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Faith and the Works of Faith Open the Door to Hope

Faith and the Works of Faith Open the Door to Hope November 12, 2021

Until recently, for me, faith, hope, and charity were oft-repeated though relatively abstract concepts. I believed and experienced faith as a principle of action and power.  Charity, the least ambiguous in my mind, represented the pure love of Christ. I’ve felt of His love and grace so equated charity to a magnified version of my experiences.

Hope seemed to vacillate between the faith and charity. Scriptures about hope seemed to summarize both faith and charity, so hope formed some sort of bridge between faith and charity in my mind. Clarity came one day while answering someone’s question about praying for hope. I wasn’t really studying about faith, hope, and charity at the time, but a spark of intelligence built on my understanding and expanded that understanding. Hopefully, I can explain it with the same clarity.

Anca Gabriela/Unsplash

Faith

First, faith as a principle of action rather than just a basis for belief.  For example, David acted in faith when he gathered stones, put one in his sling shot, aimed at Goliath, and let it go. The Jordan River parted when the priests’ feet entered the water. Naaman’s leprosy was healed when he bathed seven times in the Jordan River. The widow of Zeraphath’s oil replenished as she used it. The lions’ mouths shut while Daniel sat in their den. God delivered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fiery furnace while they experienced it. The Lord preserved Samuel the Lamanite from attacking arrows while Samuel stood on the wall. God answered Joseph Smith’s prayer during Joseph’s prayer.

From the Bible Dictionary,

Faith is a principle of action and of power, and by it one can command the elements, heal the sick, and influence any number of circumstances when occasion warrants (Jacob 4:4–7). Even more important, by faith one obtains a remission of sins and eventually can stand in the presence of God. …

The effects of true faith in Jesus Christ include (1) an actual knowledge that the course of life one is pursuing is acceptable to the Lord (see Hebrews 11:4); (2) a reception of the blessings of the Lord that are available to man in this life; and (3) an assurance of personal salvation in the world to come. These things involve individual and personal testimony, guidance, revelation, and spiritual knowledge. Where there is true faith there are miracles, visions, dreams, healings, and all the gifts of God that He gives to His saints (emphasis added.)

Alma says faith begins as a seed and then, by diligently nourishing it, that seed “shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.” Alma’s experiment of faith is to plant the seed of faith, watch it sprout and grow.  As the seedling is nourished, it takes root and produces fruit.

So faith is a “principle of action and power, and by it, one can command the elements, heal the sick, and influence any number of circumstances when occasion warrants.”

Am I experimenting on this principle of action and power? With nourishment, the seed has power within itself to sprout, but what can I do to nourish the seed?

Faith to Heal the Sick

The Savior acted as Healer throughout His NewTestamental ministry. He asked the Nephites

Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.

For I perceive that ye desire that I should show unto you what I have done unto your brethren at Jerusalem, for I see that your faith is sufficient that I should heal you.

And it came to pass that when he had thus spoken, all the multitude, with one accord, did go forth with their sick and their afflicted, and their lame, and with their blind, and with their dumb, and with all them that were afflicted in any manner; and he did heal them every one as they were brought forth unto him.

An Ordinary Person’s Faith to Heal

My great-grandmother Edith Smith Bushman recorded a healing miracle that she wanted her entire family to remember. The boy in the story is my grandfather Elwin Bushman.

Elwin Bushman, my oldest son, was a chubby little fellow and was often afflicted with croup. When he was stricken, it usually ran its course for three nights.

In November 1920, at Mesa at age two, Elwin had a serious attack. Dr. Frank Brown finally gave him antitoxin to prevent diphtheria. 

In Joseph City, when he was between eight and nine years old, he went to bed in his usual good health. However, during the night, he awoke coughing and strangling because a false membrane covered his larynx causing an acute case of croup. When the disease struck him, he tightened so quickly that we had learned to act promptly.

He was sleeping in the south bedroom through the living and dining rooms from his parents. The startling, barking cough of croup soon had both parents on their feet. The little fellow was smothering for breath and had gotten out of bed and started for our room.

All three of us met in the darkness.  Alonzo flashed on the light while I reach for Elwin as he gasped and swooned, black in the face. In alarmed excitement, I ran my finger in his throat to break the membrane.  But as he collapse, he set his teeth on my finger and it took both of us to get it out.

We lay him on the bed unconscious. It was plain that no earthly remedy we had could solve the situation. Realizing that nothing but divine help could save our precious child, Elwin’s father, Alonzo, immediately administered to him, praying most earnestly for God to relieve Elwin’s acute distress.

The moments were tense. Home remedies were also applied and the prayers continued. He gasped, caught his breath, and that deep, high pitched, yet guttural bark came back again. His eyes fluttered! He was alive! His face became natural. His breathing soon became normal.

With sincere thanksgiving and deep appreciation, his parents knew and acknowledged that our Heavenly Father had healed him. His frequent attacks as a baby taught his parents what medicine worked for him. But this time, it was not medicine but a direct answer to prayer that saved his life.

