In one of his great sermons on faith, the Book of Mormon prophet Alma describes three stages of faith.
The first stage is a small particle of faith, like a seed, needing to be nourished. The second stage is like a small tree sprouting new life as faith’s belief and purpose are confirmed. The third stage is continual, requiring constant care and nourishment to develop strong roots.
Key to that third stage of “exceedingly great faith,” as Alma describes it, is the principle of “looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof,” said Brother Ahmad Corbitt, first counselor in the new Young Men general presidency.
Speaking to LDS Business College students during a Tuesday, June 2, devotional broadcast, Brother Corbitt highlighted how education and learning are key aspects to developing “exceedingly great faith.”
In addition to doing the basics of maintaining and nourishing one’s faith — like prayer, scripture study, keeping covenants and following the prophets — “looking forward firmly with an eye of faith, seeing and permanently embracing the Lord’s vision and His promises with certainty” is one of the greatest factors in strengthening one’s faith, Brother Corbitt explained.
The Lord commands His children to “seek learning by study and also by faith,” Brother Corbitt said. One’s capacity to learn is increased by looking forward with faith and envisioning a righteous desired outcome.
“This vision gives you a hope, a feeling of assurance, that by acting — going through the process and work of your college program — you can become that person you envision. This hope and assurance make your vision more sure and help you feel you can achieve your goals,” he said. “This, in turn, makes you more confident and happy. … This vision of your future can actually fill you with joy in the present and help you keep moving forward happily.”
It is easy to get bogged down by fear of failure and to get discouraged when things get difficult along the path to one’s desired future, Brother Corbitt said, but “the more firmly you embrace that envisioned person from your future, and the more certainty with which you see yourself accomplishing your righteous goals, the harder you will work, the more easily you will reject lies, and the more you will act consistent with that envisioned reality.”
That is the essence of “looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof and seeking learning by study and also by faith,” he said.
The process of seeking an education is a perfect model of great faith, Brother Corbitt said, because it helps the learner apply to their education the same elements of faith that Alma taught.
As students achieve their “goals and vision through hard work and good decisions” — in other words, through the process of faith — “they are better able to help others achieve their goals through these same steps of faith,” Brother Corbitt said.
Faith, much like one’s spirit, is a living organism that must be properly nourished, he said.
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that faith is “the principle of action in all intelligent beings,” Brother Corbitt said, adding, “no wonder the Lord declared education’s inspired purpose was to increase faith.”
By combining faith and education as the Lord directs, God’s children increase their capacity to “hear Him.”
Sharing his conversion story from when he was 17 years old and the missionaries showed up to his home, Brother Corbitt explained how the story of Joseph Smith’s First Vision gave him a powerful spiritual confirmation that he too could have his prayers answered by God.
Looking forward with faith also increases one’s capacity for revelation, he said. Modern day apostles have demonstrated that in many ways through recent changes in the Church.
Using examples of how the Lord, through his apostles, has helped prepare the Church for current circumstances like the COVID-19 pandemic, Brother Corbitt explained that the focus on Sabbath day observance through home-centered and Church-supported worship and the “Come, Follow Me” curriculum are just a couple of examples that highlight how Church leaders look forward with an eye of faith.
And learning by study and also by faith can help members of the Church to properly sustain Church leaders, which is also an act of faith, Brother Corbitt said.
“The Lord has said that Church leaders are to be ‘upheld by the confidence, faith and prayer of the Church,‘” he continued. “Let us always remember ‘to be learned is good if we hearken unto the counsels of God,’ which include humbly sustaining our leaders.
Brother Corbitt closed with a challenge: “Choose to do the spiritual work required to enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost and hear the voice of the Spirit more frequently and more clearly,” he said. “As you apply this ‘exceedingly great faith,’ revelation will flow to you more readily and clearly… .”