What Is the Relationship Between Faith and Knowledge?

The authors of the Book of Mormon were comfortable declaring their knowledge of the truthfulness of their message:

  • In the first chapter of the book, Nephi says, “I know that the record which I make is true; and I make it with mine own hand; and I make it according to my knowledge” (1 Nephi 1:3).
  • The prophet Alma testified to the people of Zarahemla, “I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true” (Alma 5:45).
  • In one of his editorial notes, Mormon tells us, “I know the record which I make to be a just and a true record” (3 Nephi 5:18).

How did they know, and what is the relationship between knowledge and faith?

Alma explained to the Zoramites that faith leads to knowledge. When you plant a seed, you don’t know whether it will sprout. You make the effort because you believe that the seed will grow, but you don’t know for sure what will happen. When it does grow, then you have evidence that the seed is good. Your faith becomes dormant—you no longer have to make an effort to believe, because you know that the seed is good. It grew. You saw the result. You know it (Alma 32:28-34).

After telling the people of Zarahemla that he knew his words were true, he asked them, “How do ye suppose that I know of their surety?” He explained, “I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit” (Alma 5:45-46). Alma planted a seed. He didn’t know for sure what would happen, but he planted it, acting in faith, and believing that the seed would grow. When he experienced the Holy Spirit telling him that the gospel was true, he no longer had to believe. He had received an answer for himself. He knew it.

On the one hand, your faith is dormant when a seed you have planted begins to grow. On the other hand, you still need faith, because there is still so much that you don’t know. Your faith has actually been strengthened by the process: The seed you planted actually grew, so you have more confidence in taking other actions based on faith. As you do, you receive additional evidence which leads to more knowledge which forms the foundation for you to exercise additional faith. It’s a virtuous cycle (Alma 32:35-36).

Today, I will remember that faith leads to knowledge. I will act in faith, planting seeds which I hope are good. As those seeds begin to grow, my faith will be replaced by knowledge, which will in turn strengthen my faith.

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