The Lectures on Faith is a short work, broken up into seven different lectures, each of which looks at faith from a different logical perspective. While the exact authorship is debated, the general consensus holds that no one person was responsible for the work, but rather a committee, in which Sidney Rigdon appears to have written the majority.
Given to the School of Prophets in Kirtland, they were included as part of the Doctorine and Covenenants, i.e. the standard works, for 86 years before being removed on the basis that ”they were never presented to nor accepted by the church as being other than theological lectures or lessons.”
To state the obvious, reading these lectures, my faith was increased as well as my understanding of what it is. The lectures start by showing that everything we do is based around the principle of faith. Did you apply for a job? Only because you have faith you will gain employment. Would you knock on a door not believing someone will answer it? “Are not all your exertions of every kind, dependent on your faith? Or, may we not ask, what have you, or what do you possess, which you have not obtained by reason of your faith?” Reflecting on my life, I could see how this really is true, and have since determined to act with more faith in my life. To take a step into the darkness, striving ever higher for the seemingly unreachable goals. For with faith, all is possible.
In the third lecture, we learn about faith unto salvation. There are three things we must have faith on in order to reach exaltation. “First, the idea that he [God] actually exists. Secondly, a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes. Thirdly, an actual knowledge that the course of life which [one] is pursuing is according to his [God’s] will.” As the gospel according to John succinctly records, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” If our potential is to become like our Heavenly Father, we must obviously learn who He is, and model our actions and behaviors after His. And, as that can be a stretch in our early spiritual growth, we can look to His Son who he sent, and His authorized servants to follow.
Lecture sixth was my favorite. ”Let us here observe that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things.” We are held slaves to that which we cannot leave………. ”It was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God. When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has for the truth’s sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice because he seeks to do his will, he does know, most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and that he has not, nor will not seek his face in vain. Under these circumstances, then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life. ”
”But those who have not made this sacrifice to God do not know that the course which they pursue is well pleasing in his sight; for whatever may be their belief or their opinion, it is a matter of doubt and uncertainty in their mind; and where doubt and uncertainty are, there faith is not, nor can it be. For doubt and faith do not exist in the same person at the same time; so that persons whose minds are under doubts and fears cannot have unshaken confidence; and where unshaken confidence is not, there faith is weak; and where faith is weak, the persons will not be able to contend against all opposition, tribulations, and afflictions which they will have to encounter in order to be heirs with Christ Jesus; and they will grow weary in their minds, and the adversary will have power over them and destroy them.” ”mic drop.”
This one is very simple to understand- we must be completely willing to sacrifice everything in order to inherit the kingdom of God. If we do not have the faith to do that, we do not have faith sufficient to live with our Heavenly Father.
So, have faith.
I recommend, without reservations this book, for the profit of all. While not scripture, surely reading with the companionship of the Spirit will augment our faith, our understanding of faith and our will to remain ever faithful.