17) So, Try Our Fruits, otherwise "dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith." (Ether 12: 6)

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