Our Faith in The Lord Jesus Christ

Area Leadership Message

Elder Cziesla
Elder Cziesla Area Seventy

Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and a personal connection to Him is of central importance in our life. In the fourth Article of Faith we read that “Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ” is one of the basic principles of the gospel.[1]  We frequently talk of the short form “faith” as this basic principle. Indeed faith does not stand in isolation here, but is directed towards Jesus Christ and our personal testimony that He is for each of us our Savior and Redeemer. Faith in Christ gives us joy, hope and confidence as well as the “strength to sustain us in every important event in our lives.”[2] However, sometimes the faith of even the strongest disciple of the Lord is tested. We should not be surprised by that but should take it as an incentive.

We all know the incident with the Apostle Thomas. The disciples to whom the Lord appeared after his resurrection told Thomas, “We have seen the Lord.” Thomas, who was not present, replied, “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Eight days later, the Lord appeared again to the Apostles and said to Thomas, who was present this time, “Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.” Thomas was overwhelmed and could only say, “My Lord and my God”—whereupon Jesus spoke the famous words, “because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” [3]

When we hear this story we perhaps wonder about Thomas and why his faith was assumed to be “small”. He was an Apostle and had accompanied Christ, seen many miracles and certainly had a firm testimony of the Lord’s teachings. But what Thomas experienced is not so far from the challenges each of us meets in a world in which, more and more, everything is being called into question.

Just like one young member who grew up in the Church, internalized the principles of the gospel from childhood and followed them, but still, at some moment, reached the point where he was no longer sure of his own testimony. His experiences with the gospel rested —perhaps similarly to Thomas—primarily on an intellectual understanding of the teachings and principles or traditions he had grown to love and not on an abiding experience of the heart. When he then stumbled upon topics of teaching or history that he could not immediately understand, that shook his faith. The young member asked me in a personal interview, unsettled, how he could develop real faith in Christ. I want to answer this question for you as I answered it for this young member. There is a pattern here that the Lord revealed in the scriptures through his prophets.[4] This pattern can be applied by each of us: by him who doubts or seeks, just as by him who is tested or simply wants to nourish his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in a lasting way.

The pattern is found, for example, in the wonderful story of Enos’ conversion. What steps did Enos take: (1) Enos heard the truths of the gospel from his father, tried to understand, and let that which his father had said penetrate “deep into [his] heart”[5]. (2) Enos obeyed God’s commands, which put him in a position to be receptive to the Holy Ghost. (3) Enos’ “soul hungered”.[6] He was filled with a desire to find out for himself whether what he had learned was true. (4) Enos went to the fount of all truth, “I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens”[7] It wasn’t easy for Enos. Enos describes his experience as a “wrestle . . . before God”[8] But the effort was worth it—personal confirmation came to his heart.

Each of us must pursue this spiritual struggle on the path of discipleship to true faith in the Lord Jesus Christ—unfortunately, there is no short cut. For many of us this path is bound up with severe personal crises or challenges. Others have special spiritual experiences in the temple, in sacrament meeting, in prayer or in studying the Holy Scriptures—but each of us must actively seek these personal experiences. All that takes time and is sometimes associated with a long period of thirst and is spiritually arduous—“But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.”[9]

True faith in the Lord Jesus Christ demands constant “zeal and patience”, a “broken heart and a contrite spirit”[10] and our own spiritual wrestle before God. But I can testify to you full of love that it is rewarding to tread this path. The joy and security that follow are wonderful and all-embracing. “We gain security not through inexhaustible riches but through inexhaustible faith.”[11] If we ask full of faith to know that Jesus Christ is our Redeemer, an absolutely personal answer will come, “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.”[12] “These personal experiences of the heart are the unshakable source of enduring faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”[13]

[1]  Articles of Faith 1:4

[2] Dallin H. Oaks, General Conference, Spring 1994; cf also Moroni 7:33

[3] John 20:25–29

[4] cf e.g. Romans 10:14–17, 3 Nephi 18:20, Moroni 10:3–5; 2 Nephi 31:20; see also Russell M. Nelson, “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives”, Liahona, May 2018, p. 93

[5] Enos 1:3

[6] Enos 1:4

[7] Id.

[8] Enos 1:2

[9] Alma 32:41

[10] 2 Nephi 2:7

[11] Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball, p. 72–73

[12] Alma 32:42

[13] cf Russell M. Nelson, “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives”

[1] Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball, p. 72–73

[1] Alma 32:42

[1] cf Russell M. Nelson, “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives”