Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel. Many see faith as simply believing that God lives or believing in something that we cannot see that is true. While these definitions are correct, they are far from the real essence of faith. Even these simple interpretations of the principle are used less and less in a world that is becoming ever increasingly focused on the here and now, on instant gratification, and on self-serving appetites and desires. Yet the Lord, knowing the conditions of the last days and the waning of true faith, brought forth the gospel of Christ, living prophets, and inspired scriptures, “that faith also might increase in the earth” (D&C 1:21).
We Have Faith in His Role as Savior and Redeemer
Having faith in Jesus Christ’s role as our Savior and Redeemer means that we have an assurance that He lives, that He is the Son of God, that He atoned for us, and that through His atonement, all can be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel (3rd Article of Faith).
It means that not only do we believe in His atonement and His infinite mercy and grace as it applies generally to all mankind, but also that this atonement can and will specifically save each of us individually as we repent and live obediently before Him.
This faith then causes us to walk in His ways and keep His commandments. This continued state of repentance and obedience leads us to know that we are right before Him, that He has forgiven us, and that we are on the path He would have us tread. This knowledge further increases our faith until eventually it is perfected.
We Have Faith in the Words He Speaks to Us
In the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord says, “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38).
The Lord speaks to us as individuals in two ways: either specifically through the ministry of the Holy Ghost, or generally through the words of ancient and modern prophets and apostles. In either case, we are expected to have full confidence and trust that whatever He has said to us will come to pass. Two examples in the Book of Mormon are helpful in teaching this principle. “And now if Christ had not come into the world, speaking of things to come as though they had already come, there could have been no redemption” (Mosiah 16:6). Abinadi here describes his faith or assurance that Christ would come to the earth and atone for us as if it had already happened, although it was at least 148 years before the Savior would be born.
“But behold, I have obtained a land of promise, in the which things I do rejoice; yea, and I know that the Lord will deliver my sons out of the hands of Laban, and bring them down again unto us in the wilderness” (1Nephi 5:5). Here Lehi declares that he has already obtained the promised land, even though he and his family were still in the desert on the Arabian peninsula and had yet to cross the treacherous waters.
To both Lehi and Abinadi, the Lord’s promises were true and faithful and would be fulfilled. They received the assurance of things hoped for and consequently believed them to be so. The Lord’s word was good enough for them; they trusted Him completely. Like Enos, they knew that God could not lie; therefore their souls did rest (Enos 1:17). What a blessing; what a boon to the soul. To know that when the Lord speaks, it shall be so, this is confidence and faith in the road ahead.
In order for us to have the assurance of things hoped for, we must look forward with an eye of faith (Ether 12:19). Such an eye of faith is fixed firmly on the desired and promised outcome and does not avert its gaze simply because the path ahead is strewn with obstacles and roadblocks. No, the eye of faith is resolute. The gaze remains fixed because the belief is that the promise will be realized.
We Have Faith as We Remember the Experiences in Our Lives
Perhaps one of the most widely used words in the holy scriptures is remember. Prophets throughout the ages have taught the people to remember. King Benjamin declared, “And now, O man, remember, and perish not” (Mosiah 4:30). Paul teaches, “[Remember] without ceasing your work of faith” (1Thessalonians 1:3). Nephi thunders, “Ye are… slow to remember the Lord your God” (1Nephi 17:45). Even Jesus declares, “[Remember] unto the Father my body which was laid down for you” (D&C 27:2).
I believe that one of the reasons we are given faith-promoting experiences is to help us remember those experiences in our hour of need and trial. The more we remember God’s dealings with us, the more likely we are to remain true to Him and to walk in the ways of faith.
Recently, a dear friend of mine and his wife decided that they would take their children to see the snow in the Drakensberg Mountains. They saved diligently for the occasion, and of course the entire family was excited about their pending vacation. One day in a priesthood class, my friend heard about the importance of storing food and reserves for a rainy day. He went home and discussed this teaching with his wife, and they jointly agreed that they should take the money they had saved for their holiday to see the snow and use it to purchase food and other reserves. The family was disappointed, but they knew that they should do the right thing, and they had the courage to follow through. They went ahead and purchased the food.
What a wonderful lesson. The faithfulness of this brother and his family caused the very heavens to hearken and to open, providing the blessing they had hoped to receive. This experience will be such a blessing to this family for generations to come as they reflect and remember the goodness of the Lord in their lives.
I testify that our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ can be strengthened as we rely on His atonement, firmly believe on all His words, and remember the spiritual experiences we have had throughout our lives. I know that He lives and that He loves us with a perfect, infinite, and eternal love. May we show our love for Him by our faith and by our faithfulness.