Plutarch and Alma

I came across this quote recently, and I couldn’t help but think of Alma…

Plutarch Knowledge Quote

Before relating this to Alma, I want to just talk about the quote. Plutarch was smart enough to “get stuff.” I mean, a lot of us are that way, right? I can’t tell you how many books I’ve read about health and fitness. I logically “get” many of the concepts I’ve read about.

Yet – even though we “get something” and may even have knowledge, without application what do we really know?

Not only was Plutarch smart enough to “get something” from the words he read, he was smart enough to realize that the words and knowledge he gained was through experiences.

As for me – even though I had read a few books on the damage and problems that sugar causes the body, I never really got it until I had experimented for myself and saw how eating a diet without much sugar affected me. I really needed this experience in order to give meaning to the concepts that I had learned.

Alma the younger understood the power of experiential knowledge. In fact, he extended an invitation to the poor Zoramites that he taught:

“But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.” – Alma 32:27

Alma taught the people the word of God. And he didn’t expect them to believe him just on face value – just because he said to believe. Instead, Alma asked them to experiment on his words. Alma wanted them to try it out for themselves. Alma invited them to have their own experiences so they could gain their own knowledge and faith.

It is interesting to me that we approach nearly every subject this way – except faith. Do we expect to learn a language just by reading about it? No, we go on a foreign exchange program, we take an immersion class, we go to that country, we start studying on a language learning website, we practice saying words in another language.

If we desire to learn Calculus, do we just buy a textbook and peruse it? Probably not. We go through the exercises. We get a calculator, paper, and pencil, and then try to solve the equations.

Yet, for some reason, so many people think that in order to obtain spiritual knowledge, they will sit in church one time and listen to a sermon and get it. Or maybe they think that in order to gain a testimony, they must read through the Bible once without meditating, pondering, and applying the words.

Then, because they haven’t put any thought or effort into their acquisition of spiritual knowledge, they don’t get any spiritual knowledge. Some may even proclaim faith, spirituality, or the scriptures as a fraud because of their own lack of experience.

I haven’t studied Calculus, but I’m not going to claim that Calculus is a farce.

Yes – going to church and studying the scriptures are important parts of obtaining spiritual knowledge, but the crucial key is to experiment and experience the gospel. Then those experiences will give you the knowledge of the word. They will make the scriptures and church even more meaningful.

How have you “experimented” on the word? How have your experiences helped to shape your testimony? If you haven’t experimented on the word of God, what is holding you back?

Three Points on Baptism as Taught by Alma (Alma 4:4)

Lately, I’ve been studying a bit about baptism. I came across the following verse, and am astounded by how much we can learn about the ordinance of baptism from one little verse.

“And they began to establish the achurch more fully; yea, and many were baptized in the waters of Sidon and were joined to the church of God; yea, they were baptized by the hand of Alma, who had been consecrated the high priest over the people of the church, by the hand of his father Alma.” – Alma 4:4

Not me - just a generic picture of baptism. :)

Not me – just a generic picture of baptism. 🙂

Three Points on Baptism

  1. Baptism by Immersion – In this verse, we learn that many people were baptized in the waters of Sidon. Alma baptized these people according to the pattern which had been set by his father. He “buried” the people in the water. (See Mosiah 18:14-15.) The person being baptized is fully immersed in the water. This symbolizes the burial of the natural man and the birth of the disciple of Christ. Baptism is a token of our commitment to the Savior as we strive to put off the natural man.
  2. Baptism is connected to the establishment of the Church and our Official Membership of it – In some ways “organized religion” doesn’t seem super cool these days. But, we know that God’s house is a “house of order.” If we believe in Him, then we quickly learn that His religion has always been organized. Throughout the scriptures, we read about a book of life. In fact, the Bible Dictionary has a great, succinct explanation:

    “Spoken of in Philip. 4:4; Rev. 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12; 21:27; 22:19; see also Dan. 12:1–4; Luke 10:20. In one sense the book of life is the sum total of one’s thoughts and actions—the record of his life. However, the scriptures indicate that a heavenly record is kept of the faithful, whose names are recorded, as well as an account of their righteous deeds (D&C 88:2; 128:7)." – Bible Dictionary: Book of Life

    In order to have our names written in His book of life, in order to “enter into the Gate” that leads to the Kingdom of Heaven, we must be baptized. We are then counted as members of His church, and we enjoy both the blessings and responsibilities of such membership.

