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Faith stands as a crucial and foundational element in Christianity. Numerous facets of the Christian experience, embodied in empirically testable Biblical promises meant to be lived and experienced in this lifetime (on this side of the grave), hinge upon faith as an essential prerequisite. Consequently, addressing the challenge of cultivating and strengthening one's faith is of paramount importance. Below are passages stressing the pivotal role of faith:

Mark 9:23-24

23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

Hebrews 11:6

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

James 1:5-8

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Mark 11:22-24

22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Matthew 21:21-22

21 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. 21 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Matthew 13:58

And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.

Mark 16:17-18

17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.

Matthew 14:28-33

28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

1 Peter 1:6-9

6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Many Christians believe that Christianity is testable, yet the ability to test Christianity is intricately linked to one's capacity to activate its faith-conditioned promises. Consequently, the inescapable question that surfaces is how to attain a level of faith that meets the requirements for activating God's promises.

To encourage more nuanced and comprehensive responses to this question, I am specifically seeking answers that address the hurdles of attaining faith—particularly the kind capable of activating God's promises—for individuals who may not even believe in the existence of God (such as atheists or agnostics) as well as those with worldviews fundamentally at odds with Christianity (e.g., adherents of other religions). Therefore, it is crucial to recognize that the challenge here extends beyond constructing a purely intellectual case for Christianity to convince them of its epistemic possibility. Rather, the aim is to guide individuals toward a level of faith where Biblical promises can be tangibly experienced, not merely theoretically, but actually, in real life.

How can this be done?

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    This treats of faith as though it were a human work, capable of being 'exerted' to the point where it 'triggers' a response. The question fails to grasp that faith is the gift of God in the first place.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 10 at 10:48
  • @NigelJ You are saying that Calvinism is true, which would mean repentance is impossible, and there would be no point to Scripture or even attempting to communicate about the Gospel. "For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift" (Doctrine and Covenants 88:33)
    – pygosceles
    Jan 10 at 16:17
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    @NigelJ The question does not fail to grasp the importance of doing something good with God's gifts: "Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Matthew 25:27-30
    – pygosceles
    Jan 10 at 16:17
  • Please forgive my comment, Mark, but you are asking how to make God a case of "push a button get a prize/result." That seems to wildly misconstrue how and where God and Faith fit together. I am wondering at where you arrive at the premise that human Faith is a way to control God. Where does that come from? Jan 12 at 1:33
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    @KorvinStarmast No problem. But notice I'm not the first one to use the word "activate" in the context of God's promises. With a simple search you can find many examples. E.g. see here.
    – Mark
    Jan 12 at 1:43

2 Answers 2

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OP: how to attain a level of faith that meets the requirements for activating God's promises.

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Rom 10:17

This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Gal 3:2

This may consist of two parts. Logos, Rhema.

Per Vines, "The significance of rhema (as distinct from logos) is exemplified in the injunction to take "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God," Eph 6:17; here the reference is not to the whole Bible as such, but to the individual scripture which the Spirit brings to our remembrance for use in time of need, a prerequisite being the regular storing of the mind with Scripture."

As well, the spiritual is similar to the physical in that Christians are first born-again, drink milk, move on to meat, although there are conditions.

But solid food is for the mature, whose perceptions are trained by practice to discern both good and evil. Heb 5:14

OP: the aim is to guide individuals toward a level of faith where Biblical promises can be tangibly experienced, not merely theoretically, but actually, in real life.

You mean like from your Heb 11 quote of those who died in faith without receiving?

And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: Heb 11:38

We have the promised seed who is Christ Jesus. Hold on.

Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) Heb 10:23

So, to answer the OP about how to, you don't activate God's promises. He is the author and finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2). In the meantime, keep training.

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  • How would this answer be useful for atheists, agnostics and adherents of other religions?
    – Mark
    Jan 10 at 16:39
  • That'd be all of us, no, at some point? We are born dead. You must be born-again from above. Faith comes from hearing the Good News. One hopes the Good News is preached.
    – SLM
    Jan 10 at 23:23
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Faith is the principle of action in all living and intelligent beings. As such,

All people have some faith to begin with. Nobody would work for a paycheck or plant gardens or begin to build houses if they did not have faith, that is, if they did not trust in the reality of outcomes they could not yet see. Faith is like a muscle. Faith, like any resource, can be invested. If we invest our faith in God and Christ, They will answer with Their promised blessings, on Their timetable.

The act of starting so small that one couldn't possibly start smaller, and yet arriving at the full fruition of all of the promises of God is described at length in the following chapter, Alma 32:

Yea, there are many who do say: If thou wilt show unto us a sign from heaven, then we shall know of a surety; then we shall believe. Now I ask, is this faith? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for if a man knoweth a thing he hath no cause to believe, for he knoweth it. ... And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true. And now, behold, I say unto you, and I would that ye should remember, that God is merciful unto all who believe on his name; therefore he desireth, in the first place, that ye should believe, yea, even on his word. ...

