Does God have faith in us? Some brothers say yes, others say no because God has perfect knowledge and foreknowledge. Thanks!
You ask an interesting question. I can understand why there would be differing opinions on the matter. First, let’s look at some definitions of “faith”:
complete trust or confidence in someone or something
strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.
Obviously, if God were to have faith in us, it wouldn’t be the second kind of faith; it would have to be the first. It is tempting to say that when God trusts us, that trust is the same faith. I think, however, it’s important to understand the nature of God’s trust:
1 Thessalonians 2:4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.
Here, Paul is showing us that God has entrusted us with a calling to teach the Gospel. Indeed, the word “commandment” stems from a Latin root meaning to commit or entrust. We also have this teaching:
Doctrine and Covenants 82:3 For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation.
Again, the idea is that we have been entrusted with something important. But what about faith? In the Bible Dictionary, we read:
Faith is to hope for things which are not seen, but which are true (Heb. 11:1; Alma 32:21), and must be centered in Jesus Christ in order to produce salvation. To have faith is to have confidence in something or someone.
Here there is no mention of faith in mortal man. And even if we look at the idea of having confidence in something, well, as some of your brethren have pointed out, God already knows what each of us will do, so his confidence doesn’t seem much like our faith. It might seem that what we will do is, thus far, not seen, and yet it would appear that God has seen it, for there are numerous accounts wherein he showed prophets the doings of people in future dispensations. For clarity, let’s look at Lectures on Faith (2nd lecture, paragraph 2, emphasis mine):
2. We here observe that God is the only supreme governor and independent being in whom all fullness and perfection dwell; 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 dwell; 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 center for life and salvation.
This clearly indicates that while we have faith in God, God’s faith is independent, in other words, it is not in another – it simply is. From this I’m left to believe that while God entrusts us with knowledge, commandments, and responsibilities, he does not have faith in us.
But that last quote leaves us with an interesting point still to cover. Some of your brethren have suggested that God does not have or need faith because he has “perfect knowledge and foreknowledge”. However that paragraph from Lectures on Faith clearly states that God does indeed have faith. Thus, even foreknowledge of something must not preclude faith. Let’s look at how that is explained (emphasis mine):
10. If men were duly to consider themselves, and turn their thought 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.
12. And as faith is the moving cause of all action in temporal concerns, so it is in spiritual; for the Saviour has said, and that truly, that “He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved.” Mark 16:16.
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, 11:3 —
14. “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God; so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”
22. We here understand, that the sacred writers say that all these things were done by faith. It was by faith that the worlds were framed. God spake, chaos heard, and worlds came into order by reason of the faith there was in Him. So with man also; he spake by faith in the name of God, and the sun stood still, the moon obeyed, mountains removed, prisons fell, lions’ mouths were closed, the human heart lost its enmity, fire its violence, armies their power, the sword its terror, and death its dominion; and all this by reason of the faith which was in him.
24. Faith, then, is the first great governing principle which has power, dominion, and authority over all things; by it they exist, by it they are upheld, by it they are changed, or by it they remain, agreeable to the will of God. Without it there is no power, and without power there could be no creation nor existence!
Thus we see that faith both motivates to action and is the power by which action is accomplished. I believe we will never fully understand this in mortality, but to ponder it will bring greater understanding and power into our lives.
To summarize, God’s faith is independent, and is the power by which he accomplishes his designs, seeing things before he brings them about, because, “there is nothing that the Lord thy God shall take in his heart to do but what he will do it” (Abraham 3:17). Therefore, our faith must be in himbecause he has all power to accomplish his designs, and will keep his promises. Let us go forward, true to the callings and trust placed in us, having faith in Christ’s love for us and the truth of his promised blessings.