Chapter 10 – Faith and Conversion
Bible Dictionary – Faith excerpts
Faith is to hope for things which are not seen, but which are true (Heb. 11:1; Alma 32:21), and must be centered in Jesus Christ in order to produce salvation. To have faith is to have confidence in something or someone. The Lord has revealed Himself and His perfect character, possessing in their fulness all the attributes of love, knowledge, justice, mercy, unchangeableness, power, and every other needful thing, so as to enable the mind of man to place confidence in Him without reservation. Faith is kindled by hearing the testimony of those who have faith (Rom. 10:14–17). Miracles do not produce faith, but strong faith is developed by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ; in other words, faith comes by righteousness, although miracles often confirm one’s faith.
Faith is a principle of action and of power, and by it one can command the elements, heal the sick, and influence any number of circumstances when occasion warrants (Jacob 4:4–7). Even more important, by faith one obtains a remission of sins and eventually can stand in the presence of God.
All true faith must be based upon correct knowledge or it cannot produce the desired results. Faith in Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel and is more than belief, since true faith always moves its possessor to some kind of physical and mental action; it carries an assurance of the fulfillment of the things hoped for. A lack of faith leads one to despair, which comes because of iniquity.
Although faith is a gift, it must be cultured and sought after until it grows from a tiny seed to a great tree. The effects of true faith in Jesus Christ include (1) an actual knowledge that the course of life one is pursuing is acceptable to the Lord (see Heb. 11:4); (2) a reception of the blessings of the Lord that are available to man in this life; and (3) an assurance of personal salvation in the world to come. These things involve individual and personal testimony, guidance, revelation, and spiritual knowledge. Where there is true faith there are miracles, visions, dreams, healings, and all the gifts of God that He gives to His saints. Jesus pointed out some obstacles to faith inJohn 5:44 and 12:39–42 (see also James 1:6–8).
Other references to faith include JST Gen. 14:26–36 (Appendix); 2 Cor. 5:7; Eph. 2:8–9; Heb. 11; James 2:14–26;1 Pet. 1:8–9; Enos 1:6–8; Alma 32; Moro. 10:11; D&C 46:13–16.Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ:
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that faith centered in Jesus Christ helps us develop a trust in God: “Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is a conviction and trust that God knows us and loves us and will hear our prayers and answer them with what is best for us. “In fact, God will do more than what is best for us. He will do what is best for us and for all of our Heavenly Father’s children. The conviction that the Lord knows more than we do and that he will answer our prayers in the way that is best for us and for all of his other children is a vital ingredient of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. . . .“Faith must include trust. . . . When we have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we must have trust in him. We must trust him enough that we are content to accept his will, knowing that he knows what is best for us. . . . “. . . The exercise of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is always subject to the order of heaven, to the goodness and will and wisdom and timing of the Lord. That is why we cannot have true faith in the Lord without also having complete trust in the Lord’s will and in the Lord’s timing. When we have that kind of faith and trust in the Lord, we have true security in our lives. . . .“Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ prepares you for whatever life brings. This kind of faith prepares you to deal with life’s opportunities—to take advantage of those that are received and to persist through the disappointments of those that are lost” (“ ‘Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,’ ” Ensign, May 1994, 99–100).
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained how we can know when our faith is in harmony with the will of God: “How do we know when our faith conforms to the will of our Heavenly Father and He approves of that which we seek? We must know the word of God. One of the reasons we immerse ourselves in the scriptures is to know of Heavenly Father’s dealings with man from the beginning. If the desires of our heart are contrary to scripture, then we should not pursue them further. “Next, we must heed the counsel of latter-day prophets as they give inspired instruction. “Additionally, we must ponder and pray and seek the guidance of the Spirit. If we do so, the Lord has promised, ‘I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart’ [D&C 8:2].“Only when our faith is aligned with the will of our Heavenly Father will we be empowered to receive the blessings we seek” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2002, 90; or Ensign, Nov. 2002, 84).
1 Nephi 7:12 – 12 Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all athings according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise bfaith in him? Wherefore, let us be faithful to him.
