Sunday, August 11, 2013

Help Thou Mine Unbelief

For the past two weeks I have talked about faith, particularly faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We have traveled the road that Peter the Fisherman took to become Peter the Apostle. We discussed the principle that faith involves action. It leads us to test the things of the spirit. We show faith in him by walking into the darkness when we are not sure of the path or direction that we should take. Last week I said that because of my experience on the path to faith that I no longer doubt that God is real and that Jesus Christ is our Savior. I also said that I have stumbled and fallen and have had to get up and dust myself off and get back on the path of faith. We all are human and subject to the laws of this mortal life. Sometimes because of our natural tendencies we allow thoughts into our minds that cause us to doubt our faith. When this happens we think that we are weak and not worthy of the spirit to dwell with us. But doubt is a natural human tendency and we need to learn how to deal with it.

In the Gospel of Mark there we read of a man that had a son who was possessed of an evil spirit. He brought his son to Jesus’s Disciples and asked them to heal him but they could not heal him. The man brought his son to Jesus and asked if he could heal his son. Christ said:

23 …If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.

 24 And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. (Mark 9:23-24)

We are all like this father sometimes in our lives. We believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, but we still have doubts about other things. Doubts are good if they lead us to sincerely ask, The Father in the name of Jesus Christ for our answers. It is not evil to doubt unless we let doubt continue to grow in us until it pulls us off that path of faith. Elder L. Whitney Clayton, of the First Quorum of the Seventy, said this about our doubts:

“All of us have come face-to-face with difficult, even desperate hours, when with tears we have fallen on our knees and pled as did this father, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.”
Just as the Savior stood ready to help this father whose son was “sore vexed,” 2 so is He ready to help our unbelief today so that with faith we can survive our mortal struggles and “come off conqueror.” 

Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel and is more than mere belief.  Faith is a “hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” 5 “Faith always moves its possessor to … physical and mental action.”  “To have faith in Jesus Christ means to have such trust in him that we obey whatever he commands. There is no faith where there is no obedience.” 

Faith comes from hearing the word of God and is a spiritual gift. 8 Faith increases when we not only hear, but act on the word of God as well, in obedience to the truths we have been taught.(“Help Thou Mine Unbelief”, General Conference Address, October 2001)

Even though we all have doubts, we need to plead with our Savior that he will help us with our unbelief or doubts so we can turn them into testimonies of increased faith. Even Peter had doubts and times of unbelief but he was able to finally overcome those doubts as he worked through his darkness and finally was able to come into the light of the gospel as he walked his pathway of faith by being obedient to the Lord’s commandments. So we must double our efforts to live the gospel and keep the Lord’s commandments when doubt comes to us. President James E. Faust, 2nd Counselor in the First Presidency, gave this council:

“I would like to bear a humble testimony to those who have personal struggles and doubts concerning the divine mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Many of us are at times like the father who asked the Savior to heal his child with the “dumb spirit.” The father of the child cried out, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” To all those with lingering doubts and questions, there are ways to help your unbelief. In the process of accepting and rejecting information in the search for light, truth, and knowledge, almost everyone has—at one time or another—some private questions. That is part of the learning process.

Sustaining faith can be the ultimate comfort in life. All of us must find our own testimonies.
A testimony begins with the acceptance by faith of the divine mission of “Jesus Christ, the head of this Church; and the prophet of the Restoration, Joseph Smith. The gospel as restored by Joseph Smith is either true or it is not. To receive all of the promised blessings we must accept the gospel in faith and in full. However, this certain faith does not usually come all at once. We learn spiritually line upon line and precept upon precept.” (“Lord, I Believe; Help Thou Mine Unbelief”, General Conference Address, October 2003)

So doubts are ok and part of the process we go through on our personal pathways to faith. President Faust made an interesting observation when he said: “The gospel as restored by Joseph Smith is either true or it is not.” He also said that we “must accept the gospel in faith and in full…We learn spiritually line upon line and precept upon precept”. We cannot expect all knowledge to come to us at once. We come to understand spiritual things as we need to know and as we struggle with life. When doubts come and we seek our answers through the scriptures and the writings of the prophets and follow spiritual principles our knowledge and testimonies grow and doubt is thrown out until another experiences causes the process to start again.
One caution though is that what sources do we go to when doubts come and we have questions that need to be answered. We need to remember that the world does not understand spiritual things and that the spirit will not always strive with man. When a person gives into doubts and allows the prince of lies to enter into their hearts, the Spirit of the Lord will leave them to the buffetings of Satan. They are not a good source for truth about gospel principles. We need to seek our answers from the scriptures and from the writings of those that know the principles and have tested them. We should not be seeking to find the “truth” from those whose mission is to destroy faith and pull us off the path of faith. A Book of Mormon Prophet tells us how to distinguish between good and evil when we are seeking the truth, he said:

 16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.

 17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.

 18 And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.

 19 Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.” (Book of Mormon, Moroni 7:16-19)

Then Moroni gives us the ultimate promise and challenge:
“ And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would aask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not btrue; and if ye shall ask with a csincere heart, with dreal intent, having efaith in Christ, he will fmanifest thegtruth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may aknow the btruth of all things.” (Moroni 1:4-5)

So to have doubts is ok, in fact it is good to question as long as those questions are proven by following the spirit that leads us to Christ and not away from him. We must seek truth from the proper source and we can know if the source we go to is good if it leads us to Christ and not away. Then we must be willing to go with faith into the darkness and with an obedient heart seeking a testimony of the truth. If we are sincere and we pray to the Father in the name of Christ the truth will be manifest to us. That is the promise that Christ has given us. And when we have tested that truth and been give the answer by the Spirit our faith is once again perfect in that thing and we can move further down the pathway of faith until another doubt raises its head and we start the process over again.

Over the years I have overcome my doubts through this process and now I can say that I know myself that God lives and so does his Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. I know that the gospel as restored by the Prophet Joseph Smith is the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and that we have living prophets again on the earth. I know that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. I know Thomas S. Monson is the Lord’s prophet on the earth today. Of these things I have no doubt, but I still have doubts and am working through them every day.

Your comments and questions are welcome.

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