An Exploration of the Process of Faith as Taught in the Book of Mormon
Gerald R. Lund

Director, CES College Curriculum A Symposium on the Book of Mormon (1978), pp. 74-80.

Faith—A Lifetime Study

Even if it were not for our fourth Article of Faith, which lists faith as one of the first principles and ordinances of the gospel, it would be obvious to anyone opening the standard works that faith is a pervasive, all-encompassing principle. The word itself, or its cognate forms, is found hundreds—literally hundreds—of times in the four standard works. Its importance in the plan of salvation and the eternal scheme of things could best be summarized by Paul's statement that "without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him." (Hebrews 11:6.) Joseph Smith, commenting on that verse, said, "If it should be asked—Why is it impossible to please God without faith? The answer would be— Because without faith it is impossible for men to be saved; and as God desires the salvation of men, he must of course desire that they should have faith; and he could not be pleased unless they had, or else he could be pleased with their destruction." (N. B. Lundwall, comp., A Compilation Containing the Lectures on Faith, Lecture Seventh, vs.7 (Salt Lake City: N.B. Lundwall, n.d. p.62.) Clearly, then, faith is at the center point of all that we do and teach in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, however, in the Church we occasionally find some whose attitude seems to be that since it is the first principle of the gospel, it is also a simple principle, easily comprehended and therefore to be left behind as one moves on to more complicated and challenging areas of study. However, this is not the case. Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone has summed up, as well as any, the challenge of studying faith as a concept: "We have those in the Church who think if they only could understand more about the Adam-God theory—or they ask if Jesus Christ was married. You know, what a great thing it is if we understand what faith is. What is faith? How does it work? Do you have total faith? When we come to a full and total understanding of faith, then I think we ought to move on to repentance. When we understand that totally, then we should move through the principles. But I doubt we will ever really get through an understanding and complete knowledge of faith in a lifetime. I don't care how intellectual you are, or how long you study, I doubt you will ever come to an end of the study of faith, the first principle of the gospel. The gospel is so simple that a fool will not err therein, but it is so beautiful and so sophisticated that I believe the greatest intellectual can make a study of faith and never come to an end of understanding." ("As If They Would Ask Him to Tarry a Uttle Longer," Speeches of the Year, 1975, [Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1976], p. 375.)

Faith—A Principle of Power
If one were to ask a typical Church group to give a one-word synonym for faith, the usual answers that would be given are belief, trust, assurance, hope, action, and so on. Joseph Smith's Lectures on Faith defines faith in a different way, a way that has profound implication for our understanding. In the first lecture, commenting on Hebrews 12:3, the Prophet said: "But faith is not only the principle of action, but of power also, in all intelligent beings, whether in heaven or on earth. Thus says the author of the epistle to the Hebrews 11:3" '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.'" By this we understand that 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. "Had it not been for the principle of faith the worlds would never have been framed neither would man have been formed of the dust. It is the principle by which Jehovah works, and through which he exercises power over all temporal as well as eternal things. Take this principle or attribute—for it is an attribute—from the Deity, and he would cease to exist. "Who cannot see, that if God framed the worlds by faith, that it is by faith that he exercises power over them, and that faith is the principle of power? And if the principle of power, it must be so in man as well as in the Deity? This is the testimony of all the sacred writers, and the lesson which they have been endeavouring to teach to man." (Vss. 13-17, pp. 8-9.) When we define faith in terms of a power principle, new vistas of understanding are opened and our thinking is challenged. And yet, as we look at the scriptures and find examples of men with faith, we find in virtually every case demonstrations of tremendous and marvelous power. We find Enoch, for example, speaking the word of the Lord and the earth trembling and the mountains fleeing! (See Moses 7:13.) We find Joshua looking up and saying, "Sun, stand thou still"; and the sun obeys! (See Joshua 10:12-14.) Or we find Peter and a lame man near the gate of the temple—a man who was born with a congenital birth defect and had not been able to walk for the forty years of his life. Peter said, simply, "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk" And the record states, "And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God." (See Acts 3:1-10. Italics added.) Faith is the power by which God speaks and worlds, solar systems, and universes come into being. So when we speak of faith we speak of tremendous power, even the power that can save a man from temporal and spiritual death.

