Sunday, August 24, 2014

Alma On Faith

These are just a bunch of thoughts on pieces of Alma 32-33 about faith in particular. I took up a personal study of this everyday for a month or so and found a gold mine. What I share here are pieces. Please share thoughts or other scriptures that you feel add to this conversation about faith.

Faith is a choice.
Plant a seed, reap the fruits.
Seed of faith vs. Seed of doubt
Both of these are real and produce real, tangible fruits.

32:21--"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"

32:16-22--These verses focus on the importance of just believing, which appears to be more powerful and important than we give it credit, WAY more important and powerful. However, we don't want to stop here and think this is enough, that would cut the importance of what belief ultimately should lead to.

32:27--"...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."
*There is a very beautiful structure here where Alma is showing how incremental growth and understanding in the Gospel can work. Some just simply need to desire to believe in order for the Gospel to become active in their lives. If you try to have someone in this position reach beyond their faith, they will not grow and they won't nourish the seed. We must be patient, we must be willing to work closely with those who are at this stage (including ourselves!) and we must provide an atmosphere where they can flourish. "To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world. 14 To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful." (D&C 46:13-14) emphasis mine. There needs to be patience with all in the Gospel because we are all at different levels of belief, faith, understanding and knowledge. These are not things we can expect from anyone, but they are most certainly things to encourage in everyone. I'm a firm believer in fostering what is good, building it up, learning from mistakes, pressing forward and growing (sounds like repentance to me). These things all have a common beginning, belief in the choices that I make. We all show our beliefs by doing (or not doing) many different things (this could be characterized as faith and doubt--which are opposites). If I don't believe I can know something, I won't seek after it. This could be compared to not even trying the seed, which does NOT mean that the seed is not good or that it won't grow if you were to plant it and care for it. 
*The idea of "giv[ing] place for a portion of my words" is fantastically insightful. It is not required that one believe everything off the bat. A portion of his words, just a little bit! I have seen instances where we have judged another for not believing something, this can't be the case since we need to help everyone to increase in their desires to believe, learn, grow and have and exercise faith, no matter where they start. A portion differs for many people as well. Similar to eating food, portion sizes are different.

22 If so, wo shall come upon you; but if not so, then cast about your eyes and begin to believe in the Son of God, that he will come to redeem his people, and that he shall suffer and die to atone for their sins; and that he shall rise again from the dead, which shall bring to pass the resurrection, that all men shall stand before him, to be judged at the last and judgment day, according to their works.
23 And now, my brethren, I desire that ye shall plant this word in your hearts, and as it beginneth to swell even so nourish it by your faith. And behold, it will become a tree, springing up in you unto everlasting life. And then may God grant unto you that your burdens may be light, through the joy of his Son. And even all this can ye do if ye will. Amen.

Alma clarifies that the seed they are to plant is the Son of God. Believe in Christ, believe that He is, believe that He suffered and died for your sins. This is the seed for which one needs to make room, plant and nourish until a tree of everlasting life springs up in you. This takes time and CONSTANT nourishment. You can't selectively nourish the seed, it must be taken care of in all climates of life. Sometimes it may require a little bit more nourishment depending on the weather of the day, week, month or year. Believe and then do.