  3. Baptism Must Be Performed by One with Authority – Again, God’s house is a house of order. Alma the younger is the one who baptized the people. He was the high priest, and, according to this verse, he was consecrated to be the high priest by the hand of his father – who was the high priest before him. Alma the elder received authority directly from God. (See Mosiah 18.)

Overall, what impresses me about baptism is the reminder that it is truly an ordinance. It is a token of our commitment and covenant. It isn’t just a “nice thing” that we do. It isn’t a thoughtless ritual. It isn’t a cultural custom. The Savior was baptized. The Nephites, anciently, were baptized. And we have been commanded to be baptized.

The Savior taught:

Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot denter into the kingdom of God.” – John 3:3-5

Nephi poignantly teaches:

“And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!” – 2 Nephi 31:5

We need baptism. We aren’t holy. Baptism is a gift.

I was eight years old when I was baptized, and I still remember the events of the day. I had a brand new, white dress. My grandma was there. I was baptized by a family friend – Elton Cribbs. And afterward, I was confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and given the gift of the Holy Ghost by Gordon Rose. I felt so much purity and joy that day. I didn’t want to leave, I just wanted to continue to feel the simple joy of the gospel.

It has been nearly 30 years since my baptism, and it still means so much to me. I’m grateful for the covenant I made when I was a child. Though my knowledge has matured, my faith is still very similar as the faith I had when I was a young child. I knew then that I was a daughter of God. I know I am a daughter of God. I knew then that the Savior gave us an example – to be baptized. I know now that the Savior gave us an example – to be baptized. I knew then that in order to grow in the Spirit, I needed to be baptized. And I know now that in order to continue to grow spiritually, I need to continually renew and review the covenant I made when I was eight.

Have you been baptized? If not, what do you suppose is holding you back from making this covenant and receiving such a blessing in your life? If you have been baptized, how has it shaped and blessed your life?

Rendering the Enemy Powerless (Alma 50:12)

Currently, for my scripture reading, I’m still working my way through the Book of Mormon and studying about the Atonement (you can see the Atonement Study Project here).

Let me start by saying, If you believe in Christ; if you believe that God so loved the world that He sent his only Begotten Son so we wouldn’t perish; then you will love the Book of Mormon. I love the Bible and I love the Book of Mormon. As I’ve taken the time to study the Book of Mormon and the Atonement, I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned about it.

I’ve been studying three main points about the Atonement:

  1. All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
  2. There is power in the Atonement to enable us to overcome the natural man or woman and become true disciples of Jesus Christ.
  3. The Atonement is the greates evidence we have of the Father’s love for His children.

All of these points are important, but today, the second point, in particular, stood out to me as I studied Alma 50.

For the most part, Alma 50 is about wars between two groups of people: the Nephites and the Lamanites. At this point in the history of these two groups, the Nephites were a little more righteous, while the Lamanites were apostate. The Lamanites (and some dissenting Nephites) were trying to overthrow the Nephite government (which, by the way, was a democratic system). They wanted to kill all of the people who professed to believe in God, and they wanted to instill an oppressive government. (This sounds familiar…it’s a lot like what is happening over in Iraq and Syria).

The Nephites, however, had a very powerful and brave leader: Captain Moroni. He championed the cause of freedom, including and especially religious freedom, and he rallied others to help him protect their inalienable rights.

