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.
Electricity has always been an ever-present force, but its potential lay latent until English scientist, William Gilbert, made a careful study of it and opened the door to further examination. Later, Benjamin Franklin reputedly attached a metal key to a kite string and conducted his famous experiment. Finally, Thomas Edison found multiple, practical ways to harness this energy, and human life changed forever. In mere decades, the power of electricity has been captured and applied to myriad purposes, and the extent of its possibilities is nowhere in sight.
The intelligent force of faith could be viewed similarly. By and large, it remains undiscovered by most people; its substance is widely misunderstood; it is generally untried and untested, and its potential is cloaked by ignorance. Faith—saving faith—was exercised anciently with amazing results, but it was rendered impotent by apostasy. For nearly two millennia, it lay as silent as Cumorah’s treasure until the Father and the Son appeared to Joseph Smith to usher in the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. In the Lord’s words, he called the Prophet to restore saving truths so “that faith also might increase in the earth.” When we consider the explosion of spiritual and secular knowledge since 1820, we begin to appreciate the power of faith and its impact on a then-dying world.
Scriptural Terms Linked to Faith
Faith becomes saving faith when the intelligent force is applied to the principles of salvation. Just as natural light can pass through a magnifying glass or a prism and become a new tool that can be for specialized purposes, so faith can become power unto salvation when it passes through the Atonement and is directed along the governing principles of salvation. The purpose of this chapter is to postulate that faith, as a spiritual force, is part of a larger discussion that connects it to terms such as Spirit, light, truth, law, priesthood, and power. We will attempt to demonstrate that faith is an energy that is intrinsic to Spirit or spirit matter—often “Light” (“whatsoever is light is Spirit”). As electricity is a phenomenon of physical matter, so faith is a phenomenon of spirit matter—Spirit.
Let us begin by considering the connection between faith and light, which seem interdependent and proportional; that is, the more faith, the more light; the more light, the more faith. Faith and light are synonymous with power. We read in one place that faith is power or “the principle of power” that exists “in the bosom of God,” and we read in another place that spiritual light or the light of Christ is similarly called “the power of God.” That faith and light are simultaneously called power raises the question about their association and even their common origin.To demonstrate that faith and light are closely connected and likely descend from the same substance, let us apply a mathematical principle:
If A=B, and if C=B, then A=C.
If A (Faith) = B (Power), and if C (Light) = B (Power), then A (Faith) = C (Light).
Truth is also related to light. We read, “truth shineth,” and, of course, light shines. Truth is sometimes called “the light of Christ.” Because light is connected to both truth and faith, truth must also be connected to faith. As evidence, we have learned that light and faith are called power; likewise, truth is called “the power of God.” Now our formula could read this way:
Power = Faith, Light, Truth.
Adding to the synonym pool, we also read that priesthood is called the power of God.
Power = Faith, Light, Truth, Priesthood.
And the list of connected terms could go on. Their associations and the inter-reliance are abundant in the scriptures. For instance, we are taught that power in the priesthood is wholly reliant upon faith. The Joseph Smith translation of Genesis 14 is one of the best descriptions of the tight relationship between priesthood, faith and power.
For God having sworn to Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order and calling [priesthood] should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course;
To put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will, according to his command, subdue principalities and powers; and this by the will of the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world.
And men having this faith, coming up unto this order of God, were translated and taken up into heaven.
Are we correct in assuming that a symbiotic relationship exists between faith, light, truth, priesthood and power? Could it be that these terms derive from the same substance called Spirit? “For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, ever the Spirit of Jesus Christ.”
There are scriptural precedents for giving multiple names to something or someone that is too big to describe singularly. Consider, for example, Jesus Christ.How many names does he have? In the Doctrine and Covenants alone, he is assigned nearly seventy names that describe his mission, stature, position, glory, perfections, character and attributes. Could it be that the term Spirit is treated similarly? Are the terms light, truth, priesthood and power more than closely associated with Spirit? Could it be that they share a common origin and are names for properties of a common spiritual substance?
“Whatsoever is Light is Spirit”
Electricity is an energy that is inherent in physical matter. This energy is produced by the attraction of particles with opposite charges and the repulsion of particles with the same charge. What other powers and energies are inherent in physical matter? Certainly, included in this list would be the atom, quark, lepton, boson or antimatter. Radiation, heat, electromagnetism and other types of energy also are phenomena of physical matter. Even light is a prodigy of physical matter. For example, nuclear fission occurs when the nucleus of a particle splits into smaller parts and releases large amounts of energy, including photons in the form of gamma rays. Light!
