Chapter 5 Faith And Repentance

ARTICLE 4 -- We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; * * *


Nature of Faith -- The predominating sense in which the term faith is used throughout the scriptures is that of full confidence and trust in the being, purposes, and words of God. Such trust, if implicit, will remove all doubt concerning things accomplished or promised of God, even though such things be not apparent to or explicable by the ordinary senses of mortality; hence arises the definition of faith given by Paul: "Now faith is the substance [i.e., confidence, or assurance] of things hoped for, the evidence [i.e., the demonstration or proof] of things not seen." FN It is plain that such a feeling of trust may exist in different persons in varying degrees; indeed, faith may manifest itself from the incipient state which is little more than feeble belief, scarcely free from hesitation and fear, to the strength of abiding confidence that sets doubt and sophistry at defiance.

Belief, Faith, and Knowledge -- The terms faith and belief are sometimes regarded as synonyms; nevertheless each of them has a specific meaning in our language, although in earlier usage there was little distinction between them, and therefore the words are used interchangeably in many scriptural passages. Belief, in one of its accepted senses, may consist in a merely intellectual assent, while faith implies such confidence and conviction as will impel to action. Dictionary authority justifies us in drawing a distinction between the two, according to present usage in English; and this authority defines belief as a mental assent to the truth or actuality of anything, excluding, however, the moral element of responsibility through such assent, which responsibility is included by faith. Belief is in a sense passive, an agreement or acceptance only; faith is active and positive, embracing such reliance and confidence as will lead to works. Faith in Christ comprises belief in Him, combined with trust in Him. One cannot have faith without belief; yet he may believe and still lack faith. Faith is vivified, vitalized, living belief.

Certainly there is great difference in degree, even if no essential distinction in kind be admitted between the two. As shall be presently demonstrated, faith in the Godhead is requisite to salvation; it is indeed a saving power, leading its possessor in the paths of godliness, whereas mere belief in the existence and attributes of Deity is no such power. Mark the words of James, FN in his general epistle to the saints wherein he chided his brethren for certain empty professions. In substance he said: You take pride and satisfaction in declaring your belief in God; you boast of being distinguished from the idolaters and the heathen because you accept one God; you do well to so profess, and so believe; but, remember, others do likewise; even the devils believe; and so firmly that they tremble at thought of the fate which that belief makes plain to them. Satan and his followers believe in Christ; and their belief amounts to knowledge as to who He is, and as to what constitutes His part, past, present, and to come, in the divine plan of human existence and salvation. Call to mind the case of the man possessed by evil spirits in the land of the Gadarenes, a man so grievously tormented as to be a terror to all who came near him. He could be neither tamed nor bound; people were afraid to approach him; yet when he saw Christ, he ran to Him and worshiped, and the wicked spirit within him begged for mercy at the hands of that Righteous One, addressing Him as"Jesus, thou Son of the most high God." FN Again, an unclean spirit in the synagogue at Jerusalem implored Christ not to use His power, crying in fear and agony: "I know thee, who thou art, the Holy One of God." FN Christ was once followed by a multitude made up of people from Idumaea and Jerusalem, from Tyre and Sidon; among them were many who were possessed of evil spirits, and these, when they saw Him, fell down in the attitude of worship, exclaiming: "Thou art the Son of God." FN Was there ever mortal believer who confessed more unreservedly a knowledge of God and His Son Jesus Christ than did these servants of Satan? Satan knows God and Christ; remembers, perchance, somewhat concerning the position which he himself once occupied as a Son of the Morning; FN yet with all such knowledge he is Satan still. Neither belief nor its superior, actual knowledge, is efficient to save; for neither of these is faith. If belief be a product of the mind, faith is of the heart; belief is founded on reason, faith largely on intuition.

We frequently hear it said that faith is imperfect knowledge; that the first disappears as the second takes its place,; that now we walk by faith but some day we shall walk by the sure light of knowledge. In a sense this is true; yet it must be remembered that knowledge may be as dead and unproductive in good works as is faithless belief. Those confessions of the devils, that Christ was the Son of God, were based on knowledge; yet the great truth, which they knew, did not change their evil natures. How different was their acknowledgment of the Savior from that of Peter, who, to the Master's question "Whom say ye that I am?" replied in practically the words used by the unclean spirits before cited: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." FN Peter's faith had already shown its vitalizing power; it had caused him to forsake much that had been dear, to follow his Lord through persecution and suffering, and to put away worldliness with its fascinations for the sacrificing godliness which his faith made so desirable. His knowledge of God as the Father, and of the Son as the Redeemer, was perhaps no greater than that of the unclean spirits; but while to them that knowledge was but an added cause of condemnation to him it was a means of salvation.

