In Search of Generational Faith and Love

the Prophet Jacob

As portrayed in the Scott Snow painting shown above, the Prophet Jacob and his wife endeavored as parents to teach their children to have faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Their son Enos explains that he had been taught in the “language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Enos 1:1). It was with this parental preparation that Enos as a young man determined that it was time for him to cry “in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul” (Enos 1:4).

Concerning the fervent prayer of Enos, the introduction of the March 23-29, 2020 Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families lesson states: “That’s what sincere prayer is: not so much asking for anything we want but a sincere effort to commune with God and align our will to His. When you pray in this way, when your voice has ‘reached the heavens’ (Enos 1:4), you discover as Enos did that God hears you, and He truly cares about you, your loved ones, and even your enemies (see Enos 1:4–17). In those moments, God can make His will known to you, and you’ll be more willing and able to do His will because you are in harmony with Him.” All faithful parents hope that each one of their children will gain their own personal testimonies through sincere prayer.

Enos praying

Christ-centered Homes and Agency

One of the March 23-29 “Ideas for Personal Scripture Study” in the Come, Follow Me manual is, “A parent’s words can have a lasting influence.” The key word in this statement is the word can. Parents can teach; children can choose. Jacob clearly taught Enos and all the Nephites of his times, “ye are free to act for yourselves—to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life” (2 Nephi 10:23). We cannot dictate our children’s choices concerning faith.

Leaving Jerusalem

Each generation must choose how they will live their lives. For example, Omni, one of the grandsons of Enos, obediently writes in the Small Plates, but he also admits, “I of myself am a wicked man, and I have not kept the statutes and commandments of the Lord as I have ought to have done” (Omni 1:2). Nephi begins the Book of Mormon by declaring that he was “born of goodly parents” (1 Nephi 1:1), but so were Laman and Lemuel. Birth into a righteous family does not guarantee exaltation.

Faith—A Challenge for All Generations

Elder Gerrit Gong

At the October 2019 general conference, Elder Gerrit W. Gong, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, explained, “FamilySearch family trees, stories, and photos help us discover and connect through the lived experience of generational covenant belonging” (“Covenant Belonging,” Ensign, Nov. 2019, 82). He went on to describe key life experiences of three respected progenitors who inspire his family. In his endnotes, Elder Gong points out: “Generations can learn from each other, even as each generation learns for itself.” (“Covenant Belonging,” Ensign, Nov. 2019, 83).

In the culture of the current world, many people no longer value the concept of faith. They see no need for studying the scriptural wisdom of previous generations or listening to living prophets. For many scholars, the scientific method supersedes all other approaches and vocabulary choices. Indeed, the world has witnessed many technological and medical innovations coupled with advances in empirical achievements and knowledge, but we have not outgrown the need for faith.

In order to develop faith in God’s covenant plan, Elder Gong describes four truths each individual must acquire and develop:

  • “First, covenant belonging centers in Jesus Christ as “mediator of the new covenant” (Hebrews 12:24; Doctrine and Covenants 76:69; 107:19; Joseph Smith Translation, Galatians 3:20).

  • “The Book of Mormon is evidence that we can hold in our hand of covenant belonging.”

  • “Restored priesthood authority and power to bless all His children is a third dimension of covenant belonging.”

  • “Rejoice in temple living, including in marriage … As ‘me’ becomes ‘we,’ we grow together … our hopes and joys sanctified in time and eternity” (“Covenant Belonging,” 80-83).

Alma further explains how to nurture true faith: “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” (Alma 32:41).

Lehi's Dream

Trusting in Jesus Christ’s Atoning Love

Hopefully, each one of us can strive to follow the example of Enos, who concludes with this marvelous testimony: “And I soon go to the place of my rest, which is in my Redeemer; for I know that in him I shall rest. And I rejoice in the day when my mortal shall put on immortality, and shall stand before him; then shall I see his face with pleasure, and he will say unto me; Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father. Amen” (Enos 1:27).

Jesus Christ

What should we think and do, though, if some of our family members lose their faith in Jesus Christ?

At the May 2019 general conference, President Henry B. Eyring offered comforting counsel for Christ-centered homes where children may have wandered from the covenant path: “Some have tried with full heart for that blessing, yet it has not been granted. My promise to you is one that a member of the Quorum of the Twelve once made to me.

Elder Henry B. Eyring

I had said to him that because of choices some in our extended family had made, I doubted that we could be together in the world to come. He said, as well as I can remember, ‘You are worrying about the wrong problem. You just live worthy of the celestial kingdom, and the family arrangements will be more wonderful than you can imagine’” (“A Home Where the Spirit of the Lord Dwells,” Ensign, May 2019, 25).

Empty Tomb

We need to remember that after His death on the cross and prior to His Resurrection, the spirit of Jesus lovingly visited and taught the faithful spirits in paradise. Then: “from among the righteous, he organized his forces and appointed messengers, clothed with power and authority, and commissioned them to go forth and carry the light of the gospel to them that were in darkness, even to all the spirits of men; and thus was the gospel preached to the dead” (Doctrine and Covenants 138:30). With such knowledge of Christ’s infinite atoning love for all generations of mankind, we can joyfully sing: “Press forward, Saints, with steadfast faith in Christ, With hope’s bright flame alight in heart and mind, with love of God and love of all mankind! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!” (“Press Forward, Saints,” Hymns, no. 81; see also 2 Nephi 31:20).