Okay…so, Captain Moroni was a good guy. And the thing is, he was such a good because Captain Moroni believed in Christ. Because of the power of the Atonement, and because of Captain Moroni was committed to his covenants, he overcame the natural man and became a disciple of Christ. Captain Moroni’s example shows us that discipleship doesn’t mean we are weak-minded fools. Discipleship will refine us and make us powerful.

David A Bednar Enabling Power of Atonement

Real Power

(The only kind of power that matters)
I realize that power is a loaded word. Captain Moroni wasn’t powerful over other people (that kind of “power” really doesn’t mean much, does it?). Instead, he had the most difficult kind of power to obtain: self-mastery. (See Alma 48:17.)

We also learn in Alma 50:

“Thus Moroni, with his armies, which did increase daily because of the assurance of protection which his works did bring forth unto them, did seek to cut off the strength and the power of the Lamanites from off the lands of their possessions, that they should have no power upon the lands of their possession.” – Alma 50:12

Not only was Moroni a master over himself, but he was able to use his resources to protect his people. Because of Moroni’s strength, vision, and organization, he fortified the cities of his lands, and the Lamanites had no power over them.

What this Means for You and Me

Okay. So what. I don’t really have anyone actively trying take away my possessions or lands. However, I feel like there is a daily battle I’m engaged in. The enemy is the devil, and he is very real.

When I choose to honor the covenants I have made, when I allow the Atonement to be a power in my life, then the enemy I fight against will have no power over me.

***
There are so many battles people are facing. Some of the battles we face are physical and obvious. The people in Iraq and Syria, for example, are experiencing excruciating stress and oppression. And, while I don’t intend to compare myself to them (because my life is super great), the fact remains that I have my own battles. People in the U.S. or other developed countries don’t seem to fare any better than others around the world. Just last week, a famous, rich, beloved celebrity took his own life.

We are all in a battle.

And, if we want to render our enemy powerless, then we simply need to come unto Christ and allow the power of His Atonement to enable us.

The Fruit of the Tree of Life and Joy

Joy and Thanksgiving ButtonJoin me for the next two weeks as we study Joy and Thanksgiving. This is part One of my thoughts as I study the assignments.

The scriptures, like any form of literature, is rife with symbolism. One symbol used often is the tree of life and it’s fruit. Studying this symbol will help us to learn more about joy and how to obtain it.

Soon this fruit will be filling me up with joy. :)

Soon this fruit will be filling me up with joy. 🙂

Lehi’s Dream

Before I really talk about Lehi’s dream, I want to discuss the end result: Lehi and others partake of the fruit of the tree of life. Nephi teaches us about this fruit:

“Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?

And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.

And he spake unto me, saying: Yea, and the most joyous to the soul.” – 1 Nephi 11:22-23

So, not only does Lehi partake of the fruit of the tree of life, but this fruit is amazing. It tastes great and fills him with joy. He desires to share it, and many other people partake of the fruit.

Now, as this dream opens, Lehi is suffering in a dark and dreary waste. He suffers in this state for many hours until finally, he decides to pray. I wonder, is there a point that the Lord would have just shown him the tree of life, even if Lehi didn’t pray? I doubt it. I think that Lehi only progressed because He prayed, and the Lord answered His prayer.

Additionally, the Lord didn’t simply hand Lehi a piece of fruit after Lehi uttered his prayer, instead, Lehi had to embark on a journey. But the path was laid out before Him, and he was taken from the dark and dreary waste thanks to the mercy of God.

After going to the tree, Lehi was able to experience the opposite of what he suffered before. He partook of the fruit of the tree of life which was sweet, desirable, and better than anything he had ever tasted. It filled his soul with joy.

I love this example because it is a reminder to me that we must struggle a little bit before we are able to partake of the fruit of the tree. And when I struggle, I know where I can turn: the Lord.