The mere possession of knowledge gives no assurance of benefit therefrom. It is said that during an epidemic of cholera in a great city, a scientific man proved to his own satisfaction, by chemical and microscopic tests, that the water supply was infected, and that through it contagion was being spread. He proclaimed the fact throughout the city, and warned all against the use of unboiled water. Many of the people, although incapable of comprehending his methods of investigation, far less of repeating such for themselves, had faith in his warning words, followed his instructions, and escaped the death to which their careless and unbelieving fellows succumbed. Their faith was a saving one. To the man himself, the truth by which so many lives had been spared was a matter of knowledge. He had actually perceived, under the microscope, proof of the existence of death-dealing germs in the water; he had demonstrated their virulence; he knew of what he spoke. Nevertheless, in a moment of forgetfulness he drank of the unsterilized water, and soon thereafter died, a victim to the plague. His knowledge did not save him, convincing though it was; yet others, whose reliance was only that of confidence or faith in the truth that he declared, escaped the threatening destruction. He had knowledge; but, was he wise? Knowledge is to wisdom what belief is to faith, one an abstract principle, the other a living application. Not possession merely, but the proper use of knowledge constitutes wisdom.

Foundation of Faith -- Primarily, and in a theological sense, we are considering faith as a living, inspiring confidence in God, and an acceptance of His will as our law, and of His words as our guide, in life. Faith in God is possible only as we come to know that He exists, and moreover, that He is a Being of worthy character and attributes.

Upon such knowledge of God's existence, the worthiness of His character, and the perfection of His attributes, is man's faith in Him established. Faith in God then cannot be exercised in the absence of all knowledge of Him; yet even the benighted heathen show some of the fruits of faith, for they have at least the inborn conviction that arises from man's natural intuition as to the existence of a supreme power. In every human soul, even in that of the savage, there is some basis for faith, however limited and imperfect the darkness of heredity or of wilful sin may have made it. The heathen's faith may be weak and imperfect, for his ability to recognize the evidence upon which belief in God depends may be small. While the first promptings of faith toward God may be the result of natural intuition, the later development will be largely the result of unprejudiced and prayerful investigation and search for truth.

From trustworthy evidence, rightly interpreted, true faith will spring; from false evidence, only distorted and misplaced faith can arise. Our conclusions concerning any question under test will be governed largely by the number and credibility of witnesses, or the weight of evidence as we investigate for ourselves. However improbable a declaration may appear to us, if the truth of it be affirmed by witnesses in whom we have confidence we are led to admit the statement, at least provisionally, as true. If many credible witnesses testify, and moreover, if collateral evidence appear, we may consider the statement as proved. Nevertheless we would still be incompetent to affirm the truth of it on our personal knowledge until we had seen and heard for ourselves, until in fact each of us had become a competent witness through personal observation. To illustrate: Relatively few of the citizens of this country have visited the seat of government; the masses know nothing by actual observation of the capitol, the executive mansion and other buildings of national interest and importance; very few have personally met the President of the United States who resides there. How does any one of the multitude who have not seen for themselves know of the city of Washington, of the capitol, and of the president? Through the testimony of others. He may have among his acquaintances many who have been in Washington and whose statements he accepts as true; assuredly he has heard or read of those who do know for themselves. Then he learns of laws being framed there, and of edicts issuing from the nation's headquarters; his studies in school, his use of maps and books, and many other incidents add to the evidence, which soon becomes decisive. His inferences multiply, and develop into a positive conviction. He acquires faith in the existence of a center of national government and regard for the laws which emanate therefrom.