Requirements for Developing Faith
In the third lecture on faith, Joseph Smith described what is necessary for a man to have faith sufficient to bring him salvation: "Let us here observe, that three things are necessary in order that any rational and intelligent being may exercise faith in God unto life and salvation. First, the idea that he actually exists. Secondly, a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes. Thirdly, an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing is according to his will. For without an acquaintance with these three important facts, the faith of every rational being must be imperfect and unproductive; but with this understanding it can become perfect and fruitful, abounding in righteousness, unto the praise and glory of God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Vss. 2-5, p. 33.) When one looks at these three requirements carefully, it becomes obvious that each of the three involves knowledge; that is, we have an idea in the first one, a correct idea in the second one, and an actual knowledge in the third one. If we are to think backwards in terms of what it is that brings one to salvation, we could draw a diagram that would look something like this: (not on this document) In other words, what Joseph Smith was saying is that if we are to achieve salvation, we must have faith; and if we are to have faith, we must have knowledge. This seems to be a very profound thing to know about faith and how it is achieved, and yet it raises a troubling question. If one says knowledge is the requirement or prerequisite of faith, someone will invariably ask, But if knowledge leads to faith, how do you explain Alma 32 wherein Alma describes the process of getting faith as having faith first, which then leads one to a perfect knowledge? It was an attempt to answer this very question that led to this presentation. After carefully rereading Alma and studying the Lectures on Faith, I came to some tentative conclusions which provided a basis for some very attractive conceptualizations about faith. One day this thought occurred: Suppose faith is a process rather than simply a concept? Suppose that the same word is used by different prophets to describe different phases or stages of the process? Could that explain what seems to be a different use of the same term? And if that is true, can the process be described? Is it described in the scriptures? To my surprise I found that a process of faith seems to be what the prophets talk about and that the best descriptions of that process are found within the Book of Mormon itself. In an attempt to describe this process, I developed the following paradigm, or model, of what the process of faith is. A word or two of caution needs to be said before we begin looking at the model itself. First, one of the dangers of any model is that it tends to oversimplify things. This is of value in one way, because it helps us to conceptualize or to grasp the relationships of a complex subject. But when one begins to push the model too far in reality, one finds that it may not hold up in all cases. Or one can find exceptions that may not truly fit the model, and this needs to be remembered. The following paradigm is included only to help one conceptualize a grand and complex subject. Secondly, Brother Featherstone's comment that the study of faith is a lifetime study and one that can be pursued without ever reaching the end of understanding suggests that the model presented here will receive additional refinements or adaptations as one pursues the study of faith even further. Therefore, it is to be viewed only as a tentative attempt to describe the process of faith. Thirdly, the model is based very heavily on three major sections in the Book of Mormon that deal with faith: Alma 32, Ether 12, and Moroni 7. Unfortunately, the limitation of time in this presentation does not allow us to carefully study and scrutinize those chapters in the way that is necessary if one is to fully understand the process of faith as it is described here. The reader is encouraged to study those chapters carefully prior to working his way through the paradigm that is presented.

The Process Which We Call Faith
As noted above, one of the challenges that we face in describing or discussing faith is the idea that faith is a process that involves various stages of development. A prophet may speak of faith as a whole, or he may refer to any one of the different stages of the process and still use the word faith. This presents a challenge as we study the scriptures. In fact, it sometimes creates confusion in the minds of people who are carefully reading the scriptures. Joseph Smith, for example, says faith is power; Alma says faith is hope. Both can be easily understood if one uses the process model of faith. But in the very development of the model, this prophetic tendency to use one word—faith—to discuss different aspects of the concept makes it difficult to delineate different stages of the process. After some consideration, I decided that rather than trying to generate new terms—terms not used by the prophets—it would be better to use the basic word with a number subscript instead, thus describing the stages of the process as faith, faith2, and so on. In addition, it seems to me that at each stage of faith there are three basic components which are always present: hope, action, and confirmation. Again, because these may differ somewhat in their nature, depending at which level of the process of faith one is, I have chosen to call these in the same way: hope, action, confirmation, and so on. So let us now examine the different levels or stages of the process of developing faith.

