Just some thoughts on the following verses from Lecture 1. (Lectures on Faith)
18 The Savior says, (Matthew 17:19-20), in explaining the reason why the disciples could not cast out the devil, that it was because of their unbelief: “For verily, I say unto you,” said he, “if ye have faith as a grain of mustard-seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place! and it shall remove: and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
Faith without belief isn’t real faith. Faith is centered on something while belief expects something. The less that you expect that your faith will bear fruit, the less fruit you will find. There is a fine line here that becomes more tricky to walk as your belief and faith increase. Your expectations must be based on what it is possible for God to do, or what his will is concerning you. To know this, you must commune with him, start with scriptures, then apply the principles. Experience, pondering and revelation light the way.
19 Moroni, while abridging and compiling the record of his fathers, has given us the following account of faith as the principle of power: He says, in Ether 12:13, that it was the faith of Alma and Amulek which caused the walls of the prison to be wrent, as recorded in Alma 14:23-29; it was the faith of Nephi and Lehi which caused a change to be wrought upon the hearts of the Lamanites, when they were immersed with the Holy Spirit, and with fire, as seen in Helaman 5:37-50; and that it was by faith that the mountain Zerin was removed, when the brother of Jared spake in the name of the Lord. See also Ether 12:30.
20 In addition to this we are told in Hebrews, 11:32-35, that Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets, through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens; and that women received their dead raised to life again, etc.
I think we exercise a lot of faith as Latter-day Saints by the things we do. We seek to keep the commandments, repent, pray and follow God’s ways, but what is the strength of our belief? Sometimes I think we blend belief and faith together and assume they are the same thing, but they aren’t. Moroni explains the importance of belief and its connection to knowing God, “And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust.” (Mormon 9:20)
21 Also, Joshua, in the sight of all Israel, bade the sun and moon to stand still, and it was done. (Joshua 10:12)
22 We here understand, that the sacred writers say, that all these things were done by faith—It was by faith that the worlds were framed—God spake, chaos heard, and worlds came into order, by reason of the faith there was in HIM. So with man also—he spake by faith in the name of God, and the sun stood still, the moon obeyed, mountains removed, prisons fell, lions’ mouths were closed, the human heart lost its enmity, fire its violence, armies their power, the sword its terror, and death its dominion; and all this by reason of the faith which was in them.
23 Had it not been for the faith which was in man, they might have spoken to the sun, the moon, the mountains, prisons, lions, the human heart, fire, armies, the sword, or to death in vain!
Moroni seemed to think that this was an important subject because he comments on it again later in his own record, “…for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.” (Moroni 7:37)
Faith only works if we believe and belief only works if centered on proper principles, and we must put forth the effort to understand them. How many blessings do we give in vain? Where we utter words void of belief and say essentially, “We bless you with whatever God wants for you, be comforted.” How many of our actions are vain? How many of us struggle with things because we exercise empty faith and hope our actions will make up for our lack of belief? We think we know God because we are “members” of something, yet there is an emptiness.
We cannot let a sense of entitlement and pride of being “God’s people” prevent us from bowing down in a humble recognition of our awful situation. We must be reconciled to God and must have an actual knowledge that the course we are pursuing is agreeable to his will. (Lecture 6:4) It’s hard to expect anything from a being we don’t really know, a being that is more theory than Father.
24 Faith, then, is the first great governing principle which has power, dominion, and authority over all things: by it they exist, by it they are upheld, by it they are changed, or by it they remain, agreeably to the will of God. Without it, there is no power, and without power there could be no creation, nor existence!
These are not things to be trifled with. We live in a generation of mockers; the great and spacious building surrounds us and those that dwell within console themselves with fine apparel, elevate themselves by pointing fingers and justify themselves with the company of others who similarly lack a foundation. So distracted are we by the things made with our own hands, (Isaiah 2:8) our busy schedules, and idolatrous ways that we do not take time to worship and commune with God; should we not frequently, honestly, consider our ways? (Haggai 1:5)
Do we spend more time filling our lives with meaningless information and status updates than we do seeking out God in our closets, upon mountains, or in the lives of those in need?