Faith in Mormonism
Faith is a fundamental aspect of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Mormonism, which asserts itself as the restored gospel of Christ in these, the final days of the world, reaffirms faith as an essential ingredient in a person’s salvation. Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) wrote: “We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
Faith, then, goes well beyond blindly believing something. Mormons understand faith to be a hope for things which are not seen, but are true; faith represents utter confidence in a person or thing. Jesus Christ, the very personification of all that is good and true, loving and merciful, powerful and unchanging—indeed, the core of human existence and progression—offers Himself as the completely reliable object of our faith.
Mormonism emphasizes the role of divinely called prophets, and that of the Holy Ghost, in the process of developing faith. The Bible and the Book of Mormon teach that God has always used a pattern of revealing truth and beneficial commandments to prophets, who in turn share that truth with others and also teach them how to verify the truth for themselves. People can pray about the teachings, they can ponder them in their hearts, and they can give the commandments a trial period of obedience to see if benefits indeed come into fruition, including increased understanding, joy, health, and faith. If a person listens and obeys with real intent, hoping to receive a confirmation from God (a personal testimony or conviction as to the truth of the prophetic message), he will feel the influence of the Holy Ghost and he will see positive changes in his life, and he will know.
All true prophets of the Lord have testified of Jesus Christ, for He is at the center of God’s plan of salvation for his children, the people of the earth. Because of his redeeming acts, we will be resurrected after death: our bodies and spirits will be reunited in a perfected and immortal form. We will also find forgiveness for our sins and be judged as clean and worthy because of Jesus. This, however, requires faith on our part. We need to have a belief and conviction that Christ, and only Christ, can heal us of our weaknesses and cleanse us of our sins after we have striven with faith to be like Him. We need to follow His example and teachings with our whole hearts, and then rely on His grace to compensate for the mistakes we nonetheless make.
We know of His teachings and example thanks to prophets. Good and worthy men, they have exercised faith and have subsequently received revelations from God about the divine role of His Son. Even the Apostles who lived and worked alongside the Savior did not gain a witness of His divinity because of His miracles, for faith is rarely fostered by miracles. Rather, we have examples such as Peter, who obtained knowledge of Jesus’ true character primarily because of the influence of the Holy Ghost. We today have access to the same Holy Ghost: people can feel his influence from time to time as they do good works and as they search for the true Church of Christ; then, when they enter that Church through baptism, they can receive the gift of having the Holy Ghost continually with them to guide them. Depending on their faith, their obedience, and the will of the Lord, they can feel the Holy Ghost’s power to varying degrees throughout their lives. Such a privilege is enjoyed by members of the Mormon Church, who believe that theirs is indeed the true Church of Christ.
Mormons believe that faith is not only a key element in verifying divine truth and in obtaining salvation through Christ, but it is also the very power by which Jesus and all his prophets have ever performed miracles, from healing the sick to parting the Red Sea, to even creating the world. By faith we also can experience miracles in our lives. When we have a problem or difficult decision, we can turn to the Lord in faith and prayer and receive guidance through the feelings and impressions wrought by the Holy Ghost. Oftentimes the answers we obtain seem inadequate or unreasonable. For example, a mother might feel prompted by the Spirit to give her children some extra attention and care after prayerfully expressing her concerns about an upcoming college test. She might be puzzled by God’s instruction and could be tempted to rely on her own inclinations to study for the test and worry about the kids later. However, the experience of countless Mormons has demonstrated that the Lord is well aware of the needs of all his children, including the academic aspirations of a parent and the need of a child for loving affection and teaching. When a person obeys a spiritual prompting with faith, everything else tends to fall into place. A mother and child’s relationship is remarkably enhanced, and, almost as a side note, a college test is smoothly and successfully taken. Truly, faith precedes the miracle; and with faith, all things are possible.