Let us take another illustration: Astronomers tell us that the earth is of a kind with certain of the stars; that it is one of a family of planets which revolve about the sun in concentric orbits; and that some of those planets are many times the size of our globe. We may not be skilled in astronomical methods of observation and calculation, and may therefore be unable to test the truth of these statements for ourselves; but we find such a mass of evidence resulting from the united testimony of those in whose skill as scientific workers we have confidence that the conclusions are accepted by us as proved.

So too concerning the existence, authority, and attributes of God, the testimonies of many holy men in ancient and modern times -- prophets whose credibility is established by the fulfilment of their predictions -- have come to us in united declaration of the solemn truths, and nature furnishes corroborative testimony on every side. To reject without disproving such evidence is to ignore the most approved methods of investigation and research known to man. The development of faith from evidence is illustrated in the scenes of a certain Pentecostal celebration, on which occasion thousands of Jews, imbued with a preconceived prejudice that Jesus was an impostor, heard the apostles' testimony and witnessed the attendant signs; three thousand of them were convinced of the truth and became followers of the Son of God, their prejudice giving place to belief, and their belief developing into faith with its accompanying works. FN The foundation of faith in God, then, is a sincere belief in or knowledge of Him as sustained by evidence and testimony.

Faith a Principle of Power -- In its broad sense, faith -- the assurance of things for which we hope, and the evidence of things not discernible through our senses -- -is the motive principle that impels men to resolve and to act. Without its exercise, we would make no exertion the results of which are future; without faith that he may gather in the autumn, man would not plant in the spring; neither would he essay to build, did he not have confidence that he would finish the structure and enjoy its use; had the student no faith in the possibility of successfully following his studies he would not enter upon his courses. Faith thus becomes to us the foundation of hope, from which spring our aspirations, ambitions, and confidences for the future. Remove man's faith in the possibility of any desired success, and you rob him of the incentive to strive. He would not stretch forth his hand to seize did he not believe in the possibility of securing that for which he reaches. This principle becomes therefore the impelling force by which men struggle for excellence, ofttimes enduring vicissitudes and suffering that they may achieve their purposes. Faith is the secret of ambition, the soul of heroism, the motive power of effort.

The exercise of faith is pleasing unto God, and thereby His interposition may be secured. It was through faith that the Israelites in their exodus from Egypt followed their leader into the bed of the sea; and through the protecting agencies of God, which that faith drew forth, they were saved, while the Egyptians met destruction in attempting to follow. FN With full confidence in the instructions and promises of God, Joshua and his intrepid followers laid siege to Jericho; and the walls of that city of sin fell before the faith of the besiegers without the use of battering rams or other engines of war. FN By the same power Joshua gained the assistance of the luminaries of heaven in his work of victory over the Amorites. FN Paul cites FN us also to the instances of Gideon, FN Barak, FN Samson, FN Jephthah, FN David, FN Samuel, FN and the prophets, "who, through faith, subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong." It was through faith that Alma and Amulek were delivered from captivity, while the prison walls were demolished. FN Through faith, Nephi and Lehi, FN sons of Helaman, were protected from their Lamanite foes by fire, in the midst of which they were preserved unscorched; and a yet greater work was wrought in the hearts of their persecutors, for these became enlightened, and repentant. Through the operation of faith even the waves of the sea may be subdued; FN trees are subject to the voice of him who commands by faith; FN mountains may be removed for the accomplishment of righteous purposes; the sick may be healed; FN evil spirits may be cast out, FN and the dead raised to life. FN All things are wrought through faith. FN

But, it may be argued that faith of itself is not a source of power; that its effect is due to an external interposition of divine aid, which faith merely invokes; and the skeptic may add that an omniscient God, if loving and kind, would act independently and give without waiting to be invoked through faith or prayer. A sufficient answer is found in the abundant proof furnished by scripture, that the Almighty operates in accordance with law, and that arbitrary and capricious action is foreign to His nature. Howsoever the laws of heaven may have been formulated, the application of their beneficent provisions to humanity is dependent on the faith and obedience of the mortal subjects.

Consider the defeat of Israel by the men of Ai; a law of righteousness had been violated, and things that were accursed had been introduced into the camp of the covenant people; this transgression interposed resistance to the current of divine help, and until the people had sanctified themselves the power was not renewed unto them. FN Furthermore, Christ was influenced and to some extent controlled in His miracles among men by the faith or lack of faith of the people. The common benediction, "Thy faith hath made thee whole," with which He announced the healing interposition, is evidence of the fact. Then we learn that on a certain occasion in His own country He could do no mighty work, being restrained by the unbelief of the people. FN

A Condition of Effective Faith -- A condition essential to the exercise of a living, growing, sustaining faith in Deity is the consciousness on man's part that he is at least endeavoring to live in accordance with the laws of God as he has learned them. A knowledge that he is wilfully and wantonly sinning against the truth will deprive him of sincerity in prayer and faith and estrange him from his Father. He must feel that the trend of his life's course is acceptable, that with due allowance for mortal weakness and human frailty he is in some measure approved of the Lord; otherwise he is restrained from supplicating the throne of grace with confidence. The consciousness of earnest effort toward godly conduct is a power of itself, strengthening its possessor in sacrifice and under persecution, and sustaining him in all good works. It was this knowledge of assured communion with God that enabled the saints of olden time to endure as they did, though their sufferings were extreme. Of them we read that some "were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth." FN As in former days so in the present, the saints have been sustained through all their sufferings by the sure knowledge of divine approval; and the faith of righteous men has ever grown through a consciousness of their sincere and devoted endeavor.

Faith Essential to Salvation -- Inasmuch as salvation is attainable only through the mediation and atonement of Christ, and since this is made applicable to individual sin in the measure of obedience to the laws of righteousness, faith in Jesus Christ is indispensable to salvation. But no one can effectively believe in Jesus Christ and at the same time doubt the existence of either the Father or the Holy Ghost; therefore faith in the entire Godhead is essential to salvation. Paul declares that without faith it is impossible to please God, "for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." FN The scriptures abound in assurances of salvation to those who exercise faith in God, and obey the requirements which that faith makes plain. Christ's words on the matter are conclusive: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." FN And again: "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him." FN Similar doctrines did His apostles teach after His death throughout all the days of their ministry. FN A natural result of implicit faith in the Godhead will be a growing confidence in the scriptures as containing the word of God, and in the words and works of His authorized servants who speak as His living oracles.

Faith a Gift of God -- Though within the reach of all who diligently strive to gain it, faith is nevertheless a divine gift. FN As is fitting for so priceless a pearl, it is given to those only who show by their sincerity that they are worthy of it, and who give promise of abiding by its dictates. Although faith is called the first principle of the Gospel of Christ, though it be in fact the foundation of religious life, yet even faith is preceded by sincerity of disposition and humility of soul, whereby the word of God may make an impression upon the heart. FN No compulsion is used in bringing men to a knowledge of God; yet, as fast as we open our hearts to the influences of righteousness, the faith that leads to life eternal will be given us of our Father.

Faith and Works -- Faith in a passive sense, that is, as mere belief in the more superficial sense of the term, is inefficient as a means of salvation. This truth was clearly set forth both by Christ and the apostles, and the vigor with which it was declared may be an indication of the early development of a most pernicious doctrine -- that of justification by belief alone. The Savior taught that works were essential to the validity of profession and the efficacy of faith. Mark his words: "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." FN "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." FN The exposition by James is particularly explicit: "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works." FN And to this may be added the words of John: "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him." FN

To these teachings may be added many inspired utterances from Nephite scriptures FN and from modern revelation, FN all affirming the necessity of works, and denying the saving efficacy of passive belief. Yet in spite of the plain word of God, dogmas of men have been promulgated to the effect that by faith alone may salvation be attained, and that a wordy profession of belief shall open the doors of heaven to the sinner. FN The scriptures cited and man's inherent sense of justice furnish a sufficient refutation of these false assertions. FN


