I have made probably the largest breakthrough in scripture-study-history for me, and it centers around the Author and Finisher of Faith. The counsel to “endure to the end” has always frustrated me, until now. But the seed that Alma taught, that grows into a fruit bearing tree, and the point at which a prophet words are stopped, and can no longer speak, have brought to light in me what it means that Christ is the Author and Finisher of the Faith.
The Seed: You’ve heard me time and time again correct the primary song, “Faith is like a little seed…” I can’t repeat this enough, …Alma said, “Now, we will compare the word unto a seed.” (Alma 32:28). Although, in our recent conference, Elder Eyring wrongly stated that Alma compares “faith” unto a seed, never mind the darkness in that, …lets “build a bridge, and get over it,” to talk about light. When we plant an apple tree, the fruit from it will be apples. If a mango seed is planted, the fruit it will produce will be mangos. Such an easy concept, but who considers what fruit will be produced when you plant …the word as a seed?
Alma describes that fruit in coded-language, saying, “…and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.” (Alma 32:42). The fruit is Christ! He is the one who said that if we eat of His meat, we shall never hunger, …and if we drink of His water, we shall never thirst. Therefore, the fruit produced by the words of Christ, planted in your heart, is Christ! For this reason, Christ is the Author and Finisher of the faith.
What is Faith: If faith is not the seed, then …what is faith? Alma taught that faith was “the nourishing of the seed.” Since Christ is the author of the word (the seed), He is the one to dictate what fruit that seed will produce. We have no power in that matter. All we can do is nourish the seed and provide the right environmental conditions, for the seed to sprout, swell, and grow into a tree that bears THE FRUIT.
You’re probably asking, “What does that mean in English?” That means faith is: studying the words of Christ. Only when the words of Christ are studied carefully, can the seed get root and grow into a fruiting tree. The LDS members have this concept twisted, and consider themselves “faithful” even when the word has no place in them, or the seed is a struggling sapling. This is an area dying for improvement!
Spirit Stoppeth Utterance: Once scriptural prophets talk about seeing Christ in the flesh, they are consistently stopped from saying more. Nephi in 2 Nephi 32 did it, the brother of Jared in Ether 3 did it, and Moroni in Ether 4 did it as well. They want to say more, but they are instructed to write down their experiences after witnessing Christ, and seal up that writing until given permission to reveal it.
Moroni, speaking of the brother of Jared’s experience, reported that Mosiah found the brother of Jared’s, record and was instructed to hide it up until Christ came in the flesh. When Christ came in the flesh, He requested all the records to be brought forth. And at that day, those who were in the presence of Christ in the flesh, were allowed to read the brother of Jared’s record. But, then, Moroni reports that since then, all have fallen away, and all that remains are the Lamanites, and they have rejected the gospel of Christ, so he had to hide them up again! Notice the pattern here?
- Someone gets to see Christ in the flesh
- They record their experiences, but are required to seal it up
- When others see Christ in the flesh, then the records are released to them
- However, when they fall away, and reject the gospel of Christ, the sealed records are sealed and hidden again.
So, when Lehi sees a pillar of light, and then goes home and sees a vision, he is given a sealed book to read. In the book it revealed the future of Jerusalem, and the future of Lehi’s posterity. But the rest of the book, Lehi was unable to say more about. His utterance was stopped too. My point is, coming into the presence of Christ is where sharing information freely ends, and the writings become sealed up and sacred. The doctrine of Christ begins at the gates of baptism, when you initially receive the word authored by Christ. The doctrine of Christ ends when you come into Christ’s presence in the flesh. Again, this is how Christ is the author and finisher of the faith. Those we get that are required to write down their experience and seal it up just the same.
2 Nephi 32:6
“6. Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh. And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do.”
Christ is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, the author and finisher of the faith. The parable of the Samaritan is about how Christ authors your faith by picking you up and taking you to an inn-keeper to restore your memory. He promises to return a little later. When Christ returns, or when Christ brings you back into His presence, that is when Christ is the finisher of the faith. Because, knowing Christ means: you have faith no longer!
Endure to the End: The counsel to “endure to the end” has always been frustrating to me, as “the end” seemed so far away.The idea seemed more demotivating than motivating to me. If you’ve felt the same, I have great news. The end that you endure to, is the end of your faith. It is when you trade your faith in Christ, for knowing Christ, …which is defined, “…this is life eternal to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.”
Don’t believe me? Why am I not surprised? Then, take Nephi’s word for it:
2 Nephi 31:20-21
“20. Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ [the seed remember!], and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.
21. And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.”
The doctrine of Christ is complete in you when you come into the presence of Christ. Then, your faith is not only complete, but, with that knowledge, you are now able to endure ALL THINGS! The assurance from that experience produces power to break the bands of death, and stop the mouths of lions. And it all teeters on a word we take so lightly, “FAITH.”
Conclusion: The modern saint ignorantly responds as did the rich man, who came to Christ seeking eternal life. When Christ instructed him to keep the prescribed commandments, the rich man claimed with pride, “All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?” As if to say that being free of sin was the qualifier for eternal life. It is not! Nor is giving away everything you own the qualifier for eternal life.
What is required for eternal life is to plant the word into your hearts, and then nourish it until it becomes a tree within you, that bears THE FRUIT OF CHRIST! This is eternal life, to know Christ. Knowing Christ, you will be willing to sacrifice all things, because you “KNOW” the master in whom you have served.
As of recent, Elder Nelson’s wife published a children’s book called, “The Not Even Once Club.” The idea that being “sin-free” qualifies you for eternal life is the jest of the book. She would see eye to eye with the naive rich man, who, in the end, went away sorrowful. No matter who you are, the first order of business when anyone enters into the presence of Christ is to “forgive you of your sins.” No man comes to God sin-free. Sin-free is not the objective! The objective is that the words of Christ are deeply rooted in your heart, until it grows into a tree, and produces the fruit of Christ. Christ is the mark. Anything more or less than this is “looking beyond the mark.”
Feast upon the words of Christ, nourish it, cause it to grow huuuuge within you by studying. That is what “true faith” is, nourishing the word, until it grows into a tree! Those who continue feasting upon the words of Christ, with steadfast faith in Christ, will receive eternal life. They will have come to the end of their faith. The will come to know The Author and Finisher of the Faith!