I have found that the 7 lectures on faith provide many layers of understanding for individual readers.
What seems so very basic at first, can, as your eyes open, provide profound insights on not only faith, but the Godhead and our need to pursue further light and knowledge by conversing with the Lord through the veil, which is the fulness of the gospel.
This is from the Joseph Smith Papers project.
“When Joseph Smith returned from Missouri to Ohio in August 1834, focus again turned to publishing the revelations. In September the Kirtland high council appointed a committee consisting of Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams to publish a work “arrange[d from] the items of the doctrine of Jesus Christ.” This committee was assigned to draw “from the bible, book of Mormon, and the revelations which have been given to the church up to this date.” While a single volume containing excerpts from the Bible, Book of Mormon, and revelation texts was the original intention, the concept was later modified. As the bipartite title “Doctrine and Covenants” suggests, the new book was made up of two parts.
The first part, on “the doctrine of the church,” comprised a series of seven doctrinal lectures on the subject of faith, first prepared as a course of instruction for the School of the Elders held in the second Kirtland printing office in the winter of 1834-1835. Lecture one was contemporaneously published as a broadside and lectures five and six were published in the May 1835 issue of the Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, but there is no known manuscript copy of any of the lectures…
The second part of the Doctrine and Covenants contained the “covenants and commandments of the Lord,” or revelations. Inasmuch as the revelations made up the majority of the volume and the volume’s title indicated that the texts therein were “carefully selected from the revelations of God,” it is curious that the revelations were placed in the second part of the book. The sequence of the book’s two parts may have resulted from the order in which materials were ready to be typeset. Regardless, the revelations were considered to be of paramount importance, and the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants was the most important collection of revelations published to that point.”
I have taken what I believe to be important passages from the lectures to give the readers an idea of some of the concepts taught in these lectures by Joseph.
10 If men were duly to consider themselves, and turn their thoughts and reflections to the operations of their own minds, they would readily discover that it is faith, and faith only, which is the moving cause of all action, in them; that without it, both mind and body would be in a state of inactivity, and all their exertions would cease, both physical and mental.
13 As we receive by faith, all temporal blessings that we do receive, so we, in like manner, receive by faith all spiritual blessings that we do receive. But faith is not only the principle of action, but of power, also, in all intelligent beings, whether in heaven, or on earth. Thus says the author of the epistle to the Hebrews.
15 By this we understand that the principle of power, which existed in the bosom of God, by which the worlds were framed, was faith; and that it is by reason of this principle of power, existing in the Deity, that all created things exist—so that all things in heaven, on earth, or under the earth, exist by reason of faith, as it existed in HIM…
Question 5: What is faith? It is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen: Hebrews 11:1. That is, it is the assurance we have of the existence of unseen things. And being the assurance which we have of the existence of unseen things, must be the principle of action in all intelligent beings. Hebrews 11:3: Through faith we understand the worlds were framed by the word of God. (1:8-9)
2 We here observe that God is the only supreme governor, and independent being, in whom all fulness and perfection dwells; who is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient; without beginning of days or end of life; and that in him every good gift, and every good principle dwells; and that he is the Father of lights: In him the principle of faith dwells independently; and he is the object in whom the faith of all other rational and accountable beings centers, for life and salvation.
34 The reason why we have been thus particular on this part of our subject, is, that this class may see by what means it was that God became an object of faith among men after the fall; and what it was that stirred up the faith of multitudes to feel after him; to search after a knowledge of his character, perfections and attributes, until they became extensively acquainted with him; and not only commune with him, and behold his glory, but be partakers of his power, and stand in his presence.
55 Let us here observe, that after any portion of the human family are made acquainted with the important fact that there is a God who has created and does uphold all things, the extent of their knowledge, respecting his character and glory, will depend upon their diligence and faithfulness in seeking after him, until like Enoch the brother of Jared, and Moses, they shall obtain faith in God, and power with him to. behold him face to face.
