Note from Tevya: this is another guest post from Curtis Ross. Curtis is an amazing web developer who’s put together an incredible webapp that makes scheduling home teaching and visiting teaching, super easy. He also likes to study the doctrines of the gospel and has kindly volunteered to post some of his thinking and the results of his study here.
When we chose to follow the plan of our Heavenly Father we then started on a path which has two goals: a physical body and knowledge. Here on earth we can learn in the most effective way possible, experience. When we experience pain, pleasure, temptation, and righteousness we gain a reference where we can access true knowledge. The problem is, that is not all it takes. In order for it to be true knowledge in the sense I am referring to, it has to have been provided by or testified of by a member of the Godhead. Because of the veil we do not have the ability to gain true knowledge on our own.
Why is that? Why didn’t our Father give us the ability of finding true knowledge on our own? The answer is, because He loves us. The gaining of knowledge also brings more accountability. He loves us too much to let us have control over our own level of accountability.
Our level of accountability is how responsible we are for our actions in the eyes of God. For example, on a scale of 1 to 10 (oversimplification) if a person’s knowledge is a 3 they would be less accountable than a person who’s knowledge is a 5. Personally I don’t want to be any more accountable than I am ready to be. Although being accountable seems like a bad thing, it can’t be avoided; gaining knowledge is essential to our salvation.
So if God is in control of our level of accountability and therefore our knowledge level, how does he determine when we are ready for a higher level?
In Ether 3:
6 And it came to pass that when the brother of Jared had said these words, behold, the Lord stretched forth his hand and touched the stones one by one with his finger. And the veil was taken from off the eyes of the brother of Jared, and he saw the finger of the Lord; and it was as the finger of a man, like unto flesh and blood; and the brother of Jared fell down before the Lord, for he was struck with fear.
In this moment the veil was lifted from the brother of Jared and he was given knowledge, why?
9 And the Lord said unto him: Because of thy faith thou hast seen that I shall take upon me flesh and blood; and never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast; for were it not so ye could not have seen my finger.
15 And never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast.
Because the brother of Jared had perfect faith, he was blessed with a perfect knowledge. This is a great example of how our level of faith is a direct determiner of the level of knowledge we are given. I propose that the ultimate purpose of faith is a measurement or tool God uses to know how much accountability we are ready for before giving us the knowledge. When we show a certain level of faith we are automatically blessed with an equal level of knowledge.
We can see this process in many places including Alma 32 where we learn that in order to gain a testimony, we should start with at least a small amount of faith which will be followed by a small amount of knowledge. From there we can take that small amount of knowledge and facilitate a little more faith which will also be matched with knowledge and so on.
We also see the idea of faith as a measurement in the concept faith proceeds the miracle. Miracles can have the purpose of producing knowledge; for example, receiving revelation. Miracles can also have the result of producing knowledge; for example, healing the sick. In the case of healing the sick, the purpose may be the healing itself, but the result is the recipient gains knowledge of the reality of God. No matter if the miracle has the purpose or merely the result of producing knowledge, there is still knowledge gained. If this is the case, then it would mean an act of faith would be needed in order to prove that person is ready for the accountability that will follow the knowledge received.
If true knowledge is our only goal and faith is the prerequisite, how do we let God know how much faith we have? Faith can only be truly expressed through our actions. When a person simply believes, that is what it stays: a belief. It does not become faith until we act on those beliefs. It is the intensity and consistency with which we act on those beliefs that shows the level of our faith that will lead to knowledge.