I studied a lot about faith during the past week and thought that I would share a little of what I learned with my readers. I think that it is important for all of us to understand what faith is. I believe that the appropriate place to learn about faith is from prophets and apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul said that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of thing not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
An ancient American prophet named Alma said that “faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore, if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true” (Alma 32:21).
Another ancient American prophet named Moroni wrote about another man who had much faith. The man’s name is not written in the scriptures, and he is known only as the brother of Jared. This man had carried sixteen small stones that were white and clear as transparent glass to the top of mountain. There he asked the Lord to touch the stones with His finger and cause them to show forth light. He saw the finger of the Lord as each stone was touched. After some discussion with the Lord, the brother of Jared saw the spirit body of Jesus Christ. The Lord also showed him “all the inhabitants of the earth” (Ether 3:25).
Moroni wrote about the brother of Jared, “And because of the knowledge of this man he could not be kept form beholding within the veil; and he saw the finger of Jesus …; and he had faith no longer, for he knew, nothing doubting. Wherefore, having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil…” (Ether 3:19-20).
To summarize, I want to use the words of Sister Anne C. Pinger, then a member of the Relief Society General Presidency. “Faith, the spiritual ability to be persuaded of promises that are seen ‘afar off’ but that may not be attained in this life, is a sure measure of those who truly believe” (“Seeing the Promises Afar Off,” Ensign, Nov. 2003, 14).
A modern-day Apostle, even Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints used the teachings of Paul, Alma, and others to explain that faith helps us to remember past assurances, face the future, and take action in the present.
The Apostle Paul defined faith as “the substance of things hoped for, [and] the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Alma declared that faith is not a perfect knowledge; rather, if we have faith, we “hope for things which are not seen, [but] are true” (Alma 32:21). Additionally, we learn in the Lectures on Faith that faith is “the first principle in revealed religion, and the foundation of all righteousness” and that it is also “the principle of action in all intelligent beings” [Lectures on Faith, (1985), 1].
These teachings of Paul and of Alma and from the Lectures on Faith highlight three basic elements of faith: (1) faith as the assurance of things hoped for which are true, (2) faith as the evidence of things not seen, and (3) faith as the principle of action in all intelligent beings. I describe these three components of faith in the Savior as simultaneously facing the future, looking to the past, and initiating action in the present.
Faith as the assurance of things hoped for looks to the future….
Faith in Christ is inextricably tied to and results in hope in Christ for our redemption and exaltation. And assurance and hope make it possible for us to walk to the edge of the light and take a few steps into the darkness – expecting and trusting the light to move and illuminate the way (see Boyd K. Packer, “The Candle of the Lord,” Ensign, Jan. 1983, 54). The combination of assurance and hope initiates action in the present.
Faith as the evidence of things not seen looks to the past and confirms our trust in God and our confidence in the truthfulness of things not seen. We stepped into the darkness with assurance and hope, and we received evidence and confirmation as the light in fact moved and provided the illumination we needed. The witness we obtained after the trial of our faith (see Ether 12:6) is evidence that enlarges and strengthens our assurance.
Assurance, action, and evidence influence each other in an ongoing process” (“Seek Learning by Faith” [evening with Elder David A. Bednar, Feb. 3, 2006], 1-2; si.lds.org).
We must have faith in Jesus Christ before we can have hope in His promises. It is because of faith and hope that we take any action. Faith and hope are the reason why we get out of bed on a snowy Sunday morning to attend sacrament meeting. Faith and hope are the reason we gather our uncooperative children together for family prayer, family scripture study, and family gospel study. Faith and hope are the reason we live the law of tithing, the law of chastity, the law of tithing, and all the other laws put forth by Jesus Christ.
We can develop faith as well as hope and keep them growing by doing the same things that faith and hope inspire us to do: pray, study the scriptures, spend time with our families, attend Sunday meetings and temple sessions, and generally live good lives. Faith in Jesus Christ is the power by which the worlds are created. Faith in Jesus Christ moves mountains, rivers, and people. Faith in Jesus Christ will help us to prepare for the His Second Coming.