Before he died, Larry Barkdull had written a substantial part of an unfinished manuscript  about the extraordinary power of faith,  particularly as a power that causes things to happen. This is faith on a higher level than we usually practice and understand it. With the permission of his wife, Buffie, Meridian will be running an excerpt from this new book every week. See earlier articles in this series HERE and HERE and HERE

Ultimately, our faith in God the Father is strengthened or injured by our level of belief and confidence in his perfections, attributes, characteristics and powers.

Attributes of God the Father

  1. The Father is an eternal being. God cannot be a temporary god. Could we imagine our future to be secure with a god who could die? “He was God before the world was created, and the same God that he was after it was created.”[1] The Psalmist said, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.”[2] We could not have confidence in a god that was younger than something in the organized universe, because anything older could be superior to or wiser than him. Beyond being an eternal being, the Father must possess an eternal nature for us to exercise faith in him. We could not exercise faith in a finite being or one whose nature was evolving or who could die or who could be vulnerable to something that could weaken him or cause him to cease to be God. Our faith must be centered in an almighty, unchangeable, eternal being who is “the Creator and upholder of all things…over all, from everlasting to everlasting.”[3]
  2. The Father is forever merciful, gracious, slow to anger and abundantly good. Joseph Smith taught that God the Father “is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abundant in goodness, and that he was so from everlasting to everlasting.”[4] We could not exercise faith in a being that exhibited “the weakness of human nature, and…the frailties and imperfections of men.”[5] Diminish one of these attributes by a fraction of a degree and our faith in the Father fails. We would never know what to expect from him or what out force might have the power to impact on him to blunt his ability to extend mercy, grace, goodness and resist anger.
  3. The Father is an unchangeable being. “He changes not, neither is there variableness with him; but that he is the same from everlasting to everlasting, being the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that his course is one eternal round, without variation.”[6] We could not exercise faith in a being who changed his mind or who was in any way changeable; the very definition suggests imperfection. Should God the Father be inclined or have need to change “doubt would take the place of faith.”[7] Our confidence in him would fail us. God must be perfectly consistent. That which he did yesterday he will be doing today and tomorrow. Otherwise, how could we anticipate what a whim or circumstance might change his mercy for us to reproach or his love for us to disdain?
  4. The Father is truthful and cannot lie.[8] Every word that issues from the mouth of the Father is the truth. “God is not a man, that he should lie.”[9] We could not exercise faith in a being who told falsehoods or that was not capable of delivering on his promises. “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”[10]
  5. The Father is impartial. “He is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that fears God and works righteousness is accepted of him.”[11] We could not exercise faith in a being who loved in degrees or treated one person differently than another. “If he were a respecter of persons, they could not tell what their privileges were, nor how far they were authorized to exercise faith in him.” But if the Father is impartial, we can personalize the scriptures to obtain the same blessings claimed by those of former times. Knowing that God the Father is impartial, “they have authority by faith to lay hold on eternal life…every man in every nation has an equal privilege.”[12]
  6. The Father is a perfectly loving being. “God is love.”[13] The overriding motivating factor in all the Father’s dealings with us is love. We could not exercise faith in God the Father unless his love for us was unconditional and continual. If we imagined that something we had done was serious enough to might separate us from his love, how could we seek his help to face unbearable situations or take the difficult steps of repentance?