56 We have now clearly set forth how it is, and how it was, that God became an object of faith for rational beings; and also, upon what foundation the testimony was based, which excited the enquiry and diligent search of the ancient saints, to seek after and obtain a knowledge of the glory of God: and we have seen that it was human testimony, and human testimony only, that excited this enquiry, in the first instance in their minds—it was the credence they gave to the testimony of their fathers—this testimony having aroused their minds to enquire after the knowledge of God, the enquiry frequently terminated, indeed, always terminated, when rightly pursued, in the most glorious discoveries, and eternal certainty.
2 Let us here observe, that three things are necessary, in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation.
3 First, The idea that he actually exists.
4 Secondly, A correct idea of his character, perfections and attributes.
5 Thirdly, An actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing, is according to his will.—For without an acquaintance with these three important facts, the faith of every rational being must be imperfect and unproductive; but with this understanding, it can become perfect and fruitful, abounding in righteousness unto the praise and glory of God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.
12 From the foregoing testimonies, we learn the following things respecting the character of God.
13 First, That he was God before the world was created, and the same God that he was, after it was created.
14 Secondly, That he is merciful, and gracious, slow to anger, abundant in goodness, and that he was so from everlasting, and will be to everlasting.
15 Thirdly, That he changes not, neither is there variableness with him; but that he is the same from everlasting to everlasting, being the same yesterday to-day and forever; and that his course is one eternal round, without variation.
16 Fourthly, That he is a God of truth and cannot lie.
17 Fifthly, That he is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that fears God and works righteousness is accepted of him.
18 Sixthly, That he is love.
19 An acquaintance with these attributes in the divine character, is essentially necessary, in order that the faith of any rational being can center in him for life and salvation… but seeing he is God over all, from everlasting to everlasting, the creator and upholder of all things, no such fear can exist in the minds of those who put their trust in him, so that in this respect their faith can be without wavering.
4 We have, in the revelations which he has given to the human family, the following account of his attributes.
5 First, Knowledge. Acts 15:18: Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Isaiah 46:9-10: Remember the former things of old; for I am God and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient time the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.
6 Secondly, Faith, or power. Hebrews 11:3: Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God. Genesis 1:1: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Isaiah 14:24,27: The Lord of hosts has sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand. For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?
7 Thirdly, Justice. Psalms 89:14: Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne. Isaiah 45:21: Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take council together: who has declared this from the ancient time? Have not I the Lord? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Savior. Zephaniah 5:5: The just Lord is in the midst thereof. Zechariah 9:9: Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King comes unto thee: he is just, and having salvation.
8 Fourthly, Judgment. Psalms 89:14: Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne. Deuteronomy 32:4: He is the Rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth, and without inequity: just and right is he. Psalms 9:7: But the Lord shall endure forever: he has prepared his throne for judgment. Psalms 9:16: The Lord is known by the judgment which he executes.
9 Fifthly, Mercy. Psalms 89:15: Mercy and truth shall go before his face. Exodus 34:6: And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious. Nehemiah 9:17: But thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful.
10 And Sixthly, Truth. Psalms 89:14: Mercy and truth shall go before thy face. Exodus 34:6: Long suffering and abundant in goodness and truth. Deuteronomy 32:4: He is the Rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are judgment. A God of truth and without iniquity: just and right is he. Psalms 31:5: Into thy hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.
11 By a little reflection it will be seen, that the idea of the existence of these attributes in the Deity, is necessary to enable any rational being to exercise faith in him. For without the idea of the existence of these attributes in the Deity, men could not exercise faith in him for life and salvation; seeing that without the knowledge of all things, God would not be able to save any portion of his creatures; for it is by reason of the knowledge which he has of all things, from the beginning to the end, that enables him to give that understanding to his creatures, by which they are made partakers of eternal life; and if it were not for the idea existing in the minds of men, that God had all knowledge, it would be impossible for them to exercise faith in him.