Alma 32 on Faith
To begin, let us examine Alma 32. One of the conclusions that I came to after careful study is that Alma 32 describes the initial process of the development of faith, or in terms of our nomenclature, the development of faith - Remember that Alma was speaking to the Zoramites, or, more precisely, a group of Zoramites who had been expelled from the congregations of the Zoramite churches because of their poor, lower-class status. Remember also that the Zoramites had apostatized from the Nephites, that they worshiped idols (see Alma 31:31) and had developed a very proud and perverted way of worshiping (see Alma 31:8-23). In other words, Alma was not speaking to members of Christ's church here, members who have a basis for their faith. Rather, he was speaking to a group who were just beginning the process of faith development. This has some important implications for his discussion on faith. As we carefully look at what he said to these Zoramite poor, it seems that he used the terms faith and perfect knowledge in a peculiar sense, that is, in a sense different from the normal usage of the terms. He equated faith with "a hope or desire to believe what is not known to be true." Notice what he said in verse 21 of Alma 32: "And now as I said concerning 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." Notice that he said, "If ye have faith ye hope." In other words he seemed to be defining faith as a hope or desire that the things which he was telling them were true. Now look closely at his use of the term perfect knowledge. (Note verses 18-34). In verse 18 he said, "If a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it." In verse 33, after telling them how to experiment with the word, he said that when they begin to see it work they must know that the seed is good. In other words, you don't have to hope or desire to believe that it is good; you know that it is good and therefore he said in verse 34, "Your knowledge is perfect in that thing." Obviously, he was not talking about perfect knowledge in any grand or universal sense; and he made this clear when he pointed out in verses 35 and 36 that once a person has tasted this light, his knowledge is not perfect in an ultimate sense. Therefore, again let us emphasize that Alma seemed to define faith as a hope or desire to believe that something is true. And he defined perfect knowledge in the limited sense: knowledge based on an evidence that something is true. A person has perfect knowledge when he no longer hopes or believes that it is true but he knows that it is true. Before we begin diagramming the model of the process of faith, one last preliminary point needs to be made. Notice in Alma 32 that Alma said there are two prerequisites for the development of faith, even the very first level of faith. These prerequisites are, first, humility (see verse 16); and, second, hearing the word (see verse 23). Both of these are obvious. If one is not willing to humble himself and make the experiment, then faith can never be developed. And even more fundamental, if one does not have the word on which to experiment, if he does not have knowledge or information on which to begin to believe, knowledge in which to hope that it is true, then he cannot have faith. So these are prerequisites for the whole process of faith. (For additional references see also Moroni 7:24, 25 and Romans 10:13-17.)