Alma speaking to Helaman – Alma 37:33 – 33 aPreach unto them repentance, and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ; teach them to humble themselves and to be bmeek and lowly in heart; teach them to cwithstand every dtemptation of the devil, with their faith on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Faith can increase
- Listen to the word of God without automatically dismissing it. (Alma 32:27–28.)
- Hope or desire to believe that it might be true. (Alma 32:27.)
- Act upon that hope (conduct an experiment; do something to nourish it). (Alma 32:27, 33, 36.)
- Watch for good feelings or results that indicate the word is true. (Alma 32:28,33–35.)
- Endure trials. (Ether 12:6.)
- Continue to nourish the word until it becomes a certainty. (Alma 32:38–42.)
Elder Neal A. Maxwell, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, explained, “Faith requires deliberate nurturing, for it is not static; it is either increasing or decreasing” (Lord, Increase Our Faith , 1).
When he was a member of the Seventy, Elder John K. Carmack suggested ways of increasing our faith: “Increasing our faith requires trusting the Lord with our whole souls. We cannot say, ‘We have done enough and deserve to rest.’ Nor does the
increase come through definitions, logic, or philosophy. Rather, we must:
“• Do what is right and serve the Lord because we know, trust, and love Him with all of our souls.
“• Harbor no thought that we deserve a reward or thanks for what we do, although rewards will surely come.
“• Humbly ask, seek, and knock.
“• Never demand anything of our Lord, because we are always in His debt.
“• Leave to Him the final decision in all things, having the attitude ‘Not my will, but thine be done.’
“• Be prepared to sacrifice, even unto death, for our entire mortal lives.
“As members of the Lord’s Church, we can increase our faith, if we desire, by going beyond the minimum requirements of the gospel and developing complete trust in the Lord” (“Lord, Increase Our Faith,” Ensign, Mar. 2002, 57).
Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles related ways to increase faith in order to achieve a sustaining power in our lives: “Faith is not illusion nor magic but a power rooted in eternal principles. Are you one who has tried to exercise faith and has felt no benefit? If so, you likely have not understood and followed the principles upon which faith is founded. . . .“You will gather the fruits of faith as you follow the principles God has established for its use. Some of those principles are:
“• Trust in God and in His willingness to provide help when needed, no matter how challenging the circumstance.
“• Obey His commandments and live to demonstrate that He can trust you.
“• Be sensitive to the quiet prompting of the Spirit.
“• Act courageously on that prompting.
“• Be patient and understanding when God lets you struggle to grow and when answers come a piece at a time over an extended period. . . .
“You can learn to use faith more effectively by applying this principle taught by Moroni: ‘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; italics added]. Thus, every time you try your faith—that is, act in worthiness on an impression—you will receive the confirming evidence of the Spirit. Those feelings will fortify your faith. As you repeat that pattern, your faith will become stronger. . . .“Even if you exercise your strongest faith, God will not always reward you immediately according to your desires. Rather, God will respond with what in His eternal plan is best for you. He loves you to a depth and completeness you cannot conceive of in your mortal state. Indeed, were you to know His entire plan, you would never ask for that which is contrary to it even though your feelings tempt you to do so. Sincere faith gives understanding and strength to accept the will of our Heavenly Father when it differs from our own. We can accept His will with peace and assurance, confident that His infinite wisdom surpasses our own ability to comprehend fully His plan as it unfolds a piece at a time” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2003, 78–79; or Ensign, May 2003, 76–77).
President James E. Faust, a counselor in the First Presidency, suggested ways to sustain faith: “To sustain faith, each of us must be humble and compassionate, kind and generous to the poor and the needy. Faith is further sustained by daily doses of spirituality that come to us as we kneel in prayer. It begins with us as individuals and extends to our families, who need to be solidified in righteousness. Honesty, decency, integrity, and morality are all necessary ingredients of our faith and will provide sanctuary for our souls” (in Conference Report, Apr.2000, 22; or Ensign, May 2000, 18).
Faith leads to conversion.
- Russell Ballard – “Our duty lies in assisting others, through the power of the Spirit, to know and understand the doctrines and principles of the gospel. Everyone must come to feel that the doctrines of the Restoration are true and of great value” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2000, 97; or Ensign, Nov. 2000, 75).