Characteristics of God the Father

  1. The Father knows everything. “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.”[14] God must possess all knowledge about everything, including past, present, and future events, otherwise, if there was something he didn’t know, we could not trust that he has the ability to anticipate and help solve our problems. He is not “progressing in knowledge and learning new truths…. He is not a student God. His knowledge and Supremacy are not limited to a sphere or realm beyond which there are higher spheres and greater realms…. A belief that there is or might be another being greater and more powerful than God of itself precludes the exercise of full faith in him.”[15] The Father intimately knows and “fore-knows” us, and he is constantly aware of our thoughts and circumstances. He is never surprised and always in control.
  2. The Father has infinite faith and power. “There is nothing too hard for thee.”[16] God the Father can harness the full power of faith because he has infinite knowledge. He must have infinite faith and be an all-powerful and the most powerful being in the universe, otherwise, if we imagined that something or someone was more powerful or that the Father could be hindered or defeated, how could we believe that he could help us? He must be able to do anything, in any situation, at any time, in our behalf; otherwise we could not exercise faith in him. If the Father had power to create us, he has power to save us. This is our faith. “Unless God had power over all things, and was able by his power to control all things, and thereby deliver his creatures who put their trust in him from the power of all beings that might seek their destruction, whether in heaven, on earth, or in hell, men could not be saved.”[17] “Take this principle or attribute–for it is an attribute–from the Deity, and he would cease to exist.”[18]
  3. The Father is the perfect, preeminent, just judge. “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.”[19] God the Father is the supreme lawgiver and judge, and as such he is perfectly equitable, impartial, and has complete integrity. We could not exercise faith in him if his laws were not as perfect as is he or if he were to play favorites or decree laws that were frivolous, flawed or improper. We could not place ourselves “under his guidance and direction” if we doubted that the Judge of all the earth would not consistently do what was right according to law.[20] If the Father’s laws specify blessings or consequences, we can count on his justice prevailing consistently and universally. We are willing to exercise faith in him because we believe that he has the ability and inclination to strike a perfect balance in his judgments between justice and mercy.
  4. The Father possesses perfect judgment. “Righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.”[21] God the Father could not rule as the eternal Judge if his judgment were not perfectly prudent and just. We could not exercise faith in a being whose judgment was unwise, inconsistent, rash, imprudent, unfair, prejudiced, partial, weak, excessively strict or prone to manipulation or to lobbying. Elder McConkie wrote, “Judgment consists in the power to arrive at a wise and righteous decision and in the execution of that decision, to the blessing of the righteous and the condemnation of the wicked.”[22] Hence, we are taught, “Judgment goeth before the face of him who sitteth upon the throne and governeth and executeth all things.”[23]
  5. The Father is merciful. “His mercy endureth forever.”[24] We could not exercise faith in God if we did not believe that he would treat us with perfect kindness, compassion, pity, patience, goodness and grace. He “stretches forth his hands unto [us] all the day long,”[25] offering continually to encircle us “in the arms of safety.”[26] Elder McConkie wrote: “Mercy is a gift of God bestowed bounteously upon the penitent. It is reserved for those who repent. In their case, mercy appeases the demands of justice; it frees men from the penalty of sin.”[27] According to Joseph Smith, the faith of the saints pivots on their belief “that the mercy of God will be poured out upon them in the midst of their afflictions, and that he will compassionate them in their sufferings, and that the mercy of God will lay hold of them and secure them in the arms of his love, so that they will receive a full reward for all their sufferings.”[28]
  6. The Father is a God of truth. “I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie.”[29] We could not exercise faith in the Father if we suspected him to tell falsehoods or half-truths or to change his mind or back away from his word or to minimize, exaggerate or distort the facts. Elder McConkie taught, “Faith is founded and grounded on the bedrock of truth, and upon nothing else; … men must come to a knowledge of the truth about God and his laws before they can have faith in him.” The word truth is expansive. “Truth is that which really is. It includes a knowledge of things as they are, as they were, and as they shall be; it is absolute and eternal; it endures forever. It is not relative; it does not vary; it never changes. What is true in one eternity is true in the next. All progress, all enlightenment, all salvation, everything that is good and right grows out of and comes because of truth. If truth were variable or changed from age to age or from world to world or from universe to universe, all would be confusion, chaos and disorganization. Life and matter themselves would be without form and void, and God, no longer controlling all things, would cease to be God.”[30]

Ultimately, our faith in God the Father is strengthened or injured by our level of belief and confidence in his perfections, attributes, characteristics and powers.


[1] Lectures on Faith 3:17.

[2] Psalm 90:2

[3] Lectures on Faith 3:19.

[4] Lectures on Faith 3:14.

[5] Lectures on Faith 3:20.

[6] Lectures on Faith 3:15.

[7] Lectures on Faith 3:21.

[8] Lectures on Faith 3:22.

[9] Numbers 23:19

[10] D&C 1:38.

[11] Acts 10:34-35

[12] Lectures on Faith 3:23.

[13] 1 John 4:8.

[14] Acts 15:18.

[15] McConkie, Bruce R. A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 176.

[16] Jeremiah 32:17.

[17] Lectures on Faith 4:12.

[18] Lectures on Faith 1:16.

[19] Deuteronomy 32:4.

[20] Lectures on Faith 4:13.

[21] Psalms 97:2.

[22] McConkie, Bruce R. A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 178.

[23] D&C 88:40.

[24] Psalms 106:1.

[25] Jacob 6:4.

[26] Alma 34:16.

[27] McConkie, Bruce R. A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 179.

[28] Lectures on Faith 4:15.

[29] Ether 3:12.

[30] McConkie, Bruce R. A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 1.