Years later as his parents were relating this amazing incident, Elwin told us of his experience during the ordeal. He said, “As I was placed on the bed, I could see out the dining room and on the walk. Two men came up the walk through the dining room and to the bed carrying a casket and stood as if waiting for me. As the prayers were continued, they seemed to recede and then advance. But when consciousness was regained, they went as they had come.”

Faith to Command the Elements

How can I learn to command the elements?

We command elements in our everyday routines.  Through action, we convert flour, sugar, eggs, and other ingredients into brownies. We command elements when we plant and nourish a garden, add a spark to fireworks, add gas to a car, rake leaves, feed a pet, feed ourselves.

But is there more I could experience?

I hadn’t really considered the power we had to command elements until we lived on Maui.  I met an amazing, awe-inspiring aunty whose faith produced beautiful fruit.  Once while at her house, I enjoyed the open breeze wafting through.  I commented that I didn’t see a single insect, spider, or fly and wanted to know her secret.

She smiled and said she designated an area on her land for all the insects to go.  Astonished and bewildered, I asked for clarification and wanted to see it for myself. She motioned for me to follow her to a section of ti plants flanking the east side of her yard.  She smiled as she saw my understanding set in.

Immediately, I saw hundreds of spider webs dancing on the breeze.  I followed a little path into the ti plants, ducking and dodging spiders creating their webs amidst the hum and flutter of other insects.

I must have had a look of sheer shock when I exited the insect garden, because she just laughed, taking my hand, leading me back into her home.  I had never before imagined such a thing, let alone considered it a possibility.

I was so dumbfounded that I could only ask one question.  “How?”  “Through the power of God, my dear,” was her simple response. She spoke no more about it. I knew I wasn’t ready for what she could teach me, but I wanted to be.

The Holy Ghost has brought that scene to my mind hundreds of times over the years.  I noticed it came to mind at times I felt prompted to nourish my faith and learn new principles of power and action.

Faith as a Principle of Action

I have two favorite “Faith” chapters — Ether 12 and JST, Genesis 14.  Both chapters relate what people do with faith rather than how to acquire it.

In Ether 12, for example, by faith prisons tumbled, miracles happened, mountains moved, people were called to the holy order of God, believed on the Son of God, and obtained His promise. Most of the chapter tells the results of seeking Jesus through these works of faith.

JST, Genesis 14 is Melchizedek’s story.

Now Melchizedek was a man of faith, who wrought righteousness; and when a child he feared God, and stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire.

And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch …

Melchizedek received the effects of true faith. He was approved of God.

Being Approved of God

What does being approved of God look like?

James Covel

In Doctrine and Covenants 39:8-12, the Lord offered James Covel the opportunity for approbation.

And verily I say unto thee, thine heart is now right before me at this time; and, behold, I have bestowed great blessings upon thy head;

Nevertheless, thou hast seen great sorrow, for thou hast rejected me many times because of pride and the cares of the world.

But, behold, the days of thy deliverance are come, if thou wilt hearken to my voice, which saith unto thee: Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on my name, and you shall receive my Spirit, and a blessing so great as you never have known.

And if thou do this, I have prepared thee for a greater work. Thou shalt preach the fulness of my gospel, which I have sent forth in these last days, the covenant which I have sent forth to recover my people, which are of the house of Israel.

And it shall come to pass that power shall rest upon thee; thou shalt have great faith, and I will be with thee and go before thy face.

However, James Covel “received the word with gladness, but straightway Satan tempted him; and the fear of persecution and the cares of the world caused him to reject the word. Wherefore he broke my covenant, and it remaineth with me to do with him as seemeth me good.”

Nephi

Nephi accepted the Lord’s invitation to further act in faith and found himself approved when he heard

Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.

And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.

Behold, thou art Nephi, and I am God. Behold, I declare it unto thee in the presence of mine angels, that ye shall have power over this people, and shall smite the earth with famine, and with pestilence, and destruction, according to the wickedness of this people.

Behold, I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among this people.

Subsequently, when Nephi called the people to repentance, the people fruitlessly endeavored to cast him into prison. The Spirit conveyed him out of their midst. Nephi sealed the heavens resulting in a famine that finally softened the people’s hearts.

Anyone Who Believes on His Name Can Act in Faith and Experience the Works of Faith

The Lord presents the same opportunities to exercise faith, to work the works of faith, to everyone.

Doctrine and Covenants 35:8-9

For I am God, and mine arm is not shortened; and I will show miraclessigns, and wonders, unto all those who believe on my name.

And whoso shall ask it in my name in faith, they shall cast out devils; they shall heal the sick; they shall cause the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak, and the lame to walk.

After diligently nourishing faith, as Alma proposed, and experiencing the works of faith, we can receive divine approbation.

[T]hey have received so great blessings from the hand of the Lord—having a knowledge of the creation of the earth, and all men, knowing the great and marvelous works of the Lord from the creation of the world; having power given them to do all things by faith; having all the commandments from the beginning, and having been brought by his infinite goodness into this precious land of promise…

Mr. Xerty/Unsplash

Divine approbation is hope. Faith opens the door to hope.

For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

The power and ramifications of Hope coming next week.

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