Sunday, June 13, 2010

Prerequisite 1: How You Can Know There Is A God

How You Can Know There Is A God

You can know that there is a God. The Bible teaches that from the time of Adam and Eve, there has been a True and Living God who communes with the children of man, His children. And we learn that this God loved us so much that He sent His Only Begotten Son to save us from our sins. (John 3:16).
But how can we know for certain that such a God exists? And how can we know that Jesus really is His Son?
Jesus provided the answer in an oft-overlooked scripture in the Bible: "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). That is the great key. If you want to know whether there is a God and the Christian God is that God, do His will.
Of course, before we do His will, we have to know what it is. And God hasn’t left us to grope in the dark. He has revealed His will from the beginning of time, and His faithful servants, the Prophets, have recorded His words. We can find those records in the scriptures.
There are several books of scriptures that we can read to know God’s will. First is the Bible. In the Old Testament, we read about the creation of the Earth and of God’s dealings with ancient mankind. We learn that God sent His angels to reveal His will to ancient prophets and that He appeared to some. We learn that He covenanted with Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel, and many others. We read that because the nation of Israel was hard-hearted and stubborn, they received the Law of Moses, which was a law of outward ordinances that continued until the time of Christ. And the New Testament contains the life of Jesus Christ and the teachings of His Apostles. We learn the Higher Law of Christ superseded the Law of Moses. And we learn of the great love that Jesus Christ, and His Father have for all of us.
And God did not stop talking to His servants after the Bible was written! There are other books of scripture which have been revealed through modern prophets. The Book of Mormon teaches about the ancient inhabitants of the American continent. Their ancestors lived in ancient Israel and the Middle-east, crossed the ocean, and settled in the Americas by the power and gift of God. Here, they worshipped God and His Son, Jesus Christ. And after Jesus' death and resurrection, He appeared to those who lived on the American continent. The Book of Mormon is a second witness of the Divinity of Jesus Christ and proves that the Bible is truly the word of God.
The Doctrine and Covenants contains revelations given to the Prophet Joseph Smith and some of his successors. It outlines the proper organization of Christ’s Church. Throughout it, we hear the voice of Jesus Christ directing His servants and His Church. It proves that God continues to speak to His children.
The Pearl of Great Price contains revelations given to the Prophet Joseph Smith as he studied the Bible. It also contains a translation of papyrus scrolls which contain the writings of Abraham. And in the Articles of Faith, it outlines the basic beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Finally, God has a prophet today who speaks for Him. His name is Thomas S. Monson. He is the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ. He holds the same keys that were given to Peter, the ancient Apostle. He is God’s mouthpiece, and when he speaks, he speaks for the Lord. So his words are also scripture.
If we live according to these scriptures, we will know that there is a God, that He loves us, and that He speaks today!

And, as I said before, there is a way that we can test whether or not the scriptures truly teach the will of God. An ancient Book of Mormon prophet named Alma proposed an experiment to a group of people who wanted to know whether there is a God. He likened the word of God to a seed. And if the people had merely a desire to believe, they should plant that seed in their heart and nourish it. That is, they should begin living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If it was a good seed, it would begin to grow:

Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.

(Alma 32:28).
Alma also counseled that even after the seed begins to grow we can't neglect it, our the tree of our faith will die. So we need to continue living the Gospel all our lives. (See Alma 32 to read more about the experiment).
I have done as Alma counseled. The seed of my faith has been growing for many years. And I can testify that there is God. He is our Eternal Father. His Son is Jesus Christ.
You may be wondering how you’ll know that God is speaking to you as you live His commandments. It's hard to describe the manifestations that I know come from God. But I can tell you how God has spoken to me. When He speaks to me, I don’t hear a voice. Instead, I feel peace, joy, and love. My chest feels warm, almost on fire, and sometimes I tingle all over. Often, I get ideas I never would have come up with on my own. Other times, I feel as if I have Someone place His arm around me. And on occasion, words enter my mind, revealing God’s mind and will. But I have never had one of those manifestations when I was living contrary to God’s teachings. When I am doing good, serving others, studying His words in the scriptures, keeping the commandments, that is when He manifests Himself.

And God will manifest Himself to you, but you have to plant the seed. You have to keep the commandments. It’s only after you’ve planted the seed and nourished it through obedience that it will begin to grow. But it will grow.
And you will know that there is a God.

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