The Struggle

We learn a little bit more about obtaining the fruit that Lehi ate. There are a few struggles that must be endured before partaking of the fruit.
The Mist of Darkness
Before partaking of the fruit of the tree of life, we must pass through the “mists of darkness.” In my life, I guess I could say that there have been mists of darkness that I have passed through–depression, difficulty, the death of loved ones, divorce, loneliness, sickness, etc. These are dark times, and it can be easy to feel lost as trial seems to choke your ability to see even the next step ahead of you.

The Great and Spacious Building
Not only do we pass through tribulations as we press forward to the Tree of life, but we must also endure the temptations of the world. This seems especially hard these days. We are bombarded with images and ideas that tell us if we just buy x then we’ll be happy.

An interesting thing to note, even when we partake of the fruit of the tree of life, we have the agency to accept it. Some of those who partook of the fruit then chose to feel embarrassment and shame as they allowed the voices of those in the great and spacious building to interrupt the joy of partaking of the sought-after fruit. As a result of this distraction, they left the fruit of the tree of life, then wandered off into strange paths and were lost.

The Lord won’t force us to choose happiness. It is always our choice.

Alma’s Analogy

Later on in the Book of Mormon, Alma taught the people about faith. He compared faith to a seed. Often, we think of this story solely as a story of faith, but it is so much more than that!

The seed of faith will eventually sprout, and if we nourish it, it will turn into a tree that produces fruit. Alma describes the fruit:

“the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.” – Alma 32:42

Does this fruit sound familiar???

The sermon given by Alma is basically amazing. There is one part that especially struck me this time:

“And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life.” – Alma 32:40, emphasis added

Looking forward with an eye of faith is the real way to one day partake of the fruit of the tree of life. This is the way that we will be able to make it through the mists of darkness. Having an eye of faith will help us to discern that the taunts of those in the great and spacious building are nothing but lies. We won’t be overwhelmed or distracted when we keep our eye on the prize: the fruit of the tree of life.

I struggle with this at times. I’m not the best at visualizing or imagining my success. I just think, “geez, I hope…” and then proceed with naivete. But the thing is, I realize that won’t be enough to get me to the tree of life. I want to partake of this fruit. It is the most difficult thing that any of us will ever do. It requires constant attention and effort. And, at this point in my life, I can see how we get burned out. I can see how, if we don’t have this vision in our hearts, then we can be overcome by the constant barrage of Satan’s temptations and distractions. We have to be able to envision this fruit if we want to someday experience it.

***
What have you learned about Joy through the symbol of the fruit of the tree of life?

The Enabling Power of the Atonement: A Pattern (Mosiah 26:13-14)

I’m still here…I know it has been a while. We have had the back to school rush, then Homey and I went to Hawaii… 🙂

Beautiful!

Beautiful!

So now I’m back, and well…yeah…

Lately, I’ve had a lot on my mind, and most of it has to do with how to be a better disciple. I’ve been going through a growing period. Growing periods aren’t always easy. Sometimes “growing periods” are caused by external adversities and factors (we are all blessed with plenty of these!). Right now, I’m going through a growing period that has been more contemplative and internal, but challenging, nonetheless. I’ve become more aware of my weakness, and truly want to make weak things strong to me.

So, I’ve been studying the Atonement in the Book of Mormon, and it has been enlightening (as usual). Today I was reminded that There is power in the Atonement to enable us to overcome the natural man or woman and become true disciples of Christ.

One thing that I love about the Atonement is its enabling power. As I have become more acquainted with my weaknesses lately, my first instinct is to feel paralyzed by despair. Yet, it is helpful to remember that the Lord knows we are weak. He has given us weakness. The Atonement does more than forgive sins, it also helps weak things to become strong. The Lord, through the power of His Infinite Atonement will not only forgive sin, but He will help us to overcome our weakness.

