On the subject of Faith and Works
Faith vs. works
"You have faith. And I have works. Can you show me your faith without any works? Because I will show you my faith through my works." James (This is how Elder Osborn sees this verse. I would also recommend looking at the original)
I have had the pleasure of meeting with many prepared and amazing souls. All with amazing amounts of faith. We are currently meeting with a lot of investigators. But really. A lot. But none of them are getting baptized. Why? Because they have a lot of faith. But they are struggling with the works side of things.
We are currently working with an amazing man. Who, through his own efforts and diligence, built the first christian church in Pitsanulok. He, through spiritual experiences and meeting with us regularly, has come to a knowledge of the truthfulness of the restoration, saying, "I know Joseph Smith is a prophet. I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the true church on the earth." As a leader he is struggling with the concept of abandoning his church - his entire life's work! - and becoming a latter-day saint. He knows it. He brings us referrals very frequently, knowing that he wants to lead every new convert here, but he's worried about his congregation. He has expressed interest in us going to speak at his church, and giving every member of his church a copy of the restoration video.
This man has a lot of faith. So, we had a lesson dedicated to the concept of "faith and works". By the end of this lesson, this man was telling us that he believed that we have more faith than him. He explained by referring to the fact that we came from America and Taiwan to teach the Thai people about the risen Lord. To ride our bikes in the heat just looking for someone who wants the truth. To change lives. He said that he didn't have that kind of faith. Wait a minute! Take a step back. Who is this? This man raised money to build and upkeep the first christian chapel in Pitsanulok! He noticed that there wasn't a church here, so he converted people and brought them to Christ and built a church! That is a lot of faith! Do you know any ordinary members of our church who just notice that there isn't a chapel in their area, so they go out and bring in enough people to the gospel so the church can build a chapel? There are very few.
Our lesson before the one on works and faith we committed him to pray for guidance on what to do with his congregation. He knows his options, get baptized and hope that they follow him, or try to convert them all first and bring them with him. So we invited him to pray. He did. And when he opened the scriptures (every day his calendar gives him several scriptures that he can read) he found this verse:
And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
He told us that this was his answer from God. And that this was what he needed to do. But he followed those sentences with this: "I am just not ready to do that yet."
Which brings us back to the phrase, "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone."
I thought of the rich young ruler, who walked up to Jesus with faith, asking what more he needed to do. - Faith, check - but upon hearing what the action, or work needed to be, he couldn't do it - works... - and very quickly his faith was accounted as nothing, because it had not works. It died.
Back to our friend. A man with GREAT faith. Who has seen many miracles in his life. Received a very direct answer from God, and when he knew what the sacrifice was, backed away.
Let's look at the example of Abraham. Abraham received a message from God to sacrifice his son. And although Abraham felt like the price of discipleship was high - of course it was! - he went to sacrifice his son anyways, because he faith was tied to his works. Did he end up having to lose his son? No. God helped him out of it and gave him an amazing blessing of a posterity as the sands of the seed. And he got to keep his son. "Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?"
So now we have seen what happens when our faith lacks works - the rich young ruler - and when our faith is shown by works - Abraham. One walked away sorrowful, while the other was blessed beyond comprehension.
My friend here in Pitsanulok has faith for sure. And he has shown his faith by works several times; before and after we started teaching him. But as of right now, the price of discipleship is too high.
It's interesting to look at every situation and learn something beautiful. I hope and truly believe that he will find his way and become a latter-day saint. But in the process this man has taught me a lot about faith and works. I hope you were able to learn something as well.
As for other acts of faith and works ( =miracles; we'll discuss that another day) that have been happening down in the land of pitsanulok:
An investigator who disappeared for two weeks called us yesterday. His phone just broke. And he's a doctor, so he is very busy. One of the first things he asked me was, "is today fast sunday?" "good, because I'll be breaking my fast this evening." :)
Another investigator who is AMAZING has passed her interview! I'll write about the miracles that led to this the week she gets baptized.
As for pictures!
Look at this tiny lizard we found in the church! This isn't even the smallest one!
On The bus ride to a zone training I sat next to a Major in the military. He invited us to dinner a couple days later.