In 2006, David A. Bednar gave a talk titled “Seek Learning By Faith.” It is a masterpiece on faith. The following is an excerpt from this classic talk:
“…[The] teachings of Paul and of Alma and from the Lectures on Faith highlight three basic elements of faith: (1) faith as the assurance of things hoped for which are true, (2) faith as the evidence of things not seen, and (3) faith as the principle of action in all intelligent beings. I describe these three components of faith in the Savior as simultaneously facing the future, looking to the past, and initiating action in the present. Faith as the assurance of things hoped for looks to the future. This assurance is founded upon a correct understanding about and trust in God and enables us to ‘press forward’ (2 Nephi 31:20) into uncertain and often challenging situations in the service of the Savior.
“For example, Nephi relied upon precisely this type of future-facing spiritual assurance as he returned to Jerusalem to obtain the plates of brass—‘not knowing beforehand the things which [he] should do. Nevertheless [he] went forth’ (1 Nephi 4:6–7). Faith in Christ is inextricably tied to and results in hope in Christ for our redemption and exaltation. And assurance and hope make it possible for us to walk to the edge of the light and take a few steps into the darkness—expecting and trusting the light to move and illuminate the way….The combination of assurance and hope initiates action in the present.
“Faith as the evidence of things not seen looks to the past and confirms our trust in God and our confidence in the truthfulness of things not seen. We stepped into the darkness with assurance and hope, and we received evidence and confirmation as the light in fact moved and provided the illumination we needed. The witness we obtained after the trial of our faith… is evidence that enlarges and strengthens our assurance.
“Assurance, action, and evidence influence each other in an ongoing process. This helix is like a coil, and as it spirals upward it expands and grows wider. These three elements of faith—assurance, action, and evidence—are not separate and discrete; rather, they are interrelated and continuous and cycle upward. And the faith that fuels this ongoing process develops and evolves and changes. As we again turn and face forward toward an uncertain future, assurance leads to action and produces evidence, which further increases assurance. Our confidence waxes stronger, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. We find a powerful example of the interaction among assurance, action, and evidence as the children of Israel transported the ark of the covenant under the leadership of Joshua….Recall how the Israelites came to the river Jordan and were promised the waters would part, or ‘stand upon an heap’ (Joshua 3:13), and they would be able to cross over on dry ground. Interestingly, the waters did not part as the children of Israel stood on the banks of the river waiting for something to happen; rather, the soles of their feet were wet before the water parted. The faith of the Israelites was manifested in the fact that they walked into the water before it parted. They walked into the river Jordan with a future-facing assurance of things hoped for. As the Israelites moved forward, the water parted, and as they crossed over on dry land, they looked back and beheld the evidence of things not seen. In this episode, faith as assurance led to action and produced the evidence of things not seen which were true.
“True faith is focused in and on the Lord Jesus Christ and always leads to action. Faith as the principle of action is highlighted in many scriptures with which we are all familiar: ‘For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also’ (James 2:26; italics added). ‘But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only’ (James 1:22; italics added). ‘But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith’ (Alma 32:27; italics added).” (David A. Bednar, “Seek Learning By Faith,” Address to CES Religious Educators, February 3, 2006)