Level One—Faith or Hope
At each stage of faith we seem to have three components required if the stage is to be realized. Note the diagram of the first level of faith, or faith1. One can immediately see the three components in their proper relationship to one another. Hope1, or the initial level of hope, would be the beginning step for the whole process. It is the beginning or lowest level of hope and really is nothing more than the desire or wish that something is true. It is as though the person is motivated to say," I want to know if this is true." Notice in verse 27 Alma said,"...even ye can no more than desire to believe...."(Italics added.) If a person has hope1, then he will be motivated to action. The second step of the process, which is the second component of faith, is action. At this first level of faith, this action may be no more than a willingness to try and find out if the word he's heard is true. Now let's pause here for a moment and look at Ether 12:6. In this chapter, Moroni taught what turned out to be a very important concept. He said: "And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen... (Italics added.) This is essentially what Paul told us in Hebrews 11:1. In this case faith, or the ability to trust in something not seen, is quite clear. One cannot "see" that the word he has heard is true; that is, one does not have empirical proof of the truthfulness of the word that has been given to him. Therefore, he must act on faith—he must trust or hope for something to be, although it is not yet based on seen evidence. Then Moroni continued by saying,"Wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith." (Italics added.) In every case, in every level of the development of faith, there must be a trial of faith. That is, one is tested to see if he will act on the basis of the hope that is in him, or he has to show that he is motivated to behave in keeping with the truths that he has been given, before he has actual proof or hard evidence that these things are true. Notice again what Alma told the Zoramite poor. In verses 27 and 28 of Alma 32, he said "Awake and arouse your faculties...experiment upon my words...exercise a particle of faith...give place for a portion of my not cast it [the word ] out by your unbelief." (Italics added.) Notice the verbs of action that he used. The individual must act on his desire to know if the word is true (hope1). This initial level of action (we'll call it action1) is basically one of will, one of deciding to try to find out if it's true. This operates out of one's hope that it is true. When one acts by experimenting, awaking, exercising, and so on, he is led to the third component of faith, which is a confirmation of his hope. At this initial level of the faith process (faith1 —hope1) we would call this confirmation1. Alma described this kind of evidence as basically being on a feeling level. It is empirical, or real, evidence; it is evidence that is available to the senses. It may be difficult to verbalize because it is on a feeling level, but that doesn't lessen its reality. Notice again how Alma described what happens when one is willing to act on the basis of this hope. He said,"It will begin to beginneth to enlarge [the] beginneth to enlighten [the] beginneth to be delicious" to a person. Based on this real though difficult to verbalize evidence, one can say, as Alma indicated in verse 33, "Ye must needs know that the seed is good." (Italics added.) In other words, you now have knowledge based on empirical evidence. Alma called this "perfect knowledge." That perfect knowledge through the trial of faith and confirmed by real evidence then does away with the faith described by Alma (to the nonfaithful Zoramites) as a hope or desire to believe what is not known to be true—one knows it is true, so he no longer needs to hope that it is true. Perfect knowledge takes away or swallows up faith, as Alma used the term. When one moves through the trial of faith (that is, he lets the hope in him move him to act and then has his hope confirmed) at this initial level of the process, we can say that he has achieved the first stage of faith, which equals hope. This is what we term faith1. But notice that in this case it comes only with the trial of faith, which means that one has to trust in things that are not seen. This is at an investigator level—one is investigating whether or not something is true. Alma's description and discussion fit the Zoramite needs perfectly. He used faith and knowledge in a particular way. Typically we would hypothesize that when a person begins the process of developing faith and enters into faith1, described so perfectly by Alma, he will likely get confirmation quite rapidly. We see this over and over in the mission field. When a person truly humbles himself upon hearing the word and experiments upon the word (that is, through prayer he seeks to know whether or not it is true), very often the confirmation, the swelling, the feeling of truthfulness, the almost indescribably sensation that this is good comes to him quickly, and he receives a confirmation that it was a good seed.

Level Two Faith or Knowledge
When one has achieved faith1, has he achieved all that there is to have? Obviously not. Alma himself encouraged the people to continue on once they had received this "perfect knowledge." He told them to nourish this seed that was starting to grow until it becomes a great tree and provides them the fruit of eternal life. (See verses 25-43.) In other words, once a person has faith he can move on to the next level of the process in developing faith. Since one now knows that the word is true, he is above the initial level of faith as being just hope. The second stage of faith (faith2) is a belief or knowledge level of faith. Once again we find the three components of the faith process. In this case we shall call them hope2, action2, and confirmation2. In the second level of hope one has more than a desire to know if something is true; he has now had confirmation or empirical evidence of something that he knows to be true. In other words, he has a belief of "a more sure hope." Now his attitude could be described as being not "I want to know if this is true" but, rather "I desire this truth. I know that it's true: now I want it." This is a major step upwards from the faith1 level. In his sermon to the Zoramites, Alma did not discuss in detail this second level of faith, not because he didn't understand it, but because of the nature of his audience. But as we look at Ether 12 and Moroni 7 we find statements like this: "Whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world"; or, You "shall have hope through the atonement of be raised unto life eternal"; or, "Without faith [could this be faith1?] there cannot be any hope." (See the chart above for the references. Italics added.) When a person moves into this second level of hope (hope2), where he begins to believe in the things he has heard rather than simply desiring to believe, he will then be motivated to action again, if his hope is sincere. This, however, is action on a higher level than that of faith1. This second level of action (action2) could be defined as a willingness to live the truths one belives to be true. Before, he acted to find out if they were true. Now, he acts to incorporate those truths in his life. Here again we find in operation the principle taught by Moroni in Ether 12:6: one must have his faith tried; one must prove by his actions that the hope that is in him truly is sincere and serious. Notice what Moroni said about this hope which comes of faith. He said it makes "an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works." (Ether 12:4 Italics added.) In his letter, Mormon said, "They who have faith in him will cleave unto every good thing." (Moroni 7:28. Italics added.) This seems to be what Alma meant when he said, "Behold, if ye nourish [the word] with much care it will get root." (Alma 32:37.) When a person operates at this second level of action, he again undergoes the trial of faith. He must show that he is willing to trust in things not seen. When he does so he receives a second level of confirmation (confirmation2) or evidence on a behavioral level. Again, it is empirical evidence but it is more outward than that received in confirmation, where the evidence was mostly inner feelings (although there is still much on the feeling level here as well). In many cases this level of empirical evidence is easier to identify and to verbalize. It would involve statements such as, "Yes, my prayer was answered"; or, "I can see that this principle works in my life." This kind of confirmation leads people to say, not "I believe," but, "I know the gospel is true." Alma described this level of evidence as plucking the fruit from the tree. The word has grown to the point where we can actually begin to taste of the fruits of it in our lives. In Moroni 7:25 we read, "Thus by faith, they did lay hold upon every good thing." (Italics added.) Now that we have examined the first two levels of faith, we begin to appreciate the profound implications of the discussion of faith and works given by James the apostle. If a man does not have works joined to his faith, then his faith is dead, "being alone." (See James 2:17.) If a man has the hope or desire that something is true (hope1) but refuses to act on that hope, then he will receive no confirmation, and his faith, even at this early stage, will be dead. The same is true in level two. Once he believes that something is true but refuses to live the truth, then he has faith without works and his faith dies. He will receive no confirmation. The confirmation comes only after the trial of faith. But in this second level, his trial is not on an investigator level; he is tried on a higher conversion, or testimony, level of the trial of faith.

