Elder Robert D. Hales, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently referred to as the “Mormon” Church by the media and others), has taught us “Obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel is essential to obtain faith in the Lord Jesus Christ”. (Robert D. Hales, “The Aaronic Priesthood: Return with Honor,” Ensign, May 1990, p. 39). It is the subject of faith that I would like to address in this brief treatise.
What is faith? George Albert Smith exhorted, “Faith is a gift of God; it is the fruitage of righteous living. It does not come to us by our command but is the result of doing the will of our Heavenly Father” (CR, October 1913, p. 103). Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught, “Faith is a gift of God bestowed as a reward for personal righteousness. It is always given when righteousness is present, and the greater the measure of obedience to God’s laws the greater will be the endowment of faith” (Mormon Doctrine, Bruce R. McConkie, Salt lake City: Bookcraft, 1966, p. 264). In the Book of Mormon, in Alma 32: 21 we are taught:
And in Hebrews 11:1, the Apostle Paul admonishes us:
|Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.|
Faith and belief are sometimes used synonymously and it is sometimes difficult for us to differentiate between the two. However, there is a difference. We cannot have faith without belief, but we can believe without having faith. Belief is the foundation of faith. Faith is trusting in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As a principle of power and of action, and as the key to our salvation, our individual faith, then, becomes of absolute importance to us.
The Apostle Paul admonishes us to “be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). “If ye can no more than desire to believe,” said Alma, “let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words” (Alma 32:27, Book of Mormon). And Moroni taught, “Dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith” (Ether 12:6, Book of Mormon).
There are several steps a person can take to develop the gift and power of faith. I will discuss only six of those steps.
Number one: Faith is the ability to recognize the Lord as all-powerful and the giver of all blessings.
As King Benjamin in his discourse exhorted:
|Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all things which the Lord can comprehend (Mosiah 4:9, Book of Mormon).|
Sometimes we have the tendency to pray about one thing and worry about something else. As a result, we seem to limit the ability of the Lord to help us in every aspect of our lives. Elder Rex D.Pinegar, of the Quorum of the Seventy, once said, “Faith in God develops a personal love for Him which is reciprocated through his blessings to us in times of need” (Rex D.Pinegar, “Faith- The Force of Life,” Ensign, November 1982, p.26). Faith, then, is the realization that the Lord can help us with all things.
Number two: Faith is the ability to do what we are prompted to do, and when we are prompted to do it.
Elder Loren C. Dunn illustrates this point with the following account:
|A few years ago when we were presiding over the Sydney Mission, I was earnestly seeking a blessing from the Lord. The mission had done well but was pausing on a plateau, and we needed to move ahead once again.On one particular day I was fasting and praying that the Lord would lead us to a new level of achievement. In the midst of my prayers came the clear impression to seek out my son and give him a blessing. I followed the prompting and found my son, whom I am close to, in another part of the house, attending to his high school studies.I said, “How are things going?”He answered, in typical teenage fashion, “Why?”Not knowing what else to say, I asked, “Do you want a blessing?”He looked at me in stunned silence for a few seconds and then said, “Yes.”
The inspiration that followed from that blessing proved to be of great importance to both my son and me. It was an experience that neither of us will forget.
Yet this would have been lost had I stopped to question why the Lord was turning me to my first responsibility, my family, when I was seeking a blessing for the mission.
Loren C. Dunn, “Building Bridges to Faith,” Ensign, May 1981.
Number three: Faith is the ability to live the laws of God that control the blessings we are in need of. While we should not keep the commandments just to receive blessings, nevertheless, the blessings are there.
Harold B. Lee, the eleventh President of The Church of Jesus Christ, tells of an experience of praying very hard for a material blessing he needed badly. He states that one day while he was praying for this blessing, he remembered that he had recently received some income that he had not yet tithed. It was as if, he said, “the accusing voice of the Lord was saying: You want a blessing from me but you have not been obedient to the laws upon which such blessings are based” (“Faith,” address delivered at Brigham Young University, 28 Jun 1955, tape in Historical Department Archives). He said that he went and paid the tithing on that income, and then he again sought that particular blessing of the Lord.
Number four: Faith is the ability to act “as if.”