12 And it is not less necessary that men should have the idea of the existence of the attribute power in the Deity…
1 In our former lectures we treated of the being, character, perfections and attributes of God. What we mean by perfections, is, the perfections which belong to all the attributes of his nature. We shall, in this lecture speak of the Godhead: we mean the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
2 There are two personages who constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power over all things—by whom all things were created and made, that are created and made, whether visible or invisible: whether in heaven, on earth, or in the earth, under the earth, or throughout the immensity of space—They are the Father and the Son: The Father being a personage of spirit, glory and power: possessing all perfection and fulness: The Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle, made, or fashioned like unto man, or being in the form and likeness of man, or, rather, man was formed after his likeness, and in his image;—he is also the express image and likeness of the personage of the Father…. And he being the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and having overcome, received a fulness of the glory of the Father—possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit, that bears record of the Father and the Son, and these three are one, or in other words, these three constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power over all things: by whom all things were created and made, that were created and made: and these three constitute the Godhead, and are one: The Father and the Son possessing the same mind, the same wisdom, glory, power and fulness: Filling all in all—the Son being filled with the fulness of the Mind, glory and power, or, in other words, the Spirit, glory and power of the Father—possessing all knowledge and glory, and the same kingdom: sitting at the right hand of power, in the express image and likeness of the Father—a Mediator for man—being filled with the fulness of the Mind of the Father, or, in other words, the Spirit of the Father: which Spirit is shed forth upon all who believe on his name and keep his commandments…
3 From the foregoing account of the Godhead, which is given in his revelations, the Saints have a sure foundation laid for the exercise of faith unto life and salvation, through the atonement and mediation of Jesus Christ, by whose blood they have a forgiveness of sins, and also, a sure reward laid up for them in heaven, even that of partaking of the fulness of the Father and the Son, through the Spirit. As the Son partakes of the fulness of the Father through the Spirit, so the saints are, by the same Spirit, to be partakers of the same fulness, to enjoy the same glory; for as the Father and the Son are one, so in like manner the saints are to be one in them, through the love of the Father, the mediation of Jesus Christ, and the gift of the Holy Spirit; they are to be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.
Question 3: How many personages are there in the Godhead? Two: the Father and the Son.
Question 5: What is the Father? He is a personage of glory and of power.
Question 7: What is the Son? First, he is a personage of tabernacle.
Question 13: Do the Father and the Son possess the same mind? They do…
Question 14: What is this mind? The Holy Spirit…
Question 15: Do the Father, Son and Holy Spirit constitute the Godhead? They do…
Question 16: Does the believer in Christ Jesus, through the gift of the Spirit, become one with the Father and the Son, as the Father and the Son are one? They do…
Question 17: Does the foregoing account of the Godhead lay a sure foundation for the exercise of faith in him unto life and salvation? It does.
4 Such was and always will be the situation of the saints of God, that unless they have an actual knowledge that the course that they are pursuing is according to the will of God, they will grow weary in their minds and faint; for such has been and always will be the opposition in the hearts of unbelievers and those that know not God, against the pure and unadulterated religion of heaven, (the only thing which ensures eternal life,) that they will persecute, to the uttermost, all that worship God according to his revelations, receive the truth in the love of it, and submit themselves to be guided and directed by his will, and drive them to such extremities that nothing short of an actual knowledge of their being the favorites of heaven, and of their having embraced that order of things which God has established for the redemption of man, will enable them to exercise that confidence in him necessary for them to overcome the world, and obtain that crown of glory which is laid up for them that fear God.
5 For a man to lay down his all, his character and reputation, his honor and applause, his good name among men, his houses, his lands, his brothers and sisters, his wife and children, and even his own life also, counting all things but filth and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ, requires more than mere belief, or supposition that he is doing the will of God, but actual knowledge: realizing, that when these sufferings are ended he will enter into eternal rest; and be a partaker of the glory of God.
6 For unless a person does know that he is walking according to the will of God, it would be offering an insult to the dignity of the Creator, were he to say that he would be a partaker of his glory when he should be done with the things of this life…
7 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: 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…. 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.
8 It is in vain for persons to fancy to themselves that they are heirs with those, or can be heirs with them, who have offered their all in sacrifice, and by this means obtained faith in God and favor with him so as to obtain eternal life, unless they in like manner offer unto him the same sacrifice, and through that offering obtain the knowledge that they are accepted of him.
