Faith in living God

Faith in living God

Elder Stanley Wan

Director, China Administrative Unit

Faith in the Living God is a gift of God obtained through belief, obedience and righteous works. It is not sufficient to have faith in just anything; it must be focused on our Father in Heaven and His only Begotten Son Jesus Christ.  As Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained, “The first principle of the gospel is not ‘faith.’ The first principle of the gospel is ‘Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ’. Faith does not exist by itself. Faith requires an object. It must be faith in something or someone. In that respect, faith is like love. Love cannot exist without an object.” 1

Elder Russell M. Nelson taught, “Start with your children. You parents bear the primary responsibility to strengthen their faith. Let them feel your faith, even when sore trials come upon you. Let your faith be focused on our loving Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Teach that faith with deep conviction. Teach each precious boy or girl that he or she is a child of God, created in His image, with a sacred purpose and potential. Each is born with challenges to overcome and faith to be developed. 2

Even as a young boy, Daniel Reid Helsten had already decided to serve a full time mission for the Church.  Whenever he said that he wanted to be a full time missionary in China, his idea was laughed out of court by the others.   When he reached missionary age and submitted mission paper, he did not forget his dream.  The call finally came, it was not China!  Although he was laughed by some, it didn’t affect his faith in the living God because his testimony was not based upon outcomes.  He accepted the mission call and strived to be an effective tool in the Lord’s hand.   Toward the last few months of his mission, I was called to be his mission president. The name of the mission was changed to China Hong Kong Mission because the British returned Hong Kong back to China on July 1, 1997!

Elder Norimichi Nakanishi was from Tokyo, Japan. He was a Japanese missionary serving in the China Hong Kong Mission while I was the Mission President.  I will never forget his first Personal Priesthood Interview (PPI) with me.  He did not understand Cantonese or English and at first we could not communicate at all. We were silent—I looked at him and he smiled back.  We discovered, however, that Japanese ‘Kanji’ were almost the same as Chinese characters and we then finished the interview through body language, pen and paper.  Despite of language difficulties and cultural challenges, Elder Nakanishi’s faith was centered in the Living God and not relied only on his own strength. Within a few months, he could preach the gospel in Cantonese comfortably.  His English had also improved after living with American Missionaries.  Language difficulty couldn’t discourage him from serving faithfully.  During my last interview with him, he could speak not only very fluent Cantonese language, but also comprehend English very well.  We joked with him that he needed to pick up his Japanese again after returning back to Tokyo!

I strongly believe that God is no respecter of persons.  All missionaries no matter where they are from, they are entitled to the gift of tongues in order to carry out their assignments.  When they have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and work with all their heart, might, mind and strength, the Holy Ghost will help them resolve language and other problems that they may spread the gospel to every corner of the world.

True faith is belief plus action. Jesus said, 'Not everyone 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.' 3  Unfortunately, some people do not remember God until deepest sorrow comes their way.  One of the most tragic anomalies of our time is the blindness of man to the reality of truth.  How easy it is to forget God’s love and mercy while we are in our comfort zone!   Nevertheless, the well known record of Job in the Old Testament has revealed to us that God never leaves man in hopeless despair, as long as he remains true and faithful to Him.  In the Church, it always strengthens our testimonies when we witness how faithful families deal with great adversities.

Faith also means trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Elder Dallin H. Oaks said that he felt that trust in a talk his cousin gave at the funeral of a teenage girl who had died of a serious illness.  His cousin spoke these words, which first astonished him and then edified him:  “I know it was the will of the Lord that she died. She had good medical care. She was given priesthood blessings. Her name was on the prayer roll in the temple. She was the subject of hundreds of prayers for her restoration to health. And I know that there is enough faith in this family that she would have been healed unless it was the will of the Lord to take her home at this time.” Elder Oaks felt that same trust in the words of the father of another choice girl whose life was taken by cancer in her teen years. That father declared, “Our family’s faith is in Jesus Christ and is not dependent on outcomes.” 4

Today, we are not the slaves of Pharaoh, we don’t need to worry about being tortured like Moses’ time nor for the death of firstborn by destroying angels; the challenge we now face is very different and harder to comprehend because of Satan’s cunning power and malice.  We live in a time of turmoil.  We hear wars and rumors of wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes, tsunamis, diseases, corruptions, economic stresses, the family is under attack, and divorce rates are rising …etc. We have great cause for concern. But we do not need to let our fears displace our faith. We can combat those fears by strengthening our faith in the Living God!

Righteousness and good works lead to greater faith, while sin and wickedness diminish faith.  President Brigham Young said, “If the Latter-day Saints will walk up to their privileges, and exercise faith in the name of Jesus Christ, and live in the enjoyment of the fullness of the Holy Ghost constantly day by day, there is nothing on the face of the earth that they could ask for, that would not be given to them. The Lord is waiting to be very gracious unto this people, and to pour out upon them riches, honor, glory and power, even that they may possess all things according to the promises he has made through his Apostles and Prophets. 5  President Young also said: “Every person who lives in this Church must be faithful. They cannot run by sight, but must actually exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, in order to enjoy the light of the Holy Ghost. When they neglect this the spirit of the world takes possession of them, and they become cold and fruitless, and pine away into darkness, and spiritual death.” 6  

I bear my solemn testimony that when we have faith in the Living God, we have no need to fear! I know that God lives. Jesus Christ is the name whereby salvation is extended to all of us. He is the only way by which we can return to live with our Heavenly Father.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. ■

CAPTION:  Elder Stanley Wan


[1] Dallin H. Oaks, “Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ”, in General Young Women Meeting, April 1994.

2 Russell M. Nelson, “Face the Future with Faith,”  Ensign, May 2011, 34.


3 Matthew 7:21.

4 Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “Healing the Sick,” Ensign, May 2010, 50. 


5 Discourses of Brigham Young,  sel. John A. Widsoe (1954), 156.

Discourses of Brigham Young

6 Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, (1997), 54; see also Deseret News Weekly, 25 Apr. 1855, 2

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, Deseret News Weekly