TRUE FAITH by Elder Orson Pratt
Updated: Oct 10, 2021
Faith is the gift of God. In what manner does God give faith? Does He impart this gift to the mind by the immediate operation of the Holy Spirit independent of any other means? Does He bestow it unsought for and irrespective of the preparation of the mind? Does He confer it independent of the agency of man?
Faith is the gift of God. In what manner does God give faith? Does He impart this gift to the mind by the immediate operation of the Holy Spirit independent of any other means? Does He bestow it unsought for and irrespective of the preparation of the mind? Does He confer it independent of the agency of man? To say that man obtains this gift without preparing himself, or without the exercise of any agency, is to deprive him of all responsibility in regard to whether he has faith or not.
That faith is the gift of God there is no dispute; but that God bestows this gift unsought for, and without any preparation or agency on the part of man, is not only unscriptural and unreasonable. We reply that whatever power God has, it is certain that He will not exercise it contrary to the principles of Justice and Mercy, or contrary to the revealed character which He has given of Himself. We may rest assured that man has the power to obtain faith through the exercise of his own free will.
But if faith cannot be obtained, unless sought for properly, how can the sayings of Paul to the Ephesians be reconciled with this idea? "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto (His) good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."(His Works) (Eph.2:8-10). We are to understand from these passages, that the grace and faith by which man is saved, are the gifts of God, having been purchased for him not by (mans) own works, but by the blood of Christ. Had not these gifts been purchased for man, all exertions on his own part would have been entirely unavailing and fruitless. Whatever course man might have pursued, he could not have atoned for one sin; it required the sacrifice of a sinless and pure (Infinite) Being in order to purchase the gifts of faith, repentance, and salvation for fallen man. Grace, Faith, Repentance, and Salvation, Eternal Life, when considered in their origin, are not of man, neither by his (own) works. Man did not devise, originate, nor adopt them. A superior Beings in Celestial abode, provided these gifts, and revealed the conditions to man by which he may become a partaker of them. Therefore all boasting on the part of man is excluded. He is saved by a plan which his works did not originate--a plan of heaven, and not of earth.
Well might the Apostle declare to the Ephesians, that these gifts were not of themselves, neither of their works, when the God and Father of our spirits, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift, was the great Author of them. But are these great gifts bestowed on fallen man without his (doing something)? No; man has these gifts purchased for and offered to him; but before he can “receive” and enjoy them he must exercise his agency and (Receive) of them: and herein is the condemnation of man, because when he was in a helpless fallen condition, and could not by his own works and devices atone for the least of his sins, the only Begotten of the Father gave his own life to purchase the gifts of faith and salvation for him, and yet he will not so much as accept (receive) them (which is part of the “works”).
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto (His) good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."(His Works) (Eph.2:8-10)”
Faith therefore is the Gift of God, but man cannot have this choice heavenly treasure only in God's own appointed way. Among the means that God has ordained through which man may receive this great and precious gift, may be mentioned the preaching of the word by men called and inspired by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost: for saith the Apostle, "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach except they be sent?" "So then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."(Rom. 10:14, 15, 17.) Though" faith be the gift of God, yet it comes by hearing the word. This evidence begets faith in the mind; and this faith, though it be obtained through the exercise of the free will and agency of the creature, is still the gift of God, granted through the evidence accompanying the preached word. Faith comes by reading as well as by preaching: for a man called and inspired of God can both preach and write by the power of the Holy Ghost, and when the honest humble soul either hears or reads that which is given by the Spirit, the light that is in him witnesseth that it is OF God; for light cleaves to light, and truth to truth; the Spirit gives light to every man that comes into the world, and if he loves the Light that is in himself, he will love all other light that is presented to his mind, and embrace it. (See D&C 50:13-25) Light cannot be presented to the mind of a candid, honest person, without being perceived to be light; but if he receive it not he extinguishes in a degree the light that is in him, and darkness still greater ensues, until the light that was in him has entirely fled, (see Alma 12:9-11) This is the state of man who rejects Light and Truth; and will not exercise faith in that which The Light that is IN him teaches him is Truth.
The Word and the evidence accompanying It are both the gifts of God; but besides these, the Light that is in every man who comes into the world is also the Gift of God through Christ. For if Christ had not purchased this Gift for man by his blood, man would have been destitute of light. Darkness alone would have reigned, and our world would have been a hell. But saith our Savior, "I am the Light and the Life of the world;" all light' that is in the world came by him through Him; it is the Gift of God to fallen man. If the Light that is in man be the Gift of God, surely all additional light offered to him, must be the Gift of God also. By faith man should lay hold of this Light, wherever he may discover it.
“ I am the Light and the Life of the world;”
The only way to receive additional faith and Light is to practice according to the light which we have and if we do this, we have the promise of God that the same shall grow brighter and brighter, until the perfect day (D&C 84, 88, 93). (The) Word of God is Light and Truth. Faith is the Gift of God, and is one of the means of salvation; but none can have this Gift except in the way that God has ordained.
Everything that is good comes from God and is the Gift of God.
What doth it benefit this generation to offer them a heavenly gift, and reveal to them more light and truth if they receive it not? The gift benefits those only who receive it. Oh, poor fallen man! how eager for happiness, and yet how unwilling to receive it upon righteous principles! Oh, that thou didst but know the day of thy visitation and wouldst incline thine ear and hearken to the Voice of God and harden not thy heart for then it would be well with thee! Oh, turn unto the Lord, and exercise faith in Him, that thy Light and Joy may be increased - thy faith and love become perfected, that all of the Gifts of God may abound in thee, that thou mayest finally (receive) Eternal life, which is the greatest of all the Gifts of God to man.