Chapter 13: Faith, a Power That Centers in Christ

Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual, (2000), 35–37


Introduction

To succeed in this life and to prepare successfully for eternal life, we need firm faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith is the first principle of the gospel and the foundation of all other principles.

Doctrinal Outline

Supporting Statements

  • A.

    Faith in Jesus Christ is the foundation of the gospel.

    • “The first principle of the gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; and of course we are not going to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ without having faith in his Father. Then if we have faith in God the Father and the Son and are guided, as we ought to be, by the Holy Ghost, we will have faith in the servants of the Lord through whom he has spoken” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:303).

    • Faith unto life and salvation centers in Christ. There is no salvation in that general principle of faith alone, that moving cause of action, which causes the farmer to plant his seed with the unseen hope that it will bear grain. But there is faith unto salvation when Christ is the focal point in which the unseen hope centers. Accordingly the Prophet explained ‘that three things are necessary in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation.’ These he named as: 1. ‘The idea that he actually exists’; 2. ‘A correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes’; and 3. ‘An actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing is according to his will.’” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 262).

    • “Faith is a gift of God, and faith comes to all of us who serve God and supplicate Him for the guidance of His Spirit. There is no danger of any man or woman losing his or her faith in this Church if he or she is humble and prayerful and obedient to duty. I have never known of such an individual losing his faith. By doing our duty faith increases until it becomes perfect knowledge” (Heber J. Grant, Gospel Standards, 7–8).

    • “Inasmuch as salvation is attainable only through the mediation and atonement of Christ, and since this is made applicable to individual sin in the measure of obedience to the laws of righteousness, faith in Jesus Christ is indispensable to salvation. But no one can effectively believe in Jesus Christ and at the same time doubt the existence of either the Father or the Holy Ghost; therefore faith in the entire Godhead is essential to salvation. Paul declares that without faith it is impossible to please God, ‘for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.’ The scriptures abound in assurances of salvation to those who exercise faith in God, and obey the requirements which that faith makes plain. …

      “Though within the reach of all who diligently strive to gain it, faith is nevertheless a divine gift. As is fitting for so priceless a pearl, it is given to those only who show by their sincerity that they are worthy of it, and who give promise of abiding by its dictates. Although faith is called the first principle of the Gospel of Christ, though it be in fact the foundation of religious life, yet even faith is preceded by sincerity of disposition and humility of soul, whereby the word of God may make an impression upon the heart. No compulsion is used in bringing men to a knowledge of God; yet, as fast as we open our hearts to the influences of righteousness, the faith that leads to life eternal will be given us of our Father” (James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, 106–7).

  • B.

    Faith comes from a knowledge of God and His teachings.

    • “If we want to have a living, abiding faith, we must be active in the performance of every duty as members of this Church” (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:311).

    • “Faith comes by hearing the word of God, through the testimony of the servants of God; that testimony is always attended by the Spirit of prophecy and revelation” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 148).

  • C.

    Faith in Jesus Christ always produces good fruits.

    • “Because faith is wanting, the fruits are. No man since the world was had faith without having something along with it. The ancients quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, women received their dead, etc. By faith the worlds were made. A man who has none of the gifts has no faith; and he deceives himself, if he supposes he has. Faith has been wanting, not only among the heathen, but in professed Christendom also, so that tongues, healings, prophecy, and prophets and apostles, and all the gifts and blessings have been wanting” (Smith, Teachings, 270).

    • “Faith implies such confidence and conviction as will impel to action. … Belief is in a sense passive, an agreement or acceptance only; faith is active and positive, embracing such reliance and confidence as will lead to works. Faith in Christ comprises belief in Him, combined with trust in Him. One cannot have faith without belief; yet he may believe and still lack faith. Faith is vivified, vitalized, living belief. …

      Faith impels action.

      “… This principle becomes therefore the impelling force by which men struggle for excellence, ofttimes enduring vicissitudes and suffering that they may achieve their purposes. Faith is the secret of ambition, the soul of heroism, the motive power of effort” (Talmage, Articles of Faith, 96–97, 103).

    • “Unless a man will adhere to the doctrine and walk in faith, accepting the truth and observing the commandments as they have been given, it will be impossible for him to receive eternal life, no matter how much he may confess with his lips that Jesus is the Christ, or believe that his Father sent him into the world for the redemption of man. So James is right when he says the devils ‘believe and tremble,’ but they do not repent. So it is necessary, not merely that we believe, but that we repent, and in faith perform good works until the end; and then shall we receive the reward of the faithful and a place in the celestial kingdom of God” (Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:311).

    • “Miracles, signs, the gifts of the Spirit, the knowledge of God and godliness, and every conceivable good thing—all these are the effects of faith; all of these come because faith has become the ruling force in the lives of the saints. Conversely, where these things are not, faith is not” (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 264).

    • “It takes faith—unseeing faith—for young people to proceed immediately with their family responsibilities in the face of financial uncertainties. It takes faith for the young woman to bear her family instead of accepting employment, especially when schooling for the young husband is to be finished. It takes faith to observe the Sabbath when ‘time and a half’ can be had working, when sales can be made, when merchandise can be sold. It takes a great faith to pay tithes when funds are scarce and demands are great. It takes faith to fast and have family prayers and to observe the Word of Wisdom. It takes faith to do ward teaching, stake missionary work, and other service, when sacrifice is required. It takes faith to fill foreign missions. But know this—that all these are of the planting, while faithful devout families, spiritual security, peace, and eternal life are the harvests.

      “Remember that Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and others could not see clearly the end from the beginning. They also walked by faith and without sight. Remember again that no gates were open; Laban was not drunk; and no earthly hope was justified at the moment Nephi exercised his faith and set out finally to get the plates. No asbestos clothes or other ordinary protective devices were in the fiery furnace to protect the three Hebrews from death; there were no leather nor metal muzzles for the mouths of the lions when Daniel was locked in the den.

      Miracles follow unwavering faith.

      “Remember that there were no clouds in the sky nor any hydrometer in his hand when Elijah promised an immediate break in the long extended drouth; though Joshua may have witnessed the miracle of the Red Sea, yet how could he by mortal means perceive that the flooding Jordan would back up for the exact time needed for the crossing, and then flow on its way to the Dead Sea.

      “Remember that there were no clouds in the sky, no evidence of rain, and no precedent for the deluge when Noah builded the ark according to commandment. There was no ram in the thicket when Isaac and his father left for Moriah for the sacrifice. Remember there were no towns and cities, no farms and gardens, no homes and storehouses, no blossoming desert in Utah when the persecuted pioneers crossed the plains. And remember that there were no heavenly beings in Palmyra, on the Susquehanna or on Cumorah when the soul-hungry Joseph slipped quietly into the Grove, knelt in prayer on the river bank, and climbed the slopes of the sacred hill.

      “But know this: that undaunted faith can stop the mouths of lions, make ineffective the fiery flames, make dry corridors through beds of rivers and seas. Unwavering faith can protect against deluge, terminate drouths, heal the sick, and bring heavenly manifestations. Indomitable faith can help us live the commandments and thereby bring blessings unnumbered with peace, perfection, and exaltation in the kingdom of God” (Spencer W. Kimball, in Conference Report, Oct. 1952, 50–51).