Sunday, April 29, 2018

Turn from Doubt and Come to Christ

I taught a Gospel lesson last week about turning from our doubts and coming to Christ. Below are some notes and outline from the lesson.

-Opening Questions: What is it you doubt when it comes to your own redemption, coming to Christ, and experiencing the fullness of the Gospel? Do you doubt yourself? Your qualifications? Do you doubt God? Your ability to follow God? Your ability to discern correctly?

-Repent/ance Definition from new RE T&C Glossary: This means “change.” It requires believers to turn away from the world and toward God. It is the change in life that follows from seeing things in a better, truer light. There is another, higher way to live available to everyone. But to move upward, people must make changes in their lives to incorporate more light and truth. By living a higher way, you are repenting. This process is not a single event. It does not happen once. It should happen over and over as we increase the light in our lives.1 It can be granted by God (Alma 10:4, 19:15; Acts 6:9). Repentance involves acquiring light and truth — meaning intelligence. Repentance is abandoning a foolish error, a vain tradition, or a false belief and replacing it with truth.2 Penitence is another way to describe repentance or the process of change and growing beyond sins limiting your happiness. It comes as you allow Christ to “succor” you through the power of the Atonement. Through penitence, people do away with the darkness in their lives and add light instead.3 The best definition of repentance is to turn away from all other distractions to face God.4

-Last sentience: The best definition of repentance is to turn away from all other distractions to face God.

- Doubt is one of those things both distracting and is counter to faith.
-Turning from doubt is part of repentance
-Doubts take energy.  Waste of energy.
-Doubt and faith cannot coexist according to lectures on Faith.

-Important: Turning from doubt does not mean some vague notion of “not questioning things”.

-In the LDS church when they say “doubt your doubts” it feels like they are subtly implying I shouldn’t question anything they teach or anything in or about the LDS Church. That is NOT what I’m addressing here.

-Doubt in today's discussion is talking about doubts as in insecurities, errors, misunderstandings, or inability to reconcile something regarding God or our life which prevents the confidence necessary to come to Him and actually receive the Lord. Whatever it is that causes lack of confidence in God to experience the fruits the scriptures speak of.

-Questioning things is normal and how we often get answers from God.  Which of course is healthy.

Quote: "In most cases it is our disrespect for ourselves that impedes coming to Him. We tend to think we aren't good enough. However, because He is quick to forgive sins, it really doesn't matter if you are not good enough. One of the first orders of business when you come into His presence is that He forgives you. He cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance, but He has the capacity and the ability to forgive sin. Therefore although your sins may be as scarlet, He can, He will and He does, make you white as snow, no longer accountable for your limitations. Therefore you needn't fear, but you can approach boldly, our Lord."  -DS

What alienates us from Him is not our sins. He will forgive them. What we lack is the confidence to ask in faith, nothing doubting, for His help. He can and will help when you do so. -DS 

Lectures on Faith 3:20 (including a portion from the QA at the end of the lecture)
But secondly: Unless he was merciful, and gracious, slow to anger, long suffering, and full of goodness, such is the weakness of human nature, and so great the frailties and imperfections of men, that unless they believed that these excellencies existed in the divine character, the faith necessary to salvation could not exist; for doubt would take the place of faith, and those who know their weakness and liability to sin, would be in constant doubt of salvation, if it were not for the idea which they have of the excellency of the character of God, that he is slow to anger, and long suffering, and of a forgiving disposition, and does forgive iniquity, transgression and sin. An idea of these facts does away doubt, and makes faith exceedingly strong. Because of the weakness and imperfections of human nature, and the great frailties of man; for such is the weakness of man, and such his frailties, that he is liable to sin continually, and if God were not long suffering, and full of compassion, gracious and merciful and of a forgiving disposition, man would be cut off from before him in consequence of which he would be in continual doubt and could not exercise faith: for where doubt is, there faith has no power, but by man's believing that God is full of compassion and forgiveness, long suffering and slow to anger, he can exercise faith in him and overcome doubt, so as to be exceedingly strong. (3:20)

Lectures on faith predicts our doubts. Says mans weakness and liability to sin will be something the mind at some point will recognize and have to reconcile.

-The answer according to the lecture:  Believing that God is full of compassion and forgiveness, longsuffering and slow to anger. Those attributes in particular are noted in the context of having faith to overcoming doubt.  So as to be exceedingly strong.

