Yesterday we had a really interesting experience. We were out going door-to-door in an apartment complex here in Kalamazoo, and we ran into this really neat guy. He was super friendly, and very open to discussing his beliefs with us and all that. So we sat and chatted with him for a while about the things we share with people. It was going pretty well, and it seemed like things might be making sense to him. But at one point in time, he stopped us, and asked, "How do you guys know those things are true? A lot of those things you are talking about happened hundreds of years ago. You weren't there to see them, I wasn't there to see them. Who's to say that they aren't just stories that are passed on from generation to generation?"
We tried to help him understand that faith has to play a huge part in coming to believe in things. I was that way for a while as well. I wasn't really to sure what all was true. I'd grown up going to church, and being told all the stories and everything, but it got to a point where I had to find out for myself. I really had to study the scriptural stories, and the accounts of the life of our Savior Jesus Christ and come to find out for myself if it was true or not. And because the Holy Ghost has testified to me of the truthfulness of those things, in my mind and in my heart, I don't have to see everything to believe.
Certainly, I think it would be amazing to see the Red Sea parted and the children of Israel walk through on dry ground, or to see Lazarus raised from the dead. But the testimony I have is founded upon faith, upon just believing that those things are true.
In the Book of Mormon, it talks about how we can exercise our faith to come to know if something is true or right in our lives. The prophet Alma is preaching to the people, and they are wondering how they can know if God is there, and how they can build their faith in Him. Alma tells them that "faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if you have faith you hope for things which are not seen, which are true." He goes on to explain that as we exercise our faith and test the word to see if it is true, we can find out for ourselves that it is true. And then we can know that the things we are learning or feeling are good, because they begin to enlighten our minds and enlarge our souls. As we come to know these things, then we no longer have to wonder if the stories we read or hear about from the scriptures are true, but we can know, not because we've seen them, but because we've felt that they are true and right.