“You just need to have more faith.” “All it takes is a little faith.” “Faith is the key!” How many of us have had questions, concerns, frustrations, or doubts and every time we expressed those feelings to someone, we were told we simply needed to develop or work on our faith?
How did it make you feel when that was the response you were given? I’ll be honest… sometimes I felt like throwing that amazing individual through a wall! But I was sssstrong!
That answer never made a whole lot of sense to me, and it never satisfied my concerns or answered my questions. There are many people I know who feel like the questions or doubts they have are never addressed, or answered. This leaves many wondering if there is an answer, and if no one can give them an answer, maybe the things they’ve believed and hoped in all their lives aren’t really true.
Now, I thought I knew something about faith. I attended Primary where I planted my little seed in a cup, took it home, put it in the kitchen window, and watched it grow. I knew it was the first principle of the gospel, and I knew that “faith is to hope for things which are not seen, but which are true” (Alma 32:21). I could give my teachers examples from the scriptures of those who had faith. I served a full-time mission, which I knew took a lot of faith. I watched people accept the gospel and join the church. I knew they had faith.
Then I came home from my mission and started attending college at the University of Utah. Having grown up in a home where we watched every BYU football game while lounging on our BYU pillows—that took faith right?!
Then there was the girl I knew I was going to marry. It was time to act in faith and ask her to marry me. I found her at the Institute. We saw each other, smiled, and both blurted out that we needed to talk. We found a place to talk, and being the gentleman that I am, told her to go first… “I turned in my mission papers on Sunday! I’m going on a mission!!!!” “Wait. What?” Again, I was told that the Lord must have something better in mind, and I needed to just have blah, blah, blah, blah!
On February 3, 2006, as a brand new seminary teacher, I attended a meeting for all Church Educational System religious educators, where I listened to Elder David A. Bednar deliver a life-changing address called, “Seek Learning by Faith.” Read it. Read it now. I walked out of that meeting knowing that I actually knew very little about the principle of faith, and decided it was time to start increasing my understanding of the subject.
Here are a few things I’ve learned in my study of faith that has really helped me. First, you will get much more out of your own personal study than you ever could from reading this, but since you’re here…let’s go!
- First, I learned that faith is more than just belief. It’s ACTION!!! James E. Talmage stated that “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 the secret of ambition, the soul of heroism, the motive power of effort.” (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, pg. 87, 93)
- God doesn’t want to leave us in the dark. The answers are there. But in a world of Google, Wikipedia, the internet, etc. we are used to easy access to a lot of information, and getting that information instantly. That’s not the way the Lord works, and not all information is equal! Things of a spiritual nature must be understood through the Spirit. GO TO THE SOURCE! Ask, seek, knock! But ask Him, seek Him, knock on His door! In Doctrine and Covenants 11:13-14, the Lord says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy; And then shall ye know, or by this shall you know, all things whatsoever you desire of me, which are pertaining unto things of righteousness, in faith believing in me that you shall receive.”
- “But I’ve tried that! I didn’t see any difference. I don’t feel like I received any answer. It didn’t work for me!” In Ether 12:6, the prophet Moroni taught us 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.” Elder Neal A. Maxwell said that “The issue for us is trusting God enough to trust also His timing. If we can truly believe He has our welfare at heart, may we not let His plans unfold as He thinks best?” [Even As I Am (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1982), 93]
- I must also be willing to act on what I receive from Him. It’s not enough to receive an answer. We must follow whatever is revealed to us through the Holy Ghost. Throughout the scriptures we see countless examples of those who willingly act on the light given to them. This leads to greater understanding, and the ability to do and accomplish great things throughout our lives. When we choose not to act on what is given, it is taken from us and we are right back where we started!
- Read the definition of Faith in the Bible Dictionary. You could spend months having your mind blown by what it teaches there!
- If you didn’t pause reading this to go and read Elder Bednar’s talk, “Seek Learning by Faith,” go and do it. Hopefully it will inspire you as much as it inspired me to further my study.
This is a glimpse of some things I’ve learned for myself. I still have questions. I still get frustrated at times. But I also know that if I go to the right source, I’m willing to work for it, and I continually act on what I receive—in time (the Lord’s time), I can “know the truth of all things.” (Moroni 10:5).
Adam Spere lives in Bountiful, UT with his wife and three children. He served a full-time mission for the Church to the Brazil, Salvador South Mission. He has been with Seminaries and Institutes for 9 years and is currently the principal of Salt Lake West Seminary.