The other night, I stopped my relentless scrolling and started watching Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. (Third movie, second best, if you are keeping score.)
There is a point in the movie where Indy is standing on ledge overlooking a sheer drop. He is expected to step off the ledge. Taking that step runs counter to all logic and understanding of simple concepts such as logic, death and gravity.
But he takes the step… (And yes, that’s how it feels sometimes.)
And survives. Happy endings all around. I would give more detail, but apparently there are some pretty irresponsible parents out there who have not introduced their teenagers to Indiana Jones. (I learned this today in Sunday School, and I’m still struggling with it.)
It was a classic representation of a “Leap of Faith.”
Faith demands leaping. The term “Blind Faith” is redundant, because faith – by definition- must be blind. “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)
Here’s the tricky part: The only way to learn truth is by exercising faith – by taking a leap. Christ explained it this way in John 7:17: “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”
Wait. That’s backwards. Right? Do it first, then find out it is true? Doesn’t it make more sense to say “Convince me that it’s true, and I’ll give it a shot?” That’s how cynical MMM, and most of the world looks at this.
But the quest for truth does work backwards. As Christ said, if you want to know, you have to do it – first. You don’t have to be a scriptorian to find ample support for this teaching, but here a few instances:
IF you obey the Word of Wisdom, THEN you…
“…shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.” (D&C 89:18-20)
• Obedience first – wisdom, knowledge and endurance second.
IF you obey the laws of the Sabbath and the fast, THEN…
“…shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rearward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am.” (Isaiah 58:8-9)
• Obedience first – health, protection, and answers to prayers second.
If you read the Book of Mormon and pray about it, THEN…
“…he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Moroni 10:4)
• Obedience first – witness second.
As he was editing Ether for inclusion in the Book of Mormon, Moroni stopped for a moment to summarize this idea:
“And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” (Ether 12:6)
There are more instances, but this should suffice to make the point that when seeking for truth, the effort comes first, the knowledge comes second. That is the very foundation of “walking by faith.”
Yet it is difficult – especially in our days. Information is everywhere. With a few keystrokes you can look up anything you want to find. We have more information available to us that any other people who have ever lived – instantaneously.
In fact, we have so much information – so much knowledge – that it is impacting our search for truth. Paul saw this problem coming when he wrote to Timothy that in our day, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:7)
The major portion of my brain that is actually used is busy storing volumes of useless knowledge and information that have taken a lifetime to gather. It is frightening how much I know about stuff that doesn’t matter. We can acquire huge volumes of data by conventional means.
We pick up info as we live, watch, observe, study, etc. But there is only one specific channel to acquire knowledge of truth. One. Here it is:
“And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moroni 10:5)
I find it fascinating that he does not say “the truth of some things,” or “the truth of religious stuff.” He says, “All things.”
The channel to acquire knowledge of spiritual things is through the Holy Ghost, and it takes effort. Herein lies one of our problems in today’s society: With so much information available, and easily accessible, we can find ourselves trying to acquire spiritual knowledge outside the system that God has set up to accomplish that task.
We live in a “convince me FIRST, THEN I might give it a try” society.
To reiterate: God’s system is this: Obey FIRST, then the Holy Ghost will testify SECOND.
If we spend our lives searching for knowledge of the truth through worldy means, we will never find it. We might find enough knowledge to convince us, and even alter our beliefs or behaviors, but it is not a witness, and is susceptible to the next batch of contradictory information that comes along.
Studying is good, and essential. We have been counseled, “But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind.”
But that is not enough: “then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.” (D&C 9:8)
Study, but know that all the researching in the world cannot give you a testimony. All the knowledge in the world cannot give you a witness of the truth. That is not how these things operate.
They require a leap of faith. We have to experience them. We have to try the doctrines on and walk around to really know that they are right.
If you find yourself struggling with part or all of your testimony, and are trying to remedy it by searching through the world’s vast archives of information, I promise that you will not find it. That is not how it works. Scarier still, those same archives are where the adversary stores all of his information and propaganda that he and his helpers are willing to share.
If you want the truth, study it, live it, and receive a witness. It is the only way it works.
Take the leap.
Thanks. I needed this. (and one of my favorite movies too)
MMM you have explained this so perfectly! Thank you so much. And that movie is AWESOME!
As I was reading this post, I was struck that while Satan tries to convince us that with spiritual things we have to have a testimony before we live the commandment, with sin one of his tricks is to follow the eternal principle of “do” then “know.”
• “Smoke that joint and then you will know how good you can feel.”
• “A little drink of alcohol will help you relax, try it and see.”
• “Sex before marriage will show him you really love someone, try it and see.”
• “It can’t hurt to take that fancy (debt burdening) car for a test drive. You haven’t committed to the payments, yet, it can’t hurt to drive it.”
• “Staying home from church today because you stubbed your toe and it hurts a little, won’t change you from being a good person.”
• “You can make up your tithing in your next paycheck, this bill is due today, it won’t hurt anything, try it you’ll see.”
It’s annoying how sneaking he can be.
I read your post and found it a great addition to my study this morning. As I read the part about keeping the Sabbath day holy, the Spirit whispered that I could use my planner to plan activities that would help me keep this commandment. I’ve had a great desire to do better in this area. I usually write CHURCH in the 10-1 block or just leave it blank. What a simple solution! Thanks for your post.
Oh, and P.S., thanks for your presentations at the ANWA writers’ conference. I enjoyed listening to you and found the information very helpful.
Love reading your testimony of these truths!
Loved this post. And that movie 😉
If you work on your family genealogy and take your family names to the temple…
Then you receive the other half of a promised blessing.
And yet – almost conversely – He gives us ways to learn faith itself.
Alma’s discourse isn’t the only discourse on faith, but it’s the simplest explanation – at least IMHO. Test the promises. Try even hoping for faith. Drive it around the block and kick the tires.
Maybe that -is- how we first “do it,” then receive the witness of the Spirit?
It is amazing how many ways and to what lengths Our Heavenly Parents and Christ will go to reach us.
True. It’s not a one fell swoop process, but one line of light at a time, if that’s where you are. Take a step, even a tiny baby step, seeking, and he blesses you and leads you into the next step, and continues as the steps get bigger and the blessings and light get deeper. “Brighter and brighter until the perfect day.” I’m grateful that he doesn’t just stand back and say, nope, not far enough yet–but responds and draws us forward as soon and as much as we let him, because he loves us.
So much information…impacting our search for TRUTH. Truer words were never spoken! That statement hit me like a whack to the head, wow! Thanks MMM, this will absolutely impact how I spend my time “receiving information”!
Repository of all worthless knowledge. …. As I have been called many times as I am encouraged to apply for Jeopardy. That’s nothing compared to a simple testimony born by a child.