Nature of Repentance -- The term repentance is used in the scriptures with several different meanings, but, as representing the duty required of all who would obtain forgiveness for transgression it indicates a godly sorrow for sin, producing a reformation of life, FN and embodies (1) a conviction of guilt; (2) a desire to be relieved from the hurtful effects of sin; and (3) an earnest determination to forsake sin and to accomplish good. Repentance is a result of contrition of soul, which springs from a deep sense of humility, and this in turn is dependent upon the exercise of an abiding faith in God. Repentance therefore properly ranks as the second principle of the Gospel, closely associated with and immediately following faith. As soon as one has come to recognize the existence and authority of God, he feels a respect for divine laws, and a conviction of his own unworthiness. His wish to please the Father, whom he has so long ignored, will impel him to forsake sin; and this impulse will acquire added strength from the sinner's natural and commendable desire to make reparation, if possible, and so avert the dire results of his own waywardness. With the zeal inspired by fresh conviction, he will crave an opportunity of showing by good works the sincerity of his newly developed faith; and he will regard the remission of his sins as the most desirable of blessings. Then he will learn that this gift of mercy is granted on certain specific conditions. FN The first step toward the blessed state of forgiveness consists in the sinner confessing his sins; the second, in his forgiving others who have sinned against him; and the third in his showing his acceptance of Christ's atoning sacrifice by complying with the divine requirements.

1. Confession of Sins is essential, for without it repentance is incomplete. John tells us: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." FN We read also: "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." FN And unto the saints in this dispensation the Lord has said: "Verily I say unto you, I, the Lord, forgive sins unto those who confess their sins before me and ask forgiveness, who have not sinned unto death." FN And that this act of confession is included in repentance is shown by the Lord's words: "By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins -- behold, he will confess them and forsake them." FN

2. The Sinner Must be Willing to Forgive Others, if he hopes to obtain forgiveness. A man's repentance is but superficial if his heart be not softened to the degree of tolerance for the weaknesses of his fellows. In teaching His hearers how to pray, the Savior instructed them to supplicate the Father: "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." FN He gave them no assurance of forgiveness if in their hearts they forgave not one another: "For," said He, "if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." FN Forgiveness between man and man, to be acceptable before the Lord, must be unbounded. In answering Peter's question: "Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him -- till seven times?" the Master replied: "I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven"; clearly intending to teach that man must ever be ready to forgive. On another occasion He taught the disciples, saying: "If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent, thou shalt forgive him." FN

Illustrating further the divine purpose to mete unto men the measure they mete unto their fellows FN the Savior put forth a parable of a king to whom one of his subjects owed a large sum of money, ten thousand talents; but when the debtor humbled himself and pleaded for mercy, the compassionate heart of the king was moved and he forgave his servant the debt. But the same servant, going out from the presence of the king, met a fellow servant who was indebted to him in a small sum, and, forgetting the mercy so recently shown unto himself, he seized his fellow servant and cast him into prison till he would pay the debt. Then the king, hearing of this, sent for the wicked servant, and, denouncing him for his lack of gratitude and consideration, handed him over to the tormenters. FN The Lord has not promised to listen to petitions nor accept offerings from one who has bitterness in his heart toward others: "First be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." FN In His revealed word to the saints in this day, the Lord has placed particular stress upon this necessary condition: "Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin"; FN and to remove all doubt as to the proper subjects for human forgiveness, it is added: "I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men."

3. Confidence in Christ's Atoning Sacrifice constitutes the third essential condition in obtaining remission of sins. The name of Jesus Christ is the only name under heaven whereby men may be saved; FN and we are taught to offer our petitions to the Father in the name of the Son. Adam received this instruction from the mouth of an angel, FN and the Savior personally instructed the Nephites to the same effect. FN But no person can truthfully profess faith in Christ and refuse to obey His commandments; therefore obedience is essential to remission of sin; and the truly repentant sinner will eagerly seek to learn what is required of him.

Repentance, to be worthy of its name, must comprise something more than a mere self-acknowledgment of error; it does not consist in lamentations and wordy confessions, but in the heartfelt recognition of guilt, which carries with it a horror for sin and a resolute determination to make amends for the past and to do better in the future. If such a conviction be genuine it is marked by that godly sorrow which, as Paul has said, "worketh repentance to salvation, not to be repented of; but the sorrow of the world worketh death." FN Apostle Orson Pratt has wisely said: "It would be of no use for a sinner to confess his sins to God unless he were determined to forsake them; it would be of no benefit to him to feel sorry that he had done wrong unless he intended to do wrong no more; it would be folly for him to confess before God that he had injured his fellow man unless he were determined to do all in his power to make restitution. Repentance, then, is not only a confession of sins, with a sorrowful, contrite heart, but a fixed, settled purpose to refrain from every evil way.,

