Elder Dale G. Renlund has said, “Faith in the Savior is a principle of action and of power. First, we act in faith; then the power comes—according to God’s will and timing. The sequence is crucial. The required action, though, is always tiny when compared to the blessings we ultimately receive” (“Abound With Blessings,” General Conference, April 2019).
When we study the Articles of Faith, we should ask ourselves what difference they make in our lives. We should also ask what blessings might be associated with each Article.
For example, what do you do differently in your life because you believe in Article 1: “We believe in God the Eternal Father, and in His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost”? Can people tell from your actions that this is an article of faith for you? Can you identify the blessings the Lord has poured into your life because you do “tiny things” that demonstrate faith in the Godhead?
Let’s examine each article as a “principle of action and of power.” How do you “act in faith”? What power has come to you because you act in faith? How have you been blessed?
Article 2: If I believe people are punished for their own sins, how does this belief affect my behavior? In my own life and the lives of others, I have seen this principle at work in stark terms. Sadly, I know people who are punished by mistakes that might seem small but lead to harsh consequences, not the least being the torment of conscience.
Article 3: Does my belief in the Atonement of Christ make a difference in how I act? Do I find myself forgiving others—and myself? Am I growing to be “at one” with the Savior? Can I identify the blessings that come from obedience to the “laws and ordinances of the gospel”?
Article 4: Does my faith in Christ mean that I carry out the assignments He gives me, or am I reluctant? Am I making repentance a way of life, as President Russell M. Nelson counsels? “Nothing is more liberating, more ennobling, or more crucial to our individual progression than is a regular, daily focus on repentance,” he says (“We Can Do Better and Be Better,” General Conference, April 2019). Also, what do I do differently in my life because I’ve been baptized? How do I make use of the gift of the Holy Ghost?
Article 5: I feel inadequate in my callings. How does it help me to know that I’ve been “called of God, by prophecy, and by those who are in authority”?
Article 6: I need counsel and direction in my life. Do I take advantage of the wonderful gift of apostles and prophets, pastors (bishops), teachers, and evangelists (patriarchs)? If I believe in the “organization,” what use am I making of these sacred sources of inspiration? Or do I live as if they aren’t there?
Article 7: The Lord promises spiritual gifts to those who believe. Do I know which gifts I possess? How am I using those gifts in His service? What gifts do I need to pray for? What blessings have come to me because of spiritual gifts in myself and in others?
Article 8: What blessings do I miss out on if I don’t make scripture study central in my life? Am I staying focused on the Book of Mormon? President Ezra Taft Benson said, “The Book of Mormon is studied . . . every fourth year. This four-year pattern, however, must not be followed by Church members in their personal and family study. We need to read daily from its pages” (“Flooding the Earth with the Book of Mormon,” Ensign, November 1988).
Article 9: What difference does it make that I believe in personal revelation? Do I seek it? President Nelson says, “I urge you to stretch beyond your current spiritual ability to receive personal revelation. . . . Pray in the name of Jesus Christ about your concerns, your fears, your weaknesses—yes, the very longings of your heart. And then listen! As you repeat this process day after day, month after month, year after year, you will ‘grow into the principle of revelation’” (“Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” General Conference, April 2018).
Article 10: If I believe, as President Nelson says, that “there is nothing happening on this earth right now that is more important than” the gathering of Israel, what am I doing to help? “There is nothing of greater consequence. . . . This gathering should mean everything to you. This is the mission for which you were sent to earth.” Every calling in the Church is part of this gathering work. “Anytime you do anything that helps anyone—on either side of the veil—take a step toward making covenants with God and receiving their essential baptismal and temple ordinances, you are helping to gather Israel. It is as simple as that” (“Hope of Israel,” Worldwide Devotional for Youth, June 3, 2018, emphasis in original).
Article 11: What am I doing to advance the cause of religious freedom? How am I an example of tolerance and love for others of a different faith?
Article 12: Do I “honor, obey, and sustain the law”? Do I undermine public servants by ridiculing them? Do I spread contention or approach political issues civilly and respectfully?
Article 13: Would people say I am a kind, compassionate person? Do I seek whatever is lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy? Or is my life filled with violent or vicious entertainment? Do I try to cultivate beauty in my surroundings and strive to improve my talents?
If we truly believe in these Articles of Faith, our lives will show it. Belief becomes faith only when applied. Don’t make the mistake of thinking of them as passive creedal statements. Each Article is a call to action by which we show our faith in Jesus Christ.
On the other hand, don’t think of them as an overwhelming list of tasks. If we exercise faith in Christ, even our small efforts will bring mighty blessings, and soon we will find that the Articles of Faith are simply our way of life.
On yet another hand, if you lack faith in these Articles, “ask of God” as Joseph Smith did. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said the following to those who have doubts about Church history or doctrine:
“It’s natural to have questions—the acorn of honest inquiry has often sprouted and matured into a great oak of understanding. There are few members of the Church who, at one time or another, have not wrestled with serious or sensitive questions. One of the purposes of the Church is to nurture and cultivate the seed of faith—even in the sometimes-sandy soil of doubt and uncertainty. . . . “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters—my dear friends—please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith. We must never allow doubt to hold us prisoner and keep us from the divine love, peace, and gifts that come through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ” (“Come Join With Us,” Ensign, November 2013).