Now, as I said concerning faith—that it was not a perfect knowledge—even so it is with my words. Ye cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith is a perfect knowledge. But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.

Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me. Now behold, would not this increase your faith? I say unto you, Yea; nevertheless it hath not grown up to a perfect knowledge. But behold, as the seed swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, then you must needs say that the seed is good; for behold it swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow. And now, behold, will not this strengthen your faith? Yea, it will strengthen your faith: for ye will say I know that this is a good seed; for behold it sprouteth and beginneth to grow.

And now, behold, are ye sure that this is a good seed? I say unto you, Yea; for every seed bringeth forth unto its own likeness. Therefore, if a seed groweth it is good, but if it groweth not, behold it is not good, therefore it is cast away. And now, behold, because ye have tried the experiment, and planted the seed, and it swelleth and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow, ye must needs know that the seed is good. And now, behold, is your knowledge perfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant; and this because you know, for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand. O then, is not this real? I say unto you, Yea, because it is light; and whatsoever is light, is good, because it is discernible, therefore ye must know that it is good; and now behold, after ye have tasted this light is your knowledge perfect? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither must ye lay aside your faith, for ye have only exercised your faith to plant the seed that ye might try the experiment to know if the seed was good.

And behold, as the tree beginneth to grow, ye will say: Let us nourish it with great care, that it may get root, that it may grow up, and bring forth fruit unto us. And now behold, if ye nourish it with much care it will get root, and grow up, and bring forth fruit. But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out. Now, this is not because the seed was not good, neither is it because the fruit thereof would not be desirable; but it is because your ground is barren, and ye will not nourish the tree, therefore ye cannot have the fruit thereof. And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life. But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life. And because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst.

Then, my brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you.

All proof is personal. Even reading these words on a page will not in itself produce more faith, nor convince anyone, without action on his or her own part. Each person must try the experiment for himself, and experience God's promised blessings.

It is every bit as real and approachable as cultivating a seed you have been given by someone. You must give it a place to grow, and carefully nourish it over time, and it will grow into the same kind of plant that it came from. Another wonderful thing about faith is that, like a seed, you can obtain a lot more of it by planting what you do have. As I said earlier, all people have some faith to begin with. Therefore all people are privileged from the beginning to increase their faith without limit, if they will be diligent in obeying the words of God.

Receiving the fullness of God's promises on a subject is like eating the fruit of the tree you have planted. It is not impossible, it is as achievable as planting a seed in soil and letting it grow into a mature tree.

Matthew 17:20

for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

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    And if one plants a seed of atheism or of heresy, cultivates faith in and eats fruit of the tree thereof, one convinces oneself of error by means of personal proof. A voice once whispered to me, "If you want to know for sure that God is true you must utterly deny his existence and then try to find him.". Had I planted that seed, had I eaten the fruit of that poison tree, I would be lost. It is not true, as Alma says, that every seed that grows is good. Deceptive tares grow, as do choking thorns. Jan 10 at 14:01
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    @MikeBorden Faith is not belief in things that are not virtuous or that are untrue. That is not faith. It is not delicious. It stinks. It does not enlighten. We are children of God. What is good tastes good to our spirits, and points us to Christ, and is from Him. Pretty sure you can tell the difference between a mature thistle or bindweed and a mango tree, even if you can't tell their seeds apart. "By their fruits ye shall know them". Every seed that grows into something desirable is good. Weeds are not delicious. Therefore rely on the Light of Christ. See Moroni 7:16-17.
    – pygosceles
    Jan 10 at 15:53
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    You have said everyone has some faith. The atheist has faith and it is not virtuous. So does the animist, etc. Tares and wheat are indistinguishable until harvest. The fruit that killed Adam both looked and tasted desirable but it was not good for him. His faith in the lie of the serpent was faith indeed, just badly misplaced. If he had only acted out of faith in God he would have had opportunity to live. Instead he chose to believe that he could be like God in knowledge and he died, bringing us all with him. Jan 10 at 18:37
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    @MikeBorden Yes, even atheists have some faith. If they did not have any faith, they would not do anything expecting an outcome. Where they place their faith or whether it is virtuous is another matter. That is why the Gospel of Jesus Christ sets forward that "faith in Jesus Christ" is unto salvation, not unqualified or selfish faith. Hence the need for repentance also. Faith in Jesus Christ is incomplete if we do not conform our lives to His commandments and do His will. "He chose to believe that he could be like God" - that was not an error. The transgression was in disobedience to God.
    – pygosceles
    Jan 10 at 18:58
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    @MikeBorden That is a speculation unsubstantiated in the text. Besides which, Adam and Eve did acquire knowledge of good and evil by partaking of the forbidden fruit, which knowledge God also has, proving that that part at least of what the devil said was not a lie. That's what the devil does--he mixes "little" lies into truth so as to make the whole seem appealing and harmless, notwithstanding there is a deadly poison in the mixture. Therefore discernment requires us to identify truth from falsehood, embrace the true and reject the false. I don't buy the credal, unscriptural view.
    – pygosceles
    Jan 11 at 16:07

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