Hope & Faith

Today’s talk:
BY ELDER WILFORD W. ANDERSEN
Of the Seventy

http://beta.lds.org/ensign/2010/05/the-rock-of-our-redeemer?lang=eng

No…I’m not talking about the now defunct TV show. Today’s post comes from a great talk on the necessity of having faith in Jesus Christ and how that faith brings hope into your life- and how all of this is the foundation of your life as a Christian.

So – the LDS Church is keeping with the times, technologically speaking and with the relaunch of mormon.org, they have given people the chance to reach out to missionaries and chat with them online. I came across a blog post by an atheist that did this out of some juvenile attempt to make the missionaries belief system appear silly and baseless. The attempt was made by throwing out “science” facts like a gating gun and not giving any time for the missionaries to think and respond. I’ve seen this techniques used time and again and the purpose is to keep the person from really thinking about the “fact” at hand and show how they can’t quickly come up with an answer. Bzzzt…you didn’t answer in 30 seconds so you must not know and so your entire belief system is a steaming pile of cow dung. Right. Because if something is true, you can easily get it out in under 30 seconds. Forget the fact that some people need time to digest the question and formulate a response. Yeah – the chat transcript did not sit well with me.

What a lot of atheists forget is that, unlike “science”, following God is made up of unknowns. That is the purpose of this life: to follow God without knowing the full picture. There is enough given to enable us to start with faith in Jesus Christ.  That faith gives us hope that our life will lead us to something better.  Christians should never get caught up in needing to prove something about their religion like it is some mathematical model. It isn’t and generally can’t be proved that way.

Now, somethings will play out that way. Case in point: the Word of Wisdom. The LDS Church believes that certain substances should never be taken into your body: alcohol, tobacco, drugs, coffee, and tea (not herbal, but the other stuff). Now, it just isn’t about what shouldn’t be taken in, but also about what you should take in: healthy foods and exercise. This commandment was given back in the mid 1800s. So – long before “scientists” finally came to the conclusion that tobacco products were actually bad for you, LDS people had been avoiding the substance for decades. They had to have faith on the topic, and that faith gave them hope that this different lifestyle was a better one..

A Book of Mormon prophet (Mormon, actually) had this to say on hope and faith:

Mormon 7:40-42:
40 And again, my beloved brethren, I would speak unto you concerning hope. How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope?

41 And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise.

42 Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope.

Of course, sitting in a corner, rocking back and forth, whispering “I believe, I believe” is not really what I’m talking about.  Elder Andersen further clarifies:

Faith in the Savior requires more than mere belief. The Apostle James taught that even the devils believe and tremble.4 But true faith requires work. The difference between the devils and the faithful members of this Church is not belief but work. Faith grows by keeping the commandments. We must work at keeping the commandments. From the Bible Dictionary we read that “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.”5

When we strive to keep the commandments of God, repenting of our sins and promising our best efforts to follow the Savior, we begin to grow in confidence that through the Atonement everything will be all right.

Work is a definite ingredient.  I once met a guy that said all that a Christian needed to do was simply state he believed in God.  “So – If a guy goes and guns down several people and then himself is shot by the cops, as long as he gets out the words ‘I believe in Christ’, he is saved?” I asked, confused.  “Yep” he responded.  Sometimes Christians gets things a little confused too.  That is the importance of a Prophet, which is the topic for another post.  I don’t want to get sidetracked.

Faith and work go hand in hand.  If you have faith in Christ that doing something will lead you to a better life, you had better do it.  That shows you have faith in Christ.  In the Book of Helaman, the prophet is speaking to his sons and says this:

Helaman 5:12 And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon thearock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your bfoundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty cstorm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

I like the word choice here: build your foundation.  When my wife and I bought our first house, we had it built.  We would come out quite frequently, watching the progress, secretly hoping it would get done much quicker than the proposed date.  The part that took the longest, was the foundation.  It had to dug and prepared.  Wiring and pipes had to be placed right and concrete had to be poured.  Then they had to let it sit.  After it was said and done, they still missed a wiring that had to be run and they had to break up part of the foundation, add it, and close it back up.  Then – and only then was the house ready to be built.

This foundation of faith in Christ is the most important thing we need to do in our Christian lives.  It is essential we take the time to properly construct this foundation, through work, to enable us to build hope upon it.  Then, when the wind of unbelief tries to mock you and shake your faith, you can go to that place of safety and simply say, “I have in faith in Jesus Christ that <insert principle here> is true.”  You don’t owe anyone a whiteboard full of equations and symbols as proof of why it is the way it is.  Sometimes, God hasn’t given you that yet, but it doesn’t mean he won’t.  All will be revealed when Christ comes again and your faith in him will then by justified as he sits down and proves concepts such as tithing, prayer, sacrament, and more.


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