The Faith of Christ
by Mary Lee Treat
All the Book of Mormon prophets before the time of Christ testified of his coming and exercised faith in him.
Prophecies of Christ's Coming
Nephi saw the birth of the Savior in vision while he was still in the Old World:
. . .the angel spake unto me saying,
And I looked and beheld the virgin
again, bearing a child in her arms.
And the angel said unto me, "Behold,
the Lamb of God, yea, even the
Eternal Father!" 1 Nephi 3:60-62
Jacob, son of Lehi, told Sherem, an antichrist, that "none of the prophets have written nor prophesied, save they have spoken concerning this Christ."
More than 400 years later another angel proclaimed "the glad tidings of great joy" to King Benjamin which he then shared with his people in the land of Zarahemla:
For behold, the time cometh and is
not far distant, that with power
the Lord Omnipotent who
reigneth, who was and is from all
eternity to all eternity,
Shall come down from heaven among
the children of men and shall
dwell in a tabernacle of clay...
And he shall be called Jesus Christ,
the Son of God,
The Father of heaven and earth,
The Creator of all things from
And his mother shall be called Mary. Mosiah 1:97,102
Two generations later Alma, the son of Alma, gave a prophetic word to the people in Gideon about the coming of Christ:
And behold, he shall be born of Mary
at Jerusalem, which is the land of
She being a virgin, a precious and
chosen vessel who shall be
overshadowed and conceive by
the power of the Holy Ghost and
bring forth a son,
Yea, even the Son of God. Alma 5:19
When we consider how plainly their scriptures prophesied that Jesus the Messiah would come and where and when he would be born, we realize that this knowledge is one of the "plain and precious things" missing from the Bible (with the exception of Isaiah's prophecy in chapter 53).
Faith in Christ's Coming
The phrases "faith of Christ" or "faith in Christ" are significant in the Book of Mormon. They tell us that those people who believed the words of the prophets, written or spoken, looked forward to the coming of Jesus Christ, in the flesh.
However, it is important to remember that throughout the 600 years before Christ's birth, believers who had a "faith in Christ" were persecuted. Abinadi was burned at the stake by King Noah for his testimony. Nevertheless his testimony bore fruit in the lives of Alma (a priest in Noah's court) and the many people he converted.
Around 30 B.C. when Alma's grandson, Helaman II, was the righteous leader of the Nephites, there was a time of great tribulation for the believers. In the midst of great tribulation however, there was also unprecedented prosperity for the church as tens of thousands were converted. Mormon, the abridger and narrator of the story, tells us that the believers "did wax stronger and stronger ... in the faith of Christ" (Helaman 2:31).
What Mormon is telling us is that these believers grew stronger and stronger in their faith of Christ's coming just as the prophets had prophesied.
Is there not a type or lesson to be learned from the faith of all these believers in the word of God? Today we have another promise that Christ will return and fulfill all the covenants he made to the house of Israel. Our faith, like that of the people in the Book of Mormon, is in the literal fulfillment of God's word to all his prophets from the beginning of time.
We should expect our faith in the word of God to be tested just as the faith of those who believed in his first coming was tested. Some may be called upon, as was Abinadi, to give their lives. Others, as were Lehi, Mosiah, and Alma, may be called upon to leave their homes and gather to a new land.
Like the church in Helaman's day, we need to grow "firmer and firmer in the faith of [ the second coming of] Christ." Those who believed the prophesy of Samuel the Lamanite about the sign of the birth of Christ were threatened with death if the sign did not appear. As Nephi prayed for those believers, the Lord gave him words of comgort and hope that still bring assurance to us today as we look for the Savior's return:
And on the morrow come I unto the
To show unto the world that I will
fulfill all that which I have caused
to be spoken bu the mouth of my
holy prophets. 3 Nephi 1:13