These past few weeks, my personal scripture study has primarily been out of the Personal Progress program.
Faith is the first value listed in the Young Women theme. I don’t know if there is a reason for the order in which the values are listed, but after starting the value project for Virtue – to read the Book of Mormon (a project which can begin anytime) – I decided to begin with the first value experience in Faith, which encourages us to learn about faith from the scriptures and from General Conference talks.
One of the scriptures that first experience sends us to is Hebrews 11. I am extremely grateful for footnotes that can help us understand when we read.
Hebrews 11:1-2 – Now faith is the substance (JST assurance) of things hoped for, the evidence (GR proof) of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report (GR – received witness, testimony).
The Oxford English Dictionary, one of the dictionaries on my Kindle, defines assurance as a “positive declaration intended to give confidence; a promise; certainty about something: ex. assurance of faith depends on our trust in God.” It also defines proof as “n. evidence or argument establishing fact or truth of a statement; adj. able to withstand something damaging; resistant: the marine battle armor was proof against most weapons.”
Looking at those two definitions, then, that first verse says “faith is the assurance/promise of things hoped for, the proof of things not seen.” Just because we don’t see something or know something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or won’t happen.
Now, the third verse really struck me.
Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
In all the times I had read this chapter, these verses about faith, I had never noticed this verse. I decided to turn to the New Testament institute manual, The Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ. In that book, Joseph Smith is quoted from the first Lecture on Faith. He says:
By this we understand that the principle of power which existed in the bosom of God, by which the worlds were framed, was faith; and that it is by reason of this principle of power existing in the Deity, that all created things exist; so that all things in heaven, on earth, or under the earth exist by reason of faith as it existed in Him.
Had it not been for the principle of faith the worlds would never have been framed neither would man have been formed of the dust. It is the principle by which Jehovah works, and through which he exercises power over all temporal as well as eternal things. Take this principle or attribute – for it is an attribute – from the Deity, and he would cease to exist.
“Wait a minute,” I thought, “everything that exist, exists because of faith?” I don’t know why that had never occurred to me before. Faith is so powerful, worlds can be created. After I thought about it a while, it made sense to me. I’ve heard that it is by priesthood power that worlds were created. (And I can’t recall where I’ve heard that.) But a man needs faith to be able to use that priesthood power, doesn’t he? Otherwise, what’s the point of using it?
Faith really is that powerful. Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “And as God created all things by faith, even so his created handiwork can be known and understood only by the same power, the power which is faith.” (emphasis added)
I look forward to more study about faith, that I can understand and increase my own faith.
If you have studied this chapter of Hebrews, or even this Young Women’s Faith experience, what have you learned about faith?