I love this idea. I mean, I really love it. Heavenly Father isn’t a God who is trying to “prove” us in a way that is arbitrary or mean. He doesn’t leave us here helpless. We simply need to humble ourselves, then he will enable us to be the kind of people that He has commanded us to be. And in the scriptures, we can learn how to apply the Atonement in such a way that it will help us to figure out solutions to the problems in our lives.

In Mosiah we read:

And now the spirit of Alma was again troubled; and he went and inquired of the Lord what he should do concerning this matter, for he feared that he should do wrong in the sight of God.

And it came to pass that after he had poured out his whole soul to God, the voice of the Lord came to him, saying:” – Mosiah 26:13-14

In this scripture Alma is trying to figure out a problem. For our purposes here, the problem he is trying to solve isn’t all that important. What is important is the pattern that we see unfolding in these two verses.

One – Alma’s Soul Was Troubled

It is important to recognize that this troubled feeling that Alma had was a good thing. It shows that Alma was close enough to the Spirit to realize that there was a problem. Remember, the Spirit will not bear false witness, so when things are awry, we will not feel the comfort or peace that comes with the gift of the Holy Ghost. Instead, the Spirit witnesses of the truth of all things, and the result is…we feel troubled. Sometimes, when I’m feeling troubled I’m inclined to get a little afraid. Instead, I can have faith that my troubled feelings are simply the Spirit urging me to find the right path to take.

Because of the power of the Atonement, we are able to feel the nuanced messages whispered to our souls by the Spirit–even when that message is one of trouble or question. Because Alma had covenanted with the Lord and had implemented the power of the Atonement in his life, he was able to feel troubled and knew that he needed to find an answer to His question.

Two – Alma Pours out His Whole Soul to the Lord

As a result of the troubling feeling that Alma was experiencing and seeking a solution to his problem, Alma went to the Lord. In fact, Alma didn’t just go to the Lord, but he poured out his whole soul. It strikes me that there are times when this is required in order to access the enabling power of the Atonement.

There are times when I have trouble doing this. I believe in prayer. In the past, I have poured out my spirit to the Lord. Yet there are still times when I have trouble pouring out my whole soul not because I lack faith, but because I lack discipline. I tend to get a little lazy and tired. And, I suppose it could be argued that this is also a signal of my lack of faith. I believe that the Lord will answer prayers, and here we see what kind of humility is required in order to find answers and power from God.

Additionally, it strikes me that Alma’s ability to go to the Lord in prayer is available to him solely because of the Atonement of Christ. When we pray, we pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Even when we approach Heavenly Father in prayer, our Savior, through His Atonement, mediates.

Three – The Voice of the Lord Comes

After feeling troubled then supplicating the Lord, the voice of the Lord comes to Alma. His prayer is answered.

We can be assured that Heavenly Father will guide us. He will help us. He will teach us, mold us, and enable us to become the kind of people we want to be. Truly, the Atonement will enable us to reach our divine potentials and be happy.

***
I really love this. In this one example, we see the power of the Atonemnet helping Alma all along the way. Through the power of the Atonement he:

  • was guided by the Spirit to feel troubled and seek an answer to his problem
  • was able to supplicate the Lord by pouring his soul out in prayer
  • was able to hear the voice of the Lord and receive an answer to his problem

***
How have you been able to access and feel the enabling power of the Atonement in your life? How has it helped you to overcome problems?

Can You Feel So Now?

It’s my favorite time of year.

The days are getting longer.

My morning run is a lot brighter these days.

My morning run is a lot brighter these days.

There are colorful pots of joy all around my yard.

Happy!

Happy!

The citrus trees are starting to bloom.

Trust me when I say you wish you could smell this.

Trust me when I say you wish you could smell this.

Soon, we will be celebrating Easter–which is pretty much my favorite holiday (even though I love Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and I usually do a lot more to celebrate them with my kids) it is Easter that brings me hope and joy. And I love that Easter is a holiday completely centered on Christ.

Now…before I go on too much about Easter, another thing I LOVEEEE about this time of year is General Conference.

