By Zachary M. Collier
“We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel. We believe that the first principle… of the Gospel [is]: first, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ” (Articles of Faith – History of the Church, Vol. 4 pp. 535-541)
In the Church we do many things: we attend church every Sunday to partake of the sacrament, we visit the sick and afflicted, we serve the poor and needy, we are baptized by immersion, we make covenants in the temple, we fulfill various callings, we live the Word of Wisdom, we give a tenth of our increase for building the kingdom, and so on and so forth.
As Latter-day Saints, we keep ourselves busy to say the least. This question may be posed, then: why?
It’s all a matter of faith.
We are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and as such we believe that all mankind may be saved through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These laws and ordinances make up the plan revealed to us by God the Father before the world was. By following this plan, we can find inner peace, answers to questions of the soul, and a deeper, closer, more fulfilling relationship with our Father in Heaven and ultimately eternal life.
The Atonement of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is what makes this plan possible. In Him is centered our life and salvation. Because of this, it is imperative that we first find faith in Jesus Christ.
As Latter-day Saints, we believe that Christ is, not was. We believe he speaks, not spake. We believe that He is everlasting to everlasting, and will be forevermore, and all men must come unto him for enlightenment and direction. However, this belief is vain if it is little more than a topic of passing discussion on Sunday morning or an oral tradition passed down from parent to child. We must do more than believe in Christ. We must believe Him. We must believe what he taught, believe what he lived, and have that belief take such hold on our hearts that it transforms our very thoughts, words, and actions.
That is how we obtain faith. Faith is gained not from the knowing, but from the becoming.
We learn in Hebrews 11 that “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” In short, faith is any desire attached to purposeful action with the intent to accomplish something unseen.
President Spencer W. Kimball put it this way: “In faith we plant the seed, and soon we see the miracle of the blossoming. Men have often misunderstood and have reversed the process.” (Faith Precedes the Miracle P. 205)
If we could receive knowledge without reading a book, we wouldn’t read. If we could harvest a crop without planting, we wouldn’t plant. However, we know that in order to accomplish anything, we must abide by the principles that lead to the desired outcome. We exercise our faith in eating, we come away fed, and soon we know that eating fills us and saves us from starvation. So it is with the gospel.
President Heber J. Grant said, “I cannot give a man a testimony of the Gospel any more than I can eat for him.”
We cannot receive eternal life without faith in God’s plan – without faith in his commandments, principles, and ordinances. It is by first abiding by these precepts that we gain a knowledge of their truthfulness. Christ said, “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:16-17).
If we exercise our faith by living the gospel, we receive blessings from the hand of the Lord. Because we have received those blessings from living the gospel, we know that it is true. These nuggets of knowledge are what make up the treasure that we call testimony.
Without faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, His commandments, and His example, there is nothing. Without faith, there is no repentance. Without repentance, we cannot fulfill the terms of God’s contract. Without fulfilling those terms, we are in no way entitled to blessings or eternal life.
How do we gain faith? “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior” (President Boyd K. Packer “Little Children” Ensign Nov. 1986, 17) We first must make scripture study a priority in our lives. How can we live something we do not know? Then we must have faith enough to try the principles found there. Once we gain a testimony of their truthfulness by the power of the Holy Ghost, we must establish good habits that allow us to live those principles consistently. It is by the consistent living of those principles that we obtain eternal life.
Of course, if we have no faith in Christ we won’t keep the commandments.
Having faith in Christ requires us to become like Christ.
It’s all a matter of faith.