"But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed." James 1:6
"And now, I Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith." -Ether 12:6
"Wherefore, if a man have faith he must needs have hope; for without faith there cannot be any hope." - Moroni 7:42
"Behold I say unto you, Nay; 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
"And now as I said concerning faith--faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true." - Alma 32:21
Since faith was the visiting teaching message for the month, and it is something that I am really striving to cultivate now, I thought I would do a study. The three of us during our VT dinner this evening discussed what exactly faith is.
When reading James 1:6, one might be a little intimidated. How is it that we can have faith unwavering? Is that possible? Since my faith wavers all the time, I was certain I would never be the faithful servant I so wanted to be. Yet, we know that with an absence of uncertainty, faith does not exist, because then it is a perfect knowledge, and Alma said so wisely himself that "faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things."
So here was the connundrum. How can we have unwavering faith but still not have a perfect knowledge of things? Doesn't that negate itself?
Hmm. Why hadn't I thought of this earlier? Yet...my home teacher told me a story this past Sunday about when he was at BYU. A GA had come to speak to a small group of students. During the Q&A session, one of the students asked the General Authority, "so, what's it like to be so near to God? What is it like to have faith come so easily to you?" The General Authority chuckled and said that that was a giant misunderstanding. So many believed that as we grew closer to the Lord, faith became easier. This isn't the case. The closer we draw to the Lord, the more the Adversary works on us, and also, the more we know about the ways of God, and all the possible outcomes, and therefore it is all the harder to exercise faith.
I think the answer to the connundrum lies in this wise and unexpected statement. Developing faith is a process. For each and every thing we need to have faith in, whether it is faith in the Book of Mormon, or faith in God, or faith in the Atonement, or faith in a personal revelation...whatever it may be, we go through the same process for each thing. As Alma describes it, "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). It starts by desiring to believe. It grows, like unto a seed, when it is nourished, and it is not cast out because of our unbelief...it begins to enlarge our souls, and begins to enlighten our understanding, and become delicious. Yet..."now behold, would not this increase your faith? I say unto you, yea; nevertheless it hath not grown up to a perfect knowledge." (Alma 32:29). We keep nourishing this seed and letting it grow until it does become a perfect knowledge, and then we can say we "know". Yet, it is important to still nourish the plant so that it does not perish. Our faith needs constant nourishing.
So when does it get to the point when it is "nothing wavering"? Well, I believe that starts in the beginning with our desire to believe. I don't think we can equate "nothing wavering" with "no uncertainty." Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. To have faith means there is some uncertainty. Yet, to have unwavering faith must mean that we do not doubt that the Lord will provide and help us develop that faith. We cannot doubt in the Lord, because if we do, we then lack hope, and without hope, there is no faith.
I have to draw a similarity to love. I believe love grows and is nourished in the same way that faith is (aha -- do I see the link between faith, hope and charity now??). Uncertainty will most certainly exist while it develops...and even at those times when we seemingly have a perfect knowledge, or "pure love"...because without constant nourishment, it begins to fade and whither. If we do not "cast it out because of our unbelief" it will continue to grow. If we exercise the "pure love of Christ", which is charity, after our faith and our hope, we will begin to have that perfect knowledge of love. Charity on its own is an act of faith! "And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."
"Wherefore my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail--But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with them (Moroni- 7:45-47).
WOW. I never made the link before! It all begins to make sense! Faith...hope...and charity...lead to a perfect knowledge of things. But all three still must be nourished to keep that perfect knowledge. "Faith unwavering" is simply believing in Christ and in his Atoning sacrifice, and knowing He is there for us. It does not mean no uncertainty; because that is what makes faith what it is. Love is like faith; it needs to grow. It takes faith, hope and charity to turn love into a perfect knowledge, and therefore unconditionalizes it.
WOW. I love the Lord! I love that I can still learn! I love that things make more sense! I love knowing that uncertainty and fear do not mean I am unfaithful! And as Moroni said in verse 37: "it is by faith that miracles are wrought;". I believe in miracles. I believe that many, through men come to pass. I have faith in the promises of my Father in Heaven...and this is enough to sustain me.