Level Three—Faith or Power
Now we are prepared to look at the next level of faith, which brings us to faith as Joseph Smith defined it. We could say that faith3 is the power level of faith. Once again we are describing a major step upward from faith2, and once again we find all three components operating just as they did in the previous levels. Hope3, or the third level of hope, could be described as a knowledge and assurance of things not seen. The first level of hope (hope1) was to hope that something was true. This leads us to the second level (hope), which is to believe that it is true. But now, because we have gone through the process of faith2, we have confirmation and knowledge that the things we cannot see are indeed true. This makes a new level of hope (hope3) possible. At this level a person's attitude is reflected by this statement: I have the truth and I desire to use it to become like God. This is, I believe, what Moroni meant by the phrase, "a more excellent hope." And it seems to also describe what Nephi meant by "a perfect brightness of hope." When one's hope is this strong, when one truly has knowledge and assurance of unseen things, this leads him to live on the third level of action, willingness to do whatever God requires of a person. It may involve a wide range of behaviors, including going to the welfare farm, not dating before sixteen, or something as trying and changing as God's requests to Abraham that he sacrifice his only son. In his development of faith, if one has reached this point of hope or knowledge but refuses to act accordingly, then as James said, "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." (James 2:26.) He has failed the trial of faith and will receive no confirmation of his hope. Notice the quotation by Joseph Smith from the Lectures on Faith included in the diagram above. He said that only a willingness to sacrifice whatever God requires brings that knowledge which allows a man to obtain the faith that is required before he can be saved. If a man operates at this level of action, which is based on the higher level of hope (hope3), we would expect that confirmation of his hope would be forthcoming, and such is the case. But confirmation3 is a higher level of confirmation than previously given. This we could describe as evidence on many levels of experience. This is empirical evidence in the classical sense of the word. It can involve experiences of inner feelings and knowledge, but it can also include experiences available to the senses, such as visions, visitations of angels, the demonstration of power in miracles, speaking in tongues, and the like. These may still be hard to verbalize (in the sense that words are inadequate to describe them) but they are irrefutable kinds of evidence. They are tremendous demonstrations that cannot be denied by the honest person. Notice the promises cited under the confirmation3 level in the diagram above. This is what is meant by the Lord when he said, "And these signs shall follow them that believe." (Mark 16:17.) This also helps us better understand what the Lord meant when he said: "But, behold, faith cometh not by signs, but signs follow those that believe." "Yea, signs come by faith, not by the will of men, nor as they please, but by the will of God." "Yea, signs come by faith, unto mighty works, for without faith no man pleaseth God...." (D&C 63:9-11.) I believe this also gives us added insight as to why those who seek signs in order to bolster faith are called "a wicked and adulterous generation." (Matthew 16:4.) A person who wants to build his faith only on the basis of confirmation or evidence without living the principles seeks to circumvent the trial of faith which Moroni described. That is, he wants to have confirmation without paying the price of hope and action. And this "adulterates" or pollutes the proper relationship in the developmental process of faith, Satan seems to understand the significance of this and often prompts his servants to demand a sign, to demand faith without paying any price. (See, for example, Jacob 7:13; Alma 30:43; Ether 1 2:5)

