Faith is the first principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the governing principle in applying the Atonement to our life. We learn that it is impossible to please God except with faith (see Hebrews 11:6). Faith, then, becomes that which we must possess not only in order to gain eternal life in the world beyond this, but also to do the will of God while we are on the earth. In Hebrews 11 and Alma 32 we learn that faith is something we hope for, yet do not see. Too often we end faith in this hopeful and believing stage. The Prophet Joseph Smith went beyond this in the Lectures on Faith, describing the three degrees of faith. The first degree is the substance of things hoped for (see Lectures on Faith 1:7-8). Of the second degree, the Prophet Joseph said, “Faith is the moving cause of all action in intelligent beings” (Lectures on Faith 1:12). The third degree of faith is the principle and source of power (see Lectures on Faith 1:15). When all three degrees are applied, faith is exercised to its fullest. The Prophet went on to say:
“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” (Lectures on Faith 1:24)
THE SCRIPTURES TEACH US
- Luke 17:5—And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.
If the Apostles of the Lord needed an increase in faith, how much more do we need faith in our lives.
- Hebrews 11:6—But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
As children of God, our desires are to please Him and do His will. Recognizing this fact makes having and exercising faith in God and the Lord Jesus Christ paramount in our lives.
- Alma 34:15-17—And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance. And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption. Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you;
Faith can allow us to do all things according to the will of God. The most important thing we will ever do in our lives is to repent and come unto Christ with full purpose of heart. The thing that will be of most worth to us and bring us true joy is to help others repent (see Doctrine and Covenants 15:6; 18:10-16; Alma 29:9-10).
- Mosiah 18:20—Yea, even he commanded them that they should preach nothing save it were repentance and faith on the Lord, who had redeemed his people.
In the Book of Mormon the prophets urged the teachers to teach the doctrine of faith and repentance—even to the point that this was their central emphasis in their teaching (see also Mosiah 25:22).
MODERN PROPHETS SPEAK
FAITH CENTERS IN CHRIST. “Let it be uppermost in your minds, now and at all times, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, who came into the world to lay down his life that we might live. That is the truth and is fundamental. Upon that our faith is built. It cannot be destroyed.”
(Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 2: 302.)
“Now let me describe to you what faith in Jesus Christ means. Faith in Him is more than mere acknowledgment that He lives. It is more than professing belief. Faith in Jesus Christ consists of complete reliance on Him. As God, He has infinite power, intelligence, and love. There is no human problem beyond His capacity to solve. Because He descended below all things, He knows how to help us rise above our daily difficulties.”
(Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 66.)
“If there is any one thing you and I need in this world it is faith, that dynamic, powerful, marvelous element by which, as Paul declared, the very worlds were framed (Hebrews 11:3). . . . Faith—the kind of faith that moves one to get on his knees and plead with the Lord and then get on his feet and go to work—is an asset beyond compare, even in the acquisition of secular knowledge.”
(Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 186.)
IDEAS ON FAITH
Faith is a doctrine of principle and power. The earth was created by the power of faith (see Hebrews 11:3).
The powers of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and can be applied only through the principles of righteousness (see Doctrine and Covenants 121:36).
Faith is the foundation of all righteousness (see Lectures on Faith 1:1).
Faith is an attribute of God and dwells independently in him (see Lectures on Faith 2:2). (This statement is hard to understand for those of us who think of having faith in God as an extension of belief, but learning that faith is a moving power utilized by even God can help us comprehend this statement.)
Just men and women live by faith (see Habakkuk 2:4; Galatians 3:11; Romans 1:16).
We are justified through our faith by the Spirit through the grace of our Savior Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice (Romans 3:28; 5: l).
Faith is the source of myriad blessings in our lives.
Faith is the shield of protection from the fiery darts of the adversary (see Ephesians 6: 16).
Faith is evidenced by our works (see James 2:18).
If we exercise faith unto repentance, our guilt can be swept away, and we can stand confident before the Lord.
