Mormon Beliefs on Faith
Mormon theology teaches that faith is the first principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the foundation for a Christ-like life and eternal salvation. Revealed scripture, the Book of Mormon, identifies faith as a “hope for things which are not seen, which are true” (Alma 32:21). Just as planting a seed is motivated by the faith that it will grow, most forms of labor are accompanied by some degree of faith that there will arise resultant rewards. Biblical accounts proclaim that through faith Noah saved his family from the flood, Moses parted the Red Sea, and Elijah called fire down from heaven. In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Nephi called on the Lord for a famine and then ended it by the power of faith. Indeed, “by faith all things are fulfilled” (Ether 12:3). This includes not only dramatic miracles, but truly all things. Mormonism teaches that faith in Jesus Christ is essential for salvation. Jesus Christ is the only name through which salvation can be obtained. Faith in Jesus Christ, therefore, means there is a hope in the power of Jesus Christ to save. To the Mormon, faith is an “action word.” As taught in James 2:16, 17, 20, and 26, we learn that “Faith without works is dead.” James explains this by stating, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead.” If a person truly has faith, it will move him to action, and the actions will testify of genuine belief and trust in Jesus Christ. It is important to understand that Mormons believe in BOTH works and grace. We are judged by our works and the set of our hearts, but our works cannot save us. We can never do enough to save ourselves or make ourselves pure enough to enter God’s kingdom. Christ makes up for our lack through His grace, and thus we are saved “after all we can do.”Faith, then, goes far beyond belief. As cited earlier, 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. This confidence can only be obtained through a confirmation from the Holy Spirit that something truly is from God. 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 and ultimate object of our faith.
Faith includes a belief that the Lord will answer prayers and that His desires, or His will, for us are best. A person with faith will approach the Lord in prayer, asking to know His will and promising to do that will. When one’s faith is lacking, it is difficult to feel the love of the Lord and to understand that following directions received from God will bring happiness and fulfillment to the life of every individual.
Mormons believe that difficult experiences in life and tests of obedience are “trials of one’s faith.” The Lord has said, “I will try the faith of my people,” (3 Nephi 26:11). The Lord is continually proving His people so that they may become more righteous and grow stronger in faith. In Doctrine and Covenants 98:12 Jesus Christ says, “For [God] will give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept; and . . . will [test] you and prove you herewith.” Mormons believe that God does not grant His children the knowledge and experience they desire all at once; but rather, out of perfect wisdom, He will grant their desires in a gradual way, allowing individuals to learn from each experience and be grateful for every blessing (see 3 Nephi 26:9). These benefits help people become more righteous and draw closer to God.
Mormons recognize that faith is not only a key element in believing in God, believing that God answers prayers, and believing that He will guide us through trials, but it is also the very power by which Jesus and all his prophets have ever performed miracles, as mentioned before—from healing the sick to parting the Red Sea, even to creating the world. By faith we also can experience miracles, sometimes dramatic but more often subtle, in our own 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. The concerned mother, if obedient, will likely find that her relationship with her children is remarkably enhanced, and, almost as a side note, she takes her college test smoothly and successfully. Truly, faith precedes the miracle; and with faith, all things are possible.