Let us consider these things that we know about physical light then attempt to draw a comparison to spiritual light or “Spirit” (“whatsoever islight is Spirit”). We invoke scriptural authority to make such a comparison because we are taught “that which is spiritual being in the likeness of that which is temporal; and that which is temporal in the likeness of that which is spiritual.”
Within the known spectrum of physical light there exist gamma rays, x-rays, ultraviolet rays, visible rays, infrared rays, microwaves and radio waves, each wave individually powerful and capable of numerous applications. Consider the power and myriad applications of the partitions of light. X-rays allow us to see inside the human body; other beams of light can be directed down optical fiber to carry massive amounts of data; laser beams can cut through steel and aid in microscopic surgeries; radio waves that can transmit symphonies and the human voice. And the list goes on. If physical light is comprised of multiple rays, frequencies and wavelengths, could not its spiritual counterpart be subdivided similarly? If the fractions of physical light include gamma ray, x-ray, ultraviolet ray, visible ray, infrared ray, microwave and radio wave, what would be the fractions of spiritual light or Spirit? Faith, light, truth and priesthood? If by study and practice, we can harness the power of physical light’s various properties for numberless purposes, could we not by study and practice harness the power of spiritual light’s various properties to accomplish countless spiritual purposes?
What is the composition of this spiritual light we call Spirit? Joseph Smith explained that it is “fine or pure” spirit matter that is visible to “purer eyes.” This substance fills “the immensity of space” and has the capacity to be “in all and through all things” with the ability to affect and govern all things. It is described as being “an everlasting principle, and existed with God from eternity, and will to eternity, without beginning of days or end of years.” Each segment of Spirit is associated with the power of God by which he made and upholds all things.
In fact, it is by the application of spirit matter that God became God. M. Catherine Thomas quoting Elder Charles W. Penrose, who explained that this substance is called the “ ‘eternal spirit of intelligence,’ ‘the great eternal God,’ that which makes men into Gods.” Elder Penrose connected this spirit matter with priesthood: “That Priesthood which is the power of government in the heavens, never had a beginning, and it will never come to an end. The works of the eternal spirit of intelligence, the Great Eternal God, manifested to us in our Father and through Jesus Christ, never had a beginning.” God became God by receiving a “fullness of this principle of eternal intelligence and Priesthood, ‘the great eternal God,’ to occupy him.” In other words, the substance of Spirit, which Elder Penrose called “the great eternal God” because of its potential to make gods of men, contains properties that can cause a transformation in the identity of those who are filled with it. They are changed from a finite being to an infinite being as they take on the qualities of this “eternal spirit of intelligence.” A primary purpose of the physical body is to become a vessel or tabernacle to contain this spirit matter or “principle of Godhood.”
Thus, Spirit is the “Divine Essence” or “The God of Gods,” according to Elder B.H. Roberts. Peter calls it the “divine nature;” that is, to the degree that we allow Spirit or “Divine Nature” to flow through us, we take on its characteristics and our nature transforms into God’s divine nature. Elder Roberts says, “This light then, the light of Truth and named for us men ‘the light of Christ’—is also God, even the Spirit of God, or of the Gods, for it proceeds forth or vibrates or radiates from all the Gods—from all who have partaken of the One Divine Nature—hence ‘The God of All Other Gods.’” By whatever name—Spirit, Light, Truth—this Spirit Matter allows the Father and the Son and all other gods, to “be in and through all things; bearing all the powers and attributes of God, creating power in earth and sun and starts; world-sustaining power and guiding force,” making it possible for God to be “omnipresent,” “omnipotent,” “omniscient,” “bearing forth in fact all the attributes of Deity; Knowledge, Wisdom, Judgment, Truth, Holiness, Mercy—every characteristic or quality of all Divine Intelligences (i.e “Gods”)—since they are one; and this Divine Essence or spirit becoming ‘the light which is in all things, that giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the Power of God, who sitteth upon His throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things.’ United in this Divine Essence or Spirit is the mind of all Gods; and all Gods being Incarnations of this Spirit…they become the Divine Brotherhood of the Universe, the One God, though made of many.” A central purpose of the creation of Man’s soul was to give living form and individual identity to Spirit, first spiritual then physical. The stuff of the “One Divine Nature” seeks a residence where it can give expression to its inherent characteristics and attributes and become the divine nature of its host. And it will achieve the perfection of its creation, which is the divine nature of the gods, if Man does not resist its sanctifying motions.