Level Four—Faith or Perfection
In level three of faith, or the power level, we described the faith shown by the people in the scriptures whom we typically characterize as having great faith. Many people might think of this as being the highest level of faith, but I would like to suggest that there is a fourth level of faith which could be described as the perfection level. Once again, this is a major step upward. We have to be a little more speculative as we describe this level of the process of faith because there are relatively few who have achieved it and those who have seem reticent (by direction of the Spirit) to talk about it in much detail. But I believe again that it involves our three components of hope, action, and confirmation. In level three, our level of hope was knowledge and assurance. How could one come to a higher level than that? I would suggest that the fourth level of hope is the actual knowledge that one will become like God and is characterized by the attitude, "I desire to be as God." Two scriptures come to mind: "The more sure word of prophecy means a man's knowing that he is sealed up unto eternal life" (D&C 131:5, italics added); and, "for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall" (2 Peter 1:10, italics added), Peter's promises to those who were laboring to make their calling and election sure. When one has reached this level of faith in mortality, then his calling and election is made sure, and he is told by the more sure word or prophecy that he will be exalted. One can imagine the level of hope or desire that such a revelation would create in him. Such a level of hope (hope4) would lead him to the fourth or highest level of action—the level where he lives as God lives, or where his life becomes more and more godlike until he is made perfect and becomes worthy to become a god. Whether or not the phrase "trial of faith" adequately describes this fourth level of action is not important. What is important is to know that one still must live at a level of action which is commensurate with the level of hope that is within him. When he does so he will receive a level of confirmation also commensurate with the level of action upon which he is operating. In the highest level of confirmation (confirmation4) a man receives the ultimate proof of the truths of the gospel—he is made a god!

As we said at the beginning, perhaps the paradigm given above is inadequate to describe all the complexities of faith. Almost certainly it needs further clarification and refinement. But I have found it to be tremendously helpful as I think through what faith is as the prophets talk about it. When Joseph Smith says faith is power, he is obviously speaking about a different level of faith than when Alma says to experiment upon his words so that faith can be swallowed up in perfect knowledge. I also find it helpful to see the three components— hope, action, and confirmation—at each level of faith, for I find the three principles operating in the lives of those who demonstrate faith. These principles also have relationship to repentance, baptism, and enduring to the end. Often we risk the danger of making sign seekers of our students by talking of being born again, of having one's calling and election made sure. As we talk about these important concepts, we must clearly define the price that must be paid so that one does not just go out on a mountaintop and try to prove himself worthy or have his calling and election made sure. Rather one must operate according to the level of knowledge and hope that he has in him. Then he receives a greater and greater confirmation until he can receive that final confirmation of having his calling and election made sure. I firmly believe that this is the process that we must exemplify in our own lives if we are to find that power. Joseph Smith said this: "All the saints of whom we have account, in all the revelations of God which are extant, obtained the knowledge which they had of their acceptance in this sight through the sacrifice which they offered unto him; and through the knowledge thus obtained their faith became sufficiently strong to lay hold upon the promise of eternal life, and to endure as seeing him who is invisible; and were enabled, through faith, to combat the powers of darkness, contend against the wiles of the adversary, overcome the world, and obtain the end of their faith, even the salvation of their souls." (Lectures on Faith, Lecture Sixth, vs. 11.) To this point we have not said anything about charity, though it is clear that faith, hope, and charity are interwoven, interdependent concepts. (See I Corinthians 13; Moroni 7:44-48.) The inter-relationship of faith and hope is now clear, but where does charity enter in? As I have pondered this, I find a simple but deeply profound answer—charity enters in at every level, every aspect, every point. The pure love of Christ validates every level of action to make it productive. This seems to be what Paul meant when he said one can prophesy or give alms or numerous other things and have them be meaningless if they are not done because of a love of God and, fellowman. It is charity which lights our hope, strengthens our will, gratifies our confirmation. It suffers long, endures much, is properly motivated, hopes for all things, and endures all things. I have not shown charity in the paradigm because it would need to be shown everywhere, for it permeates the whole process of faith and salvation. Mormon explained thus: "But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever, and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure." (Moroni 7:47,48.)

Alma 31-33


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