Repentance Essential to Salvation -- This evidence of sincerity, this beginning of a better life, is required of every candidate for salvation. In the obtaining of divine mercy, repentance is as indispensable as faith; it must be as extensive as sin. Where can we find a sinless mortal? Sagely did the preacher of old declare: "There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not." FN Who, therefore, has no need of forgiveness, or who is exempt from the requirements of repentance? God has promised forgiveness unto those who truly repent; it is unto such that the advantages of individual salvation, through the atonement of Christ, are extended. Isaiah thus admonishes to repentance, with assuring promises of forgiveness: "Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." FN

The burden of inspired teachers in every age has been the call to repentance. To this effect was heard the voice of John crying in the wilderness, "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." FN And the Savior followed with "Repent ye, and believe the gospel" FN and, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." FN So too proclaimed the apostles of old, that God "commandeth all men everywhere to repent." FN And in the present dispensation has come the word:. "We know that all men must repent and believe on the name of Jesus Christ and worship the Father in his name, and endure in faith on his name to the end, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God." FN

Repentance a Gift from God -- Repentance is a means of pardon and is therefore one of God's great gifts to man. It is not to be had for the careless asking; it may not be found upon the highway; nevertheless it is given with boundless liberality unto those who have brought forth works that warrant its bestowal. FN That is to say, all who prepare themselves for repentance will be led by the humbling and softening influence of the Holy Spirit to the actual possession of this great gift. When Peter was charged by his fellow worshipers with a breach of law in that he had associated with Gentiles, he told his hearers of the divine manifestations he had so recently received; they believed and declared: "Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." FN Paul also, in writing to the Romans, teaches that repentance comes through the goodness of God. FN

Repentance Not Always Possible -- The gift of repentance is extended to men as they humble themselves before the Lord; it is the testimony of the Spirit in their hearts. If they hearken not unto the monitor it will leave them, for the Spirit of God strives not ever with man. FN Repentance becomes more difficult as sin is more wilful; it is by humility and contrition of the heart that sinners may increase their faith in God, and so obtain from Him the gift of repentance. As the time of repentance is procrastinated, the ability to repent grows weaker; neglect of opportunity in holy things develops inability. In giving commandment to Joseph Smith in the early days of the present Church, the Lord said: "For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance; Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven; And he that repents not, from him shall be taken even the light which he has received; for my Spirit shall not always strive with man, saith the Lord of Hosts." FN

Repentance Here and Hereafter -- Alma, a Nephite prophet, described the period of earthly existence as a probationary state, granted unto man for repentance; FN yet we learn from the scriptures that repentance may be obtained, under certain conditions, beyond the veil of mortality. Between the times of His death and resurrection, Christ "preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah"; FN these the Son visited, and unto them He preached the Gospel, "that they might be judged according to men in the flesh; Who received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it." FN

No soul is justified in postponing his efforts to repent because of this assurance of longsuffering and mercy. We know not fully on what terms repentance will be obtainable in the hereafter; but to suppose that the soul who has wilfully rejected the opportunity of repentance in this life will find it easy to repent there is contrary to reason. To procrastinate the day of repentance is to deliberately place ourselves in the power of the adversary. Thus Amulek taught and admonished the multitude of old: "For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; * * * therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; * * * Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world. For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his." FN


Faith -- In considering the passages cited here the student should bear in mind that in English versions the terms "faith," "belief' and "knowledge," with their verbs and adjectives, are frequently used with one or nearly the same meaning.

Believe in the Lord, your God, so shall ye be established -- 2 Chron. 20:20.

That ye may know and believe me -- Isa. 43: 10.

The just shall live by his faith -- Hab. 2:4; see also Rom. 1: 17; Gal. 3: 11; Heb. 10:38.

Abraham believed in the Lord and he accounted it to him for righteousness -- Gen. 15:6; see also Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6. Because of his faith Abraham was called the Friend of God -- Jas. 2:23; see also Isa. 41:8. When called to go he went, not knowing whither -- Gen. 12:1-4; Heb. 11:8.

O ye of little faith -- Matt. 6:30; 8:26. How is it that ye have no faith? -- Mark 4:40. Where is your faith? -- Luke 8:25.

He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief -- Matt. 13:58; Mark 6:5, 6; see also 3 Nephi 19:35; Ether 12:12.

Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief -- Mark 9:24.

Healings wrought by Jesus Christ through faith: Thy faith hath made thee whole -- Matt. 9:22; Mark 5:34; Luke 8:48; see also Mark 10:52; Luke 7:50. According to your faith be it unto you -- Matt. 9:29. Because of faith the Lord said: Man, thy sins are forgiven thee -- Luke 5:20; see also Luke 7:47.

Daughter of Jairus raised from the dead; Jesus said: Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole -- Luke 8:50.

Those who believed on Christ were given power to become sons of God -- John 1: 12; see also Moroni 7:26; Moses 7:1.

If ye believe not that I am he ye shall die in your sins -- John 8:24. He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also -- John 14:12. Believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God -- John 20:31. He that believeth not shall be damned -- Mark 16:16.

When the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? -- Luke 18:8.

Whosoever believeth in him should not perish -- John 3:16; see also 5:24.

Life eternal, to know God and the Savior -- John 17:3.

Ask and it shall be given you, etc. -- Luke 11:9; see also Enos 15; D&C 66:9. Purifying the hearts of the Gentiles by faith -- Acts 15:9.

Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God -- Rom. 10:17.

Whatsoever is not of faith is sin -- Rom. 14:23.

We walk by faith, not by sight -- 2 Cor. 5:7.

I live by the faith of the Son of God -- Gal. 2:20.

Salvation through faith which is in Jesus Christ -- 2 Tim. 3: 15.

I have kept the faith -- 2 Tim. 4:7.

Faith more than sight; evidence of things not seen; mighty works wrought through faith -- Heb. chap. 11; see also Ether chaps. 3 and 12; 4 Nephi 5.

Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering -- Jas. 1:6. By works was faith made perfect -- 2:22. Prayer of faith shall save the sick -- 5:15.

Without faith, impossible to please God -- Heb. 11:6; see also D&C 63:11.

Faith a gift from God: Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father -- Matt. 16:17. No man can come to Christ except the Father draw him -- John 6:44, 65. If any man will do the will of God he shall know for himself -- John 7:17. According as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith -- Rom. 12:3. To some is given faith, by the Spirit of God -- 1 Cor. 12:8. Saved by grace through faith, the gift of God -- Eph. 2:8.

Faith essential to salvation: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned -- Mark 16:16; see also Ether 4:18; 3 Nephi 11:33, 34, 35; D&C 68:9; Moses 5:15.

Unbeliever is condemned because he hath not believed in the name of the Only Begotten Son of God -- John 3:18. Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls -- 1 Peter 1:9. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves -- Jas. 1:22. No one can be saved without faith in Jesus Christ -- Moroni 7:38; see also D&C 20:29.

Power of the Holy Ghost received through faith in the Son of God -- 1 Nephi 10:17.

Having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel -- 2 Nephi 9:23.

By the word of Christ, with unshaken faith in him -- 2 Nephi 31:19.

Remission of sins brought about through faith -- Mosiah 4:3.

Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things -- Alma 32:21, 26, 40.

Strong exhortation to faith and repentance -- Alma chap. 13.

Look upon the Son of God with faith, and have eternal life -- Helaman 8:15.

Remission of sins by endurance of faith to the end -- Moroni 3:3; 8:3.

Faith in its relation to hope and charity -- Moroni, chap. 7.

By faith they did lay hold upon every good thing -- Moroni 7:25.

God is merciful unto all who believe in his name -- Alma 32:22; 34:15; Mormon 7:5.

That salvation may come to the children of men through faith in his name -- Mosiah 3:9.

It is he that cometh to take away the sins of the world -- Alma 5:48; 11:40; 12:15; 19:36; 22:13; Helaman 14:2.

Holy Spirit deals with men according to their faith -- Jarom 4.

All things you shall receive by faith -- D&C 26:2. Without faith you can do nothing -- 8:10; 18:19. According to your faith shall it be done unto you -- 8:11; 10:47; 11:17; 52:20.

Faith cometh not by signs, but signs follow -- D&C 63:9; 68:10; 84:65; compare 63:12.

He that hath faith to be healed shall be -- D&C 42:48-52.

Minds darkened because of unbelief -- D&C 84:54.

