In Joseph Smith, Jr.’s “Lectures on Faith” he teaches many powerful lessons, one of which is:
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. (Hebrews 11:3)
By this we understand the principle of power which existed in the bosom of God, by which the worlds were framed, was faith; and that it is by reason of this principle of power existing in the Deity, that all created things exist; so that all things in heaven, on earth, or under the earth, exist by reason of faith as it existed in Him. (Joseph Smith, Jr., “Lectures on Faith” American Fork, 2000 3)
Let’s stop and consider, we have been told if we have faith the size of a mustard seed even the mountains would obey if we told them to move. (Matthew 17:20) So how does one gain faith the size of a mustard seed? It’s sure harder than it seems at times, for such a simple eternal concept.
Examples of faith can be found in the true stories of Alma and Amulek (Alma 14:23-29); Nephi and Lehi (Helaman 5:37-50) and the Master’s calming of an angry sea. (Mark 4:35-39) The stories of faith in the scriptures go on and on, and yet, faith seems to slip through the fingers of so many.
So let’s examine, with the aid of Joseph Smith, Jr., the concept of faith.
What is faith? The evidence of things hoped for, but not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)
In Hebrews 11:6 we learn it is impossible to please God without faith. If we accept this as truth, and I do, then it follows that we must have faith. Faith that Jesus Christ is our Lord, Savior and Redeemer. Faith that He fulfilled the mission (Moses 1:39) our Heavenly Father sent Him to do. Faith that there is more to life than this brief mortal existence. Faith that we came from more than nothing. Faith that we are sons and daughters of a loving Heavenly Father. Faith that we are meant to be so much more than we are right now.
To fully understand this, we must understand:
. . . God is the only supreme governor and independent being in whom all fulness and perfection dwell; who is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient; without beginning of days or end of life; and that in Him every good gift and every good principle dwell; and that He is the Father of lights; in Him the principle of faith dwells independently, and He is the object in whom the faith of all other rational and accountable beings center for life and salvation. (Joseph Smith, Jr., “Lectures on Faith” American Fork, 2000 9)
So, if we are to understand this correctly, faith dwells with God. (Romans 1:20) If we believe, have faith, that there is a God whose sole purpose is to provide the path, means and support to bring all of His children home, than we can believe that if we ask for faith, He will give it to us.
There are many instances in the scriptures when God spoke to man: He spoke to Cain after He slew Abel (Genesis 4:1-15); He spoke to Moses (Exodus 34:27-28); He spoke to Noah (Genesis 7:1-5); Joseph Smith, Jr. in the sacred grove (Joseph Smith History 1) and many, many more. Answers to prayers offered in the scriptures are even more abundant, miracles equally so. We trace our knowledge of God, back to the very beginning, from Adam and Eve.
And so to build faith we must accept that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, our loving and eternal Heavenly Father. From the acceptance of that truth a whole new world opens up to the children of God. And yes, that means you too.
According to Joseph Smith, Jr., three things must exist in order for faith to exist in your life.
First the idea that God actually exists. We’ve covered that amply.
Second, a correct idea of His character, perfections and attributes.
This takes study of the scriptures. As you pour over and internalize the concepts, practices and principles taught in the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price you will come to know and better understand Jesus Christ, and in doing so, you will also come to know and better understand Heavenly Father. For the Savior does nothing and speaks nothing that is not of the Father. They are of one mind, heart and purpose although not body.
This is what we know of Jesus Christ:
1) He was God before the world was created and remained God after.
2) He is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abundant in goodness and that He has always been so and always will be.
3) He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow . . . forever and ever. Therefore, miracles have not ceased. Prophets and apostles, holding the proper priesthood authority, still walk the earth. And His Church exists with the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth today.
Third, an actual knowledge that the course of life which He (Jesus Christ) is pursuing is according to His (Heavenly Father’s) will. This, we learn as we study the scriptures and examine every aspect of Jesus Christ’s life that we may know the path that we too must follow.
Moses 1:39 gives us a clear understanding of the purpose of Jesus Christ’s mission on this earth:
For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
His humble birth in Bethlehem. (Luke 2) His three year mission teaching and restoring the fulness of His gospel, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (New Testament) His fulfillment of the Law of Sacrifice. (Mark 14:13-31) His agonizing and terrifying Atonement, the greatest act of love and crowning glory of all of mankind. (Mark 14:32-41) His cruel and excruciating trial, torture and crucifixion. (Mark 14:43-27; Mark 15) And His triumph over the grave when He broke the bands of death, forever, upon His resurrection. (Mark 16) All this was to the end of bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man . . . yes, again, that is you.
Fourth, He cannot lie, for He is a God of truth.
Fifth, He is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that fears God and works righteousness is accepted of Him.
This is God. If you kneel down and offer with a sincere and humble heart the fervent desire to know if this true, it will be given to you. God is all that I have described. (Moroni 10:3-5)
You must have an idea of the perfect truth of God before faith can be given unto you. Joseph Smith, Jr. said:
By a little reflection, it will be seen that the idea of the existence of these attributes in the Deity is necessary to enable any rational being to exercise faith in Him; for without the idea of the existence of these attributes in the Deity, men could not exercise faith in Him for life and salvation; seeing that without the knowledge of all things God would not be able to save any portion of His creatures; for it is by reason of the knowledge which He has of all things, from the beginning to the end, that enables Him to give that understanding to His creatures by which they are made partakers of eternal life; and if it were not for the idea existing in the minds of men that God had all knowledge, it would be impossible for them to exercise faith in Him. (Joseph Smith, Jr., “Lectures on Faith” American Fork, 2000 51)
As you study the Gospel of Jesus Christ, fervently desiring to know truth from error or falsehood, you will be challenged. You might possibly be verbally or physically attacked, for truth has its enemies.
But know this, with the study of the Gospel comes a protection if you but ask. Study, learn and line upon line the truth and will be given to you. (Isaiah 28:10) And as truth is given to you, so is faith. Until your faith, challenged time and time again, will grow to the size of a mustard seed and beyond. This I testify of as absolute truth.