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What Is the Origin of Faith?

Everything which is good, holy and pleasing to God is of God. Faith pleases God (Hebrews 11:6). Faith or faithfulness is an attribute of God. The children of Adam are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27-29). In one sense, therefore, faith, or the capacity for faith, is a part of the spiritual DNA of our souls by virtue of being made in the image of God.

God expresses the fullness of faith. Unlike the faith that grows up in us, God always has, did have and will have a perfect knowledge of all things. He cannot have faith in something that he hopes for but cannot see, because there is nothing like that. But, is God devoid of faith? Is there anything in which God places full and unreserved confidence? The answer is yes, and it is himself. God’s faith is absolute in himself and in his word. God speaks and he is fully confident that what he has spoken will take place.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater; So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it (Isaiah 55:8-11).

For this reason the scripture describes the way of the Lord as being straight.

And it may suffice, If I only say, they [the scriptures] are preserved for a wise purpose, which purpose is known unto God: for he doth counsel in wisdom over all his works, and his paths are straight and his course is one eternal round. (Alma 17:42)

And in anther place, he does not turn to the right or the left.

The works, and the designs, and the purposes of God, cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught, for God doth not walk in crooked paths; neither doth he turn to the right hand nor to the left; neither doth he vary from that which he hath said; therefore his paths are straight and his course is one eternal round (D&C 2:1).

In these scriptures the picture of his course being one eternal round is also noted. Where the image of the path of God being straight and invariable describes the unchangeable nature of God and his word, the eternal round refers to the infinite and unending nature of God. He is eternal and from everlasting to everlasting, without beginning or end.

In this sense, then, God has faith. To this same faith he calls us—to have an unshakable confidence in his word. With this faith, we will be able to walk in his straight paths. The temptations of the world that tend to draw us to the right or the left will lose their power. This is what it means to follow Christ. This is how the Good Shepherd leads us from danger, through the valley of the shadow of death and into green pastures by the still waters (see Psalm 23).

Faith is reliance upon God and his word. Knowing, believing and obeying the word of God is the life of faith. Faith is, therefore, closely related to the gift of agency. Agency is the God-given ability of every person to make choices. It was specifically given to allow men and women to chose God as their father and to love one another.

And in the garden of Eden gave I unto man his agency; and unto thy brethren have I said, and also gave commandment, that they should love one another; and that they should choose me their Father (Genesis 7:40).

By revelation and by subsequent experience, men came to know who God is. Man was given agency to allow him to freely choose to believe the word of God, worship and serve God and to live in peaceful brotherhood with others who did the same. This process was complicated by the fact that there is a satanic adversary who seeks to overthrow God and to prevent us from enjoying the benefits of being sons and daughters of God.

Satan preaches unbelief in the word of God, ridicules and undermines the gospel, discourages hope in Christ and eternal life. He stands in opposition to the truth and presents an option for people to choose. This option is necessary for the exercise of agency, but it has proven the downfall of many. It started very early in our history.

For our first parents (Adam and Eve) Satan’s efforts were devastating. When they believed Satan’s message of unbelief (eat the fruit and know like God) and acted on it, they cut themselves off from the presence of God. They were dead to God and therefore to eternal life because they had violated God’s commandment to them. In their state of lostness and death nothing they could do would ever reverse their condition. At that point they were subject to the Prince of Death and doomed to eternal death and misery.

Faith was excluded from them in their rebellion. They had rejected the word of God to believe a lie. Only the truth allows for actual faith, i.e., the faith which is unto life and salvation. There can be no assurance of things hoped for when the hope is false. All that Satan has to offer is a lie. There is no truth in him.

Adam and Eve were cut off from the source of life and were eternally mired in death. They were in a state of separation from God and had no sufficient object upon which they could place faith. The Holy Spirit was removed from them and they had no assurance to support faith. Lacking any hope and an object upon which to rest their faith, they were bound by their iniquities (sins) in everlasting misery and woe. They had no hope because there was nothing upon which they could hope. Agency had no power because there was no choice to be made that would reverse the curse of death or release them from bondage to Satan and death. They were destitute and unable to do any good thing. They were in despair because of their iniquities.

This would have been the tragic end to a short story of the man and woman with God. The man and woman could have spent eternity miserably, knowing what they might have had. Here in the story of faith come two of the most powerful and poignant words ever penned or spoken—But God.

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement (Romans 5:8-11).

God’s love for us was manifested in the meridian of time in Bethlehem when the Lord Jesus entered this world as the Lamb of God. Since that time, the gospel has been plainly known through the testimony of the apostles and prophets of the resurrection. The gospel was also presented to our first fathers which enabled them to have faith unto salvation. The Lamb of God was known to them as the Savior to come.

Jesus said that Abraham saw his day and rejoiced (John 8:58). Adam and Eve, according to the Christian Bible had a glimmer of hope in the promise of the seed of the woman bruising the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15 KJV and 3:21 IV). According to the Restoration, the Lord showed his love toward us by declaring faith in Jesus Christ and repentance of sins to Adam and Eve (Genesis 4-6 IV). Faith in God through Jesus Christ has been taught from the beginning. We have faith because God has shown his love by giving his only Son for us (John 3:15-19).

Faith is a gift from God. Our creation is designed to allow faith to flourish. The exercise of faith is made possible through agency. Faith is activated by the power of the word of God. It is granted to us through the atonement of Christ. Faith begins and ends in God.

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