Lesson 1: Faith in Jesus Christ

The Latter-day Saint Woman: Basic Manual for Women, Part A, (2000), 2–11


The purpose of this lesson is to help us strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ.

What Is Faith?

“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).

  • What is faith? How have you exercised faith today?

We Must Learn the Truth

To develop faith in Jesus Christ, we must know who He really is. We cannot have faith in Him if we know nothing about Him. We cannot have faith in Him unless what we know about Him is true.

Few people on the earth have seen the Savior. Most of us will never see Him in our mortal lives, but it is our privilege and duty to learn the truth about Him. We can gain an actual knowledge of Him through the witness of the Spirit. Knowing the truth about the Lord will help us trust Him, obey Him, and rely on Him to help us beyond our ability to help ourselves.

  • Why is it important to learn true ideas about Jesus Christ?

“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” (Hebrews 11:6).

We learn several truths about faith from this scripture: that to please God (1) we must have faith in Him, (2) we must believe that He exists, and (3) we must believe that He will answer us when we try hard to know Him or to get help from Him.

  • Ask the sisters to relate how learning the true principles of the gospel has brought them peace or happiness.

  • Display visuals 1-a, “A woman studying the scriptures to learn about Jesus Christ”; 1-b, “Missionaries teach the gospel to people throughout the world”; and 1-c, “A family studying the scriptures together.”

To learn the truth about Jesus Christ and His gospel, we should study the scriptures and listen to the testimonies of the Lord’s servants on earth. If we are humble, sincere, and prayerful, we can come to know for ourselves that He is the Only Begotten Son of our Heavenly Father, that He lives today, and that He loves each of us, regardless of how imperfect we are. We can learn that He knows all truth. He will reveal this truth to those who work hard to find it. We can learn that He is a just God who must punish the wicked, and that He is also a merciful God to those who repent. We can come to know that He paid for our sins and brought resurrection to everyone. Faith in Jesus Christ grows within us as these truths take hold within our hearts and doubts and fears begin to melt away.

  • How does studying the scriptures help us replace doubt and fear with faith? What other things help us build our faith?

  • Ask some of the sisters to tell briefly how they have developed faith in Jesus Christ.

We Must Exercise Our Faith

We can learn the truth by studying the scriptures, by fasting and praying, and by hearing the testimonies of others. However, simply believing the truth does not mean we are using faith. There are people who believe that Jesus is our Savior and that the gospel is true, but they do not keep His commandments. These people are not exercising faith. Faith requires activity. If we have faith, we trust in Jesus Christ to help us find ways to live His commandments.

The scriptures teach us:

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

“In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6).

Nephi is an example of a young man who had faith and trusted the Lord to help him keep the commandments. By direction from the Lord, Nephi’s father commanded him and his brothers to obtain records of their people from Laban, a powerful, unrighteous man. They greatly feared Laban. Yet, when asked to do this difficult task, Nephi expressed his faith in the Lord. He said, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3:7).

  • Why was Nephi willing to obey the Lord?

There are many members of the Church today, both young and old, who have faith like Nephi’s. Sister Sachiko Hotta of Nagoya, Japan, told the following story:

“Before my husband and I married, we agreed that the Church was the most important thing in our lives and that we would use our time and whatever talents we had in serving the Church. As it turned out, this was more easily said than done.

“After we were married, my husband and I had to move into an apartment quite far from the chapel. Riding my bike to the train station, taking the train to the next city, and then taking the bus to the chapel took one-and-a-half hours; and, of course, if I missed the first train and had to wait for the next one, the trip could take more than two hours. This made it difficult for the branch president to give us an assignment. Besides this, after we had been married three months, my husband became seriously ill and had to be hospitalized, so I went to work to support us. Each day after work I would go to visit my husband in the hospital and try to go by the chapel afterwards, but there just weren’t enough hours in the day.

“This troubled me, and I knew that if we lived closer, I would be able to have a Church calling. Yet land around the chapel was very expensive, and we could not even afford to rent in such a fine neighborhood, much less buy a home there. Logically, I knew it was impossible, but [the scriptures teach that if you always pray, you will be heard]. (See Luke 18:1–5.) Therefore, I prayed unceasingly. I didn’t know how the Lord could answer such an impossible request; I just prayed. Shortly after this, my uncle, whose house was only 13 minutes from the chapel, suddenly decided to move, and offered us his beautiful house. I knew my prayer had been heard. We were so happy, because finally we could work in the Church. By this time my husband had been released from the hospital, and we were able to attend our meetings as a family.

