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Many of the world’s religions have four common tenants or beliefs that are intended to explain God’s existence and the purpose of life. These four common beliefs include the following:
Since the beginning of time, the determination to discover, uncover, or disprove the existence of God has been the great quest of the ages. Every intellectual inquiry and scientific investigation have been implemented and devoted to the quest to discover God. However, as God has used His matchless power to conceal Himself, no earthly investigation has been capable of proving or disproving the existence of Deity. Some have come to the conclusion that since so many scientific methods have failed to prove the existence of God, God must not exist.
Some have gone so far as to teach and even militantly preach the non-existence of God with the audacious assumption that their capacity and ability to discover God is greater than the ability and power of Deity to conceal Himself. Many more come to the conclusion that it is impossible for man to discover God or know God in any capacity. Many of these people have given up on the quest to discover God and have resigned themselves to an agnostic view of life.
People of religious persuasion have learned that just because mankind has no scientific capacity or earthly ability to discover God, does not mean that God does not exist or cannot be known. If God is all-powerful, it is certainly possible that God may choose to reveal His reality to those who demonstrate that their nature is compatible with heaven. The revealing of His reality may come in the form of feelings, answered prayers, or miracles that do not compromise freedom of choice but still increase our comprehension of Him. Thus, God may choose to reveal His existence to an individual in a manner comparable with the faith they have demonstrated.
Those who develop great faith may even align their nature with Deity such that they could see God and stand in His presence. These individuals, or prophets, under the guidance of God, could then organize a religion to give direction to those who desire to follow. Therefore, true religion must include a record of prophets who have, in fact, stood in the presence of God, as well as a record of their teachings and direction.
The Old Testament, which is accepted and revered by many world religions, contains the record of Abraham, Moses, and several others who stood in God’s presence and have proceeded to lead and teach those who would follow. The New Testament is a record of God Himself walking on earth. Yet, of the thousands of people who interacted with Him, few could see and comprehend His divinity.
The Book of Mormon provides additional examples of prophets who have stood in the presence of God, culminating with the appearance of the Savior to thousands of people. These people witnessed that they had seen and stood in the presence of the Lord.
Since the First Vision of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and throughout the restoration of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there have been multiple records of those who have entered into the presence of God. Of all of the teachings of the Restoration, one of the most beautiful is that it is actually God’s work, desire, and glory to bring each of His children back into His presence.
The story of the brother of Jared stands out among the records of man’s pursuit to discover God and enter His presence. This record contains one of the most detailed encounters of mankind with God when the brother of Jared saw the premortal Jesus Christ. In this encounter, God revealed all things to the brother of Jared, including the past, present, and future.
What makes the story of the brother of Jared even more remarkable is that a short time previously, the Lord chastised the brother of Jared because he ceased to pray for an extended period of time— possibly for a number of years. In the church today some may have labeled the brother of Jared as “inactive” or “fallen away.” Yet despite his years of faithlessness, the brother of Jared was able to repent and increase his faith over a short period of time such that he was able to enter into the presence of God and view the visions of eternity.
What brought about this incredible transformation that changed an “inactive” man into one of the greatest prophets of the Book of Mormon? How was a man who hadn’t prayed in years able to find the faith necessary to stand in the Lord’s presence? What can we learn from his experience that can help us increase our faith so that we can dwell in the presence of God? How can we learn to build our faith like the brother of Jared?
The people of Babel sought to build a city and a tower that would reach the heavens—taller than any tower that had ever been built. Satan himself had put it into their hearts that by building the tower they could attain heaven: “And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4).
Any endeavor to reach heaven is more than just attaining a place. It is an attempt to find a Being. By definition, heaven is the place where God dwells. As such, the people of Babel were seeking more than heaven; they were determined to find God.
The people of Babel did not seek to build for the glory of God, but rather with the purpose to uncover God, to expose Him in His hiding place, and establish a back door into the heavenly realm. Furthermore, by building the tallest tower and reaching the heavens they were convinced they would “make a name” for themselves (Genesis 11:4). They were sure that the fame of the tower would spread and the name of their city would be renowned throughout the world. Their leaders sought to be known as the people who discovered God or disproved His existence.
The brother of Jared achieved the impossible goal of the people of Babel. He found the gate of God, the path to heaven, and entered into the presence of the Lord. The brother of Jared accomplished exactly what the people of Babel intended to do. Yet rather than use this incredible accomplishment to make a name for himself, the actual name of the brother of Jared remains unmentioned and unknown throughout the record.
The humble faith of a nameless man accomplished more than all the efforts of the glory-seeking inhabitants of the great city of Babel. The failure of Babel and its tower teaches us that we cannot find God or enter into His presence by taking pride in the reputation of our own works or our own name. From the height of the tallest mountain of which man can ascend to the depth of the deepest ocean into which man may descend, there is only one name by which man can enter into the presence of God, the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Wherefore how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah. (2 Nephi 2:8)
**The following is an excerpt from the book Building Faith Like The Brother of Jared currently on sale at cedarfort.com