The faithful shall overcome and be preserved -- D&C 61:9, 10; 63:47; 75: 16; 79:3.


All mankind have need of repentance. If we confess our sins God is just to forgive -- 1 John 1:8, 9; see also Rom. 3:10; Eccl. 7:20.

Return unto the Lord for he will abundantly pardon -- Isa. 55:7.

Who turneth away from his wickedness shall save his soul alive -- Ezek. 18:27. Proclaimed by John the Baptist: Repent ye -- Matt. 3:2, 8; Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3.

Preached by Jesus Christ: Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand -- Matt. 4:17; see also Mark 1:15; 2:17. Christ came to call sinners to repentance -- Luke 5:32. Joy in heaven over the sinner that repenteth -- Luke 15:7, 10. Repentance and remission of sins preached in his name -- Luke 24:47. Penalty following nonrepentance -- Rev. 2:5, 16; compare 3:19. Wo unto the inhabitants of the whole earth except they shall repent -- 3 Nephi 9:2. How oft will I gather you if ye will repent -- 10:6. Whosoever repenteth and is baptized shall be saved -- 23:5.

Preached by the Apostles: They preached that men should repent -- Mark 6:12. Repent, and be baptized every one of you -- Acts 2:38; see also 3:19; 8:22. God commandeth all men to repent -- Acts 17:30. Rejoicing over those who sorrowed to repentance -- 2 Cor. 7:9, 10. The Gentiles were granted repentance -- Acts 11:18.

Blessing to him who brings a soul to repentance -- Jas. 5:20; see also D&C 18:15, 16.

The Lord desirous that all come to repentance -- 2 Peter 3:9.

Way prepared for all men if they repent -- 1 Nephi 10:18.

To be well with Gentiles if they repent; whoso repenteth not must perish -- 1 Nephi 14:5.

Repentant Gentiles to become covenant people; nonrepentant Jews to be cast off -- 2 Nephi 30:2; 3 Nephi 16:13.

All nations to dwell safely in the Holy One of Israel if they will repent -- 1 Nephi 22:28.

Days of men mercifully prolonged for repentance -- 2 Nephi 2:21. Space granted that men might repent; a probationary state, a time to prepare to meet God -- Alma 12:24; 34:32.

People of God to persuade all men to repentance -- 2 Nephi 26:27. A curse upon the land, and destruction of the people if they would not repent -- Jacob 3:3.

Believe that ye must repent -- Mosiah 4:10.

Repentance preached by Alma at Mormon -- Mosiah 18:7, 20. Words of the Spirit: Except ye repent ye can in no wise inherit the kingdom of heaven -- Alma 5:51; see also 7:14.

Do not procrastinate the day of your repentance -- Alma 34:32-35. To the repentant and faithful it is given to know the mysteries of God -- Alma 26:22.

O that I were an angel, to cry repentance unto every people -- Alma 29:1, 2.

Lord has power to redeem men from their sins because of repentance -- Helaman 5: 11. O repent ye, why will ye die? -- 7:17.

Would that I could persuade all ye ends of the earth to repent -- Mormon 3:22.

Repentance is unto them who are under condemnation and the curse of a broken law -- Moroni 8:24.

Chastened that they might repent -- D&C 1:27.

Light to depart from him who repents not; Spirit of the Lord will not always strive with man -- D&C 1:33; see also Moses 8:17.

Every man must repent or suffer -- D&C 19:4, 15.

All men must repent, believe, worship God, and endure, or they cannot be saved -- D&C 20:29.

Call upon the nations to repent -- D&C 43:20.

May know if a man repenteth of his sins, he will confess and forsake them -- D&C 58:43.

Their sorrow shall be great unless they repent speedily -- D&C 136:35.

No one to be received into the Church unless he be capable of repentance -- D&C 20:71.

The thing of most worth to you will be to declare repentance -- D&C 16:6; see also 18:15, 16.

Adam and his immediate posterity were commanded to repent -- Moses 5:8, 14, 15.

Adam called upon his sons to repent -- Moses 6:1. They called upon all men to repent -- 6:23; see verses 50, 57.

Enoch called the people to repent -- Moses 7:12.

If men do not repent, I will send in the floods upon them -- Moses 8:17; see verses 20, 24, 25.