Thomas S Monson – “Remember that faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other. Cast out doubt. Cultivate faith” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2000, 65; or Ensign, Nov. 2000, 49).
President Marion G. Romney, who was a counselor in the First Presidency, emphasized that faith is an essential ingredient in conversion: “Converted means to turn from one belief or course of action to another. Conversion is a spiritual and moral change. Converted implies not merely mental acceptance of Jesus and his teachings but also a motivating faith in him and his gospel[, a] faith which works a transformation, an actual change in one’s understanding of life’s meaning and in his allegiance to God in interest, in thought, and in conduct. In one who is really wholly converted, desire for things contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ has actually died. And substituted therefore is a love of God, with a fixed and controlling determination to keep his commandments” (in Conference Report, Guatemala Area Conference 1977, 8)
President Gordon B. Hinckley noted that conversion begins with small steps of faith: “In the process of conversion, the investigator of the Church hears a little. He may read a little. He does not, he cannot comprehend the wonder of it all. But if he is earnest in his search, if he is willing to get on his knees and pray about it, the Spirit touches his heart, perhaps ever so lightly. It points him in the right direction. He sees a little of what he has never seen before. And with faith, whether it be recognized or not, he takes a few guarded steps. Then another, brighter vista opens before him” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2002, 84; or Ensign, May 2002, 72).
Conversion includes repentance, baptism, and the reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught that conversion requires a complete willingness to give up all practices contrary to the teachings of the restored gospel: “The gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to change. ‘Repent’ is its most frequent message, and repenting means giving up all of our practices—personal, family, ethnic, and national—that are contrary to the commandments of God. The purpose of the gospel is to transform common creatures into celestial citizens, and that requires change” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2003, 39; or Ensign, Nov. 2003, 37).
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught the following principle regarding the ordinance of baptism: “You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost. Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing without the other half—that is, the baptism of the Holy Ghost. . . .“. . . The baptism of water, without the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost attending it, is of no use; they are necessarily and inseparably connected” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith , 314, 360).
President James E. Faust explained that a witness to the truth can come to an individual before baptism, but without the gift of the Holy Ghost, administrations of the Spirit are limited: “Many outside the Church have received revelation by the power of the Holy Ghost, convincing them of the truth of the gospel. Through this power, sincere investigators acquire a testimony of the
Book of Mormon and the principles of the gospel before baptism. However, administrations of the Holy Ghost are limited without receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. “Those who possess the gift of the Holy Ghost after baptism and confirmation can receive more light and testimony. This is because the gift of the Holy Ghost is ‘a permanent witness and higher endowment than the ordinary manifestation of the Holy Spirit’ [in James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. (1965–75), 5:4]. It is the higher endowment because the gift of the Holy Ghost can act as ‘a cleansing agent to purify a person and sanctify him from all sin’ [Bible Dictionary, “Holy Ghost,” 704]” (in Conference Report, Mar.–Apr. 2001, 73; or Ensign, May 2001, 58).
2 Nephi 31:17 – 17 Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and abaptism by water; and then cometh a bremission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.
Note: When we talk to our friends about being baptized, we must also mention the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Hard question: Why is baptism needed if Christ told the thief he would see him in paradise?
Luke 23:42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in aparadise.
Paradise here is talking about the Spirit world, not Heaven. Jesus Christ does visit the Spirit world. This is the place where we stay and receive instruction until the second coming of Christ when we will be resurrected and judged for our works.
Many religions believe that people go straight to Heaven (or Hell) after dying. What must come first is Christ’s second coming and judgment day. See St. Matthew 25:31-46. Knowing this truth can help you explain the spirit world to your friends, and thus make Luke 23:42 clear.
Here are scriptures that show the importance and necessity of baptism:
1. We should be baptized because Jesus was:
Matthew 3:13-17 – Jesus Christ was baptized to fulfil all righteousness.
John 8:12 – Christ tells us to follow him to have the light of life.
John 14:6 – Jesus says that he is the way, the truth and the life.
2. By baptism, we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost and a remission of sins.
3. Baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost are required to enter God’s kingdom.