Faith is the doorway to receiving the Spirit.
Healing the sick and similar miracles occur by the power of faith (see James 5:15; 2 Nephi 26:13).
Receiving direction in life depends on the faith we exercise (see 1 Nephi 16:28).
Faith gives us strength (see Alma 2:30; 14:26), and it can do all things.
We are alive in Christ through faith (see 2 Nephi: 25:25).
We become mighty in word, able to preach the word through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (see Ether 12:23).
Angels appear through faith on the Lord Jesus Christ; miracles are wrought through faith (see Moroni 7:37).
Learning comes through faith (see Doctrine and Covenants 88:118).
By faith we can do all things that are expedient in the Lord (see 2 Nephi 1:10; Moroni 7:33).
Faith is that principle that moves us to do good always (Alma 29:4).
Faith comes first by hearing the word of God (see Romans 10:17). We hear the word of God from living prophets, by the power of the Holy Ghost (see Doctrine and Covenants 68:3‑4), and from searching the word of God in the scriptures. We can ponder and meditate upon the scriptures. In studying and searching the word of God, we gain faith.
Second, faith comes by fasting and prayer.
Faith works according to our love (see Galatians 5:6). Not only is love the great commandment (see Matthew 22:36‑40), it motivates faith, which is a gift from God through righteousness (see 1 Corinthians 12:9).
All spiritual growth begins with humility. Humility is having and understanding our relationship to God the Father and Jesus Christ and our dependence upon Them. They are the objects upon which our faith rests, the figures in whom our faith is centered (see Lectures on Faith 2:2; 3:1)
A Story of Faith — “Are You in Trouble?”
I should like to introduce a story coming out of the first world war. I had a companion, a fellow officer, who was a very rich man, highly educated. He was a lawyer, had great power, was self-sufficient, and he said to me as we often talked of religion (because he knew who I was), “There is nothing in life that I would like to have that I cannot buy with my money.”
Shortly thereafter he and I with two other officers were assigned to go to the city of Arras, France, which was under siege. It had been evacuated, and upon arrival there we thought there was no one in the city. We noted that the fire of the enemy was concentrated on the cathedral. We made our way to that cathedral and went in. There we found a little woman kneeling at an altar. We paused, respecting her devotion. Then shortly she arose, wrapped her little shawl around her frail shoulders, and came tottering down the aisle. The man among us who could speak better French said, “Are you in trouble?”
She straightened her shoulders, pulled in her chin, and said, “No, I’m not in trouble. I was in trouble when I came here, but I’ve left it there at the altar.”
“And what was your trouble?”
She said, “I received word this morning that my fifth son has given his life for France. Their father went first, and then one by one all of them have gone. But,” straightening again, “I have no trouble; I’ve left it there because I believe in the immortality of the soul. I believe that men will live after death. I know that I shall meet my loved ones again.”
When the little soul went out, there were tears in the eyes of the men who were there, and the one who had said to me that he could purchase anything with money turned to me and said, “You and I have seen men in battle display courage and valor that is admirable, but in all my life I have never seen anything to compare with the faith, the fortitude and the courage of that little woman.”
Then he said, “I would give all the money I have if I could have something of what she has.”
(Hugh B. Brown, Conference Report, October 1969, pp. 106-7.)
SOME MORE THOUGHTS ON FAITH
“Security is not born of inexhaustible wealth but of unquenchable faith.” — Spencer W. Kimball (Ensign, July, 1973, p. 17).
“Great faith, like muscles, develops with use.” —Frederick K. Price
“Doubt will be buried under faith, fear will be killed with confidence.” —Og Mandino
“When faith is lost, when honor dies, the man is dead.” —John Greenleaf Whittier
“Without faith a man can do nothing; with it all things are possible.” —Sir William Ostler
This article was adapted from What We Need to Know and Do, by Ed Pinegar and Richard J. Allen.