In case you are not familiar with General Conference, once every six months, we in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have a meeting where we hear from the Living Prophet, 12 apostles, and other leaders of our church. For me, General Conference is always just what I need to get through the next six months.

I have a few thoughts about two talks.

In Quentin L. Cook’s talk, he asks the question posed by Alma in the Book of Mormon:

“And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” – Alma 5:26

I have been thinking about this question because, to be honest, I’ve been in a little bit of a funk lately. Sometimes, when I’m having depressing thoughts, it effects me in such a way that I begin to question everything: the purpose of my life (as in where I’m headed in life), my faith, and my testimony…Obviously, this isn’t good.

here’s the thing.

I have experienced a change of heart

My change of heart didn’t happen in one amazing or startling moment. Over time, my heart has changed. It has shifted toward the Lord. I can see that I’ve grown closer to the Lord over time. I was baptized when I was eight. My testimony has grown a lot since then, but I still have the same feeling about God that I did then. I know that He loves me. I know that I matter to Him. I know that I want to please Him.

Though there are times when I give in to many of my natural desires and weakness, I know where my heart is. I want to please the Lord. I want to bring him happiness and glory through my good decisions because I have felt so much love and blessings from Him.

I have felt to sing the song of redeeming love

Yes. This joy is also something I’ve experienced.

I have felt it when I look in the eyes of my children, and I see how much the Lord has blessed me–even though I, in no way, deserve it.

I have felt to sing the song of redeeming love when I have sinned, then repented, and have been forgiven. I know what that kind of deep, abiding joy is. I know that this is a miraculous feeling.

Sometimes I feel it [that love] and sometimes I don’t…Why???

When we can’t feel to sing the song of redeeming love anymore, Elder Cook suggests the possible reasons why:

“Many who are in a spiritual drought and lack commitment have not necessarily been involved in major sins or transgressions, but they have made unwise choices. Some are casual in their observance of sacred covenants. Others spend most of their time giving first-class devotion to lesser causes. Some allow intense cultural or political views to weaken their allegiance to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some have immersed themselves in Internet materials that magnify, exaggerate, and, in some cases, invent shortcomings of early Church leaders. Then they draw incorrect conclusions that can affect testimony. Any who have made these choices can repent and be spiritually renewed.” – Quentin L. Cook

Now…as I read this, I have to amid, I don’t feel like I’m in a spiritual drought. Yet, I don’t feel as much happiness or joy as I’d like either. While Elder Cook’s advice is true and valuable, I don’t feel like actually applies to me right now. There is something else that is inhibiting my happiness, and I think that I found my answer in another conference talk given by President Uchtdorf.

One thing he said that I found especially interesting:

“So often we get caught up in the illusion that there is something just beyond our reach that would bring us happiness: a better family situation, a better financial situation, or the end of a challenging trial.

The older we get, the more we look back and realize that external circumstances don’t really matter or determine our happiness.

We do matter. We determine our happiness.

You and I are ultimately in charge of our own happiness.” – President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Here is my answer. Why do I have trouble, at times, with feeling the joy – in singing the song of redeeming love–that I have felt in the past? It is because I get caught up in an illusion.

Sometimes this illusion is caused because I suffer from physical pain and weakness (hormones, anyone), and I mistakenly forget that I can find happiness and comfort in Christ, despite my weakness.

Sometimes this illusion is caused by boredom and ingratitude. I forget the blessings in my life, and become deceived that certain circumstances would make me happier.

But we are reminded, we matter; we determine our happiness.

If I determine my happiness, then what am I doing about it?
In the same talk, we learn to resolve to:

  • spend time with people I love
  • live up to potential–to be the person God knows I can be
  • find happiness; regardless of circumstances

And the amazing thing is: when I take the time to do these three things, then I can answer the last question of Alma’s with a resounding Yes!

