Faith is an interesting principle, one that we can study for years and still not master. We can believe in lots of things. We can believe in any number of people that they will act appropriately. We can have faith in nature, meaning that we believe that spring will follow winter and that the sun will rise each new day. We can believe in ourselves. However, belief is not faith. In particular, it not faith in Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul taught that “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). The prophet Alma said: “If ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Alma 32:21). Moroni, the last prophet in the Book of Mormon, supported Alma’s statement: “… faith is things which are hoped for and not seen” (Ether 12:6).
Faith is not to have a pure knowledge of something, but it “is a principle of action and power. Whenever you work toward a worthy goal, you exercise faith. You show hope for something that you do not see.” (See True to the Faith, p. 54.)
We must exercise faith in Jesus Christ in order to gain salvation and exaltation. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught in his Lectures on Faith that we exercise faith in Jesus Christ when we have an assurance that He exists, a correct idea of His character, and knowledge that we are trying to follow Him. This statement in True to the Faith gives a little more understanding.
Having faith in Jesus Christ means relying completely on Him – trusting in His infinite power, intelligence, and love. It includes believing His teachings. It means believing that even though you do not understand all things, He does. Remember that because He has experienced all your pains, afflictions, and infirmities, He knows how to help you rise above your daily difficulties (see Alma 7:11-12; Doctrine and Covenants 122:8). He has “overcome the world” (John 16:33) and prepared the way for you to receive eternal life. He is always ready to help you as you remember His plea: “Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not” (Doctrine and Covenants 6:36).
At a recent Time Out for Women Anthony Sweat spoke about faith, hope, and charity. He said that there are a lot of different parts to faith that move the work forward. He compared faith to a clock that has a lot of different wheels working together to keep time. He listed three “wheels” that work together when we exercise faith: (1) Trust in the Lord, (2) Action – doing something implies conviction, and (3) Evidence – substance of things hoped for. True faith is not blind; it sees clearly through the lenses of experience.
Sweat shared three examples to show that God provides evidence when we trust in Him and take some action. The first example he gave was Joseph Smith who trusted God enough to go into a grove of trees now known as the Sacred Grove and pray. The evidence that he received was a glorious vision of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. The second example was Moses who trusted God enough to lead the Israelites to the shore of the Red Sea. The evidence was the sea opening up and the Israelites traveling through it on dry land. The third example was Hannah who wanted children and trusted the Lord to promise that she would give her first child to the Lord. Samuel became a great prophet in Israel. I add a fourth example, that of the brother of Jared who trusted the Lord to molten 16 white stones and take them to the top of a mountain with the faith that they would shine in the talk if God touched the stones. The evidence of his faith was seeing the spiritual body of Jesus Christ.
Sweat told us that the commandment to “Fear not” is found in the scriptures 91 times. Fear is not of God. We cannot fear and exercise faith at the same time. We exercise faith when we trust in the Lord, take some action, and look for the evidence. Sweat reminded us that God always allows a gap – a space that invites us to exercise our faith. This means that we must trust the Lord enough to take a step – or more – into the darkness before He shows us the light at the end of the tunnel.
Faith is a spiritual gift from God, but it must be nurtured in order to grow and to remain strong. It is like a muscle in one’s body that grows stronger as it is exercised and weakens when we lie in bed or sit on the couch and do nothing. We will not find it easy to exercise faith in someone or something that we have not seen, but we will see evidence when we exercise faith in Jesus Christ.
We can nurture our faith in Jesus Christ with several actions: praying to Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ, studying the scriptures, keeping His commandments, studying the words of the living prophets and apostles, and attending the temple and Sunday meetings regularly. I know that we will see evidence as we exercise our faith in Jesus Christ.