10 Those, then, who make the sacrifice will have the testimony that their course is pleasing in the sight of God, and those who have this testimony will have faith to lay hold on eternal life, and will be enabled, through faith, to endure unto the end, and receive the crown that is laid up for them that love the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ…
11 All the saints of whom we have account in all the revelations of God which are extant, obtained the knowledge which they had of their acceptance in his sight, through the sacrifice which they offered unto him: and through the knowledge thus obtained, their faith became sufficiently strong to lay hold upon the promise of eternal life, and to endure us seeing him who is invisible
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.
2 As we have seen in our former lectures, that faith was the principle of action and of power in all intelligent beings, both in heaven and on earth, it will not be expected that we will, in a lecture of this description attempt to unfold all its effects; neither is it necessary to our purpose so to do; for it would embrace all things in heaven and on earth, and encompass all the creations of God, with all their endless varieties: for no world has yet been framed that was not framed by faith; neither has there been an intelligent being on any of God’s creations who did not get there by reason of faith, as it existed in himself or in some other being; nor has there been a change or a revolution in any of the creations of God but it has been effected by faith: neither will there be a change or a revolution unless it is effected in the same way, in any of the vast creations of the Almighty; for it is by faith that the Deity works.
3 Let us here offer some explanation in relation to faith that our meaning may be clearly comprehended: We ask, then, what are we to understand by a man’s working by faith? We answer: We understand that when a man works by faith he works by mental exertion instead of physical force: it is by words instead of exerting his physical powers, with which every being works when he works by faith—God said, Let there be light, and there was light…
7 Therefore, it is said, and appropriately too, that without faith it is impossible to please God. If it should be asked, Why is it impossible to please God without faith? the answer would be, because, without faith it is impossible for men to be saved; and as God desires the salvation of man he must of course desire that they should have faith, and he could not be pleased unless they had, or else he could be pleased with their destruction.
8 From this we learn that the many exhortations which have been given by inspired men to those who had received the word of the Lord, to have faith in him, were not mere common-place matters, but were for the best of all reasons, and that was, because, without it there was no salvation, neither in this world nor in that which is to come. When men begin to live by faith they begin to draw near to God; and when faith is perfected they are like him; and because he is saved they are saved also; for they will be in the same situation he is in, because they have come to him; and when he appears they shall be like him, for they will see him as he is.
9 As all the visible creation is an effect of faith, so is salvation, also. (We mean salvation in its most extensive latitude of interpretation, whether it is temporal or spiritual) In order to have this subject clearly set before the mind, let us ask what situation must a person be in, in order to be saved? Or what is the difference between a saved man and one who is not saved? We answer from what we have before seen of the heavenly worlds, they must be persons who can work by faith, and who are able, by faith to be ministering spirits to them who shall be heirs of salvation. And they must have faith to enable them to act in the presence of the Lord, otherwise they cannot be saved. And what constitutes the real difference between a saved person and one not saved, is the difference in the degree of their faith… We ask, then, where is the prototype? Or where is the saved being? We conclude as to the answer of this question there will be no dispute among those who believe the bible, that it is Christ: all will agree in this that he is the prototype or standard of salvation, or in other words, that he is a saved being. And if we should continue our interrogation, and ask how it is that he is saved, the answer would be, because he is a just and holy being; and if he were anything different from what he is he would not be saved; for his salvation depends on his being precisely what he is and nothing else.. And any man that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure.—why purify himself as he is pure? Because, if they do not they cannot be like him.
10 The Lord said unto Moses, Leviticus, 19:2:—Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy. And Peter says, first epistle, 1:15 and 16: But as he who has called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, be ye .holy; for I am holy. And the Savior says, Matthew 15:48: Be ye perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect. If any should ask why all these sayings? the answer is to be found from what is before quoted from John’s epistle, that when he (the Lord) shall appear, the saints will be like him: and if they are not holy, as he is holy, and perfect as he is perfect, they cannot be like him; for no being can enjoy his glory without possessing his perfections and holiness, no more than they could reign in his kingdom without his power.
16 These teachings of the Savior must clearly show unto us the nature of salvation; and what he proposed unto the human family when he proposed to save them—That he proposed to make them like unto himself; and he was like the Father, the great prototype of all saved beings: And for any portion of the human family to be assimilated into their likeness is to be saved; and to be unlike them is to be destroyed: and on this hinge turns the door of salvation.