-Once you live past like 20 it's not hard to see or sense the weaknesses and liability of us humans to err, sin, and make mistakes.  The lectures reference the "great frailties of man, the weaknesses of man".  This Lecture is accurate. It's written by someone who is not naive, nor vain, nor puffed up, nor blind. It's written by someone who can see clearly.

-Lecture 3 identifies fallen man, and then tells you what to do about it.

-Answer revolves around the nature of God and God's excellency of character. "An idea of these facts does away doubt "

-Revelation of God's character usually accompanied by parallel revelation (realization) of man's fallen state. Hence the lecture speaks of both in the same paragraph. Another example is Moses. He has experience with God and almost the next thing is what then become apparent, which is "that man is nothing". Yet an idea of the facts of God's nature sufficient to overcome doubt and make strong.

LoF 6:12
12 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 is, 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 the opposition, tribulations and afflictions which they will have to encounter in order to be heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ Jesus; and they will grow weary in their minds, and the adversary will have power over them and destroy them.

-Sacrifice isn't just one singular heroic act.

-Sacrifice can also be daily, hourly. A life lived, like a living sacrifice to God. It can be fun. It can be joyful.

-Sacrifice connected to consecration.

Part 2:

Q&A I had with a good friend who's testimony of Christ is one that has inspired me on a number of occasions. I posed some potential doubts to him and record his response.

Question: "I feel a lot of self doubt, I don't feel good enough, I sometimes doubt whether or not I read scriptures enough, or understand enough, am kind enough, or doing enough to qualify to come fully to Christ, what should I do to get past these doubts"?

Response: That statement is based on a misunderstanding of the character nature and attributes of God. They are misunderstanding just how much God loves them and just how much He is going to do the work of saving you. (Christ = Author and finisher of our faith)

"Your doubts are well founded and you shouldn't try to get past them. You don't qualify to come to Christ. That is why He came down to earth and that is why He will come down to you when the timing is right."

Question: "I'm doing everything I think I'm supposed to be doing as far as living the Gospel and trying to repent, but I don't see the fruits some people have, so it causes me to doubt myself or sometimes God and feel stuck, how can I move forward?

Response: "In my understanding, the essence of the gospel and living it are about being freed from guilt and shame as you try to be a practically decent person. So the bad news is we are cut off from god and will die. The good news is that we will be reconciled with God and live again. The fruits of that good news is that I can live my life with hope. Adding more practical skills in being a good person without having to get trapped in the guilt/shame cycle of never feeling like I will measure up. To me, that is the real fruit of the gospel. But this question too goes back to the misunderstanding of God's nature."

Conclusion: In the end it’s not which of the million doubts we happen to have given in to or surrendered to. It’s about what we believe and exercise faith in. Because we all have faith in something. We are currently acting consistent with faith in something.

-Take time to rest from your doubts. And let scripture and the Spirit of God show the truth.

-Lectures on Faith I believe contains the truth about God's nature and fallen man's weaknesses and yet shows why and how we can overcome doubt.

Analogy: Just as our physical body requires constant food and nourishment, so does our spirit.

-Overall health impacted by the quality of food you consume, so too with our Spirit.

Ending Quote:

"If we believe in the restoration, and take the faith seriously, we should be as willing to diversify our faith-structure as the LDS corporate structure has been willing to use tithes to diversify its portfolio. Just as they have branched out to own communications, publishing, farming, banking, retail, office, insurance, and real estate ventures in order to insulate the empire from failing if one of the side-ventures (the religion of Mormonism) fails, we should diversify and allow our faith to acquire enough independence to survive any disappointments coming from 47 East South Temple.

God did a work through the Prophet Joseph Smith that will continue on whether the RLDS, FLDS, LDS or UAB collapse into corruption, wickedness and financial ruin. We ought to be dependent on God and God alone for our hope to see the return of Zion and completion of the work begun through Joseph
." -DS

We can come boldly (because of God's nature) to the throne of Grace (Heb 4:6) God's nature is forgiving, kind, longsuffering, and full of compassion.  Which can overcome doubt. He can teach us, heal us. fill us with love, give us mercy and or whatever else we lack. He is the answer. Love is the answer. God is Love.

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