We could say, then, that Spirit is that “fine or pure” substance that fills the immensity of space, and is visible to “purer eyes.” Although Spirit is not a being, it is called “The Great Eternal God” or “The God of All Other Gods” because it contains inherent properties and characteristics that can be harnessed by a being called God to create other gods. Like physical matter, Spirit contains innate components that are capable of limitless power and release incalculable energy when we align our life with the various laws that govern Spirit. In fact, the Gods became Gods by internalizing those laws, and eventually, they became defined by those laws. We call obedience to these universal laws holiness, righteousness and godliness. We call disobedience to these universal laws sin. The word we use to describe God’s revealing these laws to usis commandment.
According to Joseph Smith, godlike characteristics, perfections and attributes become part of the godlike nature when we internalize the laws that govern Spirit. These include becoming an infinite and eternal nature being who is filled with mercy, grace, consistency, truth, impartiality, love, knowledge, faith or power, justice, and judgment. The more a person aligns with the laws of holiness, the more he can harness the powers of Spirit and become perfected in and by them; the more a person resists those laws, and becomes a “law unto himself,” the less power he will possess, and ultimately, he will break himself against those laws. “And again, verily I say unto you, that which is governed by law is also perfected and sanctified by the same. That which breaketh a law, and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, and willeth to abide in sin, cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, justice, nor judgment.”
Other Parts of Spirit
But the discussion grows greater still. We note that light, faith, truth, priesthood and power have additional connected terms. For example, when the scriptures speak of Spirit and its qualities and powers, we encounter such analogous terms as life, light of truth, law, conscience, the record of heaven, agency, intelligence, the mind of God, agency,and glory, All of these things seem to be component parts of Spirit, and as such, they are in some way tethered to faith. In the oath and covenant of the priesthood, we see the melding of some of these terms plus additional synonymous phrases: “the spirit of Jesus Christ,” “the voice of the spirit,” and “the word of the Lord.”
For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ. And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit. And every one that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit cometh unto God, even the Father.
That these terms would appear in the oath and covenant of the priesthood is telling. Priesthood is the universal directing power and the authority of Jesus Christ to invoke his name and command both spirit and matter; but priesthood authority only becomes power when righteous actions are founded on truth and when faith in Jesus Christ is sufficiently present. Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote: “Finally, in obtaining or increasing faith, the great governing principle is personal righteousness. A man’s faith cannot exceed his righteousness and obedience. The greater the adherence to the truth, the greater is the faith of an individual.”
 D&C 1:21.
 When the word Spirit is capitalized and italicized, it refers to spirit matter or “Holy Spirit,” not to be confused with the capitalized word “Spirit” in the scriptures, which usually refers to the Holy Ghost.
 D&C 84:45, emphasis added.
 Lectures on Faith 4:6.
 Lectures on Faith 1:15.
 D&C 88:7.
 D&C 88:13.
 D&C 88:11.
 D&C 88:13.
 D&C 107:18.
 Alma 13:10, 18.
 JST Genesis 14:30-32, emphasis added.
 D&C 84:45, emphasis added.
 See “Electricity,” American Heritage Dictionary.
 D&C 84:45, emphasis added.
 D&C 77:2.
 D&C 131:7-8.
 D&C 88:12.
 D&C 88:6.
 Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 157.
 D&C 88:7-10, 13.
 M. Catherine Thomas, Light in the Wilderness, 233.
 Journal of Discourses 26:27, emphasis added.
 M. Catherine Thomas, Light in the Wilderness, 234.
 B.H. Roberts, The Last Seven Discourses of B.H. Roberts, 99-100.
 2 Peter 1:4.
 B.H. Roberts, The Last Seven Discourses of B.H. Roberts, 99-100.
 Lectures on Faith, Third and Fourth.
 D&C 88:34-35.
 D&C 88:13; Lorenzo Snow, The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, 107.
 D&C 88:6
 D&C 88:13.
 McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 446-47.
 Moses 6:61.
 D&C 93:31.
 D&C 93:29.
 Charles W. Penrose, Conference Report, April 1921,16.
 D&C 93:31.
 D&C 93:36.
 D&C 84:45-46, emphasis added.
 Merrill J. Bateman, “Priesthood, Keys, and the Power to Bless,” Ensign, Oct 2003.
 Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testamnet Commentary, I:525.