In his teachings, the Apostle Paul declared:
|By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen … prepared an ark to the saving of his house (Hebrews 11:7).|
Spencer W. Kimball, the twelfth President of The Church of Jesus Christ gave this insight into Noah and the ark:
As yet there was no evidence of rain and flood. … His warnings were considered irrational. … How foolish to build an ark on dry ground with the sun shining and life moving forward as usual! But time ran out. … The floods came. The disobedient … were drowned. The miracle of the ark followed the faith manifested in its building (Faith Precedes the Miracle, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1972, pp. 5-6).
|Many years ago during the dark days of World War II, Elvon W. Orme, the president of the Australia Mission was invited to a faithful widow’s house for Sunday dinner. Rationing had taken its toll, and many of the good foods had long since disappeared from the shelves of the local stores.When the president arrived, he was shocked to find a table filled with foods that were in short supply and had not been seen for months.“I can’t eat this,” he said, almost embarrassed that he was taking it out of the mouth of a widow.“I’m afraid you’ll have to,” she said. “You see, I listened to the Brethren years ago and put in my year’s supply, and this is the only kind of food I have.”She showed the faith to act “as if” by storing food, and the faith produced a miracle in the time of need.Loren C. Dunn, “Building Bridges to Faith,” Ensign, May 1981.|
Number five: Faith is the ability to be charitable and to believe in people.
The Savior of the world is our Great Exemplar of this type of love. After having been rejected and despised, he asked His Father to forgive those who crucified him because “they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
The Prophet Joseph Smith is another example. After living a life filled with trials and betrayals, he said as he was going to Carthage, “I am going like a lamb to the slaughter, but … I have a conscience void of offense toward … all men.” (History of the Church, 6:555; italics omitted).
Elder Loren C. Dunn illustrates this point as follows:
|I knew a man once whom I respected very much and who had this quality. On one occasion, a beggar came from out of town and appeared at his door and asked for money. My friend said, “I have an old barn that needs painting. If you want to paint it, I’ll pay you for it.” They went out to look at the barn, and then the man was sent to England’s paint store and arrangements were made for him to pick up the paint he needed.The barn was painted, and the man was paid and left town. Shortly after, Mr. England called my friend and said that the man had picked up far more paint than was needed to paint the barn. In short, my friend had been taken.Yet, he took the opportunity to teach his sons a lesson.“Had I known what he did, I would have stopped him,” he said. “But we have our painted barn, and the painter, whatever his problems, will always know that there was someone willing to believe in him.”Loren C. Dunn, “Building Bridges to Faith,” Ensign, May 1981.|
Faith cannot be nourished in a heart that has been made hard by continued cynicism, skepticism, and unforgiveness. A person who cannot see the good in people not only destroys his own faith, but also becomes a basically unhappy person.
Number six: Faith is the ability to allow ourselves to be guided by the priesthood.
The Apostle Paul teaches us the important truth, “And he [the Lord] gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers.” And he also tells us why these priesthood leaders have been given to the Saints: “till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11, 13).
Priesthood leaders, all leaders who have been called by revelation under the hands of the priesthood, have been given to us so we can come to a unity of the faith, to the end that we might know the Savior and have his image in our countenance and become like him, “that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world.” (Doctrine and Covenants 1:20).
Years ago, President Joseph Fielding Smith, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, attended a stake conference where a relatively new Stake President had been called. A man repeatedly came up to President Smith and asked him for counsel concerning a personal matter. Finally, President Smith said he would see the man, provided the new Stake President could be there. As the man unfolded his situation, the Stake President was prompted with what the person needed to do. Yet President Smith listened to the brother and surprised everyone by saying, “I have no counsel for you.” The man was surprised, and he left. After he had gone, President Smith turned to the Stake President and said, “I knew how to counsel that man, but I was also prompted to know that he would go against the counsel. So rather than condemn him for going against the counsel of the priesthood, I told him nothing.”
From this we learn that it is not enough to seek the direction of those whom God has called to lead us—but we must come with a willingness to follow the counsel of inspired leaders in order to develop our faith.
We need to take every opportunity to develop faith, both in our own lives and in the lives of others. President Gordon B. Hinckley taught us, “In all that we do we must cultivate faith. Increased faith is the touchstone to improved Church performance.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Miracle Made Possible by Faith,” Ensign, May 1984, p.99). President Hinckley also taught,
Great buildings were never constructed on uncertain foundations. Great causes were never brought to success by vacillating leaders. The gospel was never expounded to the convincing of others without certainty. Faith, which is of the very essence of personal conviction, has always been, and always must be, at the root of religious practice and endeavor (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Faith: The Essence of True Religion,” Ensign, November 1981, p. 6).
My faith is both a beacon and a foundation stone. It is my faith that sustains me in times of trials and adversities. It is that same faith that gives me the calm assurance of knowing that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ. May the Lord bless us with faith as we go forward in our lives is my humble prayer this day.
~ Keith Lionel Brown © 2014