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“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1) Faith is the assurance we have of the existence of unseen things. “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) A perfect knowledge comes from actually seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, experiencing something (i.e. you know with absolute certainty the truth/existence of that which at one time you could only exercise faith in … and because you exercised that faith, you were privileged to reap that sure witness that gives us a perfect knowledge of it). You “accumulated” enough proof/evidence of its existence/ truthfulness that you decided to act “as if” it WERE true, confident that it was and that your actions would indeed reap the results you sought.
Faith is a principle of ACTION … and the greater the evidence that your actions will reap the desired results, the more likely you will take that action.
It’s as if “EVIDENCE” is on a see-saw opposite “DOUBT,” and whichever has the greatest weight will cause the scales (see-saw) to move in their “favor.” Indeed, knowledge is power and necessary for our salvation. “It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance.” (D&C 131:6) The greater the knowledge/understanding, the greater the motivation to act. For example, what is the likelihood of your attempting to wire a house if you had no knowledge of how to do it … however, what is the likelihood of your making the attempt if you first read books and took a course on the subject and spoke with someone who had actually done it (i.e. one who had a perfect knowledge of it)? The answer is obvious! You would make the attempt yourself, reap success and, in the process, obtain a perfect knowledge for yourself! The ultimate goal of exercising faith is obtaining perfect knowledge … and with that perfect knowledge you have a testimony! This is why sharing your testimony is so powerful. Because of your successful experience, you are “living proof” that it’s true and that it works! Those who you bear testimony to will then, and only then, be able to feel that what you are saying is true. Then and only then can the Spirit bear witness through you to them that, yes, it is true and, yes, it works!
One example of evidence is that of the existence of God. Even though we have not actually seen Him, evidence of his existence is all around us! – “But Alma said unto him: Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God? Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.” (Alma 30:44)
As far as the gospel is concerned, our faith centers on Christ … that he is our Savior and Redeemer and that it is only in and through him and his atonement for us that we are able to re-enter the presence of Heavenly Father and obtain the greatest blessing of all – eternal life. We have the evidence of the scriptures testifying of Christ and of the gospel principles he taught … scriptures written by prophets who, through their worthiness, had personal “contact” with Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and/or angels (i.e. who had obtained a perfect knowledge and therefore, a testimony). We have the proof of others whose prayers were answered. And finally, we have the proof of our own prayers answered and blessings received … because we were willing to exercise a particle of faith to knock, seek and ask.
For an excellent explanation of faith and other gospel principles, we recommend the book, True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference.
Additional references: Hebrews 11; James 1:5-6; 2:14-26; Ether 12:4-22; Moroni 7:20-48; D&C 63:7-111; 90:24.
Those scriptural references above not from the Bible are from the Book of Mormon or the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C). The Book of Mormon is a record of God’s words written by prophets who lived anciently on the American Continent (600 BC – 421 AD) and is also known as the “Stick of Joseph” in Ezekiel 37:16, as these prophets/inhabitants were descendants of that same Joseph who was sold by his brothers, the sons of Abraham (the “stick of Judah” being the Bible, as it was written by descendants of Judah). The Doctrine & Covenants is modern-day revelation received by the prophet Joseph Smith in the early history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For more information about this church and its beliefs/doctrines click here.