Belief in God

Nephi had the improbable experience of having a father who was a descendant of Manasseh (NC Alma 8:1), and therefore was not a Levite, nor qualified to serve in Temple rites in Jerusalem. He was an outsider. Yet his father claimed to have been visited by God. Rather than reject his father’s message, Nephi pondered his father’s claim and wanted to know what his father had experienced. Nephi’s account explains:

“For it came to pass, after I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in mine heart, I was caught away in the spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceeding high mountain, a mountain which I never had before seen and upon which I never had before sat my foot. And the spirit said unto me, Behold, what desirest thou? And I said, I desire to behold the things which my father saw. And the spirit said unto me, Believest thou that thy father saw the tree of which he hath spoken? And I said, Yea, thou knowest that I believe all the words of my father. And when I had spoken these words, the spirit cried with a loud voice, saying, Hosanna to the Lord, the Most High God, for he is God over all the earth, yea, even above all! And blessed art thou, Nephi, because thou believest in the Son of the Most High God; wherefore, thou shalt behold the things which thou hast desired.” NC 1 Ne. 3:6, emphasis added.

Notice that Nephi’s trust in his father’s testimony was regarded by the angel as belief in the Son of the Most High God. His father turned out to be a messenger with a message from God. Therefore, he had faith, not merely in the messenger, but in the One who sent the message.

This is why Christ taught: “He who receives you, receives me. And he who receives me, receives him who sent me. He that receives a prophet, in the name of a prophet, shall receive a prophet’s reward.” NC Matt. 5:8.

The critical test that the Lord requires us to pass is whether we can believe in the words of His messengers. If we do, we have faith in the Son of the Most High God. And if we do not, we have rejected the Son of the Most High God.

Distinguishing His voice from the voices of imposters, pretenders and misled men claiming authority from God is also part of the test. As Joseph Smith explained, “The world always mistook false prophets for true ones, and those that were sent of God they considered to be false prophets, and hence they killed, stoned, punished, and imprisoned the true prophets, and they had to hide themselves in deserts, and dens, and caves of the earth, and though the most honorable men of the earth, they banished them from their society as vagabonds, while they cherished, honored, and supported knaves, vagabonds, hypocrites, impostors, and the basest of men.” T&C 147:6.

That test is consistently imposed whenever the Lord sends a message into the world. It has never been harder, never been easier, never been different. And, based on the scriptures, there are always only “few” who believe the Lord’s messages. “Repent therefore and enter in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat, because strait is the gate and narrow the way that leads unto life, and few there are that find it.” NC Matt. 3:45.

Despite the challenge, there are those who do recognize when the Lord is speaking. As He put it to the religious leaders who challenged Him: “I told you and you believed not. The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But you believe not because you are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” NC John 6:29.

There is something about the Lord’s voice, even when He uses a mere mortal to deliver His words, that remains distinctly recognizable. If you hear it, believe it.