***
I’m so grateful for general conference. I’m grateful for the practical advice, reminders, and warnings that we receive from the Prophet and apostles. I’m grateful for their testimonies. I’m grateful for the Book of Mormon and how it has clarified so much of the Bible and doctrine of Christ. I know that this Gospel is the true and living Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that Heavenly Father loves us and wants each of us to feel the joy of forgiveness and conversion. I also know that He wants us to remember it.

How do you answer the question posed by Alma? How has General Conference and the Book of Mormon been a blessing to you?

Check out more experiences with General Conference and the Book of Mormon at Jocelyn’s blog.

Charity Believeth all Things


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So…now we’re really getting to the good stuff. Charity has a strong connection with faith. I’m sure you’ve either noticed it in the scriptures or heard it a lot – faith, hope, and charity. Today, we are studying about faith – and what it has to do with charity.

There are a lot of good places to find definitions of faith or examples of faith. But I love how King Benjamin taught the connection between faith and charity.

“Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.

And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them.

And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel.

And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.

And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due.” – Mosiah 4:9-13

So…here’s how it works.

1. Believe in God
Here’s faith. We believe in God. We believe that He created all things, has all power, and that he may be a little bit smarter than we are.

Believing God means that we trust in Him.

As our trust and belief in Him grows we will begin to exercise our faith by doing a few things (good works).

2. Do Good Works
I don’t mean this in the typical sense – of serving one another. But I mean we need to do the work that only we can do. We need to give Heavenly Father the only thing we can give Him – our wills. We give up the natural man. We repent. We humble ourselves. We ask for forgiveness.

3. We Receive a Remission of Sins
When we receive a remission of sins, then we will know of His goodness and taste of His love. And – remember – God’s love is charity. It is His pure love – that never fails. We can experience charity – long before we do a single act of service – just by being faithful (through belief in Christ and repentance).

What I find interesting about this is how hard it can be to repent sometimes. Have you found it difficult? I have sinned, and continue to sin. When I approach the the Lord, I often feel ashamed of my sins because I want to be better. I love Heavenly Father, and I know that He loves me. I don’t want to disappoint him. The act of repentance can be hard; we must experience Godly sorrow in order to truly repent. Sometimes it is tempting to think that we would be better off to go without repenting – so we can avoid the shame and discomfort of such growth.

However, it is when we repent that we are filled with such Joy.

I love Alma’s experience –

And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!

Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.” – Alma 36:20-21

As difficult as was the pain Alma experienced, he had to wade through the sorrow of repentance in order to feel the miraculous joy of God’s pure love.

Once we experience this, we need to retain it in our hearts. (Always remember Him).

4. Our Knowledge of God Grows
Here’s why knowing God is kind of a good thing for us:

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” – John 17:3

Knowing God: knowing His love, commandments, and mysteries is the way that we inherit eternal life. Of course, we can’t know Him if we aren’t living worthy of His Spirit and revelation.

5. We will have charity for others
It is when we develop a love of the Lord and experience His love for us that we are able to share His love for others.

I have experienced this. I know it is true. Because I have felt the deep and abiding love that Heavenly Father has for me, I know that He loves all of His children. When I am close to the Lord, experiencing His charity, I’m filled with this idea, “I need to share this with others.” The only way that I can show my gratitude for the atonement and blessings that God has given me is by sharing the Love He has for others. I know that the Lord loves all of His children. The best way for me to help express this love is by supporting others.

Oh, and one more thing. When I experience the love of the God, my love for Him grows. I want to please Him. I want to make Him happy. And I know that when I sin against others, it hurts the Lord. Conversely, I know what King Benjamin has taught:

“…when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” – Mosiah 2:17

My love for others grow as my love for God grows. My love for God is strengthened as I show love for others. And all of this starts with the simple act of faith. It’s neat how that works.

We can develop true charity for others. We just need to take the first step: faith. What do you do to increase your faith? How have you felt faith strengthen your ability to have charity?

  • "But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." - Luke 10:42.
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