Selected Teachings on
Faith as a Principle of Power

Joseph Smith (President)

... faith is ... the principle of action in all intelligent beings.... But faith is not only the principle of action, but of power also, in all intelligent beings, whether in heaven or on earth. Thus says the author of the epistle to the Hebrews (11:3):

"Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear."

By this we understand that the principle of power which existed in the bosom of God, by which the worlds were framed, was faith; and that it is by reason of this principle of power existing in the Deity, that all created things exist; so that all things in heaven, on earth, or under the earth, exist by reason of faith as it existed in HIM.

Had it not been for the principle of faith the worlds would never have been framed, neither would man have been formed of the dust. It is the principle by which Jehovah works, and through which he exercises power over all temporal as well as eternal things. Take this principle or attribute—for it is an attribute—from the Deity, and he would cease to exist.

Who cannot see, that if God framed the worlds by faith, that it is by faith that he exercises power over them, and that faith is the principle of power? And if the principle of power, it must be so in man as well as in the Deity? This is the testimony of all the sacred writers, and the lesson which they have been endeavouring to teach to man.

The Saviour says (Matt.17:19-20), in explaining the reason why the disciples could not cast out the devil, that it was because of their unbelief: "For verily I say unto you," said he, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."

Moroni, while abridging and compiling the record of his fathers, has given us the following account of faith as the principle of power. He says, [Ether 12:13], that it was the faith of Alma and Amulek which caused the walls of the prison to be rent, as recorded [in Alma 14:23-29]; it was the faith of Nephi and Lehi which caused a change to be wrought upon the hearts of the Lamanites, when they were immersed with the Holy Spirit and with fire, as seen [in Helaman 5:37-50]; and that it was by faith the mountain Zerin was removed when the brother of Jared spake in the name of the Lord. See also [Ether 12:30].

In addition to this we are told in Hebrews 11:32-35, that Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets, 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, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens, and that women received their dead raised to life again, &c., &c.

Also Joshua, in the sight of all Israel, bade the sun and moon to stand still, and it was done. (Josh. 10:12-13.)

We here understand, that the sacred writers say that all these things were done by faith. It was by faith that the worlds were framed. God spake, chaos heard, and worlds came into order by reason of the faith there was in HIM. So with man also; he spake by faith in the name of God, and the sun stood still, the moon obeyed, mountains removed, prisons fell, lions' mouths were closed, the human heart lost its enmity, fire its violence, armies their power, the sword its terror, and death its dominion; and all this by reason of the faith which was in him.

Had it not been for the faith which was in men, they might have spoken to the sun, the moon, the mountains, prisons, the human heart, fire, armies, the sword, or to death in vain!

Faith, then, is the first great governing principle which has power, dominion, and authority over all things; by it they exist, by it they are upheld, by it they are changed, or by it they remain, agreeable to the will of God. Without it there is no power, and without power there could be no creation nor existence! (Lectures on Faith, 1:9, 13-24)

J. Reuben Clark, Jr. (First Presidency)

As I think about faith, this principle of power, I am obliged to believe that it is an intelligent force. Of what kind I do not know. But it is superior to and overrules all other forces of which we know. It is the principle, the force, by which the dead are restored to life. (Conference Report, April 1960)

David A. Bednar (Quorum of the Twelve)

The Prophet Joseph further explained that “faith is not only the principle of action, but of power also, in all intelligent beings, whether in heaven or on earth” (Lectures on Faith, 3). Thus, faith in Christ leads to righteous action, which increases our spiritual capacity and power. Understanding that faith is a principle of action and of power inspires us to exercise our moral agency in compliance with gospel truth, invites the redeeming and strengthening powers of the Savior’s Atonement into our lives, and enlarges the power within us whereby we are agents unto ourselves (see D&C 58:28). ("Ask in Faith," Ensign, May 2008, p.94-97)

Bruce R. McConkie (Quorum of the Twelve)

But faith in its true signification is more than the moving cause pursuant to which men and angels act. It is also a principle of power. Faith is power. And where there is power, there is faith; and where there is no power, there is no faith. (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, p.164)

Faith is power; by faith the worlds were made; nothing is impossible to those who have faith. If the earth itself came rolling into existence by faith, surely a mere mountain can be removed by that same power. (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [1979–81], 3:73)

How do men exercise faith? If they have an occasion to heal the sick, raise the dead or move mountains, how is it done? Faith is power, but what causes the power to flow forth and accomplish the desired result? As an introductory explanation, the account we are studying [The Lectures on Faith] asks: "What are we to understand by a man's working by faith?"

By way of answer, the account says: "We understand that when a man works by faith he works by mental exertion instead of physical force. It is by words, instead of exerting his physical powers, with which every being works when he works by faith. God said, `Let there be light: and there was light.' Joshua spake and the great lights which God had created stood still. Elijah commanded, and the heavens were stayed for the space of three years and six months, so that it did not rain: he again commanded and the heavens gave forth rain. All this was done by faith. And the Saviour says: `If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, say to this mountain, "Remove," and it will remove; or say to that sycamine tree, "Be ye plucked up, and planted in the midst of the sea," and it shall obey you.' Faith, then, works by words; and with these its mightiest works have been, and will be performed." (Lectures on Faith 7:3.)

But working by faith is not the mere speaking of a few well-chosen words; anyone with the power of speech could have commanded the rotting corpse of Lazarus to come forth, but only one whose power was greater than death could bring life again to the brother of Mary and Martha. Nor is working by faith merely a mental desire, however strong, that some eventuality should occur. There may be those whose mental powers and thought processes are greater than any of the saints, but only persons who are in tune with the Infinite can exercise the spiritual forces and powers that come from him.

Those who work by faith must first have faith; no one can use a power that he does not possess, and the faith or power must be gained by obedience to those laws upon which its receipt is predicated. These we have set forth. Those who work by faith must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and in his Father. They must accept at face value what the revealed word teaches as to the character, attributes, and perfections of the Father and the Son. They must then work the works of righteousness until they know within themselves that their way of life conforms to the divine will, and they must be willing to lay their all on the altar of the Almighty.

And then -- when the day is at hand and the hour has arrived for the miracle to be wrought -- then they must be in tune with the Holy Spirit of God. He who is the Author of faith, he whose power faith is, he whose works are the embodiment of justice and judgment and wisdom and all good things, even he must approve the use of his power in the case at hand. Faith cannot be exercised contrary to the order of heaven or contrary to the will and purposes of him whose power it is. Men work by faith when they are in tune with the Spirit and when what they seek to do by mental exertion and by the spoken word is the mind and will of the Lord. (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith, pp.191-192)