“After we moved, the Church announced plans for building a chapel in Nagoya, and everyone started to work very hard to earn money for the building fund. Shortly before this my husband decided to start his own business—a bakery. Again, we had very little money; we had used all our savings to start the business, and we used my monthly check to live on. We didn’t know how we could help with the building fund, especially since I was pregnant and would not be able to work much longer. Although my husband’s business was growing, we didn’t have enough to live on, pay the building fund, and prepare for our new baby. I worked long enough to receive my annual bonus and laid it aside to pay expenses for our baby. This was all the money we had.

“One night the branch president called us and said that they lacked just a little to complete the building fund, and he asked us if we could please help. The only money we had was for the baby, soon to be born; and since that was all we had, it was also all we could give. That evening we took the money to the branch president. It was just enough to complete the branch’s assessment on the new chapel.

“We didn’t worry after that about where we would get the money to pay our child’s expenses; we knew that the Lord would take care of us. Naturally I worried some, but whenever I would think about it, I always felt at peace.

“The next month, my husband was hired in full-time … employment … in the Nagoya area. We did not even know that this job existed. With his new salary we would have enough to pay the hospital bills when our child was born. God says you must do whatever you can, and after that, you must leave the rest to him. I know this is true” (“Two Hours from the Chapel,” Ensign, Aug. 1975, 64–65).

  • After Sister Hotta prayed with faith to be able to serve in the Church, how did the Lord bless her family? How did the Lord bless Brother and Sister Hotta for giving the money to the Church that they had saved for the baby?

Sister Hotta gave a good description of faith. Having faith means doing whatever we can to live the principles of the gospel, even when it seems logically impossible. When we have done all we can and exercise faith, the Lord has promised that He will help us.

Faith Is Kept Alive by Obedience

Faith is like a living plant; it will wither and die if we do not nourish and protect it. The way to keep our faith alive is to obey gospel principles as we learn them. “Faith is a gift of God bestowed as a reward for personal righteousness” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 214). If we begin to break the commandments of God, we will weaken our faith. Satan employs many means to try to get us to neglect God’s commandments and thus weaken our faith.

  • Display visual 1-d, “Nephi rebuking his older brothers for their sinful ways.”

In 1 Nephi we read of Laman and Lemuel, the brothers of Nephi. They were taught many true principles by their father, by Nephi, and even by angels. But they did not develop faith because they found it difficult to accept what Lehi and Nephi taught, and they chose not to live by these true principles. They complained that the commandments were too hard to keep. They criticized their father and brother. They did not want to do as they were commanded. They quickly fell into sin.

By contrast, Nephi did each thing he was asked and trusted in the Lord. God rewarded his faith, and many miracles happened in Nephi’s life. He was able to build a ship even though he knew nothing about shipbuilding. He was given power beyond his own abilities and was able to defeat his brothers’ wicked plans. He was privileged to see visions and talk with an angel of God. Because of his obedience, he was blessed with greater faith. Because of his faith, he had the power of God in his life.

We, too, can keep our faith alive by being obedient. We can nourish our faith through fasting and praying, reading the scriptures, attending our church meetings, and doing the things we are asked by our church leaders. We can keep our faith strong by not criticizing and complaining.

  • Why do criticizing and complaining weaken our faith?

Each of us will have our faith tried. We may even believe that the Lord has not noticed our faith and obedience. We may feel that He is far away, has not seen our trials, and will not answer our prayers. When these times come, it helps to realize that our faith is being tested. If we persevere with patience and continue to do right, we will be given strength to overcome our trials. We will be rewarded for our faith and obedience.

Moroni taught that “faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith” (Ether 12:6).

And the Lord said, “My people must be tried in all things, that they may be prepared to receive the glory that I have for them, even the glory of Zion; and he that will not bear chastisement is not worthy of my kingdom” (D&C 136:31).

Conclusion

It is important for us to nourish our faith through fasting and prayer, obedience to the commandments of God, scripture reading, attendance at our church meetings, and doing what we are asked by our church leaders. When we do so, we will have the strength to pass through trials in our lives.

Challenge

Decide how you are going to strengthen your faith. Write your decision on a piece of paper as a reminder. Read Alma 32:17–43 and Moroni 7:33–39 during the week.

Additional Scriptures

Teacher Preparation

Before presenting this lesson:

  1. 1.

    Study Gospel Principles chapter 11, “The Life of Christ,” and chapter 18, “Faith in Jesus Christ.”

  2. 2.

    Study 1 Nephi 3–4 and Alma 32:17–43.

  3. 3.

    Assign class members to present any stories, scriptures, or quotations you wish.