17 …for there shall be a performance of the things which where told her of the Lord; Luke 1:45: Nor was the birth of John the baptist the less a matter of faith; for in order that his father Zacharias might believe he was struck dumb. And through the whole history of the scheme of life and salvation, it is a matter of faith: every man received according to his faith: according as his faith was, so were his blessings and privileges; and nothing was withheld from him when his faith was sufficient to receive it. He could stop the mouths of lions, quench the violence of fire, escape the edge of the sword, wax valiant in fight, and put to flight the armies of the aliens; women could, by their faith, receive the dead children to life again: in a word, there was nothing impossible with them who had faith. All things were in subjection to the Former Day Saints, according as their faith was—By their faith they could obtain heavenly visions, the ministering of angels, have knowledge of the spirits of just men made perfect, of the general assembly and church of the first born, whose names are written in heaven, of God the judge of all, of Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and become familiar with the third heavens, see and hear things which were not only unutterable, but were unlawful to utter…
18 These sayings put together, show the Apostle’s views, most clearly, so as to admit of no mistake on the mind of any individual. He says that all things that pertain to life and godliness were given unto them through the knowledge of God and our Savior Jesus Christ. And if the question is asked, how were they to obtain the knowledge of God? (for there is a great difference between believing in God and knowing him: knowledge implies more than faith. And notice, that all things that pertain to life and godliness, were given through the knowledge of God;) the answer is given, through faith they were to obtain this knowledge; and having power by faith to obtain the knowledge of God, they could with it obtain all other things which pertain to life and godliness.
19 By these sayings of the Apostle we learn, that it was by obtaining a knowledge of God, that men got all things which pertain to life and godliness; and this knowledge was the effect of faith. So that all things which pertain to life and godliness are the effects of faith.
20 …From this we may extend as far as any circumstances may require whether on earth or in heaven, and we will find it the testimony of all inspired men, or heavenly messengers, that all things that pertain to life and godliness are the effects of faith and nothing else: all learning, wisdom, and prudence fail, and everything else as a means of salvation but faith… All these appear when faith appears on the earth and disappear when it disappears from the earth. For these are the effects of faith and always have, and always will attend it. For where faith is, there will the knowledge of God be also, with all things which pertain thereto—revelations, visions, and dreams, as well as every other necessary thing in order that the possessors of faith may be perfected and obtain salvation; for God must change, otherwise faith will prevail with him. And he who possesses it will, through it, obtain all necessary knowledge and wisdom until he shall know God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, whom he has sent: whom to know is eternal life: Amen.
For the full online version of the lectures on faith see. http://lecturesonfaith.com/
These lectures, in my opinion, should be reviewed regularly until you can see and recognize the teachings that are missing from our classrooms, meetings and conferences about eternal life.
Christ is the prototype of saved man.
Consider the possibility, that if you are unable to see the contrast between what Joseph Smith is teaching here, and what you are taught by your teachers and leaders, that perhaps you have been blinded by the philosophies of man; and therefore need to ask the Lord to help remove the scales of blindness from your eyes so that you may see, and find, what the man Joseph Smith, who stood in the presence of God has to tell you.
If you have eyes to see, it’s not a pleasant comparison. Achieving eternal life isn’t the cute “cottage industry” we have been led to believe. We must truly be willing to sacrifice “all things”, PERSONALLY.
It has nothing to do with buildings, or some chosen group salvation. It requires personal sacrifice and interaction with God, beyond what most are willing to pursue, or understand! But these lectures can help you to begin that endeavor. That’s why Joseph had these lectures in the D&C as the “Doctrine” portion of the Doctrine and Covenants while he was alive. They have since been removed and hardly mentioned by our current leaders!
It’s up to the reader to pursue the truths taught here by Joseph Smith and how they can benefit your life. But, this is a man who communed with Jehovah, he knows a great deal more than most who currently teach you.
Interaction with heaven is real, its personal, and the way to know the truth of all things!
Get a copy of the lectures on faith and prayerfully consider them as scripture.